Chronicling the steps to creating a SUCCESSFUL life.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Petrol Head? Gear Head? Motor Head?

I just don't know.  I've never before had a love affair with a car, except maybe my Chevy Cougar back in 2001, but even then, it was just a passing infatuation.

The number of cars that passed through my life is huge and not very stellar from a Ford Pinto, to a Beetle, to a AMC Gremlin, then a Plymouth Reliant K Car, and on and on ad nauseum.  Cars were transportation.  Nothing more than a method for traveling from point A to point B with a minimum number of calls to my road service. I had cars that were my least favorites, like the Honda POS that I (thankfully) totaled on Interstate 64, and cars that were favorites, like the peppy little Dodge Spirit.

Right after my near death experience on I-64 in which I lost a whole cup of Starbuck's Latte, I bought a Chevy Blazer from a friend and subsequently name it Big Blue. It was steady, faithful and reliable until it wasn't any longer.  Several times, Blue left me stranded and the repair bills piled up.  Because I needed reliable transportation, I bit the bullet, resigned myself to car payment slavery and started the search.

I live in Virginia, which has glorious weather most of the time, but there is at least one major snow storm a year.  After living in Florida most of my life where that sort of thing doesn't happen, I dreaded the next weather onslaught.  I wanted a 4 wheel drive car.  Maybe a Jeep.

Or so I thought.

The salesman at the dealership tempted me with an uninteresting car:  a 2010 Dodge Avenger (See photo.)

It had a single previous owner, six years old and... wait for it... only 13,170 miles.  

At first glance, I was all "Meh."  But I looked a little closer at the grill, and lights, the flared fenders over the wheels, the roundy hips in the back and my "Meh" turned into, "Maybe.'

Long story, short, I bought it, but still didn't fall in love right away.  That came later.  At first the Avenger was steady, reliable transportation that would get me from point A to point B without any call to my road service. 

Fast forward 8 months...

I made a road trip from Virginia to Florida, on my own.  A journey of 685 miles.  Somewhere on that trip, just the car and me, I fell in love.  It wasn't a head-over heels reaction.  It was slow, as I got to know her.  She became my close friend.  We bonded in a way I had never bonded with a car before.

Then, I gave her a name:  Emma Peel  (Look it up if you are wondering who she is)

I made it my business to find out everything about Emma: 0-60 in 8.3 secs, 2.4 liter engine, 173 hp @ 6000 rpms, 166 torques, 4 inline cylinders, 4 speed automatic transmission, front wheel drive, double overhead cams, average 24 mpg, curb weight of 1.5 tons.  That is just a bunch of numbers to me because I didn't bother to compare it to other cars. What I do know about my new best friend is that she wants to go fast.  She is eager.  She is willing. She is faithful and she is loyal.

On the con-side, she wags her tail more than a happy puppy.  She suffers from under steer in corners if I don't hold tightly to the steering wheel when going around and accelerate just right  (remember to brake BEFORE the turn and accelerate into the turn).  She has the same turning radius as the Queen Mary.  And the car is made of plastic... everything is plastic.  

Maybe it's time to dress her up a little... new seat covers and floor mats, steering wheel cover, maybe a dash kit.  After all, what girl doesn't like a bit of make up every now and then. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Persistence and Flexibility

This morning a song from my youth made famous by the group Chicago was running through my head:  "Only the Beginning..."

The key to a successful online business is two-fold:  persistence and flexibility.

In the beginning, I have found that I need to try different things until I find that one perfect niche for me.  Right now, I am working with my abilities and seeing if I am making progress.  Mostly I am finding that sales on ebay seems to be the best.  Eventually, someone will buy what I am selling.  The question remains, do I going yard selling every weekend to find things I think will sell or do I continue crocheting items and putting them on Etsy?  I have put a couple of patterns on Etsy of items I have sold, but so far, no joy.

The next idea is creating a SteamPunk Barbie clothes pattern and also to create a clothing kit to sell.

For today, I will complete the shawl I am currently working on.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Choose Your Thoughts like You Choose Your Words

Now that you have examined how choosing your thoughts makes an impact on your growth and potential, you can also take a look at another area in your life. Firstly, however, take a moment to realize that there are two components of whether or not you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

Growing up, you may have been told that you are not as good as someone else in a certain academic subject, sport, or talent. This has been your belief for all of your life. After all, you were told this over and over again. You heard people in your environment from parents to teachers that you were not as good as someone else in a certain area.

