What Life Has Taught Me in 33 Years
Today is my birthday and it’s the first time I have felt compelled to write. I have been hiding out for the past two weeks after a devastating blow.
It has taken me this long to get to a place where I am no longer angry or sad and I can share this disappointing news with a positive twist.
I thought it fitting to share this on my birthday, a day of reflection for me.
On Friday the 13th of this month, we drove to Los Angeles to pick up our “finished” product for our new surf bikinis from Lemi’s Studio, the contractor whom we had hired to do our first round of production. Once we started inspecting the suits, I instantly wanted to cry. My biggest worry had become a reality…
The bikinis were all made carelessly and incorrectly – beyond repair. I took every precaution to avoid this from happening. I included all the instructions, pinned little notes and sent reminder emails to the owner asking him to make sure his employees pay attention to these instructions.
He replied with, “No worries.” When what he should have said was, “You should be very worried. Call me everyday… no, no wait. Actually, you should probably come down here to make sure we don’t fuck up your livelihood.”
They completely ignored all the specifications and didn’t care that they had ruined all of our materials. When we spoke on the phone the next day, the owner informed us that we can’t expect the product to be the same quality as the sample he made or that it would be done correctly since we had a smaller order than his usual customers. (Yes, my jaw actually dropped onto the floor). Even though bikinis can’t usually be taken apart and re-sewn, we asked the owner if he would at least give it a try.
After several email attempts, the owner finally just stopped responding to us. He already has our deposit and he isn’t losing much money by us not picking up the product he made incorrectly. He is just hoping we will go away.
After he stopped responding, there wasn’t anything else we could do, except to refund all of our pre-orders. This situation has caused a huge financial blow to our business, but we didn’t want to keep our customers waiting for a product that we don’t have.
That’s where we are today. I’ve come to terms with the loss and can even see the silver lining. This gives us more time to focus on our blog and travel, our first love.
I don’t know where our swimwear business is headed in the future; it’s possible that we will search for an experienced seamstress to partner with or one of us will learn how to sew. I could even try to force Scott to work in the OT Surf sweatshop.
I believe everything happens for a reason. I don’t know the exact reason yet, but I have been reminded of many lessons and learned a few new ones.
1. No matter how tough things get, life goes on. You can’t look to the past. All we have is this moment.
2. “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Buddha
3. Being “attached” to something means that you will become immobilized without it.
4. Bad things do happen to good people.
5. Time heals all wounds… regardless of how you feel right now.
6. It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary. This situation has forced us to both see the beauty in the simple things in life and enjoying what we do have.
7. You will encounter obstacles and take detours while realizing your dreams.
8. There is nothing more important than your health. I think the best thing that came out of this situation is that it somehow woke us up and we changed our diet and habits dramatically. We now eat a mostly raw diet of fruit and vegetables, with limited meat, processed foods, caffeine and alcohol and we both feel exponentially better.
9. “The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.” — C. JoyBell C.
10. Be grateful for all of the obstacles in your life. They have strengthened you as you continue with your journey.
11. “And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” — Haruki Murakami
12. Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.
13. Be grateful for all the beautiful people in your life including our wonderful customers, most of whom we have never met. Many of them sent heartfelt emails thanking us for our hard work and sending their apologies for our misfortune.
14. Always pay with a credit card! If we had done this for the deposit, we could have at least recovered some of that money fairly easily. I could have sworn I already learned this one after our Panama fiasco, but apparently I needed a reminder.