Showing posts with label journal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label journal. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Inertia

Try as I might, I just can't think of a better word to describe the past few months.

I feel as though my mind has just been spinning without knowing what direction I should choose, what direction I even WANT to go in, and I've had a really hard time with that. I've thought many times about using this blog or a journal or something to get my thoughts out, to see if that would help clarify what my next move is, but I've come to a funny realization.

It turns out that if I don't feel like I know where I want to go, I just go.....nowhere. I have a really hard time even forming thoughts to MYSELF that go anywhere when I don't know what I want to result to be. 

There is precious little in my life that has not had a definite plan, a goal, a trajectory. I typically know what I want my result to be, and while the steps to get there may require work, it's generally been easy to map out those steps. 

I knew in 4th grade that I wanted to be an architect. A teacher suggest it to my parents at a conference, and I latched onto that idea, and I worked my butt off to achieve it. I didn't necessarily have a specific picture of my family life, but I suppose I always had an ingrained picture of what it might look like based on how I grew up, and I (we) have made that happen. In many ways, there has always been a "next" step to look toward, something that would drastically change my life. College, grad school, work, wedding, house, professional license, family.

And now? Now I'm not sure. It seems like the next.....well.....30 or so years are going to either be much the same, or just incremental change, right up until retirement. That doesn't necessarily feel big, or scary, because it's so far away and something we've been planning for and saving for like most people our age and circumstance, the ones not expecting a pension and not coming from any family money. And we'll continue to do that, but daaaang that's a long time of "the same" until then. 

I guess this is what a quarter......third.....some random fraction before mid-life crisis feels like?

Crisis feels too strong though. I'm not in "crisis." Maybe I'm in doldrums. I just feel in the middle. Ok, not even the middle, but over the beginning parts, the getting used to it bits, and it just feels.....directionless? 

While I've been doing all of this mental spinning, I couldn't even seem to come up with a couple of scenarios to flesh out. That's actually a tendency I've been working on at work too. I'll partially develop all kinds of different layouts in my mind and reject them for one reason or another, and the only one that will make it onto paper (or screen) looks like it's the only one I've tried. It's something I really should work on more in life too. Sometimes when you lay something out, even if it's wrong or it won't work or you don't like it for some reason, it may spark some other thought that IS an interesting idea. 

I think I have fear of the blank page. I've had a hard time looking at the blank page on my blog. I have a dim desire to write a book sometime in my life, but because I can't picture what I would want it to be about, I'm not sure I'll ever start. (children's, fiction, research, professional, not sure, therefore I don't want to think about it.) I have been wanting to start drawing again, but I'm paralyzed by doing it "wrong." I used to draw all the time. It's the REASON that 4th grade teacher thought I'd make a good architect. Then I got to college and saw all these people who were actually REALLY good at it, and I just....stopped. I felt intimidated and sloppy. I went to a design school, and in some ways it made me afraid to design. How messed up is that. I look around at all the makers and Etsy-ers and quit your day job, make your own way-ers. It feels so romantic, that overnight success which probably took years, but it looks effortless and fun. I can't even bring myself to sign up for a table at our school's craft fair, because what would I even make that's worth making that people would want to buy when surely someone is already doing it, and doing it better. And then, if I hit on that awesome thing that people love that they DO want to buy, do I really want to BE a one man sweatshop churning out the same widget day after day? On top of a job and all the other stuff? Or, even scarier, INSTEAD of a job, where you're livelihood depends on keeping people interested in that widget or the next one, living life on social media and marketing and selling all the time? (Actually thinking of all that has made it easier for me to say, um, no, that's not what I want.)

Plus there's the time factor. I want to go in all of these directions, all at the same time, but there isn't the actual, physical time in which to do it. Most days, the hours between 7am and 8pm are fully spoken for, and mostly not directed by me. There's the j-o-b on the weekdays, and the aforementioned hands on season of mothering the other days and after the work time. And don't get me wrong, I want both of those things. But I also want me time, quiet time, creative time, lazy time. But also there's sleep. And couple time. And family time. And friend time. And laundry time (always laundry). And there's just not enough time.

I know I don't have life rocking changes on the horizon. But I know there are incremental changes coming. Soon my day hours won't be quite so intensely directed by small people. I will be able to use my sewing room more freely once everyone in the house can navigate the stairs to and from. Then I don't have to be so ELSEwhere to work on things, which will make me feel less guilty for abandoning people or not carrying my load. Even this summer will be easier to leave the house and just spend time in the yard. It's just the getting there that's been kind of hard. I know I'm certainly not the first nor the last to say it, but mothering certainly has a way of making you lose bits of yourself.

