staying "in tension" until our intentions are clear so our arrow flies straight and doesn't do one of those wobbly, bobbly freefalls

If we were archers -

we would gather our energy.

We would pull back our bow.

We would take aim.

We would hold our bow "in tension".

This holding position is important to landing our arrow where we intend it to go; to hit our mark.

(of course, if we are in some kind of life and death battle with that arrow then I guess we just let it fly and hope for the best, but most situations we makers are facing today are not quite so dire)

The same way an archer's "in tension" allows her arrow to hit her target, our own intentions release our energy where we need it to go.

Intentions are not wishes; they are not hopes - wanting to do something is 180 degrees from intending to do it.

Intention releases the potential that makes things happen.

That's why we need to get crystal with what it is we are intending with our maker businesses. Asking ourself, "what is my intention with this?" helps us get clear.

Sometimes our intention is clear but we are held up for some reason.

It is like we have our bow drawn and we are focused on the target, but suddenly the dog barks, the phone rings, the guy next door starts blasting Adele and you know we have to stop and listen to that.

The archer stays focused and holds herself "in tension" through all the noise.

(and sometimes this noise can last a while and sometimes life sends us noise to test our intentions and see how badly we want something or sometimes the noise could be there to delay us because there is something better for us later)

Of course, we always get to choose because it is our life after all - and there is no one thing we just have to do, in reality life has back up plans for our back up plans lined up for us.

Because once that arrow is released, it is released, there is no grabbing it midair

(unless you have some super power that I would be totally jealous to find out about)

and straightening that baby out.

Better to stay "in tension" and get clear (I know our shoulders hurt, but we are strong, WE CAN DO THIS) than send out a wobbler and stab ourselves in the foot.

* the headhunter tee from blackbirdtees

a sneak peek at my new cork necklace line for spring (aka lessons from the slow lane)

I couldn't resist snapping a few quick shots of my new cuties. I will be offering them to customers in a couple weeks and at the trade shows this summer. They are super cute in person - I have a professional photographer taking pics of these and my new locket line next week, so will post more then!

our bodies; our business - as within, so without

I know that to change our outer world we have to change our inner world first.

Peace within leads to peace without. Abundance within leads to abundance without.

I know this.

(sometimes this knowing is like the knowing about exercise, I know what to do, but I don't always do it)

It is all about our mindset.

It's as simple (and as challenging) as that.

The universe literally rearranges itself to reflect our reality.

The same applies to our bodies. I sometimes have neck, shoulder, arm and hand problems

(and stomach lately - although I looked at a chart of the human body to see what is in the places that hurt and have determined that there is nothing there, well, I'm sure there is blood and veins and miles and miles of rolled up intestines - but the chart just shows empty parts - maybe the empty places hurt - which of course could be a metaphysical truth for me, or maybe I need some dietary adjustments ... or most likely both)

My weekend eating schedule goes kind of like this -

me - what time is it? are you hungry yet?

hubs - it's 3:00 - well .... you just ate a pint of guacamole, 2 york peppermint patties, a package of garlic pita chips and 2 butterscotch krimpets. I got full just watching you.

me - *crickets*

me - what time is it?

hubs- 3:05

me - are you hungry yet?

Our bodies are a mirror of our deep, often unconscious, feelings and beliefs.

I once read that people with a strong need to shoulder responsibility build themselves big shoulders and we have enough sloping shoulder family members with no intention or desire to carry any burdens for me to believe this.

After reading Louise Hay many years ago, I never have a pain in the neck without asking myself "who am I allowing to be a pain in the neck? or how am I being a pain in the neck to myself" and see where I need to re-empower myself.

Indigestion - what can't I assimilate?, pain - what am I aching for?, stiffness - what am I being inflexible about?

I have mostly always been dealing with problems on the right side of my body (men, the future, business), but recently my left side (women, the past, home) has been experiencing strange phenomenon

(not the extra-terrestrial kind, I don't think, although I am obsessed with Ancient Aliens - the tv show, so any phenomenon having alien history does not seem that far fetched to me at the moment)

like rashes

(strangely in the shape of California; some days Idaho)

and of course this makes perfect sense for my life at the moment, but it did get me thinking about the right side of our bodies and our businesses.

So maybe the next time we have a right side problem or injury or ache or pain we can ask ourselves how this might relate to our business and what might have come up to be released?

