Category Archives: thoughts

Color Palette #179 :: Energize

energize palette

I’ve been working on Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map for the better part of 2013. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s part book, part worksheets, part multimedia program, and 100% self-reflection. And the main idea in it all revolves around declaring how you want to feel in order to do more of what makes you feel that way.

It took me a while – I like to ponder things over – and then life got all busy, but I finally carved out time to sit down with all the descriptive words I liked to narrow it down to a select few (Danielle calls these your Core Desired Feelings). It’s been like a more expansive, more personal, less time sensitive word-of-the-year exercise, and once I stopped putting it off, really fun.

I’ve been test driving my words, reflecting on them, and they feel pretty good. I’m holding them close for right now, but I had to share a finalist that didn’t make the cut with you: energize.

Energize is such a great word, and really, if the number six felt right to me (it doesn’t, I like odd numbers), energize would be on my list. One definition sells me: to give energy to. Isn’t that a great idea on the cusp of a new year? What would you give energy to in 2014?

In the abstract, I’d say more inherent joy for me, please. In concrete terms, I’d like to give energy to simplifying and streamlining my life, and revamping the way I do things.

Part of that means I’ll be unplugging more. January marks three years for this blog (though it’s more like five years total if you’ve been with me since the very beginning), and I’ve hit the point where I’m feeling tapped out. I can’t keep up with a five day a week, or even a three day a week, blogging schedule anymore, so rather than fill this space with fluff, I’ll be showing up when I’ve got something to say or share.

But the more I think about it, the more I see that as a good thing, because that photo up above? That’s how I want to feel. Bright and lively and excited. I’m not there yet, but I will be. Time to hone in and focus, which is a pretty decent thing to give energy to, I think.

However you spend it, have a fabulous New Year!

 

 

A personal update

I don’t usually get too personal on here; that’s by design and choice. Some people can easily and readily share every detail of their lives, and that’s awesome, but that’s something my introvert personality shies away from. Still, I’m going to break through that wall a little today to explain that I’m about to be pretty absent around here for the next few weeks.

Right now, I’m waiting at the hospital for a family member to finish the first of two knee replacement surgeries. It’s an elective thing, we’ve known about it for a while, and we all feel confident about the outcome(s). Today’s the first surgery, the second’s on Friday.

Once released from the hospital, I’ll be helping out with the recovery. That’s exactly what I want to be doing, and I’m grateful I have the kind of job that allows for that. But that also means I won’t be around here too often because I’m focused on my family.

So, bear with me, friends, for the next month plus. I’ll be back when I can, okay?

 

Color Palette #175 :: Nighttime Swimming

nighttime swimming palette

Two weeks ago today, I spent four hours in a dentist’s office getting a broken tooth extracted, a temporary bridge put in, and a cleaning. The cleaning was the least of my problems, really, but it happened so I feel the need to share it with you.

As you can imagine, getting a tooth pulled is not fun. But my new dentist is awesome (super nice, super patient, in no way pushy, and she’s got satellite TV at each station and mobile x-ray things so I don’t need to leave my chair, too) and numbed pretty much the entire right side of my head, so all I really felt was the tugging and me drooling all over myself (two words: “really sexy”, or possibly “hot mess”).

Aside from passing out at 8 that night (getting your tooth pulled is apparently exhausting business), it hasn’t been bad. At all. Not one bit. But that wasn’t exactly the way I wanted to end a vacation, you know what I mean? Still, I’m grateful she made the experience as painless as she could. I’m also grateful for anesthetic, or whatever you call those shots.

The gratitude I had for her making a crappy situation less crappy is why I’m telling you about my dental work. It got me thinking about ways to make things smoother and easier for customers and clients of mine. Not that I have any concrete tips on how to do that yet, but it’s definitely been on my mind.

After years of selling online and working for myself, I’ve gotten in the habit of thinking how I can make a process easier for me as the seller. But now I’m also thinking about how to make things easier for the buyer, too. Surely, there’s common ground there, right? I’ll let you know if and when I find it. Or, if you’ve found it, do you feel like sharing?

How have you been?

 

P.S. In case you’re wondering, no, the photo has pretty much nothing to do with this post. I’m sharing it because it’s pretty, I dig it, and my friend’s new house out in California has a pool, so now I have a tan in addition to new dental work.

 

Wherein my bed and I get reaquainted

bgb palette 30

I think my excitement for Understanding Color totally overwhelmed me. In my blog absence last week, I tackled, started, or completed projects that will be coming over the next few months. Then I power-worked through the weekend getting things ready for the launch (all of those little details! Do others have a gigantic pre-launch list, too, or am I just neurotic?), grinning the whole time. Sleep? Pfft.

Then Monday morning hit, and I couldn’t pull myself out of bed. The best I could do was roll back over and sleep more. Tuesday was a repeat of Monday.

Clearly, my bed missed me. And/or a body can only take so much, whichever.

I did have a moment where I started to feel guilty. This is a terrible time to get tired, came one voice. There’s more to do! But self-care is important, too. So bear with me as I find a balance over here, as I juggle personal life and business life and projects and commitments. The very last thing I want to do is dial it in on my own blog; that’d be terrible, for all of us.

