30 August, 2012

Things I Won't Miss...

I’m sure my tune will change when I’m finally relocated to Ecuador, Bonaire or some other southerly destination, but right now at this moment in time, here is a list of things I won’t miss…

1. My alarm clock. Waking up on my own will be a blessing. I should have all of the time in the world to do what I want, when I want, so my alarm clock won’t be a necessity any longer.

2. My commute. I can think of so many things I can do with an additional 2 hours every day.

3. The daily grind of a 9-5 job and all of the office politics that go along with said job. I know I’ll miss the paycheck but I think all the negatives outweigh that one positive.

4. Fast food restaurants. Yes, I know they are convenient and I am not one to frown upon their usefulness, but I’ll be glad when they are no longer an option for me.

5. Big box stores. Convenient? Yes. Cheap? Yes. Soul sucking? Absolutely! I can’t even put into words the despair I feel upon entering these big box stores. Is so much stuff really necessary?

6. Commercialization. I guess this goes along with items 4 and 5 above and so many other things I witness every day. I’m tired of mini-malls, shopping malls, the suburbs, condo developments and everything else commercial. Everything has the same appearance in one town as it does in every other town in North America. I want something different and unique.

7. Television. Yes you heard that correct. J and I are hoping to give up television. This will be a bigger task for J than for me, but it’s something we are entertaining. There’s another 3+ hours we’ll get back every day.

8. Stuff. I can hardly wait to get rid of my excess stuff. I plan on starting the liquidation process next spring, but the liberation won’t be complete until it’s all gone and my entire belongings will fit into a few suitcases.

9. Lack of Time. I know I will find other things to fill my day, but I’m most looking forward having some time to myself - to do something, anything or nothing at all.

I guarantee, there will be more to come, but those are the big ones right now.

Legal Disclaimer: I reserve the right to change my mind on anyone of these items should the need arise.

27 August, 2012

Incentive Travel...

I have found the absolute perfect solution to many of my work woes.  Incentive travel.  Yes, instead of a monetary bonus, companies actually provide their employees with travel rewards.

Incentive travel programs allow employees to work towards a tangible reward. Also, a program such as this offers the possibility to satisfy each human being’s inherit desire to see and travel the world. As an innovative way to motivate employees, the positive impact an incentive travel program within a company can bring is worth looking into. The following three steps will help you in launching an incentive program which can potentially show an increase in business, employee retention, and office place morale.

I intend on putting this little tidbit into the "Suggestion Box"...

21 August, 2012

I'm In...

Good news (I think). I’ve received confirmation that my jewelry has now been juried and I have been accepted to participate in the craft show I was telling you about last week.

So with that, I’m revving up production.  I'm exhausted from just thinking about all the work and it hasn't even started yet.

It’s exciting to know that my stuff will be getting a lot of exposure at that show, but at the same time, it’s frightening to think about the “what ifs”.

What if I don’t have enough inventory to last the entire 4 day show?

What if I have enough inventory because absolutely no one buys a thing?

What if I don’t make enough money to pay for the show entrance fees?

What if I lose my mind because the eccentrics at the show drive me over the edge? You know who I’m talking about – those over-the-top “crafty” people.

What if there is a home-baked goods booth set up beside me? I’m doomed to lose my mind and all my money for sure.

Now that think about it, I could really use some chocolate chip cookies.  You know, to give me energy...

16 August, 2012

Round and Round We Go...

Up and down like a see-saw…

Round and round like a merry-go-round…

Back and forth like a ping-pong ball…

Do you get the picture? No? Me neither. Indecisiveness is the name of the game at the moment. I’m not typically an indecisive person, but when it comes to this 5 Year Plan, I can decide which end is up.

Those of you that have been around long enough know the story. Before we decided to put the 5 year plan in motion, we had always talked about “wouldn’t it be nice to win the lottery and move to Bonaire”. Then when we heard about how economically one could live in Ecuador, we realized we wouldn’t need to win the lottery to make our dreams come true, but instead we would just need to focus our energy into paying off our debts within the next 5 years and with that “The 5 Year Plan” was born.

