Tuesday, 10 January 2017

When The Drugs Didn't Work: A Look at My Experience with "Shock" Therapy


This picture looks real sweet, doesn't it? I catch myself thinking that too, then I remember the day it was taken.

I remember how Adelyn didn't sleep soundly like babies are "supposed" to do during these photo shoots (you can see on her face in the photo actually, this was in between cries!), and I remember being so anxious that I could have jumped out of my own skin at any minute.

While my husband was trying to calm our screaming baby, so that we could capture these MAGICAL moments on camera (insert sarcasm), I was in the bathroom, staring at myself in the mirror.

I had no idea what was wrong with me, and perhaps staring into my own eyes will help me find the answer.

Little did I know on that day, that I wouldn't find the answer for a very, very long time.
A few weeks after this photo was taken, I was admitted to the psychiatric ward for severe postpartum depression.
And that was only the beginning of the journey.

After approximately 6 months of debilitating depression, and going on a total of 3.5 months spent in hospital, the doctors suggested something I hadn't even considered;
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), or "Shock treatments".

This kind of treatment is reserved for the worst cases of medication-resistant depression. And considering I was taking a cocktail of anywhere from 5 to 7 medications per day, with little relief, I was a prime candidate.

I was so sick at the time, that I didn't really care what worked, as long as something worked. As a family we discussed the options and decided to go ahead with it, as one of our last hopes for me to get my life back.

I had a total of 12 medical-induced seizures.
The longer my seizure would last, the better the expected outcome. Typically the seizure would be 60 to 90 seconds in length.

So how do they go about doing this?
Very early in the morning, twice a week, I would have to be driven to Hamilton for these treatments. I had to be in the hospital and ready to go by 6:30 am .
I was given a gown and asked to remove all clothing and jewelry.
Once changed, I was shown to my stretcher, which would be lined in in the hallway, in a row of 6. There were usually 6 patients given ECT during these treatment sessions, and we all had our position in the line.

I believe it was 7am when everyone was wheeled down to the floor where they performed their ECT treatments. There were 6 bays set up, and you were placed according to your number. If you were last, you were waiting there for quite some time, as the team would work through each patient in order. I was thankful to usually be in slot 1 or 2!

The doctors and nurses would all huddle around you, and worked in a swarm to prep you for your induced seizure. I don't know the correct terms, put those conductive pads were stuck all over me, and lots and lots of wires hooked up. I wore something of an electrode filled cap, that ensured the electric current would reach the right places in my brain.

When this was all in place, the anaesthesiologist would lean over and ask if I was ready to go to sleep. I would say yes, and he would inject the medicine into my IV, which had been placed in my hand earlier in the morning.
That was actually the most painful part, that medicine going in...just as I wanted to screech out in pain, I would drift off to sleep.

Of course, I would remember nothing after that, except that I would sleep the whole rest of the day after coming home.

About the 4th session, the doctor in charge leaned over me before I was put to sleep, and said "and how are you doing today?"
I smiled up at him.
(I smile a lot now, but that was a HUGE deal at the time!)
He smiled back, looked at his nurses and said, "We've cured another one!".

I know that was an oversimplified statement, and I was not actually "cured", but my deepest darkest depression had started to lift. When once I couldn't even bring myself to curve up the corners of my lips, there I was smiling at him in response. That was a day that I will always remember.

Now would I say that ECT "works"? I can tell you that it did something for me (as noted above), but this was in no means the end of my depression and/or treatment. But it did help (me). It doesn't work for everyone, however.

My biggest side effect of the ECT was memory loss. I was told that this would happen, especially surrounding the days and weeks of my ECT treatments. What I did not expect, was such long lasting effects.
I have actually all but lost my memory from that year of my life. We went on a big trip to Jamaica in the months following, and I actually couldn't tell you one memory from that trip. I don't even recognize places when shown photos, or recognize in my own mind that I had in fact been there.
It is an extremely eerie feeling.

