Friday, June 28, 2013

if you think you want it and you don't really want it ....

sanctuary polarity bracelet - melissa nucera collection
I keep forgetting about Oprah's Super Soul Sunday show, but when someone reminded me that Marianne Williamson was on last week I made a point of turning on the TV that morning.

Marianne was inspiring as usual, but it was something that singer India Arie said that literally made me have to sit down.

The truth just came at me like a fireball, or maybe I should say mosquito - yes, the truth of it hit me like a mosquito.

(we need to stop this stupid war on drugs and get focused on the mosquitoes - they are taking over)

She had been nominated for a whole bundle of grammys a few years (?) ago and she didn't win any of them, so now when someone in the music industry loses big - they say they did an India Arie.

After her loss - she left the industry to just be for a while and to reconnect with her love of music, without the agenda of "winning" and what she realized was that parts of herself were just not ready for the kind of success she was having. The parts that weren't ready, the little self-sabotaging spaces most of us carry, made sure she didn't have it.

"If you think you want it and you don't really want it, it makes you weaker." ... India Arie

I would add "If you know what you want it makes you stronger" - it's not the getting it that makes us stronger, it's not just the action toward the getting either - it's the wanting

(the real kind, not the 'you should want this' kind of wanting);

it's the totality of all parts of us wanting it.

Anyhoo, I'm going to come back to this with a series after I finish the emotional foundation stuff because I am thinking there is a really important message here and many of us makers are spending a whole hell of a lot of time making ourselves weaker, but I just wanted to write it down, so that

1. I don't forget it (my total lack of short term memory situation)
2. So anyone out there working with these same themes and might resonate with it can hear it now


Thursday, June 27, 2013

merc goes retrograde in cancer - plus jupiter moves in, too

anne-julie aubrey collection (magnetic ring)
I should have posted this a couple days ago because I would have looked prophetic with the Supreme Court killing DOMA yesterday (reversal).

Mercury goes retrograde 3-4 times a year for about a month.

This retrograde period started yesterday which makes now a good time to be thinking about all those re-do things - revising, remembering, re-evaluating, renovating, re-inventing, reflecting, reawakening, restoring - see this is not bad stuff!

Mercury retrograde gets a bad rep because sometimes electronics, communications, etc (mercury ruled stuff) can get wonky (in a very real sense Mercury has moved down into the darkness of the underworld - we'll be feeling our way in the dark at times, too, but the good thing about this darkness is that all our other senses will kick in and we'll see things we hadn't noticed before).

Also yesterday Jupiter moved into Cancer for a nice year long visit. Jupiter (the universal Santa Claus) is about expansion and good fortune and Cancer rules the home, family, water (yes, more water coming - sorry), ancestry, mothering (mothering ourselves, too), real estate, reunions, 4th house stuff - Jupiter will expand all this stuff universally (this transit is good for home based businesses in general).

If you know where this transit hits your own chart you will see where the universal Santa Claus will be most apt to expand your life. Later on this summer Jupiter will oppose Pluto in Capricorn which could be a great driving force for us makers to get stuff done (as long as this stuff doesn't involve manipulation or trying to control others) - it could be a driving force to help us achieve a level of security we might not have had in a while!

It's all good. And if it doesn't look like it's good to us - this is a great time to change what we are looking at - it's a great idea to say to a negative thought - "It's not important that I think about this now" - then move our minds to a positive thought.
xo all

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

the groundwork - part III our emotional (energy in motion) body and what those little blue pills are really all about

oh deer - polarity locket - artist: raceytay
Now, I really will tie this foundation stuff back to our businesses - if we are ungrounded we will be building our businesses on shifting sand

at best they will last until the first big storm at worst they can suck us down with them, like quicksand, when they topple.

(although I have just been advised by hubs that it is scientifically impossible to drown in quicksand unless we dive in headfirst, I wouldn't want to test that out - I might be willing to let him test it though)

We've talked physical and mental spaces, so let's talk about the emotional part because this is the heart-felt stuff many of us find the most challenging.

Our emotion (energy in motion) is where stuff shows up in our body before it shows up in the physical body (as healing or disease) and in our physical world. People say we have to control our emotions. We can't control our emotions; how do we control our emotions? I think it is this kind of thinking that gets us into trouble.

We can control our response to them (we don't have to punch the wall if we get mad). We can make changes within ourselves that let us see things differently so we feel different emotions. But I don't think controlling them is the way to go - unless by the word control we mean master as in the opposite of an amateur - master as in command won't work here.

First we have our INSTINCT - it's like our collective unconsciousness in the world of matter - we have lost touch with much of it. We still have our fight or flight instinct; probably all things connected with staying alive are still a part of us - if lost in the wild it would probably tell us which berries we could eat and it would kick in when we need it to survive.

Years ago, I was managing a bank that was robbed. From the time the robbers walked into the branch until they left - we were all operating on pure instinct. We all just wanted to stay alive; the robbers, too, I think (I wonder if they are still in jail. They had robbed one of our other branches the week before and they were caught a few weeks later during another robbery while having a shootout with the police on the parkway). Later we were surprised when we learned from the video tape the whole thing had lasted less than 3 minutes - it felt like time had stopped.

At one point I was alone in the vault with one of the robbers and he had a gun to my head and was telling me to open the vault. Fear was pouring off him. I was totally calm and focused. I went back into the lobby and was asking for one of the tellers to come into the vault (I had half the combo and the tellers had the other half) and I was looking into the tellers' eyes and knowing that none of them was coming into that vault. Their instinct was to stay put.

Luckily one of the other robbers, a couple of them had robbed the teller windows, was saying let's go and they left.

Then we have our INTUITION - it's like our collective unconsciousness in the world of spirit - our connection to the I AM.

Then we have our EMOTION - the word emotion comes from the Latin ex-movere, which means to move out. Emotions need to be moved out - not by behavior but through verbalization.

It is no coincidence that so many women (especially at mid-life when our voice in the world may not even be our own voice anymore) have neck, thyroid and jaw problems - this is a 5th chakra issue about saying the right thing to the right person at the right time with the right intensity - which sounds pretty exhausting.