Despite all of that, I guess I'm starting to feel my way out of that "getting there" fog, that directionless spinning. Maybe part of it has been work stuff, as I've had some loss of direction in the past few months. I made a decision, finally, last week to accept a position with a new company. I've been with my current company 6 years, which is not a super long time, but pretty respectable in today's work world. It was a really hard decision for me because, while I've been in a project lull for several months, I can see real potential for things to improve in the future. Another local firm reached out to me with an interesting offer, and I decided to go for it. A lot of coworkers from a past firm are there and quite happy from what I hear, and I think it will be a good fit. It would have been a much easier decision if I was REALLY not into one or the other, but I had the distinctly first world problem of two very good options, and good enough terms at my current (soon to be former) firm that the door would remain open to me if things change in the future. I had a cup of tea the night I accepted the offer and saw this, and that settled my mind a bit. I always believe in fortunes when they feel so spot on, even if they are more "statement of fact" than "fortune." (Of course I ignore them the other 90% of the time when they don't make sense or tell me things I don't want to hear, so take that with a big grain of salt.)



Another thing that will be sort of huge will be building our new house. We bought land last year, but have had a hazy 2-3 year timeline since then on when we will actually start. The new job, and pay increase that should usually come with a new job if you're lucky, are helping bring that timeline into sharper focus. We still.....still....haven't had our plans priced out, but I feel like building next summer or fall (2018) may be a reality. There hasn't been much impetus to develop our plans to a pricing level so far, because without a deadline....well, we aren't good at working without a deadline. Plus it just felt unattainable to get what we wanted with my salary what it was. But now that's changing, so it feels like it's time. It's scary though, because as architects, we can't just pick something from a catalog and build it with its pre-figured pricing. No. We know too much about what we want, so it of course must be custom and non-standard. However....we are not residential architects, which means that we simultaneously know too little, and I'm terrified that a builder will take one look at us and our precious plan and raise his rates by 150%. Which will make the financing out of reach again, and the timeline could fall back out of focus, and with just feeling out of focus in general, well, that's been a hard step to take. 

And like always, just putting SOMETHING down to start feels better. It always does. Something to build off of, or something to scrap because at least now you know.

Decisions made - no, I will not be quitting my day job to become an artisanal soap maker, yarn dyer, professional knitter. I will, however, be trying out a new day job. I (we) will work to bring our house plan down to the square footage that we think we can afford, and set meetings with a couple of builders. Like writing that first word or drawing that first line, at least then we will have a place to start from. Maybe it will be ok and within range, and we can start the next steps of securing financing and setting down a schedule. Maybe it won't and we'll have to value engineer ourselves, and that's ok too. Lord knows we've done it enough at work! 

But I guess the lesson for me in all of this ramble is to just start. It's ok and GOOD to rip that bandaid off. Make the first mark. Just pick something. Apply force....overcome inertia.

Friday, November 4, 2016

It wasn't for me

With no fanfare, and not even any real discussion, I decided that selling It Works isn't for me. I thought about quitting in the beginning when I didn't get a super warm reception from family and friends, but decided to push on through and give it a real chance. In the end, for me, that was about 3 months. About a week before I officially quit, I just couldn't stop thinking about it. Much like the decision to join, once that gut feeling was there, I knew that following it was the right thing to do.

I'm actually really happy with the whole experience. I'm glad I decided to give it a try. I don't have to question "what if?" down the road. I did meet some nice people. I pushed my comfort zone, and I feel pretty happy with the way I was in it too. I was sure to try to make any social media post that related to my business genuine. I didn't go balls to the wall and try to push products or the distributor gig on everyone I know, which is probably one of the things you are supposed to do to be successful, but I did reach out from time to time when I really thought that it might be right for someone. Some people were interested, most weren't, and that's totally fine. Like I mentioned, I wasn't interested myself for over 2 years. Maybe, given time, it would have been like that down the road if I'd decided to stick it out, but I decided that it wasn't worth it for me. I didn't start out with much in the way of "quick wins" or momentum, and I decided that the best thing for me would be to let it go before I was in for too long. It was getting a little difficult self-esteem-wise to separate people not wanting to buy a product with worrying if people maybe didn't like me either, you know? I would feel a little sad if I couldn't "grow" my networks, and I don't like to worry about that kind of thing. I think it can really bring you down if you need to focus on big numbers and needing to convert those numbers to sales rather than just getting to know people, and that's how I prefer to use my social media. That, and a record of projects I've made or books I've read or whatever. Just personal, not business. That's my happy place.

In case anyone is ever wondering, it wasn't hard at all to "get out." All I did was turn off my personal shipments for products as well as for my website....and I think that's it? I did export my customer list and passed that along to my upline so that she can take care of them. Being a customer is actually a pretty decent arrangement, and something I might end up doing myself. I had actually ordered a 90 day supply of the Greens in my last shipment, as well as my face lotion, so I'm probably good for awhile. You get the same pricing as a distributor when you are a customer, so the real incentive to distribute is if you're going to get out there and build a big network of customers and teammates, and in the end, that wasn't me.

