Reawakening Dreams

I was six or seven when I wrote (and illustrated) my first book.  It was about the first Thanksgiving and had a bright pink laminated cardstock cover.  I think I was in my Strawberry Shortcake phase at the time, so pink was my favorite color.  My teacher entered it in some contest, and I won.  I don’t remember much more than that about it, but it was likely what fueled my early ambitions to be a writer.  Around that same age, I also remember saying I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.  These dreams lasted until my teenage years when various circumstances made me pack them away, along with my dreams of being an artist.  But these dreams never really died.  I’ve added a few more to the box they’re stored in: life coach, librarian, used bookstore owner, professional cosplayer, fashion designer, world traveler, and a handful of half-formed thoughts of “wouldn’t it be cool if…” and other vague ideas.

It’s time to unpack the box.

Heart-shaped box of dreams

From KinkySpot on Etsy

I’ve always been a big proponent of following your dreams and working to make them come true.  While many of my dreams have had to be put on the back burner for health or financial reasons, they’re still simmering.  I’ve talked about my mental health issues a few times as well as my belief that if I can follow my dreams in the face of them, anyone can.  So I’ve decided to unpack five dreams from the box: writer, teacher, life coach, world traveler, and Director of the Rewondered Creativity Center (more on that later, since I apparently deleted the original post about it).

Never let it be said that to dream is a waste of one's time, for dreams are our realities in waiting. In dreams, we plant the seeds of our future.

From VinylMasterpieces on Etsy

I’m writing a book to teach other creative solopreneurs like myself how to use strategic planning for their very small businesses.  I’ve spent the last couple of weeks looking over my notes and finding a few more resources to explore.  As the book has started to take shape in my mind, I’ve realized that it’s not just a business planning book but also a life planning book.  Which is fitting, as I believe most artists, especially those operating a one-person business, have difficulty separating themselves from their work.  We put pieces of ourselves into our art and our business and personal brands are irrevocably intertwined.  So our dreams for our business are also our dreams for ourselves.

Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.

From StandardStamp on Etsy

Now, those who know me well and/or have been reading my blog all along know that the universe loves to laugh at me when I make plans.  So me writing a book about planning might seem a bit oxymoronic (or just plain moronic).  But strategic planning is a bit different (in my not so humble opinion, at least) than just “making plans.”

Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans

From SoulfulSayings on Etsy

Don’t let the term “strategic planning” scare you.  The title of my book is Painting the Big Picture of Your Creative Business because that is what you’ll be doing while you create your strategic plan.  I had also considered calling it Dreaming Your Plan, Planning Your Dream as that is another apt description.  Strategic planning is a process of dreaming big, deciding what you really want and care about, creating a vision for the future of your business (and your life), and then figuring out how you’re going to make it all happen.

Dream your biggest dreams then wake up and chase them like crazy

From WallDecalsAndQuotes on Etsy

November is National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo.  While this book is not a novel, I do want to use the idea behind NaNoWriMo and make a pledge to write every day this month.  This will include blog posts like this one as well as the updates for those who choose the In the Loop perk from my Indiegogo campaign.  I want to have the first part of the book done before the end of the year so that you will be able to use it when you do your planning for 2016.

A book is a dream you hold in your hand

From ATArtDigital on Etsy

That tells you a little bit about my dreams of writing and teaching.  Life coaching appeals to my cheerleader side, sharing my positivity and enthusiasm while helping you to ignite yours.  So I’ve included perks where I will personally help you work through the material I’ll be providing.  Perhaps I’ll even dress as a cheerleader for those that choose the Face Time perk. 😛

I am and always will be the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of impossible dreams.