There is a scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the mother says the husband is the head and the wife is the neck that turns the head. Well, being the neck is freakin' exhausting - trying to convince everyone in the family what direction they should be going in - supporting the head (especially some over-inflated ones), chomping at the bit with our words - I need a nap.

Now forget the family/relationship stuff and just look at us personally.

The neck is all about the passage of concepts, ideas, wishes and will (from the brain) into practice (action). The neck is a passage. Not yet the action itself. The neck precedes the action.

The neck represents flexibility and our ability to look around and back.

The back of the neck, the nape, is the most yang part of the neck (male, active energy), and the one that is most affected by excessive yang behaviors. The front part, where the larynx, the trachea, the throat and the vocal cords are located, is affected by excessively yin (female, receptive) behaviors.

I could talk about necks all day. I think I am a neck expert.

Chronic neck, shoulder and arm tension is stored anger. If we had dealt with this in our emotional body it wouldn't be showing up in our physical (and yes overwork, smoking, bad dental work, car accidents, injuries, etc can all play a part, but they all play a part in not valuing ourselves, too and in the things we judge as unfair and in storing up anger - it's all connected).

I heard a medical intuitive on the radio (Carolyn Myss maybe?) say that tension is anger, drooping is sadness and shaking is fear. This sounds true to me, I would like to think my neck tension is something nobler, but unexpressed anger sounds about right.

(this is probably what men's little blue pills are really all about at mid-life - sadness - something male energy has a lot of trouble expressing)

Emotions need to be looked at with nonjudgment and compassion - "oh that's interesting, this car in front of me that just cut me off is making me mad" - don't judge the emotion as bad. Just let it come up, look at it "isn't this interesting" - then release it. Exhale through your mouth and imagine exhaling the color red. Then inhale some peaceful white or green and exhale any left over red.

I think I got off track with this since I am icing my neck! More emotional body stuff next post - how to use our emotions to head toward what we want and then we will work all this foundation stuff back to our businesses - this really is a business blog ... sort of.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Full Moon in Capricorn on Sunday ... balancing the private and public and stepping into our responsibility


new cork necklace about to bloom
This isn't just another full moon post (please don't groan) - this is a SUPER FULL MOON - (biggest and brightest of the year) and it's also in Capricorn.

(the sign of our work in the world)

The full moon is a time of completion - it is also a time of action - outerworld action; the stuff we do.

So we have the moon (where we've been, what we know, feminine energy, being) and the sun (where we are trying to go/be, masculine energy, doing) as far apart in the sky as they can be from our earthly perspective during a full moon - this month we have the sun in Cancer, the moon in Capricorn.

The moon is not well positioned because the moon rules Cancer and it is in the opposite position right now

so this could leave us with the push pull between home (Cancer) and work (Capricorn) - the balance of our private vs public lives - the question of how much of ourselves we are willing to reveal.

If you have a Cancer or Capricorn sun sign or rising sign or moon sign - you could be seeing people from your past coming back or you could be seeking some connection with the past.

(since in a very real sense there is no time - we can totally change our past btw - forgiveness can erase all that bad mojo and give us a clean slate - forgiving others and most of all forgiving ourselves)

This full moon will be a big part of the emotional (water) stuff everyone of every sign will be dealing with this summer.

With Uranus in Aries- think moving forward, pioneering - with Pluto in Capricorn - think digging stuff up - do we need it or not. These are deep soul lessons we are dealing with. With the sun in Cancer it tends to make us long for things. Saturn is in Scorpio (if you are old enough to remember what was going on in your life in 1983-1985, you may see some patterns) - find what house Scorpio resides in your natal chart and this is the area where you can get a lot of work done now.

This will be the area of our life where we have relinquished power and where we need to step into our responsibility (thank you Lynn) - we are talking soul work here. When we fear something we relinquish our power and this is the time to get it back - not just for our own sake but for our entire collective - Jupiter is coming and life will totally support us with this now. The new world is in our hands!

native vermont print

Thursday, June 20, 2013

happy summer solstice - the new world is all right here waiting for us

melissa nucera - sanctuary locket
Tomorrow we celebrate the Summer Solstice - first day of summer; the longest day of the year.

This is our fifth Summer Solstice with Pluto in Capricorn so our challenge continues to be finding confidence and holding our center throughout all the chaos

(in our personal life this will show up in various ways and in varying strengths - the stars show a time of intense feelings and an “urgency to discover”)

Though these days we are living in are unstable

(this birthing a new world is hard work, but we were born for this - we can do it)

thanks to crazy squares and T-squares that are keeping every one of us on planet Earth on our toes  and showing up in our individual lives and in society (which is just a reflection back to us of our individual stuff) as restlessness, revolution and false safety net breakdown - there is actually nothing to fear.

Our real safety net is still here.

The Course in Miracles teaches "Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God."

(one of my favorite teachings - if you can lose it, it isn't real)

Together we continue our journey to the sanctuary we began to seek around 7 or 8 years ago. If we look at what is emerging in our life and we make decisions and adjustments (however tiny because baby steps are totally allowed) to reorient toward that, toward the new, we will be ok. Acceptance is always the place of peace. Resisting change is painful.

Let go of obsolete, stagnant, or stuck emotional responses

most of the time we let go of things mentally or physically, but it is the emotional heart-centered connection we need to release the most.

The themes of compassion, more water (stay dry), stuff coming up to be looked at

(no more secrets - we see this in our own lives and our systems, which just reflect ourselves back to us - the entire NSA scandal is a perfect example- their actions cannot be hidden but also our own actions; ie conversations, etc they are listening to cannot be hidden - there really are no boogie men, no real enemies),

the rising female energy -

we could think - how can you say female power is rising when all around us I see examples of female energy being repressed.

What we are actually seeing now is what is hidden coming up to be looked at so we can deal with it.

This isn't really about female power, this is about female responsibility - we just have to step into that energy. It is right here waiting for us.