And what persists even now, is my lessened capacity for short term memory, and directions especially. I could no longer handle my responsibilities in my professional career because of this. I had become what I always hated: disorganized!

That's not necessarily a downside though, because if I was able to return to work doing what I did, then I most definitely wouldn't be where I am today. So I like to look at it as a blessing in disguise.

And even though my memory issues and disorganization can lead to many a misunderstanding with my family members, I can say that I wouldn't have changed a thing about my course of treatment. Everything that I did, every medication that I took, helped in some way to get me to this place that I am today, and for that I am thankful.


<3<3
 Thanks for reading!



Wednesday, 27 April 2016

If Recovery from Postpartum Depression Isn't Impossible, Then Neither is Running a 10 km Race!






I was the one in high school that would pretend to be sick on the days where we were supposed to do our "20 minute run". Even at my healthiest weight and several years spent working out (pre-pregnancy), I could never seem to get myself into running.

"I'm not a runner", I would explain to people.
"I wish I could, but I just can't."

Those words remind me so much of my outlook on life a few years ago, when I was 2 years into a battle with postpartum depression.

"I can't take it anymore."

"I can't do this much longer."

"I'm not strong enough...."

The most difficult thing in my life to date, has been my recovery from postpartum depression, and finding my way "back to the living".
Every single day I am grateful for my life, and my happiness, knowing that only a few short years ago, I thought I would not make it...

Having survived this period of my life, and coming out of it with a beautiful relationship with my little girl, and a stronger relationship with my loyal husband, has led me to believe that nothing is truly impossible.

This year, my husband began a fairly intense workout routine, to help negate the effects of going from a physical job, to an office environment; in my support of him we would (as a family) go to the indoor track every other day.
Not having any expectations on myself (because wouldn't that be a set up for disappointment!?), I started causally running in spurts around the track.

Mostly designed to kill time, these little spurts have gradually increased, and now I find myself not only able to do 5km, but I am now up to 7.5km and working towards 10 km :)

When I read about the Shoppers Drug Mart "Run for Women" in Waterloo, I immediately felt it on my heart to participate. Not only am I celebrating my personal recovery from mental illness, and my new-found physical running ability, but I am also helping to raise money for much-needed women's mental health programs in our community.

Now that's a "no-brainer"!

So, in June 2016, the same month as our 10 year wedding anniversary, I am going to run my very first ever 10 kilometer race.

I am running for my little girl, who still has her mom because of the healthcare she received when she was so sick she couldn't love her own child.

I am running for my husband, who somehow has stuck by me, even though our life had turned upside down and the women he married up and disappeared into her own head for 2 years.

I am running for myself, who never thought I could physically accomplish something like this.
Who is wanting to reclaim my body after the anti-depressants have morphed it into something I don't recognize.

And I am running for you. 

For the mothers that are struggling and wondering what's wrong with them. For the women that are fighting to understand why their minds will not work in the way they want them to.
For you, who may know someone in your family, or a friend, who is suffering from something you can't understand.
For the men that are trying to support women in their lives that are struggling.

I am a little scared out of my mind that I have committed to running 10 km in just over a month, but I am committed to doing this, for all of us. I am so proud to be able to give back to the community in this way, I am so very grateful for anyone who is able to donate and support me and the Grand River Hospital Foundation.

I am also grateful for the many messages and kind words of encouragement I have received; I have met many wonderful people, and am so thankful that this experience has allowed me to help inspire others.

Are you able to donate to help raise money for women's mental health programs? Absolutely anything is appreciated!
THANK YOU!!!

this HTML class. Value is https://www.runningr

Monday, 8 February 2016

I Only Cried One Day: My Relocation Journey & New Store Opening



Many of you are familiar with my "ReChic" journey, and how many twists and turns this  business has thrown me since starting in 2013; I am so thankful that you did not turn your backs when I have had to make multiple adjustments and changes along the way, and that you have encouraged me to do what it is that I need to do, to make things work. 

