2.0 Round 2 Day 1: Measurements and getting back on the wagon

Hello friends! Are you as excited as I am? I’m pretty excited to be starting a new challenge. For me, there is something about the energy of being part of a big movement. Maybe it’s the daily posts, the words of encouragement on the Bikini Body Mommy page, or maybe it’s just a mental thing, but this last month between school starting and that learning curve coupled with every day busy life and my art starting back up, I kind of fell off the wagon both with exercise and nutrition. I got some exercise in, but definitely not every day. But you know what? Here I am, and this round will be bringing big changes! I’m determined to peel off weight this round. I am committed to keeping my meals small and frequent and doing each day’s exercise. Failure isn’t an option for me! I have goals and I have seen amazing changes in the last 9 months, now I’m ready to fit into a smaller jean size this Christmas.

I’m going to try to keep these short blog posts coming through this round of the journey too. They may not happen every day, but I’m shooting for at least 3 a week. I have been so inspired by all the love and support thrown my way and I will aim to love and support as many of you as I can too. I really feel that makes all the difference in success.

Despite having dropped off dramatically in between this challenge and the last, I was pleasantly surprised to see my measurements (except that pesky weight, of course) hadn’t changed for the most part, and where they did it wasn’t dramatic. It goes to show that 1) this is a lifestyle that builds healthy habits that stick with you even when you “cheat”, and 2) you can’t stop, you have to keep going and it is more than a challenge, it is a journey.

So in the spirit of short and sweet, here are my day one measurements, my first stepping stone into another adventure.

rnd 2 day 1

 

NOTE: I am doing a 15 point measurement this round, which is more than what Briana suggests, but these are the areas I want to watch change.

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Want to see where I began blogging through this journey? It starts here!

https://natasiachampion.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/my-newest-project-an-overview/

Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button if you want to get these posts right in your inbox and help me stay motivated by helping you stay motivated. 🙂

Written On My Heart

As many of you know, June of this year marked the beginning of something that had been the humblest of thoughts in my heart since my daughter died. From 2008 until this year, 2012, it slowly evolved until, in one day, the final light bulb moment came and my little dream was birthed into reality.

I’m referring to my Christmas ornament donation program at Skye Blue.

One of the first, only, and most cherished gifts I got in memory of Skye came at the perfect time. The funeral was over, she was buried, the mourning visitors had gone home, my husband (and I, for a short time) went back to work, life began as the New Normal. I was anything but normal though. Nobody talked about my little girl anymore, no more cards came mentioning her name. My memories had been stolen from me before I had a chance to make them with her, and winter descended like a vulture on my soul. There was nothing to look forward to, no bouncing baby girl, no milestones, even the Holidays promised pain and tears without my little bundle to show off, to cuddle, to open presents with, and mostly just to hold and love.

And then, in November, I got a little parcel in the mail. It was from the organization Hearts and Hands. We had been connected with them soon after Skye was sent up to Kosair. At first I didn’t understand who they were and why I was being pushed to meet with yet another set of people when I could be spending time with my daughter. In fact, I don’t think I understood who they were and why we were being introduced the whole 17 days I was there. It was only in the months following Skye’s death that they became the most invaluable comfort to me. You see, they are a group of people who deal with families who have babies that have a huge chance of passing away soon after birth. I guess this is why I didn’t make the fateful connection. It never sank in that I probably wouldn’t bring my little girl home. Nobody thought they should “burden” me with the gravity of her situation.

In the blur that night, when my daughter passed away, it was the sweet ladies from Hearts and Hands as well as one of Skye’s regular nurses that lovingly prepared her body, unwrapping it, dressing it in real clothes for the first time, putting baby lotion on her damaged skin so she would smell like a baby and not a hospital when we held her for the first time without her wrappings. They made the little molds of her hand and feet, they photographed her and us holding her. And they told us that they would be in contact with us over the next few months, we didn’t have to answer back at all, but they would send us some things in the mail. I barely heard this and remembered it at that time, I was too shattered and numb.

