Monday, February 28, 2011

On Health

I remember reading somewhere that health is not simply defined as the absence of disease, and I buy that. One can be ticking along, earning a living, doing the day to day thing seemingly well, but something can be just...off. We can forget that we are the first person to receive feedback on the status of our mind, body and spirit. Consequently, we ignore certain signs indicating that equilibrium has been lost.

I have, for months, had a lack of zest for life. I've been calling it a low-grade depression; I know severe depression, and this ain't it, though I'm sure they are cousins. So I was thinking I was fine, you know, sort of okay. But I don't want to be just sort of okay. I want vitality. I want to thrive and I want to enjoy life. I want energy! I want to get up in the morning as the blue bird of happiness, not just a blue bird.

While I do laugh at cynical smart-alecky humour and enjoy a good bout of melancholy, I am actually a hopeful and positive person. In the past year, however, I was angry for many months in a row followed by several months of meh. I find I'm battling the parts of my personality that rear their ugly head when I'm out of balance; negativity, doubt, laziness, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, staggering self-criticism, and unproductive perfectionism. This is not me on my best of days.

Also, I've just had no get-up-and-go. I'm asking not "what," but "where is my motivation?" I can't concentrate much, my brain feels foggy and I've been pretty forgetful. Clearly I must do something.

I've had a few false starts with trying to get back on track, but I've decided to try again. This time I'm starting with changing my diet and seeing if that has any positive effects. This involves cutting out alcohol, caffeine, sugar and yeasted breads (the list actually goes on a bit from there) for now. All are much more difficult to give up than I imagined, and I'm only on day 3 of the new regime. Sadly, no merlot, or sauvignon, or stout, or manhattans, or gimlets for me.

The next step towards health is getting out there and socializing, which is something I've been neglectful of because A) I didn't feel I had much to contribute to social situations (see above re negative personality traits) and B) I'm on a limited budget. This is clearly a cycle of doom which I must put the breaks on.

Oh, and did I mention I'm doing a colon cleanse? Fun times. TMI?


Yours truly,

Merlot




Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Up and running...or walking at an easy pace.

So I did it. I listed a couple of things on Etsy.com in my new shop merlottricot. It isn't three things like I announced in a previous post - yet - and it didn't happen by Friday. Hey, that's what happens when you don't manage your time perfectly (or at all) and then realize that there is more to a thing than meets the eye.

I have re-acquainted myself with gimp, the free image manipulation program (a poor man's, um, thrifty entrepreneur's version of photoshop). I had thought I could just use the program as I had in the past, but if you don't use it in three years you get a little rusty. I liked playing around with the program and hope to become a bit more sophisticated in the way that I use it. Here is why I needed to use it:

A bit utilitarian, yes - it's a banner for the shop and it tells you the shop name using colours and images associated with the words in the name. Sometimes it feels good to be blatantly obvious about things. The photo is from something that I knit for my sister a while ago. A surface of stitches, a bit like a landscape, at least I think so.

But I also created this while skimming the user's manual for the program:

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must tell you that I am a bit tipsy in that photo, which I took when playing around with Photo Booth after a dinner that took place in December. It was a festive time. I digress - I didn't get called "the queen of non sequitur" without reason back in university.

Also, figuring out how to deal with shipping took more time than I care to admit. Why is it so a) complicated b) expensive c) not 100% reliable? These are things that I worried (too much) about. I decided to use regular post and if anyone needs an expedited shipment with a tracking number they can contact me to request it.

Well, all this to say that it will all mean nothing if nobody actually buys anything. Excuse me, I must go research online marketing techniques now...

Yours truly,

Merlot

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Valentine to Past Loves

Our paths crossed once. We may have even been in love, even madly and deeply, but things changed and we moved on for various reasons - timing, growing up, or growing apart among them. But I still think of you on occasion. I mean, I did like you for a reason.

Sometimes I hear news of you. Most often I don't, but I wonder what you are up to. I just send out a wish that you are well and happy. If you are struggling for whatever reason I hope that you will see the other side of it and find success - however you define it.

Thank you for sharing the path with me for a little while.

With love,

M

Friday, February 4, 2011

You Gotta Start Somewhere

I'm in the idea stage of starting a business. One should spend a bit of time in this stage - this stage doesn't cost much money (it doesn't earn you any money either) and is very important. This is the time where you figure out what your goals are for your business. This is where you realistically assess whether you can open your knitting bar, or if perhaps you should start smaller and online to keep the costs low as you figure out your business as it develops. This is where you develop a plan to achieve what you want. I like the idea stage, but the danger is not moving out of it. It's very low risk, you see.

While I'm excited about thinking about my business, it would be a lie to say that I don't find it a bit daunting. Here are just some things that I need to develop at least a working knowledge of: marketing, sales, accounting, statistics, shipping, taxes, pricing strategies. The thought of conducting a direct response marketing survey makes me queasy. There are people out there who are experts in these things, genuine experts! I am no expert. And these are the things that are not the business idea itself - they are the tools to promote success in your business.

I humbly acknowledge that I'm not even an expert in what I want to base my business around, which would be knitting and yarn. I'm very enthusiastic and willing to learn, but I'm not what you call an expert. A book I currently have checked out of the library, for example, is filled cover to cover with techniques I currently do not know. There is a whole history of techniques out there, not to mention new developments in the craft yet to happen. This leads me to conclude that I will never be a fully formed, completed, expert. Ever. That this knitting thing, this business thing, heck, this life thing is a journey. And as with all journeys they must start somewhere.

I'm going to open an Etsy shop and list three items within the next week (I will share the link when I do). I don't want (or expect) to make my living by selling my original hand knitted designs, but I'm knitting anyway, and it's a low risk way to start while I learn a bit more about all those other things I listed above, not to mention building relationships with prospective fibre farmers whose yarns I want to sell. I was afraid at first that selling my original stuff online would be straying too far from the concept of selling small farmer produced local yarn. But lately I've heard more than a couple of stories of businesses that start out one way and end up being successful in a different way.

You can think and prepare till the cows (or sheep!) come home, but there is really only one way to find out if your business will be successful. Start. Just place one foot firmly in front of the other and propel yourself forward.