Separation Anxiety


PFG, Picture Framing God
Nov 2, 2001
Centennial, CO, USA
I am leaving my store in somebody elses hands on Saturday so I can go to a wedding. This will be the first time I have left the store with anybody in 2 years 4-1/2 months. Other than when we got 41 inches of snow and when I got the flu last year I have been here each and every day. I am leaving the store in very capable hands, she has her own business and uses Frameready so she will do just fine. In fact the way business has been the past couple of weeks I should tell her to bring some good reading.

I'm only allowing myself to go between 12 and 4. It is remarkably causing me some separation anxiety. I've allowed myself to let this store be all consuming at the expense of everything else right now. This is one of my best friends and I am so out of the loop that I didn't even know her daughter was engaged.

When I first bought this store I sensed a gravitational pull away from me from my friends and family. At first I was hurt and didn't think I was getting any support. But then I came to realize that I was growing away from them as well. I now know that is natural, my life and interests have changed, I can't expect others to change with me. In fact I revel in the knowledge that I have "woken" myself up and have taken on this unrelenting task. It has brought a new determination and strength to my life that I never knew I had. I want more....

But the problem is I find myself bored with anything that doesn't concern the store or learning about how to run the store. I don't seem to have any more actual interest in anybody elses life. This can't possibly be healthy. I think since I have been in crisis mode from the onset I can only assume this will change when the pressure is off a bit.

I feel like this store has changed every relationship and dynamic in my life. Not necessarily for the better. Some people in my family now view me as self involved and selfish of my time. It seems to me that owning a business gives you no choice but to be self involved and always having to chase that next sale and to constantly be evolving and changing. Am I right?

Are there any others of you out there that just seem to live and breathe your business only? How do you find a balance? My hope is as time goes on and as the store stablizes a bit I can relax. I think I am so consumed that I can't ever see that though.

I guess I must be ready to reconnect with the people in my life because it has become painfully obvious when one of my best friends daughters is getting married and all I can think about is how quickly I can get in and make an appearance and get back to the store.

Oh well, I guess there are no easy answers, just needed to vent. If nothing else my friends daughter is getting three, count them, three, kick *** custom framed portraits from me. That has to be a good thing......
It seems that you aren't adverse to this situation but think that you should be. Why? The business requires your all to survive and you get satisfaction from the effort. When it is thriving you will have the luxury of being more attentive to others. I have been accused of the same "obsession", without which my business would have failed a long time ago.
There are many, many grumblers who share your passion, Kathy. Some, after many years in business, will tell you that it's best to get some balance in your life. Just go to the wedding and forget the store for a few hours. It's not going to cause grave damage if you aren't there for awhile. Just leave police, fire department phone numbers with your sitter for emergencies!
I'll tell you a little story, Kathy, that might make you feel better about leaving your shop for a few hours.

Many years ago, I had a very capable, but neurotic, framer (possibly not unlike yourself) working for me.

I didn't get out as much as I do now (though I work alone now - go figure!) and my wife came one day to take me to lunch at a favorite Chinese restaurant about a block down the street.

We hadn't been there 15 minutes when I got a call that I was needed back at the shop.

I didn't even know Appleton HAD a SWAT team.

The block containing my shop was closed off and there were more cops and cop cars and firearms than I would have believed existed in Appleton.

To make a long story a little shorter, a visiter to our city got to spend some quality time in our fine jail, my neurotic employee became a little more neurotic and I had Chinese carry-out at about 4 p.m.

Nobody got killed.

Enjoy the wedding, Kathy, and don't worry about a thing.
There is nothing wrong with being completely involved in your "life's work" whatever it is. That's how you make it work.

Getting away once in a while is a good idea, though. If you feel that you are being swallowed up by your shop, make yourself take a vacation. NO PHONES!

This will give you a little perspective, and you can see just how "bad" it is. You'll probably find that it isn't bad at all.

