FurCats is a YEAR old!
Wow, I can’t quite believe I had my opening this time last year – that was just a year ago – but then, it was a whole year ago?!
Time’s funny. Sometimes you look back and a memory can feel as though it happened to someone else, in another time, whilst at the same time, it could just as easily have happened that morning. In some ways it feels as though I’ve been running my catshop forever and in other ways, it feels as though I’ve only just walked out of a classroom.
I regularly get asked if I think I’ve done the right thing; leaving teaching and starting my own business… YES, definitely! I’m genuinely excited and look forward to it every morning, walking to the shop with a spring in my step and a song on my lips. I’m quietly joyous and keen to see what my day will bring; meeting new and regular customers with cat updates, but also getting to know people amongst the wider community. Bizarrely I meet tonnes of dogs in my catshop (lots of dual pet owners) and it goes without saying that I see pictures of people’s cats all day long too. So, all in all, it’s a pretty awesome ‘job.’ My intention was to create a place, borne out of the love for my own cat, that would be understood and mirrored by a wider cat-community. I hope I’ve achieved that – or at least, on my way to achieving it.
I’ve been having anxiety dreams though for a couple of months in the build up to the BIG birthday. I guess because it feels like a big deal or summink. It’s not about the shop, but a recurring anxiety-dream I’ve had for a while, with classic anxiety-dream characteristics. I wake up, panicked; something has gone horribly wrong. Sometimes I dream I’m back at school and everything is unfamiliar; I don’t recognise it, save for some key faces, and I’m due to lead on something, or I’m in the hall, or it’s a whole school meeting, or I’m conversing with a member of staff I no longer have any contact with. I wake up relieved that my walk to FurCats is in the opposite direction.
A common question asked after or during a new experience is to find out what it’s taught them. So on a trashy reality show for example, during the post-eviction post-mortem, the host will end with asking what they’ve learnt. It’s actually quite a tough question; it’s so broad. I’ve learnt so many new skills whilst dipping in and out of my ‘transferrable skills’ toolbox. I’m learning a different value of money – where money used to be (relatively) easy-come, easy-go (certainly guaranteed), the latter still rings true; the former happens, but less predictably.
I’ve learnt what a work-life balance actually means. It means you love your work and your life equally and able to enjoy them. It means going to and from your ‘work’ easily. With no hassle or pressure (from anyone else) or deadlines (other than the ones you may place on yourself). It means when you get home, your time is yours. Having my own business monopolises my thoughts, but I have free space and free time to reflect on it, despite being open six days a week. I don’t have that constant wave of panic I used to, of I-haven’t-done-I-need-to-do-I-forgot-to-do which I’d ride several times a day. I love my ‘job’ (differently to teaching), I love my catshop, I love what’s being created here. I love the spot it’s in and the fact it feels part of a wider cat community where people happily come in to chat and share cat-vulnerabilities, cat-stories and cat-love (occasionally with their dogs)!
And I’ve learnt that I also love being my own boss. Working for me, dictating my own pace with my own expectations – allowing my business to grow organically, without any external pressures. Yes, I sometimes have quiet times in the shop, but ultimately, I’m happy and healthy, in charge of me and my shop and in (relative) control of the immediate world that surrounds it. And for that, I’m also thankful.
I often get asked if I miss teaching. Of course I do. I think about it a lot and being based in Chorlton means every other person seems to either be a teacher or is at least connected to one. (The whole six-degrees of separation is actually only two in Chorlton, when it comes to teachers)! I miss the buzz and excitement and pressure and energy and camaraderie and enthusiasm; the relentlessness, highs and lows of the job. It’s something that can’t be replicated I don’t think, in any line of work. The rewards are vast; incredible even, but for me, the penalty was just as intense.
I still feel umbilically attached to teaching; loyal to the joys of it, loyal to the memory of actual teaching, loyal to the children I taught and the staff I taught with over the years, but I’m slowly accepting it as something I did, as opposed to something I do. I enjoy dictating to time (as much as one can) as opposed to time dictating to me. So, for example, if my cat tries to follow me to work, (this happens more often than you’d think), I’m not fretting about what time I’ll get into work; just that I’ll get there. Time has lost some of its power; some of its tyranny.
There’s a lot to be said about being your own boss – it’s great, but inevitably comes with its own (solitary) pressures; vastly different to the (communal) pressures found in schools. Do I still like it? – another question I get asked – AB-SO-LUTELY! It’s the best thing I could have done for me and it’s the best thing for me to do at the moment.
Sometimes we get so scared that the conventions you think you should be living by, don’t really fit, or you’ve moved in a different direction unwittingly, against a ‘norm’ you were supposed to have adhered to. We’re so scared to break away, we inadvertently restrict and police our own movements; our own potential even. We’re often more frightened of a regret we might feel if we did make a change, than a regret we might feel if we didn’t. I was seduced by a salary and terrified of what may happen without it. It’s scary as hell, but if you were flirting with the idea of a change – drastic or more subtle, I would suggest you embrace it! It might just be the best thing you do for yourself.
FurCats is next door to Tiny’s Tipple in Chorlton (ironically named after Tiny, the little Jack Russell, adorable but definitely not a fan of cats). It’s a wine merchant/ bottle shop, run by Ed and Alex. Ed seemed to be counting down to my First Birthday; “before you know it, you’ll be celebrating your FIFTH birthday like we are.” Well, chin chin Ed, here’s to the next five years.
Thank you all for #SupportingSmallBusiness and therefore, #SupportingADream