When it Rains it Pours

Written by Ashland Viscosi

It was June 20th , the night before I was announcing my programming for the 2018 edition of The

Creatives Meet Business Experience (CMBXP), and I got into a car accident that almost totaled

my car. It was the kind of accident where metal crunched, glass shattered, air bags deployed,

and you definitely called the police to come and file an accident report. Besides the sheer

nuisance of a car accident at a really inconvenient time (as if there’s ever a convenient time, of

course) the pinky finger of my left hand was hit by the air bag when it deployed. It hit with such

force that it affected the ulnar nerve of my left hand and took out its two closest friends along

with it – the ring and middle fingers.

I almost took pride in what happened over the next few months. The show must go on, besides

being a phenomenal song by Queen, was also just the truth. I love my company and event and

I’m a solopreneur, I had to keep it going. And doing it single-handedly? Well, that’s almost

downright heroic! And while the big pieces didn’t fall through the cracks, lots of little things did.

Or things I wanted to do never saw the light of day. But the show went on and the event was a

success!

My left hand still doesn’t fully function, it’s definitely dropped the ball on an occasion or two

(like my bouldering accident in February where I almost broke my left ankle and right elbow),

but for the most part, I did everything I’d wanted to as a team of one. And accomplishing

everything one-handed further reinforced my belief in my abilities to do just about anything on

my own.

This year, as I approached the evening before I announced the CMBXP programming, I was

waiting for something to go wrong again, waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop. What

accident was going to befall me this time? As the days approached leading into my

programming announcement, my paranoia was at an all-time high. But nothing happened…I

made it through announcing everything unharmed.

Whew, I thought with a sigh of relief, nothing would stop me this time. This is the year that ALL

the things will happen, nothing will fall through the cracks! Huzzah!

But then, something of course did happen. I live with my boyfriend and we were both at home

when a maintenance technician came to repair the AC in the condo that we rent together. The

repair wasn’t anything too crazy or complicated, just a piece of piping had to be replaced. But

his assistant, while in the attic, mis-stepped. When he stepped through the insulation, he also

stepped through the pipe that fed the sprinkler/emergency fire suppression system. He

snapped it. And in that instant and over the course of the next 30 minutes, 1,500+ gallons of

water found their way inside our home, functionally downpouring in our living room, kitchen,

office, and beyond. And as the water continued to pour from the broken pipe and through

every air vent, light bulb socket, and sprinkler, it started to pool in other places of the ceiling,

breaking through here and there and adding new water-based ecosystems inside our home.

This time, that notion I had before about accomplishing everything on my own was shattered,

there was no “single-handed” approach to keeping all of the balls in the air. The damage was so

extensive that practically all of the floors were removed from the house and most of our

furniture was destroyed. The process to dry out the house alone took 8 very full days.

In a way that was very out of character for me, I posted a picture of my interior monsoon to my

business Instagram page (@createmeetbiz). I had zero expectations with the post, in fact I

wanted to explain why things would be quiet on the account over the next few weeks as

personal life took the front seat. But what happened surprised me in a way I’m still adjusting to

and so grateful for – people commented asking how they could help. And this time, instead of

going it alone, I decided to accept it.

Help came in a variety of ways, the most unexpected being the unique and innovative ideas

that came from different sources. Several CMBXP Guides (what we call speakers) offered to

take over the Instagram account, sharing about themselves and their workshops. I was thrilled

about this idea as it solved my most immediate need, keeping the account active, but it had

rippling benefits that I’d neither considered nor expected. Attendees now had a new way to

engage and connect with Guides before September and the takeovers gave them a better sense

of what the workshops would encompass. It was definitely one of those constraint creates

innovation moments!

Help also came from a former volunteer from the social media team, Marcelo, who stepped up

and took over the rest of the social media accounts. And once again, more innovative and

clever ideas came to the table that I never would have thought up on my own.

Despite being a very strong delegator, I tend to do everything that I can possibly do on my own,

without assistance. I imagine a lot of freelancers, solopreneurs, and small business owners are

in a similar boat. Oftentimes I’m able to do what needs to be done. But then there’s the

moment(s) when we realize we can’t go it alone and we need help. One of the greatest benefits

of being an active member and contributor to a community is that we can call upon our

community when we most need it. Asking for help is a uniquely challenging request; our fears

run rampant and are layered against our perceptions of how we think others can support us.

Even now, weeks after the water line was first broken, I’m still completely beside myself with

appreciation for all of the support, time, and innovative ideas I’ve received from members of

our community.

I know that I’m not alone in facing hurdles like these, which is exactly why I wanted to share

this story as well as what I’ve learned from this experience. Sharing about my personal struggle

publicly (as well as authentically and with no expectation about the outcome) was the first step

to receiving support that I didn’t think was available to me. The second lesson learned was to

be open to ideas as they were presented and find a way to incorporate them (which oftentimes

meant letting someone else run with their idea). And perhaps the hardest lesson of all is

actually asking for support and being able to accept it when provided. Once I gave the

proverbial keys to the castle to others, more people felt better connected. Which is precisely

why I do what I do.


Viscosi_Ashland_Headshot_Photo Credit_Chelsea Laine Francis.jpg

Ashland Viscosi is the founder of Creatives Meet Business and the Creatives Meet Business

Experience (CMBXP), an annual three-day professional development conference for artists,

creatives, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small business owners. For badges and more

information about this year’s event (9/19 to 9/21), visit www.cmbxp.com.

Chelsea Francis