On the other hand, you may have been told that you were perfect in a certain subject or area and never really taught to question those parameters. You may think that the bar was set, you reached the goals and that your job is done. This is part of growing up with a fixed mindset.

Secondly are the stories you create as you grow up; you may have judged yourself as someone who is not as good as simply because a statement was made on one occasion. You held onto that belief with no prompting from someone else, yet you continued to carry it into adulthood. Either way, there is no need for blame in either of these situations. As an adult, you are free to re-create your life as you see fit.

Choosing Your Words for Your Self

When a friend comes to you feeling unaccomplished or less than, you more than likely are an encourager – someone who takes their feelings into consideration and lifts them up. Why not do that for yourself as well. Change your thoughts, change your mind and watch how you talk to yourself as well.

When it comes to yourself, do you beat yourself up, criticize yourself and not give yourself the same break you would give your own friend? Choose kinder words of communicating for yourself and be aware of too much negative self-talk. 

A growth mindset allows you to tell yourself that you did not do as well as you had hoped and also speaks to you that you can and will do better, achieve more. All this without the negative self-talk that comes along with it.

Choosing Your Words for Others

In the same manner you would want to speak to yourself with kindness and encouragement in order to foster your potential and development, take that opportunity to foster and encourage the development of another.

Instead of making excuses for them, hold them accountable, encourage them to see where they can do better and offer them the possibility of achieving more and doing greater things with their life and with their minds.

When you choose your words carefully, whether to yourself or to others, you make a difference which can then result in making a change.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Do You Fall Into This Trap? Comparing Yourself to Other People?

If you are human, you have done it. You compare yourself to other people. The good news is that people out there compare themselves to you and the not-so-good news is that you do it, as well. While neither is benefit of the other, it is simply part of human nature. It’s how we grow, it’s how we strive, but sometimes, unfortunately, it’s sometimes an excuse to give up, as well.

A Fixed Mindset

If we don’t have something to compare ourselves to, you might reason, then how will we learn to achieve and grow? Sometimes, when we compare ourselves to others, we have something to gauge our success and failure with and, therefore, a measure of where we can do better and achieve more.

However, unfortunately, for those with a fixed mindset, this does not occur at all. There is actually a reverse method of thinking. That reverse method tells us, since we are not as good as the other person, we might as well just quit. That doesn’t work in the world of intelligence, however. It is ineffective, at best.

Do you ever find yourself viewing someone else’s success as only a way to make yourself look bad? If so, you are not alone in this thought process. For some, the success of others equates to highlight their own failures. Excuses are made such as the other party being luckier or having it easy. Another excuse is to say everything just comes easily to that person or, even worse, use their success to highlight some other unrelated shortcoming. What if you could re-train your brain to adopt a mindset of growth?

Growth Mindset

On the opposite end of the spectrum is a growth mindset. You can give yourself the opportunity to change and grow over time as you learn to re-train your brain to a growth mindset. When you view someone else’s success as a way to strive harder, do more, and work harder, you re-train your brain to view this not as an excuse to stay status quo, but as a reason to thrive.

If you choose the thought patterns that intelligence can be developed and you can most certainly train your brain to reach higher heights, you will see a radical change in your life. Once you get that your self-image has nothing to do with failing at something and that this failure is actually a path to higher learning, you will be at ease in your own skin.

Wouldn’t that be nice to be at ease in your own skin? If you change your mind, you can re-train your brain to view failure as a stepping-stone to new successes. You will begin to understand failure as a learning tool and not as a way to define your image. 

So, the next time you want to compare yourself to someone else, stop and ask yourself if his/her success can highlight inspiration for you. Maybe he/she put a tremendous amount of effort into the realization of dreams and all that hard work paid off. This could be a learning tool for you rather than something viewed as an enemy. 

Other people’s success could be a way and a means for you to learn, grow, and, most importantly, be inspired.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Communication and Changing Your Mindset

Older theories about intelligence dictate to us that we are born a “certain way.” We have certain traits that others do not possess, others have certain traits that we do not possess, and that is that. There is no room for growth or expansion. Our intelligence is as it always was and there is no room for improvement.

