Remember to Breathe

Remember to Breathe

*This post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you choose to click on them and/or make a purchase*

Breathing is definitely NOT overrated.  I lost most of November to a sinus infection, and while sinus infections are nothing new to me, this one added a new twist: asthma exacerbation.  My “mild” asthma became much less so, and pretty much any type of exertion left me breathless.  This was especially annoying considering I live on the third floor, so just taking the stairs was an adventure.  Add some truly excruciating joint pain to the mix and you may begin to understand why I haven’t been a very happy camper.  Writing and typing are difficult when you have shooting pains in your elbow and your fingers are too stiff and sore to hold a pen.  I have a speech-to-text program that I like to use for “writing” down my thoughts, but even talking was too much exertion for my poor lungs.  So I haven’t been able to get much work done on my book, let alone anything else.

*BreatheAir Purifiers for AsthmaBreathe*

It’s extremely frustrating for me to not be able to do the things I want to do.  I don’t like being told I can’t do something, and my body has been telling me “nope” for several weeks now.  (Yes, I’ve seen a doctor.  Yes, I’m much better, thus why I’m actually able to write this now.)  I’ve been forced to slow down, take it easy, relax… and I hate it.  Patience is not one of my virtues.  But it’s given me a lot of time to think.

*The Power of Breath: The Art of Breathing Well for Harmony, Happiness, and HealthBreathe Better Feel BetterBreathing Space: Living and Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped-Up Society*

Obviously, the book I’m writing is much on my mind.  Make that books.  As I do my research and go over my notes, I realize this is a much more ambitious project than I originally thought.  The good thing is that just makes me more excited about it.  The bad thing is that excitement makes the frustration of not being able to work on it worse.  I’ve had to constantly remind myself to just take a deep breath and let it go.

*“Take a Deep Breath” by V Sharp Multon*
from: Imagekind-Artwork from independent artists

Since writing wasn’t working, I ended up doing a lot of reading and listening to audiobooks.  I must admit, I love self-help books.  I love how they can make me think about my life, hopes, and dreams, and get me enthused about them all over again.  One that I recently finished and highly recommend is Jen Sincero’s *You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life*.  I have the audiobook version, which she reads herself.  I really like her style, though it’s quite different from the usual fare.  She can be crass and vulgar (she was in a band called Crotch, that should really explain a lot right there) but to me anyway, that makes her seem more real and approachable.  I’m seriously considering investing in one of her coaching programs.

You can check out some of the quotes from You Are a Badass on Goodreads, but there were two that I want to share in this post:

“Life often turns to shit before it turns to shinola.”

“Birthing your dreams is like… giving birth.  Conceiving the idea is the fun part (hopefully), then you go through insane amounts of fear and excitement and dreaming and planning and vomiting and growing and thinking you’re crazy and thinking you’re awesome and stretching and shape shifting until you’re practically unrecognizable to everyone, even your own self.”

Following your dreams is not an easy path.  As the saying goes, if it was easy everyone would do it.  I’ve never been pregnant, but I’ve been around enough pregnant women to recognize the truth of the second quote.  I know that following my dreams has changed me considerably from the person I was a decade ago.  It’s been a pretty wild ride, but I’m not about to get off the roller coaster.

What I found incredibly interesting and enlightening was the chapter containing the first quote.  By really going for your dreams, you are basically trying to completely change your reality, but your reality doesn’t want to change, so it throws a tantrum like a threenager.  It’s like Murphy’s Law on steroids and crack.  But it also means you’re on the right track.  So the sinus infection, my asthma now requiring a daily inhaler, the joint pain I’ll be seeing a Rheumatologist about in January, all but one of the headlights on my car going out, the flash drive with all my notes and references for the book getting corrupted (talk about leaving me breathless!), my laptop BSODing, my credit score tanking because I couldn’t pay my bills and my creditors were breathing down my neck, and what seems like a million other little setbacks are all because I’m finally on my way to making my dreams my new reality.  I’m going to believe that anyway, it helps me to breathe easier. 🙂

Now, back to MY book.  I think strategic planning is extremely important for any business, but it’s also extremely different for a one-person business than it is for a corporation.  First of all, you ARE your business.  You eat, sleep, and yes, breathe it.  It’s very difficult for an artist to detach themselves from their art, as we pour our hearts and souls into each piece we make.  So you’re not just planning for your business, you’re planning for your LIFE.  Because of that, I will be incorporating not only the knowledge I’ve gleaned from my studies on corporate strategic planning, but also from the variety of self-development and life coaching books I’ve read.  I’ll try to keep my rah-rah cheerleader tendencies to a minimum, and because I always put “none of the above” for my religious affiliation, you won’t be seeing any mentions of a specific religion.  This book is about you, your business, and your dreams.

