The more things change….

Waiting is killing me.

Tomorrow is a week until the market opens, and still waiting on final word on if we got accepted.

I left a message this afternoon… And didn’t get a call back.

But, there’s a new like on the business Facebook page from someone listed as working for the market.

Maybe that’s a good sign? Especially when I didn’t give them the page link on the paperwork, so they found it themselves.

Or maybe they were liking it to see if it would show anything more, or the watch and see if we posted any better products?

It’s driving me crazier.

But it’s scary and frustrating beyond just the waiting… Because I know that it comes down to this. Someone’s opinion.

And that’s really all that matters between things going down the path that’s been hoped, and having to regroup and decide what’s happening next of the lesser positive options.

If whoever is making the decisions (maybe it’s just this single person) doesn’t like porch decorations and thinks they are tacky… Then all of my efforts and expenses are worth less than just this one person’s feelings.

And I hate this position.

Because it feels like a million other times.

The story of my life sometimes seems to be that no matter how hard I work towards something and how much effort I give… It’s ultimately beyond my control whether or not it fails.

That’s not what it’s supposed to be. The story we all get told is that if you work your butt off and give it your all, your efforts will be rewarded.

Most of you (ok, who I doubt are still reading, but who might read this anyway) already know some of my major examples of that idea failing me repeatedly in the past few years, so I’ll spare the rehashing.

Maybe that’s just a story we get told to keep us working hard, like the Santa story gets used to influence children’s behavior.

I really don’t know anymore.

I know that I’ve given it the best I could do with the circumstances at the moment. Yeah, in an ideal world, there would be lots of social media stuff built up and tons of pics and lots of likes.. But right now, between kid stuff, work stuff, job search stuff, and working on actually making the items… It is what it is.

I just know that fact doesn’t make much difference in the outcomes.

I know God has control of all, and has plans, and all of that. All things supposedly work together…

It just really frustrates me how little difference my best efforts make sometimes.

Another opinion

Tomorrow is the long awaited second opinion appointment on my knee.

It’s 11pm, I’m tired, but can’t sleep.

I know that things are not entirety right with the knee.

What I don’t know is if I’ll be taken seriously, or written off as just a fat chick that needs to lose weight to make her knees feel better.

I trust my new general doc, and thus it’s the orthopedic doc she is referring me to, so I assume she has good reason.

But, still.

My track record with medical people, and with knee issues being taken seriously, is horrible.

Right now, I can almost walk normal with just an occasional limp, but only if I’m on two different meds.

Unfortunately, because I’ve been on the anti inflammatory meds since the ankle injury several years back now, my body isn’t dealing well with the meds, and my blood pressure is skyrocketing while on them.

So the meds are out of the picture..
Which is making it very clear that there are still unresolved issues when it’s been more than a year, and I’m barely able to walk when not on the meds.

The replacement meds aren’t helping a whole lot.

The surgeon tried steroid injections into the knee last week…which was massively painful for several days… Then did help some, but not a ton.

Things should be getting better than this by now.

But when I was trying to explain the pain and resistance to the surgeon, one of his statements was along the lines of "this knee is never going to feel exactly like the other one". As if he thought I was being too unreasonable on expectations and just whining.

But I know that it’s not unreasonable to expect function.

I know it’s not unreasonable to be able to expect to walk through a store to purchase cheese for dinner even if it’s at the end of my work day.

My daughter and I went to a concert the other night, and I fought back tears from the pain twice to tough it out… And came to the realization that I’m not physically able to handle concerts at this venue right now.

I’m failing to hold them back tonight, because I fear otherwise they may attack tomorrow.

Is there a polite way to say "my insurance and I are paying you well to at least pretend to care and to take my issues seriously regardless of my weight"?

Cuz a lot of times anymore, that feels like it might be the unreasonable expectation.

I wish there were a service to hire a warrior. To hire someone to go along and be powerful and intimidating enough to make the staff actually notice and care and treat me like it matters that I’m in pain and fighting limiting obstacles that shouldn’t be there.