For those of you that are more recent followers (welcome!), let me give you a (somewhat) quick and dirty rundown of the progression - I started ReChic in my basement in Welland, Ontario in fall of 2013. After going through a debilitating depression, painting and decorating our new home was an excellent form of therapy for me (and for someone with a degree in Recreation Therapy, I thought it important to practice what I had preached!). 

I had fairly quickly outgrew my basement, and was getting more and more requests for custom orders (wow!); in spring of 2014 I had rented out a space in an old factory in Welland, and used that rough space as my workshop for a few months, before opening my first official location on Niagara Street, in July 2014. 
Well, things grew again, and with the addition of a business partner, we thought we would make the leap to a larger store in the area, and moved in December 2014 to a 1400 square foot store space on Broadway Ave in Welland. 

Fast forward about a year, and many furniture pieces and custom orders later, and ReChic was doing very well! I felt so blessed! 

In the summer of 2015, my husband started to get really close to getting offered a new job, and the possibility of relocation started becoming a reality. I knew this job would be a game-changer for him, and that I would follow him wherever we needed to go (could be anywhere in Ontario, we wouldn't find out until he received an offer). 

Well, he indeed was offered the job (which I knew he would be, he's a smart guy ;)), and in August he started working and commuting to Cambridge, which was 1.5 hours from our home in Welland. We knew after the first week that this would not be a viable solution for the long term, and that we were going to have to sell. 

In and about the same time, there were some difficulties between my current partner and I, and literally overnight ReChic went back to 1, from 2. 

Although we had had a good run, this was a big blessing in disguise, as it allowed me to make the decisions I needed to make for my family, and to dive head first into our relocation without guilt or worry for her.

So yes, although there wasn't much overt discussion on the topic, ReChic has been back to little old me for the past 6 months, and I'm pretty darn proud that many of you haven't even noticed the change in work load or postings that have been produced :) 
I have been so very fortunate to have had some great helpers come in and assist when the previous partnership had dissolved so suddenly, and I really couldn't have done it without you (you know who you are!). 

SO, with my husband starting a new job, and me now back to fully manning the ReChic ship, things were a little stressful to say the least! Heck, why don't we add selling our house and moving to that list?! 

So we did!

A few months of selling, looking, and finally buying, we moved to Shakespeare, Ontario on November 20th, 2015. 
I had closed out my lease on the previous store, and moved having NO idea what was going to become of ReChic, but just holding on to the hope that my followers wouldn't up and leave me before I had the chance to re-gain my footing in this new and strange location.

About a week after our move, sitting in my new home, alone, with my husband at work and my daughter at her new school....and me without anything viable for work space, I finally felt the weight of the stress pour down on me and I could do nothing but cry. 

So cry I did, for about an hour. 
I cried out of fear for the future, out of loneliness from moving 2 hours away from the only region I've ever called home, and out of self-pity. 

I cried because I was scared that maybe this would be the thing that would invite the depression back in. 

I decided I would only give myself ONE day to feel sorry for myself. 
Then I would move on and move forward. 

Having got the good cry out of my system, I got back out there and re-focused on finding a new location to work, one that would be a positive step in the right direction. 
But just to throw another wrench in the plan, I had sold everything off before I moved, and I was trying to start up a new store on a ZERO budget. And I mean zero. 
We had moved and I used all my income to fund what we needed for that, not to mention Christmas was a month after! So I was truly facing an uphill battle. 

I was thankfully able to do enough work from home that I was able to store away a bit of money, and found the cutest little shoppe in New Dundee, Ontario, about 20 minutes from my new home. 
And the best part? I was within my goal for my monthly rent budget! Woohoo!!

I got the keys on January 1st and spent the first 2 weeks doing a lot of sitting in the space and trying to figure out how on earth I could fill it, with zero money to do so. I needed to generate my own income, to purchase supplies, but how do you do that with nothing to start off with? 
Well, I decided that taking a large piece I already owned (from my own home) would be a good start and would free up some cash flow in order to get going, so that's what I did!

And a month later, on February 6th, I officially opened ReChic Studio & Design at 1148 Queen Street, in New Dundee. 