*Breathing Freely: Celebrating the Imperfect LifeTake Their Breath Away: How Imaginative Service Creates Devoted Customers*

I’m also using the material I’m creating to take a good hard look at my own business.  These last few weeks have given me a lot of time to think and dream and figure out what it is I really want.  I’ll be doing a post about my BIG dream later, but there are three things that I want my business to be about: freedom, creativity, and passion, not only for myself, but for every small creative business.  Painting the Big Picture of Your Creative Business will be all about discovering the passion behind your business and creating the freedom you want in your life.

*Breathing on Your OwnA Deep Breath of Life: Daily Inspiration for Heart-Centered LivingBreathing In, Breathing Out: Keeping a Writer's Notebook *

For me, part of the freedom I want to create for myself and my business is the freedom from worry about money.  Besides the sickness and pain, another thing keeping me from writing is the necessity to try and find ways to make enough money to pay the bills.  Time spent listing items on eBay and Etsy or researching events I can vend at is time spent away from working on my book.  This is one reason I created the Indiegogo campaign, to raise funds so I could work on the book without financial distractions.  The campaign ends today (December 18), and I am nowhere near reaching the goal for the first book, let alone all ten.  So I’ve been looking at other ways to make some passive income, and that’s why I’ve signed up to be an affiliate for some of my favorite companies and websites, like *eBay*, *Amazon*, *Groupon*, *Better World Books*, and *Jo-Ann.com*.  Then I went a little nuts…

*Asthma FreeDarth Vader Breathing Device*

*Asthma For DummiesThe Art of Breathing: Thirty Simple Exercises for Improving Your Performance and Well-BeingThe Breathing BookLet Your Spirit Breathe: Living a Peace-Filled Life*

*Take a Deep BreathWhy Is It So Hard to Breathe?: A First Look at AsthmaBreathing Space: Twelve Lessons for the Modern Woman*

Yeah, I went a little overboard.  You can see them all on the Referrals and Recommendations page (still a work in progress, but let me know if you have issues with any of the links or you can’t find what you’re looking for).  As you’ve probably figured out by now, I am putting an asterisk on either side of any affiliate link.  This ensures that it’s completely obvious that it’s an affiliate link, and also helps me to find them when I’m done writing a post if I don’t put the links in as I go.  And links without the asterisks are non-affiliated.  Anyway, I’ll be seeing how these do and likely will pare them down in the coming months.  I’ll also be doing some specific posts giving more details and reviews of certain products and services, and using some to illustrate some of the other posts I have planned.  Speaking of which, you can get a sneak preview of possible themes by checking out my Pinterest boards.  I’ve been adding products I find on Etsy for each of these “vision boards” in hopes of giving those sellers a bit of extra exposure, plus I may use some of them for illustrative purposes like I did in my last post.  Note that I have no affiliation with these Etsy shops and am not receiving any compensation for sharing their products.  I just think they’re neat and I want to help other artists and small businesses like myself.  Of course, I will add my own products to these boards as I make them, as there are dozens of inspirations running through my head thanks to this process.  “Vision boards” indeed.

*AFI Breathe Spiral Notebook *

I’ve also been looking at other ways to express my creativity and passion.  Several years ago, I set up a Zazzle store that I called Badly Drawn Designs, a play on the Jessica Rabbit quote I play at the beginning of my shows for The Cape Radio and the fact that all my designs are text-based.  I haven’t added anything to it in years, but it’s still generating a little bit of income for me.  I have an Excel spreadsheet with hundreds of other ideas, so I really want to start creating these again, especially now that I have PhotoShop.  Here is my most popular product of all time (42 sold so far!):

*See more Badly Drawn Designs*
*Make your own t-shirts online at zazzle.com*

I’m also using PhotoShop to create images like the one at the top of this post.  The background image is from Pixabay, a site of royalty free, public domain images that can be used for commercial purposes.  I add the word art, using fonts from dafont.com which are also free for commercial use (not all of them are, so make sure you look for ones that are public domain or 100% free).  I really do enjoy playing around with fonts and words, and I’m thinking of creating word art images for sale in my Etsy shop.  These would be digital downloads, so another great source of put-it-up-and-forget-it income.  What do you think of this one?

