ASK ALICIA: Is there a cure for the post-conference blues? UPDATED!


EDITORIAL NOTE:  I wrote this, and posted it, but somehow deleted half of the original post - duh!  This, is the re-written (and probably better written) version!  Thanks for your patience!


Hi Alicia,

I've just returned from the RESA Conference in San Francisco.   It was (as always) a wonderful event, and it was so nice to see old friends, and make new acquaintances.  When our Canadian friends launched in to Oh Canada, I just wanted to pack my bags and move to Toronto, and that cutie-patootie David Ames.... sigh!

Anyway, I'm back in my home town, and frankly, my business looks dowdy!  I see the award winning companies, and entrants in the RESA Awards and I think my stagings look shabby by comparison.  Is it just me, or does it appear that everyone else is enjoying fabulously successful and profitable staging careers, while I labor and toil to keep my business marginally profitable?

I haven't been this depressed since the Christmas tree came down on New Year's Day.  What am I to do?


Dora in the Doldrums


Dearest Dora!

The quickest way to cure these blues is to understand that this isn't depression: these feeelings are GROWING PAINS!  Yup, the conference presented us all with inspirational ideas, that were delivered with a subtext of you-can-do-better-and here's-how!   Which of course, I arrived thinking that I've done the best work ever, and how could I possibly improve on that.  I love when my ego gets ahead of me.... <G>, because I know that the humbling-experience is but moments away!


I'm ashamed of myself, I'm jealous, jealous, jealous of everyone else who seems to be doing-it-right!   I don't participate in the contests, but I'll readily admit that while I"m delighted to see my friends and colleagues 'awarded' for their fine work, a teensy, weensy, part of me feels like Glenn Close when Meryl Streep wins the Academy Award.   But, let's remember that while Meryl's been nominated 17 times, she's lost 14 times (once, even losing to Cher!!!!) 

I'm thrilled when my colleagues are awarded for their work.  But I'll confess, I do have to practice my I'm-so-happy-for-you-dear/bless-your-heart face when someone I voted for doesn't take first prize.  Behind every winning stager is a story of hard work, tears, sacrifice, and dedication.  I think we all know what it means to do this kind of work, and really, there's not just one winner - we're all winners!

Anyway....  We go to these conferences to learn, and grow.  We shop the conference for this new idea, that new training, or for this new furniture resource or that new accessory resource.   What we're trying to do is to buy our way out of the nitty-gritty reality that when we get home we have to go to (yuck) work!   Home Staging work really has very little to do with vase placement.  How many times a month do any of get a call from someone who:  "would just love to be a home stager"! Really?  If they only knew....

For me, the work in home staging is an emotional process.   I'm only as good as my last staging, and I never start a job without some self-doubt about my ability to live-up to my reputation.  Of course, within moments of 'digging-in' to the project, I know, without a doubt, that I'm the best person for the job!

Dear Dora, I'm a woman of a certain age, and yet, I'm still haunted, and driven by my parents observations that 'You can do better'.   Well, frankly, yes I can.  I'd love to be able to sit back and glide on my past accomplishments but that's just not the way I am.  So, when I come back from these conferences, numbed by the excellence and high standards of my colleagues, I know two things:  

  1. I know that I can achieve the goals that my colleagues have achieved.
  2. I know that I can never achieve the goals that my colleagues have achieved.

Both of these ideas scare the skirt off me!  Because they're both correct.  I can't do what my colleagues do, because I am presented with a unique set of opportunities, and challenges.   I will achieve my goals, my way, and if history proves correct, my work will prove inspirational to someone who is coming along and looking for inspiration.

The best cure that I know of for the blues, or a teary moment, is to take that sad face and put it in front of a mirror!  You can't keep that Gloomy Gus attitude for very long, because our sad faces are really quite funny.   This was a trick that an Aunt of mine taught me, when my first child (now known as That Boy) threw a tantrum.   She gently guided my son to a mirror, and within moments those tears were turned to chuckles.   So, now you've turned that frown upside down and you're smiling again.... create a Pinterest board of your past work!

My buddies at Houston Home Staging created a Pinterest board of their work, and they were amazed at what they had achieved over the years (frankly, so was I).   Dora, you've put in a lot of hard work, and I'll bet your talents and skills were evident from the very start.  That is why you're still in business, and able to afford attendance at the RESA Conferences...

A Pinterest board review of your work will amaze you, and reinforce your self-confidence!  I haven't seen your work Dora, but I know that you take this career seriously.  You might not think that your inventory is cutting edge, or is as-good-as...,  but I know, that with your creativity, you do the best that you can with what you've been given; and that these post-conference blues really are just the foundation for your success in 2013.

Growing pains are tough!   They mask themselves as guilt, depression, and other negative emotions.  I'm sure that even the daffodils are challenged by the growing pains that they must be facing.  I bet it hurts to push up a flower through the earth!  As anyone who has ever given birth can attest <G>!  Actually, having children was probably easier than building a staging business.  I don't think there's an epidural for home staging........(although, I'd buy that at the next conference if offered).

So, Dear Dora, keep on keeping on!   These blues you're feeling, aren't unique.  Many of us who attend this type of event feel the exact same way!

My very best wishes to you!

Warmest regards: Alicia




Comments (4)

Alicia Barrington
Houston Home Staging Presents Alicia Barrington

Hello Valerie!

I'm so embarrassed about deleting a portion of the post (now re-instated). 

I think the biggest mistake that any of us make, is to go to these events, or to pay for training, and then not act on that new knowledge or training!    I did my ASP training years ago, but still force myself to open my training manual every six months - it's amazing what I learned back then, and then forgot!

Knowledge and newness is/are scary!  Creative personalities such as ours thrive on change, but have a natural fear of change that is presented outside our comfort zone!  I find that my first reaction to change is a period of 'feeling blue'!  I refuse to 'own' the blues, so I dust myself off, and get on with the changing process!

Many thanks for comments, and thank you to everyone who came back to reread this post as it was being re-written!

Warm regards: Alicia

Feb 07, 2013 09:51 PM
Roger D. Mucci
Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092 - Euclid, OH
Lets shake things up at your home today!

There you go again, making sense!  It's so like you to give good advice, point us in the right direction and make us smile by mentioning David Ames.............what's not to love.

Feb 07, 2013 10:18 PM
Alicia Barrington
Houston Home Staging Presents Alicia Barrington

Ahhhh Roger, Roger, Roger!

Had you known that the divine Mr. Ames was speaking, you would have moved mountains, parted seas, and sold a kidney to be there <EG>!

Thank you for your kind words!  I'm just ever-so-much nicer than that curmudgeon who used to post under the Houston Home Staging logo (bless his heart)!

Warmest regards:  Alicia

Feb 07, 2013 10:50 PM