I apologize for another delay here, my laptop had been on the fritz, and then stopped working altogether. Jeff, by a miracle, was able to get it working again, and we’re hoping to eek out a bit more time with it until we’re ready to buy a new one. Anyway, I have pictures to share from Florida, but my mind is currently on other things and I always like writing best what is currently in my thoughts, so those will come later. This picture doesn’t really have anything to do with what I’m writing about, but when my mom handed me a mug of tea (while we were visiting her) and I sat to drink it one night, I looked at the little tag to see what my bit of wisdom would be that day. It happened to be a very favorite quote of a friend of mine, so I took a picture of it to share with her. Tea and candlelight go well together. And it’s the time of year I especially appreciate the cozy feeling that candelight brings (even while I’m in warmer places.)
We got back from our trip last week, unpacked, and got some good sleep for our jet-lagged selves. I caught up on laundry, cleaned like crazy around the house, and then we started getting back into a rhythm for homeschool, work, and all the things that make up daily life around here. (I’ve also been making an effort to be more active and make sure I’m exercising every day because even when I’m on my feet much of the day around the house, my body needs a wider range of movement. Coming back from trips always feels like a good time to start new routines.)
My work last week, other than the usual things like shipping out orders, was mapping out our festival year for 2018. I’ve been deep in sending in applications, and that includes other details (like business licenses for shows in California, booking hotel rooms for the ones that fill up if we don’t get something booked in time, and getting insurance for some shows.) We want our festival season to be full, but not too full that we can’t possibly keep up. It’s a balance we’re constantly figuring out. (Especially because we still have online sales and wholesale orders to keep up with through it all. Online sales don’t compare to in-person sales for us, though, and having shows on a regular basis is important for us. Plus they’re fun!)
Some shows we do every year, and others are competitive (or already full with long-time vendors) and we don’t know if we will get into them or not. Some festivals overlap and we have to decide which to choose. Some festivals we love and definitely want to do again, one we’re still deciding on, and as for the ones we’ve never done- we’ve talked with many of our artist friends who have had a booth at them to get a feel if it would be a good fit for us, and then take the leap to try it out. Lots of decisions, but for the most part we pick the ones we’re the most excited about, the ones we have the best feeling about (and the ones that work with our schedule.) At some point, when we are able to travel more, we would love to do shows around the US, but for now we’ve been applying to shows in Oregon, California, and Washington only. (Any shows near you that you’d like to see us at?)
We have worked so hard for so many years, and it feels good to be able to add more festivals to our calendar because of letting our local market go. Sometimes you have to let go of something to open up the space for something new. This year looks to be our very busiest year yet with festivals and we’re really looking forward to it. Jeff and I have so many plans, ideas, and dreams for our business (and want more hours in the day to bring it all to life!) Making a living as an artist can sound romantic, and it is wonderful to do something you love to support yourself, but it is also a lot of work. Anyone who owns their own business knows the hours of work you put in, and the workload that seems never ending.
Am I boring you with all this business talk? Forgive me if I am, it’s where my head is at.
In exciting news, we changed the design on the back of our button cards to include our Instagram link, for sharing projects. (Just kidding. Not on the design part, but the fact that it would be exciting news to anyone but me.)
The day before yesterday had thing after thing after thing happen until I swore our day belonged in a sitcom, it was so ridiculous. I got a crazy huge splinter that belonged in a different category than splinter altogether, Bracken got sick again (poor guy hasn’t been able to get a break, he had a virus this winter and got more sick than he had ever been in his life), my laptop up and quit, I left a burner on in the kitchen and forgot about it until the pan was charred, I went to our library online (on Jeff’s computer) to play an audio book for Bracken to listen to while he was under the weather and was blocked from my account (got an e-mail that I had an overdue book, but I had returned it a long time ago and it’s all sorted out now), and then got a call that our vacuum needed an expensive part even though we had just paid a fortune for a “tune up” that included replacing every part imaginable. There’s more, that was a short list from the day, but I’ll leave it at that.
Yesterday was such a better day in so many ways. Bracken was on the mend, which automatically made for a better start to the day. (Last time when he was sick I told him that I wished I could instantly make him feel better and he said to me: “Mom you’re not a superhero, you know”, which made me laugh. Sometimes I really wish I was a superhero, though.) The boys stayed home and I ran errands, realizing I couldn’t wait until next week to get chicken feed. I had a solo trip to the grocery store, I don’t remember when the last time that happened was. I ran an errand for our business that led me to a happy place- a yarn shop. (I’ve decided that yarn is officially one of my favorite words. I should take it up as my mantra to repeat over and over whenever I feel stressed, since it instantly relaxes me. Ha!) I sang loudly during the car ride and made up little songs, not needing to be embarrassed at all by anyone overhearing (though my family is used to me doing that.)
I’ve noticed that whenever I go on a trip anywhere, and have that change of scenery and perspective, an outside lens to look at the whole of my life more- I come back with the feeling of what I want to change in my life and what parts of my life I wouldn’t change for the world. Do you feel that way when you travel? I feel inspired by the beauty around me and want to incorporate bits of those inspiring parts into my life when I return, while at the same time craving the comforts and safety of home and realizing the parts of my life I miss and feel grateful for the most while I’m away.
I came back being reminded more than ever of the changes that Jeff and I have been wanting to make- in regards to our living space and work space, and finances. Jeff and I love what we do for a living. We want to be able to support ourselves more in the work we do and also balance that work with self-care. For us it’s not a matter of not working hard enough, but in figuring out how to work smarter, not harder. We continue to get more efficient in what we do and make positive changes as we go along, and we have learned so much with each passing year of having our own business. And we still have a lot more to learn in regards to business.
For example, I finally started charging shipping and handling for the first time ever in our shop. (We opened our WoolyMossRoots shop in 2009, to give you an idea of how long it’s taken me to learn this lesson.) I charge a minimal handling fee for each order now, (and wonder if it’s enough, but it’s a start.) I resisted doing so for so long because I wanted to offer the most affordable shipping for our customers that I could, but with all the time I had spent packing up orders over all those years, I had never once paid myself for that time. Now I can’t believe it took me so long to figure that out! Taping up boxes, getting orders together, going to the post office… all of those things take valuable time in my day, and I like getting paid for the work I do.
Jeff and I are determined to pay off our debts this year. We’ve made a point over the years to not buy things we didn’t have the money for, and to reserve our credit cards only for rare occasions, but sometimes we needed something for our business or something else important, and bit by bit it can add up. We’re working hard to create more financial stability in our life so we can move forward in all the ways that we want to this year.
Oh goodness, now am I really boring you?
Besides being renewed in my dedication to work towards the changes I want to make, I also came back from our trip with an even deeper appreciation for the parts of my life that I absolutely love. At the heart of that, of course, is my family. Physical changes can be made to the environments we live and work in, and changes to our business to support ourselves more in the work we do, but having people in our lives who love us unconditionally? That’s truly priceless. I think it’s important, when we notice parts of our lives that aren’t working as well as they could and are paying attention to the changes we want to make, to also take notice of the parts of our lives that are working, to remind ourselves of all the areas where we are blessed. The most important parts of our lives- the people around us who we love and who love us, that’s a foundation that makes for a good life even if a few of the other details could use some tweaking.