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Education

We’re Back: Chronicle of a Lost Year

**This post was difficult to write. I’m known as the goofy one. I make silly faces and do insect impersonations. I give inspirational speeches in workshops that make moms cry. I help scared kids to hold roaches and see that they are capable of more than they believe. They look at me like I am invincible.

I also tell each person we teach to Be Brave. So here goes…

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We have not posted on this site for over a year. The last people heard, we were embarking on an incredible journey to film America’s arthropods for a new series in partnership with Project Noah. Our trip was sponsored by so many wonderful organizations and funders on Indigogo. The month we spent on the road filming ranks among the best times of our lives. It was it was supposed to be the beginning of a dream– our own show.

When we returned home, my life imploded. I went through a divorce.  I’m not here to tell you all about it– that is not the nature of our blog. Doesn’t matter who or what or why or how. But as a small business owner I need to be honest; it tore my world apart in every way. I didn’t think Jess and I and The Bug Chicks would make it through the last year intact. I certainly almost didn’t.

When you go through a divorce, you grieve the loss of a dream. In the darkest moments, you fear you will be incapable of dreaming ever again. So what happens if your work is also based on the currency of dreams? You get a little lost.

For TBC, it was supposed to be a year filled with opportunity, connections and getting to the ever-elusive “next level” (you know, the one where you can eat and start to pay your student loans). The tectonic shift in my personal life had serious repercussions for our business, our reach and our goals.  Some chances will never come again.  Others, hopefully, can be picked up and dusted off.  More opportunities greet us each week and we are grateful for that.

As a result of our lost year, we have had to make some serious decisions about how and if we should continue with our business. We’ve made a lot of poor choices. We’ve been overwhelmed, naive and in some ways ignorant. We’ve been small business owners who are learning our way through the maze of creating a life we love and shaping it as we go. We have learned that we are a creative force and that we need a business manager to truly succeed.

Small businesses fail every day. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you try harder, work smarter, cut the fat, milk a purple cow or bounce ideas off walls until one sticks. (More often they bounce and bean you between your eyes which are already hurting due to computer strain.)

From here on out, I could focus all of my energy on how we could be better. I’m a professional “be better-er.” But if it all goes down the tubes as we try to rebuild I need to remember and recognize that in 3 years of actual business and 4 years of hobby before that, we have accomplished some amazing things. It’s healthy to see where you could do better in the future. It is also incredibly valuable to be able to nod your head and say, “Yes, we did that. And it was good.”  So before we jump back in to see if there’s still life in The Bug Chicks, let’s reflect shall we?

 

Some Past Accomplishments:

  • Consultants for the Norman Borlaug Institute (4 trips to Guatemala)
  • 51 videos written & produced for organizations including-
    • Texas A&M University
    • US Forest Service
    • National Ag Science Center
    • Junior Master Gardener
    • WormWatcher
    • Renaissance School of Arts & Sciences
    • Entomological Society of America
  • Featured bloggers for Science Friday
  • Semi-successful Indigogo Campaign and a 5-week cross country filming trip in a new minivan loaned to us by Honda
  • Opened BUGS! museum exhibit at Sam Noble Museum
  • Taught over 50,000 people in interactive workshops/appearances
  • Filmed a television pre-pilot
  • 2 bug video camps with Leach Botanical Gardens
  • Renovated museum exhibit at National Museums of Kenya
  • Bug Bytes podcast with over 80,000 subscribers
  • Self-published coloring book
  • Full-time Bug Chicks for 2 years
  • Featured on PBS’ EarthFix and get regular airplay on Oregon Public Broadcasting
  • Filmed in US, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Kenya, Australia
  • some AWESOME press

Work to do:

  • Raise $40,000 to edit & distribute the Sofa Safari
  • Find a business manager
  • Step into our destiny as female role models in media
  • Blog each week
  • convert from primarily service based business to product based brand
  • Write people back who have written or called
  • Manage our money/expenses better
  • Get involved in Girl Education Campaign
  • Pick up dropped connections
  • Publish children’s science book series, Actual Factuals
  • Pitch 2 television shows (Bug Chicks kids series) (Cultural Entomology history show)
  • Time management
  • Pay off our business debt
  • Add income streams
  • Streamline business process
  • Get paid what we are worth
  • Get our mojo back and use our voices

 

It’s going to be difficult.  If going through divorce has taught me anything, it is how to be brutally honest with myself. We might not make it. But I am proud of the work we have done, of the dreams we have dared and the path we have hacked to get here, no matter the outcome.

