April 19th, 2015

stabat mater dolorosa

what's been going on and what it means for your order or booked service

What's been going on:

After I updated the blog about the latest episode in my nightmarish year -- my transmission crapping out while I was out of town tending to some ongoing issues with family care that have been consuming more time than usual since last fall -- I had what I hope to God is the final set of crises of my year. This a blog post being written with no regard for how well we know each other, so I don't want to rehearse all the details here, but I'll give you the brief version:

I was the victim of a an attack at my day job (I teach at a local university).I am physically fine, but I've barely managed to do anything -- even daily household management stuff like shop for food -- since this crap at work went down. For a while now, my head and/or my schedule have not always been in the best shape to allow the clear, uninterrupted time I need to stay on top of my inbox, never mind to give my reading/consultation clients the kind of service they deserve, with my attention and mind unclouded by my own emotions and anxiety. Reports and consults have been slow, slow going as a result, for a while now.

But the work situation pretty much "broke" me for a minute. It was such that it involved police reports, a run pretty far up the "chain of command"/management, a bunch of administrative BS that was incredibly time consuming and had a bunch of short-term deadlines, and ultimately, my finally finalizing my decision to leave the job in academia that I moved back to Alabama to take in 2013. Considering I spent ten years in grad school training to be qualified to do this job, that academic jobs are scarce and incredibly hard to get, and that leaving this job virtually guarantees I'll be leaving academia too, it's an understatement to say that it was a massive and agonizing decision, and one that will be requiring adjustment long after I've gotten over the events immediately leading up to it.

I haven't really gotten over those yet, though, either; while admin/student affairs/campus security removed the individual who attacked me from any situation where our paths could cross, the legal stuff could take a while, and we aren't even done with all the initial paperwork still. I'm working to get my head back on right, but honestly, I was useless for a few weeks, and this made what was already a horrible backlog into something that has felt positively crippling. I basically crawled under the bed and hid. I wasn't physically injured -- it was assault in a legal sense but not, I suppose, actually battery) and it really wasn't about the physical aspect of it at all; it's really more about the plain fact that this even happens, that I have devoted so many years of my life to a career in which it could happen, and that I have to call the police to be able to do my job (a job that is supposed to be about teaching people who want to be there and who want to learn, although it hasn't really been about that in a long time, in many public universities). In a way, then, it's really about the job itself, and about how I'm having a hard time seeing the last ten years of my life as anything but a colossal waste of my efforts, resources, energy, time, and let's not forget money (grad school is not cheap).

So I spent a couple of weeks virtually paralyzed after so many months of moving at the speed of frozen molasses. To be honest, there have been some days I could barely get out of bed because I've felt overwhelmed and emotionally/psychically exhausted. Then I felt guilty about not taking care of all the pending things and giving my clients and customers the kind of attention they deserved, and that guilt just made me feel more overwhelmed. If you have been a reader/customer for a while, you know I'm a member of a very large, close-knit extended family spanning multiple generations, and so my life is often very rich and rewarding. There are lots of benefits - including the fact that if I just fall down for a minute, somebody will make sure my daughter has food and clean clothes. But the downside is that events affecting members of that family can be quite consuming for its other members, and when so many of the older generation are really *quite old,* illness and death are not infrequent occurrences. The backlog got started because of two deaths last fall and my assistant leaving to help care for some family members as a result. And we had another death in the family in March. While it wasn't totally unexpected -- there was a long battle with cancer involved -- these things are always taxing and it further contributed to my wretched emotional state.

It also contributed to my sense of paralysis - frankly, at this point, if I were my customer and I got another email about how my order would be late because of yet another emergency/death/etc., I'd probably stop believing me. I'm beginning to sound like some of my freshmen, who seem to have a neverending supply of grandparents and whose grandparents always conveniently die right when major projects are due.

And of course Maggie, my latest assistant, was not sufficiently trained yet to handle everything that needed handling, was largely left without guidance for a couple of weeks, and frankly didn't sign up for the mess she got handed; she tried her best for a bit but when she got another job offer, she took it, and things have really piled up since then, since I haven't had an assistant to handle new things, tidy up on the things that got messed up while my attention was elsewhere over this past month or so, or catch up on the considerable backlog that we're still facing from the stuff that started happening last fall.I can't honestly expect any of you who've waited months for a consultation or report to want to invest any further patience in me.