(after writing this I very quickly stubbed my big toe, hard, my right toe and of course this has me thinking about how I am getting in the way of my business or what I am allowing to get in my way, and of course, this is alot to think about so I will just make myself a small large bowl of guacamole and put on my thinking cap)

* sending blessings print by the amazing lori portka

fighting Etsy exhaustion part lV - bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free - wait, is that me or the Statue of Liberty - it's hard to know- we both wear flip flops in the winter, have a sore right arm and really need to sit down

8. Do less

Figure out what isn't working and get rid of it.

80% of your money almost certainly comes from 20% of your makings - what can you streamline? what can you dump?

Multi-tasking is yesterday's news - it doesn't work. What we need is to set an intention and focus on it like a laser beam. Even if it is just so we can experience the energy of completion - that's powerful stuff.

We know the power of niche thinking with our physical makings and then we scatter our mental and physical energy all over the place and exhaust ourselves.

And we need to pay attention to what we are telling our subconscious minds when we hold on to stuff that isn't working.

9. Change how we do things, not what we are doing

Sometimes things are actually working, but we get so tired and overwhelmed we think we have a product problem when what we have is a process problem.

(many creative babies have been thrown out with the dirty bath water - stuff gets dirty, life is messy - change the water, not the baby - unless of course that baby really needs changing - but that's what dads are for)

10. Get clear on what we want

I had a friend tell me about a big opportunity not that long ago and I said "God, I wish I wanted to do that" because I knew I should want to do it, but I was just too damn tired at that moment to even want it.

Once we have put a little bit of space between us and "tired" we need to get clear on what we want - not doing things because we should want to do them will open up a huge space in our lives to fill with the stuff we really do want.

And if we reach the point where we are just too tired to want anything, except maybe a nap and a Nook - well, this is just not the time to divide the "should wants" from the "wants" - take the nap, read your Nook and decide later.

Now the very best model of how to sell things on Etsy (in my humble opinion) is the make it once and sell it again and again model.

(think photographs, illustrations, ebooks, advertising on our blogs, knitting patterns - you get the idea)

There are ways to bring some of this into any maker model though and I'm going to talk about that next week (or possibly the week after - when the giveaway will be back, too - yay! - since I have a couple large orders to get out next week and may take a blog break)

As a David update for anyone following his saga - he is still living with us, most of hubby's family has fallen away (possibly all of his family- we will see who cancels next week) and the truth is - although part of me is resentful about it - I totally get that they have been through this before and it is exhausting.

Hubby knows a wonderful young man who also suffers with schizophrenia and is on some great medication (a new medication that he says no longer makes him feel like he is inside a shell) coming to dinner this weekend. We are hoping to edge the conversation toward David seeing this man's doctor because David has refused all mental health help. I have been advised by someone from psychiatric services that it's not illegal to be "crazy" - that we can't force someone to seek help unless they are clearly a danger and I certainly don't want to live in a world where just anyone can be called crazy and locked up

(because I would clearly be living in a world that consisted of a padded cell and some kind of rash-generating restraints if a mental health professional got hold of my blog - I think I should make some of my posts self-destruct - ha!)

but to require someone with a disease that causes the brain to not be able to recognize the disease exists to "seek" help is crazier than schizophrenia.

In the meantime we are using words like brain trauma (since David has had multiple) and ADD to try and coax him to a psychiatrist. It is like walking on eggshells a firey bed of hot coals since his ability to instantly be aggravated and angry and avoid conversations he doesn't want to have is unequaled - also his memory for what happened in the early 80's, before he got sick and before he started drinking.

(since I can't remember what happened last week or last night this is totally amazing to me and has me looking for an 80's trivial pursuit championship we can get him involved with).

Have a wonderful weekend everyone - spend a little time doing less!

*loving this no one else could fill your shoes tee from Jordan Grace Owens

what to give others ....

guidance, attention,
help (sometimes)
love, always.
criticism, never.

love always,
The Universe

(the universe is pretty smart)

* give it away print by brightside studio

thank you for not littering ..... or whining on wednesday

Dear Person Who Did This -->

you. made. my. night.

and I am stealing this idea for the trash can in hubby's shop.

