Breaking the rules

All my life, I have taken pride in the fact that I am good. I do what I think is expected of me. I fear taking risks in case they fail and I leave myself open to judgement and criticism.

As I have grown, I guess these actions have served me well but it’s also stopped me growing as a person. I’m finding now that as I delve further into my creativity, it is becoming an enemy rather than a friend. What helped me get through life in a way I found acceptable is now hindering my work. I find that I am torn between continuing the way I have always done, of doing what is expected of me and wanting to walk towards my dream life – by stepping over that line and being a rebel.

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The more I accept the daredevil inside me, the more the fear builds and ultimately, the louder that voice gets. You know the one; the one that is quick to criticise, to tell you what is going to go wrong, to let you know just how you will let others down – how others will judge you.

So the other morning I sat and thought. In a rare moment without my girls and husband around, I turned off the TV. I refrained from listening to music, made a cup of tea and sat outside. Listening to the birds, I just sat and closed my eyes. As seconds passed and I thought about where I was and where I want to be, I suddenly started distinguishing between what my heart was screaming and what my head was telling me. For the first time, I realised that my head was always a fraction behind my heart. Everything my heart was saying made me feel good to my core. Whenever my head spoke, I felt fear.
listen in the silence and hear the voice of your heart
That moment defined my future. It has helped me to make the first steps towards the life I want and the life I need. I want to rediscover the joy in life and teach my kids that money is not what counts; its how happy you are that matters. I don’t know what will happen in the long term after I make this change and that scares the life out of me, but I already feel as though a weight has been lifted. If I listen closely, there’s another voice inside that’s whispering that it’s ok; that I need to have faith, that I should trust that everything thing will be good and when those bumps in the road come along, as they inevitably do, I will cope. Everything I’ve done and learned has led to this and it’s time to move forward….one step at a time.

Until next time,

Toni x

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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 😉

Until next time,

Toni x

Are numbers just numbers?

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It’s been a few days since my last post and I am so touched by the responses I have received from it.  You will never know how timely they were.  There are many days when I feel as though I am on the right track and that I am where I am meant to be and then there are the other days when that inner voice is questioning everything I do and I feel like I ought to just give it all up.

Starting off on a new venture is hard.  You want to pursue something you love doing, that you are passionate about and yet all of a sudden there is so much more to learn and consider. You have questions, you have doubts and lots of to do lists.  You have ideas buzzing round in your head, you sit and create something that you are really proud of yet to show that to the world seems like the scariest thing.

What if no one likes it?

What if no one buys it?

What if it’s all for nothing?

One thing that holds me back in life (not just my creative life!) is looking at others, comparing myself to them and thinking I should do what they do.  It is so easy to look at other businesses and see everything I am not doing, to see how great their work is.

This is where I was the other day when I wrote my last blog. I was wondering whether I’d made a mistake starting all this. I was obsessing over what the ‘magic ingredient’ was that I still needed be as popular as others. I was looking at other people and I could not compete.  Then some of you lovely lot got in touch and talked about how much the last blog meant or discussed your similar experiences and in a heartbeat the numbers didn’t seem to matter anymore.

I realised that I could have a business where I made things that I knew would sell. I could have a facebook page where I ticked all the right boxes.  I could have a blog where I sat and wrote all the things I think you want to hear, all the things that sound clever. I could dance that magic dance but I won’t.  If I did that I wouldn’t be happy. I wouldn’t be learning and I certainly would not want to continue with Dollies. Most of all I wouldn’t be finding so much out about myself. I wouldn’t be pushing my limits and stepping out of my comfort zone.

I realised that I am on a journey and if there are people that want to join me, to read my blog then that is fantastic – I would love to continue to share these experiences and all I am learning. I would love to know that some of my work has gone to a good home. For now, I am trying to remember that numbers are just numbers. They don’t guarantee success or happiness but if I receive only one piece of feedback like the feedback I received earlier this week it makes it all worthwhile and I know I am doing something right.

Go me! 😉

Until next time,

Toni xx