Yes, it is true. I want to take you back to 2018. Honestly, 2020 hasn’t been so great and 2019 wasn’t totally awesome, either, so why not?
The beginning of 2018 found me sick with influenza b, planning ADAM conference (Anxiety Disorders and Mormonism), and getting released as Relief Society President/talked to by the Bishop (see last post). ADAM conference in SLC was great. On a post conference high and while flying between America and England (so my husband could speak at a programming conference immediately following ADAM), I started to make plans for more conferences.
First off was AnxietyTech, which my husband suggested we plan. We organized and planned it for July 2018 in San Francisco. I still am not sure how we got it going so fast, but let’s just say that it wasn’t financially successfully (though it was appreciated). I had also started planning ADAM Teen in Utah for August of 2018 but quickly realized that I couldn’t do it all. I was having a really difficult time getting everything ready for AnxietyTech while also trying to plan, organize, and promote ADAM Teen (and having two kids in summer and purchasing/fixing up a family cabin in Oregon). Due to low ticket sales and lots of stress, I decided to cancel ADAM Teen.
I don’t necessarily thrive on failure, so that cancellation was an embarrassment—but it also allowed me to breathe a little. I realized I couldn’t do it all. Also during this year, we were dealing with some behavioral issues with my son. I had homeschooled him for about a month but soon realized it wasn’t healthy for him or me. He was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, and we were beginning to understand and accept what that meant.
In August, we decided to get a dog as an unofficial “therapy animal” for our son, who didn’t want us to touch or hug him. So, when ADAM Teen was supposed to be happening, we were bringing home a goldendoodle Great Pyrenees puppy. My family went to San Diego while I stayed home to potty train him in peace.
Also around this time, my husband and I had gone on a Portland date and visited Powell’s Books where I saw and purchased the book, Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult. I remember reading it in bed at our new old cabin, feeling myself falling in love with learning about the authors of children’s books.
Jump to my having a new puppy in the house (and no children around), and I found myself sitting outside in the garden with the pup, reading a biography of Margaret Wise Brown. I started researching graduate programs in children’s literature. I felt like I had found a new passion, and I wanted to pursue it whole-heartedly.
I applied to a distance learning program with the University of Roehampton in England, starting in September. It was a two year masters in Children’s Literature, and I could do it from my home! I got accepted and started my second masters degree.
By October, I was planning and dreaming about what I should do with my new passion (and someday with my new degree). I thought about starting a publishing company to reimagine classics with female heroines. I went to the Portland Book Festival in November and purchased a book about starting a publishing company. In it, I read that it can be helpful to have your own storefront to sell your books when you have a publishing company. The seed had been sown, and a short time later I was walking the dog downtown Vancouver, Washington, when I saw the perfect bookstore space for lease.
I kept walking by, peeking in the windows, and around Thanksgiving, I contacted the leasing agency to look inside myself. At lunch afterwards, I was already sketching out my bookstore layout. By the end of December, I had the keys to the store in my hand.
My husband convinced me eventually that I couldn’t start a publishing company, start a bookstore, work on a masters degree, have a brand new puppy, and be a mother and wife all at once. I had to pick one of my passions. Since I had the keys, I obviously choose the bookstore. My course coordinator was graciously understanding, and I finished my program by getting a postgraduate certificate in Children’s Literature (since I had finished a semester of courses).
I threw myself headlong into getting the store (called dickens) ready and had it open by mid-March. Obviously, this blog took a back seat (or got shoved into the trunk). I worked at the shop, I bought the books for the shop, I was the shop. Eventually I hired part time workers so I could be more of a mom (and we could go on vacation sometimes), but then we discovered that money became tighter. It was tough.
Also that spring/summer (now we are in 2019), we found out that someone was going to buy the house on Vashon Island that we had started building. We moved to Vancouver from Vashon because that house was taking so long to build (and I needed to be able to access therapy without the aid of a ferry).
Vashon, part two
We were so happy! We were going to be done with that place that had caused us so much stress! But then the deal fell through. We went up to look at the house. Somehow we decided that we should just suck it up and move into that house. We had picked and personalized the design. Some of my husband’s family lived on Vashon now so the kids could play with their cousins. We had a dog who needed a space to run and the lot was huge. Plus, my husband wanted me to step back from being at the bookstore all the time. We decided to move in time for the new school year.
I put out the word that I need to sell the bookstore. We held our second AnxietyTech conference in New York. I found out I was pregnant. I started packing up our house. We got a second dog (that lasted about two months). I had a miscarriage and ended up in the ER in the middle of the night by myself in Vancouver because the pain was so bad I thought it might be ectopic (my husband was with the kids on Vashon and I had been back to finish packing up). Luckily I was okay, but things were rough.
Eventually we had sold our house and the bookstore. My husband got a new job at Amazon in Seattle. But our Vashon house was a disaster. Our builder was not an honest, good dude. He scammed us out of so much money, built a shoddy house, and got the building funded by a sketchy investment firm that claimed we owed them a ton of money or they would foreclose on us.
We decided we had to just pay them. But we hated the house. I got sick. It was Christmas time. My husband hated commuting from an island to Seattle. My college roommate lived in Seattle and told me the house across the street from them was on sale. We visited it, put in an offer, and it was accepted.
We then had to sell our Vashon house (that we had just bought), complete the bookstore sale, and move in less than two months. Somehow we did it. I still can’t believe it and we lost a ton more money, but we did it. We moved. And then coronavirus happened.
So you know, it’s been a bit of a marathon. More OCD/mental health related content soon, promise.