JustKeepBreathing

You’re probably wondering how this all fits with the rest of my business.  Remember those three words I mentioned earlier?  Freedom, creativity, and passion.  The affiliate links offer me the freedom to work on other things while still potentially generating income, and the companies and websites I choose are ones I am passionate about, related to creativity, or speak to one of my other passions, like helping small business owners and saving the world (even if it’s just *feeding animals at a shelter*… it all adds up to a better world eventually).  Badly Drawn Designs gives me the freedom to create something without having to reproduce or ship it myself.  I’ve always had a passion for words, and playing with fonts and images provides a creative outlet.  I love making jewelry and sewing, but it’s not always possible for me to do so.  And of course, writing Painting the Big Picture of Your Creative Business gives me the freedom to creatively share one of my passions: reworking big business concepts for one-person businesses.

So much of the literature available to us “little guys” seems to be based on our desire to either become one of the big guys or sell our business to them.  But what if that’s not our goal?  A lot of small, creative business people just want to keep their business something they can handle on their own, maybe with a little bit of help now and then, but they don’t have any desire to deal with employees or investors or IPOs.  I am designing Painting the Big Picture of Your Creative Business for the individual artist and crafter who wants to define success on their own terms.  Strategic planning can help you whether you want to make a million dollars a year or just want to help put food on the table.  In fact, I would say that strategic planning is vital to the success of your business, however you define success.  And it doesn’t have to be hard, or confusing, or frustrating.  It can be an extremely fun process!  Plus, you can pre-order today for as little as $5, so what do you have to lose?  Take a deep breath and click that Contribute Now button. 😉

*Breathe for Life: How to Reduce Stress & Enhance Your FitnessBreathe In, Breathe Out: Inhale Energy and Exhale Stress by Guiding and Controlling Your Breathing*

I couldn’t resist adding one last thing… who knew bad breath could be so cute??  🙂

Giant Microbes Bad Breath Microbe

*Giant Microbes Bad Breath Microbe*
from: StuffedAnimals.com























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

 

 

Reintroductions: Blowing the Dust Off

*cough-cough-cough*

Wow, it’s been nearly a year since I last used this blog.  Those who’ve read my posts in the past will recognize my “I’ve been busy” mantra and the “health issues” excuse.  To say it’s been an interesting year might be a slight understatement, and I apologize in advance that this might be a rather long post, as there’s quite a lot I’d like to catch up on.  I’m also currently fighting off an anxiety attack, so I’m hoping that getting some of my thoughts down on virtual paper will help ease the demons in my head.

You’re probably wondering why I’m jumping back into blogging again, and how long I’ll stick with it this time.  The short answer is because it’s a class requirement, so I’ll be posting at least biweekly for the next four months or so.  I am starting a Master of Library and Information Science degree through San Jose State University and will be tagging these posts with MLIS so those who only want to see what I’m doing for my classes can click on the MLIS tag in the cloud on the right, bookmark this link: https://rewondered.wordpress.com/tag/mlis or follow this RSS feed: https://rewondered.wordpress.com/tag/mlis/feed/.  Of course, I also hope to use this blog more often for my business and other topics I am interested in, but more on that later.

Let’s start off with the reintroduction, as there will be those who are required to read this for our class who know nothing about me, and perhaps some of my old readers are getting a new notification from this blog but don’t remember why they subscribed to it.  My name is Heather, but I also go by Wondie.  Wondie is a nickname I received from a character I created in City of Heroes named One Hit Wonder.  I began using this character as my DJ persona for The Cape Radio in 2004 and the name was shortened by my listeners to Wondie.  My business name, Rewondered, is also based off of the One Hit Wonder name, so I tend to use Wondie as my business persona as well.  You may call me either Heather or Wondie, I will answer to both.

Wondie

 

Through Rewondered, I design and create jewelry and accessories using found objects and leftover supplies, “rewondering” them into new wearable art.  I sell my designs on Etsy and at local events or craft fairs, mainly in New Hampshire.  I will be at Antrim’s Home and Harvest Festival on September 13th and Hillsborough’s Schnitzelfest on September 27th.  I have also been a merchant at several SCA events, and plan to return to Birka for the third year in January.

Part of my set up at Birka in 2014

Part of my set up at Birka in 2014

 

So what’s been going on this past year?  My last post was in October, which isn’t too surprising considering October through January are my busiest months of the year.  January through March I was working on my last regular classes for my Bachelor’s degree, one that was an accelerated version and one that I had designed myself and was probably a little bit more ambitious than it should have been.  April through June I was working on my Capstone with another likely-too-ambitious project.  There was a great deal of stress, but I survived, got my Bachelor’s degree, and was accepted into the MLIS program, which started this week.