From SonnetDreamArt on Etsy

I’ll be expanding on my idea for the Rewondered Creativity Center in a future post, as it is part of my own strategic plan and big picture vision for my business.  So that leaves world traveler.  I’ve never been outside the United States, though I’ve been to 80% of the states and lived in eight different ones.  Thanks to The Cape Radio, I have friends from all over the world, and I’ve always dreamed of visiting them.  I don’t even have a passport yet, but I have looked into what it would take for me to travel to Australia and will be putting a portion of my product sales and proceeds from my Indiegogo campaign into a savings account for that trip.

Adventures are calling and I must go

From FebruaryLane on Etsy

Which dreams would you like to reawaken?  Which dreams are you living right now?  Have you even figured out what your dreams are?

It’s time to wake up, and start dreaming.

Don't quit your day dream

From maybesparrowphoto on Etsy

 

 

Choices and Challenges

Wow, October already?  I kind of feel like I blinked and September was gone.

I was much busier in September than I had originally planned to be.  I ended up vending at an event every weekend, and two of those events were in my top three sales events for this year.  Awesome!  But it’s a lot of work to set up every weekend, and as amazing as my husband is, dragging him out of the house early every Saturday isn’t quite fair to him.  So the first choice my title is referencing is that I have decided to take October off from live events.  This should give me some time to concentrate on organizing the studio and getting new things up online in my Etsy shop (finally!)

This leads me to choice #2: deciding what order to put things up in my shop.  I sort my jewelry into various themes for my displays at live events, but I’m redoing what I’ll be taking to indoor shows this winter, so I decided I’d just start with one theme and list everything in that display, then move on to the next.  I asked people to complete a poll for me, choosing their top three themes.  Looks like I’ll be starting with Toys, Games, Fantasy & Geekery.  There are a lot of ties for the other themes, so if you haven’t taken it yet, you can still do so here.  When I get done with the first theme, I’ll see what has the second most votes.

I’ve already decided to limit the events I’ll do this holiday season, and I’ll be getting my applications out over the next week or so.  Right now, it looks like I’ll be doing only one, maybe two shows each month in November, December, and January.  My next choice involves what exactly I’m going to take to indoor events.  I got my outdoor setup pretty well figured out by the end of the season (you can check out the pics of a couple of events on my Flickr) but indoors is a whole different ballgame.  For one, I’ve been used to having a 10×10 foot space, while the indoor events I’m planning offer 6×8 or 8×8 foot spaces.  I also won’t have my tent frame to hang stuff from, so I need to find new ways to display some of my items.  So I’ll be limiting my products to some specific categories, and pointing people to go online and check out my Etsy shop.

Now, I have some choices to make for my Etsy shop, too.  I’ve been renewing items after they expire, mostly because I haven’t been able to list new things.  I’ve been thinking about no longer renewing items and instead posting them in my online store, which totally needs some attention and products.  I noticed that a bunch of my Christmas-themed items end on December 14th, and it seems rather silly to me to renew those for another four months that close to Christmas, so as of December 15th, I will no longer be renewing expired listings on Etsy.

So that’s a look into the future, but what about October?  I’ve got a few things planned…

If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve probably seen my Item of the Day posts.  For October, rather than just picking a random item to be featured, I’ve decided to go with a theme… or rather, three themes, so you’ll be getting three items each day.

  • Pink Item of the Day – By now, everyone is pretty well aware that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  What you might not be aware of is that my own family, like so many others, has been touched by this disease.  We lost my Aunt Linda in 2002.  Her children started Play for the Cure Oregon in her honor.  This month, I will be showcasing one pink item every day, and I will donate 10% of sales from any item with pink in it to the Linda L. Vladyka Breast Wellness Foundation.
  • Rainbow Item of the Day – You also might not be aware that October is LBGT History Month, too.  I’ve been pretty vocal in my support of LGBT rights and marriage equality, and I look forward to every National Coming Out Day (October 11) as I tear up watching all the love and support for myself and so many of my friends.  So I’ll be showcasing one rainbow item every day, and I will donate 10% of sales from any rainbow item to the It Gets Better Project.
  • Halloween Item of the Day – My favorite holiday is Halloween, and it being the last day of October, it’s perfect (in my not so humble opinion) to celebrate it all month!  My Halloween Item of the Day will feature items that can be used for costumes as well as all the “scary” icons of Halloween: bats, spiders, skulls, and a little bit of Cthulhu thrown in.  I can’t think of any Halloween themed charities, but that leads me to another choice I recently made…

