Jul 13, 2011

Life Cartography

It's been one hell of a time since I've taken on the role of stay at home mom.  Myself and Mimi are getting our routine down, she's sleeping for longer (neglected, outside the door in her stroller) and I'm getting a little more work done during the day.  I've also been making a lot more mistakes.  I know that mistakes are a part of life, inevitable occurrances that show you're still learning and growing, but I'm wondering if they're not a sign that I'm heading the wrong way.  For the past 2 or 3 jobs I've done, I've had to reshoot at least one screen per job because I didn't place the transparency in the right spot, or somehow it didnt' shoot up right, or I tried to remove some ink with my spray bottle full of emulsion stripper (which, for those of you who dont' know, STRIPS the screen bare) instead of ink remover.  Today I rushed to the studio to work while Mimi slept and things went well until I came back up to the kitchen to find...bright yellow ink.  On the chair.  Which came from...my ass.  Somehow, I managed to rub up against something that was covered in ink.  This likely happened because i was wearing a poofy skirt in the studio.  STUPID.  Yup, I was in such a rush to work that I neglected to put on proper studio clothes.  At least when I brush up against something in pants, I feel it on my leg and wipe it off.  But with a poofy skirt swooshing around,  I have no idea what kind of trouble my hem is dipping into.  The worst part of all:  I found a box of t shirts that I printed for a client a month ago.  To be fair, it was a really huge order, it was my first week alone with the baby, and *insert other really good excuse here*.  There is nothing acceptable about that, and making a mistake like that is a really bad sign.

The problem is, the more I work, the worse these mistakes seem to get, and the worse I feel about the whole thing.  The pressure, the deadlines, the rushing, and the baby are not things I can handle all at once.  Separately, no problem.  Together, they form a life that I'm not sure I enjoy.   I was nervous about being a work at home mom, looking for all the tips and tricks to make it work.  Now I'm thinking: do I even want to make it work?  Don't get me wrong, I still want to have my own business and do what I can while home.  But perhaps I need to pull back a bit, give myself some room to breathe, a moment to myself when I don't have to rush, allow myself a mindset that isn't consumed with deadlines and finances.  I keep forgetting that people do childcare for a living.  They get paid for it!  I do it all day for free, and then go work some more until I'm too tired to stand.  I'm like that stupid Halls candy that's got "2 jobs man" (remember those tropical Halls throat drop things? They were delicious.)

Every now and then in life you have to stop, take a step back, and really evaluate what you're doing.  You take inventory of your life, and then decide where it is you want to take yourself. This is by far one of the hardest things we have to do.  Although you can get all the helpful advice you want, ultimately it's going to fall on your own shoulders.  Some people are lousy at it, some people rule.  I feel like I fall somewhere in between that.  I don't feel like a stagnant person, never changing and accepting life as it comes.  But I also don't feel like a real go getter, a tiger who plows through life making their fate just what they want it to be.

So, what do I want?  Where do I want my life to take me?  I know I'll keep printing, but I want to be able to watch a movie in the evening, or read a book during Myriam's nap without feeling guilty about it.  I'd rather be working more on my own projects (sewing, printing, crochet, etc.) instead of only printing everyone else's designs.  As my own boss, I should be able to decide how many hours a week I work and what projects I choose to take on, right?  I have said before, in a post long ago, about how owning your own business is really about being in control of your own life.  But somehow, I don't feel so in control.  I am still letting life fall into my lap, instead of reaching for what I want. 

I'm curious to hear from you, dear readers, if you've ever felt like you're straying from your path, and what did you do to fix it?

Jul 11, 2011

Pride and Prejudice and Professionalism.

I'm not gonna lie, I love good manners.  Or perhaps it's proper etiquette that I love.  Actually, I think it's both.  I love it when people hold doors for each other, say thank you, compliment each other's shoes in the elevator.  Nothing charms and entices me like a razor sharp outfit, and nothing ruins my day more than an inappropriately dressed person (I'm talking about YOU, muffin tops at the shoe store, stop wearing lingerie to work.  I wouldn't buy shoes from you if my feet were covered in scabs and I was going for a walk on the sun).  I even love entertainment that is about behaving appropriately (I'm pathetic).  Know what my favorite movie is?  Pride and Prejudice, not because of the romance, but because of how everyone is so prim and proper.  Last summer I read Portrait of a Lady loved that too.  I'm sure some people find that stuff boring, or pompous, or superficial, but I think it makes the world nicer to look at, and nicer to live in.

It's not such a bad thing to be interested in though, because I think my mild obsession with etiquette has given me a bit of an edge in my business life, since being professional goes hand in hand with manners and etiquette.  Every client gets treated the same way, and whether I'm going to someone's office for a meeting, or going to pick up a bunch of dollar store t shirts at someone's house, I never show up in jeans and sneakers.

I've been thinking a lot about professionalism, and how some people have it, but most people just don't.  I got off the phone with my t shirt supplier on a Friday and was shocked to find that an order I placed early in the week, and had received confirmation of shipment for TWICE, was in fact, sitting on their warehouse floor, in a pile of boxes that were waiting to be picked up by customers.  It sat on the floor for 4 days, even after I called to be sure it was on its way to me.  Even after I was TOLD it was on its way to me.  When I finally became aware of this gross error (after calling again to get them to track the package) I was furious, but polite (as usual) but the guy on the phone was all "oh, shit happens.  i feel bad.  it must have been the guy who packed the box".  I have not received any further correspondence from the rep I usually deal with, though he is probably aware of the problem.

The point of my long winded story is:  it was crazy unprofessional.  To shag up a client's order and then act like it was some random thing that happens all the time is ridiculous in my opinion.  Needless to say, I'm taking my business else where.  I can't stand working with unprofessional businesses, and thank goodness, I do have a choice in suppliers. I can drop a shitty supplier as fast as I'd pop C.Cassie in the mouth if I ever met her/him.

The really unfortunate thing is when your own clients are crazy unprofessional.  Things like being really late with a payment, or not giving me an order in on time so it either holds me up or ends up making me have to rush like a madwoman to finish a job, not being there when you say you will be  (and I end up carting my 10 month old around town in the 40 degree heat of the summer for nothing).   It bothers me when I can't get hold of a client for days at a time, so I can't confirm proofs with them, and have my printing press held hostage until someone remembers to email me back "yup.  that works.  go for it".  Not cool, not very businesslike.

Sucks to your assmar though, you can't send an angry letter to a client, or even act irritated with them at all.  Unless, of course, you really like bridge burning, shooting yourself in the foot, biting the hand that feeds you, etc. etc.  I'm not into any of those things!  luckily I have those nice manners to fall back on, and I try to keep a disposition that enables me to brush off all that crap that drives me insane about people.  Unless I'm being mistreated, or a client is doing something that is really wrecking my life, I tend to just suck it up and try my best to be more clear in the future about timing, payment, things of that nature.

Now, if you'll excuse me, someone on my street is riding a mini bike.  It is loud, irritating, and risks waking my baby (then I'll have to *eugh* take care of her...) I find this to be extremely rude, so I gotta go bust up some kneecaps and make this neighbourhood a nicer place to live in.