School wasn’t the only thing going on, either.  I’ve continued to have some health issues, but I am doing much better than I did in 2013.  The big news on the health front is in March, I finally got my diagnosis of ADHD.  I’ve been reading books and articles to learn more about the disorder and how to best cope with it, and realizing just how much it has impacted my entire life.  I’ve tried so hard, but I’ve never lived up to my potential, I have always had some serious time-management issues, and I can’t stop chasing new ideas long enough to finish the old ones.  I’m working on it, but it’s a slow process.  I want to make sure that the changes I’m making are going to stick, that the ideas I’m trying are going to work for me.  In the past I’ve always jumped into a big project to get reorganized and ended up completely overwhelmed, so I abandon it before I can get any use out of it.  This time I’m taking it slow, using suggestions specifically for people with ADHD, and really examining all sides of my “great organization idea” before committing to it.  I’m not giving myself any specific deadline it needs to be done by, so I don’t rush it and make it all fall apart, but I’m trying to get at least a little bit done on it each day.  So far, so good.  I’d share before and after pics, but I’m really just too embarrassed about the before state.  Instead, I’ll share some pics when I’m done, and a bit about my process to get there.  I’ll also share some of my experiences and suggestions for running a business and/or being a graduate student with ADHD, as I figure out what is working and what is not, now and in the future.  Those posts will be tagged ADHD, so look for that in the tag cloud on the right, bookmark this link: https://rewondered.wordpress.com/tag/adhd, or follow this RSS feed: https://rewondered.wordpress.com/tag/adhd/feed/.

My husband has also been having some health issues, and has spent most of the summer fighting off almost-daily migraines.  The good news is there doesn’t appear to be anything we need to be particularly concerned about (i.e. it’s not a tumor!) but the bad news is no one is really sure why he’s having them so often.  The other bit of “good” news is his average pain lately has been a 5 or 6, rather than a 7 or 8, and the incidents of being actively mauled by a bear are decreasing in frequency (special thanks to Hyperbole and a Half for the pain scale reference).  We’ve been taking one day at a time, and I’ve been doing most of the driving whenever we’ve had to go anywhere.  This week has been better, and on Monday we celebrated our two year anniversary by going to see Guardians of the Galaxyfitting since we met because of superheroes (he’s also a DJ for The Cape Radio, but we are both on hiatus at the moment).  I admit that I have never read any of the comics, but I enjoyed the movie and would love to pick them up.

One of my favorite pictures of me and my husband, even though his eyes are closed.  His shirt says "Super Genius" and mine says "All this and nerdy too" - it's like we were made for each other or something. :)

One of my favorite pictures of me and my husband, even though his eyes are closed. He’s wearing a shirt that says “Super Genius” and mine says “All this and nerdy too” – it’s like we were made for each other or something. 🙂

 

Speaking of The Cape Radio, I am leaving in the morning to attend CapeCon.  This started out as a meet and greet for DJs and listeners of the station and other players of City of Heroes, first held in Chicago in 2008.  I went every year through 2011, which was the first year my husband was able to go, and thus the first time we met in person.  We were married a little over a year later.  We were unable to go back in 2012 or 2013, and with his current health issues, he doesn’t want to risk getting a migraine on a plane or spending the entire weekend holed up in a blanket fort in a hotel room, so I am going by myself.  This is part of where my anxiety issues are rearing their ugly heads.  I don’t like the process of traveling by plane (the flying itself is fine, but I don’t do well in large crowds and I don’t like strangers touching me, just to name a couple of my anxiety triggers) and knowing my husband will not be there to hold my hand and remind me that everything is okay is a bit unsettling.  CapeCon is being held in a different place this year, San Antonio, so even though I’ve been there several times in the past, this still has an element of the unfamiliar.  Luckily, several of my close friends will be there, and I have been promised drinks, so I am sure once I get past this initial anxiety, I’ll have a good time.  I am glad I will only be gone for three days, though.