I have decided that any time my monthly product sales reaches $500, I will donate 10% to charity or an IndieGoGo campaign I feel deserves it.  And speaking of IndieGoGo campaigns, a friend of mine is doing one right now that only has a few days left, so if you could help him out, I’d greatly appreciate it!  They’re a long ways from their goal, and I’ve already donated all I could (though if I get a TON of sales in the next couple days, maybe I can do more).

And now, Challenges.  I’ve decided to use October to challenge myself.  Since it’s the tenth month and 10 is one of my favorite numbers, I’ve decided to work on “Ten Things” challenges.  Some of these will be accomplished in one day, some will take several.  Some are baby steps and others are more intensive.  My goal is to complete at least ten of them by the end of October.  They’ll be things like “Create Ten New Products” and “List Ten New Items” as well as “Organize Ten Areas” and “Read Ten Marketing Articles.”  I’ll be blogging about these as I get them completed, so that’s another challenge, “Blog About Ten ‘Ten Things’ Challenges.”

But the biggest challenge is going to be “Less Talk, More Action” so I better stop writing and get to doing, yes? 🙂

City of Heroes Costume Inspiration and a Chance to Win

I love making and wearing costumes.  I have loved costumes for as long as I can remember and as a teenager I dreamed of opening my own costume store someday.  I’ve always planned to expand my business into creating items for cosplayers and I’m finally making some headway toward that goal.  I’ve already introduced my Straitjacket Hoodies, Tu-Tus, and Freaky Fleece Hats, but I have several more projects in the works.  Today I’m going to talk about my plans to create “real life” pieces from the City of Heroes costume creator.

One thing I loved about the costume creator in City of Heroes was the vast variety and endless combinations.  You weren’t limited to the standard spandex and cape with your underwear on the outside.  And as time went on even more costume pieces were added.  I am especially fond of the Steampunk and Gunslinger packs, and was over the moon when I was finally able to create the vision I had for One Hit Wonder’s costume from the beginning, which included the fishnet stockings and flames pattern on her skirt that I wasn’t able to do when I first started playing the game.

One Hit Wonder's costume

One Hit Wonder’s costume

So what’s really great about my idea to attempt to recreate pieces from the City of Heroes costume creator is that not only can City of Heroes players cosplay their characters, but people who never played the game can use the pieces to create their own costumes, or even just wear as everyday clothes!  Check out some of the costumes I made for my characters in this album on my Facebook page.  As you can tell, I enjoyed coming up with new outfits for my character Stacey to wear when she went to the Pocket D to hang out at a Cape Radio show.

To give you a few other ideas of what types of costumes I am planning to be able to make, I went through and created a few “basic” outfits in grayscale.

Barbarian costume

Barbarian costume

Cheerleader costume

Cheerleader costume

Club Dress

Club Dress

Genie costume

Genie costume

Gunslinger costume

Gunslinger costume

Retro Sci Fi costume

Retro Sci Fi costume

Schoolgirl costume

Schoolgirl costume

Steampunk 2 costume

Steampunk 1 costume

Steampunk 2 costume

Steampunk 2 costume

Steampunk 3 costume

Steampunk 3 costume

Steampunk 4 costume

Steampunk 4 costume

Valkyrie costume

Valkyrie costume

Witch costume

Witch costume

These are just a few of the pieces I’m going to be working on in the upcoming months.  I’ll mostly be making items I can model myself to begin with, so I’m working off the female model here, but there are plenty of nifty ideas for the guys too.  And of course, if any of these give you ideas for something similar, I am happy to do custom orders.  I’m also working on some ideas for period garb for SCA events, as I’ll be a merchant at Birka in January, so there’ll be another post soon with more details on those designs.

