A number of years ago, as he was delivering some packages to me, a UPS man came into my office, sat down at my chair and put his feet up on my desk. He sat and relaxed and looked totally at home while I stood there, a little dumbfounded at his movements. What happened next floored me, and spurred me into action. He leaned back in my chair, a rickety used rolling chair that I had gotten from the St. Vincent De Paul’s thrift store. I was worried he might break it: he was a pretty big man. He put his hands behind his head and let out a long sigh and said, “Man, this is the life, owning your own business. You get to just sit back and relax while everyone else does the work. I can’t wait to open my own business someday so I can do this.”
I had been rooted to the spot in uncertainty, a little in shock about some dude coming in and just sitting down at my desk to relax without even asking. But his words broke that spell and I said incredulously, “Are you kidding me?! Do you have any idea how hard this is? I never get to just sit around while other people do the work. I’m in charge of everything; I work harder than my employees! If I don’t work, no money comes in! I never get to just sit back and watch the world go by. I’m doing this every day. You’re lucky, all you have to do is deliver packages and collect a paycheck. When your shift is done, you get to go home and never think about your job or feel worried or unsure where your next paycheck is coming from. You’re the one who has it easy dude! Now please get out of my chair so I can get back to work.”
He looked at me like I was crazy, sauntered out of my office and drove off. I’ll never forget that encounter. It bubbles up now because I am working harder than I have in a long time, and while I’m nervous and worried about where the money will come from to pay taxes, pay some part time help, and God forbid, pay myself a little bit, I also know I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Being self-employed is one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever have, but it is also one of the most rewarding. I’m reminded of the story An Acre of Diamonds, an inspirational speech from the turn of the century about a farmer who sold his farm and traveled the world seeking riches and diamonds. He was tired of the hard work of farming and wanted an easier life. The farmer who bought the farm was so grateful to own that piece of land, he lavished love and hard work on his crops and ate the fruits of his labor and was grateful for all he had. One day, during a particularly tough day tilling the fields, he discovered a diamond mine buried under his crops, and became rich beyond his wildest dreams.
I think about that story on this damp foggy morning as I get ready once again to go out into the cold garage and finish up the inventory and accounting necessary to keep my business going. I love that my schedule is my own. I love that I can stop when I need to and take my two beautiful dogs for a walk around my neighborhood, enjoying the grand old oak trees and redwoods that tower above the little mid-century modern houses that fill the old part of Elk Grove where I live.
I am so grateful that I don’t have to come up with extra money to eat out each day, but can go to my refrigerator and heat up some left overs from the night before. I love that when I need some inspiration or comfort, my shelves of records are just in the next room and I can go dig out whatever music I want to listen to and get my batteries recharged. I am so grateful I have a boyfriend who loves what I do and wants to help in any way he can. A supportive partner is hard to find, especially when the time needed to run a successful business cuts into plans to do something fun on his day off.
Working for someone else has many benefits: A steady paycheck, paid holidays, a regular predictable schedule, health insurance and paid vacation time. When you’re self-employed, there is none of that. You have to create it for yourself as well as creating the finances, time and products to keep growing your business. But honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am totally free to pursue projects that capture my interest. I love the flexibility, I love that whatever I decide I want to pursue I can. I love connecting with a community of people who are enthusiastic about what I’m creating. And I love making stuff that makes people happy.
When I put these things in the balance sheet, they more than make up for the security of working for someone else. I am grateful every day, even during the rough times, that I have this opportunity to follow my heart.
These last few months I have lived as if in a dream. The single minded determination to accomplish my goal of getting my magazine out and getting my business back on track has absorbed and confined my mind and my heart as no other task has done.
Once I decided to really go for it at the beginning of 2015, my world became tunnel-visioned with the single purpose of creating goals, and meeting them. First getting the clothing line going again, then the record label and finally the magazine. Each little goal glittered high up in the branches of my business and I climbed and reached.
Celebrating and marking each achievement and answered goal with a small acknowledgment, I did it! Joy of accomplishment ringing through my heart and my soul yet never fully savored. I didn’t have time to linger; I had more goals to accomplish. But finally I had my anniversary party and the planning and organizing that went into communicating that I had met this unendurable goal filled my heart and I got to share it and celebrate it, and I did. It was delicious, watching partygoers enjoying themselves, enjoying each other and what I had created. I tasted and savored each moment of the evening.
Then I had to move onto the next goal, putting together the Kickstarter campaign to raise money. That in and of itself was another huge project that single-mindedly absorbed my attention and when I too reached and passed that goal, I didn’t stop to savor and celebrate, but moved right into my biggest goal, my deepest challenge, the one that would put a nail in the coffin of my past, the magazine.
And I did that too. I reached that goal and then exhaustion set in. I couldn’t do anything but lay still and breath it in and savor it. I felt deep pride and deep contentment. But I also felt a deep pulsing grief in my heart. This final action once and for all time closed a door on my past and shined a light on my future. Why am I feeling such grief when I’ve managed to meet a goal I never thought I had any desire to reach and then found myself so deeply in need of accomplishing?
