When I decided to close my bakery three years ago, it caught the cake world by surprise. I was running a fairly large, successful shop. Why would I quit when I was successful? The other day, Courtney Clark announced that she was selling her business. With small children at home, she decided she had something more important to focus on. Today, my friend Michelle Klem, announced the closing of her bakery.
I’ve actually had a fair number of friends close in the last few years. The reasons are as varied as each person and each business. Some simply could not financially justify the shop any more. Some wanted more time at home. Some wanted to semi retire and do fewer cakes from home. I found my leukemia coming back and knew I had to cut out the stress of 16 employees and a crazy busy bakery.
Whatever the reason, you will find that you have to go through a mourning period. Even when you want to close, it feels like a piece of your heart is being cut out. I knew my life would never be the same and I would not see the employees, who were more like family, nearly as often.
Watching others move out your ovens or pastry cases is monumental. Driving by the site of your shop will get to you for a bit. But it also frees you up for the next adventure in your life.
I love the show “You’ve Got Mail”. Meg Ryan’s character is going under financially. She meets with a friend and co worker to give her the bad news. Her friend tells her: “Closing the store is very brave. You are giving yourself permission to imagine another life. ”
How often do we let ourselves stay in jobs, relationships or situations just because we are scared to do something for ourselves? All too often, I’m afraid. I had wanted to close my shop a year and a half before I did. My heart was in teaching and I was resenting my time tied to the bakery.
The day I told my employees it was over, was the scariest day of my life. I was surprised to find that the majority of them had been wanting to embark on new futures themselves. All of a sudden, we all had permission to live the lives of which we had secretly been dreaming. Letting go was hard, but living fully was the best decision I’ve made in a while.