Because it doesn’t seem like they frequently do when it’s just me.

Here, there, and everywhere

Sort of feel like I’m here, there, and everywhere right now.

Partially just with the craziness of getting everything to come together with the business.

But it’s hitting me pretty good emotionally too.

There’s about 1 day out of every 3 that I’m not sure that I even really want to do this… that feel like just backing off and writing it off already without even trying.

But then, another day out of 3, I’m full steam ahead.. having trouble letting myself get anything else done, even sleep, when there’s something I could be doing. (Sanding and using the jigsaw have now become allowed in the living room to reduce the effect of nighttime on production… sawdust is sweepable… )

But it’s kind of going everywhere with everything else in life too.

Some days I’m fine with the working out and with exercises for my leg… other days I’m ready to go back to the doc and request pain meds again.

With one particular friend, who has work related reasons to keep a bit of a distance… I keep going back and forth on just leaving him alone and not even speaking to him until he takes initiative and just parking him in the pile of one-sided friendships…. or going the far other direction and giving him the benefit of the doubt that the reading I get talking to him is more correct of a gauge and to consider him a friend.

I’m really starting to completely hate it when my head gets this way. It’s hard to know from one day to another what to expect, even from myself.

Sometimes I just feel like I’m completely losing any trace of sanity I ever actually had.

Do you believe me?

I had started social media accounts for the business about a month ago… and had posted a few pics off and on, but not much yet.

I actually hadn’t even liked the page myself yet.

But today, April Fools Day, the idea came to mind this morning…. to post the announcement publicly that I’ve named the business.

Because, as I said, it’s a name that is intentionally whimsical and silly… meant to be easily remembered above all else, and to be playful.

And so… it’s been sort of hysterical today…. to find out how many people actually believe me that A: I’ve started a business and B: that I’ve named it a name that involved the word "swirlies"

Wasn’t quite ready yet for traffic on the page, only have pics and videos of like 3 items…

But the amusement of watching people think they are better than falling for believing the joke, while completely not realizing that the joke is just that I announced it today and not that it’s a joke name… is really making me smile today.

I’m easily amused… but I guess not too easily believed.:-)

Rather scared.

I’m really getting a bit scared by this whole business thing.

It’s not so much of a fear of real risk…

I mean, I’ll admit it, I’ve blown tax refunds in much less productive ways even if this falls flat on its face in a disaster that loses everything put into it… and it’s not like I’ve quit my job to go chase after a business dream, so there really isn’t too much to fear on that front.

And again, worst case scenario, at least it will have given me something to do and keep my busy for a bit as far as efforts if it fails.

I’m ok with having a future memory of "remember that summer you tried to sell wind toys at the craft fair?" as a silly thing I’ve tried if that’s what it ends up being. I’ve tried my hand at much worse jobs… and even successful business people frequently have a few flops under their belt.

And I’m about the worst critic of my painting skills, so I’m not going to be too horribly offended that nobody likes my stuff if it gets rejected.

So… what am I so scared of?

I think when it comes down to it, I’m scared of feeling like my hopes have been let down again.

There is this feeling… "flow" if you will… that comes sometimes when the path is right.

And it’s here for this.

I’m having to reign myself back and keep my balance on feasibility because the ideas are running so fast… maybe by the end of the summer there will have become a huge expanded product line, but feasibly I just can’t get enough made of more than a handful of different directions at once.. but the idea flow is strong…

And pieces just sort of fall into place.

Maybe the best way to explain it is that I’m sitting in the chair waiting for church to start, dreaming of a strategy for simplifying wood spiral production if/when I get my paws on a table saw… and over the course of about 2 seconds my thoughts go "6 ft board, cut in half would give me a 3 foot more manageable chunk to work with… and I could split that into 4 which would make it 9 inch width minus the amount the cut eats up, just a bit longer than the pvc version…"

Then, I suddenly realize.. how in the heck did I just divide 3 foot by 4 pieces and come up with 9 inches? In the course of about 2 seconds without doing the math. And it takes me at least another minute to sort out and figure out whether or not the match that just came out of nowhere was actually right. (It was. Somehow. LOL)

So, that would seem like all signs point towards go, right?

