Sea of Change

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

It’s been a while since I actually posted something other than a mandala here. Things have been changing in my life and it’s been hard to keep up with everything. Maybe that’s my own fault for trying to change too much at once, but I needed to make some changes and I had to ‘seize the day’ as they say!

I still plan to keep on drawing mandalas, so the Monday Mandalas will still be happening. However, the YouTube mandala channel isn’t working, for a variety of reasons, so I’m dropping it for now. I won’t be taking anything down, but I won’t be posting much, if anything, either.

I keep meaning to finish up the last sets of minis I have, but I just don’t have the motivation to paint right now. I am going to try and complete them this summer, once school is finally out and I have some breathing room again. That will finish up all my minis, and I haven’t bought any more, so my paints may get shuttered again after that.

I’ve written before about trying Noom, and I’m still doing it. I’m two months in and down 20 lbs. So I can definitely see progress, even if logging every single thing I eat is incredibly annoying. I tried jumping in whole hog and doing all the things at the beginning, but honestly, for the last 10 lbs, I haven’t really been exercising. Just watching my calories and staying in my calorie budget. I’m hoping to add in more exercise once school is out and I have extra time. (No idea if I will actually achieve that – all this extra time I won’t be working is being spent in about 20 different ways, so who knows?!) 😛

My focus right now, besides work, has been my new diamond painting obsession. I have just absolutely fallen in love with this hobby and that’s how I’ve been spending most of my free time lately. I don’t see that changing anytime soon, so I’ve had to cut back the time I spend doing other things to make room. Hence the decision to hit pause on the Mandala YouTube for now.

I need to make a decision about my Etsy shop as well. It hasn’t really gone anywhere, and that’s my own fault, so I need to decide whether I’m going to just let it sit (like it’s been doing), close it, or take it in a different direction. I’m seriously considering going a different route and opening an online shop via Shopify, but I haven’t made a final decision yet.

On the financial front, our journey towards being debt-free continues. We made a good dent in our last remaining debt – my husband’s car loan. Now it will be a matter of balancing paying off that last debt and putting money in our emergency fund. Looking back, I can’t believe how far we’ve come in such a short time. It seems like just a few months ago our calendar was full of bill due dates, and now it isn’t. There’s room to breathe and to dream!

Now that we are in a better financial position, we have been talking about our dreams and what we want our future to look like. We are hoping to make some pretty big changes at the end of this year, but we’ll see what happens. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to my oldest graduating college this year – another milestone!

Feeling Like a Failure

I promised myself that I would spend time this week working on various things related to my (supposed) online business. I want to 1) add things to my Etsy store, 2) create products that I can sell on TeachersPayTeachers, 2) research how to increase my sales on Etsy (keywords, SEO, etc.), 3) research whether a Shopify store would be worth the time/effort/money, 4) set up my YouTube channel, and 5) upload videos to said channel.

Except after about 10 minutes of sitting here on the computer, I feel almost paralyzed. I have no idea what I’m doing. I know what I want, but there are so many things I need to learn I don’t know where to start. Do you ever get that? Overwhelmed because there are SO MANY choices?

It can’t be that hard. People start and run online businesses every day. And I’m not looking to become a millionaire overnight. I just want to have an online source of income so that I can be mobile and still be able to work.

I’ve been blogging here for over a year and have launched my Etsy business. I have a ton of ideas for products, many of which I’ve already created. I just can’t seem to buckle down and get anything done. I can’t seem to force myself into gear to be productive.

It’s easier for me to work with external deadlines, even if there are no real consequences for missing them. My own deadlines, however, I can ignore with apparent ease, even though I feel horribly guilty for doing so.

Sometimes there’s just no way but through, right? So I am going to force myself to get SOMETHING done today, even if it isn’t everything. I’ve already had my workout, done my cleaning, have laundry going, and I’m writing this blog. So SOMETHING has been done, even if it wasn’t what I intended. That’s better than nothing. It’s not even noon yet, so I have time to work.

How do you hold yourself accountable? Force yourself to be productive on those days when you’re overwhelmed?

Fallacy of Time

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My brain is all over the place these days. I feel like I have so much going on and not enough hours in the day to fit in everything I want to. That feeling is not accurate, though. I may not have enough hours in a day to get EVERYTHING done, but I certainly have enough hours in the day to get MORE things done than I am currently.

