Moving!

Okay, folks, I’m leaving this space. I’m moving on to http://www.yancylael.com/blog. I will keep this space open for now, but I will no longer be posting here. Yes, the blog on my site is a bit of a mess and not nearly as advanced as this one – but baby steps. It’ll be better!

Please join me over there and click here to join the newsletter!

Rolling with the punches

I haven’t been in a creative tornado like this for a long, long time. I’ve never put so much time into something with so little knowledge of how it would pan out. I’ve never worked on so many projects simultaneously (by necessity) and been able to keep everything straight in my head. I’ve never been so willing to roll with the punches. And I’ve never been so ruthless about following my intuition.

Here are some of the major changes that have been happening over here:

1. I am no longer pursuing an e-book for the debut of my skincare book. I’m going to self-publish via Amazon, then get it into the Kindle store in November or December.

2. Foxhazel who? Yeah, this was a big one. As I designed my new website, I could not seem to shake the gnawing feeling that something was wrong. My beautiful, forest-themed name for the business suddenly didn’t seem to fit the direction I was heading in. It works for my skincare products (which are no longer the focus of the business) and for the herbal projects I want to do, but in the long run, I see myself writing more books, venturing into the world of monthly publications and working more directly with people via coaching, courses and (gulp) public speaking. Some of this is in the far future, yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that I need to keep my eye on that horizon.

The truth is, I don’t know exactly where I’m headed. I have the next six months mapped out, but beyond that, it’s a little foggy. I see words: Help. Motivation. Passion. Inspiration. Guidance. Love. Change. Light. Brilliance. Achievement. I know I want (I need) to rocket to the next level in my own life, having hung out in Haven’t Met My Potential-ville on Lacked Belief in Myself Street for far, far too long. And I know I want to take everyone like me on the journey, right by my side.

Foxhazel seems more of a part of my business than the whole. And every potential name I think of has the same issue – another part of me or my business dreams. (What can I say, I have a lot of interests and goals!) As I reach the home stretch here and am trying to prevent having to re-brand myself yet again in the near future, I’m seriously considering just using my name: YancyLael.com. It seems crazy to me, for some reason (like naming a website after yourself is only possible after you have published dozens of books and/or been in business for ten years), but it’s who I am and I know that will never change. It might get a new look from time to time, but wouldn’t ever need a re-branding (well, mostly).

No regrets, right? No doubts, no sentimentality. I already bought the domain name and set up the Foxhazel emails. Oh well. Goodbye. I already spent weeks designing the logo and artwork. Oh well. Goodbye. Or not? I still don’t know. But…roll with the punches.

Some of the artwork I've created for the name that no longer seems to work!  Copyright: Yancy Lael

Some of the artwork I’ve created for the name that no longer seems to work!
Copyright: Yancy Lael

3. Goodbye deadlines. On August 31st, coming home from a nice, rare dinner out on the town, I suddenly realized the the next day was September 1st…and my deadlines for releasing the book, the coaching seminars and the website in thirty days were impossible to reach. It had seemed so logical in my head that it would all work just fine, but I had forgotten one important point: shipping. There was not enough time to create and ship some of the products that are available with certain coaching packages. I was distraught, as the only other window I had beyond October was all the way in January. (I remain certain that it wouldn’t be wise to launch a 30-day coaching seminar in November or December with the holiday madness going on.) What would happen? Would anyone care by then?

And two days later, I dusted myself off and realized that this was the best possible timeline. It would give me ample time to prepare and give my best to my clients. I still plan on releasing the book by October 1st (fingers crossed) and opening the website no later than that date, so there will be plenty to offer my customers and plenty of time to make some extra treats for you all (I’ll reveal that soon!).

4. Title 1. Title 2. Title 3. The name of my book has changed so many times, it’s almost ridiculous. I think my sister is going to stop answering my text messages asking if she likes this title or that title better. I think – maybe – I have the right title now. But then, I’ve thought that before and hated it a week later. However, I don’t have a week to spare anymore. This is IT. I’m giving myself a few hours and then it’s time to plunge ahead.

This process has been super hard and super scary – and amazing. I find it a weird space in time. I have so many people in my life who are so excited about what I’m doing. And just as many, if not more, who don’t seem to give a rat’s patoot. I didn’t expect to encounter very many naysayers – and certainly none in my inner circle – and yet, there they are. Whatever fear I’m facing, it’s like these people know and they make comments that seem to directly feed that fear. People – sometimes people you love – will imply (or directly tell you) that you aren’t good enough, smart enough or worthy enough to succeed. That you can’t build a successful business. That you aren’t worth being paid decent wages. The temptation to believe them – since they’re just confirming you own fears, anyway – is so strong.

You could just say, “Walk away from that! Those people aren’t your friends or family!” And it’s true, that you should never put up with verbal abuse, and never let yourself succumb to the tearing claws of critics. But I see so much more to it. How do they know? How do they know exactly what to say to freak you out the most? It’s all about the mirrors. We recognize similarities in each other – we bond with our light and we attack with our darkness. People know. You can’t hide your fears from those who experience the same fears. Maybe it’s a good thing for them to provoke that fear beast within you. It gives you a chance to face it and overcome it. And if you’re lucky, you can recognize the same fear in the other person. You can recognize the suffering within them that made them pounce on your fear. A little perseverance in your path and a little prayer for the critic might go a long way in healing you both.

