Looking Back Looking Forward

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. Before starting this post, I felt compelled to look over my posts form 2018. And one thing I noticed was last year found me struggling with finding better ways to work and better ways to balance life and work. I wrote about taking a 10-day staycation and explored my thoughts about the need for social media as a small business. Which naturally led to taking a social media fast for one month. I also shared with you my conflicted thoughts about where I live and my desire to settle somewhere else in the near future. It was a year full of challenges and growth - growth that could only come out of struggle. When I look back over these posts I know one thing that many of you don’t: most of last year I was working harder than I ever have and dancing with burnout in the process.

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Last year could have only led me to where I am now. All of our choices are always taking us one step at a time to the next place we need to be. And last year was bound to throw something at me to slow me down:

Welcome in back problems like I’ve never had - sciatica pain, a herniated disc, tingling, numbness, pain so bad it takes an elephant’s worth of will power just to get out of bed in the morning.

I think one of the only reasons I can write about this in any way where I’m even remotely grateful for what I’m dealing with is because a few days ago it seems like I may have passed the worst of the pain. As I begin physical therapy I’m trying to reconfigure my life around a slower pace. Around a TRUE acceptance in my head that to be less busy is OKAY, that relaxation does not equal being lazy.

I always like to take some time at the beginning of a new year to write about what I hope to realize and bring into being in the new year AND what I would like to let go of. The things I wrote about this year are less things and more ways of thinking:

  1. To be more accepting of what I am capable of doing in a given span of time (be that an hour, a day, a month, a year, heck, even a lifetime.)

  2. To let go of guilt. Whether that’s guilt for taking time off or guilt because I actually do love my work and sometimes, when it feels right, I WANT to work all day (now, the caveat is, so long as I’m not overworking my body.) To realize that all of the pieces and parts are necessary and not anything to feel guilty about.

  3. To run with the things that spark my excitement and imagination and let go of many of the things that drag me down.

  4. To better embrace the “middle” and transitional times in life. Whether that’s when I’m in the middle of a work-related goal and don’t know when the dream will be realized, or just in the middle of a big closet clean out. I tend to be bad with “middle” energy. I’m all excited when I’m getting a project started and feel very proud once I’ve realized the goal/dream/clean closet, but overall I just end up trying to rush through the middle. The middle is where a lot of the good stuff is, and I know that when I’m rushing through it I’m missing a lot of life.

And so, I move forward, one foot in front of the other, seeing quite clearly that slowing down is the only REAL way to enact REAL change in my life.

This year is off to a bit of a muddled start. I had a tradeshow very early in the month, that I had to be prepared for. And so I put on my big girl pants and I got it done, even while dealing with an immense amount of pain. I will report: the show went well. And I can happily say there are some new stores that will be receiving Tangleweeds goods for their shop in the weeks to come. But as soon as that show was over I slowed the train down. I’ve mostly taken the last week off and it’s felt great. I even took some time to really clean up my workshop and it now feels like a space I am excited to (carefully) get back to work in. Maybe I’ll even offer up some more mini-tutorials on Instagram like I did last year.

Overall though, Tangleweeds isn’t going anywhere. There are some significant changes ahead, but given that I’m not quite sure how quickly things will happen around here for now, I’m not going to offer up any timelines.

What you can expect to see from Tangleweeds this year:

  1. A remodel and pairing down of the online shop. Many designs will be discontinued and overall the shop will have a new, more shopper friendly look. (I will of course announce the re-model and design discontinuation with plenty of notice in case there’s something you’d like to get while you still can.)

  2. A new series of limited edition pieces. These will be released on Instagram on a schedule that I have yet to set. I will announce all of this on IG as I refine this way of releasing designs.

  3. A PODCAST!!!! I’m beyond excited about this idea. It’s my way of continuing to further the building of the handmade/maker/artisan community, especially as I consider moving out of the bay area this year.

  4. More workshops. Definitely my Metalwork Made Easy class, along with some other ideas in the works.

  5. A more paired down craft fair schedule. I most likely won’t do any events at all until April or May of this year. This is both to give my back time to heal and to focus on other areas of Tangleweeds.

  6. A different focus on my newsletter - I want to grow the arm of Tangleweeds that is about finding the beauty in the everyday. And I want to share it with all of you!

That about wraps up my thoughts for 2019. I could write an equally long post reflecting on 2018, but I’ll just leave it at this: I realized a lot of my goals. Now the challenge: continuing that journey towards new goals while incorporating more mindfulness, more self-care, and heaps more “living in the moment” types of energy!!!

