Thursday Thoughts: OMG! I Got Married!

I think I have a pretty good excuse for not blogging for a few weeks.  The days leading up to the wedding were full of last minute planning and DIY projects, running around trying to find all the supplies I needed, making sure everyone had the information they needed, and general craziness.

Last Thursday, I packed up my car with all the things we would need, and headed down to where the wedding was being held.  Then began the whirlwind of connecting with out of town guests, getting everything in place, and trying to remember to breathe.

I was pretty bossy on Saturday, making sure everything got done, but I don’t think I crossed the line into Bridezilla or Bridethulhu territory, just my normal workaholic self coordinating an event.  My hair-dresser/DJ had to practically shove me into the shower and then tie me to the chair so she could get my hair braided.

My guests started arriving, and were probably shocked to see me running around in shorts and a white button-up top, with my hair looking fabulous but the rest of me so obviously not ready for a wedding.  I assured them that nothing would start without me!

Wondie Before the Wedding

I’m going to go get dressed, really I am!

The ceremony was full of fun and laughter, joy and love, and everything turned out wonderfully.  I’ll have a big write-up for you all later, but you can watch it here:

 

We spent Sunday hanging out with our out of town guests, taking my parents up to our house in New Hampshire so they could see where we live, and having dinner at the amazing Dim Sum place in Concord.  Monday, we took my mother to the airport, played miniature golf with my Best Man, then got caught in traffic as we drove down to Providence to meet up with my Dad and his wife and our caterers for dinner.  This was the worst part of the whole weekend, and our levels of cope had completely run out, but we eventually made it down and had a nice dinner.  We changed our original plans to stay in Mansfield another night, and took Tuesday easy, including an unscheduled 3+ hour nap!  We got home again late Tuesday night and I spent Wednesday going through photos and videos and getting them posted online.

So now I’m sitting down and writing this and thinking, “Wow, we did it!  We got married!”  It doesn’t necessarily feel any different, after all, we have felt married for the past year, so the only real difference is that piece of paper that makes it all legal.  But it is an amazing feeling to see how all my hard work in planning and making things for the wedding paid off.  And an even more amazing feeling to see the outpouring of love and affection as our friends and family came together to make this day happen for us.  We could not have done this without their help and support, and I do not have the words to fully express my gratitude, so I will just say “thank you” for now.

If you want to see pictures, I have about half the ones I know were taken up on my Flickr, and will add more as I receive them.  I’m attempting to put together a set with no more than 50 photos so I can submit our wedding to Offbeat Bride, but there are so many great ones, it’s hard to decide which ones best tell our story.  This one sums things up pretty well though, I think. 😛

Who Invited All These Tacky People?

Who Invited All These Tacky People?

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Monday Musings: Busy As A Bee

I haven’t posted in awhile, because I’ve been extremely busy.

Black and Yellow Beaded Necklace with Silver Bee Charms by Rewondered

Black and Yellow Beaded Necklace with Silver Bee Charms by Rewondered

My current term at CSCC ends on Wednesday, August 15th, and I just have one final exam and one final project left to complete.  I’m taking care of all the details for transferring and will begin working on my Bachelor’s degree at Granite State College on September 8th.  I am so ready to begin the next chapter of my education, and really looking forward to attending Granite State.

Golden Bumblebee on Gold Chain Simple Charm Necklace by Rewondered

Golden Bumblebee on Gold Chain Simple Charm Necklace by Rewondered

The wedding is now less than two weeks away and I still have tons to do, but I’m also getting tons of help.  We went last Friday to apply for our marriage license, and Lorne will be picking it up today.  We are taste-testing cupcakes (oh the horror!) this weekend while we attend the Festival of Fireworks and hang out with our friends.  The forecast right now is not pretty, and I’m hoping it will be clear on the day of the wedding.

Yellow and Black Beaded Necklace with Silver Bumble Bee Charms by Rewondered

Yellow and Black Beaded Necklace with Silver Bumble Bee Charms

And of course through it all, I am trying to keep the business going and growing.  I am offering 25% off in my Etsy shop with the coupon code WEDDING through the end of August, to help recoup some of the costs of the wedding.  I also have items (many not available on Etsy) up on eBay with the Best Offer option, so feel free to make me an offer!  I do charge shipping and handling on eBay, as they take a greater percentage of my sale than Etsy does, so I can’t afford to offer free shipping there.  I’m hoping to find time to add more items to each by the end of the week, but we’ll see how that goes!