Simply, I never thought I could do this. My relationship with my former partner was one of assigned roles—he was the writer, I was the one who made it happen. And to become both parts of this process has deeply triggered a grief in the center of my being that I cannot fully express. This business is now about a solitary self; envisioning, creating, achieving. It is very much like giving birth. You conceive in partnership but you ultimately experience it alone. This thing that lives inside you then moves out into the world. To be looked at and shared with others.
One needs to grieve endings but there is also grief in beginnings. It means navigating a whole new path now, finding the new pitfalls, the stepping stones, the support and the cavernous bottoms that will pepper this new part of my life.
The sheer exhaustion I am feeling after accomplishing so much forces me to turn inward to heal. And so today as the rain lashes the trees out the window beyond my computer, I allow the tears to roll down my face, tenderly touching this deep sadness with shaking fingertips and grieving what was and what will never be again. These tears are shed for myself, for my old life, for my future, and for the fear of the unknown as I create new challenges for myself on this journey of self-discovery through entrepreneurship.
Today, I let my inner heart weep and the vehicle of my body shed tears of weariness. The winter is a time for going within, a time of endings and a time to dream about new beginnings. The excruciating raw emotion of months of labor finally lifting has thawed a frozen part of my very being, which now gently shines as the tears roll down my cheeks. I did it. Farewell my old life. Hello, new me.
By now, some of you have received your orders for the new magazine, and many of you haven't. One thing this whole process has taught me is that there is only so much one can do at a time, and sometimes, you just have to let Life intervene.
I had every intention of getting the magazine out and all your orders fulfilled before the end of 2015,or at the very least, by the first week of 2016 and with some of you I was able to do that. Most of you however, are still waiting. Since I felt it was only right to fulfill the orders pledged by my Kickstarter supporters first, I held off shipping orders from the Web Store. I couldn't send out the Kickstarter packages until the Gearhead Vampire (Pheck) Shirts arrived, so I took that time as a welcome break from work.
I was beyond exhausted with the push to get the magazine out, so the forced break of the holidays was actually really nice. I would have pushed myself to meet my obligations and probably would have gotten sick. Thankfully, I didn't, but I sure slept a lot.
Then it was the new year, and time to do inventory and get my books in order, and since I was waiting for the shirts to come in, which were an integral part of most of the pledge rewards, I worked on that. Inventory involves counting each and every item and comparing it to what my database says I have. It's a long tedious process, but a necessary one which has to be done before I can do much else. I'm still not done with it though, and here's why.
I had planned a visit to my family in Oregon thinking I would have everything done before I left, but it was taking me longer than anticipated. And then I found out my mom was sick with pneumonia, and that put everything else out of my mind.
I dropped work, responsibility to you, my customers and supporters and everything else connected with my life and went to be with my mom. Illness sure puts things in perspective. Sometimes, Real Life intervenes, and you just have to let it be what it is. I am so grateful my work allows me the flexibility to do things like this. If I hadn't gone to be with her, I would have been stressed and worried. But thankfully, I was able to be there and lend a hand with her recovery.
I'm back now, and the shirts have arrived so I am working to get the rest of the Kickstarter pledge packages out in the mail. As soon as that is done, I'll start working on the Web Store orders. Since it's just me here packing orders, there is only so fast I can go, so I thank you in advance for your patience waiting for your orders to arrive.
Once you get your package, I'd love to hear what you think of the magazine. Till then, keep the rubber on the road. Much love, xo Rev. Michelle
The Gearhead office is closed for inventory. Your order will be processed or your email answered when the office opens again Tuesday Jan. 12, 2016. If you purchase an item during this time, please be patient as we are not here to ship it, but will as soon as we return! If you don't feel like waiting, then please save the Gearhead store to your favorites and check back to see if the item you're interested in is still available. Thank you for your patience and support!
I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of one’s dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, s/he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.
–Henry David Thoreau
It has been one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. Those of you who regularly read these newsletters know the blood, sweat and tears I’ve shed to get to this point. But finally, it is done. GEARHEAD No. 19, the long-awaited new issue of the beloved magazine is finished. And you can buy it now!
Those of you who supported the Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of this magazine will be getting your copies shortly. Eighty-eight of you helped push this project over the finish line and to you, I am forever grateful and humbled at your belief that this time would come. Thank you!
To these retailers who stepped up and said yes, I want to stock GEARHEAD in my store, another heart-felt thank you: Axis Records and Comics in Las Vegas, NV, Newsbeat in Davis, CA and Phono Select Records in Sacramento, CA, you are the true spirit of independent business. Stocking a product that hasn’t had a chance to build up some hype takes guts. If you live near one of these stores, please support them, and if you don’t live near them, visit their website. In this age of big box retail, finding unique stores like these is a challenge; they need our support!
As 2015 draws to a close, I look back at this year with pride, gratitude, and a humble heart. Reviving a company and product line that has been in hibernation for so long proved to be a bigger challenge than I anticipated but with the support and enthusiasm of the GEARHEAD community, I did it. I hit every single goal I made for this company at the beginning of the year, and then some! Thank you for sharing this ride with me.
Happy New Year!
Love, Rev. Michelle Haunold
Rock 'n' Roll/Automotive Journalist, Influencer, Editor and Publisher of Gearhead Magazine,