Monday, October 20, 2014

Be Like A Weed


This is what I'm telling myself as I look at yet another mess of bead boards full of false starts.  I have definitely learned that too much stress kills my ability to bead. Oh...the design ideas are still there but putting thread to bead is like climbing Everest for me.

I'm stuck doing mundane responsibilities and tackling stress inducing issues, a lot of which come from being in depression stasis for so long. The ripples that come from an event can be as devastating as the event itself. BUT I'm holding my own. Haven't crumbled. Haven't hidden in the closet with a blankie.  Though I am going blank for a few hours each day....ZombieMikki!

I try to focus on good things.....my orchids, the fresh growth of my deck garden, getting back to cooking/baking and, of course, Ms. Bella. Today I celebrated the opening of a new flower on my only currently flowering oncidium....however last night I found new growth and even new flower spikes on my two 'dormant' ones.  Not so dormant after all!


I did order beads yesterday for a design I've had in mind for well over a year so I'm still hopeful. And I do have an idea for it that might make it kittable but that also means getting out the sewing machine.  Cryptic, aren't I? But you know how it goes, you have to keep new ideas under wraps or someone will steal them.  And I have an idea for a new polymer focal that would become a kit too. I guess that's how I do see my business growing, specialized kits, that is kits with a component you can't find anywhere else.  

While my designs are doable for beginner to intermediate beaders, especially if they have a video class, I think I lean toward the advanced beader.  That's not a bad thing in my book. It seems there is so much out there that is aimed at the beginner beader or the beader who wants something they can make in a day or two while watching TV. However, for the beader who wants a challenge, who craves to learn something new it seems their choices are limited.....taking a class with a top designer who has a new technique tops the choices but classes like that are not cheap given you may have to travel to them too.  I think the next best thing is a custom kit with a tutorial and video class....so that's my goal for 2015. Providing I finally get the ability to put thread to bead back.

I guess one good thing with the beading stasis is as I find some unfinished piece of beading that wasn't going anywhere I'm ripping it up and sorting the beads...replenishing stock without having to buy.

The new store is being worked on and is looking good....new photos or just re-editing old ones is giving everything a better look. I've definitely managed to breathe new life into some of the older, not-so-noticed designs. And at least it makes me feel like I'm achieving SOMEthing!  I've always been such a productive person so not producing makes me feel like a failure.

It will all come back. I have to trust in that.





Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Loss of Value in Our Dystopian World

I woke up sporadically during the night with 'value' on my mind. Specifically the value of human beings but realizing that's the root of the issue that causes so much 'trickle down devaluation' resulting in the dystopian society we've created.

Yeah....this stuff keeps me awake at night.
So if you're looking for eye candy today....sorry.

We tend to think of 'dystopian worlds' to be just something of fiction.....and there are a lot of those worlds being written about and made into movies these days, think "Hunger Games" or "Divergent". (Interesting that so often it's a teen age girl who is the hero...at a time when women are having to fight for their rights again).

"A dystopia (from the Greek δυσ- and τόπος, alternatively, cacotopia, kakotopia, or anti-utopia) is a community or society that is in some important way undesirable or frightening. It is the opposite of a utopia. Such societies appear in many artistic works, particularly in stories set in a future."

I read a lot of dystopian novels simply because they feel more realistic to me than some Hollywood, happy ending, Prince Charming-saves-the-day, product placement drivel.   Also like the comedy of 'The Daily Show' and 'The Colbert Report' they are based on what is actually happening in our society right now.

If you aren't frightened by what's going on in our society right now and don't find it undesirable then you aren't paying attention.

The value of human life and the quality of it has dropped immensely in the past few decades. Money has become 'God'. Love is now for things not people. People have become expendable, dignity and personal choice...collateral damage. If you don't believe me go work in a long term care facility...the people doing the caring are so underpaid it's ridiculous and that means the level of care suffers. The elderly and sick are cast aside like waste. 
People are stepping stones to be used up and tossed aside, it's survival of the cold hearted, the ruthless.....the people who will make you promises and throw you under the bus in the next second.

And we often don't even wait to be devalued by others...we do it to ourselves. Every time we allow someone to treat us without respect, watch them treat others without respect and say nothing, do nothing we are contributing to the dystopia. Watch for people who accuse you of hurting them or being a terrible human being because you shared the bad thing they did with someone else...like any abuser they don't want their 'sin' shown and they will accuse you of anything and everything in an effort to make you seem unbelievable. I've always believed people with nothing to hide, hide nothing. 