FeedingBaron

Me and another of The Cape Radio’s DJs at the first CapeCon/Meet & Greet

 

So what’s next for me, Rewondered, and this blog?  There’s quite a bit of reorganization in the works, everything from my studio to my website, but this process may take a couple of years.  It will also take a few years for me to get my MLIS.  I chose to pursue this particular Master’s degree because I’ve always had a fascination with books and libraries.  My first “real” job was actually working in a library.  One of the projects I was helping with was converting the card catalog to a computer system.  Which probably gives you a hint about my age!  I’m fascinated by the way technology has increased access to information exponentially.  I’m also seeing some ways that creative solopreneurs can incorporate information science into their businesses to help them operate more efficiently, so this will likely be a major focus of my future studies.  I would really like to use what I’ve learned and will learn in future classes to help other one-person creative business owners like myself, particularly Etsy Sellers and those with ADHD.

After completing my Capstone, I began plans to write a book, possibly even a series of books or reports, specifically geared toward those who want to keep their business small enough that they can handle it on their own, but successful enough that they can make a real living.  I’ve been getting several nudges from the universe that I need to start writing and sharing my knowledge, so the first step will be getting this blog going again.

And I’m going to be continuing to figure out how my brain really works, and how to make it work for me.

HeathersBrain

 

Monday Musings: Time Flies

How the heck did it get to be September already?  This year has just flown by, and all my plans have flown with it.  I keep trying to get a handle on my schedule, and it keeps slipping away from my grasp like a greased pig.  I’ve done fairly well with the “this is the one thing that I must get done today” but that one thing has generally been something time-sensitive like finishing up a paper to turn in before a midnight deadline.

My studio is still a disaster, though not quite as bad as it was, so there’s been some progress, just not as much as I’d like.  Last night, I finally fixed the tension on my sewing machine so I can use it again.  Now I just need to clear out the area around it…  I’m hoping that this week without classes will allow me to get some organizing done.

So this year has definitely not gone as planned, and I still feel like I’m digging myself out from the pile caused by being so ill earlier this year.  My health is doing a lot better since I’ve been able to go to the doctor and started taking the new meds.  My next step is an evaluation for Adult ADHD, but I’ve been too distracted (ha!) to get the paperwork done and turned in.  That’s on the list of “one things” for this week.

Last weekend was the one year anniversary of my wedding to my beloved Lorne.  Hard to believe it’s been a whole year, and that it’s only been a year.  It’s difficult to imagine my life without him, and I am eternally grateful for his love and support.  I thank him constantly for putting up with me, and my business as it spills into our bedroom for lack of space in the messy studio.  I could go on forever about how awesome my husband is, but I’ll spare your teeth and pancreas. 😉

It’s been two years since I moved to New Hampshire, and I still love it here.  I keep thinking I should go take some pictures of the scenery and history that surrounds me and blog about it here… but there’s that “time” thing again.  Still, some shots of one of the old cemeteries around here while the leaves are changing would be incredible, so I really should do my best to make that happen.

But now that it’s September, I really need to start thinking about the holidays and gearing up for the season ahead.  I need to figure out exactly which events I’m going to do (I don’t think I’m going to do quite as many as last year, but I’ll probably still do at least three or four).  And I definitely need to get more products up in my Etsy shop.  I also need to figure out what kinds of new products I should concentrate on, so I’ve put together a little survey.  It will probably take you about 5 minutes or so to complete it, so please help me out!  A little direction helps to minimize my distraction. 🙂

I do have something new for you guys, but I’m going to put that into a different post… stay tuned!

Time Flies comic by Something of That Ilk

Check out http://www.somethingofthatilk.com for more comics!

Monday Musings: HALF!

It’s been way too long since I posted anything here, and for that, I apologize.  Those that follow my personal Facebook know that this first half of 2013 has not been very kind to me.  My husband and I have both spent at least half of the time sick.  His car has needed some work, each time blowing all the money we had hoped to spend on other things.  I’ve been struggling with school and feeling overwhelmed as I try desperately to get caught up.  My studio is a complete disaster area and has absolutely no workable space.  I haven’t created anything new in months.

All the plans I had to post more products and introduce new product lines have fallen at the wayside.  Weekly themed posts for this blog have not been written.  I haven’t even been able to squeeze in the time to post my daily gratitude lists, even though most days it seemed like my list consisted of 1. We’re still alive. 2. We still have each other. 3. We still have our friends.

Even that last one was besmirched a couple weeks ago when I heard that my friend, Tre Chipman, had died.  I’m planning on a memorial post here but it’s been difficult to write.  Soon™.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.  I have health insurance now, and drugs that, maybe for the first time in my life, allow me to BREATHE.  It’s kind of amazing to not constantly feel like one of those alien face-huggers is getting friendly with my nose.  I have a CT scan scheduled for next week where they’re going to see if anything else is going on in my sinuses and what they can do to fix them.  Isn’t modern science wonderful?