I have managed to gather a wonderful group of artisans that are vendors in the store, and this has helped me create the look I wanted, without having to make absolutely everything myself (I'm only one woman, after all!), and this has been such a godsend. 

So many times over the last few years, I've stopped to think "how on earth have I made it here?!?", and this is one of those times. I quite honestly have zero clue how I have made it through an increased workload, selling a house, buying a new one 2 hours away, and opening a new store with a few boxes of paint supplies... and a prayer! 
All I can say is that I am grateful. 

One of the biggest reasons I am here today, is because of all of you. My followers and online "family" have encouraged me beyond what I could have mustered from within myself. You have lifted me up on the days that I thought this weight would be too much to bear, and for that I thank you. Thank you for following along, no matter what crazy things happen in my life. 

Here's to hoping that ReChic has a long run in New Dundee and that no big surprises lay on the horizon (I need a break!) :) Thank you to everyone who joined me to celebrate the opening, and I look forward to welcoming many more of you into the store as the weeks and months go by.

For those wishing to come say "hi", my hours for shopping are as follows:


Wednesday 10 am to 6 pm
Thursday 10 am to 4 pm
Friday 10 am to 4 pm
Saturday 10 am to 2 pm
Sunday CLOSED
Monday CLOSED
Tuesday by appt

Thanks again!!
Amanda


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

My Journey Through Postpartum Depression, In Photos

It is in the eyes.

It is true what they say, that the eyes are the "windows to the soul"; when I look back on the pictures of the first 2 years of my daughter's life, I can see that my soul had left me.

I can now see that same look in other's eyes - I can recognize the vacancy. I can understand their pain as they struggle to claw their way back up to the surface.

I decided that, in honour of Bell Let's Talk Day, I would take you through my own personal journey in the form of snapshots during my pregnancy and postpartum stages.

My hope is two things: if you are struggling, that you understand that there are so many of us that have been where you are, and that things DO get better, and secondly; if you are a friend or relative of someone who recently had a baby, that you can perhaps learn to recognize the "vacancy" in their eyes and tell them it is OK to talk about it.

Showing these pictures is very bittersweet to me, since my body has changed so much since it has been pumped full of medications... but, I also know that the peace, happiness, and love I feel now was worth every pound <3

Here we go....

Christmas 2009 - 14 weeks pregnant and over the moon <3





May 2010 - 36 weeks pregnant and 4 days before she arrived!





Not the prettiest picture, but this is my first photo with our new baby girl (was a surprise, we didn't know the gender!)
May 25, 2010
Adelyn 




7 days postpartum....I remember this as being a particularly difficult day, the crying started, and the hopelessness....I chalked this up to the Baby Blues, which is commonly what occurs at this stage (to up to 80% of new moms!)

Photo by Kathryn Gibbs Photography :)




Two weeks postpartum....I understandably look tired, but the illness was creeping up on me here. I was wondering why on earth I had a baby in the first place, but was still clinging on to hope that this was completely normal and the "Blues" would be over soon....






One of the hardest pictures for me to look at, this is approx 6 weeks postpartum, shortly after my breakdown and admission into the psychiatric ward. My sister brought Adelyn to me for a visit, but quite honestly I didn't care to see her. I can most definitely see that in my eyes, can you?





On leave from the hospital, a few months later. I think I was so doped up that I felt like my head was floating above my shoulders. 






Another visit from the hospital, I could leave for "overnights" but had to return afterwards. You can see the hospital bracelet on my wrist in the photo





A few months later, approaching spring of the following year, and Adelyn's 1st birthday.
Still wearing hospital bracelet....






Adelyn's 1st Birthday party. I am very sad to admit that I do not recall much of this day at all. I was still very ill, and trying to get through day by day...




Adelyn is 14 months old...still wondering if I will ever feel normal again.





October 2011, approx 18 months old. 
I am just not "there". 