And it does… sort of. I know they do.

But…

The last time I can say that about in a major way.. was the decision to go back to school.

Which of course ended up being a giant waste of time and effort and money.

And hope.

Maybe most importantly, the wasted hope.

And lets not even get into the whole ginormous K mess.

I don’t mind the effort, even if it fails.

I don’t mind the hard work, even if it fails.

I don’t mind risking looking a bit like a flaky artist if it fails… lets face it, I’m opening a business selling spinning birds, flaky artist may well fit even if it doesn’t fail.

But I’m scared of letting my hopes get up on something again… and let my heart get into it… and having the bottom fall out again.

I can handle the effects of a worst case scenario flop… but I’m not entirely sure that I can really handle it emotionally if I let myself chase the dream and the vision turns out to be another mirage.

Even then.. it’s not like I haven’t survived it before. It’s not like I couldn’t make it again if forced to… but it’s just the pain of walking that road again that has me shaking. I’m still honestly not really recovered from either of the last rounds.

I’m terrified of it enough that there’s at least one day per week that I find myself considering just letting it go for this summer… playing around with the stuff for the year… maybe next summer or another year I’ll have enough inventory built up…

But, I know that’s not the way it would work. If that happens, it would be because I’m giving up and backing away.

I know that this is the time. I don’t doubt that.

I’m just having a rough time bracing myself.

Determining worth

What is something really worth?

This is sort of a hard question for me right now on a practical level with the business… but of course that triggers metaphorical connections.

So..

How much is a windchime or a whirligig worth?

I know for each one roughly how much I paid for the material that is used in it.

But just setting the value as a formula based on that (for example, the cost of parts times 3 that seems to be a common one tossed out for craft fairs)… completely fails to take into account that windchimes are actually pretty cheap, but right now the hardest thing for me to actually make on effort.

Going the other direction and pricing on effort… means that of my two small sized pvc spinners that have different shapes, the ones that are a twisted diamond would be very cheap while the same thing in a star shape would be one of the most expensive products. (You have no clue how many times I’ve just had to burst out laughing as I’ve gotten a point of the star wrong and found myself staring at this random jumble of pipes hanging in the air.)

But, using either of those also totally takes out the factor of the purchaser.

Looking online, several of the websites that sell birds fairly similar to my whilibirds (but on a stake rather than hanging), sell them for $35-$45 bucks.

But, there’s a huge part of me that goes "there is no way in heck I would pay $45 for a painted wood bird with spinners for wings!"

But, then, I’m not to person buying their birds. The person buying their birds is someone who wants a whirligig so much that they are willing to go online and hunt one down and have it shipped to them.

But, really, I’m not the person buying my birds either.

I’m expecting the primary location for sales to be the local farm and art market that is held in the trendy part of town… a bit more of an affluent crowd who are paying extra for local fresh foods… and expecting them to pretty much just be an impulse purchase.

"Oh cool, a windchime in my team’s colors…" "My grandma used to have a whirligig like that…" "I bet my mom would like a windspinner for her patio for mothers day.."

There’s also another farmers market in town, partially sponsored by the county.. that tends to draw more of the smaller places and more of the average consumer.

If I decide to set up out there some weeks.. the price that they are likely to pay is probably a bit less than they would pay at the more serious market (the main market is so serious about things being locally sourced and hand made that they actually do inspections and its in the rules that you will allow them to check out your workshop or farm to verify that the products really are being made by you).

The idea has even been floated around a bit to try and market a bit towards the outdoor wedding crowd as well for outdoor decorations that could be custom made to match wedding colors. The wedding stuff at the bridal shows is astronomically priced!

On the opposite end… even though the local flea market is huge, and I could get a lot of exposure there… generally the crowd is people who are hunting for things cheap and looking for the deal more than they are concerned with the fact that its made by hand locally or has artistic value. So prices would pretty much have to be super low to sell well, and might not really even be worth the effort.