When you say to a woman - step into your female power - she might think, "whoa, wait a minute I'm not sure this power thing is for me", but say to a woman - it is time to step into your female responsibility and she gets it.

And because we are all connected every little baby step anyone takes, moves everyone else along, too. This isn't all about women, men have female power also.

We cannot stand on someone else's back without standing on shaky ground. It may appear to make us taller, but it's all illusion. If we look at the shadow (and shadows can no longer be hidden), we can see the struggle underneath.

Our precious Mother Earth is female energy in living form - the more we nurture ourselves and each other, the more she is cared for, too. The repression of female energy is the repression of Mother Earth - it's all the same stuff. It is not a coincidence that this is all coming up for us to deal with at the same time - our stewardship of this planet and how girls and women are cared for here.

The celebration of the summer solstice was stolen from us a long time ago (although stolen is the wrong word here because it sounds like the power is with someone outside of us and it truly isn't) - this year let's say a little prayer for our planet and for our sister energy that is being healed.

We can use tomorrow as a little touchstone to let go of our fear (stepping into our power when we have so long been in the shadow), let go of our narrow views and interpretations and remain focused on the bright, blinding, rising sun that is on the way. Tomorrow will be the most light filled day of the year - how we choose to use our light is up to us!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How to Get Your Work into Holiday Gift Guides - TeamEcoetsy Blog Post

If you grew up in a family (like I did) where you were told not to "toot your own horn".

 (this was one of my grandmother's favorites and I still don't understand it, are we supposed to grab someone else's horn and toot that - that just sounds rude ... and well, unsanitary actually)

She also loved to say that "cream rises to the top" and "people will notice your good work, you don't have to tell them about it, Cathy".

And this is totally true and this is also totally not true (aint' life tricky). When it comes to publicity for our maker business it is best to err on the side of 'not true' and let people know we are out here.

If you want to open up a magazine in November and see that amazing something you have created staring out at the world from the pages of a GIFT GUIDE now is the time you have to take the action to make that happen.

First know your intention

First look at how holiday gift guides fit into the overall intention you have with your business. If you don't want to be bombarded with orders over the holidays - and it is totally OK to say this - it is your business; you get to set the rules.

If you are not set up with the time, supplies, inventory etc for an increased holiday rush, then this is not something you have to do. Cross this post off your list - whew, one less thing to think about.
a little paste and cut for inspiration
cut and paste inspiration

Otherwise we will be like that kid who half-raises her hand in school hoping the teacher won't call on her. That's not the kind of energy we want to send out. The half-hand-raise will not work.

This doesn't mean we have to be totally ready - we will never be totally ready for anything. It's a good idea to look at how increased holiday sales would work for you though.

You want your positive energy behind any action you take!

1. Create a media list

To read the rest of my post visit the Team Ecoetsy Blog HERE   

(post includes my HOT SALES TIP OF THE MONTH)

Monday, June 17, 2013

the groundwork - part II our mental body (and yes, my mental body totally looks like Pink's physical body - you will just have to take my word for this though)

New locket by Yael Frankel and Polarity
Mental balance takes practice.

Getting out of balance mentally affects all the other areas of our lives, too (the physical, emotional and spiritual) - just as getting back into balance mentally can help these other areas - often a lot. This is great news because it gives us many more tools in our toolbox to work with.

(Speaking of tools I forgot to mention that hubs drilled into his finger last week with his drill press; the drill press I had switched his drill bit out of and my drill bit into hours before and neglected to switch back, so the length was not what he was used to - ouch - when he called me from the shop I thought he was having a heart attack he sounded so ragged. Luckily it seems ok although we are watching it. I really need a teeny, tiny ray gun for this stuff ... and a flying car, I need that, too)

Our physical body needs sleep and hydration and nourishment and sweating and exercise; our mental body needs the same things.

When we sleep our mental body gets to play, this is totally necessary since we spend so many of our daytime hours mentally stressed - a daily vaca for it is a must.

For hydration and nourishment think about what we are putting in.

Are we around negative people? Watching negative, violent television?

(For years my mother loved Stephen King and horror novels, all those V.C. Andrews kids in attics - she was voracious. Later on when she got sick she couldn't read this stuff anymore - she moved on to romances. When she died we donated 600 paperback romances to our local library. We even made a little gold plaque with her name that they glued to one of the shelves. I was sad to see recently that it was gone, but I guess since romances are so hot right now, they have plenty of new ones to fill the shelves.)

Too much news? The news stations search the world for stuff guaranteed to freak us out - remember stuff like this has always been going on - we just didn't know about it.

Take a break from it.

Many artists are very empathic (think opposite of psychopathic, although an opposite isn't really an opposite - we may be closer to a hedgefund manager than we think we are) - artists tend to absorb the moods and emotions of others more easily than most people. This does not make us special (anymore than a psychopath's ability to be so overwhelmed by other people that nothing gets absorbed is). It is not a good thing if we can't turn it off. We need to be able to set boundaries and until we can do this, some stuff should just be avoided.

So we need to be putting good stuff in - poetry, books, positive information and affirmations, stuff that interests us, stuff that makes our heart sing.

We need to think about what we are thinking about.

Sweating and exercise for our mind is about what we are mentally putting out.

Mental activity is the seeds of all creation. Keep a journal of your ideas - make it a point to come up with 5 new ideas every single day. Do something creative everyday - in a perfect world creating is all we would be doing. Make your time on this planet count

Read books that challenge you. Always be learning something new. Do puzzles. Reason things through. Take pictures. Write something (I set my counter and write at least 1500 words a day. Yes, I'm sorry, I know you wish I'd set that counter at 500. I can't help it - I'm in training).

Build mastery. This may seem like a physical thing, and it can be, but physical mastery involves alot of muscle memory - it's our focused mind that does the work first.

Mastery creates freedom. When you master your craft, you can make a life with it anywhere. When one road winds down to briars and sticker bushes you can merge into a new one. When you master making a business, when one road ends, you can just build yourself another business.