When started looking into Ecuador in greater detail, we were excited about all of the opportunities that would be available to us like cheap real estate, cheap cost of living, good healthcare, better quality of life and then something happened. Doubt crept into the picture and we started to second guess that decision. We became concerned that our hearts have belonged to Bonaire for so long and that perhaps Ecuador wasn’t the place for us. There were a lot of other factors that lead to our angst – like having to learn a new language for example, the talk of increasing real estate prices in Ecuador, crime levels, etc., etc. The reasons were simply excuses brought on by fear of the unknown.

It was with that turn of events, we refocused our energy on Bonaire. It was certainly a comfort thing – we knew the place, we love the place, English is widely spoken, so why not make it our home? In no time, we were into full investigative mode. We talked for hours about our dream life on that tiny island. It was a wonderful, elaborate dream and then like any dream, reality slowly creeps back in and you wake up with a jolt.

And that is where we are - reality has sunk in. As ideal as Bonaire would be, it’s expensive and it’s not a day-to-day lifestyle we could sustain long term without both having to work full-time at our “hobbies” in order to make enough money to make ends meet, which would be in addition to some form of rental income required just to be able to enjoy those extras in life. Nope. It wasn’t going to happen. I realize working in paradise is different than working in “real life”, but it’s not something we are prepared for. Our whole goal all along is to work less, enjoy life more and we just couldn’t see that happening on Bonaire. Sad, really – reality is harsh.

Today, we are back on the Ecuador bandwagon. Are you getting dizzy yet? I am.

There are things we want, that Bonaire just couldn’t give us long term. There are things that Ecuador might not be able to provide for us either, but at this point, the pros of Ecuador outweigh the pros of Bonaire.

We aren’t looking at it as settling any longer. We are looking at it as a realignment of our life goals. I’m sure I’ll have many more days of indecision, fear and regret before the process is over, but for now, I feel good.

Have a great day!

14 August, 2012

Culture That Doesn’t Come from Yogurt…

When I was a lot younger, I had dreams of becoming a stage actor, but even back then, I had the nagging need to make ends meet instead of throwing caution to the wind and following my dreams. 
The closest I get to those dreams of magic and whimsy now are watching as an audience member.   I have an ever-growing wish list of performances I would love to see one day – even a couple of operas too.
La Cage Aux Folles – A story of two gay men, a straight son about to be married and the introduction of the soon to be conservative in-laws.  It’s all about remaining true to themselves, regardless of what others may think.
La Traviata – A story of a woman, gone astray, living the life of wild indulgences until she meets a true gentleman, but their relationship is bound to disgrace his well-to-do family.  Can they find true love or will it come too late?
La Boheme – Another story of love, lust, despair and jealousy.  What more could you want?  True love is once again found, but tragedy will strike in the end.
Let go of your preconceived notions, step out of comfort zone and try something different.   The theatre is a great place to start. 

13 August, 2012

Random Thoughts – Monday Blues and Then It’s Winter…

I’m feeling out of sorts this Monday. I don’t know why, I just know that something’s not right with my world at the moment. Probably, just the Monday blues. I should start feel better by 5:00 pm - I usually do.

My boss is on holidays this week. Thank goodness for small miracles. Another week like last week and I might not have been able to contain myself or the rage he creates within me.

I had dinner with an old co-worker last week. Our meeting reminded me of how much I miss working with her. We could be silly together, laughing about anything, everything and everyone that crossed our paths throughout the day. It was nice to have a funny, carefree co-worker. I don’t have that here and I miss it.

I wish I could go barefoot in the office. I hate wearing shoes. I’m constantly kicking them off under my desk only to have to scramble to put them back on when I need to go to meetings, the printer, supply room or the restroom.

This morning I was reflecting upon “what I did this summer” and apart from walking on the beach on the weekends, J and I have not done anything exciting or accomplished anything substantive around the house. The spare room is still in need of drywall, paint, finishing touches, etc. Oh well, at least some beach memories have been made.

The evenings and mornings are starting to get cooler. After the scorching summer we’ve had, the coolness is welcomed, but it’s also a gentle reminder that “you know what” will be coming soon enough.

On the topic of “you know what”, J pointed out that the wild goldenrod plants were starting to flower. An old wive’s tale has it that once they’ve flowered, the first frost will be coming within 6 weeks. I can’t even think about that or else my funk will only worsen. They do look pretty though…

10 August, 2012

Say What?

Summer is still upon us and I’m loving every extreme heat moment of it, but my thoughts have slowly been turning to the holiday season that’s not too far around the corner. I know – it’s a sure sign of insanity.

