Monday, June 13, 2016

My Peak Challenge 2016: What happens when you fail

So what do you do when you fail at something? Cry? Eat junk food? Stay in bed all day? Drink copious amounts of alcohol? What do you do when you fail at something big?

If you have read this blog before then you know I participated in something called My Peak Challenge last year. I wrote about it a few times. If you don't know what it was or need a refresher, click here for the beginning and here for the end result from last year. This year was of course bigger, better, and more bad-assery. It kicked off in January and culminated for the entire month of May. There was a facebook group formed for all the participants and a two month long prep program that ran from February through the end of March that included meal prep, menu's, and an exercise program with videos and tutorials. We were to pick our challenge and had the entire month of May to complete it. And of course all the while we were raising money for cancer research. I signed up for it all. I was so excited to do it again. I got my MPC 2016 t-shirt, bought the prep program and followed it every day for the entire two months. I even found and bought a rowing machine from craig's list. All the while I was trying to decide what my May challenge would be. I decided that this year it wouldn't be a physical challenge but a professional one. I kept quiet about the whole challenge this year. No weekly blog posts about good running music or embarrassing work-out mishaps. I didn't want to blurt out what my challenge was going to be. I wanted it to be a surprise.

When I left archaeology originally, it was to pursue opening a small business. My dream was to own and operate a used bookstore and gelato shop. So I started to pursue it. I wrote a business plan, started collecting books, went to classes sponsored by the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) and my local Chamber of Commerce. Learned how to make gelato from a real Italian. I put it on hold when I realized I needed money I didn't have and then my mom got sick. Well then she died, and I started My Peak Challenge 2015 last year. My sister bought me out of our house, I moved into dad's house, and I cashed out my archaeology 401k. All of a sudden, I now had money. So let's do this. Time to get this dream out of the clouds and a reality. That was going to be my May challenge. To find a building in downtown for my shop and get the necessary loans needed to get it up and running. So that's what I did. I rewrote my business plan, found the building I wanted, got my real estate agent on it, and went to a local non-profit that specializes in small businesses and their funding and the bank with my applications.

The non-profit said, "sorry, we won't fund you at this time, too high risk". The bank said the same thing. This wasn't just some normal big bank. Big banks won't even look you in the eye without coming to them with a multi-million dollar deal. I was just asking for $400,000. The bank I went to is one of the local community banks that specialize in small businesses. I tried SBA loans which are government backed and got no answers. I then asked my sister and brother-in-law to go in on it with me thinking they have collateral that I don't have and have incomes that I don't so surely the bank would like them better. Nope. The way that banks and any other financial institutions work these days are not for the common person. They work for huge conglomerates and the big money makers. They will not invest in small businesses. They just won't. They make it so hard. You have to front up to 50%, have already been in business for 3-5 years, etc. So how is someone suppose to start up, when no one will lend? You don't.

I failed. There are a ton of articles about how the current U.S. economy has killed small businesses and entrepreneurs. Google it. Read this article from Time magazine. Could I get investors? Sure, but then I have to do what they say, pay them back at their interest rate, on their terms. It wouldn't be my business, it would be theirs until I payed them off. Could I crowd fund? Sure. Could I get $300-400,000 that I need? No.

I failed. The U.S. economy failed. The only way to be an entrepreneur now is to be a 1%-er trust fund kid. And that, I am not. You have to do it outside of the traditional route. And even then you are taking a big risk. I was willing to take the risk. No one else was.

So what do you do when you fail? When your dream is dead in the water? Well, you keep getting up in the morning. You keep putting your clothes on. You keep going to that job you hate. You keep eating food. And you run. Run till you can't go any farther. You run till your tears stop flowing. You run with the music so loud you drown out the negative voice in your head telling you that you suck and you're a looser. You run. And you keep running. And get up the next day and do it all over again. Because sometimes, that's all you can do.

I did not succeed at this years My Peak Challenge. Not everyone did. Some people had to have surgeries. Others had to stop because they are on chemo treatments. Some got injured. Did these people give up because they failed to reach their peak this year? Hell no. They get up every day and go to physical therapy or to their chemo treatments. They keep going. And so will I. I will keep getting up every day. I will run because that is all I can do.