And maybe because while our body is sleeping our mind is playing (a medical doctor might disagree with this, I don't know, I am not a doctor obviously, although I do wash my hands a lot so I am kind of a doctor - it just feels true to me) - our mind needs stillness through meditation. Practiced meditation, walks in nature, long baths, practiced focus on the task at hand - quiet and solitude.

next up- part III, our emotional body

Thursday, June 13, 2013

the groundwork - part I (we probably need more sleep)

gorgeous NEW carrie gault polarity locket
Maybe this isn't part 1 but since I never got this series off the ground (ack- I can't resist) - we'll start here.

There is a basic premise in many spiritual teachings and in A Course in Miracles

that everyone is connected and not only is everyone connected but everything is connected.

We are all made of the same stuff.

And your stuff affects my stuff and my stuff affects your neighbor's stuff and your neighbor's stuff affects the Amazon rain forests.

Because we are all made of the same stuff.

Now, you do not have to believe this in exactly the way I do or the way anyone else does, but let's pretend for a minute this is an absolute fact.

What would it mean in your life if everything was connected? What would it mean for your business?

What would it mean if your physical, emotional, spiritual and mental selves are not only eco-systems within themselves but they make up the larger eco-system called you which makes up the larger eco-system called us.

Our businesses are part of this everything, too.

Sometimes we think we need more balance in our lives. And most of us do. But life balance has never really been about work vs home life - it has always been about balancing the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental spaces.

Getting out of balance in one areas affects all the other areas. This is easy to see with physical stuff so let's start here - we need to get enough sleep.

(both my Chinese acupuncturist and a medical intuitive I used to know told me that sleep is our most important activity - it is not a non-activity - our body is literally rebuilding itself while we are sleeping, our emotional self gets to rest, our mental self gets to play and our spiritual self gets to stretch, it is hugely beneficial, especially those last couple hours)

If we are having trouble falling asleep - this means we are having trouble stopping. What are the other spaces in our life where we need to STOP and we just keep going? Because everything is connected changing that behavior will help our sleep. This works in reverse, too.

If we have trouble staying asleep - this means we are wanting to start something else before the thing we are doing is finished. Start finishing other things before moving on to something else. And I say things, but things are not always things - that thing you may need to finish could be the words you need to voice or that feeling you need to just feel until it lets go of you.

Tips to better sleep -

1. Don't eat after 6 or 7pm - we know Oprah has been saying this for years. Forget the diet part of it. Your body has alot of rebuilding to do while you are sleeping, you can't have it all bogged down digesting dinner. Also this doesn't mean you eat at 7 and then lay in bed until 10 reading your Kindle.

We need a couple hours of activity after eating before we lie down. If we are going to bed with our Kindle at 7 (this is my ideal night btw) - we need to stop eating by 5.

(when I was a kid I was in the hospital for a long time after I was burned, when I came home my family started a tradition of always having a 'special' - a treat at night - like I had at the hospital for those months - this has been a hard habit for me to break since I see this snack as a 'special' - I used to drive home from work every night thinking about the snack I was going to have that night - ugh)

2. Get up early
3. No caffeine after 3pm - for me it's no caffeine after my morning tea, this stuff varies
4. No big mental stimulation for the last couple hours before you go to sleep, no computer, no news, read a real book with a book light and the lights off, no computer or Kindle lights - there are lots of studies about how artificial light affects our melatonin - the book light isn't perfect, but it's probably the least amount if you are a night reader like me
5. Eat a smaller dinner
6. Meditate (not too late in the day)
7. There is a drink called Calm that helps me - it is a calcium, magnesium powder and has lots of excellent reviews from online users

Meditation really helps us discipline our mind because for me - and I was a terrible sleeper for most of my life - it is really about letting my thoughts drift away and clearing my mind again and again until I fall asleep. George falls asleep instantly - for me it takes discipline.

My acupuncturist can fall asleep within seconds and takes 15 minute naps every day. I used to think naps made me more tired - but I was usually napping from exhaustion because I hadn't slept the night before. Energy naps are one of my intentions.

dreamy melissa nucera polarity locket
I fell asleep during acupuncture for the first time yesterday- it is hugely more beneficial if you can sleep through it - I woke up with alot of creative juices flowing and much more focus and motivation. I had also slept well the night before

(and spent an hour sitting on my front porch watching ants - I cannot recommend this enough - they are so awesome - I hope to hell the big ones are not eating my house though)

- it's not one thing that will make us sleep better. It's a process. It's work. We need more sleep - if this is a problem for you, you have to figure this out.

Also hubs snores, but not when he lies on his left side so I take no prisoners when he tries to sleep on his back or right side. For years he would do this for a while and snore away and because I knew I wouldn't fall asleep right away anyway I didn't say anything. But now we know he needs to not snore for better sleep and I need to still my mind, emotions and body with quiet.

We need to exercise until we sweat - sweat releases toxins from the body. These toxins affect our mental, spiritual and emotional places, too. We need to use our muscles, remember this isn't just about our physical self - everything is connected. We won't be able to carry the weight of the stress in our lives if we let our muscles go all to hell.

We need to stay hydrated (thanks for the tip DancingMooney) - I don't know if the 8 glasses a day thing is really necessary, but I did get rid of my late day headaches by adding 3 extra throughout the day.

We need to eat right. And I know they change the rules on this all the time. It doesn't matter. Forget their rules. We know what we need to eat. If we don't - there is a miracle called muscle testing - forget allergy testing -  you can do this by yourself or find someone trained to do it. It works. Google it- there are different methods - find one that works for you. When you think about it - of course it works - everything is connected. It's no more a miracle than us being here in the first place - wait - that actually is a miracle!

Gut health is important - our gut is a HUGE part of our eco-system.

(and I love saying gut health, when I say this to people who haven't heard these words used together before, it stops them in their tracks - I think some part of them knows this is important stuff, and, of course, it sounds just too gross not to be interesting)

Google this stuff - there is lots of great info out there about making our bodies more alkaline, reducing inflammation, what vitamin C and D and probiotics can do, eliminating certain foods like sugar. We can change our life with this stuff.

next up - how this physical groundwork relates to our business part II

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

3 Things That Might Happen To You When You Start a Blog plus a creativity tip for summer

it's your world - write about it
1. People might get mad at you.

