Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I Did It-My Own Cafepress store

Well, after much frustration, it is done.  I invite you to visit my work in progress,  my new online shop for photography gifts and stationary at I am still learning and have made some mistakes, which I am sure is a normal thing to do.  But, it has begun.  My first series of items is called, Summer Pleasures.  I still have a few more things to add so that I can offer some mix and match items. 

It sure took a long time to get rolling, but now I think I have the hang of it.  I made the error of creating many of my first items in the 'create and buy' section. This was a mistake. When you open the store, you may not be able to transfer items that have already been created.  Fortunately, I did not open a Basic shop (you can't transfer from 'create and buy' to a Basic shop) and I was able to eventually transfer the items I already made. It took a little help from the help center at Cafepress. I must say they were prompt and quite helpful.  Thank goodness!

In addition to adding items without text to my Summer Pleasures Collection, I have a few other collections in the works; Sunsets, Butterflies, Flowers-Wild and Garden Variety, and eventually some travel sets.  And somewhere in there, I intend to get my new blog up and running. Realistically, that might not happen until early August and I have some time off coming as I transition out of full time work to self-employed. But it WILL happen.

With only two weeks left at my full time job, I am right on schedule.  Actually, I sort of wish I had begun this part of the process earlier, but what can I say. Life happens!

So, please checkout my online store and let me know what you think.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Progress Continues

Just a quick post tonight.  I have made it through most spring and summer photos and have a back up drive and I am developing a sort of system in keeping up with this.  I would still like to figure out my online back up system, too. 

I have a few designs on CafePress, but did not get my store opened up yet.  It takes time to figure out which photos to use and what, if any, affects I want to use...or if any text.  I will definately post when the store gets open. 

As I continue work with the pictures, I may take another try at entering a couple photos into the National Wildlife Federation annual photo contest.  I did it last year, too.  Even if nothing comes of it, it is good practice. 

What a great day today has been. Began the morning with work on photos, did some yard work and gardening, picked some fresh spinach and lettuce from my garden for our summer salad, and now I am sitting outside enjoying a beautiful summer night and writing. 

So that's it. Short and sweet.  Happy summer!

Monday, June 13, 2011


So, I figure I should write once in awhile to give an update.  I actually did it. I gave notice at my current job and will dive into the world of the self-employed mid-July.  I have been taking a few days off here and there and I can already see some looming issues.  Like, how hard it is to choose between working in my garden and sitting at my desk.  I need to find a way to move my desk outside. At least I can look at my garden and feel inspired.

I have been working on getting my photos organized and trying to choose which to keep in a work file and which to hang on to, well, just because.  I quickly realized that doing six years of photos is a daunting task.  So, after I went through and eliminated some duplicates and did a little reorganizing of years 2005 through the present, I began pulling those I wanted to work with for stationary, etc.  Even that was a big undertaking. I was trying to do too much all at once.  No surprise there!  I decided to just focus on summer photos that I would like to work with and get a few more things onto Cafe Press and Zazzle and open a couple online stores.  I have recently finally gotten around to creating a couple items as test runs and was please how they turned out.  My focus for now; flowers/plants, birds/butterflies, animals, landscapes.  Considering that this list includes most of my photos aside, from family, it is still a big task.  Add to that, labeling and tagging everything....and well you get the idea. 

Still, I am so excited. As the time comes closer to my end date at work, I feel as though I can finally let my creativity flow.  I have kept it stopped up like a cork in a bottle because it was too frustrating to get started a little and then have to shelf things while I worked.

So, there you have it. Not there yet, but getting closer.  Major steps have been taken and progress is underway.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Decision Made

The last time I wrote, I was trying to make a huge decision about whether to quite my full time job now, or try to wait another year.  My decision has been made.  I plan to be leaving my full time job by no later than mid-summer.  There are still a few details to work out as I figure out my exit timeline with my current employer. 
I feel both intense relief, excitement,... and fear.

I have no doubt it is the right decision for me, personally.  I am fearful about the financial aspect of this decision

I have to keep reminding myself I have thoroughly thought it through and have a sound plan. I also remind myself that there are valid reasons of physical and family need that have led me to this choice and that my "dream" business will hopefully provide a chance to have an income and attend to those needs.

So that's it for now. Spring is a very busy time of year at work and I am not sure how much time I will have to write or pursue my dream. Still, I know that time is coming and I am quietly laying a foundation for myself. 

And the picture today is my garden cup.  I spent a wonderful couple hours in my garden today with my husband and daughter.  It has been two years since I have been able to do much gardening and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even with some physical limitations and twinges from my ankle.  I am looking forward to spending time in my garden writing this summer, too.   Happy May Day.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

So Many Decisions...So Many Viewpoints

There are a bazillion people out there on the web, on the shelves in bookstores, and even in person who can tell you the "right way" to do just about anything. And, for them, they may indeed be right. But what about for you, for me? Are they still right?That would be impossible since many of the viewpoints are contrary to each other. They can't all be right, or can they?