She's almost 2 years old!
Slowly starting to be able to play with her, nothing came natural to me, counsellors kept telling me to "fake it till you feel it"....so that's what I did....






Christmas 2012, Adelyn is 2.5 years old, I remember this day as being the first day I was genuinely "silly" with her...started to think that MAYBE this is what "normal" feels like. 
I was still admitting for a brief hospital visit on Boxing Day, as Christmas was a trigger event for me, but thankfully only a minor setback. 





Fast forward 2 years...so much happened, but the biggest thing that happened was that somehow, I recovered bit by bit. Adelyn is the most loving and caring child, and I will forever credit her for teaching me how to be a mom <3. I am brought top tears every time I think about how her love for me is so unconditional, even though I felt such horrible things about her when she was small...I know I couldn't help it, but the guilt is always there. 

I know small gestures like this drawing mean a lot to all moms out there, but for me, it just seems that much more special <3





I have my light back (in my eyes) :) Lots of silly times to be had, once I found myself again. This kid has one heck of a personality (thank goodness!!) haha. 




So thankful <3



Thank you for following along....maybe these photos say more to me than to others, since I know the emotions attached to them, but I do hope that it has helped you in some sort of way. It is also therapeutic for me to go through these pictures, and realize that how I felt/looked in those earlier photos, is not who I really am, and it reminds me of how much joy I have in my life today. 

Thanks for reading, 
Amanda


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Today We Have Failed.


Today I am angry. Sad.

5 years ago I endured a mental struggle that no woman should ever have to live through. And trust me, I almost didn't.

During this 2-year battle for my sanity, my youngest sister was my shining light. She was 19 at the time, and wise far beyond her years. She saw my worst moments, and supported me through one of the ugliest parts of my life.

My little sister is now 24, married, and a mom of 2.

As hardworking as ever, she has juggled a toddler, a full time job, and as of 3 weeks ago; the birth of her new little girl.

But this time is different. 

Two days ago she was diagnosed as having postpartum anxiety.

She is struggling. 

I feared that one day another one of us would fall victim to this illness....but I had hope that if it did happen, we would be better prepared this time, right?

What better support system than one that has already dealt with the worst of the worst, right?

But we have failed her. 

And every day we continue to fail mothers by claiming to be supportive and understanding of postpartum mood disorders, but not walking the walk.

Today I am angry. Sad.

I am angry that my sister herself didn't allow herself to see the signs right away....I'm angry that she felt like she couldn't speak up because she has "2 under 2" and these must be "normal" feelings.

I am angry that those around her have told her that all new moms feel this way.

I am angry that a joke was made about her being a "psycho" for her high Beck Depression Inventory score.

I am angry that her family doctor (who was also mine during my depression) prescribed her an antidepressant that is known to INCREASE anxiety, and told her she would feel better in 2-3 days.

I am angry that healthcare providers claim to be on the watch for this, but don't look past their own noses half the time.

I am angry that I didn't know. 

And I am sad for her.
Sad because I know how this feels....our struggles may look different on the outside, but at the core, I know how this feels.

My faith in our advances in mental health awareness has been shaken; If we cannot recognize and support postpartum mood disorders even after having lived through it once.....then how can I expect others to do the same without any experience?

If postpartum anxiety can mask itself and pull the wool over our eyes, how do I expect anyone else to not be blind to it?

And to Kristin - I am sorry for our ignorance. I will not tolerate it and neither should you.
You will not be cured by a good sleep or a babysitter for the kids.
You will not be calmed by the assurance that you are an amazing mom.
You will not feel better after 2-3 days on an antidepressant.

But you WILL get better.
Your brain IS experiencing some ungodly imbalance that is creating irrational thoughts. With proper treatment, and time, you will get better.

In the meantime, a good sleep or a break from the kids may help you get through your days, but we will not be fooled any longer into thinking these will make you better.

We know better now.

Or at least we should.

We all should.


