I ran a small performing arts agency for 6 years. Piccadilly Arts was born out of a desire to be my own boss, prove to the world I could do it, and —inspired by the gorgeous family theatre I was seeing at the time — raise the visibility and perception of family programming in the field.
It was an amazing experience.
I had the joy of working with some of the most respected and talented artists. The relationships I built with some of my artists were wonderful and I am still their biggest champion. To Darrah, Lyle, Mara, Emily, Mark and the guys at Parallel Exit, you inspired me daily to show up, do the work, bring my A game, and be the best I could. You got the best of me during that time. I really did my best work representing you all. I love you all.
And I loved the creativity and the wonder and the possibilities of change. I loved that I owned this, built this, and saw it evolve and grow. I loved my company’s name, logo, and brand. I loved the sense of power I felt that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t figure out. I loved how much I learned about myself and about running a business. Looking back, I am proud of it all and I nod with a smile knowing I did accomplish what I set out to do. I did it. And I’m a different person today because of it.
Still, it was lonely at the top and it was hard. Too lonely, too much, and too hard for one person.
I’d like to say I had an obvious come-to-Jesus moment with my business or my life. You know those stories, the ones where something crazy ridiculous happens to someone and it’s the turning point. There really wasn’t anything that ridiculous for me. Rather it started by looking at my numbers and also acknowledging that this field hadn’t course corrected since the recession. Things were not getting better or easier. It was a new normal. And when the field’s motto is “Save the arts,” the truth is I really was working in a place of lack and not enough. So things unraveled from there. All those old stories from my 20s started to play in my head again.
The interesting thing about unraveling is we forget that it’s all one long piece of yarn, so it’s all connected even if it’s wound up nice and neat. So the unraveling happens slowly and in odd ways. It happened when I was running numbers, then again when I was laid up after unexpected gall bladder surgery, when I was frantically trying to save my conference experience that winter, when I taxed myself and family with work travel, when Mother Nature dumped 6 feet of snow on the region, canceling school and plans for weeks, when family members got sick, and when a family with small businesses strapped from the recession is barely keeping it together financially, emotionally, and mentally. It just slowly unravels, piece by piece, moment by moment, event by event, until it’s a big ol’ mess on the floor.
And for the first time in my life, I didn’t know how to fix this unraveled mess. What did that even look like? It was my business and family and life. I created this business and it was a huge part of me. And it was failing. I was failing. How does this get sorted out? Where do I go from here? It was like a big mountain that I couldn’t hike over or through or around or move. And no one’s efforts to help were the right ones. The tears that started that day kept coming. They came in short spurts and then it huge waves of shame and grief. I felt powerless. It lasted 8 months.
I do believe that my turning point though was when I was stuck in this place of shame, realizing how badly I wanted to be like my admired colleagues, how much I compared myself and business to theirs, and how it simply wasn’t going to work out the way I had hoped. Admitting it was the very beginning of my healing process, and mustering up the courage to tell them meant anything else from that point forward can’t possibly be as vulnerable as saying, “I really wanted to be like you.” And it’s true.
I would spend those 8 months unraveling and staring at a messy ball of yarn, struggling with old stories, and feeling such shame. There were a lot of monsters along the way. The funny thing about the monsters is they are old lessons I failed to learn, just with a new face or in some cases, a familiar face. Lessons about trust, about boundaries, about comparison, about worthiness, about success, about outcomes, about values, about intention, about compassion and self-care and kindness.
Chrissie DiAngelus is an entrepreneur, seasoned marketing/communications professional, and mentor to soul centered entrepreneurs. She has worked with entrepreneurs, professionals, artists, small businesses and non profits for over 15 years to develop clear consistent marketing communications strategies that show value and position clients for success.
She founded Marketing Mentor in 2015 to answer a higher calling to be more and do more, especially for passionate ambitious women entrepreneurs. She helps you out of overwhelm, struggle, and breakthrough stuck points in your business. She helps you to think differently, perform with integrity, and become the leader and CEO of you that you are destined to be. Her specialties are business strategy and personal branding, all of which stem from solid self awareness and mindset work. Interested in learning how you can work together? Fill out the form and she’ll be in touch.