The 10 Great Things I Learned From An Afternoon Of Failure

"Disaster at the Holiday Crafts Bazaar" is the title of my little tale.

No buyer or seller was robbed of their money. No vendor's booth got rained on. Parking was plentiful. Electrical outlets were located close to each table. The volunteers, the staff and the vendors were all friendly and helpful. Shoppers eagerly perused the wares. And my table had more than adequate lighting, space and visibility.

It was a quietly personal disaster that hardly anyone noticed. But me.

I get what Hillary Clinton admitted just a mere few days after losing the electoral college vote and ultimately the election: she longed to curl up in bed with a good book and cocoon. I can relate -- although on a much smaller scale.

The saga begins when I buy a booth at a holiday crafts bazaar close to where I live. From the minute I sign the form, enclose my check, and drop the envelope in the mailbox, the butterflies begin fluttering in my belly. I am NOT selling clothes, jewelry or funky, kitschy Christmas items -- things that patrons automatically gravitate to purchase.

I'm selling my hand knit pouches.

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My sunny, optimistic bright side says, "What the hell. Give it a shot. Nothing ventured, nothing gained." My gut tells me, "I am courting disaster."

I should have listened to my gut.

I prepare mightily. I laminate and mount attractive signs specifying the many uses for my little goodies. I buy a snow man to adorn the booth. And my good friend, a professional actress, dresses up as an elf to help me market and promote my wares and give me moral support throughout the day.

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Plastering a wide smile on my face, for five agonizing hours, I pitch my pouches -- for gift card enclosures, for holders for cosmetics or personal hygiene items, for senior citizens to store hard candy, keys and tissues in the basket of their walkers.Tirelessly. Enthusiastically. Animatedly. At the end of the afternoon, though scores of shoppers exclaimed about how "darling" my pouches were, I took in barely enough money to cover the cost of my booth rental. Here's the downside of my foray into the world of retail:
  • Lost money
  • Wasted time
Here's the upside of my foray into the world of retail:
  • Learned how to use a Square to take credit cards.
  • Lost three pounds due to stress and schlepping.
  • My good buddy, a professional actress who generously agreed to dress up as my adorable Santa elf, got commitments for three holiday performing gigs.
  • Bought two great pieces of jewelry from a struggling, newly divorced vendor.
  • Met an amazing 86-year-old woman selling her hand-painted candle sticks and vases.
  • Have a stash of 200 one-of-a-kind pouches I can now use as gifts.
  • Exercised my brain about all the myriad ways my pouches can be used.
  • Relied on my sense of humor to get me through.
  • Realized that creativity doesn't necessarily lead to sales and though knitting may keep me from unraveling, trying to sell what I knit? Whole other story.
  • Learned once again to follow my late father's advice, "Iris, stick to what you know -- writing and speaking."

So, even though I drove home from the holiday bazaar furiously wiping away the avalanche of tears spilling down my cheeks, I knew that this whole experience would be a great vignette for my inspirational speaking gigs.

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Who hasn't made a decision that turned out disappointing?
Who hasn't tried something new and failed dismally?
Who hasn't tasted the bitterness of time squandered and money ill spent?

And yet, every day, we read about people who have turned a bad experience into something funny, heart rendering, encouraging and entertaining. That's the kind of person I want to be.

To purchase pouches or to schedule Iris to speak at your next function on a variety of topics, focusing on self-help, self-improvement and self-empowerment, contact her at irisruthpastor@gmail.com

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