I confess, I am easily bored. So I am constantly putting off things that feel like they are boring (like cleaning, paying bills, blog admin, etc.). I’d rather spend time thinking about new and exciting ideas, which is fun, but is then followed by guilt about putting off things I know I should do.

All of this got me thinking about that old cliche:

Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day.

On its face, it’s a true statement. There are, indeed, only 24 hours in a day. No matter whether you are a Prime Minister, a company president, a pop star, or a peon, we all only get 24 hours in a day.

However, my 24 hours are different than yours, and yours are likely different than others as well. How much you can accomplish doesn’t really just depend on you. It also depends on how much support you have.

For example, for most people (read: peons), part of your 24 hours is spent on things like:

  • commuting to your job
  • cooking your meals
  • doing your laundry
  • cleaning your home
  • paying your bills
  • taking care of your family

If you are a single parent, you likely don’t have a lot of help doing any of those things. If you have a significant other or other family to help, you can (hopefully) rely on them to do some of those things for you. Add in sleep and work hours, and most of those 24 hours are filled.

But if you’re a pop star, a company president, or a Prime Minister, you probably (read: almost certainly) have a TON of people supporting you and helping you, thus freeing up a lot more of your 24 hours. How much more would you be able to get done in your 24 hours with more support? Someone to cook your meals? Clean your house? Do your laundry? Make sure all your bills get paid? Drive you to work?

Suddenly there is a lot more you can accomplish, because you have more time available to you. If I had a way to commute to work (like a driver or a mass transit option), that’s 40 minutes a day I’d have free to do other things – like write, draw, or blog.

I started to actually do some math on how much more time I’d have, but it just got depressing, so I stopped. The point is, even though we may all have 24 hours in a day, there are many people who have the luxury of using those hours in ways that are not available to most of us.

It’s a vicious cycle – you work to make money so you can pay for someone else to do certain things for you, which frees up your time for other things. But a lot (read: most) of those other things don’t make money, so you spend more time working to make more money, which means that time you thought you’d bought is no longer free.

People with lots of money and/or support like to tell the rest of us that we could be doing just as much, if only we were more dedicated, more ambitious, or more like them. The underlying implication is that you’re lazy, stupid, or somehow ‘less’ than them. What they ignore is that none of them could do all the things they do without that support.

I’m in that vicious cycle currently. I’ve taken on extra responsibilities at my job to earn more money, which is great. I’m glad I have that opportunity, because I know a lot of people are struggling right now. And while, in the long run, it will allow me to reach some financial goals I’ve set for myself, in the meantime, it’s incredibly frustrating because it’s taking up more of my time and thus taking away time from things that I enjoy, like blogging and drawing. You know, those things that I want to do in the hopes that at some point, I can make money doing them, rather than what I’m doing now.

Until I win the lottery, I’ll just have to keep plugging away on my own, finding ways to more productive in less time. Maybe I’ll even figure out how to motivate myself to get on those boring jobs and get them out of the way so I can spend time on other pursuits. 😛

Motivating Myself

img_0087-1Ever have one of those days where you just can’t make yourself do anything?

Me, too.

Like today.  (This is past me, so by today, I actually mean yesterday, because you’ll be reading this in the future.)  I have a ton of things I should be doing, but I can’t seem to make myself do any of them.  Everything seems to take more energy than I have.  And not physical energy, but mental energy.

Maybe I just need a nap?  I’m not really tired, though.  Maybe I’m just bored.  Which seems crazy, because I have a LOT of things to do.  None of them have to get done, though, which is the real issue.  The only one putting deadlines on me is me, and though I do my best work under deadlines, it’s clearly not ones I set for myself.  Those deadlines I just ignore.  Because, honestly, what happens if I don’t?

Nothing.  That’s what happens.  Nothing.

Like what I’m doing now.

Although I guess I’m not doing nothing.  I got up today.  Made my bed.  Showered, dressed, did the dishes.  Which probably doesn’t sound like a lot, but some days, I can’t even motivate myself to do those things.  I haven’t gone into work this week, which I think is part of the issue.  Also, my husband is working a big storm right now, so he’s gone, which means I have to cook.

