Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Truth Behind "Vacation Mode"

When I put my shop in Vacation last month -- it was painful. I did need a vacation from the shop -- I had told my mother so for a little over a year. But, what it comes down to is this: I wasn't on vacation. I was both mourning and closing down my mother's 'estate.'

But, none of my shop platforms have anything other than closing down completely or going on 'vacation' mode. I wished there was something different -- I wished there was a way to say, I am not just taking a month-long break.

Rather, I wished I could say something like "I need this time -- I began these shops with my mother, and I do not know if I can continue without her." I can continue without her -- in the shops that is -- but it has been very difficult looking at the beads, let alone working with them. I have struggled and wept, remembering which gemstones she chose, and which I told her not to buy but she did anyway.

For over a decade, we went to shows together, and shops, and spent time and money shopping together for the shops. Every single order online was made with her consultation, every single trip to s bead shop either she was there or on the phone with me as I chose items. It's just been hard to get back into doing something that was so entirely "ours".

Mom was the seed bead portion of the shops -- seed beads of change was built for her, so that she could retire with it. She was getting close to retirement -- within a couple of years she would have hung up her hat as a computer programmer and quality assurance manager in order to do what she loved. We would do it together. That's why I built her that shop from the ground up -- making designs she liked, choosing colors that were near and dear to her. She loved purple, she loved labradorite and pietersite -- she loved that which was rare and vibrantly full of life and color.

I look to carry on her shop, rather than combine the two, in her honor. It's why after a long time, and before I was ready in all reality, I chose her birthday to reopen both Etsy shops.

I haven't opened the other platforms (except a little on Amazon -- I will add the link later, once I've built it up) because I am unsure if I can deal with that much at this time. I am not going to lie -- I miss her terribly, she was so much to me, my mother, my business partner, my confessor, my very best friend.

It's going to be a hard year, and I know that. But, I think she would want me to continue. Even though I desperately want to give up -- I think she would want this for me and for her memory.
A photo of my Mom -- taken at Fusion Beads in Seattle, on my Birthday, last year. I made her those earrings. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

I've been working --- no really.

I've had a lot on my plate lately.  And the weather hasn't been all that friendly until the last week or so.  Which -- of course -- drove me outside instead of into my office to take photos in full sun.  It's been painful, knowing I have a ton of work to do (I am still working on opening that beading shop, after-all) but still just longing for spring.   Which I am pretty sure a lot of us are out there -- especially after the weather of the last couple of weeks across the country.

But I noticed, while speaking to a customer who was having me design a pair of earrings for her, how much difference a day can make, when you're this far north and fighting with the overcast nature of the Pacific Northwest.

Let me give you a quick example:

This is an older item of mine -- Green Opal Hoop Earrings.  But, my customer wanted these in a smaller hoop size (totally understand -- I too am not a large hoop person).

So, I made her these:

She contacted me and asked if the opals from the first pair of earrings were available -- and I didn;t really understand, because they are all from the same strand.

Then I looked at this:

This is a green opal bracelet -- also made from the same strands of opals, bought at the same time, from the same vendor in order to have continuity across the designs I wanted to make with them.

The only difference?  The photos are taken in vastly different lighting.  The first on is in a hand made light box -- using a camera phone because my camera battery was dead at the time I needed to get those up.

The second photo was taken yesterday -- an overcast and dreary day, totally altering the light temp of the photo.  And the final photo was taken in full sun, at mid-day, during summer.

As many of my items are made as they are ordered in the shop -- in fact most are -- I didn't understand what my customer was asking (plus I have a little bit of a flu, so I am slow on the uptake this week.).  It took me going back and looking at the photos to realize my error in showing the photos the way I did.  I must take the photos in equal light temp I think from now on -- which is often going to push back my listing dates :(  Kind of a bummer, but part of living in the PNW I presume.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The struggle within

I just read an article that got to me.  I really felt for the writer, and really, really understood her struggle.  While I am not a single mom, I get it and have been putting a lot of thought into things over the last couple of months (where I wrote here but did not publish).  Her post can be found here.

See, I've seen a lot of anger, vitriol and animosity around the digital world -- and it hurts a bit.  It feels sometimes like there is no room for struggle, no room to really connect as people.  There's a lot of judgement out there.  And, the mommy wars out there are painful to read about.  I have a lot of expletives in my head about all that drama. 

But -- I also question some of the articles about the mommy wars.  Because while people write about moms who choose to stay home, or moms who choose to work outside the home, there is really very little attention paid to moms who don't make the choice.

I didn't make that choice -- it was made for me.  And, while I am finally coming to the point in life -- my life as a work at home mom that is -- where I am okay with being here even though the kids are getting much older, it was still never my choice.

The kids and I are much closer now than when I worked outside the home -- but they are also much older, so I can't tell you if it's because I am home, of if it's simply that we have much more in common now as they learn about the world around them in more in depth ways. 

The youngest, especially, has blossomed as an individual while I've been home, which brings a smile to my face in all reality. And, what really gets me is that they really see the struggle.  They see the struggle with my "job" (the shop -- and the new one I am opening soon), they see the struggle with the laundry, dishes, getting food on the table -- when, as an artisan, I am making a mere fraction of what I would be making outside the home.

They were used to a standard of living that I can't provide them anymore -- and it's taken a while, but they are getting used to it.  But where can we be really honest with what's going on in life -- to really try an make that connection if there is just so much judgement out there?  How does it really benefit to judge what one doesn't understand -- because we really as people don't have the full pictures of each others stories, not really. 

My closest friend lives 3,000 miles away -- and I love her dearly, but even still I don't know everything about her -- I don't know her whole story day-in-and-day-out, so there is nothing I would want to judge about her.  I am pretty sure it's the same for her.  So, what is it about the digital world that makes everything so judgy? 

Is it just that we can hide, seemingly anonymously behind the computer screen?  I hope not -- I hope it's not that and instead it's that people really don't know how hurtful they are being.  I really hope that it's more simple:  that when someone posts something on facebook or other media about "government moochers" that they don't know the inner struggle of the "friends" they are sharing that with.

It's hard to come clean with real thoughts out there in cyberspace -- which lends itself to creating an online persona that really becomes one-dimensional.  I know it's hard -- and I avoid it like the plague, because I don't really want people to know the struggles of being a work-at-home-mom.

But then again -- I think that being real may be more important in the long run.  Like the gemstones I work with -- I am multi-faceted, and I am pretty sure my customers are as well.