Blink and you'll have missed it, but here ends my tenure in direct sales. :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

October 2016 Day in the Life

According to my sidebar, I did one of these posts a year and a half ago, and it's also one of my most popular posts! I haven't been moved to do it in a while, but this year, something about it spoke to me, so here we go!



Again, I chose a Monday, but that's just a coincidence. It's still my day off, and I still love that schedule. I woke up around 6:30, which sadly is sleeping in, and even more sadly is hours later than it was a few months ago. Everyone slept all night too, so it was a relatively restful sleep. It's October and a gorgeous fall day. It's cool this morning, but should be nice later.




Feeling a bit like a mad scientist, I crush up some vitamins in almond yogurt (fun with food allergies!), and make some coffee in the french press. Which, can I just say, I think I'm doing fancy coffee wrong. I don't have a teapot, so I have to heat the water up in the microwave, and half the time I don't get to the second cup in the carafe while it's still hot, and I have to nuke it anyway. None of this is fancy. I should be demoted back to drip coffee with the hot plate to keep the second cup warm. I also threw in a load of laundry.






Breakfast is followed by playtime, and I remember that I'd planned to put something in the slow cooker for dinner. Yesterday I pulled out both chicken and a roast to defrost. The roast was still a bit frozen, so I decided on chicken, and, feeling uninspired, I googled. Cilantro lime chicken tacos sounded good, but I didn't have any salsa. Knowing I was probably making a mistake as I did it...I put in tomato sauce instead. I know, I'm ashamed. I didn't actually have any cilantro either, so I put in parsley and wondered if this was even going to be edible. I finished up in the kitchen and unloaded the dishwasher. At this point it is about 9:30




I was surprised to see a familiar face on the tv when I walked back into the living room. A dad of a school friend was on some morning show talking about bike and pedestrian safety. I was glad that I was able to go back to the top of the segment to catch his name and confirm that he WAS who I thought he was. I have such a hard time recognizing people "out of context".



After that we settled back in for some more playing while I played my youtube "watch later" list in the background. I was treated to a podcast episode from Susan B. Anderson. I just love her, and knitting podcasts in general are just so great because you are nearly guaranteed that there won't be anything offensive to little ears. I pulled the sheets out of the washer and threw in the still gross shower curtain liner again with a couple of towels in super hot water to see if I could get rid of the mildew spot I had been trying to address. We have a block window on the back wall of our shower that is super not waterproof, so we have a clear shower curtain hung in front of it. We don't open and close it frequently since that's not the in and out curtain, and I had noticed a couple weeks back that I hadn't noticed a hidden fold and it was looking yuck. Spoiler alert, my plan didn't work.



Naptime = me time. 10 am, and I get set up to do some yoga. A friend saw my complaining that the 90 min P90X workout is just way too flippin long to get through, so he shared the newer version from P90X 3 with me (no, I did not know there was more than one version!). This one is only 30 minutes which is MUCH more manageable with my limited free time. I was surprised that it wasn't a super tough workout, but instead more on the level of a moderate flow class. Other than my lack of flexibility, I could do all the poses with the group, and only nixed the extra stuff like pushups during vinyasa and some of the more difficult yoga trick toward the end - I did manage all of the balance poses though, even crow!



Then I grabbed a quick shower and another #nomakeup selfie. In fact I skipped makeup all day because lazy.




I still had a little time, so I headed downstairs to continue working on a Halloween costume. So many layers of slippery, sheer fabric going through my poor machine. What a pain.



Around noon I stopped to get lunch going. We had leftovers, one with cheese, one sad without. Same serving sizes, and still the small one screeched when the food was gone. Which is nuts. Little bottomless pit!



I got the mail, and my husband is apparently A List now on Southwest. This is great and horrible, because we should get upgraded seat assignments if we can ever get away, and horrible because it means he's logged enough trips to have earned that status.





We headed outside for a bit to enjoy the weather. It was very nice in the sun without our jackets on, but there was just enough crispness in the air that I half regretted not putting them on. Oh well, I knew we wouldn't be out for long.




When we got back inside, it seemed like I was going to get a few non-hands on minutes, so I sat down to frog back a couple rows of a pair of socks. Now that I'm on the home stretch of my other in progress pair, I wanted to get these back to a pick up and go spot. I had started them back in June when I was doing a test knit for Chrissy and I didn't love how they were going so I switched from the pattern to just doing stockinette...but then I didn't like that either and decided to go back to the original plan. So that meant ripping back several rows of plain knitting. Props to the Kroy yarn, I think I only dropped two stitches....despite all this fun going on as I ripped.



