What next for Mr B’s Button Jamboree?

Buttons on wooden table

Initially I started this blog because I was starting my own little business up (see my very 1st post ‘And so it begins….’!).  At the time I had big dreams of creative enjoyment and success, expanding from my simple button earrings into more elaborate pieces as my business took off and I became more confident.  The blog was to follow this journey and yet instead it became a reflection of how things stalled and stopped.

My plan was to start small and as sales grew, so would my range and my ability. However a year after opening my Etsy store Mr B’s Button Jamboree, I realised that I had stopped developing and growing.  Yes I had added a few new things like my hemp bracelets, felt brooches and fabric buttons, when I looked at my range though I could see that I had not reached the potential I had hoped to.

So what was behind this stagnation and lack of progress in my plans?  One reason is that very word – ‘plans’.  I spent so much time reading and planning, drawing up new plans all the time, constantly changing things. Too much time.  Hours were invested working out social media, SEO keywords, listings, business plans….and not making or experimenting with new products.  I sabotaged myself.  I feared failing and people thinking my button jewellery was rubbish.  So I over-planned, trying to be the most prepared I could be and drew back from pushing myself to try making new products because I was afraid of not being good enough.

Things then became more complicated as I took on work preparing photos for our microstock portfolio..  This is incredibly time consuming yet something so important if we are to achieve our plans of mobile working. I have since also started writing freelance for blogs.  This does not leave much time for my button business and the combination of it all leaves my brain somewhat frazzled and exhausted.

Setting up my little business has not been without its positives though and when I remember to stop and take stock of these, I am grateful for what it has bought me. Without it I am not sure I would be here now talking to you. Not only did it introduce me to the world of blogging, it has given me a community of friends and support on Instagram (why not pop over and say hello!) that has made so much difference to little old introverted, solitary me. My confidence is still shaky and yet it has also grown. I have learnt the joy and comfort of sharing my thoughts and feelings with others…and that there are some truly awesome cats out there!

@buttonjamboree Mr B's Button Jamboree Instagram

My favourite Instagram photos from 2016

So where does this leave me and Mr B’s Button Jamboree? To be truthful, I am not quite sure. I am not quite ready to say goodbye to it and still want to get more creative with what I make.  Whether it fits in to how my life is going is a different matter.  Whatever happens though I am glad that I tried it…it has given me confidence, bought me friends and taught me valuable lessons.  Watch this space for what happens next I suppose!

In Defence of Winter

Frosty moorland at Geltsdale in winter

Photo by ColobusYeti

It seems that as soon as New Year has been and gone (if not even sooner), I start hearing people wishing the winter away for warmer and longer days. You rarely hear people say that it is their favourite season, all the others have their fans but poor old winter seems to be the one in the corner with no friends.

I love winter, okay it may not be my favourite season yet there is something about the season which really speaks to me. It has much that comforts and brings me pleasure. The cold and stormy weather when it comes encourages hiding away and cosy times wrapped up in blankets. There are moments of stillness that you simply don’t seem to find at other times of the year, things are resting, waiting for the work to be done in spring. When I wake up on a cold, sunny day with frost clinging to the grass and plants or breathe in that cold crisp winter air, there is a delight that no other season equals for me.  And if it snows…boy am I like a small kid!

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People accuse the winter of being too bleak and I guess that yes it can be bleak, that bleakness though is something I enjoy. Seeing nature stripped back to its bare bones is something that brings me so much pleasure. Trees stripped back to their bare forms are a sight so intriguing and beautiful to me, tracing the branches and twigs show the life of a tree in a way I cannot see when it is covered with leaves. It is now when I feel most connected to the living world around me.

Tree silhouetted against a sunset

Photo by ColobusYeti

At the same time though winter is not colourless, there is always something to spy whether it is the red berries on holly or the sunshine splash of winter jasmine. Winter sunsets seem to have hues and brilliance missing from their summer counterparts. And that moment when you see the first snowdrops peeking their way through the ground! Followed by the bright colours of the crocuses and all the signs of nature waking up again! This sight always makes me smile.

I like the personality of winter, it seems quite introverted to me with a little hint of temperament! Apart from the big dollop of festivities in the middle of it, winter seems to have periods of being withdrawn and then exploding in to life before settling back down for a little snooze again.  So yes I love winter, it feels like a kindred spirit. It provides time for contemplation and thought that I don’t seem to find at other times of the year, it is a time of beautiful bleakness and of a feeling of resting soon to be erupt into the joys of spring.

 

Time to Talk

Time to Talk

Today is ‘Time to Talk’ Day and to me this is such an important message to get across to people.  Talking about mental health is crucial if we are ever going to get to the point where mental health issues are not swept under the carpet, dismissed as insignificant or seen as something only ‘weird’ people have.  By talking to others people living with mental health issues can be made to feel less isolated and more supported.  It really can change lives.

In today’s busy society, we seem to be in contact with each other more and somehow talk less.  I am in contact with friends all the time via social media yet can feel isolated or unable to talk to people about the times when I am finding things trickier.  At my lowest points, I hid it all away and showed a fake me to the world believing that people either wouldn’t want to know, not know how to react or simply disbelieve me.  And I was right to feel this, I came across all of these attitudes from friends, work colleagues and others.  For some time I was either unable or unwilling to talk to others about how I was struggling with life.  It was a very isolated and lonely time when really I needed someone to say ‘how are you?’ or ‘are you okay?’…and be ready to listen.

I was also wrong though, this was not the attitude of everyone and things have continued to improve, both for me and it seems for the wider world.  People seem more willing to listen and people seem more willing to talk.  The more I talk to people about what I have gone through and still go through, the more I realise that I am not alone and that I have support for those times when I need it or am ready to ask for it.

More though needs to be done.  The expert help available to those in need is woefully inadequate and this often lets people down when they need a professional to talk to.  Mental health issues need to lose the stigma associated with them and people need to get over their awkwardness that often prevents them from reaching out to someone they know is having difficulties.  Having anxiety, ocd or any other mental  illness is nothing to be ashamed off, we ought to be able to talk about what is wrong with us in the same way that someone with a physical illness can.  Only by being willing to talk about mental illness to others and having others to listen to us will mental illness stop being the elephant in the corner.

Having people to talk to and more importantly who will listen to you without judging or dismissing you matters so much when you have struggling with mental health issues.  If someone opens up to you about the struggles they are having, listen to them.  Don’t judge, don’t dismiss, don’t try and sort it for them.  You do not need to be an expert or have ‘answers’ for them, you simply need to be there for that person.  Take the time to hear what someone is saying, to check in on a friend you know is having a tough time, to simply say hello to someone.  I get that it is difficult and you may feel awkward.  You never know the difference that might make to someone though.

If you need someone to talk to, keep talking till you find someone who will support you in the way you need support.  Talk to me, talk to a friend, talk to a group on Facebook, talk to a professional.  Please just talk to someone.

Organisations you can talk to include:

Time for Change

Mind

Samaritans