I’ve been working on a few other plans as well, that I will implement after the wedding.  I want to start Weekly Wrap-Up posts that let you know what I’ve done that week to work toward my dreams, like I did in my last post.  I want to offer a consignment service to other artists who only make a few things and don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up their own store.  I’m looking at other venues where I can sell my items.  I’m considering another crowdfunding campaign to help with the Reconnect and Redesign phases I have planned.  And I still have all these ideas in my head that need to be translated into new products.

So you will be seeing more of me, I promise, but if I disappear a bit between now and the wedding, don’t be too surprised.  I’m just tending to what needs tending. 🙂

Pink and Silver Beaded Necklace with Gardening Tools Charms by Rewondered

Pink and Silver Beaded Necklace with Gardening Tools Charms by Rewondered

Remotivation: If I Can Do It, So Can You

Now that I’ve explained my anxiety issues, I must say that the sunshine and optimism I normally display is just as much a part of who I am.  The skies might get cloudy, the storms might roll in, but I have way more sunny days than rainy ones.  So I want to remind you of something: if I can get past my paralyzing fear to get what I want (however long that might take), what’s stopping you from realizing your dreams?

I hear a lot of “if” and “when” statements from people when they talk about their dreams.  “If I won the lottery…” or “When I can afford it…” are probably the most common.  I’ve said them myself, numerous times.  Yes, I realize it takes money to make your dreams come true, but have you really looked into what it would cost?  Have you figured out what you CAN do with the money you have now?  Can you cut out some expense and reallocate those funds toward your dream?

I grew up very poor, so not having money is nothing new to me.  My family was one of the recipients of those canned goods you put in the donation box every Christmas (for goodness sakes, stop putting canned beets in those!) and I never could afford anything that the “cool” kids had.  We shopped at thrift stores and had things handed down to us.  I got pretty good at reinventing things and adapting them to my own style, a skill I use now as the basis of Rewondered.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and being poor taught me to get creative and to adapt.  To hold on to the things that are really important, like family and friends, and to not put too much stock in material goods that might not be there tomorrow.  To be grateful for what I do have, and not whine about what I can’t afford.

So let’s start with that… what do you have now that’s most important, that you’re grateful for?  Number one on my list is Lorne (go ahead, say “d’awww” or gag on the sweetness, your choice 😛 ).  I am eternally grateful to have found someone who gets me, who loves me exactly as I am, who supports and encourages my dreams, who makes me smile and laugh every day, and who is just an amazing human being that I want to be around for the rest of my life.  The wedding is three weeks away now and I’m excited (and flailing about getting everything done in time, but that’s another story).

I’m grateful for my family and friends, and for the technology that keeps us in touch, as most of my family is on the opposite site of the country and most of my friends are scattered across it.

I’m grateful for my creativity, my adaptability, my resourcefulness, my crafting and sewing skills, my organizational skills, my determination, and my optimism.

I’m grateful that I can use all of the above on a daily basis to at least try and support myself.  I’m grateful that my creations are gaining more exposure and more popularity.  I was checking out my stats on Etsy and in all of 2011 my shop and listings were “favorited” 48 times.  As of this writing, in 2012 my shop and listings have been favorited 247 times!  And there are still five months left in the year!  Sure, these numbers aren’t huge, but they do show me that this business has potential.

I could go on forever about the things I’m grateful for (and I really should get back to posting my daily gratitude lists).  But let’s get back to the dreams, and my assertion that if I can live mine, you can live yours.

Of course, my dreams still have a long way to go.  My business isn’t supporting me yet, but I have faith that it will.  The point is that I do something every day to work toward that.  Now, I’m not telling you to stop everything you’re doing, quit your job and go chasing after your dreams (unless that’s what you really want to do and don’t mind the risks involved).  But tell me, what have you done lately for your dreams?

  • I went to Ohio to collect more supplies for my creations, and items to help me organize my studio, as well as things I can use for the wedding.
  • I am organizing all my finished jewelry and supplies, figuring out an exact inventory so that I can use those numbers in my business plan, which I will take to my local Small Business Development Center and see if there are any programs I qualify for that could get me some funding.
  • I put out an offer on loan terms, where I will make payments of 1% of my sales for every $100 loaned to me, until I’ve repaid $110.  I may not be able to repay it fast, but I will repay it. (This offer is open until I raise $5000, contact me if you’re interested).
  • I got up early and set up my jewelry at the Farmer’s Market my town puts on every Saturday during the summer.  I only sold a couple of things, but that’s more sales than I had when I woke up, right?
  • I gave some thought to the Gypsy Faire idea.  Who else might be interested in it, what it would entail, if we could have it actually travel around… perhaps pick one weekend each month and host it in a different state?  I know people in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire, at least, who would be interested in this type of thing.  Still mostly just in the pondering stages, but I’m really liking the idea.
  • And though it’s not related to my business dream, I made a decision on my educational dream.  Starting next month, I’ll be working on a Bachelor’s degree in Independent Studies.  After that, I’m going to get the Master’s degree I always wanted, in Library Science.