Speaking of modern science, my husband got sick soon after my friend’s death, which led me to no end of worry.  Especially when the doctor sent us to the ER because she didn’t know what was wrong with him!  They threw around scary words and did a CT scan where he frightened us all by having a bad reaction to the contrast they used.  But thanks to the miracles of modern science and drugs, they had him back to normal (well as normal for him + being sick is anyway) and figured out the problem, which they never would have guessed without those scans: pneumonia.  Who the hell gets pneumonia in June?  My husband, Mr. Special Pants, that’s who!  😛

So we’re both finishing up our antibiotics, him for the pneumonia and me for the CT scan they want to make sure doesn’t show any infections, just chronic problems.  We’re both feeling better and on the road to recovery, and hoping that we’ve met our quota for the year and don’t have to get sick anymore.

I’m done with Spring Term and classes for Summer Term don’t start for another week.  My grades aren’t the best, but they’re not the worst either.  I’m still on track to graduate at the end of next Summer.  Just one more year!  Then I’ll be entering the MLIS program at San Jose State.

I’ve been pretty worried about my business, since I haven’t been able to add new things or implement any of my plans, but things have been going okay.  I’ve done three live events so far this year, and put in my application for one this month.  I’ve been getting a few orders here and there from my Etsy shop.  I’ve been selling my duplicate and unneeded sewing patterns on eBay.  The money has been trickling in while the business has basically been on autopilot.  I’m taking that as a good sign.

But what’s really a good sign is if you compare the numbers from my first six months of business last year, to these six months, just one year later.  I’ve been keeping track of my Etsy numbers, so this data is only from Etsy, but as that’s my primary selling outlet, I think it’s a good litmus test for the entire business.  My total amount of views is up 177%, while my total amount of favorites is up 125%.  Nice, but look at this one: my total amount of sales is up 518%!  Holy cow!  What’s even more interesting though is that I’ve already made more than I did in all of 2012 not including December, which had about 60% of my total sales for the year.  In fact, I’d hit that point before May was over.  So if that’s how my business runs on autopilot, just imagine what will happen when I get the chance to really take the wheel again!

I think this calls for a celebration!  And since I still can’t drink because of the antibiotics, I’ll just have to do it by offering a discount in my Etsy shop.  If you’ve been eying something there for a while, now’s your chance to snap it up at HALF OFF!  Just use the coupon code CELEBRATE when you check out.  I’ll be running this special through Independence Day, as this business is a celebration of my own independence.

This week I’m tying up some loose ends and working on getting my studio back in order.  Then I can really jump into the business again.  I really need to start making things again, it’s been way too long since I let my creativity out of the box.

I’m getting there, slowly but surely.   If there’s one thing people know about me, it’s that I don’t give up easily.  Okay, okay. they call it “stubborn” but really, it’s the same thing!

Monday Musings: Of Fools, Failures, and Flames

Happy April Fool’s Day!  Sometimes I think I should adopt this as my own personal holiday, as I way too often end up feeling foolish.  Let’s start with the fact that I haven’t blogged here for an entire month!  March is kind of a blur to me.

My classes ended on Friday, so most of my March was spent frantically trying to get everything done and turned in.  I managed to do so for my Individualized Studies Seminar, which was extremely important since that class is what determines my entire degree program and what I need to do in order to earn my Bachelor’s degree.  But my other class, Research Methods, is where another incidence of feeling foolish comes in.  I did not realize when I registered that pretty much the entire point of the class is to come up with a research proposal that I can use for my degree.  And since I had not completely figured out my degree, that posed a bit of a problem.  Eventually, it was decided that I would use this research proposal as a marketing study for an Independent Learning Contract in the Fall term, but that decision was made so late in the term that getting my proposal done before the end of it was extremely problematic.  So I had to feel foolish once again, and beg my professor for an Incomplete and extra time to finish it.  She has been very kind in granting me an extension until May 5th.

So along with this foolishness, there comes a sense of failure.  Not only did I not get my project for school done in time, but my plans for my business came to a screeching halt during this first quarter of this year.  I had many plans at the beginning of the year, and very few accomplishments thus far.  I’ve let so many things fall by the wayside: my One Hit Wonder Project, my Five By Five/Fifty posts, my gratitude lists… it’s really easy to look at all the things I haven’t done and feel like I’ve failed.

