An Awakening

This morning, I came to a realization – I’m not happy. My marriage is good – better than it ever has been, I think, so that isn’t the problem. It’s my business. My weight. My house. I feel like it’s all pretty much spun out of control. When I look around me and see that my house is a wreck, my business isn’t where I want it to be, and as a result, I’ve gained weight … well, it’s time to change pretty much everything except the husband. Him I plan to keep for a very, very long time. I guess you could say he’s just stuck with me.

Before I took a shower this morning, I did the dreaded deed – I stepped on the scale. As I stood there staring at that horrible number, it dawned on me that I’m not happy with most aspects of my life. Only my marriage and family bring me any joy right now; the rest of it just drags on me and makes me feel depressed. I realized that if things don’t start to change, and soon, I’m going to be in some pretty serious trouble. And I also realized that not being accountable is not going to help, either. So, this is my confession, my new beginning, if you will, because today things have to start changing. Today, I have to take control of my life once again and stop screwing around.

I know I’ve said this before; we all have, haven’t we? At some point we hit a wall and we think, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! But this is seriously ridiculous. I am stunned and embarrassed by my weight right now. I would DIE if anyone walked in to my house at this point, and my business … well, yet another weekend of lackluster sales isn’t making me want to run out and sign up for more shows. So, here is my very basic beginning plan for each one in turn.

My weight – first of all, my biggest issue is night time snacking and eating the crappiest of foods. Before I sat down to write this, I threw a Lean Cuisine frozen meal in the microwave – not the best choice, I thought, but better than anything I could have pulled together for myself from a fridge full of left overs that need to be thrown out and a pantry full of things that I probably shouldn’t eat at all. When I took the meal out of the microwave, this is what it looked like …

Believe it or not, overall the taste wasn’t terrible. I added a little Tony Chacerie’s to give it a little more flavor, but after eating it, I was still hungry. I looked at the calorie count – 170 calories. Wait, what? Only 170 calories, and this is supposed to be a FULL meal?!?! Are you freakin’ KIDDING me?? I could eat TEN of these and not even get in the number of calories I can eat in an average day (according to the iPhone app Lose It!), but it would provide me with more than two days’ worth of sodium. And I’d probably still be hungry. So I added a Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt, and I will probably find myself digging around for something else after that, because according to the Lose It! app, I should be eating about 2,000 calories just to lose weight (yeah, I have quite a bit of weight to lose so I get more than the “standard” 1,200 calories that many diet plans seem to think women should live on).

Today’s weight loss goal – go grocery shopping and do some food prep for this week.

My house – Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Honestly, the downstairs isn’t so bad, but upstairs, my bedroom is the place where everything that otherwise doesn’t have a home lands. And it houses a good bit of my business inventory. It isn’t very peaceful or restful, but it IS big. It’s time to do some spring cleaning all over the house, though. I tried to do the FlyLady thing recently, but it was 12 or more emails a day, most of them trying to sell me something. It just about drove me insane. I do like the basic premise, however – focus on one area of the house each week, at first getting to the point where it’s presentable, then doing deeper cleaning as you go along, while maintaining the presentable part. This week, it’s going to be tricky, because we have a show mid-week (this is the first time I’ve ever had a show that wasn’t on a weekend), but my focus spot is going to be the studio. I chose the studio for two reasons – it’s the very first thing people see when they walk in to my house, and it will require the least amount of deep cleaning. Most of the focus will be on clutter, and that’s something I can handle easily. Also, as a “bonus” Chris and I will spend a fair amount of time on getting all the laundry caught up.

This week’s house goal – declutter the studio and get all the laundry caught up

My business – This is the one that’s most difficult for me, because I’m not sure what to do to fix the issue. I’m not sure I CAN fix the issue, because I’m not positive it’s my issue to fix. I’ve been in business for a year now, and sales are lackluster. I thought it was my product, but now I don’t think that’s it, because after talking to several vendors over the last few months, everyone seems to be experiencing the same results, even at shows that were once very good. I don’t know if the problem is that people are getting away from handcrafted items, or if it’s that people just aren’t spending money, but the only booths that seem to have a lot of people looking and buying are those who are selling clothing, jewelry and/or other accessories. I didn’t keep a blow by blow record of sales by the woman across from us this weekend, but I think her weekend was much better than mine (she was selling “boutique” clothing). The couple to the right of us were selling a variety of things – jewelry, purses, and other trinkets – and they seemed to stay fairly busy, though I’m not sure what kind of sales they saw. We did ok ourselves, but not, “I can live on this” ok. We did, “Well, this is nice extra pocket money if I don’t reinvest every penny” ok. And my online and Etsy stores aren’t exactly on fire, either. We also paid for a motel for one night for this show, further eating in to my profits.