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

My Top 5 Tips For Running a Successful Handmade Business

(Photo credit Maryanne Firth, The Tribune)

Let me start off by saying that I - in no way - consider myself a business expert.
However, I am often asked by business owners, or aspiring entrepreneurs, if I have any tips on how to succeed in today's over-saturated handmade marketplace (because apparently they deem me a success, which is quite flattering!)

Considering that it seems to be a popular question, I thought I would gather some of my thoughts and put them all into one place for your reading pleasure ;)

And as I tell everyone who asks me for advice, there is no one way to succeed; and following a set of guidelines will not equate to a flourishing business - these are just some of the things that I feel have all worked together to create a business that works for ME, and one that I am proud of.

1. BE DIFFERENT

If you do not have a unique product, or angle on the market (be it your awesome customer service, or your fancy hand tied packaging..), you will inevitably blend in among the thousand other crafters trying to make a go at this.

Potential clients are inundated every single day with new handmade businesses (I think I notice at least 3 new painters listing on Kijiji each week!), and unless you have something unique to offer, you won't get their attention.

True, you may be doing something that a lot of others are doing, but you need to find a niche that is specifically "you"- a local crocheter called "Hook Me Up" for example, has a very stylized way of photographing her items, and I can recognize them instantly on my newsfeed.

Here is an example of her work:
https://www.facebook.com/HookMeUpHamilton

Stunning, right?!

2. BE QUALITY

Things stick out to me for different reasons - they are either really awesome, or really poor quality to the point of being offensive!
I don't know about you, but personally I would prefer the former!

Quality comes in 2 different forms for me - quality in terms of presentation, and quality in terms of product.

In my opinion, quality presentation comes from someone who has taken the time to learn how to properly edit photos, stage photos, and brand their photos.
You may be a small operation, painting by the light of the moon at your kitchen table each night, but you can still have some stellar branding!

Vistaprint and similar websites have made it super easy to create professional logos and cards, etc, however, even if you aren't tech savvy, its very affordable to have someone help you out with this.

I personally use ARROWcreative when I have logo design needs - and Shelley can whip something up that's not only fantastic, but well within a small business budget!

You can check out her services here:
https://www.facebook.com/WaterStreetDesignServices

Next, quality HAS to be there in your product - if you attract someone with your fancy logo and professional presentation, but your product leaves much to be desired, you will lose that customer.

That being said, I have most definitely screwed up along the way, but for the most part, I try my very best to bring my attention to detail into each piece.

No one is 100% perfect every time, but it is usually the best bet to go above and beyond what you would normally do - then listen to feedback from your clients, your business depends on them!

A product you are selling should be at least 1 or 2 steps above a "DIY"....a quality that comes from a professional, and not that leaves the client saying "sheesh, I could have easily done this myself!"

Go that extra mile, it pays off.

3. BE HONEST

I can't stress this one enough....your clients know when you are fooling them (even if you think they don't).

Be honest about your limitations so that your clients don't expect something that is above and beyond what you can deliver.

Don't tell them that you can upholster if you're planning on watching a YouTube video to learn how to do it before they drop their chairs off!

You are setting yourself up for a tonne of stress, and potentially a disgruntled client.
Don't offer a service unless you are confident you can do it to the best of your ability.

Be honest about the condition of your pieces - if your product is vintage furniture, people understand that these are not brand new, and may come with quirks, HOWEVER, as the seller, you should be expected to disclose as much as you know about its condition before they agree to purchase it.

Does one drawer stick? That likely isn't an issue to the potential buyer if they love the item, but you don't want them to be upset when they get it home and realize that after the fact - lay it all out for them and be honest about its condition.

Be honest towards other businesses - do NOT undercut your fellow crafter and do not steal ideas/photos/customers.

This is bad business and I can tell you for a fact that these people earn themselves a bad reputation very quickly.

4. BE SOCIAL

Do you still think that social media isn't important for your small business? Think again.
Facebook is hands down, the heart of my business.

That being said, I have spent MANY MANY hours not only posting and responding, but learning how to read and interpret my page insights.

Haven't checked your page insights before? You are definitely at a disadvantage! Set aside some time to educate yourself.

