“The golden moments in the stream of live rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone” ~ George Eliot
Today I did something I try very hard never to do – I glanced over my shoulder and looked at the road behind me. I don’t like to do this because when what’s behind me is better that what’s ahead of me, it only makes me feel worse. I suppose we all get to a point in our lives when that’s true; the road ahead becomes narrower and shorter until it disappears into that mysterious good night. But that shouldn’t be happening yet.
But I did look back, and looking back I saw Darcy and me smiling and happy, because with our own hands — and thousands of hours of learning and work – we had built a business of which both of us were proud. I remembered how we used to surprise each other with new ideas for stationery collections and work on each one, sharing each new design with each other, before anyone else had seen it. I remembered when we held our collective breath each time we released a newsletter to our beloved stationery mail list. At one time there were almost 275,000 subscribers – and we loved and worked hard trying to please each one of them.
I saw the two of us, two very fortunate people, who worked hard and loved all the work they did. We were Cloudeight – we were happy and the work was always joyful and fun.
In 2009, Microsoft introduced Windows 7, a great operating system, but one that came without an email program. So the number of people using Outlook Express and Windows Mail (from Windows Vista) started drastically declining as more and more moved to Windows 7. As fewer and fewer used Outlook Express and Windows Mail, fewer and fewer used our stationery, within 18 months our stationery site had lost over 50% of its traffic. With the decline in stationery came an equally harsh decline in revenue, and coupled with the worst recession America had seen in years, it left us reeling.
My eyes, misty and sad, can’t look back anymore, so I look around in the present and see what is left. I’m scared, I don’t know what I will do if something happens to the business we built. I feel like a man about to become homeless, and dreading the cold nights on the windy, frozen street.
My discouragement shows in all I do, I think. There’s someone who I don’t thank enough, who I never give any credit, and these days, for whom I never have many encouraging or kind words — and that’s my loyal partner Darcy.
None of you know how much work she does. She does everything I do, and more. She makes sure that every email gets answered; she makes sure that every order gets filled. She’s the heart and soul of Cloudeight; she’s the reason we’re still limping along.
I’m the dreamer, the writer, the creator, and I’m the emotional roller coaster which which she has to deal every day. I’m a dreamer and not a doer but my bag of dreams is almost empty, the monster of discouragement has come in the night and eaten away at them; I tell you, there are few, if any left.
She didn’t want me to write this – she never asks for anything for herself. If Cloudeight benefits, that’s all she cares about — never herself. She doesn’t want me to ask you for more donations, because she knows as well as I, that it’s always the same loyal friends who donate time after time after time, and it is just not fair to ask them for more.
If we hadn’t started Information Avenue, and InfoAve Premium, and more recently Cloudeight Direct, there wouldn’t be anymore Cloudeight. Darcy has to beg me to help make new stationery collections, but I do it kicking and screaming because I’m a dreamer, and not doer, and discouragement kills dreams. Because she has the kindest heart of anyone I’ve ever met, she gives Cloudeight 100%, 100% of the time.. It makes me angry with myself to think how I treat her sometimes. She believes in Cloudeight and she believes in our stationery; she still gives her best for the ones left on the stationery list — just a little more than 10% of what it was in our best years.
If it weren’t for Darcy, there would be no more Cloudeight. There would be no more newsletters, no stationery, no anything. I would have given up, becuase I’m just a dreamer, but she dreams and does — and that has kept us going.
One thing I can say for both of us – we really care about making sure you have the truth as we see it. We have lost literally hundreds of thousands of dollars by not giving in to the companies who wanted us to bundle our software with their bundles. We could have been financially secure, but to do that we would have had to trick all those who have come to trust us. We would rather have our little company fail than to live with the knowledge that we misled those who trusted us. And we have taken some serious criticism for standing up and telling the truth; we’ve even been threatened with lawsuits for telling our readers the truth.
So now, more than ever befofe, Cloudeight is in serious financial trouble, but we are never going to give in to these malware vendors or back down from telling our readers the truth as we see it – not ever. If we go down, we’ll go down with our heads held high – we do not go gently into that good night.
We have trimmed our expenses and our own incomes as much as we possibly can, and this has helped us to keep going. I don’t really know what the future holds for Cloudeight, but we won’t go down without a fight. Then, sometimes I think Cloudeight won’t be missed much, like the thousands of other niche sites like ours that have long since faded from the Web, we would just be another small business who couldn’t find a way to survive.
Darcy doesn’t want me to ask you for any more donations, she’d rather we do our best to sell our products and Cloudeight Direct Computer Care services. Cloudeight Direct was her idea, not the dreamer’s — and it’s been successful enough to keep us afloat. I still don’t think enough people understand what a fantastic deal it is for the little we charge for it. All our customers have to do is sit down at their computers, relax and watch as we fix it. And we only charge $59 for this – whether it takes us an hour or three hours.
Darcy is an angel and she’s come to visit you — she’s the one who keeps things going. Is George Eliot right when she says “The angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.”?
And while I can blame myself for letting discouragement affect the things I do, no one has worked harder to keep us going than Darcy. She’s up most mornings at 4:00 AM and works most evenings until 8:00 PM or later. Day after day she gives it all she has, and tries so hard to bring me back to the way I used to be — she never gives up and she never gives in.
I’ve let Darcy down so many times, but the one thing I’ve not done is let our readers down – at least I hope I haven’t. I’ve always given them 100%, 100% of the time.
Darcy is the only reason Cloudeight still fights on. She’s the Angel of Cloudeight. Darcy is an Angel and she’s come to visit you. Is George Eliot right when she says “The angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.”?
If you would like to help us, we have some special offers for you at http://thundercloud.net/direct/spring/
Darcy didn’t want me to ask you, but I’m going to anyway, because she deserves better. If you’d like to donate, a couple of dollars or more, please go to http://thundercloud.net/donate.htm
We want you all to know, regardless of what we need to do financially that we will continue Cloudeight Direct Computer Care and all its services, and we will continue InfoAve Premium, as well as NotOverTheHill and our InfoAve Forum. Thank you for reading this, and for caring.