However, today, we know better. We know that we have the ability to change our mindset and, therefore, improve our capacity for learning in leaps and bounds. No longer is the status quo necessary. We can grow and strive to achieve more academically and, therefore, in life.

Choose Your Words Carefully

Each one of us go through our days speaking our mind, saying things without giving it much thought and sometimes even holding things in and not speaking up for ourselves only to berate ourselves later on for doing so. If you take a moment to recognize and record the words you use daily, you may come to realize that the words you choose might directly relate to the mindset you have.

What is a Mindset?

A mindset is the mental attitude you adopt which dictates how you will or will not perceive, react and respond to situations. Why is it important? Your mindset can and will determine your life from academics to career and beyond.

Why is it Important to Communicate Effectively?

The way you interpret your situation communicates to your brain. When it comes to intelligence, you may have a long-standing belief that you are either one way or another. For example, you may feel that you are average and are not questioning that old, limiting, and long-standing belief. It is important to communicate effectively by choosing the thoughts that will change the outcome.

For example, there have been many firsts in your life. You had to allow your first child get on the bus to go to kindergarten without you there. The next child it was a little easier and by the third child, if you had one, this task was not as big of a deal as the first time you had to face it.

By communicating to yourself that you can and will get through the many things that life sends your way, you are able to meet and face more and more challenges along the way. More importantly, you get to do it with ease and grace; as long as you communicate to yourself that, you can and are able to do so.

Communication is so much more than the words you speak to yourself; it’s also the thoughts you think. When you challenge yourself and achieve, you reset the communication bar. You allow yourself to see that not only can you achieve more by learning new things and taking on more challenges, but you also get to see that you can take on a growth mindset instead of a limiting one.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Getting My Head out of the Working World and into My Business

The first step to this new venture was to get rid of my "9-5" attitude.  I had to shake off the boring remnants of my previous employment.  I took a two week "Stay-cation" and spent some time getting my house in order, weeding my front yard, getting my veggie garden moving in a good direction and planting some flowers.  
Seems mindless, yeah?  Maybe on the surface, but it was also very therapeutic.  My frenetic life is over and I am learning to slow down my pace and live.  Each day, I look forward to waking up instead of dreading the prospect of having to go to work at a place I really didn't enjoy. 
Without getting all hippy on you, I will admit that I not only stopped to smell the roses, I took time to contemplate the perfection of each blossom and the miracle that made them in the first place.  My advice to you is simple: If you can't quit your job, at least take some time each week to unplug from your frenzied routine. 
I am reminded of the movie, The Last Samurai, when the man who owned the house and the village where Tom Cruise was held captive told him, as Tom was trying to learn the way Samurai fight, "Too many mind.  Mind of people watching, mind of warrior, mind of weapon.  Too many mind,"  Tom realized that Nobu was telling him that he was overthinking the situation.  
So, to myself I say, "Too many mind."

Friday, April 21, 2017

The New Chapter

Many people get panicked when they find themselves unemployed, but not me.  I recently quit a job that paid me really well so I could concentrate on my online business.  I really want to make a go of this opportunity.  I have laid the preliminary ground work to this adventure and now, I have to move full steam ahead.

Am I scared?  Yes.  Am I uncertain about the future?  Yes.  Am I willing to plow ahead?  Yes.
I could have been the author of the book in the picture because I feel happier and calmer now than I have in a long time--the result of ditching the job that demanded too much of my time, energy and resources.
This new chapter is just beginning, but I will keep you posted with my thoughts and feelings and ideas.  I will try to chronicle what works and what doesn't when starting an online store.  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

