Sabbatical Adventures begin . . .

Sabbatical Adventures begin . . .

Monday, March 31, 2014

Is "new" fun?

Someone recently asked me how my sabbatical was going, "Was I having fun?"  I said, "Huh?" I never thought of my sabbatical as a 'vacation' to have fun, but as I said in the beginning, a time to start out new, daring to believe that things could take a different path in my life.  

Unplugging from my everyday routines, dares my mind to be uncluttered, and allows me to contemplate new directions. It is deviating from my norm. I had become comfortable in my 'path well traveled' and didn't want to deviate for fear of the unknownDeliberately exploring the possibilities of a new road, believing that things should and could be different than I have known them, can be a scary thing.  It is also hard work to discipline your mind to think differently. As for me, Sabbatical resting is work, not fun. To explain, I use a story from the Bible.

Although the Israelite slaves had cried for their freedom from the Egyptians, when the journey of actually leaving Egypt became tough, they cried again, to Moses, saying:  "Oh why did you bring us out here to die? Would that we would be slaves back in Egypt!"  They grumbled often on their path to freedom! 

Wrestling with new ideas, coming to a conclusion and a plan, while leaving the known, is not easy.  But it is what I have been up to.  Just to keep you up to date, I have decided to embark on a couple of different directions, one spiritual and one regarding my business. Making concrete plans to go in those directions is taking effort, time and research. I am not finished yet. So when I conclude this sabbatical, I am confident that I will have completed the required work and indeed be on a new path of exciting adventures (which I will share at a later date! ;) Stay with me!  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Preferred Values

Been thinking more about online business and my product.  As I said in a previous post, I have read most everything on 'how to' do online business AND done most of it! Many articles advise a seller to know their target audience.  Well, I think that I am coming to the conclusion that my potential customers are not interested in "use it up" products.  While I am interested in "using it up" but they are not.  (This is a reference to the following saying, that I have used before):
Use it up, 
wear it out, 
make do, 
or do without!

I think the current philosophy of this saying would be to use words like 'recycle', and 'upcycle'.  (One can see much on the internet about upcycling and recycling in the way of DIY projects, and products for sale.) 

I personally value using up everything and not being wasteful, so, I use up my fabric scraps to make handy, useful, utilitarian products, i.e.  reversible fabric coasters, pillow covers, quilted items etc. 

I am proud of myself when I use up leftovers to make a new creative project!  I value the creative effort and the use of otherwise unusable items.  I have been excited to list these items for sale, but have found that there is not an abundance of customers beating a path to my shop door for them. 

Although not the complete answer to lack of sales, I think the idea of 

"preferred values" 
"actual values" 

comes into play here.   To define this, a person's values reflect unique convictions, core assumptions and principles that guide decisions. We all make declarations about what we value, but often we are stating what we think we should value.    

In an effort to make a shorter post, the bottom line is that an actual value is one that a person actually prioritizes and does!  If one does not actually practice (DO) it, then it is only a belief that one prefers. It's like much that we see on the Internet, like blog comments--they run in the category of preferred values.  "I  LOVE that . . ." but most people wouldn't (and don't) buy it.  They might value making it themselves, but not spending their hard earned cash to own it.  

My conclusion is that my target audience is a very small portion of people who actually value spending money on upcycled and recycled items; and that I need to re-evaluate and re-tool my products 1) to reach a larger audience, and 2) narrow my product line to items that are valued and, of course, 3) market accordingly.    

Ever ran into this with your online business??  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Working the Macro

As I had my breakfast out on the deck yesterday, I noticed that the strawberry plant leaves were exuding moisture from the vein tips.  I grabbed my camera! More macro work!

Getting the camera to focus right where my eye was focusing was a challenge, as you can see it in this second photo. The water droplets are not in focus.

But, "practice makes perfect", so here are the best two of the seven shots that I took:

Success comes from patience and practice!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Macro Photo Practice

As I have previously said, I am working on my photo skills during this time--it's becoming sort of a patio progress diary.  Recently I practiced my macro setting by photographing some dirt clumps in a patio pot:

While not a beautiful picture, I was experimenting to see detail.  I think that it turned out OK.  I also planted snow peas in this pot.  They are coming up now: 

Still practicing with the macro setting, and not pleased with this next close-up as it is a little blurry on the new baby leaves. But I am pleased with the promise of yummy snow peas!