I hate cooking.  I’m not good at it, and I don’t enjoy it.  I mean, I’m not a terrible cook, and I know my way around the kitchen, but I don’t like doing it.  My husband loves to cook, so that’s his job when he’s home.

I’m trying to keep myself occupied, but today has been a struggle.  I’m working on a new project, which I hope to show you in a later post.  Today, though, I think I’m going to call it quits and go snuggle under my weighted blanket.  I love that thing.  Seriously, if you’ve been thinking about it – get one.  Best purchase of the year so far.

Back to the Drawing Board

I’ve been working for the past week on figuring out how to sell items here on my WordPress site.  I upgraded to Premium for the Simple Payments options and started to slog through the process.

It’s been a long week.

man showing distress
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

You and me both, stock photo man.  :/

Things I’ve realized as I worked:

  • I didn’t need to upgrade to Premium – Simple Payments doesn’t let me provide automatic emails/links for downloading the digital products.
  • Inserting my own PayPal buttons on my site was waaaay more complicated than it should be.
  • iOS doesn’t play nice with anyone.
  • I do not like coding.  I can grasp the basics, but any more than that is just frustrating.
  • I still need to track buyer’s addresses for sales tax, in case I would go over any given state’s transaction limit for remote sellers.
  • No wonder people use Etsy, Amazon, Ebay, and the like – it’s sooo much easier.

So, after working diligently for a week and having little to show for it, I need to take a step back and rethink what I’m doing.

I’m going to give myself a mental break this weekend and have a good long think about how best to achieve what I want.  What advice would I give someone else in this situation?  And am I brave enough to take it?

Here’s hoping.

Money for Nothing

FailYesterday was frustrating.  Very frustrating.

I upgraded my site to premium so that I could use the simple payments option – something WordPress has been lauding as a way to use your site to make money.  Great! That was my eventual goal here – to start selling my mandalas and stickers, but on my own site, so that I wasn’t paying Amazon and Etsy lots of money in fees.

I’ve read so many people who say that they drive their own traffic to Etsy – so if I’m gonna do all that work, I might as well drive people to my own site, right?  Then I’m making the money off my hard work, instead of Etsy.

After upgrading to the Premium plan, I started researching how to use the Simple Payments buttons to sell my digital coloring mandalas.  Turns out, the Simple Payments just lets you collect payments for your products – there is no way to add a link or anything to the payment button.

So, essentially, a person would pay, then have to wait for me to receive the notification from PayPal that I’d been paid, and then wait for me to send an email with the link or file for what they purchased.  Which isn’t horrible, but isn’t at all what I was led to believe I could do with the simple payments.

After more research, I discovered a way to use Google Docs and PayPal to add things to my site for sale.  That was an experience in itself, because what I wanted was for buyers to be taken directly to a download link for the item after they paid.  Making a download link from a Google doc required even more research, because of course it’s not an option in Drive.

During the first test, I got to the document, but it didn’t appear that the file was downloading correctly.  (My husband was testing for me on his iPad.)  After getting the direct download link issue sorted, then I realized that for some reason (I’m assuming because he’s using his iPad and iOS never plays well with others), he isn’t being taken directly to the page with the download link from PayPal.  He has to ‘return to merchant’ inside PayPal and then he gets taken to the correct place for the download.

Soooo frustrating.  This is probably why so many people would rather just use Etsy or Amazon for this.  In fact, I’m debating if this is all worth it myself, particularly since I apparently upgraded my WordPress plan for nothing.  I could have inserted the PayPal buttons and configured it as it without upgrading, because all the payments take place on PayPal anyway.  I guess I could upgrade to the next tier on WordPress, where there are some actual e-commerce options, but after feeling like I’ve already spent some money for nothing, that doesn’t seem appealing.

Aaaaarrrrggghhh.  😦

Still Learning

You’re never too old to learn.

That seems to be a lesson the universe keeps sending me lately.

I need to learn new things so that I can be better at the new job I hope to get.  That’s good, and I’m working on it.  I’ve already taken three classes and have at least three more I’d like to take over the summer.

I need to learn new things so I can be better at blogging.  This one is a bit harder – I’m trying to figure out how to set up the Google Analytics for the blog, and I’m struggling.  I need an Analytics ID, but to get that I have to set up a Google Property (whatever that is?) and when I follow the links they show, I get stuck.

