Saturday, September 23, 2006

Pausing to Refresh

I decided to compose another whiney entry about the hardships of a fledgling entrepreneur. Sat down at the computer and found that my hands hurt so much, I can barely type. The arthritis is bad enough…but since I’ve tried TWICE in the past week to sever various pieces of my poor, swollen arthritic digits, they are really giving me a raft of shit. Does anyone know of a good palliative treatment for arthritic hands? Seriously… Is there such a thing as a "Hand Fixer?" I could also use some Playtex Chain-mail Gloves ("so flexible you can pick up a dime...")

What a week at the little café! Business was SOOO terrible early on, I wondered exactly why it was we were bothering to open the doors. By Friday, I had just about written off the week. Then my cook called in sick, and I ended up being THE cook for the entire day. Chained to the kitchen for fourteen hours. And of course, it was the busiest day we had all week. Honestly, I was so exhausted by the time I left there last night, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

Exhaustion. It is my constant state of existence these days. And it is NOT a good thing. I know better than to let myself get into this condition. I know that I am no good to anybody or anything when I’m so tired that just remaining vertical feels like a feat worthy of a standing ovation. How can I achieve anything, make plans, take the restaurant forward, when it’s all I can do to drag myself through t a fourteen-hour day of the sweat-hog labor it takes to run the place?

I’m all for rolling up my sleeves and getting in there, shoulder to shoulder with the employees. If that were what I was doing—demonstrating my personal philosophy of not asking anyone to do something I’m not willing or able to do myself—it would be fine. But in reality, what I’m doing is trying to wear every hat in the place at once. And that is not getting me anywhere. Lesson number one is just about in the can: A successful entrepreneur must get an adequate staff, train them properly, and then turn them loose to do what they were hired to do. Okay…my first move has to be "get an adequate staff." And believe it or not, I’m actually working on that. I wrote next week’s schedule with an eye to giving me enough administrative time to accomplish that feat—interview and hire more staff.

That’s the first thing on the list…that "to do" list I have yet to actually write. I’m afraid to write it, really…afraid it will be so hugethat I will be overwhelmed. On the other hand, without a physical list, in my current state of exhaustion, I’m having all kinds of difficulty organizing my time and getting focused on what really needs to be done. I barely eek out the time to write payroll checks and pay the bills. (And, by the way, I realized I need to fire my accountant. That’s a story for a different day…)

I know, now, exactly what it means to be "too tired to sleep." Funny how I’ve always scoffed at that cliché… For the first time in my life, I’m experiencing the combination of mental, physical, and emotional overload that creates exactly that state. And it is SOOO strange. I tried to describe it in an earlier post…that feeling of running on depleted batteries. It’s as if my connection to reality is dimmed. Stuff comes at me, but it takes a tick and a half longer than normal to penetrate the fog. I’m used to thinking and reacting quickly in any given situation. I’m used to prioritizing on the fly and organizing my day in such a way as to maximize my progress toward a goal. Always on the right path, always making progress up the mountain. These days, I feel like I’m trying to scrabble up the hill on talus. One step forward, slide back two. I’m using twice as much energy as I should be just staying in the same place. What’s wrong with this picture?

What I have to figure out now is how to refresh myself without taking a month’s vacation. Or even a day off. There must be a way…


  1. Lisa!  This is an exhausting entry...and I'm only reading it; you're living it.  How long can you keep this up?  I think it must be hard for you to delegate that which must be done to those around you available to do just that.  This is a trait I suffer from; things will only be done right if I do them (and I know it's not realistic nor healthy but I can't help it).  I hope this all works out for you in the end.  This is something you wanted so much, so badly.  Don't lose sight of that.  P.S.  My hands act up often in the early morning when I have to put ted hose (supportive stockings that are like a second skin) on residents.  I know I have arthritis in my thumbs and there are times when the entire top of my hands hurt and nothing short of manually massaging them helps.  Try that.  Odorless Ben Gay cream works wonders as well.

  2. Odorless Ben Gay works. Sports Cream works pretty good too. I've never used it, but some folks swear by warm wax treatments for hands and feet. Wish I could help, all I can do is light some of those candles of mine and shoot them your way.


  3. Oh, Lisa, my heart goes out to you. I so know what you're experiencing.  I urge you to write your list down.  It really does help.  Second, soak those hands in some warm water with a fragrant oil added to it. Then lotion up, put on some gloves and go to bed.  My mom always said it helped.  For those little refreshers that don't take a lot of time, make sure you have a space at the restaurant that's both private and feels good to you, even if it's a corner of a storage room. Take ten minute breaks, even if you have to use a timer to keep them to ten minutes, where you just breathe, shut your eyes and do some refreshing visualizations.  I know it sounds like BS, but it's worked for me.