Been a While…

Facebook is telling me that it’s been a while since any of you have heard from me. Which, now that I think on it, is true.

I can’t believe it’s the end of May already. But that’s also kind of a good thing, I guess.

May is not a good month for me. My dad died suddenly in May of 2012. It’s easier to carry now, six years on, but it creates this unstable base for the rest of the month. If everything else goes all right, then it’s fine. I can get through the month with few issues. But this year, we’re wrestling with some unwelcome drama at Where Faeries Live, so…well, let’s just say my meds are working hard!

Most days when I get home from work (either day job,) I just want to sit in my basement, where it’s cool enough to function as a human being, and do sudoku puzzles. Especially after spending the day in the book store, where air conditioning is non-existent. The main floor, where all my jewelry stuff is, is just too freaking hot.

But…well, I guess I can announce the Big Plans that I’ve been working on these last few months.

I am upgrading the Shaman’s Trinkets bracelets from silver-plated steel to stainless steel. This means no tarnishing! I’ve also had some customers find their silver-plated bracelets seem to be copper instead of steel. (Unfortunately, I can’t tell which bracelets might have this issue, but if you find the silver plating is coming off your bracelet to reveal copper underneath, please let me know! I will happily fix it for you.) But now, everything will be stainless steel. I still have a bunch of the old style, and it will take me a while to make stock of the new stainless steel bracelets. So I might not have the stainless steel bracelets available until the Alchemy of Womyn event in July. BUT for the time being, the silver-plated bracelets will remain on sale!

(The bottle necklaces are already made with stainless steel, so those aren’t changing.)

I will still be using some other metals with other jewelry. I’ve still got a stash of perfectly good chains that aren’t steel, and I don’t see a reason to just throw them away. And stainless steel is still fairly new on the jewelry market, at least for things aside from chains. Sourcing charms and suchlike is tricky.

Anyway, that’s my little ramble-update-thingy.

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Business on the (Mentally Ill) Brain

Confession time. And this is a tough one, so I understand if you’re uncomfortable reading this. But it’s important, and it’s not talked about often enough.

I live with my own worst enemy. She exhausts me, ridicules me, and steals my passion. She starves me or makes me binge-eat. She makes me paranoid. And I can’t just move away or go to the police.

Because my enemy lives in my brain. I live with depression and anxiety. While the depression fluctuates, the anxiety is always right there, in everything I do. Oh, and it’s general anxiety and social anxiety. Social anxiety is fabulous for trying to sell myself to strangers (not.)

And yes, it has a female voice. Maybe because I was bullied by girls while growing up. Or maybe it’s a version of my voice, I’m not sure. I call her the Mean One. My other thoughts have their own voices, but they’re smaller. The Mean One is loud and pushy, and she tends to overwhelm the other voices. I can keep the worst things she says bundled up in the back of my head, but it’s like cheesecloth. If I poke it, her venom leaks out. And I have to keep stuffing new things into the bundle all the time.

She is the biggest road block in my business. Well, to everything, really. But this post is about my business, so let’s stick with that.

(I’m not writing this in a bid for sympathy. I don’t want people to buy my jewelry because they feel bad for me. I want people to buy my jewelry because they love it and want to wear it. I’m writing this because mental illness is lonely and business is hard. I know there has to be someone else out there who’s running a business, or wanting to start one, but who’s held back by mental illness of their own. I’ve never been one to start the conversation about this, but I’m struggling to find one to join. I’m tired of feeling so alone. So…I’m starting the conversation.)

One of the things she likes to latch onto is all the entrepreneur books and articles that say a successful business person has to be driven, focused, confident, willing to take risks…she likes to point out that I’m none of those things.

I could have finished so many things if I only applied myself. But she likes to make things look big and scary and outside my skillset. “It’s easier not to do it at all,” she says. “You can’t fail if you don’t start.” So I find reasons to give up or to delay starting. It’s too cold to take pictures outside. I should find a better source for steel beads and chain before I try moving into wholesale. No one’s going to buy it or like it or see it, anyway. It doesn’t matter.

When I have a lot of things to do, she likes to talk quickly. So quickly that her phrases overlap. That’s why I like writing lists…provided I don’t get distracted while writing said lists. I literally have sat down to write a list, written down one or two items, and then shot up to start working on one of said items…only to realize I was working on a list and sit down again. Rinse and repeat. She really loves my rare bursts of energy.

Let’s not go too deep into my lack of confidence. That’s a whole book in itself. And I don’t think I’m emotionally ready to unwrap this unappetizing nugget. I think I was confident when I was really young…but I was first diagnosed with depression at age eight, so who knows. But she loves picking on me. About everything. My weight, my hair, my jewelry, everything. And she deflects any compliments people pay me by building a high, thick wall of all the things I suck at.