Before I sign off, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors and Indiegogo funders on the Sofa Safari for their patience as we rebuild, the schools and libraries who hire us to teach children and the many, many bugdorks who take the time to write to us. We are getting back to you.

Think of this last year like we were in the pupal stage. We just emerged and our wings are drying out. It’s time to see if we can fly.

Had to get a bad insect analogy in here somewhere.

–Kristie

 

 

 

 

Join the discussion

  1. Leah

    You have flown. And you will fly again. I wish I could translate into words (and money!!) how strongly I believe that the ento world, young and old need The Bug Chicks in some form or other.

    Huge hug from a concerned fan…that really was a crappy year and I can only imagine how hard this was to write!
    Leah

    And as they’d say on the Dead Dog Cafe, “Stay calm. Be brave. Wait for the signs”.

  2. Michael Barton

    Welcome back! – Michael, Patrick, and Afton

  3. Daniel Davis

    Hey guys,

    I first want to thank you for spreading the word about all the wonderful creatures that live underfoot, over our heads, and the full 360° around us every day. I have been in the process of teaching my four year-old son that life, in all it’s forms, is amazing. It has come to the the point that he’ll even ask me if the ants will “get mad if I step on their homes”. 🙂 I am always filled with hope when I am reminded that others like yourselves strive to make that bit of difference in a child’s life. The difference between the knee-jerk reaction of snubbing a life that is alien or being amazed and delighted that it is there at all! So to you both, thank you and please keep up the great work (hobby!).

    Kristie, divorce DOES suck. It is an amputation of a part of your life. But there IS good news. These wounds heal with time. There’ll be a heck of a scar but we’re resilient. It can drive you to despair or make you wiser. Seems to be a recurrent theme in our tiny human lives, huh? I like to think you’ll do just fine and you’ll choose the latter.

    Stay strong, keep smiling, keep learning!
    Dan

    P.S. Just don’t go bat-poop. I did that after my divorce and made friends with my ham sandwich. Name was Ted. Good bloke, he was… 🙂

  4. Brian Cook

    The more I learn about the two of you, the more I am inspired and this post is no exception. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing something so personal and difficult. I am inspired to celebrate my accomplishments and trust my meandering path.

    We all face the challenge of change. Something is constantly challenging our expectations, assumptions, and beliefs. Many wise people believe change is the nature of existence and the resistance to change (and the emotions we feel when we experience change) is the source of suffering. I hear sorrow for this moment in your words and yet you look back on your footsteps with admiration and accept the unclear path forward. Transformations are confusing and sometimes painful but they are powerful states where magic happens. I look forward to watching what emerges from the chrysalis, but you know what happens if you rush it…(I’m really loving the insect analogies!)

    P.S. I bought a t shirt and hat and will be getting more TBC stuff for my son. Doing my part to help with the debt :-).

    Thank you and take care,
    Brian

  5. thebugchicks

    Brian,

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for this lovely comment. I read it often and so appreciate you reaching out.

    I was sad to miss you at ESA but that week was insane!! However we heard from our dear friend, The Bug Chef, that you wore your shirt and hat! I hope they are working out for you, and thanks for your support.

    Hoping to meet you in 2015! We just might have our wings by then…

    Cheers,

    Kristie

  6. thebugchicks

    Hi Daniel,

    It was hard not to go all “Wiillllllssssooooonnnn” like Mr. Hanks, but I’m through the worst of it, I think. Thanks for your comment- I often wonder where I would be without the kids we are so lucky to teach on a weekly basis. Parents thank us, but I am the one who is truly grateful.

    Have fun teaching your little bugdork and we have our noses to the grindstone. I think Bug Chicks 2015 is going to be better, more resilient and more fin than ever!

    Kristie

  7. thebugchicks

    Love this. We are definitely seeing some signs… Thank you, Leah. We felt your hug.

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