A poem, because why not

These are my words now.
Purpose. Focus. Drive. Forward. Develop. Improve.
My mantra. My chant. My onward, ho!

I am better than this struggle that I have ensnared myself in. I must march on and on and on and on. 

More. 
I. Want. More. 

I want so much more and do you know if that’s ok? Because I’m not sure I’ve completely embraced that yet but…
 I’m trying to.

Because I’m tired of cringing when the FPL bill comes due. 
I’m tired of the breath I have to take when I pile together the stacks of money for the rent’s sake.
Beause I’m tired of saying
“Baby I’m sorry, we can’t see the new Transformers movie because I don’t have enough money right now. No baby, not next week either, I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

But that’s over and that’s done now. I am on a new track. I am on *this* path– this way that I don’t really know, but it’s the way that I need to go.

Purpose. Focus. Drive. Forward. Develop. Improve.
My mantra. My chant. My onward, ho!

The Blogging Thing? Not so good…

I am just not so good at this blogging thing lately. I’m kind of lost in my head it feels like. There are different kinds of drama maybe. The external stuff writes itself practically. The internal stuff is pretty repetitive and tedious. I don’t really feel like I should be giving any advice on anything. And I don’t know, I don’t have things to brag about or anything.

Life is pretty mundane for this mutant. For better or for worse, I’m not sure I even know.

I’m out of touch too. Once Google nixed Google Reader that really killed the blogging thing for me. It was so easy to go into my Gmail and then my Reader and everything was together and seamless and nice and now it’s gone and I don’t even remember the name of the one that I went with because it’s been probably almost a year since I used it. Reading other blogs was often my biggest inspiration in writing my own.

That being said, I’m stubborn and am just not taking things down or announcing I am done with blogging or whatever. I like my place here, lonely as I’ve let it become.

You can still spy on me if you want. I’m still active on Google+ here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/118303245777999095791/posts

And I have a Facebook page for my tutus that I’m sort of bipolar about but I’m trying to get better with: http://www.facebook.com/tullepretty

And I’m on Etsy and perfectly available for stalking there too: https://www.etsy.com/people/mutantsupermodel

Oh and Pinterest. I’m on Pinterest too: http://www.pinterest.com/mutantmodel/

I’m everywhere. Except here. But that’s for now. I take turns. And I’m not NOT here obviously or this wouldn’t be happening. I’m just like I said lost in my head and distracting myself with tutus. Lots and lots of tutus to keep my mind off big ugly problems. Yeah.

Tutus are fun though. Here is one I’m going to be putting on Etsy soon for Halloween.

Halloween Tutu with Train

Craft Fair Recap

SO! As I mentioned last week, I was going a little cuckoo getting ready for my very first craft fair. It took place this past Saturday and wow!

First things first, I sold enough inventory that I covered the table fee and then some. I didn’t sell a high number of items but that’s ok– I only went with big ticket items after all and wasn’t really to pull in too much revenue on-site.

I participated in the giveaway they had so 120 people got my business card taped to a Disney or Marvel themed pack of tissues. Another 130 picked up my business card at my table.

I had a lot of face to face time with customers and potential customers. Since I really want to push for custom orders, this was ideal. It also helped me make some decisions regarding inventory to carry at future craft fairs (oh yes, I will definitely be doing more) and even to stock Etsy with.

The face to face time was by far the most valuable part of the craft fair. It was also my favorite. I paid attention to everything– what sizes people were looking for, what colors drew their eye, what designs, etc. It even gave me courage to aggressively expand outside of tutu skirts and has started me thinking about potential growth paths I can take if I am so inclined.

I will definitely do more of these. The show organizer said they are trying to get another one ready for July but that if they can’t they will definitely have two more this year– in October and in December. I am also hoping that as I meet other crafters, I will hear about other fairs. If I can do six craft fairs a year, and ramp up custom and direct orders, I think it is very feasible to achieve my goal of making as much money as I receive in child support a year.

Where I have to be careful is with the holiday months as these are high seasons for my corporate job and are high seasons for my side job. So I will have to be extra careful with time management and will have to really pursue custom orders in the months leading up to October/November/December.

Overall, I’m excited and pleased. This is what gives me pleasure. This is what gives me confidence. This is what gives me pride. Being creative, being in charge, and being rewarded for it.