I’ve also been looking for a job, with no results. I don’t want to abandon the business, but I thought if I could find a job, I could continue the business on the side. So far, no luck finding a job, and many of the jobs I do see are part time. It’s crazy; I really don’t understand it. At this point, I’m ready to apply for part time bookkeeper jobs and try to get clients to hire me on a 1099 basis, so I can have several at once. I was looking through jobs last weekend and there wasn’t a ton of stuff out there, and then it hit me – I don’t recall seeing any jobs listed with any of the O&G majors, and only a few with the indies. There are a lot of medical jobs – for which I am not trained. There are retail jobs – which don’t pay much, are part time, and would interfere with my show schedule. And there were some accounting jobs, which require an accounting degree, preferably a master’s degree and a CPA (even when it’s clear the job doesn’t need a CPA; they’re doing that because these companies know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of young people out there with a CPA who are desperate to find a job and will work for enough to pay back the crushing student loan debt they accumulated over those years).

I went to a business seminar last year, but frankly I’ve forgotten a fair amount of what I learned, so …

This week’s business goal – Go to the show on Wednesday, and read through the course materials from last year’s seminar. Continue to look for a job.

And there you have it – a week’s plan in writing. I am also making notes in my calendar to help me stay the course for the week. I will try to remember to report back here periodically, because I want to keep track of how things are going. If I were more disciplined, I would do a daily post to keep track of what’s going on and how things are going, because that’s really the only way to remain accountable to myself. Maybe I’ll try doing that … but it probably won’t happen (I may be trying to turn over some new leaves, but I’m also realistic).

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Another year, another attempt to organize

sewing

If you follow me on social media, you might know that I have a fairly consistent problem with organization. I mean, I can find things most of the time, but not always. I tend to lose my phone in the studio a LOT. It’s become so frequent, Chris bought me a Tile for Christmas so I can find my phone AND my keys! I am more organized in the studio than I am anywhere else in the house, and that includes my office. In fact, my office is so bad, you’d think a paper factory blew up in there and that all the papers started reproducing instantly. It’s really, really bad.

I mean, it’s mind-blowing how bad it is. And no, I won’t share photos because I’m far too embarrassed about it.

walmart

But I’ve realized that part of the reason why I keep having this problem is that I have all these revelations when I’m cleaning, but I promptly forget them as soon as I am “finished.” So, I’m writing this post while I clean and organize so that I can refer back to it when I need help (and hopefully, to keep me from needing help like this again).

  1. I wait until the paper piles on my desk are threatening to fall over and bury me in an avalanche of paper before I will address the issue of filing.
  2. I am really bad about accumulating a bunch of stuff without stopping to think where I might store said stuff.
  3. I don’t take advantage of offers for help. When someone says, “I’ll help you with that,” I either wait for them to tell me they’re ready to help, or I just don’t ask for assistance.
  4. Never start tearing a room down eight hours before you’re supposed to host dinner, even if the guests are your family. You’re never going to get it back in order in time for dinner that evening. Or the following evening, and maybe not the evening after that.
  5. Try to plan this type of project for a time when the weather is supposed to be good, or try to have another area largely cleaned out so you can just pack the room up and move everything out of it. This gives you a blank canvas with which to work, and it makes things SO much easier. If you don’t, you end up moving things in shifts – empty one bookcase on to the table and move it, then empty the next bookcase in to the one you just moved, and move it, and repeat. It’s like a bizarre game of leap frog, and really no one ends. You mostly just end up feeling like a frog that’s been run over.
  6. Organizing costs a LOT of money.

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I started writing this post more than a week ago, and I’m still not finished with the organization of the studio or the office, though I have made significant progress. The studio and office are now combined in to one space, and I am using what was once my office as a storage room. But life keeps getting in the way, and I haven’t been able to devote large chunks of time to this project. I am really hoping that I can, by the end of the coming week, be mostly done with the studio/office area. The storage room might take a little more time, if only because there are a LOT of things in there, and I need to find homes for them all. Right now, it’s usable space, and I can find things, but it’s not very organized. Also, we have plans to add some additional storage elsewhere in the house, but that will require a trip to Ikea, and we have not had the opportunity to do that just yet; I’m hoping that will be possible this week as well.