This does not just go for people you write about - although I always tell people - everyone (except for my daughter) is fair game on my blog. I would, of course, never name names (well, almost never).

People who disagree with you might get mad at you. too. You will have to learn to live with this.

2. People might think you are an idiot. 

If you start to get really real with your blogging (and you should only do this if you are really really called to) people could read what you have written and think you are not a person to be taken seriously. This could be true. Many people should not be taken seriously. I should not be taken seriously. Maybe you shouldn't be taken seriously either.

On the flip side -

3. People might think you actually know what you are talking about.

I don't think I have this problem, but you might. I suggest the following disclaimer which I use frequently:

Disclaimer - since I am not an expert in anything and cannot be said to actually know what I am talking about I cannot be held responsible for any actions you might take as a result of reading any of my posts - please keep this in mind if you end up broke, living in your parents' basement playing Guitar Hero and doing sudokos.

(unless of course this is an improvement over your current living situation in which case I will, of course, take full credit)

So, if you have stayed with me long enough to wind your way down to this creativity tip, here goes:

Create routines.
Break them.

(not into a million pieces that can never, ever be put back together - why am I channeling Taylor Swift now! help me Jesus)

What I mean is - you need a schedule when you have a business - things put into little boxes, on calendars and notepads. Your body needs this stuff, too - routine nourishes the body, the soul, the mind and our emotions. Routines are good.

But creativity laughs at routine (and not even behind its back- creativity laughs right in routine's face) - creativity is bad ass, folks.

To be creative we have to break the routine. Not forever - not into a million pieces - we need the routine - we just need to break it for now.

The conscious mind says "whoa, what the hell just happened here?" This happened to me yesterday after I spent an hour watching ants on my front porch.

The subconscious takes over and drops off that little gem your rational mind and routine has overlooked.
 
It's summer, folks, (almost) crush the routine! xo all

(I promise to get to the foundation stuff this week - having too much fun thinking I'm funny right now)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

my cupcake is better than your cupcake ....

cupcake war corkboard
When my daughter was younger her school would have a bake sale every month.

Every month.

(every grade took a week so there was a steady supply of junk being fed to our children on Friday afternoons)

I am not a baker. I am not even an almost baker.

(although I do have a very nice kitchen mixer gathering dust on my counter)

Also this baking took a lot of time.

There were a couple mothers in charge of this stuff (the mothers who were always in charge of this kind of stuff) and maybe they did like to bake. I will never know. I do know that for the rest of us, by the time our kids were in 3rd grade and we had been doing this every month since they were in kindergarten we were kind of baked (and not in a good way) out.

I knew there had to be a better way to make the $100 a month we made from these sales. One month I decided to just take matters into my own hands.

(this was most likely right after the 'alleged' food poisoning incident I alluded to in a post a couple years back which some people in town still haven't forgotten - let it go Mrs. H - but which most importantly cannot be held against me in a court of law)

Anyhoo, I had the idea to sell letters from Santa to the parents to raise money instead. I made my suggestion to the "couple mothers in charge of this stuff" and the conversation went something like -

me - "you know maybe we could do something other than bake sales once in a while - give the moms a break and throw some new energy into this raising money thing"

I showed them the order form and Santa letter I had come up with. "I'll just donate the stamps, paper and envelopes", I said.

(I must have been pretty desperate to get back into people's good graces)

supermoms - "well, we don't know Carol"
me - "Cat ... my name is Cat"
supermoms - " oh rrighttt ... well, I guess if you really want to do it - anything for the kids right!"

(and yes, in my memory they really did talk in unison like that)

So, long story short - we sold over 100 letters at $3 a piece. I was very pleased with my little feat and already thinking ahead to letters from the Easter Bunny (and whether it would be illegal or just slightly unethical to do letters from Superheroes) when I opened my daughter's bookbag to find the dreaded monthly reminder:

Please circle and return to school with your child by Monday.
I will bake:
 36 cookies
24 cupcakes
1 cake

What?! Hadn't we just raised enough money to put this whole baking thing to bed for a couple months?! I dialed the supermoms.

"yes, Carol, that letter was a great idea, it did very well - we will put that money to good use, but the bake sales - well, they get everyone involved and everyone really loves them"

(everyone but the bakers I was thinking)

I circled 36 cookies.

(and yes, I do see that getting everyone involved - sometimes has its advantages - and I will admit I was looking forward to the high fives I would no doubt be getting from the other non-supermoms when they heard they would not have to do any baking for 3 months, I did have the implied - but never proven remember - poisoning incident to atone for after all, but I still think this more is more thing is how we all make ourselves totally nuts)

Now, this story popped into my head last night because hubs and I had made a change in something for his business that is netting us an extra $250 a month. $250 a month that he was starting to make plans for at the same time I was thinking "great, now since X is working, let's stop doing Y".

Time is the most precious thing we've got, folks.

This is a battle that unlike the cupcake war I am determined to win.

I hope you are having a beautiful day wherever you are - we finally have some sunshine here! xo all

Monday, June 10, 2013

Why I don't check my Etsy feedback anymore or how to sleep better at night if you sell the things you make

Ah, feedback.

I am grateful (usually) that people take the time to comment on the things they buy from me in the public feedback forum, but please don't ask me to look at it.

This "don't look at it" thing was a gradual process.

It started a couple years ago with a particularly unhappy customer whose cork was "too beige".

Now if he had emailed me about this "too beige" thing I would have fixed him up somehow, probably with a refund, cork is ... well... kind of beige, after all.

But he left me a negative (not even a neutral!) feedback out of the blue, the day after Thanksgiving and then he did not respond to my emails to "kiss and make up".

I thought I would have a coronary.

I imagined every potential customer heading over to my feedback page, cork in cart - reading his comments and saying to themselves "wait a minute, what was I thinking, this guy's right, cork is too ... beige". I imagined "clear item from cart" buttons being hit all over the country.