Now, about that chance to win… my IndieGoGo campaign ends on December 30th and as of the writing of this post, I am $210 away from my goal.  So I decided to add a little incentive… if I’m able to reach my goal, I will draw a name and that person will get to choose between a full cosplay outfit, a Rewondered wedding dress, or a $500 gift certificate to my Etsy shop.  And if I’m able to raise at least $1210 in the next three days, I will double all the rewards and pick two winners!  How do you get your name into this drawing?  First, each $5 contributed will get one entry into the drawing (in addition to the perks already outlined in the campaign).  This includes everyone who has already made a contribution.

You will also get an entry for sharing the following image:

If you click on the image, it should take you to the image on Facebook, where you can click Share and post it on your own page/profile.  If you don’t have Facebook, you can share the link to this blog post, but please come back and post the link to your share in the comments here so I can keep track… if I don’t know you shared, I can’t enter you into the drawing!

Unfortunately, I can’t hold the drawing if I don’t reach my goal, so please make a contribution and share as much as possible.  We may only have 3 days left, but we can totally do this!!  Thank you so much for your help in spreading the word! 🙂

Reminiscing: It Wasn’t Just a Game

On Friday, November 30th, I did my final show for The Cape Radio in Paragon City.  It was tough, but I managed not to blubber my way through it.  I was amazed to peak at 93 listeners and even more amazed when I heard that our high listener count for the day was 341, blowing away our old record of 312.  I hope everyone will continue to listen to The Cape Radio as we play other games.  If you missed my show, you can get it here.

I’ve written before about the ending of City of Heroes, when I first heard about the plan to shut it down.  My grief back then is nothing compared to what I’m feeling now.  I knew it was going to hurt, but I feel like someone close to me has died.  I can’t stop crying, I can’t stop going through the various Facebook Groups dedicated to players of the game.  I’m adding friends as I put the character and global names together with their real life names, and others I might not have really known in game, but we’re sharing the same grief right now and that gives us a common bond.

I went to bed early on Friday night just so I could grab a few hours of sleep before getting up at 1:30am to log back into the game to be there for the final moments.  My global friends list was lit up like a Christmas tree, and the chat scroll was moving way too fast for me to keep up with.  So many names I hadn’t seen in years flew by.  My supergroup was gathering in the base for one last group photo, so I headed there and took my place for the picture.  Then I lost connection to the mapserver.  Frantically, I tried to get back in, but I just kept getting kicked back to the login screen.  Finally, I chose another server, and was able to get back in game.  But I wanted to be HOME.  It didn’t feel right to be on any other server but Virtue.  That’s where I’ve always played, where all my friends were.  But at least I was able to talk to them through the global channels.  It was something.

Then I heard one say they’d gotten back on Virtue!  I logged out and tried again.  Nothing.  Tried again.  Still nothing.  It took me about five tries before I, too, got back on Virtue.  I was in the Echo of Galaxy City, in Gemini Park, at the rock where I did my first Cape Radio show from.  I moved over to where the big group of people were, and sent out a “hugs everyone” emote.  So many people I remember from 8 years ago, when I first started playing this game, and the role-players would gather in Gemini Park.  I was always on the periphery of this group, not exactly a member, but they were always nice to me and included me when I tried.  I received hugs back and tells welcoming me.

I heard that many of my friends from The Cape Radio were gathering in the Pocket D, and I wanted to go there, but I was afraid if I tried to move to a new zone, I would mapserve again, like I did when I went to my supergroup’s base.  So I stayed put, and sent out tells and chatted in global.  I decided to send everyone in my global friends list a hug, and got many hugs back.  I was holding up pretty well until I sent Mercedes Lackey a hug, and thanked her for her efforts to try and save CoH.  She sent back “But it wasn’t enough” and sobbed on my virtual shoulder.  Her heartbreak was so clear to me, and mine just split in two at that moment and I completely lost it.