You might get lucky and find someone who "speaks" to you and you follow their advice step by step to success and happiness. If so, I think you are one of the lucky ones. More often than not, the ensuing result from seeking answers, may just lead to being overwhelmed with information and getting stuck. You do little or nothing for fear of doing it "wrong." Or, you may get to the point where you have heard enough.  Enough is enough.  It is time to filter through all the advice, then do whatever you think is right for you at the time with the best information you have been able to gather.

Will you always make the right decision?  Probably not. But, hopefully it is better than doing nothing and watching your dreams fade away.  You might even surprise yourself and make a great decision.  However, you will never know if don't do something.

Here are just a few of the questions I have asked myself that have led me to research, and research overload.

-What type of independent business could I do that would be viable?
-Should I do many little businesses or try to lump what I want to do under one umbrella? What would be the unifying mission/theme?
-How would I advertise?  web, blog, newspaper, Facebook.....?
-Blogger, Wordpress, GoDaddy.....?
-One blog or mulitple, webpage?
-What categories?
-Do I have enough useful content to blog?
-What design should I use?
-Should I take graphic design classes?   html classes? 
-How important is design choice?
-Should I do affiliates? How many? What type?
-Should I begin slowly and add on, or wait until I have it all figured out?
-What do I want my pages of whatever I do, to look like?....feel like?
-Should I just up and quite my regular job, go part time somewhere, tough it out as I create this business....?
-How much money should I put aside?
-Am I nuts doing this now?  Should I wait another year or two?

Frankly, I am exhausted just writing that list!  Of course, I found a variety of answers. Some echoed other sources, some were totally opposite from the others. Most were equally well thought out, made good points, and had their own merit. My task then, has been to figure out which answers make sense for me and my circumstances. I believe I have figured out most of it. I have one large hurdle left.

I wish I had a crystal ball because this last hurdle is a doozy.  My major remaining hurdle is deciding whether to quit my full time job now or trying to stick with it for another year. My reasons for needing to leave full time employment are many and go far beyond my wanting to create a new business. In fact, this business was my answer to the need for leaving my full time job and still needing an income. There are many options in between full time and nothing and I am considering them all.  In the meantime, I have limited foward momentum because I don't want to set something up and then not have the time to follow through.

The truth in all of this is that I have discovered that most of the answers I have found from an overwhelming number of people and resources are right...for somebody. In the end, it all boils down to one thing....what is right for me.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Behind the Scenes

It's a winter wonderland out there! About 20 inches of snow fell last week, and we are getting a little more today.
It's a good thing I love the snow, not to mention having an extra day or so off from my 9-5.

Wordpress, Blogger, or ?
I have actually been quite busy trying to educate myself on different blog/web hosting sites. My level of techno-knowledge is close to non-existent so it is a slow process.  Blogger or Wordpress seem to be the top choices for my next blog.  I have to get past the thinking that it is a "forever" choice. 

How Many Blogs and/or Websites?
I have settled on having one or two blogs vs. having many.   I will keep this blog because it is a record of my blogging and business journey and I would like to continue this journal.  I have discovered from other things, that sometimes the more I learn, the less I know. So this blog will provide a good way for me to look back.  And hopefully, it might provide some fodder for others as they begin their blogging and/or entry into the entreprenural world.

Then, I want to create a blog of "place."  I really can't verbalize it just yet, which is the other reason I can't begin it just yet.  I can see the end result, and I am working on the theme, theme statement, and an opening post. I want categories and subcategories on this blog so I am pretty sure it will be a hosted Wordpress blog. I have a plan for the categories laid out and it seems to flow nicely.

If there is to be another blog (oh, I guess that makes three), then it will be strictly business and have references to the blog of "place."  This blog needs some type of service for people to place orders and see what services I offer beyond the stationary. I still need to determine if I will continue to offer outdoor programs to scout groups, etc. and to what extent I want to spend my time doing that. I do think that rather than a blog, this might end up being a regular website and I am looking at GoDaddy for that, and to host the Wordpress blog.

If anybody out there is reading my blog and has thoughts about blogs, websites, hosting services, etc. that might help me decide what to do, I am all ears.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Ok, so I haven't written for a couple of weeks. There was nothing I really wanted to share, or admit to, so I avoided writing.

I hate to admit when my great ideas and plans are not working out so well. I had one wonderful week of plans flowing smoothly, then ....well, I'll spare you the whining. Suffice it to say that I have been derailed, partly by my work schedule and partly by myself and my own response to my work schedule, and other looming issues.

Maybe this is just the reality right now and I have to figure out and narrow down my priorities and focus on them and put blinders on to other creative endeavors, at least for now.  Or, maybe this is just a rough patch and I should keep trying to stick to the plan. It is a good plan and I really want it to work.