3 pm, and naptime again. I mixed up my daily glass of greens. I'm surprised again and again how much I really like this stuff! I like the taste, I like that it makes me drink more water, and I like that I have more energy and have NOT caught the plague which is constantly surrounding me from my coworkers! I've been ordering the "old" version because they are on sale and I'm cheap. :) (Also, Miller glass - #milwaukee)




The skirt is now attached to the costume, and I set about installing the zipper. I hate installing zippers, and am extra nervous about all of those slippery layers and fluffiness. I put on Buffy to keep me company (YES I watch a lot of tv), and it's the horrible, sad episode where her mom dies. Still gets me, every time.



I get the zipper in, hold it up, and have done a crap job. I put it aside for now and contemplate redoing it. One the one hand, it's just a kid costume. On the other, it's an opportunity to practice a skill I suck at. I'll probably decide to fix it, but not today. I head upstairs, continue watching Buffy (alternating with Angel because I'm watching them all in original airing order because my friend Maggie mentioned doing that once) and started the first colorwork rows of my hat. So far, so good!



4:30, and the rest of the evening hours fly by in a flash. It turns out we didn't even have any tortillas, so I popped out to Target when my husband got home to grab those and some other random things, including the crazy pea protein milk I can ONLY get at Target (annoying) (I could also go to Whole Foods, but it's not conveniently located for me, and probably more expensive) and some new shower curtains because I give up. And fell victim to a $5 deal at the checkout line, which reminded me that I forgot to grab that movie as I flew out the door to return at the library. I made a mental note to drop it off before work Tuesday so we don't get fined. I stopped by my parent's house on the way home to collect my other child. We ate dinner, and while it definitely wasn't cilantro lime chicken (how can it be when you are missing 2/5 ingredients!?), it was edible, so that's good. After dinner we watched some Hocus Pocus before bedtimes for about an hour.


After bedtime, my husband and I popped on the Netflix series we are watching (oh my GOD we are going on some kind of screen time diet!!!), Bloodline. We are about halfway through season 2. It's ok, but it's something we can watch together, so that's always points positive. By the end of the episode, I finished the colorwork portion of my hat, hooray! I even learned how to "catch my floats" in the middle sections of the hearts.


10 pm, weirdly on the dot, and it's time for bed for me. Tonight's featured 20 minutes of podcast is an episode of the crafty planner, which is an interview based show by a former city planner. I usually have no idea who her guest is, but the host does a lot of research and asks pretty insightful questions, and I like that. Happily, I fall asleep easily.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Full of Fail

This week was full of sewing fails, file disasters that nearly made huge trouble at work, and that time I got stranded at a fiber festival. I'm not sure I ever really believed in the whole Mercury in retrograde thing before....but I might now!

I typically work 4 days a week - I chose Mondays as my usual day off, and I really love that schedule. When the weekend is over, I still have that ONE extra day to get stuff done. The only real bummer is that there are a surprising amount of businesses which are closed that day, but that's not terrible because I frequently don't get out of pajamas when I'm home! I work enough hours though that I still get paid for holidays. When they fall on a Monday, I get to choose another day to stay home, which varies depending on what's happening at work that week.

So, all that to say that I took Thursday as my day off this week since we were off Monday for Labor Day. I planned to go for a long run, do a whole bunch of sewing, maybe record a podcast, all on deliciously on my own time before the daycare pickup around 5. HA. HAHAHAHA

Where oh where to begin? First off, I didn't want to run at all, because while the temperature was a comfortable 75 or so, the humidity was nuts. I'm not a very experienced or good runner, so the thought of running in soup? No thanks. I ended up doing a DVD at home, but even that wasn't very satisfying. Maybe I just didn't pick a good one for me that day, or didn't push myself hard enough, but it sort of felt like a waste of time. (The one thing that did kind of work out was that I washed my hair with a "no 'poo" recipe that called for first scrubbing with baking soda and then with apple cider vinegar. It really helped my hair feel quite clean, as lately I've felt like I've had a lot of shampoo build up or something. Anyway.)

By that time it was about 10:30, and I was feeling quite stressed that I was wasting my day. I went down to my sewing room, and cleaned up a whole bunch of past project debris that was holding me back from doing anything else down there. It took me SO long after that, but I finally finished the bra I started a couple of weekends ago. I am pretty sure I put the back part of the band on upside down, but it turns out that makes no difference at all because the fit was BEYOND horrible. It was just....so bad. So, so bad. I was essentially swimming in this thing, in all of the ways that a bra can just NOT fit. I don't know where I went wrong. I even made a muslin! Just....the front didn't fit, and there were seriously extra INCHES around my ribcage. It was not a, well, let's tweak it here and there and see if it works. It's a full on chuck it in the corner and be mad at it for awhile kind of fail. My friend said that hers really didn't turn out either. Perhaps not as full of fail as mine, but still not good. She said that maybe for the next go round, if we can bring ourselves to go there, we should try doing the fitting with the foam for the cups, rather than just fabric. That's a pretty good idea, but I don't know when I'm going to feel like going for it again. Ugh, such a bummer. (I was using this pattern, which I feel bad even saying because I was so unsuccessful!)