Have my dreams come true?  Not fully, no, but in some ways at least, yes.  Am I living my dreams?  Yes, every day.  I don’t spend my time wishing I could have my dreams, I spend it working on having my dreams.  And if I can do it, so can you.  Go out there and do something, anything, that works toward making your dream come true.  Then come back here and tell me about it in the comments. 🙂

Thursday Thoughts: Resourcefulness

Resourcefulness

  • the quality of being able to cope with a difficult situation

I’ve been thinking about writing this post since my friend, The River’s Wayward Daughter, mentioned the Spoon Theory, which really hit home with me.  It’s part of why I reposted my story about Facing the Fear yesterday.

You see, I’m not right in the head.  I have been diagnosed with a variety of mental illnesses, including chronic depression, anxiety and panic disorders, and Seasonal Affective Disorder.  This comes as a shock to some people, who know me for my sunny disposition and optimistic outlook on life.  They have no idea just how much of my resourcefulness I’m using on a daily basis.  How my definition of a “difficult situation” may be something that sounds simple to them: making a phone call, going someplace I’ve never been before, meeting new people, finding a job.  My theatre background comes into play a lot, as I put myself on whatever stage I need to perform on, and fervently hope the rest of the actors stick to the script.  And the stage fright doesn’t make me throw up.

For the most part, I do okay.  I’m not currently taking any medications other than for allergies.  I do take a variety of vitamins and other organic remedies, and we have full-spectrum and daylight-like bulbs all over our house.  I’ve learned to cope pretty well with the depression and SAD, and they’re basically under control.  The anxiety and panic disorders, however, usually hit me without warning.  I do my best to avoid triggers, but sometimes I don’t know what is and isn’t a trigger.

Crowds, especially large crowds of strangers, and even more especially strangers in my personal space are big triggers.  This makes vending at craft fairs and conventions a little tricky, but usually I can have my table between me and my customers, which helps a lot.  I paste on a smile, engage in inane conversation, and kick myself that I’m not a better salesperson.  It’s like I’m on trial, that everyone is judging every aspect of my products and display and finding them as inadequate as I feel.  If you see me at one of these events, please be nice, and try complimenting one of my creations.  This will soothe the anxiety monster a bit and let me slip out from behind my mask.

The phone is another trigger.  If I call you, know that you have a special place in my heart, because I don’t make phone calls very often.  I’m happy to talk if people call me, but if I don’t recognize the number, I won’t answer.  I used to work in a call center, and I was very good at my job, helping people figure out their bills or change their service.  Yes, I got cursed at occasionally, but usually I was able to end the call with the customer happy and singing my praises.  Then, without my consent, and in violation of the promise the company made me when I was hired, they switched me to Outbound Winback.  I was calling customers who had cancelled their service and trying to get them to reinstate it.  First of all, one of the reasons I hate making phone calls is the fear of calling at a bad time.  Most of these calls were definitely not welcome, so I was already on edge before the conversation even started.  Then when I explained why I was calling, I’d hear something along the lines of, “Wait a minute.  I went through all the trouble of cancelling your service, uninstalling your equipment, sending it back to you, getting another service out here to install their equipment, and now you’re calling to tell me I can have everything I asked for before I cancelled the service?”  Then the cursing would start, the disparaging remarks on my intelligence (another thing I really can’t stand), and the inevitable slamming of the phone in my ear.   It wasn’t long before the migraines hit.  One lasted TWELVE DAYS.  I had a nervous breakdown and had to take FMLA leave.  I went back part-time, but it wasn’t long before I just quit, because I couldn’t deal with the anxiety and panic attacks I was having on a daily basis.  So now I avoid the phone as much as possible.

