Today is Sunday, September 26th and that means tonight that both "The Amazing Race" and "Undercover Boss" premiered, two shows that our family likes to watch. Oddly enough, it is our four year old son, Ryan who is really jazzed up about "Undercover Boss". He runs around the house and calls himself "Undercover Baba". Part of the appeal is that he likes to spend so much time playing hide and seek undercovers. That's a new show too ("Undercovers") but I'm not letting him watch that. :-)
I had a blog already to go yesterday in my head. For most it may seem silly or odd but I really like the number 25 and yesterday was September 25th so I was ready to give a shout out. In fact, I dedicated a whole blog posting to the number 25 on July 25th and although many of you probably wonder what on earth I could find to write about, I came up with 25 connections or facts about the number 25 in 25 minutes and 25 seconds. I posted the blog at 10:25 p.m and commented at 11:25 p.m. (also my birthdate, no coincidence).
It was a fun blog for me to write and so if you have 2.5 minutes to spare, go check it out when you're done with this one. I'm even providing you an easy link because I'm a nice person.
Yeah, I know. I'm also a whimsical, quirky and perhaps eccentric kinda gal, some might even say occasionally intriguing. Of course, one of my recent Aspierations visitors called me a whackbrain. Somehow I doubt that was a compliment but I thanked him or her anyway. Why not at least show good manners? :-)
Anyway, before I digressed, I was saying that I was going to write a blog yesterday mentioning that being September 25th, it was three months away from Christmas and also two months away from Thanksgiving (and my birthday) and one month away from October 25th, the birthday of an awesome, important and inspirational person from my life's journey who I'll sing to even though he'll never hear it.
Three months until Christmas.... YIKES! In the retail industry, whether you're brick and mortar or like Count Your Beans, "click and order", the holiday shopping season is the biggest time of the year. Sales from October - December often carry our business through the slower months of January - March. If you're new to my blog or visit sporadically, I founded an online business when I left the Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour in late 1998 and became pregnant with Justin in early 1999. We started off selling Beanie Babies and gifts (ergo part of the reason for the name "Count Your Beans") and at the time it was just a little after the peak of the Beanie Babies heyday.
(I better watch out or I'm going to break into a blog about the "Count Your Beans" company story. Someone help me off the tangent train!!)
Okay, so Beanie Babies had very little profit margin and giftware had more. We attended the San Francisco International Gift Fair in 2009 and soon realized that dolls and bears were popular collectibles and we could build a business niche around selling these items to customers who would return to us again and again once we could gain their loyalty.
(I'm doing it again, aren't I? I PROMISE I'm trying to give the really really condensed version. Sometimes I forget that even though I type 120+ wpm and can get it out quickly that when I finally post, it's practically a novella in length. One thing about becoming a regular Aspierations blog reader is that you'll pick up on your reading speed! If not, I can give you some hints!)
So we hooked ourselves up with a variety of top vendors in the industry, started purchasing wholesale and selling online retail at eBay, Yahoo and through our own website and what started out as a part-time income with me working the business from home and John working full time outside the home eventually became a full 80 hour/week enterprise where after John was laid off from Lucent Technologies in early 2002, he never had to go back to work for anyone else.
Now I'm HIS undercover BOSS! (I can hear the groans.....)
Where was my point? Ah, yes. Business built steadily from 1999 - 2007 and then we moved from CA to WA and got our first home, first mortgage and then KABOOM, lots of stuff happened with the economy, the housing market, health issues in our own lives and many manufacturers we worked with went out of business or started competing with their own customers. I'm sure many people have lots of similar kinds of stories in their lives so I'm not complaining, just telling it like it is. I try to be optimistic but the last few years have been challenging financially, emotionally and well... when our boys were diagnosed in 2008 with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asperger's respectively, all that other stuff to do with money and business, it was so inconsequential compared to the maternal love I had for my children and wanting to see them happy, healthy and having the best care and treatments we could afford.
It's a juggling act because my boys need me, my husband needs me, the business needs me, apparently the mortgage company and credit card companies need me too. So at this time of year when there is already lots of stuff on the plate, I have to dedicate myself even moreso to busting my buns and making absolutely sure that the Christmas selling season for Count Your Beans is going to be a strong one so that we can keep the house, keep the schools, keep the routine and keep the forward momentum for our sons.
Because Aspierations friends... my son Justin needs to be in his SCIP program at middle school. He just made a NEW friend. What parent of an AS kiddo doesn't LOVE finding that out? I'll tell you the story tomorrow. My son Ryan... he needs to be at the special education preschool with his amazing teacher, teacher's aide and staff so that he can be ready to transition to Kindergarten at our local elementary school next year that has their own SCIP program for the little guys.
My husband John needs to continue to have the opportunity here to be an Assistant Boy Scout Leader, motivating boys and mentoring Justin like he did as a Den Leader all throughout Cub Scouts. Incidentally, John started a new group on Facebook recently called "Autism and Scouting". It's for Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Brownies, Royal Rangers, other types of Scouts and anyone on the spectrum or related to children with Autism or Aspergers. Nothing else of its kind was out there which surprised both of us so he stepped up to the plate and is making it happen. I encourage him.
What do I want? I need to have faith in myself and not just in my plan for me, but to have trust and faith in God's plan for me. Trust... I am a very trusting individual and although it's a strong attribute to have, it has also been a naive downfall of mine many times in my life. I have trusted the wrong people. I have forgiven and trusted again. Sometimes I look up naive in the dictionary and see a picture of myself by the definition!
Trust, accountability, honesty... all these things are very important to most but especially important and critical with an Aspie. If I give my word, you can know I will bust my butt to make it gold. If you give your word to me, I'll believe you until you give me a reason not to. Then I'll likely forgive you and trust you again, because you, my friend are like me. We're fallible. We slip. We're misguided. We're confused. But don't play me for a fool and continually betray me because that... well, it's just not right and not only do I deserve better but so do you.
What else do I want? Aspierations... not just this blog, but a website, a book, speaking engagements, something bigger... I see that all coming in time. I see it big. I see many of you a part of it if you want to be... If only I could figure out a way to sneak bonus hours into my day, maybe I could speed up the timetable to match my aspirations. God's time... my time... his plan... my plan... I've been blessed with so much in my life. One of these days I'll figure out how to get our plans on the same drawing board! If you've found out the secret, let me know.
So yes, it's three months until Christmas and it's crunch time for us financially and business wise at Count Your Beans. But at Aspierations... it's hope and optimism, maybe a little naive idealism but more importantly, trust and faith. Each day is a new story, another step down the path looking to eat a bit from the tree of wisdom before I carry on. I guess I need to watch out for snakes taunting me with apples along the way....
I have a feel good story for you on Monday about Justin and his upcoming birthday next Sunday! We're having a party for him and you'll want to come back and hear what really touched my heart!
Wishing you the very best day and week,