But you know it’s not like me to dwell on the negative.  I truly believe the saying that you haven’t failed until you quit trying.  Then I found this blog post: How to Never Fail at Anything, Ever Again (John’s got some great stuff, so go read that and check out the rest of his blog).  Basically, the idea is to couch everything as an experiment.  “If your goal is to experiment and learn something, it’s pretty hard to fail.”  This is a rather powerful idea, and right up the alley of my wonderful brain that loves to mix creativity and logic.  If an experiment doesn’t work, I have still learned something.  If a plan I’ve made gets derailed, it hasn’t failed, it’s just been postponed or modified.

And we have learned that when I make plans, the universe likes to take the opportunity to laugh at me.  I guess I am the universe’s fool.  But I don’t like feeling like a failure, so I’m going to take steps to erase that word from my vocabulary.  First, I will make commitments to my overall projects, but not any particular schedule, because I’ve learned that things will happen to prevent me from keeping it.  I will experiment with doing things on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, but I will give myself choices within that framework that range from quick and simple to much more complex, so I have a chance of completing something when I have less time and energy, and can concentrate on the “big stuff” when I have more time and energy.  For example, the One Hit Wonder Project is extremely complex, requiring multiple posts and page updates as well as research, while posting a few Simple Charm Necklaces is pretty easy.  I have several ideas for revamping my projects, but I’ll save those for another post.

I’ve talked about fools and failures, so you’re probably wondering where the flames comes in.  Well, I have been talking with my hair dresser about making my hair look like “dark flames” for awhile now, and yesterday was our first experiment with it.  The main color is called Mahogany Blonde, so I guess I’m a blonde now, though this is still obviously red.  She added red and orange streaks underneath, and added some layers to the back so they’d peek through.  The pictures taken inside don’t really do it justice, and we’ll likely be adding more streaks and layers in round two of the experiment, but I’m pretty please with the results.  The natural wave in my hair adds to the flame effect, as you can see in this first picture:

Wondie's Flame Hair - Pic 1

Wondie’s Flame Hair – Pic 1

This one shows some of the streaks better:

Wondie's Flame Hair - Pic 2

Wondie’s Flame Hair – Pic 2

But the pics taken outside in the sun REALLY show off the color better:

Wondie's Flame Hair - Pic 3

Wondie’s Flame Hair – Pic 3

So I guess when the sun shines on my hair, it really bursts into flames!

Wondie's Flame Hair - Pic 4

Wondie’s Flame Hair – Pic 4

And those of you who follow my personal Facebook and believed I meant that I went “real” blonde, I guess you got your April Fool’s joke a day early. 😉

365 Days of Gratitude: February 26th – March 1st

Hmmm, the last thing I posted said “we haven’t killed each other yet” and then I disappear for a few days.  Gee, that’s just a little ominous!  But truthfully, I’ve just been busy, trying to get an early start on things each day so I’ve kind of forgotten to make a post here.  So once again, we’ll play a little catch-up.

(If you’re not sure what this is all about, please read the first post)

I’m grateful for:

  1. Getting my car all taken care of, and paying less than I thought I would.  Have I mentioned how awesome my mechanic is?  Seriously, if you are anywhere near Antrim, New Hampshire, go to Chuck’s Auto Repair.  They do maintenance work too, I got my oil changed and my state inspection done this week.  A few months ago, they also managed to replace a headlight bulb without taking the whole front end apart, which everything I read online about my car said would need to be done.  What would have taken several hours and cost me hundreds of dollars anywhere else was just a $12 part at Chuck’s.
  2. $2 grab bags of Valentine’s clearance items at Michaels.  Sure, there was some unusable (to me) junk in there, but just the one tray I found in there originally retailed for around $10 so I think I got an amazing deal.
  3. Getting template spreadsheets made up so doing my taxes next year won’t be nearly the hassle it’s been this year, as I realized I wasn’t doing my accounting in a way that would make figuring out my taxes easy.  Live and learn!
  4. Getting some answers to my questions about what classes I will need to complete in order to get my Bachelor’s degree.  At this point, it looks like I have ten or eleven classes left to take.  More than I wanted, but at least I have things mapped out a bit better now.
  5. Several answers to the question “Any brilliant ideas for using the cherry rum?”  My housemate is a professional bartender, so asking him these kinds of questions generally ends up with yummy results.  This week we’ve had a variation of a Mai Tai, Cherry Kool-aid (this one is dangerous… you don’t realize there’s any alcohol in it), and Fruit Punch.
  6. Fast deliveries of oil, even during a snowstorm.
  7. This week’s snowstorm was mixed with rain, so we didn’t have too much of an added layer of snow.  Things were very goopy, though, and I’m glad I didn’t have to go out in it.  My husband did, and it took him about two hours to make the usual one hour and fifteen minute commute.
  8. My husband made it through the audit at work, and now his stress level will be greatly reduced.  Until the next one, at least. 😛
  9. Not having burst into tears myself as my own stress levels have been pushed to the limits.  I hate feeling like I’m letting people down because I can’t get everything done as fast as I would like.  I’m trying to learn how to better estimate how long things will take me to get done but I haven’t had a lot of success at that yet.
  10. An afternoon nap when insomnia has me up at 3am.
  11. Always being able to find things I’m grateful for, even on my worst days.
  12. Anyone who actually reads what I write.  And if any of this helps remind anyone to look at the things in their life that they are grateful for, and to live more positively, so much the better! 🙂