Believe me, I’m not wishing the next 3.5 months away; however I’ve had a dose of reality in that I’m not remotely prepared. You see, I sort of diddle-farted around and didn’t get my application in for participation in my usual November craft show and now, I find out there is no more room. Eeek!

Flamingo Tongue Designs has done well this year overall, but I relied on that craft show to increase my sales into the “almost break-even” range.   Shame on me for procrastinating.  What am I going to do now?

Well, after some scrambling, I found a bigger and better show to participate in – if I’m accepted. It’s a juried show and my work will be judged before I’m accepted, so you never know which way it might go. The entrance fees are twice as much to participate in it, but it runs for twice as long (4 days as opposed to 2), soooo technically by my theory, I should also make twice money. At this point, making enough to pay for the entrance cost would suit me fine.

The show’s attendees in previous year have exceeded 10,000 people, compared to 2,000 to 3,000 at the previous show. I was comfortable with my inventory level for a show of 3,000 people. I’m not so comfortable with my inventory level for a show of 10,000 people.

So, my panic has begun. I need to get cracking and start up my “sweat shop of one” again. I haven't been accepted yet, but I can't wait.  The thought of it is making my fingers ache already…

If the show is successful, it will be a huge boost for my 5 year plan; however if the show is a bust or my jewelry doesn’t interest the attendees, it could spell disaster.

“A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Colin Powell

08 August, 2012

Message in a Bottle...

I realize it’s already Wednesday and I’m just now getting around to telling you about my weekend, but things have been busy. Well, maybe not so much busy, as I’ve been lazy and I've been competing in the new Olympic event of "couch-surfing".

Anyhow, it was a long weekend in Canada. It was one of those holidays that you get, but you don’t really understand its purpose. I’m okay with that – it was a holiday and I am thankful for it nonetheless.

So, part of doing nothing exciting all weekend involved yet another couple of long walks on the beach on both Saturday and Monday. Once again, it was peaceful.

After the wind and rain we had on Sunday, the beach was full of glass treasures on Monday, so I was in my glory. Apart from all of the beach glass, shells and driftwood we find, we also find lots of other junk that’s floated away – plastic bottles, old hats, beach balls, sand pails, sunglasses and garbage. This weekend, I found something I’ve never found before…my first message in a bottle.

I could tell from the bottle that it hadn’t been in the water that long and that the bottle itself was from a local winery. I was a little dismayed that it hadn’t originated from some far away land, but guess with it being found in Lake Erie, the most exotic I could have hoped for would have been Sandusky, Ohio or perhaps Chicago, Illinois. Regardless, I was intrigued by my find.

We weren’t equipped to open the bottle right there on the beach, so we brought it home and before we opened it, we took some photos.

Upon opening it, we discovered that it was written on behalf of a 5 year old girl, vacationing in Port Stanley (about 80 kms/50 miles) from where we found it. The note was written on July 27, 2012 and we found it on August 4th. If I was any good at math, I would calculate rate of travel per day, but I’m not, so we will leave it at - it travelled 50 miles in approximately a week.

The note asked that if we found the bottle, we would write or phone the little girl and let her know where and when we found it. I plan on sending her a postcard in the next day or so. We also plan on writing our own note, putting in the bottle and sending it on its way again.

With the flow of the current in Lake Erie, I anticipate the bottle could make it as far as Buffalo, New York if the conditions are right. It should be interesting to see if we get a response to our note.

01 August, 2012

Getting My Glue On…

I’ve never considered myself a crafter. I don’t like felt, craft foam, glitter or sequins, BUT I do love my glue gun. It’s a heavy duty industrial model – not one of those wimpy crafty ones. It’s a manly glue gun (if there is such a thing) and I have the burn marks and blisters on my fingers to prove it.

Anyhow, I’ve taken a bit of a break from the jewelry side of things to explore my other creative side – the one where I get to use the glue gun.

Soooo, here is what I’ve created with some picture frames from the dollar store, some white spray paint, some glue and of course, some of my sea glass treasures.  The photos in the frames are courtesy of J.  I think I’ve found another excuse to go on vacation…I need more glass and J needs more photos!

You would not believe what sea glass picture frames have been selling for on Etsy by other artists. Let’s just say, I could quit my day job if I sold enough of them.