After all of that, it was about 3:30. I thought ok, let's change gears. I got out a pattern that I've wanted to make for years, the Lola dress by Victory patterns. I have the fabric too, a navy sweatshirt material. I thought a cute sweatshirt dress might be the perfect palette cleanser to a horribly ill fitting bra. I got the pattern pieces all traced and cut out before I had to leave to get the kidlets, so I was feeling like maybe I turned this thing around and salvaged some of the day after all!


And do you think that was true? No. After dinner and baths, I headed back down because I wanted SOMETHING cute to show for my precious solo day. The pattern directions were really easy to follow, and by 11 pm, I had a totally assembled dress except for the neck, wrist and bottom bands. Before going through the effort of putting those on, I decided to try the dress on for fit. I'm sure you see where this is going....

I could get it ON...but I was totally uncomfortable, and couldn't really move my arms without feeling like I was going to hulk the thing apart. Before completely throwing in the towel, I let out the seam allowance on one of the arms (which, ugh, was only 3/8" instead of 5/8" like many clothing patterns! Now is one of the only times I wished I had that extra 1/4"!!), and it was a great improvement. I can probably go through and let out some of the other seams and it should fit ok in the end, but ugh! I cut the same size in the bra and the dress, and ended up with a tight sweatshirt dress and a bra so loose I could have put it on over said dress.

The following day at at work, I'd left just a couple of things to finish off when I left Wednesday night. I thought, surely I'll have enough time to do these things before my 2:30 call to sign off on these plans!



 Yeah. There was some kind of ridiculous file problem which made it so that I couldn't get into the file until 1 pm!! I had an email window open on my other screen about to cancel the meeting, which would have been sort of a disaster to the project timeline, which obviously would have been very bad. Let's just say that when I finally got in there, I was drawing like the wind and there might have been smoke coming from my mouse. In the end, I got everything done that needed to get done and I got the sign off, but MAN was I stressed out!


So that's Friday. Friday night, I made a last minute decision (in hindsight, OHMYGOD stop making last minute decisions!) to head about an hour away to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival. I dragged my family along last year, and when I brought it up to my husband he seemed pretty enthusiastic about it....ha, wait, nope! So I decided to go on my own, and rather than drive, I caught a bus from one of our local yarn shops with a friend from knit group. She had told me that it left at 7:45 and would leave the fairgrounds at about 5:30, and I thought that sounded fun. A whole day of shopping, watching the sheep shearing, maybe petting some baby lambs, and I could knit the whole way there and back!







And it was a really great day! It was fun to hang out, I spent way too much money buying pretty things that I don't need, and just had a really relaxing day. We headed over to where the bus had dropped us off around 5:15, and saw zero other people waiting.

And that's when I got nervous. You see....I didn't reserve my spot on the bus ahead of time due to aforementioned last minute decision. One of our other friends decided not to go, so I just took her spot. This meant I had no official confirmation, and no contact info in either direction. The friend I was with is one of those rare birds who does not have a smartphone, and also doesn't know her email password and only checks it at home. The shop website mentioned the bus, but again, no times. I tried calling the shop to see if they could hook us up with a cell phone of the owners, but it had closed at 4, so no answer. The woman standing near the entrance said that yes, there WAS a bus, but it had just left at 5. It was scheduled to leave at 4:30, but hung around until just after 5 when they finally left....just minutes before we showed up at 5:15.

In the end, we got home ok because luckily another friend was vending the event, and luckily not staying overnight between the Saturday and Sunday shows, and we were able to catch a ride with her back to the city. Even if that hadn't happened, I'm sure my husband could have come to rescue us, but that would have been about as exciting as coming along in the first place.

All this ramble to say that in the end, really, no harm, no foul on all of it.....but I am definitely staying in bed Sunday. (She says while typing this during a bout of insomnia in the wee hours Sunday morning....)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

One of "those" people

I've been thinking this over for awhile, and I've decided to become a distributor for It Works, a direct sales health and wellness company.



I'm just going to go ahead and let that sink in for a minute. In a lot of ways, this doesn't feel like something I would do, but in a lot of other ways, it does. I've written before about my feelings about those sort of parties and those sort of products. While I was thinking about taking something like this on, I went back to read my own thoughts - they are here if you'd like to read them as well: http://cozycapecottage.blogspot.com/2013/09/those-parties.html?m=1

If you haven't heard of it before, It Works is an industry-leading network marketing company that focuses on all-natural health and wellness products, the most famous of which is their It Works wrap. (I'll share a #truth moment here and say that the wraps are something that honestly turned me off to the company for a long time because they just sounded like a gimmick. However, the wraps are included as part of the package for becoming a distributor, so I plan to find out for myself if they are worth the hype!) The company began in 2001, and has been growing like crazy since then.