I believe the first thing I got was that package in November. I had pretty much forgotten that they had said they would be sending anything, so when I opened it I was a little puzzled and wondered what it was. As I pulled the little tissue paper parcel out of the mailer and unwrapped it, I burst into tears. There was a little pink and white candy cane ornament and it had Skye written on it. Not Elizabeth, her first name and the name so many people used because they didn’t know her, but the name I had chosen so long ago and given to my precious baby while she was still a tiny hope.

We didn’t even put up a tree that year, but that ornament was so precious, because somebody cared. A virtual stranger cared enough to send something with my girl’s name and a hand written card telling me how sorry they were that I’d be spending the Holidays without her at a time when everybody had stopped talking about her for fear of “ruining the season by reminding me”. As If I could have forgotten her!

To this day, that ornament and the others we have accumulated each year are among my most precious earthly possessions. Pulling them out and hanging them on the tree with my family is a cherished moment each year, remembering, and making new memories with my children here on earth, telling them about their sister they have never met and why they are even more special to us because of how special she is.

That is the story behind my donated ornaments. They are a labor of love, not to families that are monetarily needy, but to those who are in need emotionally of someone, anyone, remembering their children. I want you to know, those of you who have requested an ornament for your child or children who have passed, I am touched and humbled as I sit at my table and shape the clay with my fingers. I contemplate your child who was and is and will always be. I say their name, I marvel at the beauty of their names, I think about the dates you have chosen to record, whether birthdays, conception days, due dates, their date of passing. I think of the colors that you choose to represent your child, I think of the short stories some of you send with your email request and I grieve with you, I truly do. Sometimes, when the house is very quiet I even shed a tear as think of these beautiful little lives and the people left behind to mourn them for the rest of their lives. I consider it a great honor to have my finger prints mingled in the same clay that bears your child’s name.

I felt like all this needed to be said, and now it still seems inadequate to convey what I feel, but I will post any way. God bless you all, thank you for letting me be a part of your remembering.

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For information about my program and how to request an ornament, please visit this link on my Facebook page.

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151009575456271.479378.362725131270&type=3

 

Capture Your Grief Day 31: Sunset

I am posting this a day late as last night I was busy making memories with family and friends. I have to say, it was perhaps the most appropriate way I could have ended this tender month.

When I started this project, I had the great desire to post every single day, using every subject. However, this month has been very busy, especially the weekends, and I had to skip a few days as they got away from me.

I have taken so much away from this project. I have cried and cleaned out my soul, remembered, mourned, rejoiced, freed myself of inhibitions, made friends, reflected, found strength, discovered things inside of me I had not even known were there. Not being lost on me is the irony that as I cried for my first child, I am pregnant with my last, and the cycle of living life fully while continually grieving has been an epic journey. I suspect it will not be over until I reach the distant shore of eternity. I’m ok with that.

Last night, as I spent a carefree evening with my husband and daughter and some dear friends, I kept in the back of my mind that I needed to snap a picture of the sunset. Since we were walking outside Trick or Treating, I figured it would be easy to capture a perfect picture. The evening sky was clear with just a few clouds that added to the aesthetic value and I was once again envisioning an epic photo much like the one I had envisioned at the beginning of the project. However, when the moment came to take the picture, I realized we were on the eastern side of a hill and could not see the setting sun horizon because of houses and power lines, etc. So I did the best I could, snapping a shot of the evening sky. At the moment, it did not seem very epic at all, but I wasn’t bothered as much as I had been with my sunrise shot at the beginning of this project. In that moment, I felt happy and carefree, I had the people who mattered most spending time with me and making precious memories. Perhaps the deep cleaning done to my soul has helped me more than I realize, all I know is something really is different at the end of this month compared to when October started.

Letting yourself grieve is a good thing, friends. Don’t be afraid of the memories and the tears they bring. Let yourself feel the pain, allow yourself to be hurt, admit that you have wounds. You have them anyway, acknowledging them is just the first step in the direction of healing. Denying your wounded state just keeps the wounds festering. Don’t kid yourself, they are there whether you cry or not, whether or not you acknowledge them, and most of all, they are there whether or not others acknowledge them. Grief is not to be feared, use it as a tool for healing your soul and getting stronger.