365 Days of Gratitude: February 25th, 2013

(If you’re not sure what this is all about, please read the first post)

I’m grateful for:

  1. Making it through TWO phone calls!  I had a telephone conference with one of my professors (which is nerve wracking enough in and of itself) and I had to call and cancel my old bank account because they’re changing everything over to new types of accounts and it was no longer going to be free for me, since I can’t do minimum balances or direct deposits.  Mini-rant: banks that require direct deposits discriminate against self-employed people!  I need to make another call today to make an appointment to get my car inspected, but at least that’s someone I’ve talked to before.  Plus my mechanics are awesome, if you live anywhere near Antrim, NH, I highly recommend Chuck’s Auto Repair.
  2. Everyone who responded to my interview questions.  You are all awesome and I’ve enjoyed reading your answers!  I can now finish that assignment, plus I will be starting my Featured Friend Friday series with the answers I’ve received in the order I received them (seems the most fair that way).  Please keep them coming!
  3. Six months of wedded bliss. 🙂  We’ve made it through half a year as a married couple, and we haven’t killed each other yet!

365 Days of Gratitude: February 21st through 24th, 2013

Missed a few days, so time to play catch up again!

(If you’re not sure what this is all about, please read the first post)

I’m grateful for:

  1. Getting my errands done before the snowballs began raining from the sky.
  2. The power only flickered, we never actually lost power.
  3. Margaritas.  Because the movies were bad enough WITH the booze, I don’t think I could have watched them completely sober. 😛
  4. Homemade hummus and guacamole.  Have I mentioned how much I enjoy living with a professional cook?
  5. Finding nifty apps for my Droid that will help me with my business.
  6. Finding fascinating articles and research on consumer behavior and online shopping, which will help me with my own research project.  That’s right, I’m trying to get into your brain!  Mwahahaha!  😛  (It’s for school, but it will beneficial to the business as well.)
  7. Sellers who give prompt refunds for items that never arrived.  I ordered two items from one seller but only one of the items was in the package when it arrived.  The second item was out of stock, so they refunded my money.  Unfortunately, I am still dealing with another seller who has told me twice they are processing my refund for the missing package (my order got split into two packages but only one arrived) but I still have not got my money back.
  8. Sellers who don’t hassle me about an item not being as described, and go out of their way to make it right.  I bought something from one seller who had one size in their item title and another in their description, which I didn’t notice until the item arrived.  I pointed out that the I was expecting the size in the title, but I also realized my mistake in not clarifying the discrepancy in the description.  The seller offered to refund half my money and let me keep the item, which is more than fair.  Unfortunately, I’m dealing with another seller who sent me plastic instead of glass beads and informs me it’s impossible that they made a mistake.
  9. Sellers who understand that “combined shipping” means a discount on shipping everything together, not just adding up all the individual shipping charges.
  10. Not buying the fabric marker that had “Do Not Allow To Freeze” on the label, since I left it in my car overnight.  Oops.  This one should be okay though.
  11. Classes that don’t require textbooks.  Because $250 for a book is ridiculous.
  12. Getting things done, slowly but surely.  I will eventually get caught up!

365 Days of Gratitude: February 20th, 2013

(If you’re not sure what this is all about, please read the first post)

I’m grateful for:

  1. Having someone who is “more important” and being that someone for him.
  2. Our daily phone calls.  We’re both rather stressed right now, but having that connection helps to keep us grounded.
  3. Hearing him laugh.

Yeah, yeah, I know.  It’s another “grateful for my husband” post.  Deal with it. 😛

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