And as for taking risks…nope, those are scary. I am intensely proud of myself when I do manage to work up the courage to do something, to push myself, but nothing good has really come from any of it. She likes to remind me of past failures to keep me from trying again.

All of it comes together into this low background chant that says nothing matters anyway, so why bother? It’s easier to just…sit on the couch and watch Netflix for hours, because then at least I don’t have to face rejection in person.

Trying to manage all this while still presenting as neurotypical is exhausting. I do have a bit of determination, I guess. I want to get my life in order.

I am getting help for my mental illness, but it’s not an easy process.

So far, the meds either haven’t done much good, or they raised my heart rate by 20bpm in a week and gave me the shakes so bad that I couldn’t work and gave me insomnia, or they made me so woozy that I felt unsafe on stairs. The current ones are hell on my stomach. And apparently, taking the medication after eating is not good enough, gotta be meds first; I’ve been snacking on plain white bread after puking up today’s dose. And therapy is hit or miss. I know I should be doing things. I just…can’t do them.

Not really looking forward to dealing with crowds tomorrow without proper dosages of my medication. So if you see me tomorrow looking a little vacant or scared…this is why.

Anyway, I’ve probably wasted enough time on this. I do have to prep for the Witchery Market tomorrow. There’s tons more I could talk about, so maybe I’ll work up enough courage to write another post.

 

The List

Note: Also posted on my other blog.

I build my life around lists. The only way I can fight off the crippling panic of an approaching deadline is by writing a to-do list, no matter how massive with sub-bullets and sub-sub-bullets and so on. Seeing a physical representation of everything I need or want to do is soothing. Without it, all the things tumble around inside my head, disjointed and scratchy, and seem much bigger than they are. Trapping them in a list makes them manageable. And then I can start marking things off. There are few things as satisfying as scanning a list to find the next thing to do because most of the items are scratched out.

But there is one list that never gets written down, that never seems to get shorter. It’s the “I’ll get around to it” list. It consists of things that I want to do, but these things have no real deadlines. No in-built urgency. So I can make excuses, decide that I’ll find time later, that there are more important or more enjoyable things that need to be done now.

Learning to drive is on that list. Yes, I’m 29, and I don’t know how to drive. I have my learner’s. I actually had to renew it earlier this year. I promised my mom that I would learn to drive this year, because she wants to give me her old car. And it would be a wonderful thing. I wouldn’t have to wait to get a ride places. I could find a better job farther away from home and convenient bus routes. I could fill up the back of the car with tables and displays and boxes of jewelry and vend at more markets. Out of town markets. Even outdoor markets. More markets would mean more chances for income, which would help pay for the car’s costs.

But driving lessons are expensive. Like, “my entire paycheck” expensive. And getting behind the wheel is terrifying. Cars are massive weapons hurtling down a road that may or may not be in good shape, between other massive weapons that may or may not be in good shape and driven by people who may or may not be fit to drive. It takes just a second of distraction or exhaustion or panic for a car to kill someone. And so I keep putting it off.

Both of my blogs wound up on that list. Everything else just became more important or easier to do. I didn’t have an idea for an update. I’ll get to it later. I didn’t have time to write that larger article. I’ll get to it later. Later. Later. Later. Always later.

Never done.

So I’ve been making plans to get both blogs functional again. Because if I don’t just do it, I’ll never find the ‘right time.’ There will always be something else. Something in the way. Some of the latest include physio, money troubles, and this massive writing thing I’ve been working on all year. I’ve been prioritizing the writing these last couple of months, placing it far above everything else. (I will write more about this later.)

There are other things, too, that I’m trying to do. To get my life in order. Little things that build up and press in on me. Dishes and laundry and taking out the recycling. So I am making lists. Daily lists and weekly lists. Next step is a schedule, so I don’t get carried away doing one thing to the detriment of the entire list. That’s going to take some tweaking, as I figure out how much time I need to do each thing.

But this is the struggle of any work-from-home situation. Time management. I’m used to having a work environment, and someone above me assigning tasks. My home has always been free time, time to watch movies or read or go on day trips to the science center. So making my home environment productive is a challenge. But I have to do it if I want to succeed with my writing and my jewelry.

I’m going to do it.

Start-up Struggles: Lists for the Scattered Brain

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I’m a list person.

My brain is filled with an endless chatter of ideas and images and tangents. Sometimes it’s exciting, like when I get ideas for new products or stories. Other times, it’s stressful as hell, because I can’t keep things straight. And when you have so very many things to do, it’s necessary to keep things straight.

So, lists. When I write a list down, I can clear the scattered bits of it out of my head, allowing for space for other scattered bits. I’m not flailing about uselessly because I’ve started a dozen things, finished none, and have no idea where to continue. (That’s when Anxiety moves in, bringing along its friend Self-Doubt, and they don’t let me focus at all.)