Ok...so what has this got to do with beading you ask? Because this is a beading blog...right? 

The beading world is part of the rest of the world so it's relevant.
I did an experiment with my new store to see how I could offer free tutorials, which in future will be offered to my customers and not the world in general. Once I found that my store did not allow downloads without payment I was really happy and changed the section heading to "Free with Purchase" and that was working fine....people who bought from me were able to add the free tutorial to their cart.  However, a couple of people have found a way around it....and are disregarding the "with Purchase".  It totally saddens me. They place no value on me or my work. And that's fine....it just means I'll do something differently...figure out how to lock that door to the free loaders.

Now don't get me wrong....I do believe in people seeing what they are buying...a style of writing that works for them. However, I want to reward my paying customers...because I value YOU!  

I could have called this post "It's a Two-Way Street" because that's how I feel these days.  Enough of the "I don't want to feel beholden for everything you've done for me" meaning "I just want to take not reciprocate" attitude. 
I am so guilty of mis-placed generosity it's frightening.

How else do we devalue ourselves?  I often get messages or emails from people because I complimented a piece of their work saying "coming from you it means a lot".  Is that because I'm so gosh darned brilliant? Nope....it's simply because I don't go around ooing and ahhing, "Awesome!!!!"-ing everything I see posted on Facebook. I really look at something....is the design sound, colors well done, does it move me? Is it original? I don't say something is bad, I keep my mouth shut or fingers off the keyboard.
My point is: If everything is "awesome" then the value of "awesome" is gone. It  can be a great feeling to have someone compliment your work by saying "It's beautiful, brilliant design" and then you see them say the same thing to the most ugly, bad designed thing you've ever seen or the most simple, trite thing and their opinion diminishes.  It's lost it's value.

The generation that came after mine seemed to get so much of this....being told they were great when they were just average...or worse. I'd feel badly for them....set up for a life of not making the grade when they hit the real world. But it seems to have bred a sense of entitlement and a lowering of standards, it's rare to see good work ethic any more.  I remember 10 or 12 years ago hiring for a seasonal position and a sixteen year old showing up for an interview with an application form stating he expected to be paid $15 an hour plus full benefits...I laughed.   

A good thing I saw yesterday....cos let's finish this ramble on society with something hopeful. 

The local news was actually encouraging trade schools, saying not everyone needs to get a bachelor's and a master's degree. They compared salaries of someone coming out of university after 4 to 6 years with that of someone who learned a trade...and I'm sure a lot of people changed their mind about university.  They showed people working with their hands...blue collar stuff...wonderful!
Because....if our world goes the way of the dystopian novels those are the people who will survive and flourish....the people with skills. The people who know how to spin wool, weave fabric, make clothes over those who know how to swipe a credit card and buy something. The people who know how to feed themselves, hunt, forage, grow. The people who can make and fix things. 

And there is a rebellion coming. History tells us that. 

I'd love to say that we could turn it all around by valuing each other but I think it's too late. I'll continue to value people, see their worth and reward it as I can but my time of valuing the people who only see worth in what they can get for free is over.  I relocated to "Two Way Street".








Tuesday, October 7, 2014

BEST. THING. EVER!!!!!

That's how I feel about my new store over at Indiemade.

IndieMade.com Websites Made Easy for Artisans

Having instant download...finally...is heaven!
The tools make my life and my customers' so much easier.....I can track what each customer buys and so can they, they can even download again (up to 5 times) if they lose things in a hard drive crash....or they are travelling and downloaded it to their desktop but not to their tablet and somehow they ended up in a bead store (how does that happen?) and they don't have the supply list they need.

It gives me projections for the month so I can easily check to see if I'm on track.
I get to link up my blog, have a newsletter sign up, link you to my YouTube channel.
Also what I've wanted to be able to do for a while....the ability to list a "Free with Purchase" tutorial. This gives me a way to reward people who shop with me regularly....I'd like to do a monthly freebie that can be added to your cart.

