Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Time to Stop and Smell the Roses!

The Mourner by J. E. Larsen -  Available Here
I can't believe that January is almost over and this is my first post for the year. December and January have been all work and no play for me, and my blog has been neglected as a result... although, I must say, I'm finding all the cobwebs around here rather fetching. ;)

2013 was a somewhat... er... trying year. From my perspective, it was a year of work and money worries, serious health crises for extended family members, and other assorted nasty, little surprises. Of course, the universe doesn't just automatically reboot itself on some arbitrary date on our calendars and this was made abundantly clear, on New Year's Day itself, when I awoke to find that my kitty, Phoebe, couldn't walk properly. After about 8 months without an episode, she had apparently suffered another seizure during the night. It took about 24 hours for her to recover, but thankfully, she's back to normal now. Sadly, we can't control what life throws at us. All we can control is how we choose to deal with it.

I had a bit of an epiphany after doing Lexa and Julie's Dream Destination Blog-Hop (here) in early December. It was fun planning a fantasy travel itinerary, but after a year that quite frankly left me wrung out from stress and tiredness, it occurred to me that as much as I would love to travel to those spots on my wish list, I'd gladly settle for life's simple pleasures right now; I really can't recall the last time I was able to just relax and read a good book. It made me realize that I wasn't just busy, I was on a figurative hamster wheel, scrambling faster and faster but getting nowhere.

My husband, Danny, is one those rare indiviuals who always knew what he wanted to do when he grew up. Being a graphic designer was his dream career, but after 3 years of university and many years of experience, he now finds that the design industry has irrevocably changed. I was excited when he decided, about 7 years ago, to stop working for other people and start up our own business from home. We adjusted our life accordingly and for a while it was great, but over the last few years we seem to have been working twice as hard for half as much.

Danny and I shared a rueful smile recently when we caught a story on an American breakfast show that named Graphic Design as one of the three most "useless" degrees to have. It's imposible for "little guys" like us to compete with the big printing companies offering cheap business cards, and there's an escalating trend for businesses to outsource design work to places like India and South Korea. Not to mention that software programs have enabled people without a design background to do their own graphics now. This is simply the new reality and there's no point crying about it. We don't have all the answers yet, but we are formulating a plan of action, which is infinitely better than inertia and feeling like a victim of circumstances.

Life's simple pleasures... Addams-style!  A cartoon by Charles "Chas" Addams.


The first phase of our plan involves moving. The bonus of having such an itty-bitty family is that I'm completely unfazed by the idea of downsizing into a two-bedroom apartment, in a location closer to our son's school and more conducive to our current one-car status, even if it's just for a couple of years. In fact, I have embarked upon a serious cull of our belongings in anticipation of this move and it's quite liberating. I'm ready for a new chapter. My son has enthusiastically embraced the idea too, giving the whole operation a secret code name, which I'd tell you, but it is a secret, after all. ;) So right now, life's as hectic as ever. I've swapped the hamster wheel for pushing a boulder uphill, but although it's still hard work, at least I feel like I'm making progress rather than running on the spot.

This desire for a simpler, happier existence extends to my online life as well. I've always thought of Blogland as a place I can interact with, and be inspired by, kindred spirits. And my blog... well, it's a little playhouse to fill with my favourite things and enjoy a wee bit of dark fun. I don't make any money from it and I don't do "reviews", although I do try to support the ventures of my online buddies, and to participate in occasional blog hops. I also love to share the work of amazing illustrators or cool stuff I've stumbled across on Etsy. What I never expected was to reach a point where I became inundated with emails, and direct messages on Twitter and Facebook, from people I don't know, asking me to promote books, bands, art, indie films, shops, products, and crowd-funding projects.

Some of these requests are very courteous, but quite often, they're just obnoxious. I've actually had people say, "you owe it to people like me who are just starting out", or "you should give back", or they just badger me incessantly to contribute money to their Kickstarter fundraising projects. I simply don't have the time (or money) to assist a never-ending succession of complete strangers to make their dreams come true, and I've decided that I'm done with being made to feel bad about that. In 2014, I need to devote a little more time to making a few of my own dreams come true.

