Coronavirus, COVID-19, The Wuhan Flu, whatever you want to call it has sure been a disruptive virus. It has brought a lot of fear to the surface in a lot of people because of the uncertainty of how long this will all go on. Will there be enough food? Will the money hold out? So many people live from paycheck to paycheck. Will there be enough room in the hospitals to treat all the patients both from this and other ailments? Will the stock market completely crash and hurt everyone’s retirement? Will I get it, or a family member who’s in the high risk category? What can I do to help? These have all been things that have unfolded over the last couple of weeks and everyone is affected by it, life as we know it is about to change or has already.
Today is Saturday the 21nd of March. Spring, according to the calendar is finally here. One week ago today is when we put ourselves in isolation. I have been out once to get some supplies, other than that I have been home with my husband and Jack the dog. So what has this past week looked like? For us, not much different than normal, I might add- yet. We live out in the country on 8 acres of land so are often socially distanced from others naturally. We take walks, when it’s not raining- which is all it’s been doing lately- so we try to go between showers. Jack doesn’t care how wet it is, or if the ground is spongy, or if you slip in the mud and fall on your arse. He’s just happy to be out and walking with his two favorite people in the entire world. Warren (my husband) and I, even have to spell out W-A-L-K when we are talking about when to go because Jack gets so excited he starts running crazy circles around us and jumps off the porch like he was Underdog and can fly. I guess I am dating myself, I’m not sure today’s young people know who Underdog is! Google him, he was amazing. Back to Jack- he is a mix of hound and Labrador retriever who showed up here on our hill when he was 4 months old, he is now 10. We thought he was a pure bred Black Labrador until the first time that he opened his mouth. He doesn’t bark, he howls or sings depending on the circumstances. When he showed up my middle son, Brian was here and I still think he brought the puppy home and acted innocence about it, knowing we would fall in love and that would be that. He has never admitted to it but I still think that is what happened, Brian just smiles. Jacks first night was spent in our garage, by the second night there was a thunder storm and he found a way out of the garage and onto our porch, where drenched, we let him it and that was that. He adopted us. So this time of isolation is Jack’s idea of heaven- he has us all to himself.
Besides walks, I have been taking the time to try some new recipes, some of which are time consuming but oh so worth it! Dinners have been fabulous. So far the two new recipes I have made are Caprese Chicken Lasagna and Lasagna Roll ups. I had to make the second because the first called for too many noodles to be cooked and I wanted to use them up instead of waste them. The roll ups had spinach mixed with the ricotta and were also wonderful. These are just two of the dishes I made this week; I won’t bore you with the whole week’s menu. I do want to bake something though- muffins maybe or a coffee cake.
Each day I have been trying to make some jewelry. My creative juices are not really flowing right now so things are moving slower than I would like. I think part of the reason is the overload of doom and gloom out there and I have been fighting with allergies. With all the rain and damp weather the leaf mold in the country is strong and I have been dragging a little. It has interfered with sleep, which is also important for mental attitude, so the combo has taken its toll. Still, my stock of jewelry is growing so when I can finally get out and sell it, I should be ready!
Cleaning, straightening up, are also two of the things I have been doing more of this week. The one area I made sure I cleaned was our porch. It is under roof and has been warmer so I vacuumed the rug and brought the lounge chairs down from the garage so I can sit and listen to the peepers at night. I love the spring peepers and the summer night sounds. It’s better than TV. Actually I was forced to clean the porch. We have a swing that I cover with a tarp every winter to protect it from the elements and we have a very persistent Phoebe (bird) that every year is determine to have her nest there. The first year I missed it and had to let her raise her family before we could uncover the swing, now I watch for when she starts to build and foil her plans. She spent the last two days squawking at me for having the audacity to remove the tarp. I also have a war going on with stinkbugs and ladybugs both of which are just fine if they stay out of my house! I hate to be working on something and be dive bombed by either a ladybug or stinkbug. I can handle a lot but I don’t like bugs getting caught in my hair. Yuk. Just a thought for you – why are ladybugs not called stink bugs too? They stink and yes I know these aren’t the true ladybugs but imposters taking over, they also bite I can attest to that, the buggers.
Sitting here writing this, a commotion just happen outside my window, and I looked out to see a squirrel climbing up my window screen. I am sure he is letting me know that his stash of seeds is empty and to please fill the bowl. Squirrels are Jack’s nemesis, he hates them, and the squirrels like to torment him- ahh life in the country. I’m glad he missed seeing this one or I would be holding my hands over my ears while he howled his fool head off. It takes a while to get him settled down again.
So my week in review has not been very exciting but we are all in the transition stage right now. I want to record this time though so will be posting here. If it bores you and you have something better to do, like hoarding toilet paper, you don’t need to read this. I might be writing day by day, might be writing once a week, I’m not sure but I do know I will be writing. This is what country isolation/social distancing looks like. Talk to you soon-Christine
So you'd like to be an Artist?
So you want to be an artist? Have your own business, set your own hours, be your own boss? make a living doing what you love? Well what is stopping you, keeping you where you are? Should you take the leap? Ask yourself what is holding you back and face the fear, ask what is the worse that could happen if you made the choice to pursue your dream? Could it be that, hey you might fail and have to find another job or perhaps move to another location? Whatever it is, once you have the answer to those questions, ask yourself another- could you live with that? If you can, then go for it. Sometimes just by asking yourself those simple questions can free you of the fear of trying.