So the question I expect I'll get the most - why? Well the short answer is that I'm interested. I'm interested in trying several of the products, and I'm interested in making a little bit of extra money on the side, especially as we move toward building a new home in a couple of years.

I have watched my friends Erin and Andrea skyrocket through this company over the past two years, and something in me finally opened up to wanting to see what I could do too. While I say friends, I should clarify that the relationship is fairly one sided. I came across them both way back on theknot.com message boards back when I was planning my wedding. (Ever the researcher, I was on there a year or two before my actual wedding in 2007. I think they both got married in 2006, but I may be slightly off there.) Anyway, back then I  was much more a consumer of information than an active participant, which is a bummer since it obviously laid the groundwork for long lasting relationships! It's hard to believe, but I've followed their blogs for over 10 years now! (RIP google reader....I like feedly, but it's just not the same)

I've definitely heard of the pyramid scheme thing, and the get rich quick scams, and the possibility of losing all your money (the investment, yes, I'll get there in a little bit, especially if you have questions like I did. Erin could tell you, boy did I have questions!)  I give you the back story above to say that I think it's dangerous to look at the income projections of companies like this, to look at the people at the top and think that of you sign up, then you will automatically be just like them and just as successful and all that because you never really know their background and whether or not they are just putting on a show or what. However, I've followed both of their stories for a decade, since way before either of them got involved with it works. I know you can never know a person's finances, but neither of them seem the type to go overwhelming into debt to project a certain image, and both of them have built or bought their dream houses this year thanks in no small part to their success with it works. That's incredible. That's real. That's here in my backyard. It's not some crazy dream or facade on the Internet. They are real women whom I've met in real life at one of Erin's charity events. Yes, they both have a much larger social media presence than I probably ever will, so I don't expect that I can attain the same level of success...but if I can achieve even a fraction of that it would be incredible. 

In some ways, it feels like I don't have much to lose. I buy things like vitamins, skincare, heck, even essential oils regularly, and I do tend to switch those brands up every so often, so why not try them through It Works? I like to think I'm a pretty discerning consumer. I don't tend to jump on fads, and I don't believe in spending money for the sake of it. I like to buy and use products I believe in, and I pass on what I've learned in the event it may help someone else solve a problem or reach their goals. For example, I can think of several friends with digestive issues that may be helped by the probiotic. I know some people have trouble getting their kids to eat enough vegetables, so greens might be great for them. (If I'm honest with myself, they would be great for me too, because I don't do as much cooking as I used to.) I know a lot of people looking for great anti-aging skincare, so why not give this a shot? My point is, I wouldn't want to simply blanket my friends and family with an annoying sales pitch, but I am likely to recommend things that they might want to try, whether it benefits me or not.

The gist of the commitment is this - it costs $99 to sign up, which gets you samples of several products and a business builder kit. After that, it costs $20 to maintain and run your unique website storefront where customers order products directly. You are also required to spend between $80-100 per month on products. Another #truth moment...this was the place where I thought aha! That's where the scam is! They just want you to buy things! Well, on the one hand, yes, that probably is true that they want you to buy products....but personally, I can't in good conscience recommend or sell things that I haven't tried, and can't wholeheartedly say that I like. (I was also pretty surprised to read that my personal finance Jiminy Cricket, Dave Ramsey, is not against MLM's as a rule.) For me, that monthly commitment is going to serve as my barometer for this whole experiment. If it turns out that after 3 or 6 months that I'm not making that investment back in commissions, I'll probably chalk the experiment up as a loss and call it a day. If I like what I've gotten, I'll probably continue to order, but just through Erin and not through myself, and at the end of the day I'm out the initial $99.

But on the chance that it actually works out? Well then it's win-win! I have to say, signing up for something like this through someone like Erin gives me a lot of hope that it actually could work out, and turn out to be something amazing. She started just two years ago, and is ranked at Presidential Diamond. I realize that title sounds made up, but what isn't made up is that a Presidential Diamond distributor brings home an average of $16,000. Per month. Again, this is one of those things that won't be true for everyone, but it is true for some. We were chatting about what level the rest of her team is at, because I don't want to be completely dazzled by the off chance potential of $200k per year, and she said that 20% of her team is at Ruby and above. So 20% of the people she helps support are bringing home an average of $500 per month, which, when you back out that $120 or so in product purchases and website fees, is $380 in profit. That's an extra $4,500 per year, which isn't exactly life changing, but is nothing to sneeze at. It's plenty to pay an extra bill or two, and it would be some nice padding to our savings account. But look at those numbers again. If you follow the link to that chart, only 10% of the company distributors are Ruby and above, and Erin's team has doubled that. This tells me that there is something special about her team. Plus she's got 20 or 30 Diamonds on her team which are part of that 20%, so they aren't just stopping at Ruby, and honestly, that's really attractive.