Starting up your own business is a busy task. There’s no time for feeling like there’s too much to do, that you can’t possibly figure it all out. That’s time that should be going to the business (especially when you’re working several jobs, like I am, and have limited time to work on the business anyway.) I’ve got so many things that I need or want to do with my jewelry, and the bits and pieces of them are so scattered that it seems undoable. I thought it might get easier the longer I do it (you know, crossing things off the list and whatnot) but it doesn’t. There’s always more. Another market. New ideas. New social media platforms. New problems.

So it’s list time. I’ve started scraping together the bits of tasks and ideas. And I was right, there’s a lot. And I keep adding more. Expanding ideas. New questions. But writing them down will help.

I hope.

So…it’s time for a list.

So I’m trying to get my various plans out of my head and onto paper so I can

Balancing Act

I don’t recommend trying to balance four jobs at once, unless you absolutely have to.

Especially don’t quit one of those jobs and attempt to seamlessly slide into another job right after.

This is a very long week for me. My mom’s out of the country for the week, so I booked four days off at the coffee kiosk so I could help out at her store. (Not that it’s stopped them from asking me to pick up a shift during these four days.) The other three days, I’m slinging coffee.

I also landed a new part-time job in a book store, so I put in my notice at the coffee kiosk on Sunday. My last shift there is tomorrow. And of course, the new job is trying to schedule me in for training. (I did tell them that I would have to put in my notice, and that I was needed at my mom’s store for these four days before I was even interviewed.) There was some serious miscommunication happening (her call/voice mail to me just didn’t show up in my phone, and a message I left for her about not hearing from her didn’t make it to her, either) that had me freaking out. I should probably note that this is the first time in my life where I’m going directly from one job to another. Every other time, I’ve had some time off in between, allowing me flexibility with scheduling training shifts. But it’s sorted now, I start on Monday, and I’m not the only one. Yay.

The new job is a mornings-only, 3-4 shifts a week, no Saturdays gig. Yeah, it’s 5am, but I’d be done by 10am, giving me time not only to be productive during “normal day hours,” but I could even have a nap before being productive. I’m also hoping that I’ll have fewer problems with my lungs.

(I have a chronic cough that may be asthma, but the doctors don’t seem to be interested in running any sort of tests beyond x-rays. The coffee kiosk has every single one of my triggers, and I have the worst of the worst coughing fits there at least once a shift. And it’s gotten so bad that I’m now dealing with super-fun bouts of rib pain that’s likely inflammation in the intercostal muscles or tendons. Which the doctors also don’t seem to want to test for beyond x-rays and blood tests to rule out blood clots. At least it’s not blood clots.)

So it’s been quiet at my beading table this week. I did get in a shipment of findings yesterday that I’m mostly happy with (one item was listed as metal, but I’m about 98% certain it’s plastic…and if not, it’s stupid-cheap metal.) The next Witchery Market is in two weeks, so I’d better get in gear.

With the no Saturdays thing, though…I’m going to have to take a serious look at applying for one of the local farmer’s markets. I still need to do some research into a few things for it, and there’s no guarantee I’d get in. But if I can get in to a weekly market and make a decent amount of money every week, I could potentially quit working for someone else (aside from my mom) entirely.

Busy, busy brain.

Start-Up Struggles: Can Anyone Hear Me?

The Internet is a very big place.

This isn’t an entirely new revelation for me. I mean, I practically grew up on the Internet. I remember begging my mom to let me sign up for my very first email so I could chat with my friends on MSN Messenger. I remember when my mom downloaded a “caller ID” app on our computer so that when someone called, we could decide if we wanted to get off the Internet to answer it (wasn’t dial-up wonderful?) I’ve always known I was just a very small presence on the web.

And I’ve always been rather content being small. Making friends on message boards, maybe sharing my email with a few trusted ones so we could chat on MSN (I held on to that for a long time, okay? Well into my twenties.) And then I transitioned to Facebook, because that’s where everyone else was. I’m far from a tech-y person and I take a long time to learn new tech stuff, so I tend to stick to one thing at a time.

But with this whole jewelry business thing…I have to make myself big. Or at least,¬†bigger. I have to engage lots of different types of people. I’m throwing myself at multiple social media platforms and hoping that I don’t flail around aimlessly for too long. True, I did take a little marketing in my degree, but that was by no means the focus of my studies, and none of it touched on social media marketing.

I’m left feeling very small and very quiet.

Of course, if it wasn’t for the Internet, I’d have no hope of getting this business going without a serious cash investment. So I just have to buckle down and figure this stuff out. When I’m not¬†making jewelry, or taking pictures, or kicking my manuscript, or pouring coffee, or chasing Tizzy, or writing newsletters…

Maybe I can give up sleep?