I lost sleep. I knew I needed a change (not with this 'beigeness thing', but with my reaction part of it).

 I set up some parameters for myself (yes, this is what us obsessive, crazy people do).

At first I wouldn't look at my feedback late at night because if there was a problem it would keep me up. Then I wouldn't look at it late in the week, because if there was a problem I wanted to be able to have it resolved by the end of the week.

Finally I just stopped looking. It's been months.

(I will admit to keeping half an eye on the 100% positive on my front page - but it would take something pretty substantial to move that by this time - I've been doing this awhile) 

And I do not say this in any way to offer anyone else advice - and if you are a new seller - you maybe need to earn a few wrinkles (yes, I blame feedback for what is happening with my eyelids) through sleepless nights over some craziness that hits you out of the blue.

I told another maker this and she said to me "but you miss all the good stuff then".

Ugh, she was totally right, of course - but even this did not dissuade me. 

I am missing the 200 feedbacks that read "I love it" to avoid reading the 1 "this hits my baby in the head when I bend over" neutral.

(yes, there is something like that in there).

Now, this might send you over to my feedback and then you will know more than I do. I will have to live with this. Don't tell me anything that is happening in there. I mean it. I don't want to know. My feedback is like my daughter playing quietly across the room when she was little, even when I half suspected a tube of lipstick might be nearby - I don't want to look.

(and no, this is not the post I am trying to get my nerve up to write - this one isn't even close)

Of course when a customer contacts me with a problem I take care of it - I am not perfect with this stuff and mistakes happen and I guarantee my work with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

I know that my stuff being up to snuff impacts not only whether that customer comes back to me, but maybe she comes back to the handmade marketplace at all - maybe next time she heads down to Walmart for a cheapie - my goal as always is to keep everyone away from Walmart.

When customers email me with their kind words I always print them out and have a huge collection on my bulletin board - sometimes I put on red lipstick and give the pages a big old kiss before I hang them up there.

(even though Olive does a little - cuckoo for cocoa puffs - cuckoo hand signal behind my back that she thinks I don't see when I do this - I truly love my customers, truly I do)

I have found though that when people leave a problem feedback and I write to them to resolve it I never hear back from them anymore.

(in the early days I had a couple kiss and make ups and a couple that could not be satisfied, but now when I respond back to help, I just get ... crickets)

I think the public feedback isn't really about getting the problem solved. If I have a problem with a seller I will email them because I want something resolved. This isn't about resolution. Maybe people just want to say what they want to say ... in public. It isn't personal to them and I get that, of course.

To me, the Jersey Girl with skin as thick as a piece of onion peel, it's a whole other story

And yes, I envy you banana peel girls - except for those sallow complexions, of course - but I just can't be that girl. I've tried. I can't do it.
 
And yes, I also realize something about this will come back to me in some other way to be worked out - because changing the "doing" without changing the "being" isn't long lasting, but for right now, I am just fine with this.

For now, the only one I will be kiss and makeup-ing with is my husband.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

New Moon in Gemini Today - another chance for a fresh start!

chasing the crayon
The Sun and Moon are conjunct at the New Moon

(if you were being born right now you would be a strong willed and focused person very challenged by partnerships I'm guessing)

This means a tremendous concentration of energy is happening, but it occurs outside our view - this stuff is happening behind the scenes; a common thing with new beginnings.

Sometimes it takes a little hindsight to recognize when new things have started.

This is the energy of any conjunction - we're kind of feeling our way not sure where this will lead.

Mars is opposite the eclipse point with this one so what was brought to our attention about two weeks ago will now be cut off for good so we get that fresh start. The position of Mars at this New Moon also reminds us that we can't live in detachment - it brings Mars (the war) home.

The New Moon is conjunct the asteroid Elpis; the Goddess of Hope. You might remember that hope was the last thing left in Pandora's Box after she opened it. At this New Moon we are maybe unsure if hope is wise or if we are deluding ourselves.

This will all make more sense if you know where this New Moon falls in your chart - that area will tell you where you need to keep your eye on the ball!

Also since this is a New Moon in Gemini it is a great time for affirmations for Gemini stuff like: action, communication, logic, social graces and ease, siblings, mental anxiety, our nervous system, hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and our lungs so some good affirmations for today might be:

I communicate in a way that allows others to really hear me. I take the time to listen.
I easily accept other people's ideas as true for them.
I am totally comfortable having light, interesting conversations with others (other than Olive).
The habit of second-guessing myself is totally lifted from me.
Total healing occurs in my right shoulder.

AFFIRMATION TIPS: get into a happy frame of mind - always make affirmations from a  positive place - write your affirmations down by hand, speak them out loud - I always write my affirmations on strips of paper and put them into a bowl of rice so I can mix them around every now and then with my fingers if things get stagnant - then release your attention from them knowing that your intention is known. Know these things are already yours. xo

Friday, June 7, 2013

this 'human being as brand' thing we have going on is exhausting, relentless and impossible .... short rant

adored vintage
There is a reason my studio is not called Cat Bites.

(other than the fact that I used to have a biting cat and that cat, who I loved dearly but who nonetheless bit the hell out of me every chance she got - was probably my last cat. I am just not a cat person. And, yes, I see the irony in this. And despite the fact that I do, yes, sometimes bite, but only small pieces and I chew 20 times now, so I'm a lot less dangerous than I used to be - yes, I've mellowed)

It may have been smarter to call it Catherine Ivins Studio ... and if the me of today had been around in 2007 it probably would be. Probably.

Dragging poor Olive into it has had some disadvantages for me certainly (not to mention Olive getting this huge head from being recognized everywhere she goes now) in terms of brand recognition and relevancy.

But, the one major advantage I might have inadvertently created is a little separation between me and my business.

This 'human being as brand' thing we have going on is exhausting, relentless and impossible.

It might have worked before the world became a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week place of activity. But maybe it's never worked. Maybe this is the real reason (and not the lead paint) the old masters all went mad.