Tulle Pretty Table

 

Flurry

The past seven days have been absolutely wild. Things tend to happen like that– life’s nice and calm and then you hit warp speed.

There is a craft fair this Saturday in Ft. Lauderdale. I had applied to this craft fair pretty much just a couple days after they announced it. It’s been around a while and it happens a few times a year. It gets a great crowd and I think I’d fit in pretty damn well and I’d have a good time experimenting with my funkier concepts. This was in early April. They finally told me I had been accepted last Monday.

I swear to you, one hour after I got the email and possibly did a happy dance on the train, I got a text message from my friend to be on standby because it looked like she was going to be induced that day. I had been designated the child care for her two other children.

Super crazy long story short, I went to the hospital Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to visit my friend. For Monday and Tuesday I had 5 children sleep over at my house. Their father joined them Tuesday night as well.

So I am finally gearing up mentally for this Craft Fair thing that’s coming up next Saturday right? And I make these big giant plans for this weekend because the kids are with their dad and my friend and her baby are home and things are good. We went to get a yummy Jamaican dinner and as we settle down to eat my love jumps up in severe total pain.

Super crazy long story short, he had a kidney stone. I got home close to 4AM Saturday morning. Slept a few hours and have been making tutus non-stop.

This whole experience has caused a crazy emotional experience. I almost talked myself out of the whole craft fair actually because I was freaking out that it’d be a failure for me and I should just try again but then I told myself that as a new applicant, if I was like oh no thanks I can’t possibly be ready in time, they would never accept me again and if they did they would probably give me less notice because they’d leave me as a last resort type of vendor so I was like OK I AM DOING IT.

And then I was like well you know if it’s a total bust and I don’t even sell one thing at least I can look at this like a paid workshop with hands on demonstrations of what to do and what not to do and I can have the experience of interacting with people who do not know me personally and see what they think of my products. Because seriously I love my friends and family and my co-workers and they all love my product but maybe they’re biased a bit right?

Well NOW I am all super excited and thinking hey I might even make some money at this thing maybe possibly. And even if I don’t I am going to have so much fun because I love hanging out with a bunch of artsy people anyways and looking at handmade things and in Miami we just don’t get that opportunity very much and this is one where there will be 64 other artsy people besides me and we will be stuck in the same 40000 sq feet of space for five hours so that should be potentially super cool right?

And even if I don’t sell not one single tutu (which ok would be kind of soul crushing a little bit maybe) or get not one single custom order, I’ll have had the exposure and I’ll have had the learning experience and that’s totally worth the price of admission.

I like making my tutus. I like selling my tutus. I like coming up with designs and have people fawn over them and pay me to make them. It’s really FUN. I get to go all out and be all creative and have a good time with the process. And I like doing things that make people happy and putting girls of all ages in fluffy tutu skirts and watching the giant smiles on their faces is seriously happy-making you know?

PLUS I have committed to making a dozen tutus for the residents of my local Ronald McDonald house so if I do not sell not one single tutu, not only will I have all that amazing experience but I will have almost every single one of the tutus for the charity DONE. So there are lots of good things all around you see? It’s just a crazy wild ride and I am awash in a flurry of tulle and activity.

So how was YOUR weekend?

For my friend

I have a habit of writing really long comments that are blog posts of their own. I was doing that now on a friend’s blog and figured I’d just write about it here because it’s a good fit for my blog.

I have blogged on and off for many years and made many blog friends with many interests. Eventually this included personal finance friends as well and it is to one of these friends I was responding. Maybe you don’t have to deal with these kinds of problems, but maybe you do and if you do this is for you too just in case maybe it helps you too.

For years, I have read a lot about personal finance. I have read the blogs, the books, the articles. I know about snowballs vs. avalanches. I know about emergency funds. I know about the mint and the karma. I know lots of things I really wish I didn’t know.

The one thing that I have done that has helped me the most? I stopped obsessing over it.

Basically I stopped looking at and caring about the major numbers. The only balance I care about is my checking account. I don’t care about how much I owe to credit cards or student loans. I don’t care about my credit score. I don’t care about how much I owe or how much I’m worth compared to the average Jane. I just.don’t.care.

