My networking journey

Last week I wrote a piece about my leap into the world of networking. I discussed the joys of finding a community, of shaking off that feeling of isolation and discovering lots of lovely new creations. This week I have found more lovely crafters and I admit that yes, I am finding lovely birthday and (dare I say it) Christmas presents for friends and family as I travel around these pages and follow my feeds.

Despite these ongoing rewards, I’m now into week 2 of networking and to be quite honest, the glow of networking has faded slightly. During these last few days, I have to say I have been in the company of my inner critic and naysayer. Now I don’t know about you but throughout my life I have been plagued with that little voice inside that is quick to point out my flaws, what I have done wrong and that slowly chips away at my confidence if I let it.

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Before my venture out in to the big wide world of social media and networking, I lived in my little bubble with my blinkers on to some extent. Yes, I wasn’t interacting with others, forging relationships with other crafters or my customers but at the same time I wasn’t open to all those other pages. I have found that while roaming, it is easy to put others above you. It is tempting to look at the work of others and compare it to my own. Obviously, in these scenarios mine rarely stands up under the scrutiny. It is also too easy to read my feed and see other people’s posts as wittier, prettier and downright amazing.

Needless to say, I’ve been putting myself through the ringer a little bit these last few days which is much easier when you are feeling a bit low anyway. Life is throwing me more of those sneaky curveballs and change is coming in so many different ways that it has been difficult to tell that inner critic where to go.

So what am I going to do about it? In all honesty I want to give up. I want to pack it all in and go back to hiding but that would get me no where would it? I want a magic answer – that solution that will fix all things but that’s not an option either. In the absence of magic and miracles, I am going to put my head down and keep moving forward. To those pages I admire, I will take note of what I admire about them and see if I can improve my work/photos/page/posts in any way to close the gap between us. I will continue to interact with my customers and other crafters to help and support them where I can and gather hints, tips and information from them too (just the other day, a customer gave me a wonderful tip that has helped me no end).

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I will STOP comparing myself to others and be proud of my work. As I saw somewhere the other day, I have designed my work, I have put it together and I have got me to this point – thats something I am grateful for and proud of. To that little voice inside, I will aim to ignore it. In those times when all this seems impossible, I will do my best and not beat myself up about it. I will try to remember that I am not perfect and neither is anyone else.

So networking and I have had our honeymoon period but now the rose tinted specs are off. I am learning that its not all hearts and roses. Regardless of all this, I am in it for the long haul and I’m sure we can get over this rough patch and I can become a better person for it. Fingers crossed ūüėČ

Until next time,

Toni x

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Network, network, network

It’s been a busy old week at Dollies HQ.¬† My eldest daydreamer lost her first tooth, I’ve been working on orders and new ideas (including some for around 6 months time…) and I have been thoroughly enjoying the sunshine with family and friends. I am a fan of winter but its so lovely to throw the doors and windows open in the summer.

 

In addition to all this, I have been networking on social media and reaching out to other crafters, businesses and customers. Now to some of you, you may be thinking ‘she’s only just started doing this?’ and it may be part of your daily routine whether you want to publicize your blog, business or other venture. For me, I admit it is new to some extent.¬†

Sourced from Pinterest

Sourced from Pinterest

Don’t get me wrong, I have dipped my toe in the water when it comes to networking but as a result of time (not making time that is) and more importantly confidence, I have shied away from it.¬† I have concentrated on creating, writing and keeping my head down. Slowly though I have carved time into my day to spend time on Twitter and Facebook to communicate with other businesses and have found myself enjoying chatting to like minded people.

Yes, the goal of networking is to get your name and your product out there but it has been so much more in the past week. By communicating with other people I admit I have made sales but more importantly, I have discovered some lovely individuals and beautiful work.  I have received some fantastic feedback on my designs, developed new ideas and purchased a few lovely gifts for birthdays etc. that are coming up.

I think there is a danger when networking to have a take, take,¬†take attitude.¬† Maybe to some, it’s the way of the world.¬†It comes across very quickly when someone is wanting to do this and its not nice to be on the receiving end.¬†To others, networking can seem daunting¬†for fear that their work won’t stand up or that by publicisizing their work they are opening themselves up to imitators, critisisors or even worse the sound of silence.¬†

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Sourced from Pinterest

I am pleased¬†to say that in the communities I have connected with and the people I have met have not been like this. Through this experience, I have felt a part of something. I have felt less isolated. I have been able to ask questions and find out information I wouldn’t¬†otherwise have done.

I¬†have also developed a new found respect for those ‘bigger personalities’ on social media – those with a more established fan base and network of people.¬† They have worked hard for that following, for those relationships.¬†¬†They are well known and well thought of for a reason.

Sourced from Pinterest

Sourced from Pinterest

It would be easy to sit back and think that¬†if I just create and its meant to be,¬†positive things will happen.¬†It would also be simpler (though ALOT more expensive) to throw money at advertising and other things to do the work for me and hope good things will come.¬† What I’ve realised over this last week is that it wouldn’t be half as fun to do that.¬† I wouldn’t be able to direct people to other sellers when I know they have just what they’re looking for. I wouldn’t be able to have a chat with someone about their market nights, their fantastic work or the weather.¬†ūüôā I took on a challenge to network for an hour a day (instigated by¬†the amazing HTLMP)¬†and I’m so glad I did. It is hard work, especially on busy days but I’m reaping so many rewards…many of them unexpected and delightful.

