Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sometimes the Hardest Part is Being Honest with Myself.

As a great and dear friend told me yesterday, “let go of the accounting thing”.  In the midst of the breakdown, she’s giving me orders!!  What the heck?  (smirk)  Actually, it’s what I needed to hear, and she knows it.
I need the tough love occasionally.
It’s hard, the moving on.  Making decisions.  Leaving things in the past that no longer serve me.  There are so many reasons why I can’t go back into that world, and being honest about that with myself, was the hardest step.
Today, new day.  Bright, sunshiny, loving the birds chirping all over the place.  I fully realize that were I am, is not where I’ll stay – that the art of “becoming” takes time, effort, and some sort of dream.
Dream is a very distinct term I used there.  Note that I did not say “plan”.  (I don’t like plans.  Plans have a tendency to go off track.  When they do, I have a tendency to get really, really, really frustrated and, yep, mad.)
Dreams.  See, now, dreams can change.  They can ebb and flow.
I remembered, this afternoon, that when my husband and I watched “Valentine’s Day” the other night, my heart filled with excitement.  Have you ever seen it?  Well, if you haven’t, the main character owns a flower shop, and given that it’s Valentine’s Day, the shop is unbearably busy.  People shuffle this way, and that.  Ordering things.  Picking things out.
I felt crazy at the time, but I’m going to embrace the crazy today.
I want that.
No, no, no, not a flower shop.  I don’t know the first thing about being a florist. I want my business to have it’s own shop one day.
I’m starting to get into furniture now.  This is what I mean when I say things like, I do “whatever” until “whatever else” comes along.  I made crosses, then holiday stuff, then personalized signs, then other signs….  It’s like, whatever strikes my mood, and I’ve been hard on myself for not having a straight and clear vision.
Maybe that’s okay though.  Heck, I’ve only been selling this stuff since last September! That’s only 5 months!  (Yes, I counted that on my fingers.)  I’m still figuring out the process, the in’s and out’s, what I love to do with a passion, and what I really dislike.
Somewhere in my American mindset I think I have to have all the pieces now.  RIGHT NOW!  ACTION PLAN!
So, I’m going to be honest.  I’m letting it unfold by itself.  If I want to make a sign, I’ll make one.  If I want to make a table, I’ll do that.  And, sooner or later, I’ll have it together.
But, I sincerely hope that I don’t ever, really have it “together”.  It takes the fun out of trying new things.  I don’t want to make JUST signs.  Because I love the table I’m working on.  I don’t want to JUST make tables, because I love the table-top tree I carved.
So, the dream is this store, and I can see it vividly in my head.  It’s in an older building, brick on the wall, but also painted.  You know, like those really old buildings in the center of town.  The store is filled with all sorts of home decor – made from reclaimed and sustainable things, of course – furniture, artwork, plaques, you name it!  Sunlight streams in from the large windows, and past the artfully decorated storefront window.
People walk around the store, and feel at home.  There will be drinks and food available, to make it more comfortable and homey.  Great and wonderful Indie music would sound through the store, just like it does through the garage today.
The sign I’ve made for my business this year will be hanging, prominently, on the wall as a reminder of where I started.  And, any “newbie” in and around the area, will be given the chance to showcase their work, too.
We’d live in walking distance, so the dogs aren’t too far from me, if they don’t feel inclined to make the trip that day.
The best part?  My husband works beside me.  Creating and doing things he loves, too. The kids?  Oh, they do their homework at the checkout counter.
Yep, sometimes letting go of “what was”, and being honest with myself is, in fact, the hardest part.
Dreaming?  That’s easy.  But, it has to start somewhere, right?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The First Sign That There Was a Problem Was When I Cried Putting My Shoes On.