Tell me about your new year goals. Or conversely, how do you feel about the way 2018 went? I love the practice of looking back/looking forward.

My Antidote to Finding the Stress in the Everyday

Last year I started a little feature in my newsletter (and sometimes shared here on the blog) called “The Tangleweeds Tool Kit.” This tool kit was full of suggestions for finding the beauty in the everyday. I’ve loved putting these tool-kits together and plan to continue with them this year (come late February/early March you’ll see them back in your in-box.) As I consider the different things I’d like to include in the 2018 tool-kits, I realized I wanted to share my reasoning behind my message with Tangleweeds: the message of “finding the beauty in the everyday.” While I hope that my jewelry embodies this idea - with pieces that easily fold into your everyday lives - I wanted to more directly address where this message sprang from in my life and business. 

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I think my back story is one many of you can relate to: I’m really f*$#ing good at finding the stress in the everyday. Some days I’m better at it than others. Over the years, as I grew Tangleweeds from a hobby without a name or much focus and eventually into the sustainable business it is today, I only grew more adept at finding the stress in the everyday. 

I would wake up most mornings and instantly my brain would start churning on all of the things I needed to do that day. “Ugh, there’s still that pile of dishes in the sink, and I need to write that blog post, and shoot, I forgot to get back to 100,109,560 emails yesterday, and oh-my-god Christmas is only 6 months away and I haven’t EVEN STARTED prepping for the holiday season!!!” Basically I’d wind myself into this tight ball of stress over things that weren’t even real, or certainly weren’t worth the added stress.  

Even more significant was that many of the “to-do’s” were things I was very excited to get to. But I would over-think and over-stress myself so much that it would take much of the joy out of the things I wanted to do (designing new pieces), let alone the things that were pure drudgery (book-keeping). 

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Somewhere along the line, around the second or third year of running my business full time, I simply started to realize that I was making myself miserable. That, yes, there were many things about running Tangleweeds that were stressful, but that ultimately I was making the situation that much worse with my constant worry and need for control at all times. And, of course, you can bet if I was being like this with Tangleweeds I was also being like this with most other areas of my life. 

Slowly I learned to stop worrying so much, and to cede control when it was possible, and to not shoot for perfection all of the time. All of these things are easy for my conscious mind to understand, but not as easy for my unconscious to unwrap. Many of the tools I use are similar to the tools you will hear many experts praise: I make time to slow down, I meditate, I schedule off-days from work. And maybe, most importantly, I schedule down time within my work day. Just yesterday I was listing to a show on NPR and there was this time management expert on. (I’m not 100% clear what his area of expertise was but he said something that really stuck with me.) He said that (paraphrasing here) basically it’s not the amateurs in life who take breaks or step away form work when they’re tired, but it’s actually the seasoned experts who do this. That to acknowledge the need for rest is actually an incredibly mature thing to do and that the idea of just “powering through” is the amateur’s way. I heard this and honestly gave a sigh of relief. I think the more that the mainstream can soak up this message the more it will begin to be accepted in all areas of life. 

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Hand-in-hand with allowing myself to slow down, came the ability to appreciate the small things more. I wish I could point to a moment when all of this just became easier, but as I described above, it’s all been a slow process, one that is still unfolding. Finding the beauty in the everyday became my own personal mantra and naturally became the underlying message I wanted Tangleweeds to embody. Whether it’s a pile of un-raked leaves in the fall (a personal favorite), or the smell of damp cat fur when one of my feline babies have just come in from the rain, there are too many small moments of beauty everyday to count. 

I’m looking forward to continuing my adventures in slowing-down and appreciating the everyday, and most of all I am excited to share them with all of you this year!

warmly,
Jeannine

Full Circle ~ Changes Ahead and Summer Thoughts

Two weekends ago I attended and vended at the Whole Earth festival in Davis. It was a wonderful time, and I got to see vendor friends that I only get to see once a year, at this event. In so many ways, being a vendor at many different craft fairs all year long is my own version of a traveling circus. We vendors joke about that often!

I came back from this event with lots of thoughts about where Tangleweeds is headed and what I want the business to look like in the years to come. Running a handmade business, there are always so MANY things to consider and sometimes the changes you hope to make get swept under the rug in the running of the day to day, week to week, and month to month. 

So I'm putting this out there, not sure if I'll still want this in a few months or even the next year, but I'm seriously considering finding a way to raise the capital to invest in a better traveling vehicle and to begin to travel further afield for events. I love the idea of hitting the open road more often, and even creating a small work space in my home on wheels so I can work while on the road. 