Also, people think that Facebook is free advertising and it just "runs itself"....sorry to say, this is anything but true. I have to work HARD to keep up my Facebook views, and often times my posts only reach 1% of my followers.

Facebook determines where your page with show up in your followers newsfeeds, and in order to stay at the top of the pack, it can be pretty cut throat!

Expect to spend up to 4 hours a day on social media in order to boost your views and gain the following that's required to generate sales.

Facebook also isn't "free", as businesses do need to fork over some dough if they want to gain an edge on their competition. I am NOT talking about "buying" likes, I am talking about paid advertising...

Just like in the good old days, when businesses used to take out newspaper ads, Facebook offers pages the opportunity to purchase ad space on their potential clients newsfeeds. If the potential client
sees the ad, and is intrigued, they will visit the page and hopefully give them a "like"!

If you want to have greater exposure and just aren't reaching enough people on your page currently, I would highly recommend a good ad campaign (but as with any good advertising, expect to pay!)

5. BE REALISTIC

Do you think running your own creative business is a "dream job"? An easy way to make a living doing something you love?

Although I LOVE what I do, and feel blessed every single day to be able to work for myself, I know that this business has required more of me than I have ever given to any other full time job!

Running your own successful creative business will require unending effort as you go through the start up phase and beyond.
Have you noticed that many of these small crafting businesses appear and then seem to disappear overnight? I believe this is why - they do not have the time is requires to fully invest themselves into making this a career.

There are those people that are totally content to run their business as a pseudo-hobby, selling a few items/pieces here and there, with no real pressure if things don't sell.
I'm referring more so to people that want to make this their full-time job, and think that perhaps they can put in 40 hours a week and their business will take off.

I start my day at 6 am answering messages from my bed, and end the day in the same fashion. I am at the studio generally 8 hours a day, but am working almost steady outside of those hours as well.

You also need to be realistic about income - there is no in between for me, either I go at it full force, or I cannot go at it at all (and would need to get another part time job for steady income).

For the first year or so, my estimations put me at netting about $500-800/month after expenses....and that was working about 50 hours a week....I don't even want to do the hourly math!

YES, I loved it and that's what kept me going, but if finances are an immediate concern for you, please be realistic about what you can bring in doing something like this.

It is only within the last year that I have been able to charge more of what my time is worth, and in essence, make enough to keep myself in business and justify the enormous amount of time and effort I put into it!

If its about the money for you, better just pack it in right now!
Expect nothing in the beginning, and you will be much better prepared to deal with some of the financial strain that can come.

IN SUMMARY:

There are a lot of crafters out there - offer a quality product and is DIFFERENT and recognizable. Build a brand. Get a logo. Take good photos. Show your customers that you take your business seriously by investing time into professional presentation.

Be an honest business owner and member of the artisan community - don't be a jerk and steal other people's ideas, this will catch up to you.

Don't expect to work 10 hours a week and make 50k/year....expect to make nothing in the first year, and be ok with that. Anything extra is bonus! If you can do what you are doing for free, and still enjoy it, then you're on the right track and all your hard work will pay off :)

Thanks for reading!!

-Amanda

Sunday, 12 July 2015

"Dad's Been in a Fatal Accident..."

David Lampman
December 25th, 1959 - July 12th, 2004

"Your house has been trying to get a hold of you", says my (then future) mother-in-law, as Greg and I get back to his house after playing our weekly house league baseball game.

I walked into their kitchen and picked up the phone, as I was dialing my number, call waiting beeped and they were calling on the other line. I answered - wondering what on earth could be so important.

It was my (then) 13-year old sister, Kristin, on the other end.
Immediately I recognized that she had been crying. Her voice was wavering and came in broken whispers. I don't recall what she said to me, but I remember that she said she was going to give mom the phone.
I knew something was very wrong. I waited for her to pick up.

"Dad's been in a fatal accident..." she blurted out in between sobs.


Silence.