I’m not kidding, tears streaming.  I met with a recruiter yesterday, and I thought I’d make a good impression with the business casual dress, some knee highs (Hey, he wouldn’t know, I was wearing pants!), and some dressy flats.
Bawled about knee highs and dress shoes.
And, no, this wasn’t for an accounting job, per se.  It was just an informal lunch, finding out more about becoming a recruiter.
Second sign was when he asked me how many hours I wanted to work, and I stalled because I didn’t have a answer off the top of my head, to which he filled in “like, 45 hours?”
Dude, I spend at least that on my own business.
I suppose it was the last vestige of trying to make something out of all the effort I put into my accounting degree and becoming a certified public accountant.  I didn’t want all the work to just go down the drain.
And I know I was really good at that tax stuff, because everyone told me so.  But I’m good at baking too, and you don’t see me opening a bakery.  I wasn’t happy, and that’s the point.
But recruiting – helping people better their lives?  Cool.  Except, as it turns out, also corporate structure, little flexibility with time the first couple years, and sales quotas.  Boo. Boo on sales quotas.  Stifling.
I’ve gotten rather comfortable with my time being my time, and dressing casually, and just becoming more and more “me” every day.  I feel like I was trying to fit into someone else’s shoes yesterday.  Someone I used to be…maybe.  Someone I never really wanted to be in the first place?  Probably.
What did I end up wearing to the informal meet up?  My Vans.  Yep.  Because, at least that’s me.  ”Be yourself” one of my friends texted me.  ”You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do,” texted my husband.
See, I listen.
It was actually a great luncheon.  I learned a lot, and now I know in my heart, more so than ever, that the corporate world isn’t for me.  I knew it before, but I saw it in such clear light yesterday.  Clear, all the way down to my shoes.
So, what now?
I feel a little lost.  I feel caught between two worlds.  Mourning the one I used to be in, and trying to stay excited about the one I’m entering into.  Don’t let anyone fool you, this sort of change is hard.
So, I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t completely honed in on what my Etsy store will be, or where that path is going to go.  As I’m painting flowers onto a table top this morning, tears flowed down my cheeks.
I suppose all artists go through phases where they think they aren’t good enough, their stuff isn’t good enough.  I’m there.
I’m caught between a world that was comfortable and lucrative to one that’s not stable, where I doubt myself almost every single day - whether it’s my abilities, my pricing, or whether or not I’ll ever get it all together to seamlessly showcase my pieces.  I feel as if I’m just doing “whatever”….until it’s time to do “whatever” else.
And, I know it’ll get better, and I’ll figure it all out, and all that crap about things happening for a reason…  I get that, I do.
But, for today, I’m just lost, and I’m okay with it.
But on the flipside, as tears fell on the painted table top, I began to realize that although I’m lost, my heart and soul still goes into every single thing I do, and that counts for something.
I mean, it has to count for something.  Even if it’s as simple as a tear drop on a flower petal.
So, when you look at my Etsy shop, just know that you’re looking at a girl “becoming”….

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Man. I Hate Killing Things.

I’m out working in the garage yesterday on another “man cave” sign, and my head is all quiet.  I don’t have music playing, either.  I don’t have a lot of ruckus around me, besides the sound of the scroll saw, and various sanders.  I’m just all, “la, la, la, la, laaa….sanding is fun….  la, la, la, la, laaaa….I have to saw this part… la, la, la, la, la…..”
Then…..what do I catch myself thinking about?
“How do I run my business if the house burns down?”
Seriously.  I came up with a disaster contingency plan for my woodworking/artisan business if something serious were to happen.  Since starting the Etsy shop has been a lot of work, and I’d hate to lose the progress I’ve made, I would need an alternative site until the house was re-built, a duplicate set of equipment, and all the odds and ends like paint brushes and gloves.
Well, not gloves.  Because although my husband loves me so much that he bought me a pair to save my little hands from being worked really hard, I hate them.  Loathe the gloves. They get in my way.
Start: “Rustic Carvings Disaster Contingency Plan”.
1.) I have to carfully assess how my company functions, so I know what’s necessary to keep my business running.  I must review my business flowchart.  This is step one.
2.) I’ll have to make a business flowchart.  Because right now, it’s just me sawing, sanding, and staining, many times in my PJ’s, in the garage or the kitchen.
3.) I’d have to identify succession of the management in case I’m not able to drive the business anymore.
4.) I need to hire other people, because all the dogs sleep on the job, and that’s just not acceptable.
5.) I have to identify my suppliers, shippers, resources and other businesses I interact with on a daily basis.  Pretty sure the post office isn’t going anywhere, or Etsy, other than that, I just need people to keep dumping old wood on my driveway.
6.) Do I have a driveway for people to dump their old wood on, if my house has burned down?  (Note to self: research when writing up flowchart)
7.) I’ll have to define crisis management procedures.  That’ll be me, pretty much, freaking out.  Check!
8.) I’ll need to coordinate with others.  See #4
9.) And, when it’s all done, I’ll have to review it annually because I tend to be forgetful about things like this.
But, what would I tell the people who have already ordered custom items?  Would I tell them to wait a week or so until I was up and running again?  Is that good enough?  Maybe down time should just be one day.
Or….maybe I should just give them a full refund.  That’d be nice of me.
OOOooo.  What if there’s an apocalypse?
Now that’s a whole different ballgame.  Would I be all…  ”MUST MAKE ARTWORK…. CAN’T RUN TO SHELTER…  MUST MAKE ARTWORK…”  with some disaster contingency plan?  Do we even have a shelter to run towards?  Like the internet and Etsy would still be ongoing or something, in the event of an apocalypse.  Like we’d even have electricity!
Well, there are generators….  Hm.
Do you think there would be zombies during the apocalypse?  Cause I really don’t like zombies.  They don’t go away when the lights come on, and that’s a problem for me. Except that they are slow moving, that’s helpful.
I wonder how I could save my art from being destroyed if zombies attacked my house. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into this stuff, and for little brain eaters to come along and destroy them would just be…..well, rude.
I better keep the gloves on the “Rustic Carvings Disaster Contingency” list, just in case I have to kill some zombies.
Man….  (sigh)  I hate killing things.
I wonder if the zombies would try to eat my brains.  Or maybe that of my dogs?  You know, trying to eat my brains would be one thing, but they cross the line if they go after my dogs.  Cross.  A.  Line.
Making a contingency plan just seems like too much work.  I haven’t even thought about what to do in the event vampires start wandering around…  There’s just too many variables.
End: “Rustic Carvings Disaster Contingency Plan”.
Start: Project, “Fly by the Seat of Yo’ Pants”.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sometimes, I tell the wood pile what it’s going to be. Sometimes, it tells me.