I hope each person reading this finds peace, where ever they are in their healing process, whether beginning, mid way, well into the thick of it, or maybe even having yet to encounter deep grief in your life. My hope is that you always have blessed memories being made along the way, and that you are never afraid to pull them out from time to time, even the painful ones. Every memory is precious.

Day 31: Sunset
Mt Pleasant, Tennessee, USA, about 6 pm October 31st, 2012

Capture Your Grief Day 22: Place of Care

As I’ve said before, I was pregnant with Skye out in Colorado and she spent her entire life in Kentucky, but we now live in Tennessee and I have no pictures of her place of care or birth, none that I’d like to represent this post any way. Instead, I’m going a little outside the box and posting a picture of the place that held her the longest and cared for her the most tenderly and lovingly.

My womb has held 3 babies since Skye, one is with me, one left this world before I even got a chance to process that it had been here, and the third is tucked safely inside as I type, awaiting his entrance into this world from the safety of the womb that held his sister. This picture is actually a recent one and I’m pregnant with Gavin, but somehow it is fitting to use a picture of my (hopefully) last pregnancy to illustrate my very first.

Day 22: Place of Care

Capture Your Grief Day 19: Special Project

They say one of the best ways to find healing in your grief is to reach out to someone who is going through something similar and offer help, sympathy, compassion – in other words, minister to them and you will actually be ministering to yourself. I have found this to be true. I have had the honor of meeting so many beautiful people on this sacred journey, all traveling a similar path. It’s not something you hope for, but since I’m here, I’m glad I have had so many opportunities to love, help, share, and bless others.

This past June I had the honor of embarking on a project that is very personally dear to my heart.

When I first started out on this loss journey, I could not possibly know that one of the hardest things about losing my baby was that I lost all the potential memories we might have made. Those little things like her first tooth, or her first taste of ice cream, or trying to keep her from tearing the wrapping off the presents under the Christmas tree before Christmas, or splashing in a mud puddle after a Summer rain – you don’t realize all the things you say goodbye to forever when you say goodbye to your baby.

Like many other families, I began collecting keepsake Christmas ornaments each year beginning the year I got married. My favorite part of getting a tree and decorating it is not making it picture perfect or color coordinated. My favorite part is putting on the tinsel and remembering the first time I helped my Grandmother decorate her big tree when I was a girl. Its putting on the lights and remembering how my dad used to get so frustrated with untangling all those lights, but he and my mom would work at it, bickering back and forth, and the finished tree was sparkly and glorious. Its pulling those ornaments out and remembering having my little sisters (who are all but grown now) painting little childish designs on simple ball ornaments so we could have unique keepsakes to hang on our first tree as a married couple, or seeing “Champion 2006” and marvelling that it has already been 6 years we’ve been married, or pulling out the little pink and white candy cane and remembering how when everyone else had all but forgotten I was spending my first Christmas without a baby in my arms, the wonderful people at Hearts and Hands had not and they sent a hand written card and that ornament to me in my darkest, loneliest hour, several months after everyone else had gone on about their lives and I was stuck in a Hell I could not escape.

My project has been several years in the making, an idea and a wish mostly, but this year it materialized into “In Memory Of” an ornament donation program. Many people who don’t understand loss, especially child loss, think the last thing you want to do is “dampen the holidays with grieving for a loss” but what so many don’t understand is, we don’t stop grieving. Holiday, ordinary day, everyday, you don’t stop thinking of your baby and wishing for those memories you never got a chance to make. I personally think the holidays are even worse, that’s when you think of them the most.

Each year when I pull out those precious ornaments, its like pulling out the memories, and since I had such a short time to make them with my baby, the few memories I have concerning Skye are the most precious. Since she has died we still get her an ornament each year, or I make one. I do this for all my kids. Hanging them on the tree each year gives me the opportunity to remember and even to make new memories with my family as my kids here on earth begin to learn about the sister they never met, how special she was, and why that makes them even more special to me and Daddy. It is beautiful.