I inherited two things from my parents:  Rheumatoid Arthritis from my dad and a love of crochet from my mom. 
Crocheting intricate doll dresses and tiny doilies became increasingly difficult to the point I had to have surgery to repair joint damage in my right hand. After my surgery and several months of physical therapy, I was ready to take to the crochet hook, again. I had to make adjustments to my crochet techniques, essentially learning my craft all over again.  I began using an ergonomic hook, which made all the difference.  However, if I go a few days without crocheting, I notice more stiffness in my hands and they are far more achy and painful. 
By following these tips, I am able to 
  • Warm up. Soak your hands in warm water and lightly stretch them before starting your project to reduce stiffness.
  • Switch it up.  Move between crochet projects so you don't put excessive, repetitive strain on your hands. For example, I will alternate between a project that requires tight stitching, such as a doily or other thread crochet project, and something looser, like a crocheted afghan.
  • Loosen up. The more forceful your grip, the more you compromise your joints and hands. Be intentional about a more relaxed grip. 
  • Pick projects carefully. Very large projects such as oversized sweaters and afghans can get heavy and might be hard to manage. If you’re making a gift for a birthday, allow yourself plenty of time to complete it so that you don’t strain your hands while rushing to finish.
  • Rest. RA can flare in response to certain triggers, and one of those is overwork. I definitely pace myself rather than overworking my joints.
  • Try heat. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it does for me. I use special gloves designed to help support the joints and keep my hands warm.
  • Take medication for pain and stiffness. Talk with your doctor about the best drug options for you. You might want to take medication before a prolonged period of work on a project.
  • Get support.  Reach out to the local arthritis association groups, through which you’re likely to find other people coping with the same problems.
Above all, don't allow your illness to rob you of your love of crochet. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Make the Most of The Time You Have

You can manage time better by finding lost time. Lost time is that which you didn’t even realize you were wasting in the first place. It’s almost like keeping change in a piggy bank and one day you realize it’s totaled over $100! 
Don’t waste the time that most people do. 
There are ways to find time that’s often overlooked because people tend to think of time management as being large blocks of time available. But you can do a lot with just ten or fifteen minutes.
Don’t waste the time you have while waiting in a doctor’s office or while exercising. If you like to use a treadmill, you can get one that has a desk so that you can take care of something that has to be dealt with. 
Realize that not everything that seems important is. 
It only seems that way. Look at your life and stop doing the things that aren’t important that drain your time. If something isn’t a matter of you being happy and succeeding personally or professionally, then it’s not important. 
Run ahead, not behind. 
When you get behind schedule, it can make you feel a lot of pressure and it adds stress to your life. Try to get things done ahead of time because this gives you a buffer in time management. 
Delegating is a great way to help with time management.
Most people like to do things themselves because they know then that the job is done correctly. But if you do the things that others can do, it’s draining your time. For example, some time drains are things like mowing the grass or cleaning the house, scheduling meetings, handling social media updates. 
What you can do is to look at how much it costs you do the tasks that you do. If someone else can do them, then you’re not only losing time - you’re losing money. 
If you earn $200 per hour, then an hour of mowing the grass costs you $200. But if you pay someone $50 to mow the grass, then you saved an hour and $150 because you gained time. 
Deal with emails the right way. 
Handling email causes more people to get off track than any other online task beside social media and online games. 
Manage your time wisely with email by setting aside a specific time to deal with email and setting a time limit on how long you’ll take responding to the messages. 
If they’re not important, don’t save them to look at later because they’ll only pile up in your inbox. If your life allows you to, hire an assistant to deal with handling your email

Monday, February 20, 2017

Crochet Tips

For those wanting to begin crocheting, having a mentor and someone to work alongside is a great way to learn. Many websites also offer great instruction for new crocheters, in addition to tips for more advanced projects.
There are a variety of stitches used by crocheters, and it is best when starting out to start small. Practice basic stitches first, such as the slip stitch and foundation chain. Once an understanding of basic stitches is had, then begin to work through reading patterns.
Patterns vary in difficulty, as well, so again, be sure to start small and work at your ability and comfort level.
Here are some tips for beginners, from the website, to keep in mind when just starting out.
1. Keep your hands clean
2. Take frequent rest/stretch breaks
3. Keep your crochet necessities in one spot
4. Read through the pattern you plan to use
5. Check your gauge (how the size of your yarn affects your project; is it too small or too large?)
6. Keep your tension consistent
7. Don't be afraid to try a different brand of hook
8. Save a small bit of scrap from your project
9. Stitch markers are your friends
10. Block your work
11. Don't give up. Practice makes perfect!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


I found this pic that I can use at my Chesapeake Bay Crochet Store at Shopify.  The home page allows me to tell my story, which I am having fun thinking about.  What exactly do I want to say about my store?  What do I want to say about myself?  All of this can be included.  The sky is the limit!

