Round like a circle in a spiral,
Like a wheel within a wheel,
Never ending or beginning
On an ever spinning reel…
…Like a clock whose hands are sweepin’
Past the minutes of its face,
And the world is like an apple Whirling silently in space.
Like the circles that you find In the windmills of your mind.
I’m still here.
Even though my last post was written on December 4th, and I’ve been deleting the Google Reminders each week that warn me about missing blogging deadlines….
I’ve been ignoring my blog… because blogging requires deep thoughts and soul searching, unless written under the influence of Sudafed (which I currently am).
All I’ve been able to manage this month has been random silliness on Facebook, and thanking my Etsy customers with quick notes and quicker (free) shipping.
I haven’t been in the mood to talk… and I’m still not in the mood, but this year is officially over, and I owe it to myself and to anyone reading this blog.
Even you, my flat-screen spam stalker ~ I couldn’t find any buyers for your deflated and dull television sets, but you made me laugh! 5 points for Hufflepuff.
December was marked by major changes for our family. My husband no longer works for his company, and I’ve returned to work full-time to cover our expenses. It was a bittersweet decision, because it meant giving up on one personal dream… but in the last few weeks, we’ve reconnected as a family with Joe playing stay-at-home Dad… and old dreams have grown into new dreams.
I’ll confess that I was jealous of him at the start.
Despite knowing how frustrated and disappointed he felt over this split, because he did love his work (just not his manager, who deserves burning coal in his stocking for firing a husband/father three weeks before Christmas)… I tried to be a supportive and encouraging wife, even seeking advice from managers in my store.
But as he dreaded those final days, I saw them as his chance to find new direction, and build a career that he could take pride in.
I’ve been searching for an escape from working retail, trying to summon the courage to QUIT… but Joe was released instead, and I was captured.
He says that I should be grateful that my managers value me so much. They value me just like an exotic animal that can’t survive in its natural habitat anymore. Put me in a nice, safe cage… feed me… and let the people crowd around, gawking at me all day long.
“Look, Mom, there’s a cake decorator. Does she bite? What does she eat?”
“Cake, dear. Of course, she eats cake. Don’t feed her any.”
And to me,
“Can you put pink zebra stripes on this, and write ‘Happy 10th Birthday Shyanne’.”
This was how I felt in December 2011.
But it’s now the wee hours of January 2012, and my feelings have changed. Last year, my most important New Year’s Resolution was “to keep in mind, and continually work towards, my ultimate goal – to grow this career into a full-time family operated business… so Joe can kiss the soul-devouring, mass-crap-producing Retail Giant good-bye.”
Ironic, eh? Joe certainly kissed his soul-devouring job goodbye; perhaps I jinxed him with that resolution.
However, it was never really about Joe. Or me.
It was about us.
So what if I continue to work outside the home?! Together we can make this work!
Joe was always supportive of my Etsy shop, website, blog, and social networking… of course, the fact I’ve been selling paintings and prints has helped to convince him that I’m not wasting my time at the computer *cough*…
But in these last few weeks, he has been reevaluating and searching himself, while we trimmed the Christmas tree (after I brought it down from the attic by myself)… while we celebrated our 4-year-old daughter’s birthday on Christmas Eve… while trying to patch together my poorly planned gingerbread tower… while we assembled and wrapped the gifts I’d squirreled away months earlier.
He found his purpose and passion again, when sawing fallen tree branches from our last major storm… cutting them into neat 3″ round circles, and sanding them smooth. They would make the cutest natural Christmas tree ornaments for next year. He found a larger log to cut into wooden plaques, and wants to add tripod legs so they’ll stand on a shelf.
He also picked up the camera again after a long haitus… most likely because I haven’t had any time to hoard it. LOL
I was reminded of how we met, six years ago ~ he had recently purchased the Pentax *istDL that we still use, along with a few lenses and filters, and was always looking for an opportunity to test them out. One of our first dates was actually a planned photo-shoot. In the snow.
It was freezing, and I was wearing those ridiculous white stockings that a DeviantArt buddy insisted would “make me famous” (yeah, famous with foot fetish stalkers! Thanks, Vlad!) … standing in the snow in stockinged bare feet, wearing a broom skirt, cotton blouse, and velvet throw blanket draped over my head…. while this guy I knew casually from work snapped pictures of me that we’d later upload to my online stock modeling account.