I failed. My dream of being a proud small business owner may be over, but I'm still here. And for now, I'll keep running.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

I'm still an archaeologist... sometimes

So besides my barista job at the coffee shop, I have another job. I write cultural resource reports for a friend/former co-worker/now boss who got a big-wig job. I get to write these little ditties at 3am if I choose, and clothing is not a requirement either. This all means, I work from home, remotely. Well, I actually got to do a little survey earlier this week for them. I haven't done any field work for well over a year. So when a writer of these reports or agency says a survey should be done before work can commence (hence writing the report in the first place), one of us remote writers gets to go play in the outdoors.

I got to go to Wishon Reservoir. Where's that, you say?
It's like driving to LA, only the destination is much prettier and a hell of a lot less people. Now way back in the day, I did this drive a lot. I think the last time I was in the southern sierra's was over 3 years ago when I got to play at the bottom of Shaver Lake. I've talked about the Sierra's quite a bit here on the blog. See here for one example. Well, I'm impressed I remembered how to get through Madera, and that my little putt putt made it up The Grade on Hwy 168. There are so many dead trees. So, so many. The drought and bark beetles have done a severe number on this forest. If a wildfire happens here this summer, it will be completely devastating. It will char this mountain to the core. So anyway, you drive up to Shaver Lake and then hang a right and head to Dinky Creek. I've been to Dinky Creek before, but have never actually been as far out as Wishon. The farthest I had been was Camp Fresno, and I thought as I drove past it, that from here on out will be new. What an adventure. And I saw little bits of snow still on the ground. Probably not there anymore, since we're in a heat wave. I think my ears actually screamed when they finally popped. Oh, the pressure release was amazeballs!

Well, I made it to the campground where I was going to camp. Pulled into a site I liked, and got the tent out. It took me a minute to remember how to set it up, but I got it. Man, I forgot about the bugs. I finished setting up camp, ate what constituted as my dinner at the picnic table and went straight back into my car because it was the only safe place from the Jurassic sized mosquitoes. I got bored waiting for the sun to set. So I bundled up (to keep the mosquitoes from draining me dry) and walked around a bit, but I mostly played games on the ipad.

my little campsite

if we weren't in a drought, this would all be water
So, I went to get in my tent for the night, and apparently I put it on the lovely home of the FIRE ANTS! My little tent was covered in them. Oh, hell no! So I didn't sleep in my tent. I slept in my car. It was very uncomfortable, and too hot because I couldn't roll the windows down for fear of Jurassic mosquitoes. Miserable night.

Woke up the next morning to sunshine and less mosquitoes. I ate breakfast (a crappy Starbucks frappacino thingy, applesauce, and a granola bar) and got ready to go find my survey location, a random distribution pole. Found it. Surveyed around it. Took lots of pictures of it. Was impressed that I remembered the names of the vegetation around it (trees, shrubs, and even wildflowers). I gave myself a pat on the back for that one. And I filled out my survey notes.
It was all done and over within 30 minutes. Well, shoot, now what? I'm all the way out here and it isn't even 9am. Well, I'll regret not seeing the reservoir. So I went over to the boat launch and stared at the water for a while.
Hello, Wishon
And so my little turn as archaeologist was over. But the adventure wasn't quite done yet. I got everything packed back up into my car, including the tent with FIRE ANTS, and started the drive back down the mountain. I had missed it on the way up, but drove passed this famed spot.
you have bars? no, you?
I do, if I stand on the truck.

I texted a good friend, not at this spot though, even today, my phone did not have any bars, and asked her if she wanted to have lunch. And so I turned little putt putt to Fresno. I rolled into her driveway just before noon. I got a tour of her awesome house. And spent a few hours with her and her awesome little human. Her husband, who was once upon a time, my work-husband, and in a round-about-way now I work for, had to be all responsible and go to some important work meeting thing or whatever and missed out on my presence. To bad for him. I got his wife and daughter all to myself.

I then drove the rest of the way home. Unpacked the car, including the tent with FIRE ANTS. I put the tent back up in the backyard. The hot trunk killed the FIRE ANTS (yea) and only carcasses remained (double yea). But I still needed to air out and dry the tent. I did laundry, showered, picked spinach for my sisters chickens, and uploaded my notes and pictures to the company server.

I sat around and thought, I still got this. I still know how to do this. That was fun. And oh man, did I have the best sleep in my comfy big girl bed that night!!