I’m continuing down my path of reflection. Actually, I think the reflection stage is now blurring with a stage where I’m actively looking for fulfillment outside of where I’m at now. Ya, sounds a bit vague but I’ll explain.
First I need to let you know that this is another “batty ramble” post. (see this post). What? Batty Ramble? .. ya… one of those super long posts that doesn’t SEEM to have much of a point but in fact, posts like these do much more than any helpful article I could ever write could do… what I mean is writing a “batty ramble” post is much more helpful to me. Confused? Need a refresher? Scroll down to the bottom of this post and read the end of the post (after the picture of the awesome cloud, rain, and thunder bolt journal). I explain my need to write posts like this. They are therapy for me.
The bottom of this post explains why.
Go on… have a read….
Ok, I know most of you didn’t leave but for those of you who did, thanks. Now you know that you’ll be in tune with much more than what’s here on the screen… you’re looking into my brain trying to make sense of the world. And why the long intro about why I write these? Well, I know I need to write one but wasn’t sure where to start. So the start of this post is more like a warm up exercise.
The warm up is over. Now on to the main event.
In this blog post I pondered that my fibro.. and possibly my ankylosing spondylitis has progressed. Since writing that post, I’ve concluded that I was right and this “flare up”, indeed, is the new norm.. meaning I’m not in a flare up mode.. this is just the new mode.. the new normal.. my new baseline…. The way I’m feeling physically that is. It’s not longer a “long a$$ flare that just wont end”… it’s where the degree of two diseases sit now.
Before the two disease progressed to where they are now, my body didn’t ache and my bones didn’t “pinch” as much which allowed me to feel well enough to be motivated enough (read that carefully… ) to work in the studio for a whole day if I needed to (ha! I always need to!). Studio time means lots of moving around, switching from task to task, or .. when everything starts to come together (production is in its final stages and it’s time to package), sitting for long periods of time packaging, labeling, and the like. If the sitting that happens when I package and label was as comfortable (and the tasks were as interesting) as when I work on the computer, the motivation might not be as hard to find. And when I say “comfortable” I mean being in a space that allows my pain levels to be as minimal as possible and to be in a position that doesn’t aggravate either disease. And when I mention “as interesting”,….
…I mean tasks that allow me to be distracted enough to not sit there thinking about how much the back of my legs feel like someone is pushing on them with spiky boards, or how my lower back (specifically, my SI joints) are rubbing bone on bone sending sharp lightening bolt pains up and down my spine, or how my arms ache so deeply that they are shaking because I can’t find enough energy to deal with everything else in my body and use my arms without them feeling extremely weak….
….I could go on but focusing isn’t a good thing right now… or ever (.. except for maybe during a therapeutic meditation session). But I know trying to describe my pain for those of you who don’t really know what folks like me physically feel like while going about a normal day would help bring more weight to the word “pain“.
Pain can mean so many things and it can easily be dismissed as a paper cut or pushing on a minor bruise. That’s not the kind of pain that has me devoting my “writing therapy” time to it. No no no. It runs my life - almost every decision and action - so coming to terms with “it” is an on going process. But back to my first thought……
I could work on the computer for hours… then and now. Back to where my symptoms sat before the progress ….. I could avoid flare ups for the most part, work several hours in the studio uninterrupted, take a quick cereal break, and be back at it again for hours. When I pushed myself a bit too much, the winter winds got to my bones, or a short list of other “not to do’s”, i would end up in a flare up but I could almost always pin point the cause. Flare ups simmered down within a week, and during the flares, I would work on the computer.
I actually had a really great system worked out. When I felt great, I worked in the studio. When I felt less than great, I worked on the computer.
It was a happy median. Balanced. Predictable. And I didn’t worry about what I wasn’t doing in the studio when I was on the computer, and I didn’t worry about what I wasn’t doing on the computer when I was in the studio. I didn’t worry because my time always ended up being balanced between the two – if I felt great, into the studio I went. When I felt crappy, I worked on computer tasks. Of course I didn’t enjoy feeling crappy, but when those times hit, I knew they wouldn’t last forever… and I’d be on an up swing before too long.
Although I still know that flares wont last forever, I’m faced with the fact that my new baseline is what the old flare up mode was. Meaning all computer time (and not feeling well enough for much else)….. No studio time because studio time is reserved for when I feel great.
Great hasn’t come around in a long while.
Sure I could switch up my medication (and in fact, that will probably happen .. scratch that…will happen next month), that doesn’t take away the reality that studio hours can’t be as long anymore… or as often. I just can’t do it. I’ve been getting lots of help from the team for well over 6 months and it’s still not quiet enough studio hours (fyi, I count packing orders as studio time). So if I can’t put in the time that’s needed and the team can’t put in the time that’s needed….. I’m left with one question….
So what’s a girl to do?
I have a business I’ve built from the ground up that has helped a lot of people. A business that I’m not just going to give up on just because there’s an awful lot of problems cropping up (labor problems that it… as in how am I going to get everything done when I can’t do it anymore and I can only hire so much help!). When giving up and looking for solutions seem to be the only choices, you can bet I’m going to look… and look… and look for solutions.