It is my fervent hope that my next post about this subject will be to share photos of how far I’ve come, and how much nicer the overall functionality of the space is, and I further hope that post happens before the end of the week. So keep your eye on the blog and watch for a wrap-up post about organizing the studio … it’s time to put this to bed!

Planners and Me

free-time

I have told myself many times that I wouldn’t be one of THOSE bloggers who write a post about bullet journaling and/or planners. But here I am, writing a post about bullet journaling AND planners. But I’m not going to show you all the cool things I do with my journal, this is more of a cathartic purging of thoughts and frustrations with the available planners I’ve been able to find. Once upon a time, I used a Franklin Planner, and for work, it was great; for home, not so much. I would love to find something that has the flexibility of a page (or two) per day, but also a place to keep ongoing project lists and such. I also cannot imagine how bulky that would be! My frustration runneth over, because despite what “they” say, I have come to realize that it is not possible for me to use one planner for all my activities. There is never enough room in a planner for me to track all the things I need to do in a day, but for me, a bullet journal is not conducive to long term planning, which is a necessity for my business. We are one day in to 2017, and I already have two planners, neither of which are going to work for my day to day to-do list. It is VERY annoying.

I see planners, planners EVERYWHERE!

I see planners, planners EVERYWHERE!

I guess this leaves me with having a planner for long term planning, and a bullet journal for the day to day tasks, which is exactly what I was trying to avoid. But I just do not see a way to do it otherwise. I could dig out my old bullet journal to use for the new year, because it still has pages in it, but I think I will just use this new purple Moleskine that’s been sitting in my desk drawer. I purchased it some time ago, when I first started bullet journaling, in anticipation of completing one book and moving to another. However, that never happened – I gave up on bullet journaling when I realized that it wouldn’t work well for my long range planning. While I know that I could draw in calendars in a bullet journal, or set up a listing type calendar, I am a very visual person, and I want to be able to see a month at a time when I’m planning the shows in which I want to participate. When I first realized that I need a pre-printed planner, I purchased a Plum Paper planner. I thought that I would benefit most from a somewhat unstructured layout, so I chose the horizontal notes & days layout. However, I found that the notes section was too free form, and the days didn’t give me enough room for much of anything. One or two birthdays and a couple of appointments, a task or two, and there’s no more space left to write anything in the day space.  I knew within a week that it just wasn’t going to work out for me. It’s through no fault of Plum Paper – the planner itself is beautiful and well made. The paper is nice and thick, and the cover is very sturdy. The layout just doesn’t work for me.

Plum Planner Horizontal Layout with Notes & Week

Plum Planner Horizontal Layout with Notes & Week

When I attended the Houston Quilt Festival in November, I happened upon Stephanie Palmer and her Quilter’s Planner. It’s cute, the cover is sturdy, and the days are broken in to hourly increments. There are small spaces for each week’s to-do lists: Personal, Work, Quilting and Notes. And it has some very cool quilt block patterns and some free motion quilting suggestions. There is even a section for tracking projects and a reference section. While I like it better than the layout of the Plum Paper planner I ordered, it’s still lacking enough room for my daily work lists. It’s not going to be enough for me, either.

The Quilter's Planner is closer, but still not quite there.

The Quilter’s Planner is closer, but still not quite there.

Understand that I do not in any way place any of the blame on either of these planners for not being what I need. I doubt there are tons of people out there whose to-do lists consist of making 100 pounds of soap each week along with various embroidery and sewing projects. I’ve even attempted to set up my own planner pages, and even I can’t always predict what I’m going to need to do in a day. And that’s why I need some flexibility that the bullet journal offers.

Bullet Journal for the day to day tasks

Bullet Journal for the day to day tasks (Yep, I wrote down 2016 at first … ugh!)

So all of this has led me to realize that what will most likely work for me is use to a pre-printed planner for the long-range planning and the bullet journal for daily tasks. The planner will contain shows, appointments, birthdays and anniversaries, while the bullet journal will be used for tracking daily tasks and notes. Most likely, the planner will reside on my desk in my studio, while the bullet journal will go with me everywhere. It isn’t the ideal set up, but it’s the best I have been able to come up with over the last couple of weeks. And while I know that there are a whole lot of people who love to decorate their journals and make them look really cool, I am not one of those people; it’s not how I express my creativity. For me, the bullet journal is completely utilitarian, meant to list daily tasks and notes, and not much more.

I may end up tweaking the system as I go through the year, but I’m going to see how this works for now. I will let you know how it’s going in a future post.