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

 

 

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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? 🙂

Thursday Thoughts: NaNoWriMo and Creative Commitments

It’s probably not very surprising that I know a lot of creative people.  Among my friends and family are various other Etsy sellers, artists, scrapbookers, crocheters, knitters, seamstresses, quilters, woodworkers, and practitioners of just about any other craft you can think of.  Then there’s the people I met when I was a Theatre Arts major, the community theatre enthusiasts, and a plethora of actors and techies.  Most of my gaming friends are into role-playing and have developed elaborate stories for their characters.  Now add in all the writers and poets, computer programmers, graphic artists, interior designers… the list goes on.  So I really shouldn’t be shocked when I keep seeing one friend after another announce that they are participating in NaNoWriMo.

I’ve long thought about writing a book, or several.  I have characters begging me to tell their stories.  I’ve written a few scenes (this one belongs in a romance novel!) and backstories (this one is not for the faint of heart!) for some of my City of Heroes characters, and brainstormed ideas for a series based one or both of the Ashton twins, Jenny (my main character, One Hit Wonder) and Stacey.  I know I should take the “just sit down and write!” advice, but the way my writing process works, I don’t stop writing until the story is done, or at least that part of it.  And I just don’t have the time right now to spend hours, or heck, even minutes, writing anything that isn’t directly related to my business.

I am committed to three craft fairs in November, and am waiting for confirmation on a fourth one scheduled for December 1st.  November is not a month for me to write novels, or even short stories, it is a MUST MAKE ALL THE THINGS month.  I have literally thousands of items in various stages of completeness scattered all over my studio and spilling into the other rooms.  Thank goodness I have a supportive husband!

But I have been neglecting this blog, and my Etsy shop.  So I am going to make a type of writing commitment for November, and into December.  Let’s call it ReBloPoMo+ – Rewondered’s Blog Posting Month-Plus.  I am going to combine my “50 New Products In 50 Days” with my “Five by Five” blog posts.  So every day in November, and the first 20 days of December, there will be a post here and at least five new listings in my Etsy shop.  And I’m going to get my feet wet in the days leading up to November with a few themed “Five By Five” posts, starting with Halloween and gothic items.  It might be a bit late to order for Halloween, but I know there are others like me who think Halloween should be celebrated year-round, or are fans of “creepy” things, like skulls or Cthulhu.

Speaking of ordering, I am running a limited time special on two specific gift certificates.  The big deal is a Groupon-esque discount of over 76% off, where you can get $210 worth of my products (or custom orders) for only $50!  Click the picture below for details:

$210 worth of Rewondered products for only $50!

$210 worth of Rewondered products for only $50!

You can also get a half-price $20 Gift Certificate to Rewondered for $10.  Both of these offers are limited, so get them before they’re gone!  If you’re in New Hampshire, come spend your Rewondered Gift Certificate at my booth at one (or more) of the craft fairs I will be at:

I’ll have lots of items at the fairs that aren’t available online.  And with all the stuff I’ll be adding during ReBloPoMo+ (5 items x 50 days = 250 new listings!) there will be a lot more to choose from soon™.  Rewondered Gift Certificates never expire, you don’t have to use them all at once, and you can even refill them!  Get your holiday shopping done early, and let your friends pick out their favorite items, or get something custom made!

So what are you committed to this November?  Let me know in the comments below!  Are you doing NaNoWriMo?  Don’t write, but love to read?  Then check out NaNoLoMo – National Novel Loving Month.  Have a creative goal you’ve been putting off?  Maybe November is the perfect month to make it happen!  Let’s do it!

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. :)

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!  😛

The Best Laid Plans…

… go completely to hell when you get a migraine.  I should cross stitch that on a sampler and put it up in my bedroom.