Finding open source photos to use is perfect.  They are Hi-Res and gorgeous at Unsplash --thousands and thousands to chose from.  I am like a kid in a candy store.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Yarn Reflections

Every person who crochets knows the importance of yarn--it is the principle tool of the craft.  Yarn is available in many weights, fibers, colors, thicknesses and textures.  My own yarn stash covers many touchable yarns from kitten soft to harsh as hemp.  It ranges from the tiniest threads to the bulkiest acrylics.

Cotton and polyester are the most commonly spun fibers in the world. Cotton is grown throughout the world, harvested, ginned, and prepared for yarn spinning. Polyester is extruded from polymers derived from natural gas and oil. Synthetic fibers are generally extruded in continuous strands of gel-state materials. These strands are drawn (stretched), annealed (hardened), and cured to obtain properties desirable for later processing.

The most commonly spun animal fiber is wool harvested from sheep. For hand knitting and hobby knitting or crochet, thick wool and acrylic yarns are frequently used.

My yarn... a small view of a large stash
As you can see, my own yarn is varied in color and texture, weights and levels of softness.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Journal Your Way to Success

Journaling is a method for keeping your thoughts and ideas organized.  I have a large collection of journals.  Most of them are empty.  I carry one with me for when an idea hits me or if I want to jot down an interesting website.  
Nearly all of my business plan was journaled before it was transformed into reality.  
Not only do I write in my journal, I read what I have written as a way to stay focused on the task.  Currently, my task is creating a viable sales site.
As of 2/1/2017, I am still not selling anything.
According to my journal, I need to create Steampunk Barbie Kits to sell with instructions on how to crochet the clothes.  I intend to include stockings, boots, gloves, materials to make a top hat, goggles, gears, ribbons, lace, charms and feathers.  
That is the top of my to-do list for the weekend:  Get a kit together and advertise it for sale

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Double Crochet Borders

Adding borders for the double crochet is really easy as it doesn’t rely on any stitch multiples to make it work.

The only area you have to concern yourself with is the corners. Once you do the first revolution around, the rest of the border is set and ready for you to do as many rounds as your heart desires.
The Solarium Throw as seen in the thumbnail has two rounds of double crochet around the granny square afghan. That’s just a suggestion as per the design. If you want more, there’s nothing to stop you. Just keep going.

This diagram shows an easy method for adding a border... Just 3 DC in each corner.  More detailed instructions are found here, at Petals to Picots.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How to Follow a Crochet Stitch Diagram

I found this article here at How to Follow a Stitch Diagram for Dummies page and wanted to share it with you.  If you haven't ever tried this, it is easier to follow a stitch diagram than a written pattern in my opinion.  Try a swatch!