And then the worst happened.  At seven minutes until the scheduled shutdown, I mapserved again.  NO!  I frantically tried to log back in, but was getting kicked back to the login screen again and again.  Finally, I made it back in to the queue and looked at the time.  3:01am eastern.  What?  I was in the queue, and actually moving up it, but wasn’t the game supposed to close at midnight pacific time?  Amazed, I watched my character come back into Gemini Park, just for a second, and then I got the pop up “You have been forcibly disconnected. The servers are shutting down.”  We had been given an extra five minutes or so, but that was it.  It was over.

I went over on Facebook and posted “And that’s that. RIP City of Heroes, and thanks for all the memories.”  I cried as I saw similar posts, as so many on my friends list have played this game.  I was told Twitter was exploding as well, so I went over there.  My phone rang, and it was Detra.  I said hello, and immediately started crying again.  Detra and I share the experience that City of Heroes helped us find our true selves, so we both understand the devastation the other is feeling.  So much of who we are is tied up in this game, it feels like we’ve lost a body part.  Our hearts and souls have been ripped out, all because some company decided we no longer fit with their vision.

So what do we do now?  We do what I’ve always advocated: hold on tight to your dreams.

We fight to try to get NCSoft to sell the IP and another company to buy it and give us an awaken.  Check out Task Force Hail Mary on the Titan Network, headed by Mercedes Lackey.  They’re attempting to convince Disney to purchase City of Heroes, and if that doesn’t work, they’ll try the next company on their list.

We show NCSoft what real heroes are all about by donating to Real World Hero and blowing all their previous records out of the water.

We share our memories of the game and each other on Facebook, The Cape Radio Forums, The Titan Network Forums, our blogs, and anywhere else we find to post them.  Feel free to add your memories or links to them in the comments here.

As for me, I have a new mission.  I have always wanted to try to recreate some of the costume pieces available in City of Heroes.  I have cosplayed my own character, One Hit Wonder, a couple of times, but had just modified some existing pieces to be similar to her costume.  I was never 100% happy with the results and planned to eventually make the entire costume from scratch.  I’ve decided to not only put this plan into action, but to start making as many of the City of Heroes costume pieces “in real life” as I can.  My idea is to make the individual pieces, which can then be mixed and matched much like you would in the costume creator program.  But in order to to this, I will need some help.  First of all, I need screenshots of costumes from City of Heroes.  Please send them to rewondered@gmail.com and don’t worry about flooding my mailbox.  I have plenty of room there. 🙂

Secondly, I will need supplies.  So I am redirecting the focus of my IndieGoGo campaign toward this project and getting ready for Birka.  In the end, I hope to have a wide variety of costume pieces suitable for cosplay, SCA events, and even everyday wear.

So if you can toss even $5 in toward this project, it would be greatly appreciated.  For those wanting a memento of your character, this would be a great way to get a piece or two or even a whole costume, since you’ll get a free item and a gift certificate to spend in my Etsy shop, where I’ll have these pieces available.  Check out the campaign and my post on redeeming your rewards for more information.

I will be continuing to work on my Five X Fifty posts, and you will likely see some CoH and SCA stuff sneak in to those.  I have several items I need to get photographed and listed, but I need to unload my car from yesterday’s craft fair, and of course it’s started to rain.  Sigh.  I guess this just means I can get started on researching those City of Heroes costumes, huh?  🙂

Reaggregation: A Collection of Unorganized Thoughts – Part 2: Inventory

  • Aggregation – collection into an unorganized whole

On Friday I rambled about Events, and today I’m moving on to product ideas and inventory.

