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.

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 ~ 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. 

Birthday Celebrations

Last week was my 35th birthday. It was full of flowers, cats, friends, good food, and time to just chill out. I'm feeling very grateful, if contemplative as I move into my 35th year. I recently picked up the book The Folded Clock (a diary-memoir of sorts) by Heidi Julavits and randomly flipped open to a spot ( I often do this when trying to decide if I actually want to buy the book). The spot I landed upon had Julavits reflecting on time and what time means to her now. As she exposits on time she starts to realize that the shortest period of time that really has any meaning to her is a month. A day goes by like a flash, a week fills up so quickly, but a month is where there is still some open expansiveness to what can be done, what can be accomplished. I am of course paraphrasing, but I definitely found myself relating to it quite heavily. 

That last photo is of Otis. On occasion he will sleep like this. I find it infinitely hilarious. It's like he's so tired he couldn't even take the time to lay his head down and instead just dropped it straight down the moment he curled up on the blanket. Now that the birthday celebrations have passed, I'm feeling a bit like this myself as I move into looking for a new place and preparing for an unintended move in the next month or two. Wish me luck! With rental prices continuing to sky rocket here in Oakland and the neighboring cities, there is a very real chance I'll be moving to the outskirts of the bay area. 

It's going to be an adventure. (I tell myself half-convincingly.)

Full Circle: A Jewelry Filled Week

This week is sort of a flurry of jewelry making. When you run a small handmade business there is so much to tend to that is not the actual action of creating your art or craft. It's actually easy for a whole work day to quickly fill up without a minute at the workbench. This week has been the exact reverse of that for Tangleweeds. Many of you took advantage of my last Etsy sale, there's been wholesale orders to ship, and Wallflower (in San Francisco) needs a re-stock (especially of these Dance earrings directly below.) Crammed into the cracks and crevices of my time not spent at the workbench has been time spent planning for the year ahead. . . 

So far this year's themes seems to be

1. learning how to more quickly and effortlessly pivot with my business (and in life in general)

2. taking the time to strategize and plan before I forge ahead with new ideas and goals

Just some thoughts on this sleepy Tuesday morning. Have a beautiful week everyone!

Full Circle : A Pastel Spring

Ahhh, Mondays! I know it might sound crazy, but I love Mondays. I love the potential that a new week brings. I'm either refreshed by a weekend off spending time with loved ones, going on small, local adventures, and tackling random projects or I'm revved up from all the great energy from my lovely customers and collectors who have visited me while I was vending at a craft fair or other event. 

That's not to say that everything is hunky-dory right now. There are things right now that are really driving me up a wall with frustration. But, ultimately, they are showing me how to live my lie and relax into it even when I can't control everything. Especially when I can't control everything. 

Looking over my photos from last week, the main unifying theme I was seeing was pastels! I am currently obsessed with all pale colors, and I think it's showing in my wardrobe, my displays, and the new wall hangings I've been making on a whim (see the second photo from the top.) Those wall hangings are hopefully going to make it into my Etsy shop in the next week or two. 

In the meantime, happy Monday everyone!

Full Circle: Take Time to Slow Down

Those of you who know me well, know I hit a bit of a road bump in February with my living situation. (Don't worry, all is well now!) During those tumultuous times I find it's even more important to take some time to just slow down. 

I'm gonna keep it short and sweet on this Wednesday. That photo of the natural dye books is hopefully a foreshadowing of new things to come for Tangleweeds. It's too soon to say for sure, but it's fun experimenting regardless! Happy hump day everyone!

Full Circle ~ Colors in Town

The last week was lovely. I think I'm starting to find more of my own rhythm with work and the rest of life now that I'm living on my own. It's tricky at times; I thought there would be ample time for everything, only for life to show me that time is still a finite resource. Sometimes the obvious lessons in life have to be learned over and over again =). 

from top to bottom:
1. a gorgeous aloe plant in my neighborhood
2. my cozy reading corner in my cottage
3. blue rosemary flowers matching the blue of my dress
4. some Swoops earrings in mid-production
5. out at Point Isabel for an afternoon stroll

I hope everyone had a great three day weekend (if you had Monday off.) My week is busy, but I'm promising myself that I can stop and slow down and even take a nap when need be!