Some of my friends are opening Indiemade stores too....here's Suzi Campbell's


And here's Heather Collin's


And, of course, mine :)



Click on the pictures to go to the stores


If you have an Etsy store and are sick of the large sums of money you pay them each month you might want to join us over at Indiemade.
If you have digital product that needs instant download the plans start at $12.95 a month for up to 100 products.....and go to $19.95 for up to 300 products. Say bye-bye to listing fees and Etsy commissions....load up 100 at a time.....it won't cost you 100 x 20c and you won't have to watch your stock all the time. And you get your first month free to try it all out.

Interested.....click on the image below or the one at the top to go to Indiemade and check it out for yourself....I think you'll like it.

IndieMade.com Websites Made Easy for Jewelry Designers

What they don't have is forums and guilds so if you're looking for that kind of community it's not here. However....that said...there is an Indiemade group on Facebook and I've just asked to join and we could always start our own Indiemade seller group.













Saturday, October 4, 2014

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes(Turn and face the strain)Ch-ch-Changes
Don't want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes(Turn and face the strain)Ch-ch-Changes
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can't trace time


Oh yeah! Definitely a period of change for me.

I've always liked change, my birth numbers mean "Create, create change".
Which pretty much means I either rock the boat and be a lightening rod creating change around me or I'm sitting in a change booth in a Las Vegas casino.
As I'm not in Las Vegas or any kind of casino then I'm stuck being a boat rocker.

I've had to change aspects of my personality lately just to survive and now I'm actually at the point of enjoying the changes. Of course the biggest one was to quit being a doormat, helping anyone who asked without even demanding it be a two-way street. Apparently you have to demand or people will just assume you are their utility.  Deciding once and for all I'm not on the planet to be used, that what I know and my time are valuable commodities has been a hard fought battle but it is now won.  Just gonna have to be a different (wo)man.



I embrace change. I cut my hair off, dyed it blonde. I moved the furniture in my house into a new layout. I changed the things I have around me. I changed my interaction with people. I changed aspects of my business. 

But the biggest surprise for me and maybe the most difficult change was my store. I've always been a cheerleader for Artfire, always loved it, it served me well. I was happy enough to be patient and wait for them to do the upgrades I needed to keep my business current.

And then this week they changed it.
And it wasn't good.
In fact it's downright hideous and unworkable.
Not all change is good.



Artfire has always told us how branding our stores, creating something customers easily recognize is extremely important. And yet this week they took that away from us and we aren't getting it back. I won't be allowed to use my lovely new banner that matches my blog and FB page....ya know so I'm branded. Masses of tools and abilities have been removed.  It's a nightmare.

So I was going to have to embrace a whole lotta change and at the end of it my price was going to jump from $10.95 a month to $40 (or even $60) a month AND I wasn't going to get the upgrades I needed to keep my business competitive.

Well...if I was going to have to embrace that much change and not get what I needed it was time to go shopping for a new venue. And I found one!
After lots of comparison shopping, reading reviews, etc. I decided Indiemade was the right place for my store. So you will now find me:


The best thing about the new store, and there are many great things, is it has instant download which not only allows my customers to control when they get their product (it doesn't matter if I'm snoring away at 2am) but also frees up my time to work on more tutorials. Double YAY!

I think the next best thing is it allows me to create a newsletter and have my customers sign up for it right at the store. I've wanted to do a newsletter for a while now but was overwhelmed by it....but here it's pretty simple.

Another great thing is it lets me track my customers' purchases....before if you asked me "Did I buy this already?" I couldn't tell you without spending lots of time searching through e-mails. Now I can just look you up. And if your hard drive crashes (it happens all too often) and you lose all your tutorials I'll have a record of those you bought through the store so we can get you stocked back up. 

I will also be able to at least have a page of my free YouTube video links if not have them play right there, I still need to research this, but just a page with the links is a huge improvement.

I catch myself giggling and laughing a lot the last couple of days as I get my store up and running....it's exciting and I feel like I'm stepping out of the stone age into the space age. Of course, it's a huge amount of work because I have to basically cut and paste every listing and photo from Artfire to Indie because nasty Artfire won't allow people to leave easily....they won't let you create an item CSV for export. Oh, they are happy to use the exported CSVs from Etsy and the like but they won't make it easy for you to leave.

I have 30 listings in my store this morning which means I have about 100 more to go....but the store is usable and reports are that it works wonderfully. My photos just look like crap and will need to be changed but priority is getting all the tutorials listed.  

