Happy Trails

Everyone is familiar with the old chestnut, “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” Usually it’s used in the context of loss — a person, a thing, a relationship — but I’d like to turn that around and apply it to losing a feeling.


Of course, I knew I was stressed. I talked about being stressed, feeling stressed, and Oh, the ache in my shoulders! Everyone around me expressed concern, sometimes with sympathy but often with increasing frustration at my inability to truly grasp how unhealthy my life had become.

I was allowing the things in my life I hated most to completely control me, and I let it happen for far too long. I got so accustomed to the weight of the world on my shoulders that I couldn’t imagine daily life without it, so I stopped trying.

But no more! To paraphrase a truly terrible pop hit, I can breathe for the first time (yeah, yeah). Now that I’m moving past the horrors of leaving a job, moving, and starting a new job in the space of two weeks (not a path I recommend, by the way), the realization that I am in control of my life again is dawning. That weight has been lifted and it feels damn good.

In related news, prepare for a focus shift on this here blog. I still consider myself a member of the jewelry industry, but my attention will be directed toward the advancement and adoption of new technologies and how we as a group can move forward into a new era of creating, buying, and selling.

You’ll see the hashtag #womenintech popping up, alongside #jewelrypeople and of course #3dprinting. I’m still working on some sort of jewelry-tech hybrid hashtag (#3Diamonds?), and genius suggestions are welcome. Find me on other social channels and please do say hello! I’m busting out of the retail box and I’m ready to forge ahead, blazing new trails.

There’s a lot of hard work and excitement headed my way. Carpe opportunitatem!


Brain Freeze

Well, here we go again. It’s been ten days since my last post, and I don’t expect this one to do much in the way of readership generation.

There is a simple fact I must face: during the holiday season, I go into survival mode. All extraneous brain activity ceases, including the portion that comes up with catchy titles and useful content.

Other bloggers seem to successfully navigate this time of year, but perhaps many of them don’t work the retail frontlines. And perhaps they have a normal working schedule, enabling them to surround themselves with family and friends when they’re not actually at work.

Anyway, this is more of an apologetic post than anything particularly useful or even entertaining for my readers (both of them). I love the joy on a customer’s face when we find just the right gift for someone special, and I cling to those moments to guide me through this exhausting, stress-ridden season.

So my dear customers, you’d better not shout. You’d better not cry. Santa and Hanukkah Harry are watching — and so am I.


The Storm: Before and After

Whomever pioneered the concept of the “calm before the storm” was probably highly observant of the weather, but definitely did not work retail.

I have always found that large-scale events in the B2C world begin long before the advertised dates, and that the preparation and planning stress often outstrips the challenges of the event itself. Perhaps that’s good in a way, as it allows the frenetic energy to dissipate so workers can settle down and concentrate on being effective and active when it matters most.

In my own work history, I’ve been a member of both large-scale store grand opening teams and (more recently) non-closure liquidations, and find the preparations similarly hectic and equally exhausting. The events themselves have very different tones, of course, but both involve high levels of attention to detail, energy expenditure, and precise time management. That’s a deadly combination that directly affects personal sanity and team morale, and can turn even the most even-tempered worker into a hair-triggered nail-biting workaholic (a.k.a. me).

Something new to my experience is the difference in post- event recuperation. After a grand opening event, the store begins normal, day-to-day operations very quickly because it must, in order to establish solid working practices that will continue into the future. But an established business that essentially interrupts itself to run a special event seems to take a different kind of recovery approach, where things return slowly to normal and any changes are integrated into daily routine over a period of time.

From my perspective, special events provide some of the best, most concentrated forms of high-intensity training: when you’re forced to learn, adapt, and think quickly and efficiently, you can apply those skills to future work in a way that can only enhance effectiveness. I have certainly acquired new skills and polished old ones during the aforementioned recent event, particularly related to stress management, task prioritizing, and delegation (my coworkers are rockstars**, for the record). Nobody enjoys learning that you can’t do it all on your own, but the lesson is certainly a lasting one.

With this experience behind me, I can finally focus on the next big event in my career: attending my first industry show! At the moment I’m every combination of excited/nervous/anticipatory/stressed/didImentionexcited, but most of all I’m humbled by the opportunity and grateful to the people who are allowing me the chance to reach a goal I’ve held for quite a while.

I love me some terrible puns, and one of my favorites that I like to tell customers is how multifaceted this job and industry can be (oh c’mon, it’s funny!). But joking aside, the many and varied jobs-within-jobs are what keep me glued to this work. And though I may be occasionally convinced that it will kill me, I love it just the same.

**Rockstars. Get it? Get it??!! 🙂