So this is it. The home stretch. A few more weeks (maybe less) and I’ll be up and running. It’s insanely scary. But also one of the most exciting things I’ve done in a long time. Thanks for sticking around to see it all happen! I wouldn’t be here without you all.

Take No Prisoners

It all started out as a seemingly innocuous decision to take myself more seriously. I began the process by making the decision to create an office space for myself that felt beautiful, comfortable, practical and “real” – not just a spare room with a bunch of crap in it that made me feel stressed, overwhelmed and a little bit like a poser. Redecorating this space was an awesome process that I enjoyed very much – and it made me surprisingly more committed to stick with my decision to take myself seriously in every part of my life.

That commitment started to manifest in ways I did not expect. I made it through the school year and had no distractions to keep me from facing the truth about my business: That is was not profitable. In the past, when met with realizations like this, I would fall into despair and feel like a failure. This time, I felt the opposite. I knew the problem and I knew I could fix it. The decision to stop focusing on manufacturing products arose quickly and triumphantly.

This was followed by the decision to pursue my e-book with 100% focus. I kept to a strict schedule (something I have to admit, I’ve almost never done as an entrepreneur) and there it was: The finished rough draft in less than a month (which is saying a lot, considering I started this book a year ago, and hardly touched it for most of that time). The feedback I’m getting about the book has been more than I could’ve hoped for and it feels like my business’s new direction is right on target.

My workspace as I write my e-book.

My workspace as I write my e-book.

And then I received my paycheck for the hours I worked at summer school and a previous realization revisited me, this time, demanding immediate attention. And ten days later, I resigned from my job. And I know, without a doubt, that it was the right thing to do. In short, I had put myself in a position to earn far, far less than I deserve and to be undervalued by the “brass.” (It is very easy to fall into this situation when you work in education – and I’ve found myself here no less than a dozen times.) While I didn’t necessarily want to leave (I love my students), I absolutely could not make it another year on those wages. I also felt, very deeply, that I had learned what I came to learn and that now I deserved more.

I look back on some of the goals I set for this year (like this one) and though it doesn’t feel like I made much progress, I realize now that I have. Things are changing right and left and my confidence is growing with each day. It’s not easy – in fact, it’s downright terrifying – but things are actually working. It’s all moving and changing and growing and things are coming together.

This whole “take yourself seriously” thing and the radical self-acceptance…they work. They actually work! (And that’s a major part of my e-book, coming out soon – so let me warn you now!)

So watch out, world! I’m taking no prisoners!

Moving On and Up

I had planned to unveil my new business ideas at least a month ago, but life often has other plans. Summer school came and went and then my roommate/best friend broke his foot, which has required me to be a caregiver in addition to working on my own projects.

Both experiences (summer school and the broken foot) oddly made me realize something I think I’ve known since last summer: that Five Seed has taken its last breath in its current incarnation.

Ever since Etsy changed its policies and prevented us from talking about herbalism, my business has literally died down to nothing. And I let it. I was scared to move on, and depressed and discouraged by their actions. Not productive. Thankfully, I didn’t have too much time to dwell on it (usually) as I was busy with my teaching jobs.

However, as sales dived by tens and then hundreds of dollars…I stopped wanting to create these products. The competition was overwhelming to me, and the details…oh, the details! Keeping stock of hundreds of ingredients and supplies, creating products that would sell quickly so customers would be able to enjoy their long shelf life, designing dozens of labels, arranging the labels on the page one at a time in order to keep from wasting ink and paper, printing the labels, drying the labels, placing the labels on the products, placing the protective labels over the product labels, storing the products, keeping track of inventory, marketing, keeping up the blog, taking product photos, editing product photos, uploading product photos, writing product descriptions, updating product pages, keeping up with emails, keeping up with business teams, scouting for consignment opportunities… I could go on, but I’ll spare you.

The point is that, while working as a teacher during summer school, I put in 51 hours during the month of June and made almost twice what I make in my normal job as a reading teaching during the school year. Less time and more money. Why? Because for once, I was able to earn teacher wages instead of the just-above-minimum-wage hourly pay that I earn with my normal job.

There it was: the old “work smarter, not harder” saying staring me in the face. (Now if I could figure out HOW to do this with my teaching jobs, I’d be pretty happy. But I’m still working on that one.)

And it hit me – I wasn’t working smarter at Five Seed. On the contrary, I was working harder, putting in more hours and getting less and less in return. At one time, it was worth it. I didn’t have any other jobs when I first started. It was just me and the dream and it was glorious. But as time went on, it became financially necessary for me to take on more and more outside jobs, to the point where I was dropping commitments for Five Seed right and left. It’s no wonder things got bad – there was some serious neglect going on here.

etsy-farewellscreen

And in the end, I realized that I have to take my own advice. I can’t keep frittering away my time on brainstorming, labeling, hustling and trying-trying-trying when there’s nothing coming back in. I have to remember that I’m worth more than that, and that the quality of my life demands that I make a change here.