  • Following a stitch diagram in crochet isn’t that scary once you understand the symbols and abbreviations. When you read a crochet pattern, the stitch diagram shows only a few rows to avoid repetition and save space. You work it in identical rows consisting of repeated sets of crochet stitches. The pattern tells you how many rows to make to complete the piece.
    Stitch diagram basics:
  • When working in rows, the right side row number is placed on the right-hand side of the diagram, which means you work from the right side to the left side. On wrong side rows, the number is on the left-hand side, so you follow the diagram from left to right.
  • When working in rounds, you read the diagram counterclockwise, without turning between rows unless the instructions specifically instruct you to do so.
  • Left-handed crocheters go in reverse. Stitch diagrams are generally laid out from the right-handed crocheter’s point of view, but a left-handed crocheter can read them just as well if he or she reverses the direction of the pattern, and works from left to right instead of right to left. To work in rounds, a lefty still follows the pattern counterclockwise, but works the piece clockwise, thus reversing the direction of the pattern.
Try your hand at reading a stitch diagram (this one is for a lacy pattern):
  1. Make a foundation chain (represented by the row of oval chain stitch symbols) that’s about the width you want.
    Make sure it’s a multiple of 8 stitches (to allow for the repeat).
  2. Chain 2 more stitches for the end of the row plus 3 more for the turning chain for the first double crochet of Row 1.
    For example, you could start with 21 chain stitches (2 x 8 + 2 + 3 = 21) or 85 chain stitches (10 x 8 + 2 + 3 = 85).
  3. Work the following pattern:
    Row 1: Dc in 4th ch from hook, dc in each ch across, turn.
    This means to double crochet stitch in the fourth chain from the hook, double crochet in each chain going across, and then turn.
    Row 2: Ch 3 (turning ch for first dc), dc in each of next 2 dc, skip next 2 dc (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in next dc, skip next 2 dc, dc in each of next 3 dc , rep from to across, ending with last dc of last rep in top of turning ch, turn.
    For Row 2, chain 3 to make the turning chain for the first double crochet stitch and double crochet in each of the next 2 double crochet stitches. For the repeated part of this row (the instructions shown between the bullets), skip the next 2 double crochet stitches, work 2 double crochet stitches in the next double crochet, chain 1, work 2 more double crochet stitches in the same double crochet, skip the next 2 double crochet stitches, and then work 1 double crochet in each of the next 3 double crochet stitches. Repeat this section until you reach the end of the row, ending with a double crochet in the top of the previous row’s turning chain. Turn your work.
    Row 3: Ch 3 (turning ch for first dc), dc in each of next 2 dc, ch 1, skip next 2 dc, 3 dc in next ch-1 space, ch 1, skip next 2 dc, dc in each of next 3 dc , rep from to across, ending with last dc of last rep in top of turning ch, turn.
    Chain 3 for your turning chain and then work 1 double crochet stitch in each of the next 2 double crochet stitches. For the repeated part of this row (the instructions that are shown between the bullets), chain 1, skip the next 2 double crochet stitches, work 3 double crochet stitches in the next chain-1 space, chain 1, skip the next 2 double crochet stitches, and then work 1 double crochet stitch in each of the next 3 double crochet stitches. Repeat this section until you reach the end of the row, ending with a double crochet in the top of the previous row’s turning chain. Turn your work.
    Row 4: Ch 3 (turning ch for first dc), dc in each of next 2 dc, skip next 2 sts, (2 dc, ch 1, 2 dc) in next dc, skip next 2 sts, dc in each of next 3 dc , rep from to across, ending with last dc of last rep in top of turning ch, turn.
    Chain 3 for your turning chain and then work 1 double crochet stitch in each of the next 2 double crochet stitches. For the repeated part of this row (the instructions that are shown between the bullets), skip the next chain-1 space and the next double crochet stitch, work 2 double crochet stitches, chain 1, work 2 more double crochet stitches into the next double crochet stitch, skip the next double crochet stitch and the next chain-1 space, and then work 1 double crochet stitch into each of the next 3 double crochet stitches. Repeat this section until you reach the end of the row, ending with a double crochet in the top of the previous row’s turning chain. Turn your work.
    Rep Rows 3–4 for desired length.
    Repeat Row 3, then repeat Row 4, alternating these two rows until your piece is as long as you want it to be.
    Last Row: Ch 3 (turning ch for first dc), dc in each st and space across, ending with dc in top of turning ch. Fasten off.
    Begin the last row from the right side, chain 3 for your turning chain and then work 1 double crochet stitch in each double crochet stitch and each chain-1 space across the entire row. You should have the same number of double crochet stitches in this row as you have in Row 1. Fasten off your work, and enjoy your pretty swatch.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Creating a Featured Product on Shopify

Shopify will allow a featured product at the bottom of the home page.  (Go to your dashboard and click on your online store link.  Then click on Customize your Theme to add a Featured Product to your home page)
My Steampunk Barbie is a good choice because the entire outfit is for sale... the bustier, skirt, coat, top hat complete with gears, stockings, boots, and gloves.  The home page features the main image and the other images can be seen by clicking on the buy it now button.
My future is to create an entire kit that can be bought or individual items.  Keep watching for updates on the progress of this project, which will ultimately be a huge undertaking.

Friday, January 6, 2017

New Online Store at Shopify

I have been working on my new online store found here.  Cruise on over to my Shopify Store and keep watching for new updates and new products being added frequently.

The image is a screen shot of my store front's main header.  Looking good, if I say so myself!