My ornament donation program took off from the very start, showing me that so many other families felt the same way I did. I have cried over tender, heart-felt emails telling me how I have touched them with my work and how I don’t know what that ornament means to them. Yes, they are free, but it is not the cost of the item that is the blessing. Most of my recipients can easily go and buy their own ornaments, make them, or even buy the ones I make that are for sale. I believe the magic is in the fact that someone cares enough to hand make this little token, knowing acutely how inadequate it is to fill the void, yet how beautiful it is to truly care days, months, even years after you have lost your baby, by someone who knows first hand how precious the memories are. The word donation simply means filling an emotional need rather than a financial one.

I have a waiting list for bereaved parents, specifically parents that have suffered loss through miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death, or early childhood death (basically children 5 and under) because these parents got so little time to make memories, and that is ultimately what my program is about, making and enjoying memories. To find out more about this program you can visit my Facebook page.

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151200439886271&set=a.10151009575456271.479378.362725131270&type=3&theater

Ornaments from my “In Memory Of” donation program.

Capture Your Grief Day 10: Symbol

I have to say, this one was a thinker for me. Butterflies are a huge reminder of my girl, but usually in art more than nature and blue ones because of Skye’s eyes.

More than blue butterflies, though, I’d have to say a clear, deep blue sky in the Fall is even more symbolic of my girl. No matter where in the country I am, I usually see the perfect blue sky only a few times a year, either in September, October, or November. Like my daughter’s eyes, it is a hard color to describe because you aren’t just seeing the color, you’re seeing the depth and transparency and feeling the coolness, sensing the crispness, smelling the Fall smells. It is more like an experience. A picture can’t really capture an experience, so I guess that has been my trouble today. However, here is my picture for today’s post, I took it in 2011 at the end of September while driving to Tennessee on our move last year. I have yet to experience my Blue SKYE this year.

Day 10: Symbol
Experiencing the perfect blue sky in the Fall.

Capture Your Grief Day 5: Memorial

There are several memorials scattered around middle and western Kentucky, Skye’s head stone on her grave, a memory brick in the Bi-Centennial Garden in Salem Kentucky, the place of her Daddy’s family roots and the tiny town where she is buried, and of course the hearts of her family, especially the few people who got to meet her while she lived.

Josh and I have moved so much to pursue career opportunities for him that we have yet to settle down and really feel like we’ve found a home and put down roots, so I’m very glad Skye was able to be buried in Salem in the little cemetery shared by family. It is a place we will always make at least an annual pilgrimage to no matter where we move or live because that is where we celebrate the Holidays with his side of the family.

However, I believe the greatest and farthest reaching memorial I have is one that travels with me no matter where I am and that is Skye Blue, my online store and community on Facebook that has supported my art. Everything I make at Skye Blue is inspired by my daughter, even the name is inspired by her. I make a lot of grief and child loss related items and custom memorial items for grieving parents as well as every day home decor and non-grief related art. Even the regular items are inspired by her though, she taught me many things, but one of the biggest things I carried away from losing Skye was that you can’t wait for a convenient moment in life to do anything, if it is important to you, seize the day and do what you love.

Making art, working from home, and being an everyday part of my kids lives as a stay at home mom – those are all dreams I had long before my daughter lived and died, but she was the one who helped me realize that things that important to me couldn’t wait, I had to jump in and make it happen, the details would work themselves out.

Every day as I sit at my table creating, or pack up an order, or post pictures to Facebook, or even just take Faith to the park or lay and feeling Gavin kicking in my belly, those are moments I think of Skye. I’m thankful for the things she taught me. I’m glad that I’m young with lots of time ahead of me, but if my life were to be shortened unexpectedly, (nobody is guaranteed one day or hour) I would go with peace knowing I lived every day being alive, not just going through the motions, and I tried to remember what was truly important. That is a grand memorial, her legacy, and it touches many people every day. I am humbled by the messages from people who have been touched in some way by Skye Blue. It comforts me to be reminded that Skye is more alive right now than she could ever be in her mortal body and that gives me hope for my future also. This life is just the beginning friends.