The directions says to go to the admin section, but I don’t seem to have one.  😦  I’m sure I’m just missing a step somewhere, but after several failed attempts, I’m going to leave it for another day when I have more patience.

This weekend I also learned that I am forgetful.  I was so happy about all the progress I made with my mini painting (see here and here) and thought I had only 5 or 6 left besides my CR KS minis.

Until I went downstairs to put away the minis I had finished, and discovered this:

28mm miniatures dungeons and dragons

A whole tray of unpainted minis.  These are mostly minis we bought to use for our PCs, and then promptly forgot about.  Gah!  This isn’t even all of them, as I pulled some of them out of the tray.  I cleaned off mold lines and flashing and then washed them.

Cleaned 28mm miniatures

My initial reaction was just to ignore them, but then I thought I could use them for painting experience/experiments, if nothing else.  More learning!  And, since I will need to take photos of them as I go, even more learning!

I’m starting to finally consider myself on summer vacation, even though I’ve been off work since mid-March.  So, I will continue painting, photographing, and learning. I’m even trying my hand this year at gardening, so we’ll see how that goes.  😛

Busy Is Not Better

One of the things I’ve noticed with everyone at home is that people seem to feel guilty if they are not ‘busy.’  It apparently has become a cultural expectation that you are ‘busy’ all the time.  The busier you are, the more successful you must be.

The internet is filled these days with things you can do/learn/bake/read/create/draw/make/paint/etc. to make sure that you’re staying busy. You’re made to feel guilty if you aren’t using this ‘time off’ (hah) to somehow improve yourself – whether it’s by learning a new skill, working on your fitness, or whatever.

I find this strange on several levels.

If you look at people who are very wealthy, they’re not generally very busy.  Some are, of course, but most aren’t.  “Deals get made on the golf course,” you’ll hear.  As if the deal they are supposedly working on somehow cancels out the fact that they are golfing, not working. 

I think we can all agree that meetings are some of the least productive things you can do with your time.  But again, wealthy people (like CEOs) expect you to believe that they are busy (and thus important) because their days are filled with meetings.

Also, busy does not equal productive.  You can be very busy and accomplish nothing.  You can be less busy and still be productive.  Here’s a little secret:

It’s okay if you aren’t busy every minute of every day.

The world won’t end.  It just means that you need to slow down sometimes and recharge.  Vacations are a thing for a reason.

Although, now that I think about it, most people are encouraged NOT to take vacations (at least in my experience).  You need to be busy, busy, busy and putting your time and effort in at your job.  (This may not be true everywhere – I happen to live the US, and that is very much the culture here.)  In fact, most people only get two weeks of vacation a year, and that’s if you have a very good job.  In today’s gig economy, most jobs don’t offer benefits like vacation.  You can take a vacation, but then you don’t get paid – something a lot of people can’t afford.

I have made a conscious effort to keep myself occupied, because depression can sneak up on me if I don’t.  But it’s okay if some days you just want to lay on the couch and read.  Or lay on the couch and do nothing.  All the things on your to-do list will still be there later.  It’s okay to not be busy.

Late to the Block Party

Ok, I admit, parties aren’t really my thing.  (Introvert, remember?)  A few days ago, when I was upgrading my WP account, I discovered that I am not using the ‘block editor’.

Huh?

I’m a WP user from waaaay back, and I remember when the editor looked like this:

Old WP Editor

So, since my new editor looks like this:

Interim WP Editor

I thought I was using the new block editor.

Nope.

Apparently, that’s the ‘Classic editor.’

The NEW block editor looks like this:

New Block Editor

I tried writing this post in the actual NEW block editor, and it made me want to pull my hair out.  Now, I’m all for learning new things, but it’s always scary to do this on your blog/website.  Because you never know what it will do to your old content.  Maybe nothing?  Or maybe it will break everything?

I mean, unless I’m updating old posts for some reason, after switching to the the new editor, it shouldn’t change anything, right?

The new editor does look like it has some cool features, but it also was frustrating trying to search around and find things, since everything seems to be moved around.

I’m also debating getting a new theme (now that I upgraded and have access to more), but I have the same fear – that changing the theme will somehow break some of the old content.  What to do, what to do.

Are you using the new block editor? Any tips/tricks/horror stories you’d like to share?