This doesn’t mean I go hog-wild and rack everything up. I already know not to do that. The few credit cards I have either got put in a different part of my wallet (the one for emergencies), got discarded (store cards), or got converted into Debit cards (I love you, Target).

I have a list of the bills that need to get paid and their amounts (the credit card line is padded above minimums) and then the rest of the money is for everything else– food, clothes, gifts, etc.

I know that I don’t have that much left over so I keep purchases down to a minimum. I check my checking account often to get an idea of what I can and can’t spend. And that seems to work just fine.

Sometimes things unexpectedly happen and they need to be paid for. I do what I can with my checking and if I need to, I use my credit card.

At this point in my life, my emergency credit card is just a part of my life. It won’t be for long but it is for now. And I decided to not feel bad that it is. It just is.

The biggest part of this was the acceptance of who I am and who I am not.

In the personal finance world, the stories that get the spotlight are the debt-free ones and not once has any of those stories echoed my experience. I am not them and I refuse to compare myself to them.

When you have been doing this for as long as I have and for as long as my friend has, you can let go. And that’s my advice to her and to you if you are in this situation. You know what to do. Trust yourself a little bit and let it go. Erase the counters. Stop analyzing the balances. Let go of the expense tracking. You are not a newbie. I think debt and money in general is a lot like a wound.

You want a wound to heal? Leave it alone!! The same with your money. You want it to grow and to get to work? Stop messing with it.

Stop evaluating it and re-evaluating it and changing your mind and changing your mind back again. You know what you need to do so keep doing it. Don’t check in every few days, check in every few months.

Seriously, it’s the best advice I have.

We all have this beautiful mental energy and we waste it on worrying and stressing about things that do best when you don’t worry and stress about them.

99 problems but 86

You are going to make it. You are going to make it and I am going to make it because we are aware and we are knowledgeable. We know we have the problems and we know how to fix them and we are doing what we can. Are we doing the best that we can? Maybe and maybe not. Maybe this doesn’t deserve our best effort and that is ok when you give yourself permission to make it ok. Maybe there are way more important things in your life that deserve your best effort and that deserve your mental energy and that is fine, that is great honestly.

Because seriously, seriously, do you want to look back at this time in your life and be reminded me of how much stress, anxiety, and fear there was because of something as fleeting as finances? Reality check: you do not need to be debt-free with an emergency fund and healthy retirement savings to be less stressed. You need to choose to be less stressed and those things come. Or they don’t. And that’s good and fine too.

When emergencies happen, and they always happen, stressing about how on earth you are going to pay for something fixes absolutely nothing. Often, it makes things so much worse. What fixes things is fixing things. Whether that means credit cards, going without, a combination of things, or something entirely else does not matter. Resolving it and moving on does.

When your life ends, the most important questions are not going to be:

  • What is your credit score?
  • How much money do you have in savings?
  • Do you even IRA?

I mean, I guess some people might have those questions but I know that money is literally the absolute last thing I want to reflect on as my life comes to a close. And I am pretty sure, my friend, that the same applies to you.

You have children and I have children and you have people you love and I do too and I know that I want to reflect on them and the beautiful moments we had together. I want to think about their smell and their voice and the way they felt in my arms. I want to reflect on their laughter.

So let it go my friend. You deserve so much better than the pain you inflict on yourself with all this mess. You really do and so do those wonderful people you love so very much.

Stable = Quiet

It turns out that in my case, stability makes for a very quiet blog. I mean look at this place– the lapses in blogging are massive.

All that being said, I’m still not shutting the place down. I just don’t see the point. Besides, what if my whole universe gets flipped upside down again? Do you know how hard it is to get the blog thing all set up again?  No thank you, I’ll just leave all my laundry right here.

So, what’s the latest? Seriously, not much at all.

The pneumonia kicked my butt hard and has been difficult and slow to recover from. I’ll be thinking that I’m back to normal and try and do a bunch of stuff and find myself out of breath or just completely wiped out. But I’m getting there, really.

Last weekend, we emptied out the kids’ rooms, painted them, and then switched them. I have been slowly putting things back. And then we also re-did our living room so I’ve been living with a massive mess for a week but that is also starting to normalize. Yesterday I really put some serious work in and now the living room has sofas and chairs you can actually sit on and some tables that you can put things on if you are so inclined. My work station is a completely different thing but that’s ok. The dining room table is half and half which is fine because that’s about all the space we need right now.