We were having a bad day - I haven't blogged much about David lately, but today we had some big challenges and had to go to court with him -

I always get nervous in court as if the judge will suddenly pull out our 2009 tax return and demand an explanation of the deductions we took for Olive's doghouse - I still think staff housing is a valid business expense even if that staff has four legs and a mole patrol collar tag

plus I did my eyebrows this morning (yes, more grooming talk, sorry). The bad news? I’ll be spending the next several days looking surprised. The good news? I’m totally prepared if someone tells me a story with a twist ending. Also I saved 25 bucks.

fighting Etsy exhaustion part III - tips for one at a time or small batch makers

When my maker shops on Etsy took off, my small batch and one at a time makings model quickly became a challenge.

The time I used to spend creating something new became time spent reproducing/replacing things that had sold and eventually

(I blame Etsy's cunning little relist button)

to producing things that I had already sold.

This can create a situation where we are so focused on the outcome that we lose sight of how much energy we are investing and stop paying attention to how exhausted we've become.

“you can map out a fight plan or a life plan, but when the action starts, it may not go the way you planned and you’re down to your reflexes. That’s where your roadwork shows. If you cheated on that in the dark of the morning, well, you’re going to get found out now, under the bright lights" ... joe frazier

(yes, I realize this quote is off-topic and may even make you more exhausted to contemplate it - but someone just sent it to me and
damn it's good

Small batch (and one of a kind) makers need a tight grip on their time.

(something like the death grip Angry Bird addicts have on their handhelds)

1. Unless your item is personalized do not hit the relist button until your next item is made.

Simple thing - hard to do - saves lots of headaches

2. Instead of making 1 of your amazing little whatnots - if possible, make two, often you can make multiples without doubling your production time

3. Limit your time online - clicking is addicting

4. Set up your studio to make your making easier

I recently 'cleaned' my studio ... again ... to make things a little more Ford assembly line-like for myself, but found my hands always reaching toward the places where parts and doodads used to be - it has taken me some time to retrain my muscle memory, but I have been able to save time by getting my workspaces in line with my process.

and yes, you will probably need workspaces - plural -

- constantly taking things out and putting them away is a huge time waster - before I had a studio - I would set up things in drawers within a cabinet and then pull the drawers out onto the table to set up 'areas' for assembly, shipping, photography, etc and then just return the drawers to the cabinet when I was finished with them

5. Get on a schedule

I think, that just like your production area, your schedule needs to fit your life, your energy peaks, etc - this does not have to be a 9-5 thing, but when it's become a 5-9 thing all the time and when the things that you need to do to make your business and your life sustainable- like make time for new work - get lost in the shuffle, you need to get yourself a huge calendar and figure this out.

I like to schedule things in chunks so if something comes up I can move one chunk to another part of the calendar.

Confession - I do not have this all figured out and there are some chunks that have been moving around my calendar for ... weeks ... sigh.

6. Limit your one of a kind or commissioned work - make a production schedule and stick with it

(it is human nature to want things that are not just readily available to everyone - things that are made to order just for us, things we have to plan for - wait in line for; hopefully a cyber line, like your production schedule - things that SCREAM special)

Allowing yourself time for creative work - no matter how many of your amazing whatnots you are selling right now, everything has a life cycle and I can guarantee you that your whatnot will become a whatever at some point - allows your business to grow in a more sustainable way.

It allows you and your brand to be around long after your whatever whatnot has become yesterday's news.

7. Get help

The opposite thinking is that you need to strike while the iron is hot with your amazing whatnot - so farm out the production help that you can while you can - and be ready to move on when the iron cools.

part III continues Friday

(I promise it will be worth dragging your tired self over here to read - unless you have something really important or really fun chunked into your calendar - like a Belgian wax, maybe - yes, you read that right, I do not have my countries that start with B mixed up - it is really just a regular wax that you follow up with a waffle to reward yourself since it hurt so much, but it sounds almost as exotic as the gross kind)

fighting Etsy exhaustion part ll 1/2 - stepping back and refocusing here

A few people have asked me why I am making this series so Etsy-centric when many other things contribute to the exhaustion some of us have been feeling this winter

(and I agree, although I do see Etsy as being an intrinsically exhausting venue to sell our makings)

so I thought I would interrupt this series with some less Etsy-specific thoughts about all of this.