I went for my dream in stages. First I WORKED toward it living by the principle of five. Every day I would do five things to bring me closer to my goal. It might have been research, reading and learning, writing an email, perfecting a design, taking a class, making a phone call,anything could count as long as it moved me forward even an inch! I did this for several years as I worked the 40 hour a week plus full time high stress job. When it got to the point that I needed more time to grow my business, that I had taken it as far as I could on the time that I had,I walked away from the corporate job to go after my own. I fully understand what a big step that can be, walking away from the security and benefits. It can be downright scary. I also believe that because of that you work even harder to succeed knowing you have to. The great part about that is, is that now all that hard work and long hours you were putting in for someone else you are now doing for yourself. It's a bit like having the rug pulled out from under you to find that you are standing on a magic carpet and--OH, what a ride! Exciting, fun, scary, and worth it.
All it takes is determination and WORK, did I mention WORK. Long hours, lots of research, phone calls, and WORK, did I mention WORK. There is no wasted days or hours allowed, everything must be balanced to the last degree. It is not all sitting in a studio and creating, though I wish it was. Some weeks I feel like I spend more time doing follow ups and paperwork, chasing down leads, writing emails and rewriting emails, and yet again rewriting emails- mainly because so many people do not answer emails promptly or only read part of them and do not answer all questions the first time, yet follow up is important. Sometimes it is necessary to be tenacious in order to get someone's attention. I have had more people thank me for reminding them, or calling to check to see how the product is moving than I have those who have been annoyed. Those who have been annoyed, I simply note their account as to their preference's- though I have found that these people are generally not my accounts that are that profitable to me anyhow. The profitable ones seem to be the ones who are thankful and happy to be called and asked so they don't have to pick up the phone or send me an email to order, they just order with me then and there. I can't begin to tell you of the artist that have said to me of their accounts, well they never reordered. When I asked them if they have called their accounts to ask how the product is moving, most have said no. In fact let me tell you of one artist I met at a wholesale show a while ago..... As I was talking to this girl I asked her how many accounts she had. She told me well over two hundred. As I knew it was just her and one other person making the product I asked her what in the world she was doing at this wholesale show if she had that many accounts? I knew that if they were all active she would have been hard press to service them all. She looked at me, shocked that I would ask such a question, then said "I'm lousy at follow up." Me, I am thinking, ok follow up with accounts that have already bought your product who you could resell right from home OR spending 5,000 dollars to do this show to try to get more shops you aren't going to service? It did not make sense to me. Listen up people---- in today's world, as busy as it is and as competitive as it is, there is always someone willing to take your market share. If you don't seem interested to a buyer to stay in touch and service the account them someone else will do it. The days of unquestioned loyalty to a company is long past no matter how well your product sold, there will always be someone new with something different to offer, so stay in touch! Did I mention it takes WORK? The WORK can be fun though and exciting when it is what you want to do so do not be afraid of it but embrace it, and give yourself a chance......
Until next time... when more rambling thoughts will emerge from this jammed packed brain of mine.
TO Begin with...
So I've always like to write and decided I needed to start blogging .... Hummmm , my life is paved with good intentions but I sometimes run out of the time to make everything happen that I want to happen! I am sure in this crazy world you can relate to that! So I am going to try to become more disciplined at it. When someone figures out how to add more hours in a day, please let me know.
On a typical day I start my morning with a "cuppa" tea. I am not a coffee drinker. I love the smell of it but do not like the taste, so my caffeine of choice is tea. Sometimes it is herbal, sometimes Chai, sometimes regular etc.... My cupboard if full of different flavors and each morning I pick the tea that matches my mood for the day. My hubby thinks I have a tea fetish as the cupboards are overflowing with all the choices. It is a lovely relaxing away to start the morning, that doesn't last long enough. Often during this time , I decide what I will make for dinner that night, remove it from the freezer, and then start in on the plan of what I want to accomplish for the day. Often this was decided the night before but I am usually flexible. I try to stay as organized as I can to be as productive as possible, however I often fail in this area and wish I was better organized though I am getting better with age. I think I need a house keeper and a secretary, and a gardener, maybe a chef and the list goes on.....
Going to my studio, I turn on the music. What I listen to changes day by day and often depends on what I am working on whether it will be soothing or up tempo but music will be on. I think better, can concentrate better and am more creative with it on in the background. Other times the hubby is practicing his sax so I just get lost in that as I am working.
Below is a picture of where I work my magic, my studio. It is my second home--and located within my home:) I enjoy being in here surrounded by my tools and stones. Tools and I have a special bond. I love shopping for, buying new and using them. Creating new pieces, trying different techniques, stepping outside of the lines makes jewelry design so much fun and never makes me feel like I am working. I wish all aspects of having your own business was this much fun! Paperwork is my personal downside to running the business. I really do not mind dealing with it, what I do mind is how much time it takes away from the creating! It is hard to follow through and do everything that needs to be done and still have time to actually make product, and on top of that to create new product and not just produce the same old, same old to fill orders. I am not complaining...I love to fill orders, I just need more time to make all the idea I keep coming up with, that my friend is the real struggle.
So what I am going to use this blog for is just to toss thoughts and ideas out there, to talk about what is going on, what it is like to be an artist, the challenges I face, how I grow the business, the amazing things that happen, the people I meet, the trouble I get into ( Haha I'd be spending all my time writing about that one!) and so much more. Some days I might be contemplative and this will reflect that, some days just silly and goofy, and some days I might be asking, HEY does anyone else have these issues? or feel a certain way etc. It will really be about being a jewelry designer, working from home, documenting my life, building the business, balancing family life, creating new pieces, failures in all the previous areas and the successes! It will be interesting- at least to me- so stay tuned and please leave me suggestions, comments and be interactive with me-- who knows, maybe we will be the next reality show:) Haha. Lord, I hope not....
As a Jewelry Designer/Artist I thought it might be interesting to talk about the ins and outs of the everyday life of being in business for yourself and just where it can lead you- Christine Keller