I can't believe everything you are saying can be so similar to what has happened with my life. It is all-consuming... this life's work/passion and a need and desire to succeed.... but, we do need to find balance...

I think you do a great job and having someone "man" your store in your brief absence is an okay thing to do. But don't be afraid to wean yourself away for a longer period. The world (and your store) is not going to come to an end.

If you have customers that come and they miss you, they will come back - especially if you leave a nice sign on the door. You cannot be there 24/7 and have peace within yourself.

I look at it this way (and I need to maintain my sales levels as much as you do at this time) - if I miss sales today or another day I am unable to be here - for whatever reason - several things can happen. Either they will come back and the sales will occur at a later date and you will still have the sales. They won't come back and you may have "lost" $100-$3000 in sales (just an example guess). In the big picture - how much have you actually "lost" on this? It is important to have these sales, but to have our life is important too.

It's OKAY to take some time away - and have the peace of mind that it is OKAY so you can enjoy the time you are not there - cause if you are away for sickness, health, or weather or other reasons that are beyond your control - the same stuff could happen - but it is out of your control so it makes it easier to swallow. Since this is a choice - you are feeling guilty... but you shouldn't. (I give up guilt for Lent each year. ha ha).

So, Kathy, go, enjoy the wedding and stay as long as you want... and TRUST that all is OKAY and you will feel more PEACE inside.

Make yourself a "Gone Fishin'" sign and use it.

Nothing will help you more than some quality time away!

I really hope that this initial steppin' out will help assure you that it is safe to leave the baby with someone else despite what "worse-case-scenario Ron" says (even if it is true).
Don't you DARE leave that shop Kathy!!!

You never know when some little blue haired lady will come in with a 5x7 of her cat that she wants framed!!

"Nothing expensive, deary, I only paid .29 cents for the photo at K-Mart."

So what if you spend almost an hour trying to decide if that single mat should match the wallpaper swatches she so thoughtfully brought along or go with the pillow upholstery that she has tucked under her left arm?? And that black generic frame suits the photo SOOOOOOOOOO well!

Hey, you may miss a $34.57 sale simply because you are so self centered and self indulged that you feel you MUST take off for 4 hours to attend some young girl's wedding.

:D Yes, this is all just pulling your leg, "deary"!! :D

I keep my personal time guarded always no matter what I feel should be done in the shop. Sundays and Mondays are MINE and my dog's time to get out and walk the beaches or for me to shop or just kick back and vegge out.

(And tomorrow is the beginning of ................ YES, sports fans, <font size=5>

<marquee><font color=green>NASCAR!!!</font></marquee></font>

Hey, ya'll know where to find me (and maybe the Prez) on Sunday afternoons from now on if you want to talk.


[ 02-14-2004, 11:43 AM: Message edited by: Framerguy ]
All consuming, yes it is. You should see what happens when you have both spouses consumed by the business. We went out for a Valentine's day dinner last night and wound up talking business. :rolleyes: We're going away for a few days at the end of the month, to a photography convention. I'm nervous about closing the shop for a day. That could be the day one of our better customers gets back from Florida and comes in to pick out the frames for her portraits. :eek:

We are just as consumed as you - even more so if possible because there are 2 of us.

Like Anne we "talk shop" daily and nightly. We see our friends on Sundays or after work; the first topic of conversation most times is "how are things at the shop?" Long walks in the park turn into impromptu marketing meetings. Romantic dinners usually turn into discussions about the restaurant's framing and new commercial opportunities (not that we always act on them; we just talk about it :D )

At the stage your business is in (still a "startup" like ours and others)I think it's actually HEALTHY to let it be all-encompassing. If "Out on a Whim" were to fail (no way), who's going to take of you? Until you're established, out of debt and have a rainy day fund, you should devote all your time and energy, waking and non-waking hours, and everything else you have into making your business successful.