So what changes here? Honestly, probably not much. I've never been someone to post 5 times a day and clog up your feed, and I'm not going to. I'll continue to post about what I'm working on and snippets of my life. I'll continue to talk about things I've tried that I'm liking, and now some of those things will be from It Works. Just like when I was actively running my Etsy shop, I'll pop in a link as to where you can find them, but you'll never get any pressure or a hard sell from me. I'm starting up an email newsletter, which you should sign up for if you'd like to read more. I think I'll send something out 1 or 2 times per month. Fill out the form at the bottom of this post or at the shiny new sign up widget at the top of my blog to sign up. If you are interested, check it out, if not, well stick around for the knitting. There will always be knitting. And if any of what I've said sounds interesting to you, then you should definitely think about getting started with me. It would be so exciting to learn the ropes together! Who knows, in two years we could be sitting in our dream homes like Erin and Andrea! Shoot me an email at cozycapecottage@gmail.com if you'd like to chat. :)

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Oh my heart

It's been a very difficult couple of weeks here. On May 6, we said goodbye to our cat, my first girl, Jezabel.

April 4, 2016
 
It's been an adjustment to living without her. She's been with me my entire adult life. We have been together for 14 years, before the husband, the house, the family.

Fall 2002 I think

We've been through 5 moves together, some more difficult than others, and I'm sad to be revising the plans for our new home to not include the nook for the litter box in the laundry room. I miss her most in the evenings. That was our time. She liked sleeping in, so I didn't always see her in the mornings during the flurry of activity involved in just getting out the door unless the water bowl needed attention. She would just sit next to it patiently and look at me until I got the message. But in the evenings, when the little ones are safely upstairs and we've settled onto the couch, she would always jump up to me for some lap time. Always me, almost every night, almost completely unbothered by whatever activity I was doing. I often commented that she must be broken, as there could be yarn draped right on her head and knitting needles nearly poking her in the eye, and she would just keep snuggling (at least this was true in the second half of her life - she wasn't super snuggly in the early days!).





I adopted her from a local humane society when she was maybe about a year old when I was the ripe old age of 19.





I was a baby myself, so naive. I wanted a little something to love, to take care of, to keep me company. I suppose I was trying to make a family, and thank goodness I was bright enough to fulfill that desire with a pet. I wasn't, and still am not, a cat person. I wanted a dog, but they weren't allowed in the condo where I was living. Cats weren't either, but I rationalized that she would be easier to hide than a dog. In the end, she would always sit behind the blinds overlooking the courtyard, so she was a rather terribly kept secret. She didn't like to be held at all, and only sort of tolerated petting, but I thought she was so pretty so I brought her home with me. (that's a really dumb reason to choose a pet, but 19) In fact she was so mean that I named her Jezabel.....because I thought that it meant devil. Apparently I wasn't real up to snuff on my history, because that is NOT what Jezabel means. It's also not even the right spelling of the word! However, she DID have a habit of laying on her back spread eagle so....the name stuck.



One of the most surprising things about her, is that while she would have no problem giving me a nip, or that crazy habit she used to have of ninja bombing your feet as you walked, she was always so good with kids. I once babysat for a little 2 year old girl, who would inadvertently whack her over the head with her little fishing pole feather toy, and J was utterly complacent through all of the abuse.



We've always taken care to emphasize "gentle touches," but you can't always intercept the sudden tug of fur or a tail. She never even hissed, and there were certainly occasions where a firm nip was well deserved!


 


I'm 33 now, and a completely different person. Maybe not completely, but I've definitely done a lot of growing up in that time, and she was there for it, through all the changes. I even eventually stopped torturing her with outfits for the high holidays.







 She grew up too. Hugely, at one point, when we lived with a roommate and her cat who ate like a cat. By this I mean that my roommate's cat could handle having a full bowl of food out and graze at his leisure, where J would wolf down any and all food until it was gone, hers and his combined, like my childhood dog always did. That was the biggest sign that she was sick, in the end. I did get her down to a reasonable weight again, but she always kept a big belly of loose skin from her huskier days. In the last 6 months, she didn't always clean her food bowl, and eventually we realized that there was a lot more loose skin than there used to be. I put her on the scale at home, and she had lost about 3-4 lbs, which is a lot when you start at 11 or 12.

Bloodwork was rather inconclusive, and we were left with a decision to make. Go down a diagnostic rabbit hole to pinpoint her illness? Or consider that she was 15 years old, not elderly, but a solidly adult cat, and try to make her comfortable as she finishes her life? It felt like it took no time at all, but as I looked back at her records, the whole process took about 4 months. I had finally decided to start her on B12 shots and a steroid to help with her appetite, but it was too late by then. We did get her eating again, a bit. She was a dry food cat her whole life, because I'd once read that cats were finicky and might not go back to dry food if occasionally treated with wet or canned food. She got more treats in the last 4 months than she did probably ever. We frequented the fancy local pet store and picked up anything they recommended that was high in calories and deliciousness. She had canned food, gravy meals, freeze dried treats, goat's milk, anything that I could get her to sniff at. The hardest part was monitoring how much she actually got before the dog snuck in there and inhaled it. He's no dummy - he knew she was getting the good stuff.