While this is all going on:

Artfire.
You can purchase tutorials at the Artfire store as a BOGO....so buy one and get another (same value or less) free by letting me know your free selection in the  'Notes to seller' using the 'contact seller' button or messaging me on Facebook.
Purchases will come the old fashioned way within 24 hours.

Indiemade.
As I can't really do a BOGO there because there isn't enough choice yet I've created a coupon INDIEMIKKI which will get you 50% off....and of course, you get instant download here :)

I had hoped to get back to some tutorial writing this week but obviously best laid plans of mice and men....  But at least this all didn't happen in the midst of my depression when I wouldn't have been able to handle it and would have crawled under the bed permanently. I definitely feel I am on my way back now. 

All this change is a good thing. 
I'm getting my laugh back....and smirking quite a bit too (cos I know someone who would have been in my message box 24/7 wanting help with all this).
And that, I believe, is Karma!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Baby Step Cha Cha


My Baby Orchid.

Yep things are all baby around here....even though I want to grow up already.
Venturing out of the apartment is looming as the need for groceries rears it's ugly head again and it's preceded by dropping Bella off at the groomers.
But that's tomorrow so I can still breathe easier today. I may take a baby step across the road to the market to help prep me for the venture out tomorrow.

The good news is my plan is working...making the polymer fangs has me beading again with tutorials in mind.  There's still that lump in my throat as I think about writing and know I have to start small so I can have a success that will give me courage.  I find I'm still beating myself up a bit at being played for a fool (I still don't get how those people live with themselves, using people who have been nothing but kind and helpful to them) but I think I'm venting some of it out now. I can now see the glimmer of 'fight back' mode, and what that means for me is always putting my creativity out there...doing something original.


I now have maybe a couple of hundred fang beads...I should open a store!
I'm joking, I have an Artfire store but annoyingly as I was ready to begin listing the fangs all packed in the box which are priced, sized and photographed the site is experiencing issues and is running so slowly the gateways to publish timed out. Grrr!  Baby step forward, baby step back, cha cha cha.

As I couldn't do that I picked up the beads to experiment with what can be done with the fangs.....ideas are beginning to add up, here's a couple of sneak peeks.



The more I work with the fangs the more possibilities I see. Polymer is so much more versatile than glass when it comes to adding extra holes which is something very desirable for bead weaving and maybe even bead embroidery where the need for glue would be eradicated. 

My creativity is flowing a lot more like normal and I'm making progress but I am still held back by the agoraphobia.....I wish it was gone already!  Not being able to get out and do things I need to do is causing me anxiety attacks and insomnia.  I just have to be glad my business eeked through another month and I still have a roof over my head and can buy what I need....things could always be worse. 

So today I build up courage to go out into the big wide world full of people again. Preparation H day......cos it's a huge pain in the butt!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Fangholes!!!"



Both a need and a expletive this morning as I find my agoraphobia leading the way.  When I make polymer beads I make them on a mandrel but I like to redo the hole with my Dremel....so they are clean and uniform. The problem is I have not been able to locate the drill bits so I can do this. I broke down a few days ago and ordered new ones which have been sitting in my mailbox since lunchtime yesterday. However, the agoraphobia is not letting me leave my apartment to go get them. Frustrating!

I spent all yesterday afternoon and evening trying to work up the courage to go get them with no success. I know it's because I had to leave the apartment three days in a row when I wasn't doing so well that has knocked me backwards. And I know if you have never suffered with agoraphobia you'll think I'm nuts...."just go already!".  Here's what it's like. 

First there's the need to open the door which comes with the irrational thought that the door knob is hot and I'll be burned. Quickly followed by the crazy thought that I won't be able to open the door and I'll be trapped in my apartment which is so contrary I agree on the 'nuts' part.  But these are just diversions against the real fear.....people. Having to interact with people.  I may have to say hello to a neighbor or worse, bump into my chatty property manager who, I know, will want to talk about my going blonde....and. I. just. can't. handle. it.   I get the shakes, walls and floors ebb and flow like a rough sea and the big fear, a full blown panic attack.
Now if you've never had a panic attack you won't understand that either.