Inventory for Shows

Now I need to figure out what to actually take to sell at the shows.  I’ve mostly been taking only jewelry to the events I’ve done so far this year, because I’ve been dealing with one 6-foot table as my space and I don’t really have enough inventory of my other items yet.  Going to a 10×10 layout will definitely allow me to take more than just jewelry, though.  So what do I make?

One thing I’ve decided is that I’m no longer going to list my one-of-a-kind items in my Etsy shop, at least until after the holidays.  These are items I’ll be taking to the shows and home parties.  This will help me with inventory control, as I won’t have to worry about selling something in person and online at the same time, or deactivating online listings when I go to a show, or searching through my show inventory to find something I sold online.  To save space for one-of-a-kind items in my show display, I can leave out the items I have up online and just have a book of photos of them, directing people to go online to make those purchases.  This is one of the reasons I’m looking for photo albums, as I want to print out photos of my items for that, as well as photos of the custom orders I’ve done, and have those available for people to look through to get ideas for their own custom orders (more on items I’m looking for later).

As I mentioned before, I’m planning to do more “period” pieces and have a selection of inventory that’s geared toward SCA events.  I’ve been collecting Medieval and Renaissance portraits and artwork on a Pinterest board for inspiration.  I’m also looking at garb, such as some simple T-tunics made from “upcycled” fabric to keep costs down.  While maybe not strictly period, my aim is more toward “the look for less” so those who don’t sew and can’t afford something more elaborate can still fit in.  With that in mind, I’m also thinking of taking some modern clothing and “rewondering” it to look more period.  Another idea is to create some mix and match modular designs, such as sleeves that tie on, tabards and aprons, and various accessories that can completely change the look of a basic piece.  I’ll need to do some more research, but I’ve found a few patterns to start playing with.

Speaking of patterns, I took pictures of all the patterns I currently have and posted them in an album on my Facebook page.  I view patterns like I do recipes, as a basic guideline that I can spice up or make substitutions to as I see fit.  I like to take elements of various patterns and mix them together to create something unique.  I love doing custom orders, so email me at rewondered@gmail.com if you have an idea of something special I can make for you.

I also want to expand on the 50 products I made for my IndieGoGo campaign, increase my inventory of those types of items, and create more of the ideas I haven’t made up yet.  I’ve been considering trying another IndieGoGo campaign with another 50 new products in 50 days, but I’m not sure if doing that going into the holiday season is a good idea or not.  My focus will probably be on replenishing stock for the shows, rather than making new items.  However, some of the items I’m planning to do for the shows are new designs, so with some coordination and organization, I might be able to pull it off.

Speaking of holidays, I’d also like to get some Halloween and costume designs done and up, and time is running short for those.  And I should be already thinking about Christmas designs.  I have a few up in my Etsy shop, but should probably get a few more done.

New Designs

So here are some of the new items I’m working on:

  • Period “Replica” Jewelry – Designs based on portraits and artwork from the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
  • Basic garb – T-tunics, chemises, simple dresses, etc.
  • “Upcycled” garb – Modern clothing “rewondered” to look more period.
  • Garb “Accessories” – Sleeves that tie on, aprons, tabards, headdresses, hats, belts and sashes, pouches, corsets, etc.
  • Steampunk “Accessories” – Bustles and overskirts, corset tops, top hats, bags and purses, belts and harnesses, spats, cuffs, etc.
  • Costume and cosplay pieces – I’d love to try some recreations of costume pieces that are available in City of Heroes, and I have several other costume patterns I need to play with.
  • Hair accessories – Barrettes, headbands, hair sticks, elastics, and various headpieces.
  • More bags – I have a bunch of different patterns and a few other ideas floating around in my head.
  • Skirts – I’m working on a few of my own design, and I have several patterns.
  • Wondiosyncra-Tees – Upcycled t-shirts featuring descriptive words.
  • “Feminized” t-shirts – I’ve seen several nifty ideas for taking a regular t-shirt and making it more fitted and more feminine.
  • More “rewondered” clothing and costume pieces
  • More embellished hoodies
  • More pillows
  • More wall art – Word art designs using quotes, collages and mixed media, signs, etc.
  • Adding matching earrings and/or bracelets to some of my current designs

Hmm… maybe another 50 new items in 50 days wouldn’t be so hard to do after all.  Do you have any ideas for things you’d like me to try my hand at?  I’m always open to suggestions!  And boy, do I need to get busy!  So I’ll bring this post to a close, and we’ll have a part 3 soon™.