So, now that I've got all that off my chest, I promise that I won't make a habit of writing sagas/rants like this, but I really wanted to establish my manifesto for this year in this first post. I've got far more lighthearted subjects lined up for future posts, including news about a blog hop that some of you may be interested in. But, in the meantime, I want to take a stroll around Blogland and catch up on what everyone else has been doing. Another thing I've been missing.

28 comments:

  1. Even if your life is a bit hectic right now, you are moving forward. But I guess 2013 wasn't like that. Stress is easier to bare when the outcome is something good :)
    You don't owe those strangers anything Emma, that's very rude of them to claim your time and money. Take care of yourself and your itty-bitty family <3

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    1. Thank you, linnea-maria! ❤ Yes, I feel much better doing something... anything... rather than just simply reacting to circumstances.

      Being constantly harassed by those people, especially when I was dealing with some problems, was sort of spoiling blogging for me, but I've made up my mind to just completely ignore them and focus on the best of Blogland. :)

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  2. I hope you get a bit of a rest sooner or later! Things have been crazy for me, finished a degree but no jobs, still! The job market really is awful! My brother retrained from Graphic Design because of the lack of jobs. I hope your husband can find a way to embrace his dreams and still survive doing it! Best of luck with everything!

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    1. Thank you, Laura! ❤ Danny got chatting recently with a young guy working at JB Hi Fi who got his Graphic Design degree the year before, but he said that he didn't know anyone in his course who had been able to get work in the industry. It must be particularly soul-crushing for newbies getting into the job market. I'm sorry to hear that you are having a tough time finding work. I hope you land a great job soon. :)

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  3. Oh I love that you're having a fresh new start and I feel inspired to do something with my own life. I don't know what yet, but thank you for making me feel liberated today : )

    As for those awful people who keep hounding you, how rude!! I hope you've managed to ignore them all and not let the pressure get on top of you.

    I am truly sad to hear that Phoebe has been unwell, poor little thing x

    I wish you all luck with your move and any new ventures you embark upon.

    It's all very exciting :)

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    1. Yes, I just need to do something active rather than reactive, Yvonne. We inadvertently painted ourselves into a corner, so rather than just feeling helpless and hopeless, I want to shake things up and see what new possibilities surface. :)

      The thing that really bugged me about all the unsolicited requests for this and that was that there was often a shaming tone to them. Like if I didn't drop everything to do what they wanted, I was completely selfish. I was just quietly building up a whole lot of resentment, and although I felt a bit conflicted about having a public whine about it, I think it was probably quite cathartic. I've had my little complain, and now I can let it go and move on.

      Yes, Phoebe had been doing so well on her meds that I was heartsick on New Year's Day when I discovered she'd obviously had another seizure. Her motor functions seem to take a day or so to recover. I was so relieved to find her looking bright as a button the next morning. :)

      Thank you for all your kind words! ❤ I'm going to attempt to chronicle this little caper on the blog. ;)

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  4. This was a good post to read. It told me more about you and why you've been missing from the blogosphere. I also recognize the money troubles linked to small businesses. I hope you and your husband find a new road soon.

    Your post also brought some truth to pushy blog people. Thankfully I haven't had any personal on-line encounters (though plenty in real life) but I can imagine that comes when you reach a certain amount of followers. Good for you to not take their crap.

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    1. Thank you, Ms Misantropia! ❤ I've definitely been missing everyone in Blogland!

      Small business can be wonderful, but it's not easy, especially as our particular market is changing and shrinking at an alarming rate. Anyway, I know there's an answer if we're just willing to think outside the square and adapt. :)

      Yes, I'm not a fan of pushy people online or offline! I know I let them get to me more than I should have, but now that I've had a little grumble and some "tea and sympathy" from my blog buddies, I'm feeling much better! I really appreciate you all!


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  5. The world is changing so quickly that it's hard to know what to do. It sounds like you have a good, solid plan though and I commend you for it. Simplicity can be very fulfilling and can lower your expenses in a rapidly changing world. As for all those requests you receive via email, I would find them equally annoying. That's why I don't provide my email address with my blog. Once you start getting spammed it's game over.