Further, I don’t belong on Etsy anymore. I’ve known that since the day they changed their policies and refused to give me clear instructions on what to do, all the while threatening to close down my shop. I was super proud of my shop back then – proud of my stats, of the customer love I had received and proud of the immense work that went into building that shop. And let’s face it, when it comes to third-party shopping venues, Etsy is the best of the best. Many have tried but none have come close to Etsy’s options, class and exposure.

Nonetheless, it’s not the place for me. I’ve felt dread and regret and bitterness every time I’ve logged in to my account – another big red flag I should’ve taken notice of 11 months ago! At the time, my fear was too great to leave, though, no matter how many people encouraged me to do so (and thank you, by the way, for all of that, readers!).

Now…I’m ready. I don’t even know why. I’m not sure exactly what all clicked into place to finally make this happen. But I’m ready to let go and move on.

I don’t fully know what that means yet, but I do know that manufacturing products will no longer be on my priority list. There will be some of that – but only here and there as supplements to my other projects. I know I want to focus on writing and educational projects at this time. So the blog will survive – in another form, however, and probably with another name. And I will probably have a store site that will feature little items I make here and there.

However…all the rest is leaving. Goodbye!

So head on over to the shop and grab what you want at 40% off – use the code FAREWELL40. And stay tuned for the rest of the changes as I work on them this summer!

Thank you all so much for all of the support you’ve given me these past 3 1/2 years. It was a wonderful ride and I will always be so grateful to you all!

Go Fund Yourself!

Unfortunately, my Go Fund Me campaign for my e-book did not quite make it to the goal and the money that was raised will not be collected. (I keep joking with myself that Go Fund Me told me to go fund myself. LOL!) I could’ve done better with the whole thing, but I think I let the fears that have been surrounding this whole process sabotage me. I didn’t do a very good job in promoting it and…I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t even work on the book during the campaign. I can see how the universe would not want to support my bad behavior! {wink, wink}

Yesterday, when I realized I wasn’t going to make my goal, I decided to stop waffling and worrying about my lack of appropriate tools for making this book. All I need to do now is focus on the writing. It doesn’t matter if my computer crashes a million times while I’m working – I’m learning to diligently press the Save button and regularly back up the file on my jump drive. When the time comes that I need more supplies, more money, or whatever…they will come. Until then, I have to get to work and be productive!

skincare25

I do want to take a moment to thank the contributors to my campaign. It’s funny – I love crowd-funding because it’s so wonderful to feel like you are helping a stranger realize their dream. I’ve contributed to a few projects now and it was a thrill, each time. My hope was to find other like-minded strangers who would like to help me with my dream project. Instead, I ended up getting contributions from friends and customers. It was very humbling and I am very grateful for all of their support. That includes EcoGrrl, Rachael of Sellwood Soap, Callah, K.P., K.S. and the lovely Marcia of Marci Ann Designs. Many, many thanks to all of you. I can’t sufficiently express my gratitude, but I can at least say that your contributions have helped me keep the fires of this dream burning! Bless you, all!

So onward and upward! Now that summer school is coming to a close, I’m making a writing schedule for the summer. This book is my priority right now, above all the other business projects nagging at me. I am going to finish this! You may hear a little less from me on the blog, but I’ll make up for it with this amazing book, when it comes out!

Pedalin’: May 2013

As usual, the past two months have flown by so fast, I feel like I have whiplash. There’s just something a little crazy that happens at the end of spring break when you work in a school. Suddenly, there are a million things to do to close out the year and people start getting really excited and before you know it…June has come.

May was a little tough for me. It started out cold. Then it got hot – really, really hot, like pushing 90 degrees (which is extremely unusual for this area). Maybe it was the extreme temperature fluctuations or the excitement of school ending that caused me to get really, really sick at the beginning of the month. I haven’t been really sick like that since January, so it was a bit of a shock to come down with such a terrible illness just when the weather was starting to show the promise of summer. In any case, despite my almost obsessive desire to finish out the school year with no more car rides…I had to succumb due to my exhaustion and take my car three days in a row.

May ‘12

May ‘13

Bicycle

16

16

Car

5

3

It seemed like my body started to show the toll my long hours had taken as the month went on. I took a whole week off my after-school job while I was sick and then finished up the final week in mid-May. Then I had one more week of my before-school job and finished that on May 23rd. And now, even though I’m down to just one blissful job, I haven’t been able to do much of anything. I anticipated catching up on the business and doing massive housework and instead…I’ve been resting, knitting, reading and watching TV. I just feel so tired. But it has been a long school year and as I said, I think my body is just in recovery mode!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My favorite bike rack in town. Yes, that’s me and Flat Stanley. I was showing Stanley around town for my friend’s daughter’s school project.

This year, I’ll be teaching summer school, so I will have three more weeks in June to record my mileage. After that…a much-needed, 6-week break! Thank heavens!

Happy summer, folks!

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Total mileage for 2013

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Last year’s bike to car ratio

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This year: Didn’t quite keep the driving to zero, but not bad!