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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The best laid plans of mice and men …

And apparently, women who sew. I really don’t know why I make plans when it comes to sewing, because the reality is, I never live up to those plans. Life gets in the way, or I get sick (as I am now, with a cold), or I just get sidetracked.

I didn’t get my cardigan finished in September; it still needs to be hemmed, and hemmed it will be – eventually. Instead, I got busy with the Green Eggs and Ham quilt, getting it quilted and starting the binding. I have one side bound, and almost all the quilting done, but once I was finished with all the “planned” quilting, I spread out the quilt and took a look at it and realized that it needs more quilting. There isn’t much that really needs to be done, but I do intend to do it and finish binding the quilt. It was my plan to do that this week, and then both Chris and Travis got sick on Monday, with different ailments, if you can believe it. I was feeling pretty smug about the fact that I wasn’t sick and then yesterday I got hit with a very light version of Chris’s stomach bug, and this morning I woke up with Travis’s cold. So I guess the last laugh is on me. Ha. Ha. Ha. But I digress.

I really need to finish up the quilt, because I need to get it to Julie, and I have other things I want to get done before the holidays. Namely, I have a wall hanging I’m supposed to do for Christmas Eve, a challenge that my mom presented me with last year. I know she’s been working on hers, but while I’ve given mine some thought, I haven’t actually started on it. She’s totally gonna kick my ass in this challenge, I can feel it already. And of course, I want to hem the cardigan. And I have about 12 quilts in various stages of production that I would like to finish, not to mention a couple I would love to start. So yeah … I have a list of things to do.

But every time I make a specific plan about what I want to accomplish and when, it doesn’t get done. I don’t know if it’s the inner rebel in me, or if I am just so disorganized or if I simply waste too much time, but I don’t seem to be able to focus enough energy on sewing and quilting in the average week to finish the things I want to do. I’m not sure why this is the case, because for years, I spent a LOT of time quilting each week, every night after work when the kids went to bed, and on weekends. I think I’ve learned my lesson, and I’m not going to set specific goals for finishing things or getting things done anymore. I have a different plan now.

Instead of setting goals of finishing this, or making that, I’m going to just set a goal to sew for a while every day. Right now, my goal is to spend at least 15 minutes each day sewing. That doesn’t mean that I’ll spend 15 minutes looking at patterns online, or reading Pattern Review, or that I’ll spend 15 minutes looking at fabric to decide what I want to make out of it. That’s 15 minutes laying out a pattern to be cut out, or 15 minutes of actual sewing at the machine. Or even 15 minutes cutting thread off a quilt project (I have several threads that need to be trimmed off Green Eggs).  Nope, not that either. I can do that while I’m watching tv with Chris. I want this 15 minutes to be in the pursuit of actually making something.

In a week or two, depending on how the 15 minutes a day goes, I’ll up my goal to 30 minutes a day. My ultimate goal will be at least an hour a day of sewing, with the option to do more as time permits. There will be days I spend an hour sewing, a few where I get in 30 minutes, and hopefully some where I can get several hours in during a session. I will be keeping track of my sewing time, because how else will I know if I’m making progress toward my goal? The main thing is to sew more often.

And with that, I guess it’s time to get upstairs and see what I can get done today. Hopefully, I can get more than 15 minutes in, but if I don’t, I’ll be happy to actually get just the 15 minutes.

Happy sewing, everyone!