What have you been up to?

 

You do you

There’s one question I got on last Tuesday’s post that I didn’t answer. It’s not the first time I’ve gotten it, and probably won’t be the last, and I didn’t post my answer because it leaves me feeling funny (as in funny-awkward, not funny-hilarious). The question’s simple but the answer is a little complicated, and can open up a conversation that I wasn’t sure I wanted to have. But after thinking about it for the better part of a week, I decided why not?

So, here goes.

The question I get from time to time is this: How can I do what you do?

The meaning behind it has ranged from simple curiosity to wanting to replicate everything I’ve ever done online. I never take the question personally because, honestly, I’ve wondered the same thing about people, too.

So, why I do feel funny-awkward answering that question? Because my journey has been crazy and meandering and somewhat different from what other people experience. Replicating what I’ve done is not for everyone. 

If that’s hard to hear, let me explain.

 

 

My story

When I started selling online, it wasn’t a part-time job, it wasn’t a hobby. I didn’t transition my jewelry shop from part-time to full-time, I started it full-time.

That’s my first big point. I didn’t grow Catie’s Blue organically, slowly building on small successes and milestones. I simply launched it; one day it didn’t exist as a business entity, and the next day, it did. While not totally unique, it was (and is) a different position from what other creatives go through, and I recognize that.

My second point is that at the time, I was 25, single, and had no one relying on me for income. The way I saw it, and still see it, I was in a position to take a big risk without affecting anyone but me. And if it didn’t work, I’d do something else, but at least I wouldn’t be responsible for dragging anyone down if I failed; it was just me that I had to take care of.

But that’s exactly why my answer is the one it is. Not everyone can do what I did because your life situations are different than mine was, and still is. Do you have a full-time office job? A spouse? Children? A house to pay for? Starting a full-time creative business from scratch is a bigger risk for those with full-time jobs, families, and homes to take care of than it was for me. I still took a risk, sure, but it was a calculated one. But what was a calculated risk for me can be potentially damaging for others who have people relying on their income.

That’s why I hesitate when people ask me the “how do I do what you do?” question. It’s not that I think you can’t handle it, aren’t up for it, can’t figure it out, or aren’t talented enough; no.

It’s just that I think it’s a little irresponsible of me to sell you on the idea that you could do things exactly the way I did when you have responsibilities that I didn’t.

 

 

Change the question

All that said, I think it’s totally possible for you to start or run a business if you work for it. 

The question, though, should change at this point. It should be less about me and what I did, and more about what you can feasibly do.

Because there’s another big difference to note: I had an abundance of free time when I started. Time to create, and time to handle the business side of things. Time to explore and learn, time to mess up and fix it, time to try a bunch of things to see what worked.

Did I mess up along the way? Sure. I didn’t know much about starting and growing a business, so I learned everything on the fly. Was there pressure to bring in sales? Absolutely. And maybe that pressure was more than it would have been had I had a steady income to rely on while I worked on my side business part-time.

But because I had time on my side, I could do all those things and deal with whatever came my way. That’s not the case for everyone, so change the question. What you should be asking is “how can I start or grow a business my way?”

 

 

Doing you

If you’re looking to start or grow a business, my best suggestion is to figure out what you can and can’t do time- and responsibility-wise. If your family can’t afford to live without your paycheck, you already have one thing figured out, and that’s not a bad thing. Knowing where your limits are is very, very good.

It also doesn’t mean you can’t create or sell, period; just that you can’t do it full-time (yet, if that’s your goal). Which means you have to be very savvy about the time you have and maximize it as best as possible.

If your days are full with work and family activities, then find other times to create and check in with business/shop issues – early mornings, late nights, weekends, lunch breaks. If you find yourself with big chunks of time and can work fast, maybe wholesaling is an option, depending on what you’re making.

Or if time is a definite issue, then you know that custom orders may not be something you can do (sometimes, it’s about saying no). If your time is limited, look into solutions that doesn’t require you to be around. Automatic deliveries of PDF tutorials or ebooks, for example, can be handled by sites like E-JunkiePulley App, and now Etsy. Sites like Society6 print and ship your art for you. Lulu and Blurb print and ship your physical book. Consignment can work, too, since you’re not the person handling the point of sale, though it can take some leg work on your part to research and establish relationships with shops.

There’s so many options now that you can really customize the way your business runs and operates. And that’s what I really endorse – forget the exact steps that I’ve taken and start brainstorming what you can do.

 

 

I  hope this helps clarify what I’ve done myself, and where I’m coming from. This post isn’t meant to discourage anyone – just the opposite! I think the world needs more art to feed the soul, and now is the best time to get started. Think of all the resources and things we can do now that just didn’t exist ten years ago. “Now” is a very exciting time for creative businesses.

As always, I’m here if you want to reach out with any other questions! Email me if you don’t want to leave a public comment.

P.S. You might be interested in this post I wrote a while back: Full-time work with part-time hours.

P.P.S. I’m powering through the last few sections of my color theory book this week, and will be opening up for preorders shortly. Mailing list subscribers will get first crack – you can sign up here.

 

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