One measure.. although not drastic by any means, as been my choice to take on two self-study e-courses and another self-study e-workshop. They are all business related – two specifically for handmade artisans – and a way for me to see what solutions might be out there. I’m not expecting a solution to just jump out at me or for one of my teachers to say “hey batty, here’s exactly what you need to do to make everything work”… but I am expecting to get my brain working, thoughts flowing, eyes opened, and be sprinkled with inspiration.
If nothing else, I might be able to offer solutions to other people’s business problems! ha!
Problems… now that I think about it, I don’t even know that I could call the situation I find myself in “a problem”… (well hello optimism!) … it’s more like a shift that needs to happen and I’m looking for where, when and how that shift is going to take place. I’m looking for a way that all the pieces that make up my business and life will fit together without one major component – ME!
While waiting for that shift to happen, I’m working with what I’ve got: a business I love. I’ve been taking it apart bit by bit with one of my courses and so far so good. I’ve made a lot of decisions that turn out to be the right decisions (according to my courses). There are also some that although they aren’t ridiculously terrible, they aren’t ideal. One of those “less than ideal” decisions was… and is.. my pricing structure. I’ve come to find out that many of my prices are far too low. So low in fact that I now know why I always feel like the money is going out faster than it’s coming in.
That wouldn’t be so bad if the other products in my line had been picking up the slack … you know, balancing everything out, but unfortunately that’s not the case. If I had been doing extremely high volumes of sales I would have really been in trouble! Thankfully .. and it feels strange to be thankful of this... but thankfully my sales are modest,.. and if not modest, on the low side of modest. Sure I do this full-time, and I have orders coming in all the time, but I’m not rolling in the dough or even contributing as much as I’d like to my family… and most months, I’m not contributing at all!
The silver lining is……
.. now I know why I’m working to the bone (with my team) and not even making minimum wage! Knowledge is such a powerful thing and so far my courses and workshop have been extremely helpful….. without them I wouldn’t have realized the problem with my pricing structure. Actually, I might have realized it after a few more months of wondering why I have nothing to show for all the hard work myself and the team have been putting in.
….yes, this means there will be more changes coming *please don’t attempt to swat me through the computer screen* lol.. this is just as frustrating for me, but if you stick with me, we’ll be just fine! I promise!
I plan to keep customers updated by filling them in on concrete decisions as they happen. Speaking of which, that whole pricing structure thing… ya… that thing…. news about it will be in the next email update (sign up here). I’m hoping to send an update out by next week. (heads up, as you probably figured out, the prices of my products will be changing).
“This” …. well that’s a topic for a whole other discussion. And one I’m not open to talking about right now because the more I think about and verbalize what these symptoms feel like, the more control they seem to have over my concentration levels. And when the control over my concentration levels reaches critical levels the only thing racing through my head is: “I’m done with this.. where’s my ice cream, cuddly dog friend, and netflix?!” And let’s not kid around, those levels are pretty high these days!
So as for shifts outside my current business…. I’m not really totally sure what that might look like. Whether it’s letting go of trying to help my household out as much as I have in the past and just doing things that don’t bring in some sort of income…… or if it means pursuing sustainable income options….. or a mix of both……. or heck, none of the above. At this point I just don’t know. I feel like a shift is needed (in more areas than just my medication!) and I’m almost scared to know what the shift might look like. Fear or no fear though, I’m actively trying to figure it out! I hate hate haaate feeling like I’m waiting for something to happen.. something to change… something to be decided… especially when I’m waiting around for ME to figure it out. Oh, I hate that. Not knowing what direction to even look is an uncomfortable feeling.
I keep trying to just sit in that feeling… be comfortable in that feeling….. and to take it even further… be comfortable and ok with not knowing all the answers right now and not running towards a goal. It’s tough for a workaholic to just sit …. not literally of course… I mean to not work on anything.. to do what seems totally unproductive… to do what seems like nothing at all! … But it’s important to do so from time to time. I learned that a lot time ago and it’s still a tough lesson to put into practice when needed. That’s probably why I do so so rarely. But it’s so important for emotional and mental health. It’s good for your soul.
The folks who meditate regularly have already figured this out and know .. more than I do… about how healing and restorative it can be.
Journaling is my one of my workaholic ways of meditating. Yes, I know it’s not really meditating, but until I think up a better word for it, let’s just go with that. Walking (usually walking a dog or to) is another way. I find both to be very good for my heart, mind, and soul. They are two of the first things I do when facing major life shifts or when a whole lot of emotional or mental healing is needed (and often way overdue). They are a way to trick my “must be productive” thought pattern into just letting my thoughts be clear. Trickery at it’s best! I find this trick also works for info junkies (yup, I’m one of those too). The best part is you usually know when you’ve finished a good quality session because your legs are either ready to walk back home or your fingers stop typing as fast. Funny how I’m reaching that point now! Off to find the ice cream and cuddly dog friend….