And while I'm ranting let's stop saying "a business is only in business to make money" - that's another pile of crap that isn't true anymore.

Businesses are created for all kinds of reasons - often because we are endlessly creative people that just need to be creating something. Now someone will say, but Cat, successful businesses have to make money. Even this isn't true anymore. Businesses create value first. Businesses are sold for billions of dollars that have never made a penny.

We need a new definition of success - something about value, something within our power. We need to untie "success" from everything that is out of our hands. End of rant.

(sorry just listened to the wrong interview about branding and money that just gave me a headache and made my heart hurt)

Part III (not really but a very mini preview) what the weakest point of our business is trying to show us and why it is always the place where we give our power away; the place of fear

cork necklace by me
I had a post ready to go on this but now that I have reread it I want to say it differently, so I have to go back and rewrite it.

I want to talk about our foundations and about how attaching ourselves to external goals -

(even when things work out for us because the external world always cycles and takes our external lives up and down along with it, what is working out today may not be working out tomorrow. I remember laying in bed one night many years ago and thinking that every single things was right with my world- my daughter was happy, my mother's health was improved, we were making more money and then I remember laying in bed a week later and every single situation had reversed itself)

attachment without having these foundations in place for ourselves makes life harder (or wait, I forgot life isn't hard) - more complicated - more top heavy, less grounded, more wobbly.

The cracks in our foundation are always showing us the places where we lack trust; the places of our fear; the places where we give our power away. I know that this stuff is a practice - we don't go to the gym and consider it done - the same with meditation - it's the same with self love and acceptance - the same with everything.

I had a big lesson in this yesterday with my business although I'm not sure I want to write about it - the prophetic power of my blog posts being what they are these days and it being so ... unsettled right now.

I might though.

Have a nice weekend everyone - we'll see if I have the courage or idiocy (I can't decide which this would take on my part) to talk about this as part of this series - the "c" word problem that makers have to deal with, the one I never talk about here - the thing that feels like someone has sucked out our stomach, convinced our kids to call them mom and yanked off our arm. No, I am not being dramatic - well, maybe a little dramatic, but it's Friday ....

xo all

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

the foundation comes before the house (this is not a don't put your cart before your horse story) - part II


the best laid plans locket ....
There is a part I to this series somewhere a week or so back ... I think.

I get distracted.

By work and hubs and our daughter and Olive and the little tufted somethings in the tree in our backyard

(yes, there is a tree or two left out there)

that I simply must stop what I am doing right now and head out and investigate.

(baby cardinals - we have been gifted with baby cardinals - I had to google to find this out because they are not born red, how cool that this gorgeous color they are so well known for comes ... later)

Just like the house; comes after the foundation I mean.

Maybe we need to talk about this. It sounds simple and it is, but it isn't easy. Simple and easy are not the same thing.

Life is not easy. Now this doesn't mean that life is hard, because life isn't hard - it's simple.

But it isn't easy ... it's complicated. I hope you are following this. It's complicated. Life is complicated.

And life is fast. It is fast moving, We are not living in the days when a community would spend decades building a temple that would last for generations. Our temples go up overnight and they come down just as fast.

Our lives are built on four foundations - the physical, mental, spiritual and the emotional. And these sound like separate things, but nothing is really a separate thing. It's all connected. We are all connected.

This is why we can change one thing (let's say we change the physical; we start exercising and lose 5 lbs) and other things change (we have more mental energy, our emotions are more stable, etc) and also why we can change one thing (start exercising and lose 5 lbs) and not change something else, too (maybe the emotional stress) and the thing we changed doesn't stick (we gain the 5lbs back).

There is no way for me to shore up the foundation of my physical life (house, body, work) without unearthing all kinds of other treasures; treasures I want to share (you're welcome, I think).

(WARNING - I choose the word treasures carefully here - I choose not to call these things I am digging up skeletons although yes, some of this stuff has been down there a long time and is well ... some scary shit actually; not all treasure is pretty and sparkly and worth a thousand bucks an ounce - it is all valuable though).

And, no this series won't be about my house (you're welcome again) - this is a business blog (sort of) that maybe needs to get back to business (sort of - it is summer after all).

If you are like me you may have allowed your business to grow in unintended directions. Maybe you have dropped so many oars into the water the oars are dragging down the boat or maybe you are having trouble starting things or trouble finishing them. You may have been depending on the temporary fix (the doing) instead of shoring up your foundation (the being - physical, spiritual, emotional, mental).

Our business is a structure just like our house (and our body) - when stress is applied to any structure, the stress will always find the weakest point.

It may look like the weakest point is the problem- but actually the weakest point is the space that is pointing us toward the solution.

(it might look like our neck ache is the result of a poor choice of pillow or our posture or our work and all or any of these things may be true but our neck ache is also the result of - depending on where this manifests - storing up anger or our inability to carry the heavy load we are asking of ourselves, injustice, defining ourselves by what we have, hanging our head by feeling less than - neck problems often occur with excessively mental people who want to change the world but can't do it - actually we are all changing the world every second just by being here - often these are patterns in our clan, baggage the women in our clan have carried and held onto for generations - when we release this stuff, when we heal, we don't only heal ourselves, we heal all the women who come after us and because there is no time outside of this 3rd dimension we can even heal our ancestors, this is that powerful, how cool is that?!)

Part III what the weakest point of our business is trying to tell us

Monday, June 3, 2013

the law of request - if we need help, we have to ask for it - another lesson from Rumi and Captain Kirk

“Give up to grace. The ocean takes care of each wave 
'til it gets to shore. You need more help than you know.”- Rumi

When my aunt died a few years ago, we found out she owed small amounts of money to every store in town.

These were not stores that offered credit or credit cards or house accounts; one of them was the local McDonald's.

We found this out after her funeral when store owners and managers were telling us not to worry about what she owed them. We were surprised, but probably shouldn't have been because this was a woman who was never afraid to ask for what she needed.

