Today I stood in the Beach Bank and cried as I packed up museum collection items. Having to close the museum that I worked for years to open is devastating. The last two years I gave it my all to open, operate, renovate and maintain the historic Beach Bank building and it’s been quite a journey. I am grateful to everyone who supported the effort several years ago to initially open the building, but those fundraising efforts were not nearly enough to sustain the operating expenses of a 1915 building with over 2K a month in operating expenses. That money came from all the profits of my business and then some, leaving me tens of thousands of dollars in debt. When I had to leave my island cottage, I couldn’t buy a house because I was not financially eligible for one from the debt I was in as a result of trying to make ends meet at my business and museum. When I wanted to buy my own daughters their wedding gowns, I scrambled trying to sell my own personal sea glass or heavily discounting items at a loss just to get money in a world where I pay an employee to help ship candles but I can’t afford to pay myself.
I refuse to live like this anymore. In my last post I detailed some of the physical and mental health issues I have faced and am leaving out a lot since fortunately I have a therapist and am not compelled to overshare everything here. Suffice it to say the last year took a toll on me that I’m not interested in repeating. While the failure of the museum can really only be blamed on me and I take full responsibility for it, I did not have the support I needed on a number of levels and no one can or should be expected to work a full time job and run a nonprofit on their own without pay. I had to make a decision on behalf of simple survival and what is best for my family. Anyone who wants to judge me for the decision is welcome to do it, chances are those who are willing to do that are the kind of negative, condescending people who are part of a problem in the first place instead of part of a solution in this world, so I just can’t care what they think.
Yes, I am working toward other solutions for the museum collection. Part of the exhibit will be displayed in permanent locations (more detailed announcements to follow: instagram.com/thebeachcombingcenter) and at festivals. Although I am in some kind of semi-retirement, I’ll still appear at a few festivals a year when I’m able. I love sea glass identification and still do it in my DMs all the time when asked. My passion for education and the history and provenance of beach finds remains despite what has become a bit of a jaded mindset at the moment from some negative, toxic experiences and people in this “hobby”/industry.
From now forward my life will be simplified to a level where I can manage and sustain it. If your “job” causes you to need a neurologist, orthopedist, and multiple mental health professionals while you don’t even get a paycheck from it, maybe it’s time to think about quitting it before you shave any more years off your life expectancy, and that’s what I’m doing. And to those who would say I’m crying victim, I’m not, I realize I got myself into this shitstorm, it’s just time to say “enough” and start digging myself out, that’s all.
I want to keep making candles because it makes me happy. I want to write because it’s the only thing that’s ever come naturally to me. I don’t think I’m Emily Fucking Dickinson over here, but writing a memoir about my experiences over the last 20+ years in this Beachcombing/sea glass “community”/industry is something I’d started, and am now finally working to finish. I feel very fortunate to now be in a beautiful waterfront home, one I lived in 10 years ago and consider myself so fortunate to have had the opportunity to return to. I can work in my pajamas if I need to on some days. I’m going to take care of my mental and physical health, learn self-care, and move into the future with joy and love and happiness, because I deserve those things. Even as I cry and feel terrible and fight the feeling of failure, somehow I still feel like I deserve to be happy on the other side of all this.