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When I think about all it will entail to make this dream happen I get a little overwhelmed, but I'm hoping to break this down into manageable steps that will get me closer to my dream. Already I am planning an event in Nevada this year, and while that's not that far away, it's a step in the direction I'd like to head. 

For now though, the dream is in it's infancy stages. While I'd like to say I'll update about the progress on it here, and I will, in all likelihood progress will be slow and I may not have much to share for a while.

In the meantime I'm starting to dream about my plans for the summer. I'm really hoping to fit in at least one big music festival (of the bluegrass/country ilk preferably.)

What's on your mind for summer plans this year? I'd love to know!

warmly,
Jeannine

Full Circle ~ Family Times

Last week I went to Disneyland for a few days with my sister's family and my dad. It was great to have this kind of time together, as it can be difficult to get everyone's busy schedules to all line up such that we can go on a trip together!

me and my 9 year old nephew, Noah. He's not bored, he just hates having his picture taken.

me and my 9 year old nephew, Noah. He's not bored, he just hates having his picture taken.

This week, being back to work with Tangleweeds has felt great. Sometimes stepping away form something you love is just what you need to re-charge your batteries. 

As a quick reminder, tomorrow is the last day of my Everything is Connected sale (use code "connected" for 25% off all orders) and the last day to enter my giveaway by the same name. Good luck and enjoy!

Full Circle ~ Calico Seasons

My newest collection is here: Calico Seasons. And I'm so happy with how it all came together. The palette really speaks to spring and newness and light femininity, but with an underlying strength. I'm also playing around with mixed metals again, which is definitely getting my creative juices flowing in a whole new way. 

There's also a small selection of OOAK pieces and limited editions, like the Sepia Seasons necklace (above, middle) and the Serpentine River Necklace (above, bottom.)

This collection, surprisingly (or not, depending on how you look at it) came our of a rather dark place. After the elections in November and the divisiveness that arose in our country, I was walking around feeling over-whelmed, angry, and hopeless. When shit goes sideways so to speak (and pardon my french) I often want to throw my all into fixing things, making things better, and I didn't see a clear way to go about fixing what was now, in my view, broken about our society. 

Slowly though, and with the help that comes from talking about these feelings with friends and those I care about, I started to see that the best work I could do would be to continue to do my creative work. I'm now really trying to put more of an emphasis on connecting with others too, helping other creatives out in whatever ways I can. (Part of that work is with the Creative Pursuit Collective, which you can read more about here.)

There four photos above are part of the Vista Series in the Calico Seasons collection. In particular, the Vista Bangle has quickly become a go-to piece for me and I'm finding myself wearing this piece nearly daily. I love this design (in all three - the earrings, the necklace and the bangle) because it's almost "shield" like in it's shape. It feels powerful. And I imagine that from our vantage point, or Vista, as we rise above the mess of the last few months, things will start to sort themselves out and become a bit more clear. 

As I've been saying, this collection is inspired by "nature's lessons and nature's patience." The designs came out of a confused and frustrating time for me, and a time when I found myself calmed and put at ease by simple things, like sunsets and sunrises, the birds chirping in my yard in the early morning or the light fog cloaking my street as I went about starting my day. 

It's funny how something inspired by very confused and dark emotions can end up feeling so light  and cheery, but that's exactly how this collection came about to be manifested. Or it's not so funny at all and in a way makes perfect sense. . . and shows me yet again how most things in life come full circle if we only give them the time. 

Through Wednesday, 3/22, take 15% off all pieces in the new collection with code nature. I will also be including small, hand-written bits of poetry with each item from the new collection. I hope to convey a certain feeling and idea with each design, and the poetry that will accompany each piece is my gift to you. 

Happy Monday everyone!

Full Circe ~ Simplifying and Making Room

The last couple of weeks I've really been focused on streamlining and simplifying many of my habits and methods around how I run Tangleweeds. One BIG part of this has been buying new equipment for my business, something that now that I've done I wish I had so much sooner! BUT, it's fantastic that I've finally made this investment. It has me looking at many areas of my business with a more critical eye, contemplating how I can make things run more efficiently. 

All of this is being done with an eye on making more time and room in my life for things that aren't necessarily 100% Tangleweeds related. I say this because over the last few months I've come to the realization that I don't intentionally make time for much in my life that isn't directly related to Tangleweeds. This is because I LOVE running Tangleweeds. It is my breath and soul and I am so happy to put my all into it. 