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. 🙂

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. :)

Restraint

So what is this nifty new item that I saved for last, the fiftieth of my 50 new products in 50 days?

The title is a good hint, but first, let me tell you a little bit about The Cape Radio.  For those unfamiliar, it’s a small internet radio station that caters to players of City of Heroes on the Virtue server.  I’ve been a DJ off and on for nearly eight years, and I’ve seen a lot of players come and go.  I’m constantly amazed by the community we have and I’m happy to have remained friends with several people even after they stopped playing the game.  What makes us such a great community and awesome friends?  Well, we all seem to have at least one thing in common.  We’re all crazy. 😛

I don’t even remember how it started, but when someone new joins the global channel, I greet them with “Welcome to the asylum!  What color/pattern would you like your straitjacket?”  If I’m not there, they’re told to see Wondie for their straitjacket.  We can get any color or pattern we want and people are pretty creative.  I’ve always said mine has flames on it, since my main character and DJ persona, One Hit Wonder, is a fire blaster.

Which inspired me to create the Straitjacket Hoodie.

Straitjacket Hoodie - Front

Straitjacket Hoodie – Front

Straitjacket Hoodie - Back

Straitjacket Hoodie – Back

The straps on the sleeves can be buckled into the bottom row on the back.  The rest are just decorative.  Obviously this isn’t meant to really restrain anyone, it’s just for fun, and is otherwise a functional hoodie.  And of course I can make them in any color or pattern combination.

Want one of your own?  Make a $50 contribution to my IndieGoGo campaign by 11:59pm Pacific time June 29th (that’s in about 9 hours!).  After that, we’ll talk… just lie down on this couch over here…

Monday Musings: Milestones

Last night, I watched the streaming video of Oregon State University’s commencement ceremony, hoping to catch a glimpse of my Dad, who graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in History (will be upgraded to summa cum laude after summer term grades are added in).  As I watched, I worked on my wedding dress, and it struck me how surreal this all was.  Seven years ago, I was living with my Dad and his wife after I got divorced, and neither one of us could have predicted we’d be where we are now.

My Dad turned 17 a couple of weeks before I was born, and graduated from high school a few months later.  He joined the Air Force but left two years later when his own father passed away.  He took a few college courses, but time and money were in short supply and he didn’t really have any idea what he wanted to be when he grew up.

I took a handful of college classes between my junior and senior years of high school, and another handful after graduation, but like my Dad, time and money and any idea of what I wanted to do with my life just weren’t available.  I got married, worked a variety of temporary jobs, tried a couple of those home party sales businesses, and finally tried college again just before I turned 30.  But everything got shook up when I asked for a divorce.  My nine years of marriage had left me with a distaste for the institution and I vowed it would take someone very special to convince me to try it again.

So in 2005, I started my life over.  I eventually ended up in Virginia, working in a call center as a customer service representative.  In 2008, I moved to the Chicago area and started working for a non-profit agency.  In 2009, I decided to give college another try, and began taking classes online through Columbus State Community College, majoring in Business Management – Entrepreneurship, with the idea of starting my own business someday.  That “someday” came sooner than I expected, as I was laid off in June of 2009.  I’ve had some fits and starts and lots of trial and error to get to Rewondered and upcycled fashion design, but I feel I’m on the right track now.  I’ve decided to take another year at CSCC to take some classes that will specifically help me with my business, then transfer to Granite State in Autumn of 2013 for my Bachelor’s degree.  If my plans work out (and we know how well my life goes according to plan!) I should graduate after Summer term of 2014.