Wednesday morning I woke up around 4am in excruciating pain.  I managed to stumble downstairs to get something to drink so I could take some pain killers and fell back into bed again.  I woke up around 10am and the worst of the pain was over, but I was still having occasional stabs of pain through my head and my eyes had that hollowed out feeling.  My concentration was shot, my vision was blurred, and I didn’t feel like doing much of anything.  Reading and writing were out, as was making jewelry.  The noise of the sewing machine wasn’t going to be pleasant either.  So I ended up taking Lorne’s advice and had tea and chocolate and played Diablo 3 all day.  The graphics aren’t too bright or flashy, and playing by myself I could limit my movement and pace to what my eyes could handle.

Unfortunately, I have a circulatory issue that makes it impossible for me to take most migraine medications, so I’m stuck with over the counter pain relievers.  This means it usually takes me a day or two at least to completely recover from a migraine.  Thursday I ran some errands and was fighting off dizziness and nausea the whole time.  Friday I was doing better but I mostly did “maintenance” work: a little cleaning and organizing of the studio, washing fabric and clothes I want to rewonder, putting the things I need for a project together in one place, that sort of thing.  So I haven’t been able to complete any new products for a few days.  I’m hoping to get a few done this weekend.

One thing I thought would be fun to do with my rewondered pieces is show you before and after pictures.  This means I’ll have to plan my projects ahead a little better so I can get those before pictures taken before I start cutting things up.  Today I’m going to work on my wedding dress, so that will be my first entry in the Before and After series.  Depending on how long that takes me, I might have it up later today or tomorrow.

Last week, I asked for your help getting my IndieGoGo campaign noticed.  While I’m still not appearing anywhere on IndieGoGo, my numbers are going up, so thank you for all your efforts and please, keep it up!  Here’s a peek at the difference in my stats since last week:

  • Vistitors – Up to 71 from 36 (nearly doubled!)
  • Views – Up to 163 from 58 (nearly tripled!)
  • Funders – Up to 3 from 1 (tripled!)
  • Contributions – Up to $70 from $25 (nearly tripled!)
  • Favorites – Up to 7 from 2 (nearly quadrupled!)
  • Referrals – Up to 165 from 129.  Referrals is the number of visits that result from someone sharing your campaign using widgets, facebook, twitter and emails (from the SHARE THIS CAMPAIGN section)

I’ve got two weeks left for my campaign, so I’m still holding out hope that I can hit that $500 mark.  If we can continue to get it viewed, shared, favorited and referred, perhaps I’ll start showing up in the Final Countdown section when I have 10 days left.  So please, please, please, follow the instructions laid out in No News and Good News and do whatever you can to help!

Oh, and you know how I said I’d be lucky if 20 people read my Regarding The Oatmeal post?  Currently, that post has had 42 views!  It ranks 4th in my most popular posts, behind the one where I announced my engagement, the one about making the Mardi Gras bead bikini, and the one listing the things I’d like for my wedding.  I did put a note up on The Oatmeal’s Facebook page asking him to direct his fans to support other IndieGoGo campaigns, but I doubt he ever saw it.  It was buried within minutes under the flow of comments, and I can’t imagine he has time to read every comment posted like I do (they’re sent to my email so I don’t miss them).  His campaign is currently up to $174,065 from 11,485 funders.  And he’s not even offering any perks!  I’m in awe.

Anyway, time for me to get back to work.  Stay tuned for the results of my efforts today!

What Have I Done?

You may have noticed that I didn’t post a new One Hit Wonder Project for Friday.  It’s been a pretty hectic week and many things have kind of fallen by the wayside.  I’ve been beating myself up for not getting more accomplished and feeling like I keep falling further and further behind.  I don’t usually succumb to negativity, but it’s been eating at me a bit.