Ok, then. I am not ready to give up on the plan. Follow it, modify it, mess it up, be frustrated with it, get back to it, ...but don't give up on it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dulicmer Days and Coyote Time

Welcome to my new year and my new challenge. Technically it is a 28 day challenge, yet I believe this will be a yearlong process. My goal is simple enough, to find a rhythym to my life that fits who I am at this point in my life. Easy right?!  Hardly!
My Dilema
My days are flexible at best. My 9-5 type job covers weekdays, weekends, and weeknights. There are family things I want to be available for, not to mention people I want to spend time with. Then there are things I want to do just because I want to do them, like continue learning to play the dulcimer and do more photography classes. For the business, there is blogging, card making, storefront creating, and so on.  And there is more, but you get the idea. So, what to do?
Lists & Schedules
I have written lists of what I would like to be able to get to and various schedule formats of how I might do all these things. I started with what I knew like work schedules and chiropractic appointments and such. Then I sort of worked the rest in. Writing these lists was as an exercise in possibilities. I am not a schedule follower per se, I am a visual person so seeing it all out there in writing helps me see how things could be worked out a little differently.
Beautiful Music, Getting There
I have been working out this rhythm since the beginning of the year and it is beginning to gel. Eventually all the pieces of my life will play like a beautifully orchestrated piece of music. Right? Well, at least until the next change and then there will be some tweaking of rhythm again.
The First Chorus
Here is what I have found in the first weeks of 2011.
I hope to incorporate these findings and changes into my life, not just for 28 days.
*No Input Time: a 15-30 minute transition relaxation time after getting home from work and doing the care and feeding of dogs and family. There is to be no computer, texting, magazines, etc.  No input.
*Coyote Time: I have named my stationary business Coyote Laughing Stationary so this is what I call time to work on my stationary/blogging/writing business. This is limited to 1 to 1 1/2 hours a night.
*What is The One Thing?: Each night when I am done working on business, I use a dry erase pen to write on a lovely glass picture frame, the one thing I need to do the next day that will get me closest to my goal.
*Family Time: Spend at least one hour a night with family, beyond dinnertime, or at least in an area where I am available.
*Fun Endings:Go to bed earlier so that I can read something just for the fun and enjoyment of reading it and not something for business, or even personal growth.
*Dulcimer Time: Practice dulcimer at least once a week. Dulcimer Time has come to represent any creative release time so it may be something other than, or in addition to playing the dulcimer.
*TV Night: I am in the bad habit of watching waaayyy to much TV, so I am cutting back to one TV night during the week. It is truly amazing how much more time becomes available for other things when the TV gets turned off.

That's it so far. Wish me luck. I'll check back in a week and let you know how it's going and if I have come up with a second chorus yet for Duclimer Days and Coyote Time.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Lessons From the 21 Day Challenge

Well, I'm back!  Life has been pretty good and pretty busy the last few weeks. I have been processing some of the things I learned during my 21 Day Challenge. I promised to share what I learned with you. So, here are some highlights, in sort of shorthand version.  Interestingly, most of what I learned was in the first week of the challenge.

To recap, the challenge was primarily to get me into the habit of doing something every day for my blog and business I am working on starting. In that respect, my challenge was very successful, but not as I imagined it would be. Early in the challenge I was given a large order for stationary from a friend. Much of my challenge was spent on that, which was great! However, I still have a lot to learn about blogging and haven't read or done my online "class" as much as would have liked.

  • Day 1 was all about commitment and sticking to my challenge. I had to be fully present and give it my full attention. And, planning for the next day quickly became essential.
  • Day 2   I realized that having a plan and a specific time set aside to be in my home office each day took away any anxiety of wondering what I would do and when I was going to get to the blog or stationary work. I had a plan. Come home, take care of the dogs, have my own dinner, relax a little, then blog and do stationary. Done! That was it.
  • Day 4 was a biggie. As I began the work on the order, it became very clear that I had been taking two steps forward and one step back since trying to blog and start a business. I was wasting time trying to catch up or relearn my software and was quite frustrated. So my lessons at this time were:
    • #1 Keep current. Use the tools of the trade each day, practice, craft, create...even if there is no order. Here is that word again...."commitment!"
    • #2  Focus. Use a 3x5 card system to keep ideas or some sort of system for future blogging/stationary ideas to prevent overload or forgetting good ideas.
    • #3 Prioritize. Decide the night before what will get me where I need to be. Give it one-two hours a night and then STOP! Sadly, I sometimes found myself working very long hours and getting exhausted with a full time job to get to the next morning. It is important for me to set some boundaries and then work hard within those boundaries of time and space.
  • Day 5 As I learned more about my software possibilities, I learned to track the details of an order I am creating such as what settings, filters, etc. were used. I also learned to keep a hard copy of each thing for my file.
  • Day 6 was a lesson in flexibility when I had computer issues and rather than give up, chose to work on other things instead.
  • Day 7 was all about multitasking. There are good kinds and there are not so good kinds of multitasking. An efficient example is when I am using the paper cutter while other things are printing. Blogging while watching TV is not so good. Insufficient focus is given to either thing and neither is enjoyable and both just consume time. Here it is again, fully present to the task at hand.
Days 8-21 were mostly about putting these lessons into practice and about the details of using my software and keeping records of what I was doing. I think the first week set the stage for the rest of the challenge. 

Even though I haven't been blogging since my last post, I have been working. Well, and to be honest, enjoying time off with my family, too.  My next challenge has already begun and I will tell you about it next time. I hope it will go as well as the first one.