My current anxieties mostly center around money.  I’ve worked hard these past years to rebuild my credit after trusting the wrong people to give me the money they owed me, as promised.  Right now, I have bills due that I can’t pay, and next month is the same boat.  My financial aid kicks in in October, and I should be okay for the rest of the school year if my calculations are correct, but that doesn’t help me with my August and September bills.  So I’m desperately trying to sell things, figure out exactly what my inventory is worth, rework my business plan, and see if there’s any way I can get a loan.  I’m working to get more items up on Etsy and eBay, but that takes time.  I sold 300 CDs for $60 while I was in Ohio, which hurt, but it had to be done so I could pay for my storage unit there.  I’m doing everything I can think of, and those who care about me are helping as much as they can (thank you, I love you).  Asking for help and admitting I can’t solve my own problems are another trigger for me, thanks to another aspect of my past that I’m not going to get into.

A lot of you are probably thinking, “Why don’t you just get a job?”  Fact is, I’ve tried.  I’ve applied for well over 400 jobs in the past year.  I’ve had five interviews from those applications.  FIVE.  And I don’t generally do well in interviews anyway, thanks to the anxiety paralyzing my mind.  Once I have a job, I do great, but getting my foot in the door is problematic.  And I have moved around so much and lost touch with so many people that I can’t provide references from any of my past jobs.  It’s been over three years since I was laid off my last full-time job, and the part-time job I worked last winter never contacted me after the holidays were over.  Then there’s the issue of what aspects of the job will trigger my anxiety and panic attacks.  Working in a call center, as a receptionist, or any kind of telemarketing is flat OUT.  I just can’t, not if I don’t want to spend my entire day crying and in pain.

I know what’s best for me is to continue what I’m doing, to keep Rewondered going and keep adding new products.  To keep using my creativity and artistry.  To spend my days in my studio, where I feel safe and calm.  I am getting an increasing number of views, fans, and orders, but getting to the level I need to be at will take some time.  The instability of my finances is stressful, yes, but the fear of working in an environment that will trigger another twelve day migraine is worse.

Those who have never experienced this kind of paralyzing anxiety won’t understand, and will probably think I’m whining and I need to just suck it up and do whatever it takes.  But when I use up all my spoons, that’s it.  I’m done.  I’m completely useless.  I don’t know how to explain to someone who has never had a nervous breakdown just what that experience is like, and just how much I want to avoid going through that ever again.  Even thinking about it enough to write this post is inducing tears.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my life and I’m really very happy.  I’m getting married in about three weeks to the love of my life, and I am eternally grateful that he understands that I’m kind of broken and still loves me exactly as I am.  I have awesome, amazing friends and I love living in New England.  I know that my anxiety and fears are irrational, and that just makes things worse, because I want to stop but I just can’t.  I’ve stopped beating myself up over that though.  This is a part of me I can’t change, no matter how much I might want to.  So I deal with it as best I can.  I avoid it when possible, I hide it if I can, and sometimes I just embrace it and let myself cry.  Then I wipe off my face, blow my nose, and get back to work.  I am coping with a difficult situation, and I am grateful for my resourcefulness.

Repost: Facing the Fear

I’m home from Ohio, and I’ll have more for you tomorrow, but today I was reminded of this old post I wrote about three years ago, and felt the need to reshare.

 

Originally posted Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

I have a horrible, unreasonable but completely paralyzing fear of crowds. I think it’s a form of Agoraphobia, I feel trapped and afraid I won’t be able to escape. I’ve had panic attacks at concerts and dance clubs, and gotten quite violent trying to get free. Now I have no problem with confined spaces where I’m alone or with friends, and I can even be on a crowded bus or train just fine (maybe because I know it’s always just for a few minutes), but the larger the crowd of strangers, the greater my fear. I have no idea where this comes from. And as much as I tell myself I’m being stupid, I can’t get over it.

I LOVE music. I love dancing, I love concerts, I love singing. Music is very, very important to me. It’s one of the reasons I love DJing so much. I think I’d rather go blind than not be able to hear music anymore. So I love going to concerts, but I usually go to ones where I have my own seat and thus SOME personal space. Or I take friends with me to surround myself with so no strangers are touching me. In fact, I’ve never gone to a concert alone. Until Wednesday, August 19th.

Let me back up a little bit here and talk about the concert I went to on Friday, August 14th. It was CrueFest and I’d promised my roommate months ago that I would go with him. I nearly backed out though. Large outdoor concerts are the worst for me. There’s no assigned seating and everyone is always pressing to get closer to the stage. Doesn’t help that I’m short and if I get caught up in that crowd I can’t see the stage or an escape route. Having two close friends with me in that type of environment wasn’t enough to prevent a panic attack at a Van Halen concert in my past, and I was going to go with just one this time? But my roommate told me he didn’t care if I was completely incapacitated, he’d toss me over his shoulder and take me to CrueFest. So I went. I gulped down two glasses of wine as soon as we got there and we found a place off to the side that wasn’t very crowded. Not the best view but it worked for me. I was able to enjoy the show and was glad I went.