It was cheesy, impractical, and romantic. And we went on to many more dates, and took many darned good photos.
I couldn’t have known that we’d wind up married with 2 kids, though.
Seeing him so inspired made me realize that we could still make our dreams come true… we could collaborate on a photography art business. I’ve been teaching him the ropes: how to list items, photograph them, manage the back-end of an Etsy shop, what Treasuries, Front Pages, and Circle Activity is all about.
All these cutesy titles ran through my head for our new shop name, particularly Jet-Fly Photos… using his initials and my name. But that would imply we shoot aviation photography, right?
In the end, he suggested we simply use my old name, TaraFlyPhotos, since it was an established business already.
I could no longer use it on Etsy, as I’d changed my shop’s name to TaraFlyArt, so we registered TaraFlyPhotography on Etsy, added an avatar and banner, and that’s all she wrote for now.
In the coming weeks, we will be selling photographic prints, taken by Joe and myself, and edited by me in Photoshop. Many will be nature related, but you’ll find some architectural studies and portraits too. Everything will be printed and packaged here in our studio, just like my cat artwork is.
I’m considering moving my collection of Regency art photographs over to the new shop, just to keep things consistent, as they aren’t cat related… but I’ll have to see what my customers think. They are fairly popular, and people already know where to find them.
One change I’m planning to make in both shops ~ an upgrade in the quality of paper I use for reproduction prints. I’m currently using Ultra Premium Presentation matte paper, and while it’s highly rated photo paper and lovely, I want something more substantial and Wow-worthy.
After receiving a free pack of Signature-Worthy Premium paper from Epson as a promotion, I fell in love with the Hot Press and Cold Press matte papers. Hot Press is very smooth, like my original UPPP, but much thicker and with a nicer feel. Cold Press is a textured watercolor type of paper that made photographs look almost like paintings.
I’ve already ordered a few packs to start off, and when they arrive next week, I will revise my listing descriptions. There will also be a slight price increase, which is totally worth it when you see these new prints!
As far as New Year’s Resolutions… I have no idea where this year will take us. I will be working full-time and trying to manage two shops, although I hope to get outdoors and do a few Farmer’s Markets and shows this year. (I said that last year!)
I fell short on my goals for 2011 ~ at least on paper. I didn’t blog twice a week, nor did I list a new item every day, get my Zazzle shop updated completely, or add a press kit to my site.
However, I did manage to acquire a wholesale account, find new avenues to showcase my art, participate in a charity auction, upgrade my website to WordPress, upload videos of my studio, sell bookmarks, cards, prints, and a few original paintings (including Madonna Cat), and jinx my husband into becoming my business partner.
What I really want for this New Year, in 2012?
I want to be happy.
The Mayans may be predicting gloom and doom, but I’m predicting this will be my best year yet!
“Always something new, always something I didn’t expect, and sometimes it isn’t horrible.” ~ Rand Al’Thor, The Great Hunt
Someone once optimistically said, “No news is good news”… and I hate to disillusion them, but it isn’t always the truth. In my case, “no news” is usually bad news because I hate sharing my weaknesses and worries with the whole world.
And since I have a blog online, I mean quite literally … the whole world.
Everyone has access to my thoughts and musings here; friends, family, bosses, co-workers, my landlady, my neighbors…. there are times I wish my blog were as ‘private’ as Facebook…. (and yes, I see the irony of that statement!) with a system in place to ‘filter’ the news I share.
But that defeats the purpose of an online journal, huh?
Perhaps in light of real catastrophes such as tornadoes, terrorists, zombies, nuclear power leaks, raptures, and Canadian postal strikes… someone could help me to see things in perspective.
In the past, I’ve dealt with stress by over-sleeping, fasting (erm, okay… starving), throwing myself into hobbies, love-affairs, or immersing myself in fantasy novels.
I mean, how can somebody complain about chocolate syrup on the carpet, when an evil entity is breaking free from his immortal captivity to destroy creation?
Or the fact that my once-immaculate house is crawling with ants, if somewhere an army of blood-thirsty monsters are wreaking slaughter on a village of unsuspecting farmers?
So what if my children throw temper tantrums over their cereal, or refuse to eat dinner? A cursed Blight might turn fresh food rotten, poison crops with incurable disease, and spread famine and death across the country….
It’s so easy to lose oneself in the sufferings of people who never existed.