So.. do I flex prices?

Does worth change?

If you buy a chime in the artsy area of town, is it worth more than the same chime on the west side just because of the surroundings?

How in the heck do you even figure how to weigh cost vs effort vs customer price expectations?

It’s hard for me to value the worth of something I’ve made. I’m too critical. But, I also know that as someone who tends more towards practical purchases, I’m probably also a lot more of a cheap shopper than my customers.

But it sort of feels like what something is worth is a concept that is all over the charts!

Looking on etsy and such just makes matters worse. There are wood wind spinners that I see on there, and know that unless they have a much cheaper source of materials than I do, they are likely only making about 5 bucks for several hours of work.

But on the other hand, I see people with chimes on there that are going for about 4 times what I would have thought they were worth looking at materials and likely amount of work.

I’ve chosen not to go the etsy direction right now primarily due to shipping. It’s hard to get the packaging right to make sure theres no risk of damage without also adding quite a bit of costs to the expense category for the larger boxes and gobs of packing peanuts before you even get it out the door. (Shipping may end up happening on custom orders or gifts, but I’m not really ready to fuss with it enough yet to be dealing with regular etsy sales, etc)

But.. if I do decide to expand that direction, does that change everything? If I’m selling something for x dollars at the craft fairs, is it going to make a stir if I price it lower online to compete with other crafters from far away places?

The more and more I get into trying to figure out fair and reasonable yet profitable prices, the more and more I feel like my head just sort of enters this foggy area of wondering what worth really means on anything.

Obviously, in business its a very critical concept. It’s a huge part of staying afloat to get it nailed down.

But man… it gets murky so fast.

Making tools work

Right now, I’m dreaming of a table saw.

Actually, I’m not so much dreaming as planning and checking craigslist multiple times a day.

For the wood spinners, to do it right, you need to rip the wood into long strips and then cut those into shorter lengths.

It looks like it would be easier to just chop across the wood… and it wood, I mean, would…. but going across the grain doesn’t work well.

In my arsenal, I have a circular saw, a jigsaw, and a hole saw attachment for my drill.

I can use the circular saw… but it is seriously time consuming and much more difficult.

So for just a few spinners, it’s reasonable.

But when you are trying to do something in an sort of a scale, it’s just really not the right tool for the job. It will work, but it’s just way more work than is needed.

For another example, cutting the metal rod that runs down the center of the spiral spinners.

I have a pair of bolt cutters with handles about 8 inches long. I have a pair of metal snips. Either one is capable of cutting thin rods.

But… the effort required… is substantial. Multiple attempts, multiple angles, some wiggling, and sore hands.

I surrendered, and bought a good pair of bolt cutters with 24" handles.

It cuts through the same rod like a pair of scissors would. Snip and done.

I could have rented them for half the price, but it’s not like they wouldn’t be needed again later for many more rods.

And if it comes down to it, I can actually rent the table saw too for an afternoon and just attack all of the wood all at once… but again, I’d prefer to track down a decent used one to have on hand rather than have to rent repeatedly every time I needed more wood chopped.

The effort difference between the right tool… and a tool that may still work but isn’t meant for the job… is huge.

There’s just no comparison.

But, again with the analogies.. I kind of feel like I’m attacking a big stack of wood with a tiny saw in life.

It seems like there’s so much that could or should be so much easier… but somehow in my life, it just isn’t.

Maybe I just don’t have the skills, or the resources, or the personality, or even the right goal… or whatever it is that I don’t have.

It just sort of feels like there has to be an easier path somewhere.

There’s got to be some piece that I’m missing somewhere that would make this work…

But I feel like asking for it… pleading for it honestly…or even to know what it is to try and hunt it down myself… just doesn’t get any sort of an answer.

Is life really supposed to be this weary and disappointing?

I know… it could be worse. It has been worse. It’s not like I’m trying to attack the wood pile with a butterknife or something..

But really…