I’ve had this piece of reclaimed cedar in my wood pile for quite some time. But, it had a huge bow in it.  If you don’t work with wood, then I’ll tell you, we like nice flat pieces of wood….not ones that curve all on their own.  I can’t slide that through a carving machine, and it’s incredibly difficult to work with.
That being said, I decided something had to be done with it, because I’m all about eco-friendly and if that cedar tree had to be cut down for wood planks, than the least I can do is turn it’s bowed self into something pretty.  I can’t just toss it out.
So, I get this idea to carve a tree.  Yep, curly, whirly tree.  I copy the drawing onto a piece of wood, and then start the scroll sawing adventure.
I’ve gotten pretty good at this scroll sawing thing, it’s like the scroll saw and I have become one.  I know when to turn, when it’s going to fight with me, and when it’ll run smoooooth. Oh, yeah.  I can tell by the grain pattern if the scroll saw will try to jump or fuss.  This is important if you are going to try to cut something out as intricate as this tree.
So, cut, I did.  Just as soon as I got a section done, I realized the wood was getting caught on the plate.  Ugh.  So, I removed the part of the board that wasn’t part of the end design.
This is where I went wrong.
First of all, it would have been better to leave the wood on, and just use painter’s tape to keep it in place until I was finished.  Because what followed was….
I’m turning the board, trying to make these curls, and I’m not paying attention to the other side of the board that’s already done.  Why would I?  It’s already done.
But, see, now that part got caught on the plate, and…..
Yep, cracked off, it did.
This upset me.  It’s upsetting to painstakingly get something like this done and perfect and then have it crack off just because you don’t have two sets of eyes.
I need more eyes!!
Secondly, well, it’s also, apparently, difficult to scroll saw a piece of wood that has a bow in it.  Who knew?
Probably lots of people, but not me.
Suffice it to say, cracks in limbs happened several more times, but I figure, it’s a learning process, right?  So, I keep going.  I get it done.
It’s glued, sanded, and awaiting a second coat of polyurethane right now, and will join the myriad of other items strewn across this house as first tries I couldn’t part with.  I’m lucky that my husband doesn’t mind the artistic rejects I don’t feel comfortable selling.
Oh, and I added birds.  Because trees need birds.  That’s just the way it is.

There will be more trees, and some for sale on Etsy.  I just have to hone the skillz, and find the right board.
Something good came out of it all – artwork for our home.  And, also a cat and some birds that you will find on Etsy in the next week or so.  Sometimes I tell the wood it’ll be a tree, and then it tells* me, “Ya, but I’m going to be a cat and some birds, too.”  I see things in wood now.  It’s strange, quirky, and I like it.
* Note to reader: The wood doesn’t actually talk to me.