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    1. Yes, the world really feels like it is in a massive state of flux right now, Nightwind. For good or ill, old systems are breaking down and power is shifting, and technology is advancing so quickly that we can't keep up with the potential ramifications. As everything gets more and more complicated, I find myself yearning for simplicity.

      Yes, the email on the blog thing is tricky. I want to be accessible to friends, but that also makes me vulnerable to foes. *sigh*

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  6. I think your ideas for you and your family are awesome. Go, YOU!! I can sympathize with the job problem, as I'm going through something similar with trying to find a decent-paying job that I actually WANT to do. But you and your family sound like you are on the right track. Best of luck and finding an apartment that you like as well!

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    1. Thank you so much, Lucretia! ❤ You're all making me feel very positive! :)

      2014 seems to have a transformative vibe about it, so I hope you discover that job you're passionate about!

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  7. Nice to see you getting your priorities in order. It felt fantastic when I did it. I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for all of us. It seems to be looking good so far this year.

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    1. Thanks, Julie! ❤ Your commitment to your health and your subsequent transformation was very inspiring! I hope good things are in store for all of us in Blogland this year! :)

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  8. It always amazes me how presumptuous people can be. You'd think by now I'd be old enough to not be quite so surprised by it, wouldn't you? And yet I still am.

    And look at you - all gung-ho about downsizing and moving! Makes me feel like a bit of a baby after all the p*ssing and moaning I did about ours! I think the hardest part about any kind of major change is making the decision. Once that's done, everything else seems to fall into place. I hope that will be the case for you and your family too, Emma. Here's to a fabulous 2014, and one that doesn't include a single solicitation from Kickstarter. :o)

    P.S. Tell Danny I think there are quite a few people out there designing their own business cards who probably shouldn't be. Not referring to myself or anything...

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    1. Oh, no, our little move is nothing compared with your mammoth undertaking, Lynne! Plus, you braved a portapotty in the wilds of Canada... I am not worthy! ;D

      Moving is never fun, but we'll just be going from one rental to another. We just need to find a reasonable place that's within easy walking distance to our son's school, which might take a little bit of time, but we don't have to worry about selling a house first.

      "Here's to a fabulous 2014, and one that doesn't include a single solicitation from Kickstarter." Thank you! ❤ That would be very nice indeed! And I laughed out loud about the business card comment! ;D

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    2. I'm laughing out loud about the “I am not worthy” comment! And I actually HAD to use Mr. P. Potty the other day when it was around -10C. It was a quick visit, let me tell you. ;o)

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    3. Haha! I wish you could have seen the genuflecting that went along with the "I am not worthy" too! Mr. P. Potty + Cold + Wilderness = Stuff of Nightmares for Emma! ;D

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  9. Emma, sending you hugs across the oceans! I think 2013 was a very challenging year for a lot of people, more so than 2012 was hyped up to be. Your desire for a simpler, happier life is one I share and I know, absolutely, this year will be so much brighter for you. Sending kitty hugs to Phoebe as well, wishing her nothing but robust good health. Watched the Addams Family (for the 1000th time) on tv last night and was thinking of you...of course! xox

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    1. Aww... thank you so much, Siobhan! ❤ Yes, I agree with you about 2013. I'm really happy for anyone who had a great year, but it seemed to me that a lot of people (both online and offline) were having a particularly tough time. The quest for a simpler, happier life seems to be a widespread theme for this year. I've noticed a lot of bloggers are busy decluttering their homes, or signing up for courses to learn new things, or just thinking about new ways of living. It's very positive and inspiring. :)

      Phoebe appreciates your kitty hugs tremendously! ❤

      "Watched the Addams Family (for the 1000th time) on tv last night and was thinking of you...of course!"