On the way in I saw the marquee advertising the next show. Saving Abel, Papa Roach, Hinder, and Nickelback on Wednesday, August 19th. I ADORE all of these bands! I have to go to this! A chance to see all four at one time, I can’t pass that up! Only one problem: NO ONE CAN GO WITH ME.

And thus sets in the panic.

I waffled all the way up until it was time to leave. I arranged for coverage of my show on The Cape. I told myself I couldn’t afford it anyway. I got the albums I didn’t have yet of those four bands and listened to a continual playlist of every song I have by them for four days. I alternated between convincing myself to go, and convincing myself not to. And I cried. I got myself so stressed out that the only way to release it was through tears.

Wednesday was the worst, of course. I tried taking a long, hot bath to relax me, reading something frivolous enough to occupy my mind but not tax it. But the closer it got to the time to leave, the worse I got. I was shaking and crying for a good hour. And berating myself for being so stupid. I HATE having this fear but I don’t know how to turn it off. Intellectually I understand how unreasonable it is, but that doesn’t stop my heart from racing.

Lucky for me I have some really good friends. I was chatting through IMs with a couple of them who basically gave me a pep talk, telling me that I was strong enough to do this and I’d have a good time, that I’d always regret not going. One suggested imagining that his City of Heroes character, a big rock giant guy, was there with me as my bodyguard. That made me giggle. So after their encouraging words, I got in my car.

As I sat there waiting for the AC to kick in, taking deep breaths and repeating the “you can do this” mantra, my radio happened to be tuned in to the station sponsoring the show. They were talking about the concert and then played a song by Papa Roach. It was Lifeline. I had to laugh, how much more appropriate could it get? That’s exactly what I was doing, looking for a lifeline to get myself through this.

I got a phone call on my way to the show and my best friend kept me entertained as I made my way to the show, parked, bought my ticket, and got through the gate. I looked at all the people inside and stopped, taking another deep breath to try and calm my racing heart. I looked to my left and saw a sign! It said Southern Comfort. My favorite! I knew I couldn’t get as drunk as I’d like to get me through this ordeal since I was driving home after the show, but I figured one drink to relax me at the beginning would be worked through my system by the time the show was over. So I bought a Hurricane and wended my way through the crowd to the far side, near where we had been for CrueFest. I was hoping to get a little better view of the stage than we had had on Friday, so I went up the little hill and staked out a spot just at the top of the rise. I figured people wouldn’t stand on the actual slope so I had an escape route. And a pretty decent view of the stage. My timing was perfect because Saving Abel came on just then and broke in the evening with one of my favorite songs of theirs, New Tattoo.

I was able to lose myself in the music and not notice the gathering crowd around me. The set changes were the hardest for me, as my heart would start racing again. I did a lot of texting during those down times! Something, anything to keep me occupied. Huge thanks to those friends that put up with my inane chatter during those times!

It began to rain about halfway through Papa Roach’s set, which thinned out the crowd a little bit, so I didn’t mind too much. Besides I’m from Oregon, what’s a little rain? It was done with by the time Papa Roach was too. My only complaint was the sound system going out during my favorite song of theirs, Scars. Luckily it was back before the song was over. They really put on an awesome show and mentioned they’d be back in my area in November or December. Might have to give myself a Christmas gift and go see them again.

All of the bands were fantastic, and I had apparently found a really good spot, as most of the time I could have stuck out my arms, turned around in a circle, and not touched anyone. Maybe I was just really giving off some good “don’t touch me” vibes. I tried not to look around at the crowd, keep my eyes focused on the stage and just enjoy the music. I was doing pretty good until Chad Kroeger mentioned that there were 15,000 people in the audience. Yikes! They started playing one of my favorite songs and I was able to put that number out of my mind for a bit. Until the show was over anyway and I had to leave the venue with the rest of that mass of humanity. Having been there the one time before, I knew I was close to the exit, so I was able to insert myself into a good sized gap in the stream and head straight for it, and my car.

Sitting down in the driver’s seat, I realized two things. One, I was sore all over and felt like I’d just ran a marathon. And two. I DID IT!! I faced my fear, and I made it through! I even enjoyed myself, though it would have been a lot more fun with someone else to share it with. Of course, I did have my imaginary bodyguard there, so I wasn’t really alone. :)

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