The day I suspected we were coming to the end, she'd been having accidents. She hadn't been eating much, and her stools did not look healthy. That's when I made the appointment for her vitamin shot. The day that appointment came, I was sick myself and had to cancel. I never got the chance to reschedule. Less than a week later, she was sitting in the kitchen with her head hanging so low it was nearly brushing the floor. She turned away from the multiple kinds of food I offered her, and a check of her box revealed that she hadn't used it in a day and a half. That's the day I knew. I held her and cried.

The following day I called the vet again, this time to make the appointment. They had an opening that afternoon. It was too fast. It was also my husband's birthday. I needed more time. My family came over after dinner for cake. It turned out kind of nicely that way. They all got a chance to say goodbye as well. Even though it certainly wasn't a popular development at the time, she did live at their house for 2 years at one point, so it was nice that almost everyone got one last pet.

I reserved the next night, the night before as strict family time, just our little bunch. I'm not sure she even touched the floor at all she was held and petted so much. I considered bringing her to sleep in our bed, but I didn't. The bedrooms have always been off limits to her as I do have allergies and didn't want her sleeping on my pillow regularly. I was afraid that she would be crushed or knocked off the bed, as we were so unused to sleeping together anymore, so I settled her on her own bed for the night.

She was still there in the morning, I doubt she moved at all. She was still there when we came home early from work to take her to the doctor. I held her and cried for a long time. I tried giving her some food and water one last time. I was gripped with guilt when she did actually eat a bit of it. I worried that we were jumping the gun, acting too soon. She stumbled on her weak, skinny legs as she walked away, which was comforting to me in that moment. I was glad she was able to have a bit of a last meal, but she showed me that she was indeed very ill, and I felt a bit more at peace about the timing of my decision.

The vet is only a block and a half away, but we drove. It was raining a little, and I couldn't bear to put her into her carrier. It was only the cardboard box that she came home in from the shelter. I never upgraded her to a true cat carrier. She didn't travel, and she loved boxes. She would often just hang out in that box, so I just kept it for the occasional trip to the vet as it was kind of a safe place for her. This time though, I held her in my arms.



They had the exam room set up for us. There was a towel laid out on the table. They showed us right in, which I appreciated. They took care of the bill for us before, so that we could just leave when we were ready. I've seen tearful families quickly leaving in the past when I've been in the waiting room. I always thought that it was considerate that they don't make you settle up right after saying goodbye to your pet. I've never been present for the end of a life before, and I don't look forward to having to do it in the future. I chose to help her move on rather than waiting for the end. She was suffering, and I didn't want to come home to her, knowing she had gone alone. I was glad that I was able to be there, difficult as it was. I was glad there were tissues in the room. I needed them. I sort of need them now. A good friend who has gone through this several times recently said that she likes to talk to her cats as they go. I liked that idea. It's comforting knowing that the last thing she heard was my voice.

We chose not to bring her ashes home. I thought about it, having a little ceremony in the back yard. It didn't feel right though. She was an indoor cat. She never spent time in the yard. We won't even have this yard in a few years, and I would hate the idea of leaving her behind that way. I was sure to take a lot of pictures of her, and might consider having some kind of keepsake made. For now, I'm choosing to move on and take the memories with me.

I was very conscious of needing to explain what was happening, so that it wouldn't be a surprise. I hope that I was careful to strike that balance of being honest without being blunt, to be accepting of any reaction, to be open to questions without being pushy. I would recommend several books to help explain loss to children. Ida, Always, I Will Always Love You, and Saying Goodbye to Lulu were excellent. There were others that we read which were definitely not excellent, but I won't list them here. The last two were about losing pets, dogs specifically. Ida was a polar bear, and that story was told from her best friend Gus's perspective. I thought it was beautifully written and illustrated. In the end I'm glad that our first experience with loss is that of a loved pet, and that it was a natural death, though helped along. That was the only thing none of these books addressed, and I wish one of them had. While it was really hard, I do believe it's kind to help end suffering when there's no chance of it getting better.

I am adjusting to saying that I have a dog now. Not a cat and a dog. Just a dog. He drives me crazy, but he's a good boy. He is also, and always has been, a snuggler.

Back in 2009 or so, just getting to know each other









He is definitely my husband's buddy, like J was mine. He still favors D, but he's been scootching a little closer to me. I think he knows I need it.

I'll miss you sweet girl.