I will try again . . . .

Monday, March 24, 2014

Patio Resident?

I came home from a week away and found a visitor on my little patio. Can you see what is in my planter box . . . look closely . . . .

Everyday this week a pair of doves have been visiting.  One sits in this same place for a while as the other perches on the railing and inspects the patio.  A couple of times he flew at the sliding glass door. Did he see his own reflection in the window or what? Looks as if they are looking for a safe nesting place.  Hubby asked me what I will do if they decide to use my patio for their new home.  Have to think about that one, I would miss my morning outdoor breakfast retreats, but love seeing them up close through the window! And today, a chickadee flew into the corner planter box to have a look! Never in the nearly five years that we have lived here, have I seen birds visit my patio! It truly is Spring, if you are bird watching!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Log Jam or Drop Off?

Sabbatical or not, I find myself thinking about my online business.  Wanting to jump back into the water, so to speak. It's like, "Am I going to drop into the chasm with millions of other sellers, never to be found again?"  or get stuck in a log jam or backlog of information about how to do it right.

It's hard to discipline oneself.  I've been making notes and plans about my wholesale business, which I am not on sabbatical from, and I find myself reevaluating my online presence and wondering what would be best.  Over the years with my online business, I've waded through all the necessary information and read a lot about:

1) SEO
2) having a blog as a referral to your shop
3) promoting in this way and that
4) branding
5) good photography
6) great customer service . . . and . . .

Well, you get the picture!  There is just so much information out there!  I was about to drown, in fact overfilled, with information that was really not helping my business' bottom line.  Part of this sabbatical is to decide just what changes I might make to have a successful online presence.

Yesterday I spent the day doing some thinking about it.  No conclusions yet, so stay tuned if you are in the same boat as I am!

Any suggestions about improving your online profits?

P.S.  I know, I am asking for more info . . . . :)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

First Day of Spring!

Happy first day of Spring!

Yes, we have gray skies, but the blossoms 
are bravely pushing thru on this first day of Spring!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Beach Picnic

Spent the last week in Seattle visiting nine of my grand-kids.  What chaos; what pleasure!

First a picnic on the beach with lots of good old "American Junk food"-- as I called it for the day.  Hot dogs, hamburgers, pop and chips!  Not the usual fare that these little ones get from their conscientious parents!

Then hunting for shells at low tide where the creek ran into the bay:

Later enjoying the sunset:

A great day on the Sabbatical menu!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

All in . . .or the fly?

Day 10
Life isn't always like we envisioned, in fact, it almost never is. 

To use an old saying:  there is most always "a fly in the ointment."  Not familiar with that old idiom?  Well, Wikipedia says:

" . . . a drawback, especially one that was not at first apparent; something that has a small defect that spoils value; or something that is a source of annoyance."  link

I was surprised to see that Wikipedia said the likely source of this phrase was King Solomon of the Bible and found in Ecclesiastes 10:1. 

Dead flies make the perfumer's ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. ESV

The point of my Sabbatical time is to find the positive, and not concentrate on the fly.   Staying in the positive is difficult for some of us. Especially me, since I have an analytic mind.  I seem to size up a situation quickly and start processing what to do to "remove the fly".   To be "all in" the positive of a situation is a skill I'm learning. 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phil 4:8 ESV  

So, my time away, is a time of purpose, one of focusing on the positive--staying on the high side of the road--not falling into the old ruts.  And a re-filling of the ruts in my mind, so to speak. 

 How about you? 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rays of Sunshine

The weather has changed, and is more conducive to a positive outlook with all the sunshine! I think I will get out and take more pictures, after I finish me tea on the deck . . .

Soaking up some of the rays . . . no writing today!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Thoughts of the Day

Previously,  I shared some of my photography.  I am looking for progress with it in the near future.  Still playing with it a bit . . .

At breakfast this morning, I had to be wrapped up in a blanket on my little deck.  It was raining again, and not just the gentle rain of the last few days.  The wind was blowing it well into the little patio with occasional bursts.

I stayed out there long enough to finish the sketch that I started, then retreated to the warm interior and my computer. 