That makes it a bit ironic, then, that my leaving academia after this semester is over (in May) means that my attention will be turned almost wholly to my shop and clients, finally, and that the shop will be my sole source of income, at least for a while. I don't expect I'll have many clients and customers left at that point. Anyway, I can't imagine many of you really care all that much about these details, so let me get on with what all of this means for you right now and what you can expect.

Orders In-House

My paypal account had a negative balance as of April 17 at 4 pm -- a rather significant one -- because of chargebacks that I didn't respond to in time due to being under the bed/out of town for a funeral/basically useless. I still don't quite know all the details surrounding the chargeback and the other disputes that are currently pending, but I have to figure those out before I can do anything else (including ship packages that are waiting for labels, since when somebody puts in a chargeback, they force me to move their order/situation/query to the top of the list and deal with paypal's deadline).

As of noon on April 19, I have a positive balance again, so here's what is going to happen:

  • I will figure out what's going on with disputes/chargebacks

  • I will refund the orders that are eligible for refund and upload shipping info to the orders that aren't

  • assuming there's any money left in the paypal account, or as soon as I have the money to do so, I will order the wax and oils I need to fill pending orders requiring that wax and those oils

  • assuming there's any money left in the paypal account, or as soon as I have the money to do so, I will ship the orders that are ready to go

  • I will get back into the order queue and get orders completed, starting with those that have the earliest order date, shipping them as soon as I have the funds available

  • I will continue to include "lagniappe" / extras / gifts along with the items ordered in cases where the package shipped later than it should have


Consults In-House


  • I will refund the bookings that are eligible for refund, in the cases where clients have requested refund

  • for those who have been waiting longer than the estimated turnaround time they were given when booking, I'll be offering an option of either a free upgrade to a phone session or a free followup (it will be a coupon/gift code for the amount of a followup, so you could use it for anything, actually)

  • I will set up a schedule for phone sessions for those who want to do a phone session instead, and we'll start getting those scheduled. I will be able to do a couple of those a week for now, and as soon as some of the dust is settled and I'm not struggling with a close-to-negative balance that requires juggling, I will be able to do more of these

  • this is going to take a while to sort through and get set up, and I am going to need help, but I have some help in the form of (yet another) new assistant, Mia, for the next couple of weeks (yes, she's temporary, but about the time she'll be leaving is about the time my last semester teaching in a university will be over and this work will be my full-time job)

  • I will get back in the queue and start tending to email consults in the order that the booking came in (though this will not happen overnight, obviously, so if you know you can't wait a few more weeks and you know no work has begun on your session, you might as well request a refund now)

Light Settings In-House

  • I will refund the bookings that are eligible for refund, in the cases where clients have requested refund

  • I will get booked settings set this week

  • I will begin catching up on reports I owe for settings already concluded (there's still a pretty hefty backlog of these so this is going to take a while)

  • in cases where a client waited longer than expected for their report, I will be sending along a coupon/gift code for a free service, such as a followup setting

stabat mater dolorosa

as for the rest of you, who have given me the benefit of the doubt...

The squeaky wheels always get the grease, and thus most of the airtime around here when I'm deailng with the consequences of the actions of a few and how those affect the many in addition to affecting me...

but you guys who have (more or less) patiently waited, and assumed there was probably a reason why you hadn't heard from me, and assumed that my MO was not to rip people off, and assumed that I would make things right as soon as I could? Well, I appreciate you guys more now than I can say. It goes without saying that y'all are why I even do this stuff - trust me, I do not get rich doing this. In fact, I'm not the greatest business-person and as soon as the accountant gets hold of this mess, she's going to have some stern words indeed for me. (And she's going to have them soon, because in addition to all the stuff I've told you about, there is a good bit I haven't shared too, and some tax issues are among those things.)

There are simpler ways to make money, ways that don't require me to invest so much *of myself* into every transaction and every order, ways that don't mean my income stream shuts down when my personal energy levels dip (or crash completely). So while I can't do this *without* money, I don't do this *for* the money. Most of you realize that, and most of you have exhibited levels of patience and understanding I would never *dream* of asking a customer or client to exhibit.

I'm going to make all this right and clean up this mess. It's going to take some time, esp. since I'm not quite running on all cylinders just yet, but I did want to take a sec to say "thanks" to those of you who did not think the worst of me and jump to the wrong conclusion. Now more than ever, I am deeply grateful for your trust and faith, and I really, really appreciate you.