And there's this: some of those who say you're selfish may be jealous and envious of what you're doing and accomplishing. We have friends who would KILL to leave their 9-5 for ours :confused: . Hard to believe, I know, but it's true.

Good luck, keep your chin up and have a good time at the wedding.

Tony & Kassandra
Hey Kathy- The advice about having a BALANCE between your work and your life is absolutely right on. You need the change of scene to keep you fresh and enthusiastic. You will do an even better job at everything when you ARE at work. Besides, while you are having fun at the wedding, you may meet some new people who have been looking for a creative framer and had no idea they were destined to meet one on that day.

Have fun! :cool: Rick
Tony & Kassandra,

I can relate to what you expressed!!! It is all so true! And my husband and I wind up doing the same thing...

The way I see it is "Our whole life is a tax deduction" ... we live, eat, sleep, drink, whatever, work work work - if we are not there we are discussing it and making plans and brainstorming!! But it is for ourselves and our future!

But we do take a break - I have to force a "no work talk" time and en-force it!!! Only fun, escape-ism, relaxing issues can be brought up... Sometimes it works!!

So, Kathy - enjoy the time you had and hope you are refreshed to return to your 'baby'... that's how it feels to have a start up business... like a new baby!!

Waaaaaa! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! There it goes again.

despite what "worse-case-scenario Ron" says (even if it is true).
Oh, it's true, Wally.

But I'll save the rest of the story for a slow day on Warped.

Let's get Kathy through this wedding first.
I guess that Kathy will be the only one who will truly understand my "reverse psychology" post to her thread. I WAS pulling the "deary's" leg, folks!

Few of you know how much I have done to help some of the framers on this forum "off the air" so I can understand taking my post as some kind of personal insult to Kathy. But let me assure you that there are few who have spent the time and effort to assuage Kathy's feelings of frustration than I have. We have spent many hours on the phone talking shop and comparing notes on what NOT to do and what to do to make her business start to move ahead.

So don't take anything that I may have said as anything other than a light spirited attempt to encourage her to take MORE time to get her life back to some semblance of normal.

Kathy, I would think there is something wrong with you if DIDN'T feel the way you do. I loved working early on. I had no problem being in my shop several days a week, for more than the usual eight hours a day. Whatever it took to get the work done. BUT, from the beginning, I always took at least one week's vacation, sometimes two, and I never felt guilty about it. After I had my daughter in year three, I had to work less. Now I feel guilty I that I still worked too much when she was little. I hope you won't feel this way twenty years down the road. Please, take the time you need now to enjoy your family, friends, and life in general. Your business can be an important part of your life, just don't make it the only thing in your life.

I knew it was time to "hang it up" when I went away last October and didn't think about my shop at all. The only time I talked about it was when I visited Bob Carter. I only checked in twice, and that was as an afterthought-"oh, yeah, I have a business back there in Massachusetts, guess I better call".

FYI, Kathy, I'm looking at the week of July 25 to be in your area. I'll be in touch. I'd love to say "hello" in person.

I hope you REALLY enjoyed the wedding and the time away from your store... can't wait to hear how you survived!

The local college offers an entrepeneurial class in a partnership with the local CofC which is taught by a retired WalMart exec. (and there's no irony in that statement at all, actually, once you learn more about how they operate).

Anyway, besides some of the good marketing and cash flow ideas I got from the course, one of the the main things I remembered was him saying that you MUST schedule yourself away from your business at least once a quarter. (Going to the WCAF recently was this quarter's "get-away" but it doesn't always have to be business-related.) I just happen to personally like the idea of taxpayers subsidizing my vacations.

Of course, how you do all that is up to you. A couple of days away at a resort to conduct a corporate meeting is not only refreshing but required as part of your charter, and a time of fishing, golf, bird-watching, tub-soaking (or attending a wedding) is part of the deal. You're networking with potential customers at that wedding, anyway. Pass out some business cards, be excited about your new business and mention to the bride's mom that you'd like to give the couple a wedding gift by framing up one of their photos, and really do it up right for the "wow" factor. Get some names to include in your newsletter (and include in your POS where you made the business contacts) and make sure you keep track in a journal of your business activity and expenses.