“Almost dead yesterday, maybe dead tomorrow, but alive, gloriously alive, today.”
~ Mat Cauthon, Fires of Heaven
Okay, I have a confession: I’ve recently resumed my former love-affair with James Ridney Jr.
My husband knows all about it… and his attention has been diverted with re-runs of “LOST”, that he doesn’t care why I’m awake at 3:00AM with another man.
If you aren’t intimately familiar with Mr. Ridney already, please click this link first….
and for pity’s sake, put that red letter away.
I’ve been completely absorbed in reading “The Gathering Storm” and “Towers of Midnight”, which were actually written by Brandon Sanderson with copious notes and drafts left behind by the late author.
Averaging 100 pages per day, once a conservative number for this avid bookworm, is now consuming virtually all of my ‘free time’ for the last two weeks. For a series whose books range between 760-1000 pages in length.
I haven’t abandoned my artwork completely…. as, well… um…. as this new distraction inspired me to create bookmarks!! See?!? ROFL
Michelle, from The True Book Addict has been trying to persuade me to make some. So there ya go, Michelle! LOL
Painting and creating art, once considered a hobby, has become ‘work’ to me – something that needs to be done.
And as a true procrastinator, anything ‘needing to be done’ is avoided as long as possible.
However the time may come, sooner than I’m prepared for, when creating art and struggling to keep an organized house may take a backseat to a job with a steady income.
“The men in my family are strong because the women in my family kill and eat the weak ones.”
~ Robert Jordan
Joe’s boss gave him some potentially devastating news about his future with the company. In a gutsy way, no less.
On a Friday afternoon… 2 days before Father’s Day (what a terrific way to celebrate being a Dad, huh?)… and coincidentally after the HR dept. had already left for the weekend.
Having received a pat on the back and a “good ol’ boy” annual raise at his yearly evaluation in March, the news came as an unexpected slap in the face. We spent the whole of last weekend re-connecting as a family, trying to cheer him up, making lemonade from … cat poop.
Of course, nothing has been determined yet… and we won’t know anything for certain until later this summer… but I tossed my cards on the table and offered to return to work full-time in retail management if the worst happens.
It opens a whole undesirable can of worms, though…. not least of which would be integrating the kids back into the daycare system.
We never had success with daycare, having gone through 3 sitters in one year, and we’ve scratched our heads at everyone else who makes it look so easy.
Being halfway across the country from our nearest relatives doesn’t make babysitting struggles any easier.
Who can you affordably find to watch young children every weekend AND every major holiday?
What about 4:00AM on Black Friday?
Or 6:00AM on New Year’s Day?
What happens when they catch a stomach bug, or a fever, and daycare cannot (by law) accept them until they’ve recovered? Mild fevers and loose stools can last for days.
I’ve been written up by my supervisor for missing work due to sick kids, or cancelled daycare.
We seriously do NOT want to repeat that drama again…. or the confrontations with sitters because my workload or unforeseen event caused me to run late picking them up.
This potential threat to our situation also means I probably won’t be participating in that 40,000+ attendee arts & crafts festival I had hoped to do this fall.
The investment required for buying printing supplies en masse, frames and mats, cellophane bags, etc. might well be recouped if my prints and paintings sell well.
But I’m not a gambler.
I don’t want to spend extra money at a crucial time when we need to conserve it.
There is a small selfish part of me that wants to take over as breadwinner, and force Joe to remain home with the children …. I want to come home from my gruelling 12+ hour workday, plop onto the couch and watch TV or read for a couple of hours, until I fall asleep.
Naturally, I’ll let him worry about putting the kids to bed.
And waking them in the morning. Fixing their meals. Cleaning their messes.
And every tantrum and fight in between.
But then, I’d have to give him an allowance, and watch him blow it on “stuff” for his entrepreneurial ventures, and listen to him whine about “not having any time” to cultivate his online business….
knowing that if he managed his time as effectively as I managed my inventory of tuna fish and applesauce, he’d put the fantasy novel away and get his butt back into the studio!
If the Pattern wills it, we will trade places, and he can finally build some of those wooden pieces he has been promising me ~ since our first date!
If we’re blessed, things will remain as they are, and I’ll continue to whine about the kids, the cats, the chores, and how stressed out I am.
Until the sun sets, and we all turn into monsters and eat our neighbors.