I am not there yet. I still have a few stumbling blocks in all this – I haven’t dared giveaways yet (God forbid no-one likes the giveaway and does not¬†enter…) and I need to get myself further out into the world but just for today this is enough.

Do you network? Have you got some success stories or tips for networking? I would love to hear about them.

Until next time,

Toni x

Simple living

The philosophy of Simple Living

The philosophy of Simple Living

I read an article this week about a guy who had adopted the idea of ‘Simple living’. For a while now he has been the proud owner of a grand total of 15 items – 15! From what I can remember in his 15 items he owned items which consisted of clothing, an iphone and a laptop. This article stirred up a mixture of thoughts and emotions in me; shock, wonder and fear amongst other things. Consequently, I have found myself pondering on the concept at random points during the week. Could I live with just 15 things? I’m not sure I could but I couldn’t give you a definite reason why. Ok I could probably live with a small amount of clothing – jeans, jumper, tshirt, cardigan and a posh dress for the special occasions. That’s five. Then trainers (which I live in anyway) and I’d have to have smart shoes to go with the dress. That brings me to… 20140511-103643.jpg

I’ve pondered about technology and I am afraid to say I would, like the guy in the article, have to have a laptop and my iphone. First of all, I could live without my laptop for work but beyond that, for music, tv and communication my mac and iphone can do it all. I could also live without my kindle as my iphone could have the app. (Things have certainly come a long way from this days I spend hours happily typing on my Commodore 64!)

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Anyone remember this screen? ūüėČ

So…technology included, I’m up to nine. However, this is where I fall down. How could I not live without my sewing stash: my thread, needles, fabrics and other supplies? Granted I could live without my sewing machine as any large sewing projects could in theory be done by hand although it would take longer. I don’t think I could limit my craft supplies down to single items. Without them, I am certain I would be a very different person and not in a good way. Sewing is my go to when I need to destress, contemplate and unwind. So…could I cheat and just lump ‘craft stuff’ together as one item??? Maybe not ūüėČ

Then there’s the memories. My photo albums. My videos. Granted, newer memories are on my iphone and mac but the old ones, the treasured ones of childhood and of those who aren’t here anymore are not. These are the ones I need to revisit sometimes to refresh those often cloudy memories of years gone by. Those that remind me of how things used to be – of what my dad used to sound like, of how I used to be and of how our family spent time together. Life gets busy. Things happen and relationships change – for better and worse. We sometimes forget what the past was like or it becomes clouded by other things. No. I couldn’t live without those memories. They defined who I am and they were my life – it’s nice to relive them every now and again.

So I admit I couldn’t live¬†with just 15 things but I have to admit, it has made me look at the ‘stuff’ I’ve got around me in a different light. There are lots of things I have in my home that I don’t use or need. Maybe now is the time to re-evaluate whether it should still have a home here. This has also made me wonder why I have some items¬†in the first place. Maybe I fell into the trap of doing what everyone else does – I’ve bought stuff because I think it’s going to make life better/easier. I’ve bought stuff because I’ve thought I needed it (I probably didn’t). I’ve also bought things that I needed then but¬†don’t need now.

Over the next few weeks I am going to keep this idea in mind and try to simplify my possessions.  I hope I will be successful as I truly believe you feel better when you let go of things that no longer serve you.

What do you think – could you live a simple life with just 15 items? Which ones would you keep and couldn’t live without?

Until next time,

Toni xx

Back to ‘normality’

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Last Thursday was the first day I had experienced without any dizziness. Over a week on the dreaded Labyrinthitis is becoming just a painful memory ūüôā

Since then I have thoroughly enjoyed throwing myself back into sewing.

I’ve been preparing some new work templates….

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I’ve been working on a development of my popular Safari wreath…

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I’ve also been developing a new pirate themed wreath and doing some cross stitch I’ve got on the go as a gift, (can’t wait to show you that!)

I’ve also been making a few more pom pom flowers ūüôā

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This has all been amazing. For want of a better phrase – it felt like coming home. At the same time, I have also gone back to work. I cannot describe the difference I feel between the two roles. Once again, my heart is telling me where it wants to be but at the moment my head will not let go of the idea of ‘normal’ – to have a career with the fall back of a regular monthly wage (and I also appreciate the purpose of sick pay after these long two months).

I read someone’s blog page this week who had taken the admirable step to walk away from the ‘norm’ and followed his heart. How amazing would it be to feel so free?!

So….I will keep moving forward. I will read these inspiring accounts of people who have been true to themselves. I will keep working on the multitude of ideas I have building in my sketchbook and wait to see what tomorrow brings….after all tomorrow’s another day ūüôā

Have you ever made a big leap into the unknown? Are you still looking for the right time to make a change? What inspired you to follow your heart?

Until next time,

Toni x