It’s how many times you get up again that matters…

It’s funny how quickly I fall off the wagon on some projects and yet on others I can stick with them for months and months until I also fall off the wagon.  But ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many fits and starts I have, as long as I have one more start than fit.

There are a few reasons why I haven’t posted in a while.  The first is that I was doing these long involved posts describing the five aspects of my life that I’m working to reforge.  I already posted about my Career, my Body, and my Spirituality. But the next two topics are somewhat more daunting for me, my Relationships and my pursuit of simplicity.  They are still posts I need to get around to at some point, but right now I want to focus on what progress I’ve made since my last posts.

And the second reason was that life got in the way.  In september I returned to the Between the Worlds gathering, which took up not just the week of the event, but the week leading up to it for me.  Then after returning from that trip I went immediately into production mode for vending at the Michigan Renaissance Festival.

Once I got that out of the way, I started working on Halloween decorations. Confession time, I’m a bit of a Halloween nut. It’s been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember.  When I was a kid, my brother and sister and I would create “Haunted houses” in our bedrooms and make our parent’s go through them.  When I was in High School, the Drama Club worked at a local Haunted house as a fundraiser, and I loved every minute of it.

For a while my living and working circumstances did not allow me to pass out candy to the Trick-or-Treaters or participate in the usual Halloween Festivities, but over the past couple fo years I was finally able to have a small bit of lawn to decorate, and for the last three years or so I’ve had beggar’s night off from work, so I was able to pass out candy.  This year I have the whole day of Halloween off, and a full yard to work with, so my only real limit is budget and time.

I hope before the holiday I’ll get a chance to do a post about my halloween celebration, but right now I want to focus on updates to what I’m doing related to the three things that I’ve already discussed wanting to change in my life.

On the Career front, I’m still working in the same jobs, and haven’t done any real job hunting.  I did meet with the board of the local ACLU this month, and I will likely be joining the board in November. My difficulty will be in trying to figure out where I fit in and what I really have to contribute, because the areas where I think I would be most useful to the group are in areas they aren’t actually able to engage in themselves.

I’m not really used to having to work within the strictures of a national organization, and the way they want to control the message that is being sent out by their members.  Back when I was actively involved in my fraternity, our national organization was really still in it’s formative stages, so that sort of control hadn’t been established yet, and I was playing a role in that formation, so this is going to be a new experience for me.

As far as the jewelry business goes, I did well vending at both Between the Worlds and the Michigan Renaissance Festival, and I plan on vending at both again next year.  I do not have any more shows scheduled for this year, which is really unfortunate because the holiday season is prime sales time for artists and crafters.  I am on a waitlist for one show in November, but I didn’t make it in last year, and I’m not holding my breath this year.

I do plan to send out a newsletter to my subscribers soon, and offering to do home Trunk Shows, which might get me a little extra income for the holiday season, as well as getting my name out there.  Right now I need to start planning and applying for next year’s shows, so that I can try to have a  full schedule for 2015.

I’ve also been working on other behind-the-scenes of the business, like working on designing my new set of business cards and working on designing a new display and booth layout. But my big project right now as far as the jewelry business goes is that I’ve been working on a master spreadsheet that will allow me to price my work more accurately and easily update it to reflect my constantly changing material costs.

This is causing me some discomfort in a few different areas.  First, I don’t work with spreadsheets often and they have a learning curve. Second, I’m realizing that while this calculator is giving me prices on my silver and gold jewelry that are pretty close to what I’ve been charging, I’ve apparently been severely under-charging on my copper pieces.    Pieces that I usually sell in copper for around $35 should apparently be priced closer to $50.  The hard thing for me is that I just can’t picture people willing to spend $50 on a copper bracelet.  I’m having a really difficult time reconciling that price point. I plan to do a few shows with this new pricing and see how things go, but I’m sort of worried about sales drops.  Of course, it could also lead to an increase in silver sales, since the prices on my silver jewelry will not be as drastic of a jump from the copper price as they have been.

When it comes to my body, I’m proud to stay that I’ve been working out pretty consistently over the past several months.  The past two weeks have been rocky, and I didn’t work out at all during my trip and the week after, but I’m very near the strength goals that I had set when I restarted my workout program.

The strength goals that I set were to lift til the point where my five sets of five reps were all specific percentages of my body weight.  My goals were for Squats, 110% of my Body Weight, for Bench Press, 90% of my body weight, for Deadlift 130% of my body weight, and for the Overhead press 60% of my body weight.  The process of lifting has of course affected my body weight, so my goals have become a moving target, but at my current weight of 288.5 lbs, my goals were thus:

Barbell Squat – 317, Bench Press 259, Deadlift 374, Overhead Press 158

During Today’s workout I lifted the following: Barbell Squat – 315, Bench Press 205 (down from 245 my last workout), Deadlift 315 (down from 385 my last workout) and Overhead Press 135.

I am so close to my goals that I can taste it, but every time I get within 10-20 lbs of my goals I stop working out for a week or more, and I have to drop my weight down and ramp back up.  I’m hoping by the end of next week I will have my Squat and Deadlift both over the goal line, and the Bench Press closing in.  The overhead press is my most difficult lift to increase, because its working the weakest muscles of the group, and I’ve been stuck in the 135-145 range for over a month now.

My overall weight keeps bumping up over the 290 line and then dropping back down again.  I know that it’s a lot, but bear in mind that I’m also 6’4″ and pretty muscular.  I keep hoping that I don’t cross the 300 lb mark.  Once I hit those strength goals it will be time to change up the lifting program, and start trying to trim down.  That’s going to be the most difficult phase for me, and when my exercise programs tend to break down.  But we shall see what happens.

On the spirituality front, there hasn’t been a whole lot going on.  I will do a separate post on the Between the Worlds gathering, but suffice to say that I enjoyed the gathering, and while I didn’t have a major pull this year in any new directions, I did feel like I got something out of this year spritually, which has not been the case for the last couple years.

I’ve tried meditating a few times, by walking a labyrinth, but not consistently enough for it to really count as the start of my five months of mental discipline practice that I’m required to do as part of the dedicant program of ADF.

I have been properly maintaining my candle as a Flamekeeper of BtW, and I’ve finally found 7-day candles that actually burns for seven days. I had to get them at a catholic supply store, but I’m not too distressed about that. That means that I am not simply keeping a candle on the one day of the week that I am responsible for the hearth flame, but I’ve actually kept a perpetual flame going since I got back from the gathering.  It is my hope to be able to carry the live flame back to the gathering next year in an oil lamp, and return my hearthflame to become part of the hearth of the community there.

I think those are about all of the major points that I want to hit right now, so I will hopefully be back soon with more posts on this ongoing project to improve my life.