Creating Space in 2022

Creating Space in 2022

Heyyyyy. It's me. Happy 2022! This new year has barely started and I feel like so much has happened under the hood over here.

I was really quiet in January – didn't really deal with email, social media or business stuff. Only the bare minimum things, like helping my staff deal with customer issues or responding to order related emails. Aside from those things, I was completely quiet.

Taking a true break in January was not easy, especially with all the hype around "new year, new me!" and watching others with small businesses plan out their years. I just couldn't find the interest to do it – "it" being anything related to Ponnopozz. It felt like burnout.

I did myself a favor and looked back over my calendar from September to December. And, honestly, it was bonkers. Between Renegade Craft in September, to preparing and opening the larger store (and closing the smaller one) in October, Cyber week and holiday shows in November, and shop events in December ... it's no wonder I was feeling the way I felt!

Rather than wallow in the shame that is lack of motivation that turns into depression, I decided to speak up and ask for help. I did this by letting my two wonderful staff members know about my mental state. Both were understanding, open, and more than OK with running the retail store for a month with minimal guidance. 

One of my employees, Hope, understood my feelings completely. She told me that she often does her yearly "new year, new me" stuff in the spring, when the world starts to bloom after the hibernation of winter. She reminded me that plants and animals use the winter to sleep and refresh for the warmer seasons. This resonated deeply. Why shouldn't I do the same?

So I did, even though I had a twinge of guilt about it. I still reported to my remote day job, but anything Ponno related took a back seat in January. I rarely checked Instagram and only made one post, explaining why I was taking a break and that I'd be back February 1st. I was honest with folks who reached out over email, asking me to participate in new projects. I pushed requests for calls and interviews to February. And I basically sat at home and worked on things that calm my mind.

Things that calm my mind:

  • Playing my accordion (new hobby)
  • Reading
  • Doing online genealogical research on my Italian immigrant family
  • Playing Wingspan online

I did those 4 things religiously in January. It felt right. You see, I am also on a path to discovery about my own mental health, and taking January off gave me space to do that. Last fall, I learned I have combination ADHD and I started medication (30mg Vyvanse) for the first time in my life. 

Learning about ADHD has been a long and interesting process. I initially sought out help when I realized that I started each day with a scattered mind. Vyvanse improved my focus and productivity tremendously, especially in that first month. With that obstacle out of the way, I started to realize there was A LOT more to ADHD than I expected.

For one, I was double stimulating myself in December and January by taking Vyvanse and drinking my usual amount of coffee. Caffeine and Vyvanse don't mix well and the combination was causing the medication to wear off sooner and giving me anxiety attacks. In mid January, I changed this behavior. Now, I have one small cup of coffee in the morning. I've found my Vyvanse lasts all day and my anxiety has been dramatically reduced. 

That is one of many new discoveries about living with ADHD, but those warrant their own post. Suffice it to say, taking January off was a great idea. It gave me the space to work on myself and take a true, restful break.

Which brings me to my word of the year for 2022:


Two weeks ago, I sat down with my business planner (I use Nicola Taylor's Makers Yearbook, and I highly recommend it). Normally, I reflect on my previous year and look ahead to a new year during January. Not this year.

After 4 weeks off, I was able to approach my reflection and goal planning with new eyes. I spent a few hours one Sunday evening filling out the entire reflection and planning sections, a task that would have taken several anxiety fueled days in the past. This is 100% due to my ADHD inhibiting me from tackling big projects. My medication has helped me overcome most of this fear, and it showed most during my planning session. I wowed myself with my ability to think clearly, articulate what I want for myself and the business in the new year and (DRUMROLL) make an actual plan for the coming year! I HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO DO THAT!

Part of what came from my planning session was tackling far less than I usually do. Another thing I learned about ADHD – folks who have it tend to bite off more than they can chew. So, I deliberately limited the projects I am focusing on this year (will share in another post). In short, I want to delegate more to my amazing staff, which will allow myself time to rest, produce work, complete projects and seek out new ones.

This is my first year running my business as a medicated individual who is learning to live with ADHD. Space, I'm learning, is a big part of that journey. 

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Thank you for sharing and being so open. Similar journey here though my anxiety and stressed/state of overwhelmed ness has yet to be formally diagnosed. My neuropsychological appt is scheduled for fall presently (thanks Pandemic).

I’ve lived with these symptoms since I can remember (and I’m 43). I had a traumatic childhood surrounded by verbal abuse, parents that smoked cigarettes or marijuana and drank excessively. I grew up too soon and parented my Mom who became a single parent of two kids under 4 when my parents got divorced. Around age 10 my sister was diagnosed with Epilepsy. From day 1 she was in and out of the hospital and The Ronald McDonald House in Iowa City for treatment of seizures, violent episodes and adult-likr strength as a child.

When I turned 40 I found a magnet that said, “40 is the new F*** You” and I embraced it as my mantra, my daily intention, etc Little did I know, 10 months later Covid would up-end the world & my priorities took a backseat to my family (5-year-old son and husband of 10y, 18 years together). It was hard…

I am still job searching/interviewing 2 years later. Although I’ve had a few short-term jobs in my field, remote learning coupled with hybrid learning for my now 7-year-old was unsettling for my otherwise type A, obsessive compulsive, perfectionist self.

Also, honestly, I had realized pre-Pandemic that caring for other people’s children was no longer fulfilling because I had a son who I adored and poured all myself into. Being homebound made me realize I’ve had growing anxiety as a mother. Sometimes it feels debilitating, though until January of this year, I pushed through to the point of daily exhaustion, always sacrificing my self care to support others. I have PTSD like anxiety based on my childhood coupled with having a child that I fear will be taken too soon because I’ve ultimately not learned to trust anyone outside of myself.

Then the unsaid is that America has not changed enough for my values of social justice, cultural awareness and respect and love for all living things. I am an unhinged liberal whose passion can book over to isolate me from others wanting to sustain being near me.

Sigh… So again in these continued very hard times that are often consumed by one’s own thoughts that never slow down or cease to leave, I thank you for sharing and empathizing ultimately. It’s a lonely world but connection though different and more varied than ever is needed and necessary. Thank you.

Be well all and speak up for your needs!

Melanie Wiley

Wow. This was so beautifully written and such a master class in mental health and boundaries. Learning and navigating ADHD is an overwhelming task but also a deeply liberating and helpful one. I’m so glad you’re figuring out what works for you + how to give yourself the rest and space you need. Sending hugs.

Amy Lynn

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