October 27, 2012

Ch- Ch- Ch- Changes

Indian summer ended decisively. Thursday was 80 degrees and bursting with sunny skies. Friday was dark, dreary, rainy and 45 degrees. You know, as it should be this time of year in this location. Snow in the forecast for Monday night. On today's to-do list: cut the grass one last time and move the garden pots inside so they don't crack from winter's chill.
While enjoying the last warm rays of sun on the front porch Thursday, I looked up from my mug of coffee and bread cookbooks and noticed the tree at the side of the drive. Complete with a well anchored bird's nest in its branches.
It reminded me of when I started this here little, ole blog. One of the first "logos" I made featured the same tree in similar showy autumnal colors.
That reflection led me to read some of my first posts from last December. Oh yeah, I intended to make this blog a resource for arty crafty self-employed folks. Hmm, how's that going? Oh, and look at that. I was going to write a business plan. Eventually.

I don't know if it's the change in weather or what, but the time is ripe for some major alterations around here. As I asked a friend earlier this week, do you ever feel like your life is living you instead of you living your life? That's how it's been for me these past couple of months. Like I'm a greyhound chasing after the mechanical bunny, except there are multiple mechanical bunnies to chase and they're going in different directions. Not only is it utterly exhausting, it's not effective in the slightest. And it creates such a scramble of chatter in my mind, I haven't been able to stop and reflect on my choices, assess my progress (or lack thereof), or examine my goals. 

After identifying the feeling of being lived by life - feeling pushed, prodded, and pulled rather than being in charge of the action - and wanting to put a stop to it, a crop of sympathetic desire popped up. I love these moments of synchronicity. My friend described the adrenaline devil that sits on her shoulder, driving her to work, work, work at the expense of taking care of herself. We discussed the importance of turning off the adrenaline devil in favor of nourishing body, mind, & soul. Then I happened to browse the maya*made blog and read a post about granting ourselves permission to ignore the adrenaline devil (my words, not hers). On Maya's permission list (and mine!) are giving ourselves permission to be slow when life moves quickly and to be STILL. I received an email from a local home inspection business that included this message:
Ever find yourself becoming resentful or upset because you have too much on your plate? Ever find yourself bitter about doing what you “have to do” instead of what you really want to do?
Five Ways to Reduce Stress and Create More Peace:
Simplify your methods so the task isn’t so challenging.
It’s OK to say no if you can’t do it comfortably or happily.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Reduce your to-do list—some items just aren’t that critical.
Make trade-offs—block more “me time” next week and don’t let it be interrupted.
I hear the message loud and clear. It's time to step back and take stock. Redirect the pushing, prodding, and pulling energy into thoughtful, meaningful choices, decisions, and activities. One more synchronistic occurrence. While looking for holiday themed paper crafting inspiration at the library, I picked up Grow Your Handmade Business: How to Envision, Develop, and Sustain a Successful Creative Business by Kari Chapin. One little paragraph in the introduction tells me Kari is a kindred spirit:
For the creative entrepreneur and the handmaker, our business-planning needs are different. There are lots of reasons for this, but it pretty much boils down to a basic fact: our values are a bit different.
Ah-ha! Do I need yet another business planning book? Not really. I've researched business planning to death and even wrote a paper while in grad school about how to adapt a traditional business plan to the needs of a part-time artist. I know what I need to do to make a plan for Odd Bird Studio. My problem is actually doing so. Well, now is the time. I'm tired of flailing around in a million directions at once because everything I know I need to do and everything I want to do is trapped in my head and vying for attention simultaneously. And I finally realize I need a kick in the butt to get me started on crafting a plan and some gentle prodding from outside to keep me going. I'm thankful I stumbled upon Grow Your Handmade Business at the right time. I will use it as a guide. Like my own private classroom. I will follow the book and do the exercises Kari suggests and I will make a business plan to keep me grounded and focused. Ahh. Breathe. Delightful.

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