Re-evaluation

Well, I wrote my Evaluation post in April last year – I really didn’t think it was that long ago! So how have I done?

So much has changed since then. The most obvious changes are that I have moved out of the city to the countryside outside a small town in the sticks. I have also passed my driving test and my attachment at work has been made permanent. We’ve also introduced a new member of our family – Max the Labrador joined us about 2 months ago.

These are all big changes, I think you’ll agree. The biggest is probably learning to drive and passing my test (second time around!). I didn’t really get a chance to write about what happened but after failing first time in the summer, I finally passed my driving test on the morning of September 9th. In the afternoon the same day, we went, on impulse, to view a house in the countryside with a huge garden and 4 bedrooms, never thinking in a million years it’s where we’d end up living.

The very next day we jetted off to Fuerteventura for a week’s holiday, our heads full of moving house. We did little else but talk about it the whole time we were away and ended up moving just a few weeks later. Everything happened in a bit of a whirlwind from September onwards and I’m only really now getting a chance to draw breath and take stock of where we are.

Driving has given me a freedom I really needed and wanted. I don’t have to worry about buses or trains being on time or my feet getting soaked trudging up and down the road to the Subway or about getting mugged roaming the streets at odd hours of the night and day to get to work and back. We’d never have moved to our fantasy house in the country scenario if I couldn’t drive, so it has really unlocked a lot of stuff for me which I wanted.

Of course, I do have to worry about insurance, MOTs, the spiraling cost of petrol, etc but at the moment, I can handle that. I don’t even mind the 40 mile round trip to work and have recently embarked upon motorway driving with more ease than I could have thought possible.

So, what about those objectives I set myself? Well, they have all kind of slid into one big objective of slowing down a bit and not putting so much pressure on myself. One of the main things was rebranding the business (I’m guessing you’ve seen it already, but if not, click here to have a swatch) which now has a much more serene, minimalist and calming feel. I never really expected it to, but I think that has totally transferred over to how I think about it. I feel a bit more swan-like – still paddling away under the surface, but with more composure up top.

In our new house, I have a little office alcove and everything now fits neatly into it. There’s less clutter hanging around which makes me feel less stressed as I know where to find things. I’ve got more space to take care over packaging things up and because I can drive to the post office (and park right outside – imagine!), I can swing by regularly on my way to work without having to lug 10kg sacks with me along the road. In short, I am far more organised.

I didn’t really stick to the plan of doing orders only on set days. With the above, I don’t feel I need to. I don’t think that approach would ever really work for me due to the nature of my shifts at work, but I am happy that I can pop into my office, do a few things and be able to walk back out of it and walk the dog or sit down and do something different.

I do have my merry band of stitchers who I am very grateful to be able to call upon when I need them. We managed to stockpile the perfect amount of stock for Christmas last year, so this is something I aim to keep up with this year. It was a quieter Christmas period than previous years too, which definitely helped my sanity. On reflecting on numbers, there were slightly fewer orders but the value of them was higher, so it was actually on a par with previous years, but really did not feel like it at the time. There seemed to be a definite downtrend in customer numbers for many of my indie craft pals – undoubtedly a sign of the times in the UK.

Taking time off hasn’t been so easy. I still feel guilty when I am not doing something productive and I guess that’s a hard habit to shake. I did take time off in December (of all times) – Max arrived and I was working at the day job from home for several weeks, so life took on a different pace of rising super-early, doing day job work, walking Max, packaging orders, a little more day job then relaxing in the evenings (relaxing being stroking velvety ears  by the fire). I definitely intend this year to spend more time with friends and family and have already got several trips planned for coming months to look forwards to. Lee feels I have more time to spend with him these days too and I’ve seen more of my friends lately than last year (some of them at least!), so I feel I am on the right track.

Which all sounds rosy but there is a however coming. Because I know I am about to get mega busy again. I have booked up to give the Pulse trade show a go in London this June, so there is lots of work to be done for that. I have wholesale orders to work on, as well as website orders and I’m working on redesigning my existing kits, new kits and the new range I mentioned last year. I mentioned that my attachment at work got made permanent which is great but it does mean I persist with the odd shifts and now my journey to work takes an hour each way, so there are less hours in the day! And with a dog to walk, a new house to furnish… see how quickly that positive spin on things can turn to panicky out-of-control oh-my-god-ness? Sticking to my new regime will take a lot of hard work and I could easily fall back into the rabbit hole of jittery 24/7 despair, but I will really, really try not to.

But the over-arching feeling of this has been that my evaluating has been a success. I feel like I have much more to say on the topic so I may revisit it and how it relates to the indie craft community at a later date. I’ve already alluded to the one-up-manship, depressing competitiveness before and there have been lots of good examples lately of really good blog posts exploring that, so I may come back to it one day.

But for now, I am happier than I have been previously and I am glad, judging by the comments and emails on my posts, to have helped some of you along the way.

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