Then I read a post by my friend Teresa Noelle Roberts on her blog. She’s participating in something called the Independence Day Challenge which is, as she puts it, about “living a more earthy-crunchy life in a very practical way,and it’s mostly but not exclusively concerned with food.”  Now I don’t garden or cook, so I was about to just say “Oh, that’s nice for Teresa” but then she shared the words of Sharon Astyk, who initiated the challenge: “the whole idea is to get the positive sense of your accomplishments – it is easy to think we haven’t done anything to move forward, but in fact, we all do, almost every day.  We just think of accomplishment as a big thing – a whole day spent putting up applesauce or a hundred tomato plants.  The Independence Day project makes us count our little accomplishments and see that we are moving forward.”

Whoa.  Now there’s a thought.  What *have* I done?  Well, the necklace for Friday’s post is finished and photographed.  I completed the Treasury that goes with it.  It’s really just a matter of putting the listing up and the pages together.  Monday’s necklace is almost complete and I am done with the Treasury for that one too.  In fact, I have the necklaces completed for the posts through February 27th, and the songs picked out through April 16th.  I picked up supplies today to complete some of the pieces I have in mind, and have more supplies on order.  I have templates set up to make the postings easier.  The project is well in hand, I just have to do the research and put everything together.

I’ve been beating myself up over not getting more things listed on Etsy and in my store as well, but I have at least two dozen necklaces photographed and ready to be put up on Etsy, dozens more completed and ready to be photographed, and it’s just a matter of clicking a few boxes on the 80 or so listings I have imported to make them live in my store.  I’ve been trying to get all my inventory cataloged and accounted for, and I found an awesome application for Etsy sellers to keep track of it.  Between Etsy and my store I have over $10,000 worth of inventory already listed!  That number is kind of boggling, as I have just a fraction of my completed items up, and many more in the “ooh, I know what I’m gonna make with this!” stage.

Today I had planned to work more on inventory and get yesterday’s One Hit Wonder Project entry up, but you know what they say about the best laid plans.  The mouse for my desktop computer is on its last legs, and I mentioned wanting to hit up the President’s Day sale at the local JoAnn store, so my Spousal Equivalent and I took a jaunt over to Keene.  He wanted to pick something up at the natural foods store, so that was our first stop.  Then of course we had to stop at the candy shop.  We noticed that the thrift shop we always walk by on the way to the candy shop was actually open, so we had to go in and browse. I picked up half a dozen patterns and two sets of comfy flannel pajamas.  The patterns are for when I expand into clothing designs, and the pajamas are to wear while I’m working, so those are business-related purchases, right?

Our next stop was the JoAnn store, where I found what I was looking for to use for the February 29th One Hit Wonder Project, as well as other supplies to use in the future.  We then headed to Staples to find me a new mouse, but it was near the Dollar Tree so we stopped in there first so I could pick up some straws and the plastic boxes I use for sorting and storing my supplies.  Now, taking me to a thrift store, a craft store, and a dollar store is sure to test the limits of anyone’s patience with me!  These are my three favorite types of stores and I can browse forever, but my Spousal Equivalent was only showing the beginning signs of mild frustration with me.  So we stopped into the pet store so we could squee over the adorable critters and recharge his batteries a little, since he loves animals of all kinds.  We cooed over a dwarf hamster that had just gorgeous coloring and markings, so I might be able to convince him to get one when we have a few hundred extra dollars to spend on all the cool hamster cage accessories. 😛

We finally made it to the Staples and got my new mouse, stopped for a bite to eat, then headed home.  All that fresh air and exercise was a bit much for us hermits, so we laid down for a bit for cuddles and ended up taking a two-hour nap.  Then I got caught up on my email and social media and now I’m writing this blog post.  So while I didn’t accomplish what I had originally planned, I did accomplish quite a lot, including seeing just how much my SE will put up with me when I’m shopping!  We got out of the house, which we hadn’t done a lot of in the last few weeks as we’ve both dealt with the evil snot monster that took up residence in our heads.  I got everything on my list of things I needed to buy – and things that weren’t on the list but isn’t that always the case?  And I spent a lovely day with my SE, which is really the most important thing on my Massive To Do List.  All in all, I’m feeling pretty accomplished!