Hand-in-hand with this realization, it came to my attention that I actually get more stressed out on days off from work than I do working days. I think this is a many layered thing that needs time for me to thoroughly address. I know there's a few things going on here that I am aware of: 1. I take time off so infrequently that I put A LOT of pressure on that time to deliver in BIG dividends. (as in, it better be a completely AMAZING trip or small adventure or time with friends, or whatever otherwise it's a letdown.) and 2. I treat the time off much like I treat work time, as in it needs to be "productive". Which is crazy-ness, right?!

Thirdly, I've put so much energy and time into Tangleweeds over the last few years that sometimes I feel like I've become a little bit out of touch regarding what I desire from the rest of my life. I think this is two-fold: I was so busy with Tangleweeds (and happily so for the most part) that I ceased to put as much energy into other areas of my life. Also, and maybe the more subtle, hard to pin down thing that was going on in my head, I think I was subconsciously avoiding making some big decisions about the rest of my life. A little bit head-in-the-sand, a little bit workaholic. 

With the streamlining and systematizing that I am diving into with Tangleweeds, I'm starting to see the spaces open up in my life for other things. I actually feel like I have the mental room to even consider what I might want my non-work/Tangleweeds related life to look like. 

The other day I was flipping through some green/new-hippie lifestyle magazine at the bookstore and I read something along the lines of "it's your life, edit it as you please." And that line has really stuck with me. I used to feel like when I wanted to get rid of something, or stop doing something that I was giving up on that thing or that endeavor. Now I'm starting to see that with every thing or endeavor that we choose to move out of our lives, we make room for something new. I'm pretty darn excited about what embracing my inner "life editor" may look like in the months (ands years) to come!

Full Circle ~ Self Care and Creative Windows

Getting back into the swing of things this week. Working on my next collection for spring and summer. Trying to focus more on self care. I often struggle with that last one. I'm so driven to work hard and create with Tangleweeds that sometimes it feels easier to, well, just do things the easy way, which for me tends to lead to long work hours and not a lot of time for taking care of myself. But I promised myself I'd truly make an effort to take better care of myself this year. I'm starting small: daily meditation (even if it's just in the car during my drives from Vallejo to Oakland and back), flossing (and making an appointment for a teeth cleaning), and stretching - all daily. 

Above, assorted photos from the Seattle tradeshow and work in progress. Also, I got a rolling mill last week and I couldn't be more thrilled. It's seriously helping to streamline a huge chunk of my production along with opening up some new creative doors. I'll post more about the mill once I really get crankin' with it!

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Below: Some pieces that shipped out to one of my new stockists in Seattle.

worktable explosion as I work on my next collection

Ahh, Thursday. My favorite day of the week. Seriously, for the longest time it's been my favorite. Two of my favorite radio shows are on on Thursdays (one about herbalism and one about astrology and activism), and in general there's just something in the air that makes me love this particular day of the week. Today I'm working from home, but I'm also going to take some time out to go see a movie all by myself, one of my absolute favorite things to do! I think I'm going to go see La La Land.

Enjoy your Thursday everyone!

P.S. Next Tuesday my first Creative Tenacity post will go up here. I'm touching on some of the most salient advice I was offered when I was first starting out, and why it took me a while to realize I needed to take the advice offered. I hope you'll join me here for a good read.

Full Circe ~ Ready to Dive In

Good morning! And happy new year! (even if it is a couple of weeks late=) I'm freshly back from a trip to Seattle for the Seattle Gift Tradeshow and a two day re-treat with my fellow biz-ladies, the Creative Pursuit Collective. Needless to say, the last half of December and the first half of this month have gone by in a blur! 

I drove up to Seattle with Amy Rose. It was a winding and challenging adventure, what with the huge storms blowing through the west coast during our travels. Not to mention the nervousness ahead of us about how the tradeshow would go. The trip was a good reminder though, that if I can push myself to do things that make me a little nervous and a little uncomfortable, that the rewards will come in dividends for years to come! I'm now feeling a little bit like I could take on the world if (I needed to.)

By Chance necklaces  - a popular hit at the Seattle Tradeshow. 

By Chance necklaces - a popular hit at the Seattle Tradeshow. 

Slightly tacky opulence at  The Unicorn  lounge/bar in Seattle. We didn't have a lot of time for non-work related activity, but we managed to sneak in a bit of downtime! I simply adored this place.

Slightly tacky opulence at The Unicorn lounge/bar in Seattle. We didn't have a lot of time for non-work related activity, but we managed to sneak in a bit of downtime! I simply adored this place.