This weekend we celebrated Free Comic Book Day even though it ended up costing me money because I found a great comic book store that’s close to my mom’s house and is just awesome– friendly staff, nice organization, awesome experience. They totally took my money. The other store we went to was almost a complete nightmare but then this one guy showed up to work the late shift and saved the day. Super nice guy, helped my kids find age appropriate comics (oh how things change) and talked with my youngest about Carnage for like 15 minutes straight. I don’t know how I feel about my youngest son’s favorite character being a psychotic killer but I’m thinking it’s just a phase.

I miss comic books. And I like anything that has kids reading and while that’s so not an issue with my oldest, my daughter is not taking to it the same way so with her it’s harder. I don’t want to be overbearing and pushy with it but I don’t want to just give up on her either if that makes sense.

I think that what happens is with the first kid you have all this time and you can devote this attention so I used to read a lot when the oldest was youngest. For ages I read bedtime stories at night. I don’t do that anymore and haven’t done it in years. So in a way, even though it didn’t feel like it really, I did babysit my oldest as he got into reading in a way that I haven’t really done with my younger two.

So since the oldest is pretty set on his way with the book thing, I’m shifting focus to my daughter. I have noticed that she is pretty terrible at reading a book all the way through. She starts one and then drops it for another and then drops that one for another one and so on and so forth. So we are going to go ahead and pick a few out and she’s going to read one and I’m going to read it and we’ll quiz each other about it and talk about it and then we’ll move to the next one. I will spare you individual book reviews from series like the Rescue Princesses or the Cooking Fairies but if I happen to get into a series and think it’s a good one for girls, I’ll let you know.

Oh and in happy Mutant news, I am going to donate tutus to my local Ronald McDonald house. There are 12 girls living there and I’m making each of them a tutu. :) I figure I have to make tutus anyways to build up my portfolio, why not spread the love and put some good vibes out there in the world while I’m at it?

 

Is it time to unblock?

2009 was a rough year for me. My marriage ended and with it a few friendships (it’s a thing that happens universally it seems). One way I went about coping with all that was to block several people on Facebook. I didn’t want them to see my life unfolding and I didn’t want to be reminded of their existence. Facebook is weird that way, you know? You don’t have to be friends with people for them to show up. They can comment on your mutual friends’ posts for instance. Or tag your friends into their photos. Social media at its most awkward really, or even at its most painful as it was turning out to be for me at that time.

So I blocked.

And you know, it’s worked. I mean I know that they are still around the edges because I will see their names in comments or posts but I don’t actually see them or what they have to say.

Except that now, five whole years later, I’m wondering if it’s time to unblock.

Do I care? Do I care if they see my life unfolding anymore? That was my main problem. I didn’t want them all up in my business. Now, I don’t really care. And I have to wonder that if I tear this down, maybe it’d pave the way for things to be less awkward. I don’t want to renew friendships with any of these people, but it would be helpful if there was less tension in certain cases– especially where we have mutual friends.

What do you think Internet? Leave the blocks in place or tear them down? It also amuses me to know that if I take down the blocks, they could have me blocked as well and nothing would change but at least I did something on my end about it if that makes sense.

 

 

 

Wowza

On April 1, I woke up feeling pretty good. I had dyed my kids’ milk blue the night before and stuck fake insects in their goldfish bags. I was also a chaperone on Baby’s field trip to an environmental center. Everything went pretty well. On the bus back though I got a huge headache which I didn’t think much of because there were 30 five and six year olds screaming on the bus with me. But when I got home, I felt really really weird and found I had a fever.

Long story short, that Friday I found out I had pneumonia and I have been fighting with the stupid thing since. Today is actually the first day I am back at the office since March 31. I’m mostly ok. I lose my breath pretty quickly, or I start to get clammy and sweaty if I over-do it. I cough a lot if I talk a lot. And I am always tired. But after being out of commission so long, I’m glad to finally be feeling better. I have never had pneumonia before and I didn’t get hospitalized for it but it really just dug in and made itself at home.