      You always know the perfect thing to say! ;D xo

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  10. I actually quite enjoyed your "saga/rant"! Sorry to hear you didn't have such a good year, and I couldn't agree more! There is no magical date you have to wait for to start over. Life slaps us all around on occasion and once you recover you can't wait around for a new year to pick yourself up and give it another shot. Sounds like an excellent plan to " reboot" so to speak and I especially enjoyed that your move has been given a secret code name! Priceless!
    Oh, and glad your kitty is OK! :)

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    1. Haha. Yes, one must never underestimate the importance of a secret code name to the success of any mission, Mark! ;) Thank you for your words of encouragement! ❤

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  11. Wow! So much to comment on. So sorry about Phoebe but very happy she's better.
    I completely feel for your husband. My husband works in Radio, a dying business up here in the states. He was so excited when he graduated only to find out that most stations (if not all) have been turning to syndication so the local DJ was a dying breed. It took over 6 years of struggling and working 3 jobs at a time before he found the perfect, radio adjacent, job. It is hard and but it is worth it as long as you are willing to work for it. We are doing so much better now and could not be happier with how things turned out.
    Good luck in your move. We just discovered that we are expecting another baby, which is why my blogs have also been neglected lately (morning sickness is not my friend) so moving is a must in our future. I'm terrified but also looking forward to our new chapter.
    I have always thought it was cool to see different reviews from bloggers that have the same interests I do but I had no idea how aggressive some people could be. I'm so sorry. Even though I have never experienced it for myself, my best advice would be to ignore the negativity and do what's best for you. It doesn't mean you are being selfish. It just means that you can't please everyone. Nobody can so don't sweat it.
    So glad to see you back girl.

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    1. First of all, huge congratulations on the future addition to your family, Jessie! ❤ That's such wonderful news! And sorry about the morning sickness! Totally been there and it's no fun, I know.

      Yes, sounds like our husbands have had very similar experiences in their different fields. We're still in the "struggling" and working multiple jobs phase, but you've given me hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. :) I love "radio adjacent"! I imagine that "design adjacent" will end up being the answer for us too!

      Thank you for all your kind words of support! I felt a bit self-indulgent having a big old whine, but I actually feel so much better now. I guess sometimes it's just good to release bothersome thoughts, rather than letting them fester in the brain. :)

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  12. I'm so sorry to hear you and your family have been having these problems and I sincerely hope that this year (though it may still be a hard slog) will eventually lead you all in the right direction to a happier and less worrisome future! :)

    I can totally relate to the liberating feeling of getting rid of unwanted belongings! It's all just extra baggage to lug about our shoulders in life! Last year I made the decision to start thinking long and hard about bringing new things into the house (books and artwork not included!) My charity shop perusals have been cut dramatically! I like space and clutter and mess makes me feel as if I can't relax!

    I absolutely abhor junk mail from companies trying to get advertisement space on my blog! Luckily it doesn't happen very often but your experience with it sounds a little overwhelming! :( There is really only one way of dealing with these idiots.. BLOCK THEM! BLOCK THEM ALL!!! MUAHAHAHAAAA! :p

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    1. Thank you, Sandy! ❤

      Yes, I can't cope with clutter either. I find it too chaotic and I just can't think clearly. I like to have beautiful things, like everybody does, but I need to have clean space as well. Same as you though, I do love my books and art! :)

      Haha. Your wickedly gleeful blocking enthusiasm is inspiring! Makes me want a big, shiny, red button to press so I can glean maximum satisfaction from the blocking experience! ;D

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  13. I'm really behind on my reading!

    Just wanted to say I'm sorry you've had such a trying year. I know all too well how that goes, especially when it comes to sick family members (I am so sorry about Pheobe and really glad to hear that she's doing well now).

    I also wanted to say that you don't owe anyone anything. I'm sure you realize that, but sometimes it does need to be said. I have artist friends who get the same thing all the time ("you should do these illustrations for free for the exposure!" or "but I'm a fan of your comic and you OWE me!") and I have NO patience for it. You provide your readers with free reading material/information/entertainment...I think for anyone to make demands is darned tacky.

    Good luck with the move, which I'm sure is well underway at this point (like I said, I'm quite behind).

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    1. Thank you, Guin! ❤

      I think the frustration was just building up and I needed to get it off my chest amongst friends. :) I just wouldn't dream of approaching people and making the sorts of demands that I end up receiving, so it keeps coming as quite a shock to me.

      We haven't found the right place yet, so we still haven't moved, but hopefully it will be very soon. I've started packing boxes in anticipation.

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