I love my peaceful patio.  Just me and my thoughts.  No push back from anyone. But when I go out into the community, I feel isolated, unwanted, unless I say all the right things, you know "political correctness". I feel as if people don't want to hear me speak, unless I agree with them.

I feel a bit like what I read this morning in my devotional study. King David wrote the words of Psalm 120.

A Pilgrim Song
I took my troubles to God;
I cried out to him, desperate for an answer: 
2 "Rescue me from liars, God! 
They smile so sweetly but lie through their teeth." 

5 How I suffer among these scoundrels!
It pains me to live with these people! 

6 I am tired of living here 
among quarreling neighbors. 
7 As for me, I am for peace;
but when I speak, they are for war!

This is one thing that I am grappling with during my time away--how do I handle those who despise me?  How do I respond?  

I have lived other places, where I enjoyed going out.  Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed my peaceful quiet times, but I didn't dread going out.  People were friendly, they waved as you went by, even if they didn't know you. Yes, they had opinions, but they knew the skill of not judging others simply for their different thoughts.  They didn't place preconceived labels on you, and were willing to get to know you.  Seems, more and more, our society has chosen sides,  which is a shame. 

We should like, even love our neighbors, our countrymen, other human beings, because they are worthy of our esteem.


Friday, March 7, 2014

From Breakfast to Munchies!

If you are trekking with me on this journey, then you might be interested in my daily schedule.  I am forging a new daily schedule, which goes something like this:

Arise early --may not be as early as you, but for me it is early enough.  I usually put on the tea pot to heat or make a pot of coffee.  

I am making a new habit of eating breakfast on my patio.  We live on the second floor and it is a cozy place to take in the morning air, read, study, and, maybe, do some sketching for 10 minutes. (My sketches are occasionally posted on my other blog, where I share my art and my writing.) I fully enjoy this beginning of my morning. 

Either on the patio, if the weather permits, or back at my desk, I start with a little more study, and checking email, making sure this does not take up too much time from the desired purpose of the morning--writing!
Writing projects include blogging, which keeps my writing skills exercised and polished.  I, again, have to govern myself to not get too much into blogging as to neglect the focused writing projects sitting on my plate. 

11:30 to 12ish 
About this time, hubby usually walks into my little office (actually the dining room area set up just for me), and says, "How about lunch?"  Now, he's really good, since he is not asking me if I am fixing something, just if I feel hungry yet and what are we going to eat and which one of us is going to fix it?   He often prepares the meal since he likes to cook.  We usually then catch up on news listening to the noon TV coverage as we prepare and eat. 

Afternoon is dedicated to these things in this priority order:
Art/Illustration projects
Personal errands

Except for one day a week, when my daughter and my grandsons spend the afternoon with us.

Afternoon break--go for a walk

Dinner prep and watching the evening news.  After this I usually spend time with hubby, talking, playing a game, or watching old reruns of MASH for comic relief to wind down.

8:00 - 11:00
Evening can be dedicated to an evening out, more writing, some sewing, or a movie.  And we don't forget the late evening munchies--hubby likes munchies!! 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

One New Adventure

Sabbatical adventures, when do they start?

Immediately, when all the pressure was off -- "to preform"-- I picked up my camera.  I found myself walking out the door to the post office and grabbing my camera!  Odd.  It hung from the dining room chair finial for the longest time.  Oh, I used it, for taking pictures of my finished products to list in my online shop.  But, taking pictures just for the fun of it?  Not often enough!

Today it was rainy, again, but I took the camera while we drove to the post office.  I took some pictures as we drove,

while I was sitting in the car waiting for hubs to come out with the mail,

and later when I went on an errand.  Before I got to my destination, I got a coke at the local drive-thru, sat in the parking lot and snapped a few out the car window!  Then when I got home, I went outside my bedroom window and snapped a few more.

Sabbatical is like these next pictures -- going from a gray late winter day,

looking more closely  . . . .

zooming in . . . .

to an awesome moment!

Taking pictures--always something that I wanted to be better at and being a better photographer.  It takes time to see what is really there.