(think of this interruption as a little less annoying than that tv emergency buzz signal and a little more annoying than when someone interrupts your movie-watching with a bag of popcorn)

I have a friend who advises when exhausted:

Do no favors. Do not, under any circumstance engage in another 'act of kindness' unless it is completely 'natural and convenient' for you

This is not about "me time" because that is just not big enough for what we need here - even ME TIME is not enough, not even ME TIME - this is about MUCH MORE than that ...

(cue the marching band)

some things I have found to help:

1. drink more water
2. go outdoors - yes, it's cold - so, what - your toes will thaw out later - just get out there
3. keep your telephone calls to under 3 minutes - no exceptions
4. eat less
5. refuse to hurry
6. laugh

(I have the funniest family on the planet, seriously, after the last week with them, I feel like I have done a thousand sit-ups - now if I only looked like I had done a thousand sit ups ....)

7. put an out of office auto response on your email for awhile
8. sleep
9. listen to music
10. don't start anything new - things started during creative exhaustion have a way of not looking so good when your head clears
11. be grateful

(you probably wouldn't be this tired, if you didn't have a full crazy-ass life which not everybody allows themselves to have and you do, allow it that is, so be grateful)

12. trust

(another door stands visible in plain sight but you are just too damn tired to see it - it's there, you will)

* dandelion by Raceytay

New Polarity Magnetic Bracelets in Shop - when wrist restraints may not be enough

My new style interchangeable magnetic bracelets are fabricated by me from a recycled steel car part with love and propane and are available in either mini (shown above) or regular size with ANY lid designs in my shop Polarity -10% off thru 2/28 with the coupon code GIANTS 

the week the Giants won the Superbowl, I got a gurgle pot and my sister flew back to Portland EARLY

My sister heads back to Portland today ... sniffle
(not sure if I mentioned she was in town this week)

out of town guests who fly out on a Friday and don't have to be back to work until Monday are a bit suspect in my book, but I forgive her for leaving early .. sort of.

She flew out for my birthday and to watch the Giants win the Superbowl surrounded by the peeps who grew up like she did with bobblehead Giants dolls on our dashboards and air-filled Giants rubber tackles on our front lawns

(also a hard plastic baby Jesus sleeping peacefully beside a frayed green lawn chair and a box of Black Cat fireworks)

and could appreciate it.

Not that most of us know anything about football - everytime anyone caught the ball my hubby called it an 'interception' - I guess it was an interception between the quarterback's hands and ... well, landing somewhere else
Anyhoo, my birthday party, held during half-time, for those family members who could tear themselves away from the material girl for the real material girl went something like this -

Picture me rabidly tearing through a huge stack of packages, scraps of wrapping paper flying to the carpet, pieces of tape clinging to my buffalo-chicken stained fingers

(or maybe I just unwrapped a belt and gurgle pot - it is all pretty much a blur to me now - what with the getting older and all - for a few seconds though the gurgle pot came out of its box and into my hand like a Remington Rider single shot pistol - don't ask - my party quickly transitioning from Norman Rockwell to Full Metal Jacket)

My birthday is always the most frenzied thirty seconds of my entire year, not counting Christmas morning and the two or three times hubby and I have sex (ack- just kidding, I'm not that fast with the scotch tape)

People are screaming about the game and by "the game" I mean the bets we made about the really important Superbowl stuff like - will Kelly Clarkson muff up the national anthem - what will be the 1st commercial after the first quarter - what color gatorade will be poured on the winning coach, you get the idea

and by 'people screaming' I mean my brother-in-law screaming at the porch railing that was talking about him again, but that's a story for another day ....

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, my hair caught fire blowing out my birthday candles - no, there weren't that many candles, I was just out of breath from the sex gift opening ... and Giants cheering ... and buffalo-chicken eating ...

The rest of my sister's visit was not as exciting - some days she just sat around my studio reading DIY magazines while I worked ... poor kid ... it is very quiet here today though without her page turning, gum chewing, smartphone flicking, wise-ass self (more sniffles)

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend - parts 3 and 4 of my fighting exhaustion series next week, plus lots of new work coming out - you won't want to miss it! xo

thoughts become things ... choose the good ones

"Some think life is a place to seek happiness and fulfillment, Cat, some think it's a place to learn lessons and pay dues.

And so it is for them."