This “Beauty From A Broken Heart” sculpture is just like the ones I make at Skye Blue, this one bears her name and birth date etched into it. The base is a broken heart and the peace lilies grow from the broken cracked middle.

Long Time No Write

So, I realize it has been a while since I wrote. Believe me, not for lack of happenings! I was just remembering this morning how therapeutic it has been for me to write blog posts, so I dusted off the ol’ key board, so to speak, and here I am.

Let me see, where did I leave off? I’m not sure, especially since my life story is not written in chronological order here, but how about a few updates about my life in general these past few months?

We moved to Tennessee where Josh has opened a new restaurant where he is co-owner, it is doing great, we’re super happy about that. (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sano/256534591089142)

Faith is coming up on 3, she is a hoot. There is no lack of funny stuff that she comes up with, she’s growing like a weed and continues to be our sunshine.

“The Garden Of Optimism”

Skye Blue has really blossomed this year, I’ve been doing well with a new line of sculptures called “Every Tree A Soul”, (http://www.etsy.com/shop/SkyeBlue85?section_id=8161645) I’ve sold quite a few.

“I Cling To Hope”

The biggest surprise for me is the change in medium, I never thought I would be primarily sculpting. I’m really blessed with the response and wonderful people I’ve met. I also launched a project that has been a dream of mine, an ornament donation program for families who lost a child to miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death, or early childhood death. The response to that has been humbling and tender, hearing other moms who lost their babies expressing their joy and thankfulness for what I’m doing. It is a precious thing I am finding great joy in to honor my little girl, Skye. (http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151009575556271&set=a.10151009575456271.479378.362725131270&type=3&theater)

I lost my dad this past March after a rather abrupt and short illness. I miss him every day. It has been hard to let it sink in that he is gone, he was always so healthy and full of spunk.

Me and daddy in Sep. 2011, right after he stopped working. He passed March 2012.

And, we are expecting our 3rd child. We are really happy and excited! Of course there is always a level of scared, but so far everything is good and healthy and we believe that by the end of December we will be holding our new Tiny Love in our arms. (I’m due December 13.)  I am just beginning my second trimester, I’m 15 weeks (3 1/2 months) and we don’t yet know the gender, so I’m just calling the baby Tiny Love for now.

Having my 3rd baby is pretty mellow. Of course I was part nervous and part naive with my first, plus very stressed with opening and running the restaurant in Colorado. I was extremely nervous and stressed with Faith because of everything that happened with Skye. This time around, I feel relaxed and experienced. I have experienced the best outcome and the worst, so there is nothing I can’t be prepared for at this point. I am on a mission this time around to make the very best of my pregnancy and not just work toward a successful birth. I am eliminating stress (something that isn’t easy for this natural worry wort.) I am getting mentally and physically fit and strong and am anticipating a grand finale to my childbearing (I hope), the very best birth experience yet.

12 weeks

Still, there is always something new with every baby, every pregnancy. I doubt I will become bored. Even with my third I’m experiencing things for the first time, like explaining to your almost 3-year-old that there is a baby in my belly, I’m not just fat, and that she can’t knee me in the gut as she’s accustomed to. We’ve also been working on bonding. We’re making progress, at first the only response Faith had to the new family member was to scream “No!!” whenever we approached the subject. She has since graduated to kissing my belly and praying for the baby at night, although she doesn’t seem to completely grasp how this is all working. I think the turning point was my first ultra sound a few weeks ago where she saw baby sucking its thumb on the big t.v. She could relate to that and she was very concerned that the ultra sound tech not press on my belly too hard with the wand. She held my hand through that whole scan and kept reminding the ladies, “Be careful, not too hard on momma’s belly.”

Another mild surprise for me is something that probably shouldn’t surprise me at all, maybe perplex me is a better term. With every pregnancy I have grown a cup size. I know, I know, there are some of you who are saying, “Ok, what’s the problem?” Well, we women generally do grow in that area during pregnancy, but most of us shrink back after we give birth or stop nursing. I never did, not with my first 2 pregnancies. I went from C to D with Skye, and from D to DD with Faith. I started at generally the same weight (give or take 5-10 lbs.) with all three pregnancies. I now find my current undergarments becoming snug. I was voicing my concern to Josh last night, it went something like this.

