Being a Mom to our own children and step-children is tiring enough. But trying to be a mother to staff members, especially unwittingly, is exhausting and simply not sustainable. And that is what I was doing in my business.
At first, when our staff was just a couple of people in addition to Heinz and I, it was manageable. But then we grew. At our peak, in 2010, we had 23 employees.
That was a large family to manage. I became obsessed with the business. Ours tended to be a cyclical operation, and at times it felt like I was working not just to put food on our family’s table, but to keep my employees employed. The pressure was intense.
My health was suffering, our marriage was bringing neither of us joy. I was focused on bringing as much business as I could — at times making bad decisions because I was fearful of having nothing. And Heinz was doing his best to shield me from the cash flow crunches.
We were not always able to keep the pressure to ourselves. Suffering in silence made us both moody and prone to snapping at one another. When the pressure blew off our respective lids it offered some relief, but only for a short time.
Business had stopped being fun and exciting. In 2013 was the beginning of the end. As we celebrated my 50th birthday on a cruise at Christmastime, I felt like a zombie just going through the motions.
It got better for a while, but in May 2015, as I was talking to my coach Betty for the umpteenth time about wanting to stop the insanity, she challenged me: what was I going to do about it?
I answered her without thinking: I wanted to take a sabbatical. Go away for a time, to think and rejuvenate. No sooner were the words out of my mouth that I simultaneously realized it felt right and extremely scary. How was I going to pull that off?
I loved my business and my business family, but I knew it was slowly killing me. What to do?