(she also lived very simply on almost no money
and was a very tiny, very wrinkly, very adorable little old woman which no doubt worked in her favor)

She once asked me for $200, cash, and told me firmly to stick it between pages 52 and 53 of a paperback romance I was delivering to her so her husband wouldn't find out about it. I did. He didn't.

We can learn a lesson from her.

Spiritual study (and Star Trek which is kind of the same thing) tells us that if we need help, we have to ask for it.

And that we help people, when we can, and when they ask us.

Jumping into their stuff is what we don't do (and yes, this even applies to our children who come through us but are not us) and if we get upset by someone else's mess that is our stuff; not theirs.  

Obviously we can't ask for help all the time - this would stop us from learning and growing stronger. But after carefully assessing the situation and determining we need it - we calmly request the help we need.
 
I was thinking about this "ask for help" thing last night - when hubby, who never reads my blog, read it and asked me why I didn't call him sooner when I had that flat tire.

I am usually not so good at asking for help. The funny thing is that life had just showed me that all I had to do was ask about 2 hours before.

When I arrived at the flea market and had to park so far away I knew my walk in the blazing sun required sunblock. I didn't have any.

I had walked in the wrong direction of the downtown stores and I knew it was not likely a vendor would be selling any at the market.

But, I thought I would use the power of intent and imagined myself putting sunblock on my arms. I silently asked the universe to pretty please, send me some sunblock.

I walked about 4 more blocks when I saw a woman sitting on the curb next to her bicycle - and yikes, she was putting on sunblock. I looked at the sunblock and looked at her. I guess the question was in my eyes. She asked, "Want some?"- I nodded and thanked her for literally saving my skin.

I thought life was sending me a little lesson on intention, and it is, but it was also a little lesson in the law of request.

As soon as we are ready to ask for help
we are ready to receive it.
Life literally rearranges itself to help us.

(and the truth about license plate # SE714K is that I wouldn't have been able to change the tire in that parking space anyway - so maybe he needed it more than I did)

I was lucky enough to experience this law from all angles in the very same morning. Life is definitely speeding up for us. xo all

Sunday, June 2, 2013

fleas, flats and flowers ... well, maybe no flowers this time

Bought the little guy since he matches my set
All week I had been looking forward to my favorite local semi-annual flea market by the beach, held on Saturday.

I got there an hour early, which wasn't early enough apparently because there was no parking nearby, so rather than be one of those annoying parking space stalkers I parked pretty far away and decided to just hoof it- the weather was hot and gorgeous.

(I may have bumped the curb a little bit with my tire while parallel parking but if I did to this day I totally do not remember this)

Now, to back up a bit I had not mentioned this little jaunt to hubs because he gets a little stressed when I go to these things worried something very old and very large and very much not to his liking will be making its way home with me.

(I think he secretly dreams of having a normal wife who spends all our money in the mall buying shoes)

Anyhoo, I walk around for a couple hours and head back to my car being followed for blocks by one of those parking space stalkers.

I give him a friendly wave- like yes, I'm leaving and yes, I bestow my primo, "you will now walk 18 blocks to the beach in the hot sun" parking space to you.

I pull away drinking the lemonade I was lucky enough to buy from an enterprising 8 year old a few blocks back.

(my policy is to always buy anything enterprising 8 year olds are selling; luckily in my experience, this is usually limited to lemonade and girl scout cookies - the day some enterprising mama gets her 8 year old out there hawking more expensive stuff I may have to rethink this policy)

I immediately realize my car feels ... wrong - heavy and slow, it feels sort of tipped. I see the exclamation point on my dashboard and the menacing LOW TIRE PRESSURE warning light.

I get out and check my passenger side tires and the front tire is totally, down to the rim, flat.

I catch the guy who has nabbed my spot and explain my predicament and tell him I can't drive on my rim and really need my spot back. He literally puts his hand in my face and walks away.

NOTE - IF YOU ARE NJ LICENSE PLATE : SE714K - YOU ARE A TOTAL ASSHOLE

I can't believe I didn't knee him in the balls. There are no parking spots anywhere. I drive back on the highway and pull into the first parking lot I can find - all the time my mantra is "this is a super- amazing rim and it is holding its shape" ...

It takes me about 10 minutes to find the spare tire - then another 10 minutes to get my car to release it - the car comes with a little crow bar that needs to go into a little hole to drop the tire and the hole was totally rusted. I finally get the spare tire to drop and figure out this little strange jack which I am certain I am putting in the wrong place.

 (I just realized I forgot the whole part where I try the can of fix-a-flat that I have been carrying in my car since 2007 - it doesn't work)

I actually get the car off the ground - I have no idea how, but then ... I can't loosen the lug nuts. After another 10 minutes I finally get the lug nuts loosened, I am now a sweaty, out of breath mess (thank God I had that lemonade) and thinking why the hell don't I have AAA, and then ... I can't get the tire off. And then ... I still can't get the tire off.

I once saw George kick a tire to loosen it, so I try that and only succeed in loosening my knee cap.

I give up and call George.

Hubs - I hope you didn't drive on the rim.
Me - *crickets*
Hubs - Did you hit a curb?
Me - No, no way, I didn't hit a curb, maybe somebody slashed my tire.

Now, I hit a curb at least once a week, but I am not about to say this.

George gets there, says, "yep you hit a curb, you need tires anyway" and finishes the tire change in about 5 seconds.

scored duck for farm animal pocketbook pin collection
The irony of this story is that I just mailed my final payment on my car last week.

I had 3 payments remaining but decided to take my Mother's Day earnings (from my shop, my family doesn't gift me with cash ... dammit) and pay it off.

I thought about getting AAA and had the application, which read EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, in my hand, but decided to wait since I had just made a GIGANTIC car payment.

So now, in spite of my GIGANTIC car payment, I need to buy NEW TIRES and get AAA ... on the plus side I do not need a new rim (and as I am typing this I realize I just blogged about a different tire rim - I am telling you my blog is prophetic these days - let me just throw the words lottery winner in here again) and I did score that cute little deer and add a duck to the farm animal, pocketbook pin collection I am working on this summer.