“Babe, my bras are getting tight, I’m seriously worried I’m going to have to go up another cup size.”

Josh lowers the book he’s reading and gives me an impish grin. “Sounds awesome, what’s the problem?”

“No, it’s not awesome. These things just keep growing. Normal women get to have them shrink when it’s all said and done, mine just keep growing. It’s already very difficult to find a 36 DD, it’s going to be impossible to find a 36…… gosh, I don’t even know what the next size up is, its like the great beyond.”

Needless to say his ensuing laughter was not reassuring. Men, they just don’t understand.

So yes, even with a 3rd baby I have all kinds of questions. How will the above issue play out? How will it be to have a baby and a 3-year-old? Will Faith feel left out? Will I have to upgrade to a duffel bag to carry all the stuff? (Josh already monopolizes most of my purse.) Will my belly get any saggier? (I really hope not) If I have a boy there are a million more questions just for that, I’ve had so much experience with so many babies, but they were all girls. The thought of having a boy takes me way out of my element.

I think my point here is that this pregnancy, so far, has been mellow, but definitely not boring.

So, that’s pretty much what’s happening in my life right now. I’d like to keep the updates more frequent and shorter, mostly because it’s a pain to wrangle the cords to put the computer on my lap to type, and it’s a pain (literally) to type hunched over my growing belly for too long. We shall see, I guess.

 

Talent in the Bluegrass

I have been busy for the month of April, as most of you know, moving from one house to another and it has been a while since I posted. I am taking time now to say we are moved and loving our new rural farm-house. I want to write more and post pictures soon.

This post will be short, but I wanted to call attention to my fabulous Etsy team, Team Bluegrass! This is a group of wonderful artists and craftsmen that specialize in everything from soap, to pottery, to jewelry, to garden decor, and everything in between. There are currently 139 members throughout the state. Everything we make is crafted by hand. (With a smattering of vintage items here and there.)

Making a purchase on Etsy is as simple as any other online site for one of the megastores, except when you purchase from someone on Etsy, you are purchasing from a small business, and if they are a Team Bluegrass member, your dollars go right back into our local Kentucky economy! There is something for everyone and many items are surprisingly affordable. Why not stay at home and have an original, made-with-love item delivered to you instead of going through the hoopla of Wally World only to feel like just another number running your stuff through the self check line and wondering if the quality is really there? Think about it.

For those of you who have not yet discovered Etsy: www.etsy.com

You can browse without a profile, and if you find something you love (and I’m sure you will) the site will walk you through a very simple, free sign up so you can purchase items through PayPal with your credit card, or some vendors (such as myself) have a pay with money order option.

In the Etsy search bar, you can type in any search word to find exactly what you’re looking for, but type in teambluegrass (all one word, our team search tag) and you can browse literally hundreds of items made here in Kentucky. Birthdays, holidays, just because days, a treat for yourself, or just something you have been needing, they are all covered!

Team Bluegrass is on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/kentuckyhandmade

We recently decided to create a team coupon code good in many of the Team Bluegrass shops on Etsy. Using this code at checkout will take 10% off your purchase order. You just type BLUEGRASS10 into the coupon code box upon checkout and your order is automatically adjusted. This is our first team code and is expected to run quarterly. This particular code will be available to anyone on every order until July 1, 2011. Below is a list of the shops currently offering this code in their shop, but we expect this list to change and grow as our team grows and as we get feedback on the popularity of this endeavor.