I keep joking that I did ask for a vacation from life– this just wasn’t what I had in mind. I was riding this wave of productivity and projects at the end of March and it just slammed into pneumonia. And it’s not like I can just jump in where I left off. I learned that the hard way. So I’m starting to build up again, little by little.

One thing that I have realized is that my life has calmed down a lot and I’m doing a lot of thinking on that because we sure do have a way of making our own lives crazy all by ourselves, don’t we? I have some decisions to make, some numbers to crunch. I have to think about pros and cons but calmly. And I have to do it now while things are calm so I’m not making any more decisions out of fear or out of stress.

So yeah, that’s all that. What about you guys? How have you been?

And now, something fluffy

I think it’s been pretty obvious things have been out of sorts for this mutant for a while. Today is a good day which is nice because it happens to be World Happiness Day and I think it would have been a particularly nasty day if everyone was celebrating and I was moping.

I have been actively combating the mopes. One of my co-workers introduced me to the song “Happy” by Pharrell a couple of weeks ago. I know I am super late to the Happy Party but I have been very disconnected from mainstream radio and music for several years now thanks mostly to Pandora and Songza and podcasts. So when I need a boost, I play Happy or I go to 24 Hours of Happy if I’m at the office. The other aural happy pill has been Let it Go from Frozen. It’s melodramatic and powerful and totally awesome to belt out or lip sync if I’m surrounded by people. I have also made it a point to just try and shut down as much of the negativity as possible with a mental “NO I am not going to do that right now” and then I try and move my mind elsewhere.

Another thing that has been combating the mopes has been making tutus.

Tutus by Tulle Pretty

I didn’t start making tutus to combat the mopes. I started making tutus when Daughter wanted a Batman tutu dress for Halloween and I learned how to make it. Then I made a bunch of elf tutu skirts for the school and now I make them to order for friends and family. It turns out that this is something I enjoy doing very much because 1) I have always wanted to make clothes and 2) I love ballet and 3) I can make money doing them. For whatever reason, there are some things the market is willing to pay fair handmade prices for (i.e. tutus) and some things they aren’t (i.e. crocheted items).

Enough friends and family and strangers expressed an interest that I finally staked out a place online. If you’re interested, you can find my little tutu making enterprise on Facebook. I have also slowly but surely started to work on an Etsy store. I am @TullePretty on Instagram too. It’s funny because a lot of people see tutus as these very delicate and girly things and even though they are very girly and delicate pieces of clothing, what a tutu represents to me is the ballerina. The ballerina is insanely agile, graceful, and powerful. I have always felt ballerinas are incredible athletes so I do enjoy honoring them this way. If you’ve got some ideas for tutus, I’d love to hear them. I especially enjoy coming up with ideas that are a bit different than the norm and I like to celebrate female characters that are as strong as ballerinas. If you are on Pinterest, you can even send your pins to me and I can add them to my Tutu Inspirations board.

I am still struggling with big questions and big issues. I think that everyone struggles with these questions at some point in their life. It just happens that this is the time for me. What I am starting to accept is that isn’t exactly a bad thing. Yes I am strongly compelled to compare myself to others but I am quickly curing myself of that because I am finally beginning to really understand that I will never be able to do a true apples to apples comparison and therefore, it’s a waste of time and effort and energy. Even if I were able to do a true comparison, it doesn’t change anything so why do it?

I do remain convinced that this is my year. Things are in motion even if right now it’s mostly the gears in my head. That’s fine. And maybe I’m not really sure of an end destination yet but I am sure that it’s time to set out. So you know, I’m working on all that. Bear with me?

 

Talking to myself

I have mentioned before on here that I have problems with self-talk. It is something that I still struggle with. So I am going to turn this one over to you guys. What are some things you do to battle negative self talk? I think it was once mentioned that there was a negativity jar and whenever someone said something negative about themselves, they’d have to put money in the jar. I like that very much but the worst of my negativity takes place in my head where no one can call me out on it. I was also told that it might be healthy to write it down. Seeing it in black and white and being able to write out the counter point of view might help quell it. After all, in my head the negativity might be louder but on paper they are the same volume. Lastly, I was advised to try deep breathing exercises when the anxiety spiral begins. These seem like reasonable suggestions. What do you think? Have any others?