A couple of days after getting back from Seattle, I was off to a short two day re-treat with the Creative Pursuit Collective, a small handmade business incubator group that I formed with Kyla O'neil of Impressed BY Nature almost two years ago. This was our first re-treat. It was rewarding, challenging, and insightful. We're already planning a mini-one for the middle of the year!

The ladies of the Creative Pursuit Collective (CPC) left to right: Ann Marie, Kyla O-Neil, Laura Bruland Shields, Maggie Hurley, and me! (Not pictured, Creek Lia Van Houten)

The ladies of the Creative Pursuit Collective (CPC) left to right: Ann Marie, Kyla O-Neil, Laura Bruland Shields, Maggie Hurley, and me! (Not pictured, Creek Lia Van Houten)

There's going to be lots of great stuff coming in 2017 for Tangleweeds and I can't wait to share it ALL with you guys. But, first and most relevant given that you're reading my blog right now: I'll be starting a series called Creative Tenacity. It will be a series of monthly or bi-monthly blog posts chock-a-block full of helpful tips and info for anyone hoping to venture into the world of selling their handmade goods. Look for a post with more details about that next week. 

And in the meantime, I hope 2017 is off to an inspiring start for everyone. I know we've all got our challenges and that the road ahead will not always be clear. What I do know is that the more you surround yourself with people who can support you through it all, the little bit easier and more manageable it all becomes. 

Full Circle ~ Early Mornings

Ahh, early mornings! When everything seems possible and the time in the day seems endless. Just dropping in this morning to share some snapshots from the past week. Below is my home workspace - where the administrative part of the biz happens (and some beadwork on the side.)

The sunsets in the bay area have been beyond gorgeous the last few days. This shot is from my front porch in Vallejo. 

And below, a little tease of new work that is coming soon! So soon. I'm photographing my fall/winter collection next week (as long as all goes according to planned). The components below will become a new hoops design. 

That's all for now! I'm off to my monthly small business meeting later tonight. These meetings are always such a great motivator AND a great source of maker camaraderie. Happy Wednesday everyone!

Full Circle ~ The Little Things Make the Big Thing Happen

Mmmmmm, breakfast. I pretty much must have breakfast in order to start my day. It's a 100% necessity for me. And when things get super busy, even then, I still make time for it. I think we all have those things in our life that are non-negotiable, even when life is busy and you don't have enough time in the day for everything that MUST get done, let along slowing down to nourish yourself. While I might fall off of my meditation, or stretching, and god knows I haven't truly exercised in what feels like ages, I'll always make time for breakfast. 

The last two months, I've been working on setting up my wesbshop here on the Tangleweeds website. I knew it was going to be a huge undertaking, and I think it's something I'd been "meaning" to do for probably the last three years. I'm so so happy I finally took the time to do it, as I know in the long run it's really going to pay off. (I'm still keeping my Etsy shop open, so those of you who prefer to shop on that platform still have the opportunity to.)

One of the tricky things about running a small handmade business is that once you're up and running and taking in orders and things are busy, sometimes just maintaining everything feels like all you possibly have time for. Making time to do things that actually grow your business can feel extremely daunting. Because of this, I knew that I needed to do two things if I wanted the opening of the webshop to happen, sooner than a decade from now -

1. I had to set a deadline and stick to it. Now, this wasn't meant to be justification for working through the night, or having no life outside of work until it launched, rather it was a way of allowing myself to cut myself some slack. As long as the "bones" of the shop were good, and everything was set up and functioning in-as-much as was needed to allow folks to make purchases, then it was "good enough." If I didn't set a launch date and stick with it I could have fallen down the rabbit hole of perfecting, perfecting, perfecting. (Another good rule in small business, as it relates to pretty much anything: start with "good enough" and then shoot to make it even better.)

2. The Little Things Make the Big Thing Happen. Or, the title of this blog post =). Seriously tho, I knew that if I only had one hour on a particular day to work on the webshop, well, then, I better use that one hour! Before I even started on the shop I laid out a plan week by week, broken down into day by day, of manageable tasks. As the weeks went by I adjusted expectations accordingly. Breaking BIG goals down into the day-to-day of making it happen often times makes a BIG goal look a lot less scary. (And one of those little things that made the big thing happen was making sure I had breakfast everyday!)

That's it for now folks! I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend. I'm looking forward to spending time with a dear friend on Saturday, and then on Sunday, some time with my older nephew and my sister here in Vallejo. They'll be visiting for the first time since I moved here and I'm pretty darn excited to have them over.