The Universe

got this in my inbox today - thought I'd share it :)

* I think I can print by happy deliveries

fighting Etsy exhaustion part lll - large batch makers

With large batch production you are producing an inventory rather than waiting for an order.

One of the best parts about making your makings in large batches - and being pro-active rather than reactive

(when you are selling your makings in small batches or one at a time)

is that it creates some production downtime - time that you can spend doing the other things involved in running your maker business.

There is more to making a business than making stuff after all

The hardest part is that you will need a good handle on what is going to sell (sizes, colors, styles, etc - cue the crystal ball) so that you are making the right stuff or you will have lots of unsold whosee whatsees sitting around your studio (and lost time and money on these unsold makings) and sell out of the things you could be making money on.

(this is pretty much guaranteed to happen from time to time especially as your business grows, but if time to time becomes most of the time you need to figure this stuff out)

Three inventory management sites recommended to me by makers are Stitch Labs, RunInventory and Bizelo.

The amount of inventory you have on hand will vary depending on your business. One ideal way to do your batch production is to batch produce the parts of your work that are not customizable - for example with my cork test tube necklaces I batch produce everything except the images. When a customer orders a necklace I just have to add the specific imagery and wording to the existing necklace. I know a lotion/potion maker that adds fragrance to her makings as ordered.

Thinking about any parts of your production you can steamline this way while still being able to adjust your finished product later, may save you time and money.

Some tips from Etsy batch makers on working smarter and not harder include:

1. Know the popularity of your size breaks -

For example a t-shirt screenprinter might find her sizebreaks to be
2-4-4-2 or sm,m,l,xl -

so when she is producing a dozen shirts for inventory this is the sizebreak she will be screening.

This is not a guarantee that she will always be producing the right pieces but if you are working with sizes, etc that cannot be adjusted later and you take the time to figure this out, you will definitely decrease your inventory headaches.

And save time for the other stuff on our to-do lists like getting that SWAT team ready to mobilize, acquiring street maps covering all of Minnesota, a pot of coffee, 12 jammy dodgers and a fez and if you are not a Dr. Who fan and have no pop culture reference for what I am blathering about here you can skip this part.

2. Stock up smartly - take a look at how often you are doing your making, the seasonality of your business and the popularity of your items

If a store orders 4 of something and I only have 3 pieces in stock - I tell them I have 3 on hand rather than making myself crazy and holding up a shipment to produce a one-off of something I batch produce.

3. Have regular sales to clear out your excess stock - one large batch maker told me she does her batch making (about 75% of her production) one week out of every month and at production time anything that is left in the studio gets counted and overstock goes on sale - often never to be produced again

This "never to be produced again" may not be a good idea for everything that isn't flying off the shelves, but eliminating nonsellers so that you can spend your time producing new work is essential to creating a sustainable business and keeping your heart invested in what you are making which is, ultimately, a life and not just a handmade whosee whatsee -

a life that needs to allow time for things other than your makings - things like guacamole and Woodchuck hard cider (just wish these came with corks I'd be stocked), Angry Birds (it has become my number one goal in life - other than having George Clooney delivered to my door ... wet - to pry certain people away from this game - UGH) and movies at an actual movie theater rather than on your computer while you wrap beads.

And speaking of George Clooney and movies I just saw the Descendents and although I wasn't quite as in love with it as the critics have been, I did have a wonderful little blue-haired woman behind me adding spicy dialogue like

"George really does look more and more like Rosemary every year", "Do they call them Hawaiian shirts in Hawaii or just shirts?", "The president is from Hawaii you know", "I hate walking on sand", "Is that the older Bridges or the younger Bridges?", "He runs like a dingbat" and "He can really do sad". I LOVED HER.

4. Get help - large batch production can make it easier to get help during busy times and at regularly scheduled periods.

Trying to do it all can burn us out ... fast. And part of giving back with our creative venture can be our ability to pass on that creative energy in the form of money to others.

I find that when I pay someone and this payment can take the form of things other than money, but when you want more money to flow in, you have to allow - with a grateful heart - more money to flow out - money is energy and needs to move after all - when I pay someone and focus on the amazing feeling that that gives me and wanting more of that, I get more of that.

Giving ourselves little finish lines helps, too. Because there is no real endzone with any of this. We are never going to arrive, suitcase in hand, hair a mess and needing a back rub .. at our final destination because there is no such place.