Panic attacks have caused me to leave places...rapidly. Full grocery carts get left.....every time I see an abandoned grocery cart I wonder if that person shares my debilitation. If I can't get away....flight because fight isn't working then I may start hyperventilating so bad someone decides to rush me to hospital....yes, it has happened.  

I haven't been as bad as this for years.....maybe twenty years even. A bad depression brings it all back in full force and all the self-lecturing, pleading, 'be brave-ing' I do isn't enough. 

I wonder if I got a burka if it would make me feel better. It actually looks like a solution to me....a burka just screams "unapproachable" and it's a lot like hiding under the blankets....just in public. And I can even buy one online for $29.99! I might do it other than I'm sure homeland security would be triggered into action.



So here I sit writing it all out, trying to overcome the fears and find some courage. Just to go to the freaking mailbox! I totally want to hit myself up the side of my head. 



Update:   So.....I did it. I formed a plan....back fire exit stairs, behind the building path, behind the pool out at the mailbox, grabbed my mail (and posted Mom's letters), back behind the pool...then the mad dash on the main drag (can't get back in the fire exit), into the elevator and home! I hyperventilated the whole way, legs shaking so much I had to sit down as soon as I got home...but only for a couple of minutes before I had to dash to the bathroom to throw up. Still shaking but it is done.




Sunday, September 21, 2014

Doing the Hokey Pokey with a Peg Leg


Sounds like I'm having fun, right?
Well, the 'Depression Hokey Pokey' isn't exactly fun but a stage you go through on the road to recovery. It's when, because you are feeling better you try to do or even think about doing, something you used to do (put your right foot in) and realize you're not up to it (put your right foot out) and get severely shaken by it (shake it all about).

That happened to me yesterday.
The local bead show is on so there are things I'd like to shop for and people I'd like to see. I thought in the middle of last week in the midst of happiness due to creating with clay that I was ready, contacted a friend to see if she was going and made tentative plans. I started to seize up Friday afternoon....the blank spot started to set in and time was passing with no motion from me. Now, I try and think of it in terms of something fun so it doesn't send me deeper to depression so I regard the blank spot as 'The Black Spot' and in my head I go all 'piratey' (aye Matey).  Of course you can't do this in the depths of depression but once you're recovering any humor you can find you have to use.

The Black Spot creeps up, it started Friday afternoon, gave me weird dreams and woke me Saturday morning with anxiety. I sat myself down and asked myself what the anxiety was about and the answer was the bead show.
I messaged my friend and said I wasn't up to it, she understood but said to call her if I changed my mind.....as I typed the reply that I would see how I was after my shower I immediately started to hyperventilate. Nope. Wasn't going to happen.

It's frustrating. Because I feel better, I feel like I should be able to go out and be social.....but, it just ain't that easy.

I lost yesterday to staring at the wall, picking work up and immediately putting it down and found comfort in mindless video games.  I play video games during depression because I know that they do exercise my brain even though I'm pretty much zoned out.

Getting Back On the Horse

Below are the first pieces I was able to bead in my 'Great Depression'.
I had to pull out one of my own tutorials for the PonDuo stitch because I couldn't remember how to bead it. The bracelet came first and then the pendant. The pendant reminded me of the 'Bastille', the French prison and so both these pieces take that name.  Art is about the creative soul and it's interesting what comes out when that soul is depressed...for me it pulled up the feeling of being trapped.


The crystal in the pendant does shine through it's cage and it gave me hope.


The Fangbanger Pendant came next and as my friend Mary Byberg said it's from my "Bite Me" period.  And I have to agree...when people aren't nice I tend to respond by just being a creative bitch (and the fangs here set me off on a true road to recovery playing with clay).


I saw my next design as a compass...me looking for direction...but many people told me it looked like a shield and that seemed right too. It also has a zen quality to it which was somewhat intentional...the drop was designed to have an Oriental feel.


All the pieces I have beaded in this period have been hard fought battles in that I don't feel the love for the beads that I did. I still have to shake the association of beads to the bad stuff that made me depressed.

Playing with the polymer clay and coming up with a line of fangs has been the best thing for me. It encourages me to bead and makes me see the way back to tutorial writing. But this weekend I have learned I still have a ways to go.

So right now I'm the peg legged pirate with the Black Spot doing the hokey pokey with my horse at the ready.
That's what it's all about. Arr!