Unfortunately, my Dad also got laid off in 2009, but that was the catalyst for him to go back to college.  His wife asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, and as he sat down and seriously thought about the question, his love of history, particularly World War I aviation, took the forefront.  He’s worked very hard over the last three years, and that all paid off yesterday as he sat in a crowd of nearly 4000 other students waiting to be handed their degrees.  I caught a glimpse of him when the camera panned the crowd already at their seats during the processional, but he wasn’t facing the camera.  Then the first shot of the crowd when they asked everyone graduating with honors to stand was centered on him.  I yelled out “there he is!” even though I was the only one in the room at the time.  Lorne and I tried to catch him actually being handed his degree but with six different cameras to watch and no idea where he was in line, we weren’t able to.  But I stole this picture off his Facebook this morning:

My Dad, the Grad

My Dad, the Grad

The ceremony was pretty long, and afforded me the perfect opportunity to work on the hand sewing I needed to do for my wedding dress.  I have it mostly done, but there are a few tweaks left before it’s perfect.  I’m still planning to make it the first entry in my Rewondered: Before and After series, so you’ll get to see pictures.  My vision is definitely coming together!

So my Dad is now a college graduate (woohoo!) and I am getting married again in about two months (eek!) and I’m still sitting here in a bit of shock and awe.  We’re growing up so fast!  😛

Monday Musings: Back To Work

It’s Monday!  I know most people hate Mondays, and most Mondays tend to hate people back.  But I think most of my friends would describe me as a bit of a Pollyanna, an optimist who always looks on the bright side of life.  So I don’t subscribe to the “Mondays Suck” newsletter.

Don’t get me wrong, I really didn’t want my weekend to end.  I don’t take a lot of weekends completely off (and admittedly, I did some posting about my IndieGoGo campaign this weekend, so I guess I didn’t take this one completely off).  But I thoroughly enjoyed just hanging out with Lorne and playing Diablo 3 and petting the cats we were taking care of for the weekend.  It was a great weekend without much more to do other than making sure our friends didn’t have to worry about cleaning the litter boxes or having clean sheets and towels when they got home from their vacation.  We thought about putting mints on their pillows but it was kind of warm and coming home to melted chocolate in their bed would have totally ruined the effect. 😛

So here it is Monday and I’m happily puttering away in my studio.  I really enjoy what I do, taking something “useless” and making it wonderful.  That’s another aspect of my Pollyanna personality, I see potential and inspiration where other people see junk.  I took a torn t-shirt that was way too big for my anyway, and created a cute summer top by cutting off the sleeves and tying up the back and sides.

Rewondered Tied T-Shirt Top - Back

Rewondered Tied T-Shirt Top – Back

Rewondered Tied T-Shirt Top - Front

Rewondered Tied T-Shirt Top – Front

I took a pair of men’s pants and some scrap fabric and lace and made a skirt.

Rewondered Skirt from Mens Pants

Rewondered Skirt from Mens Pants

I took a plaid jumper and made a bag out of the top.

Rewondered Jumper Top Bag

Rewondered Jumper Top Bag

And I took two skirts, one denim and one velvet, that were way too small for me and made a new, two-tone skirt.

Rewondered Velvet and Denim Skirt

Rewondered Velvet and Denim Skirt

This is what I love doing, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life, this is how I want to make a living.  And this is why I’m pushing my IndieGoGo campaign.  Because in order to be successful, I need the money to implement my plans.  The blood, sweat, and tears I continuously pour into this business will only take me so far, unfortunately.  As the saying goes, you need money to make money.  Thank you for spreading the word about the campaign, thank you to anyone who makes a contribution, thank you for helping me make this dream come true.

I have a wide variety of perks available, but if you have an idea for something I could make for your contribution, email me and we’ll see what we can work out.  I am definitely open to suggestions! 🙂

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