My world stopped along with my breath. My knees grew very weak and I remember some sort of a scream escaped my lips, as her words burned themselves into my sub-conscious.

Numbly, I handed Greg the receiver as I couldn't comprehend another word she was saying.
Greg's family walked me to the dining room table where I fell into the chair and sobbed - Greg was given instructions to drive me home as soon as possible.

I remember him walking me outside....opening the passenger door of my Jeep and helping me in. Again, I can recall screaming and sobbing beyond my control.
The neighbours could likely hear, but I was already in another world. I could think of nothing else but my dad and how he could be gone...

The 20 minute drive back to my family's home (where I lived with my parents at the time) seemed to last an eternity. We finally pulled in, and cars lined our driveway and the street. The aunts and uncles had come....our support system had rallied. I arrived close to 9 pm - they had known since 6 pm but could not reach me at my baseball game.

Seeing my mom for the first time since learning my dad had been killed, was a moment that will forever haunt me. Even last night, 11 years later, I laid awake and the tears rolled down as I was transported back to that exact moment when I opened the door and saw her.
I saw my mom with half of her soul missing.
I saw my mom...my strength....drowning helplessly in her grief.

I hugged her so tightly on those back steps...we sobbed into each other's shoulders for quite some time.
Her body wretched with grief; crying, she said "I just want to see him again one day."

"You will mom... I promise you will."

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My dad was 44 years old when he was killed in a trucking accident.

Only July 12th, 2004, around 1:00 pm in the afternoon, my dad was driving his truck along the 401 Westbound near Oxford County.
He had been trucking for 9 years....and not a single accident.
It was a perfectly sunny summer day.

He was travelling in the slow lane, when the compact car in front of him suddenly left the road and was driving on the shoulder (at 100km/hr). My dad could not maneuver his 27' truck to the center lane, as there were cars travelling right beside him and they would be at risk of being hit by his truck.
So he held his position.

As quickly as the car had left the highway, it veered back on, clipping the right side of my dad's truck bumper. The pitching and rolling began - my dad had a full load on his truck, and the weight of the load combined with the force of the collision, sent his truck into a sideways roll, which stopped only after about 200 feet.

The cab was resting upside down when witnesses rushed to the truck to see if he was okay. A dump truck driver (and volunteer firefighter) who was travelling on the opposite side of the highway had pulled over, and ran to help. He found my dad upside down, strapped into his seat, head against the ceiling.

He could not talk, but the good samaritan held his hand and told him help was on the way...if he could hear him, to squeeze his hand.
My dad squeezed.

Although he was clinging to life, my dad was pronounced dead upon arrival to the hospital. With not a broken bone in his body, his brain just could not cope with the rapid swelling caused by the impact of accident.

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My dad and I didn't always get along, perhaps because we were very similar. He was the strong and silent type - I was strong and not-so-silent, so we often butted heads. I was also 19 at the time he died, so I would imagine I wasn't always the easiest to live with!

This was not something that was supposed to happen in my life - was not supposed to rock our solid family of 5.
This was not supposed to be part of the plan....

But then again, perhaps it was.

I could fill a book with all the lessons that I've learned from his tragic passing, but who has time for that (certainly not me!); I can narrow it down to one basic thing - we are stronger than we think we are.

11 years later I still think of my dad almost every day. I talk about him often to Adelyn - who would have been his first grandchild. I want her to know what a strong person he was, and also how he was an amazing family man.
I want her to appreciate every ounce of himself that he put into the family cottage she now enjoys.
I want her to feel him like I do, when we are sitting and watching the still water of the lake that he loved so much.
I want her to appreciate the man that helped raise her mommy into the woman she is today.

I want her to know how much he would have loved her.


We are stronger than we think we are. 

Looking at this picture, I see the two defining moments of my life. His death and her birth. 
I suffered greatly after both, but for much different reasons. 

I look at this picture and am reminded of the life lessons learned through some of the most difficult struggles I have ever faced. And this I know:

I am stronger than I think I am. 


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To my dad ~ always remembered and deeply missed.