Why not try putting away the Massive To Do List and make a new What I Have Done List?  Count all the little things… and see just how much you’re moving forward. 🙂

I Am An Artist, And So Are You

Discover the art you create on a daily basis, without picking up a pencil or a paintbrush.

I remember going to my grandmother’s house for the weekend when I was a young girl. She would hand me a stack of blank paper, a set of watercolor paints, and a big box of crayons, and by the time the weekend was over, my drawings and paintings would cover every available surface. I considered myself quite the artist, and my grandmother encouraged my creativity.

Perhaps it was with her death, when I was nine years old, that the dream of being an artist began to die. I know I looked at my art a lot more critically as I got older, and finally put down my paints, pencils, chalks and crayons, deciding I’d never be good enough to be a “real” artist. I still did other creative crafts, such as sewing and cross-stitch, but to me, “art” was something you would find in a museum. It was a drawing or a painting, a picture that was conjured up in one’s mind, then put to paper or canvas, framed and hung upon a wall. Or it could be a sculpture, something carved from stone or shaped in clay. I had a very narrow view of art. I think many people do.

But art is not just paintings, sketches or sculptures. Art is everywhere, in everything we do. We just don’t always see it in the rush of our everyday lives. We are so busy doing “stuff” that we fail to see the beauty around us, or the skill and mastery we use to accomplish all this “stuff.”

I create and sell jewelry on Etsy.com; this is my most obvious art. But I am also a DJ for The Cape Radio, a small internet radio station for players of City of Heroes, so the play lists I create and the banter I engage in on the air is another form of my art. My “day job” is as a photographer for a portrait studio; this is also my art.

Okay, so jewelry-making, music and entertainment, and photography can be forms of art; I think that is something we can all agree on. But what if you’re not creative? What if you don’t “make” anything? How can I say that you are an artist? Because I am still saying that you are.

The first definition on Dictionary.com states that art is “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.”

More than ordinary significance. What a concept these words are! Think about what you have created in your life that has more than ordinary significance to you. What do you love? What gives you satisfaction? What are you really good at? What do people compliment you on?

Let’s look at what you do for a living. I’m sure a lot of people will say they absolutely hate their jobs, but even if you are one of those, I bet there is some aspect of it that you excel at. In my various past jobs as an administrative assistant, my coworkers marveled at how organized I was. Even if I had piles of folders and stacks of papers on my desk, if someone came to me and asked for something specific, I could put my hands on it in seconds. I always knew what tasks in a project had already been completed and what still needed to be done. I knew what resources were available and where to find them. I knew exactly where to go and what to do in order to fulfill a request for information or complete a report. I got things done quickly and was a model of efficiency. Organization is my art.

Perhaps you’re the only one in the office who can deal with that one problem client that drives everyone else up the wall. Your diplomacy is your art. Perhaps you can always convince people to give a bit more to a fund-raiser or spend a bit more than they had originally been planning to. Your salesmanship is your art. Perhaps you’re the one who always has a smile, who brightens everyone else’s day just by being there. Your sunny disposition is your art. Perhaps you learn new programs quickly, can figure out how to make them do what you need them to do faster than anyone else. This aptitude is your art. What points on your resume are you most proud of? I bet they have something to do with your art.

What about your life outside of work? Perhaps you’re the one that all your friends look to to organize events for the group. Party planning is your art. Perhaps you can always find the best route to take to get wherever you need to go. Your sense of direction is your art. Perhaps you make the best chocolate chip cookies your family has ever tasted. To someone who always burns the bottoms of cookies, making good ones is definitely an art!

What have you made that has more than ordinary significance to you? Perhaps you’ve made a comfortable home that your friends and family love to hang out in. Perhaps you’ve made some fantastic friendships that have stood the test of time. Perhaps you’re a parent, and what parent doesn’t think their child is a work of art?

More than ordinary significance. You ARE an artist. So what is your art?

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