Somebody mentioned above that you're always working when you ARE the business, and that's true. I think one of the important things to remember is that it's your business, so let it serve you.

I know it takes a while to get on top of that because the reverse is generally true at the start, but I think you have to establish that pattern early or you'll look back and wish you had much later down the road. :cool:
Thanks for all the responses everybody. Geez, I've been "wigged" out all weekend, it took me this long to get back to read this.....

The wedding was wonderful, so glad I went. Yes, I even made one business connection. The photographer who took the brides pictures saw my framing of her photos and suggested we exchange business cards. She is just starting out in her own business. So, we will see where it leads....

My friend only took one order in my absence so I suppose I could have closed the whole popsicle stand down, but I am glad I didn't. I agree totally that I need time away from this place. Part of the problem is I have no money to go anywhere with anyway. I guess my feeling is that if even one person comes who hasn't been in before I can't afford to miss them.

It's not like I am swamped with work and I just need to be here to keep up. Quite the opposite. If I were so inclined I could be a lot more efficient and spend a lot less time here. It is hard to explain, but I am compelled to be here even if I am not being productive. The feeling is almost like if I leave for great a length of time it will simply fall over when I am not looking. I am forever stealth and vigilant in my attempt to not let my store topple over in my absence. Nobody understands me, least of all me.

The wedding was good for the soul though. Nice to reconnect with many friends.
Emibub, I'm sure you have heard it all, but had to add my 2 cents.

We were the same way, workaholics letting our business consume us (for 9 months and we were getting burned out with no days off) until the day came when a close relative died and we were forced to rely on our employees to attend the funeral services out of town. Of course, we took the cell phone to keep in contact and check back daily to ensure all was well. The four days we were gone went fine and we realized that we could rely upon our responsible employees to run the shop. Our regret, not taking the time to visit more often to spend time with those we love. We decided to close the shop one day a week for our sanity. It wasn't worth being open anyway. We also realized that we can now plan a vacation once a year and know that the store will be in good hands. Yes, we still take the cell phone, but we don't mind 1-2 calls out of a whole week.

You need to take time to be with the people you love and take time to smell the roses for yourself. Enjoy life, it passes by TOO FAST.
Do you think, if framerboy51 and framergirl got together, they would make 51framerbabies?
You have been rambling all over the place the past couple of days. You better up the meds......just trying to help! Good luck!
Kathy, Why don't you try having "summer hours"? I put a sign up yesterday with summer hours on it. I have never done this before, but, I have never had help that couldn't take over when I am not here before, either. Business seems to be non-existant after 3:00pm. I will be closed Monday, open reg. hours Tues.,Wed., Thurs., and close at three on Fri. and Sat. I am closing Sat. for Mem. Day, July 4, and Labor Day weekends. I won't be closed the week I am taking off, but customers will bo forewarned I won't be here. I also listed days I will not be in, a handful of personal days. Regular hours will resume after Labor Day.

I have mentioned taking time off to customers, and they are very receptive to it. They know exactly when I will be here, and that is more than fine with them. I'd be willing to bet yours will, too.
Like many of you we were consumed by the business. That is all we talked about and thought about for years and years. And then the burnout hit...badly. I realized I shouldn't be working with customers when I walked into the work shop one day and asked one of the framers for a hit a customer on the head with!

This incident was a wake up call and we realized that 11 years had gone by and we hadn't taken a vacation -- what a shocker. We picked ourselves up and off we went for 3 weeks (in summer when it is slow). I have to tell you that we came back very refreshed, brimming with energy and new ideas.

Since then we try to get away every year. It does help but unfortunately we started doing it too late and the burnout is still there. So, start taking time for yourself, days away and vacations from early on. It could save you from burnout which is no fun.