Skyeblue85, Glasgow KY – that would be me! Original works of art that “regular” people can afford. I specialize in wall decor, original paintings, home decor items, ect.
The Loop Designs, Frankfort KY – Quilts, bags, pillows, and fabric goods for your home.
Whimsy Beading, Lexington KY – Whimsy in beadweaving jewelry.
SeeSpace, Frankfort KY – Jewelry, stencil goods, appliques.
Bluebirdheaven, Louisville KY – The original printer drawer jewelry displays.
Lexigirlcreations, Lexington KY – Eclectic, unusual, steam punk, and everyday jewelry creations.
CreativeEyeStudio, Louisville KY – Handcrafted, unique beaded jewelry and greeting cards.
Earth Aria, Florence KY – Unique custom gem, pearl, and bridal jewelry.
Sweet Pea Murals, Florence KY – Custom painted wall murals, decorative borders, and room decor for kids.
Jorgensenstudio, Louisville KY – Stacking and promise rings, engagement and wedding jewelry.
Stephaniemakesall, Bowling Green Ky – Crochet and knit items, journals, soap savers, boot anklets, a variety.
Glory Be Herbals, Lexington KY – Natural bath and beauty products, essential oils, soap, lip balm, lotions.
Charlotart, Louisville KY – Exciting home decor and mixed media art form repurposed items.
Cafecharlot (Jackie Charlot) – Charlotart’s sister shop consisting of vintage items.
Jdbeaner1, Louisville Ky – Baubles by Jill, unique jewelry creations.
Hotoffthelathe, Louisville KY – Beautiful word working, pepper mills, duck calls, deer grunt calls.
http://www.etsy.com/shop/hotoffthelathe?ref=pr_shop
JASaromatics, Lexington KY – essential oils, soap, perfumes, bath and body items.
 
As most of my readers know, I’m a firm believer in supporting small and local businesses. I think the megastores have taken away some of our American heritage. Our country was founded on free enterprise. Mom and Pop stores used to be the beating heart of the American economy. Great products at fair prices, yes, but also relationships and outstanding customer service. You’ll find that by exploring the different Etsy shop profiles, each owner has a unique story and drive behind their online store. Most are very committed to making every purchase feel like a personal experience. You would think an online purchase would be about as impersonal as it gets, but I have found through personal experience that my Etsy purchases are much better experiences than every purchase experience I’ve ever had at the megastores or other online stores. There are message options right on Etsy where you can communicate directly with the seller and almost everybody is awesome about answering questions about their products and working with you to customize your order.
 
I think I’ve said as much as I can say, I’d rather you just check out these awesome shops for yourself! 🙂

Plans (Note: don’t mind my bumbling in the dark.:D)

As many of you know, I have been marketing and selling my art work for about a year now. I have been amazed, excited, and humbled by how well I’ve done, all things considered. It started as a hobby and now I am seriously researching the development of my business. How hard can that be? You put product up where it will be seen and you put a price on it, right?

Wrong.

Since I started with a hobby in mind, I did not really research all the points I should have that regard marketing and the business side. This isn’t so bad, I find that many things in my life seem to start out backwards and they almost always turn themselves around the right way before it’s over. However, I’m at a point where I need to really start getting serious if I want to see serious results. This is good, this does not intimidate me, it exhilarates me because I finally know, at almost 26 years old,  just what I want to do in the way of job and income long-term.

I really want to accomplish so much more than just creating and selling art, though. I want to be that business where when you purchase something from me, you feel like you got a superior product for an amazing price. I want to connect with my customers and be more than just “an artists I bought a piece of art from”, I want to build relationships. I don’t want to be that annoying online business that sends out emails every other day and posts on their Facebook wall about their product until when you see their avatar you just automatically scan over them or worse, delete them.

That being said, I am trying really hard to find new and interesting ways to connect and market and promote. Since setting up shop on Etsy I have learned so much from other small businesses and online shoppers. I really admire all the unique and handmade items I’ve seen and I’m striving to be just as unique in my own field.

I will be taking some time out all this next month of April, mainly to move my household once more,( this time at least we’re getting a bigger house with more room to create and be productive) but also to work on my new business and give it some TLC. I want to be a little more organized, a little less all over the place, figure out my short-term and long-term goals, work out my exact costs to price tag ratio, and work on new items and new kinds of items. I’ll have my Etsy shop on vacation mode for all of April, but I’ll be back at the beginning of May, hopefully with a clearer vision and consistent direction.

Feel free to keep up with me on Facebook and leave any suggestions about what you’d like to see me do. I love feed back!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Skye-Blue-by-Natasia-Champion/362725131270

"In Spite of the Pain" (SOLD)