Yes! The adventure begins!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Peace Wednesday

Day Two

Something new . . . up early!  I have always liked rising early, but I have been lazy.  Sleeping in doesn't allow me to see the beginning of a day, with all it's wonders.  Although today,  it is rainy and I cannot see the sun, as it is most days in the PNW, there is still a "feel" about the morning hours. That freshness, sometimes a crispness.  A new day is everything about Sabbatical!  Starting out new!  Daring to believe that things could take a different path.  aaahhhhh . . . .

This morning, in the pine top is a lone dove. No other stirrings in the trees.  Not for a while. Then the wanderings in and out of the limbs by a small flock of chickadees.  Next were two doves who flew down to the pavement.  They stayed there for several minutes not moving an inch. Watching them in the peaceful silence forced me to be still and silent, anticipating their next move.  My next move . . . 

Although this is the start of my second day of Sabbatical, it just happens to also be Ash Wednesday.  Now, I don't go for the traditional ashes thing but I do acknowledge that this season can be a transforming one. Many a year past have I set aside this forty day season to see some transformation in my life.  I haven't done that for years!  I didn't intend to do it this year, but  . . . since it does coincide with my Sabbatical purpose, I have decided to participate in my own way.  I'm returning to my source.

I did a little research.  The word Sabbatical comes from Sabbath which is of Hebrew derivation: shabat or shavat: to rest.  In the Bible, God originated and instituted the Sabbath. He was first to observe Sabbath.

God spoke to Moses:  "Tell the people 'Above all, keep my Sabbaths, the sign between me and you . . .that you may know that I am God who causes you to be strengthened and whole.'"  Ex. 31:13 LLP

Simple!  I will return to my source.  And the book about my Source is the Bible.  (Now, don't get hung up on this and say, "Gosh! I'm not interested in the Bible or God!  I'm not going to follow this!"  This is my way of being peaceful, like the dove episode  this morning.  I hope you will not disregard another human's journey just because you might not agree.  We are all human, made the same, and therefore have value to each other.  I hope you will follow my journey and pursue your own peace and the author of that peace.)

A friend challenged me this morning to a 30 day challenge.  I am going to take her up on it!  A season within a season begins for me--Lenten season--new adventures in study!

Further reading:  Jer. 17: 19-27;  Ex 31:17;  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


I strive for a simple year, this sabbatical "year", but I realize it will be anything but simple!
(for a little background see this post.)

First, there are the reactions of friends and acquaintances.  I run the risk . . .er . .  'the fact' of some not understanding.  Their first question might be: "Why?"  while they are probably thinking: "She's crazy!"  They more than likely are thinking of themselves in this situation, that they will miss my participation, and what are they going to do in my absence. I worry about that too, as I do not want to leave them 'understaffed', so to speak. I do understand that this concept of taking oneself 'away from it all' is a little different.  Society, these days, seems to dictate that we need to be part of a community to be complete.  That we are just a specific cog in the works! And we are nothing, if we are not a part of the group!  I reject the thought that I am not of value if I don't conform, if I 'm not a blender in the group.  ( My quilter persona  shows here--blender fabric!) So much for my rant.

Second, it will be hard for me to change my ways.  We all get into ruts,  and I have been falling into a path that is actually not leading me in the right direction.  I have been frustrated, stymied, and bored.  I knew it was leading nowhere, but didn't want to face stopping.  Then what would I do?  Where would I go?  I am a doer.  I can't be idle, or so I thought.

Well, how do I begin?  Today I sat on my upstairs patio for breakfast and started my day watching the blue jays, finches and robins in the tree tops.  Quite refreshing really.  Listening to their calls, watching the pine needles sway with their inhabitants activities.

So begins my sabbatical . . . . Day One.

Monday, March 3, 2014


Welcome to my new adventure! 

This being my sabbatical "year"-- although not really a year, but an extended break from many things that I have been involved with for the last six years--  I intend to unplug, be free, and explore new adventures. 

Why am I taking this break?  I want to explore new, simple pleasures that I have not had time to explore.  My life has been like a written page with all the space taken up, even scribbles in the margins.  


I want to explore what has been lurking in my mind--just off the page. I want to explore new artistic avenues, and write what has been stuck in the back of my mind.

I cannot even predict how this will turn out in the end, but should be a great adventure!  If you have even a small latent desire to be authentic in your own life -- I hope you will join me and follow along with my adventures!