The maker life is about the process and the more we embrace that the more we will allow ourselves to be the world-changing, passionate, fearless (as in not letting fear stop us), wealth-creating, change-embracing, idea-generating, grateful, crazy ass artists we are meant to be!

* I like making pretty things print by playonwordart

1. shop: Xenotees
2. shop: Palomas Nest
3. shop: Somethings Hiding Here
4. shop: Monkeys Always Look

Back soon with Exhaustion Busters for One of a Kind or Small Batch Makers

twice as nice ....

when the Giants win the Superbowl on your birthday ... and they thank their NJ fans .... got a little Superbowl fuzzy and forgot to finish today's post- back tomorrow ..... xo

fighting Etsy exhaustion part II - vintage matchmakers

I am fairly certain that most vintage sellers on Etsy either 1. started their shop as an excuse to flea market or

2. their love of flea marketing had become an obsession and it was Etsy or the hoarders tv show

(and since you need one of those hairy facial moles to get on the tv show and most people are not willing to get one of those things surgically implanted to become dysfunctionally famous - Etsy it was)

This is not about how to sell more vintage on Etsy, but some vintage peeps did offer up a couple selling suggestions that could help avoid the exhaustion trap:

1. be selective about what you sell - just because it's vintage doesn't mean anyone wants to buy it

2. sell from your heart - offering up things that you love to people who will love them, too, is what you are really doing here - you are not a seller of vintage - you are a matchmaker - the Fiddler on the Roof kind not that scary chick on the tv show! (wth)

Now this 'be selective' thing may go against the 'one man's trash is another man's treasure' typical flea thinking, but your shop is not a flea market, you are a vintage boutique - on Etsy (and the internet in general) it is always a good idea to specialize and find your niche.

If you are selective and sell from your heart it will be easier for you to :

1. become an authority on what you sell
2. develop a following and
3. keep the passion alive for what you are doing

These translate into

1. less time spent doing research and less time shopping (wait is that really a plus?) because you will know what you are looking for and what things are worth and what you can resell and make money on
2. less time spent listing (you can offer items to specific customers through a service like Mailchimp at a discounted price prior to listing - one vintage seller told me that she sells 25% of her finds by offering them up at a discount to her mailing list prior to listing on Etsy)
3. the world doesn't need more people who sell stuff, the world though does need more people who love what they are doing

Some other great tips from vintage sellers to work smarter and not harder included:

1. Detailed descriptions and lots of pics = less convos from customers with questions and less problems later

(think measurements and not sizes and if you ship outside of the U.S. remember to include centimeter measurements, too)

2. Pack up your items after photographing them - don't seal the package in case you need to check something for someone, but having it all ready to ship and being certain of your shipping charges saves time and money - one seller puts a photo from the listing on the outside of her boxes

(I once bought something from a vintage seller who lamented to me how much she would miss it because she was using it as a bookend on her radiator - now I know my purchase had a life before me, but it gave me a weird feeling to think of my precious whosee whatsee being used between the time the pics were taken and the time of my purchase, so as a customer boxed and ready to ship sounds good to me)

3. Lower prices after 30 days - to keep your shop fresh and your cash flow in the red - just make sure to keep a list of what you paid for each item handy and know your selling fees so you will always know your bottom line pricing

4. Decide how much time you will devote to your vintage boutique and schedule your tasks - most successful sellers have a timetable they stick with - you get to decide what works best for you, this is your business after all - evaluate how this is all fitting in with the rest of your life regularly!

Vintage matchmakers have to research, shop, photograph, measure, describe, pack, ship plus do all the marketing and relationship building.

This is all alot of work and you need to love what you are doing or you will not be doing it for long.

Now that love can wane a bit here and there as all business love is known to do - sometimes just a little step back from what we are doing can allow us to see the big picture that we are often too close to our work to see - sometimes you have to just keep backing up until everything is in focus.

(a life lesson from my Canon instruction book - next week we'll take a look at my Kenmore dishwasher manual!)

Monday - Large Batch Makers Tips to Avoid Large Batch Exhaustion

1. shop - bellalulu
2. shop - tippleandsnack
3. shop - everyeskimo
4. shop - 5gardenias
5. shop - bold pigeon