Regaining self confidence…

Something shattered my confidence recently, the details of which I will withhold… but I would like to share with you the process I’ve been going through in trying to regain it.

Leading up to this experience I was already struggling, struggling with self worth, purpose and feelings of failure. In an attempt to rebuild my feelings of self worth and an attempt to find guidance in overcoming my failures I attended a retreat which I wrote about here it did wonders for giving me just enough strength to deal with what life was going to throw at me next, I had no idea my greatest challenge to date was yet to come! The retreat gave me the strength I needed to handle receiving this news, but I also needed tools to deal with the reality of the process of recovering from it, and learning from it.

So I have sought to understand what I could change within myself to rebuild a sense of self worth. Two books so far have been extremely comforting and helpful both of which were written by Brené Brown The Gifts of Imperfection & Rising Strong. I highly recommend reading them if you are feeling at all like you too are loosing (or have lost) your sense of self worth. Her research on vulnerability, shame and wholehearted living has enabled her to understand common threads and give guidance to living a wholehearted life.

Despite this battle with true self confidence I’m still pursuing my dreams and working towards living a life I love and have a great desire to assist others in doing so too. I was encouraged by a professional who has been helping me, to write my story, as a way of sharing the challenges I’ve faced throughout my life’s journey while sharing some of the accomplishments I’ve made too. There is a lot of power in writing your story, just the other day I was reading in Rising Strong how important it is to acknowledge and own your story reading about this was even more powerful as I had just completed the task of writing mine. I encourage you to do the same even if it is just for yourself. Reflecting on and writing about my life’s journey made me realise just how much I have taken on board, dealt with and not dealt with, not absolutely every detail of my life is in this piece but a lot is… life’s so complex, we take on so much, not only our own struggles but the struggles of those around us. The importance of digging deep and regaining my internal self confidence is front and centre right now, not only for my sake but the sake of my children, my husband and all who are connected to me in some form or another.

The other day I shared an idea with my husband, it was the expansion of an idea I’ve been toiling with for many years, my ultimate life goal, one which I can’t yet see being realised in the immediate future but one that has been important to me for many years, but I’ve set it aside because the timing’s not been right, the stars haven’t yet aligned. When I shared with him my latest idea for this concept I said it in hushed tones with a slight quiver in my voice, it was a day that I was feeling totally and utterly deflated but was still holding onto the hope of changing things and realising this ever so important dream of mine. I slowly and quietly shared my idea, in a way that said I want to believe this is worth pursuing but being consumed with self doubt right now makes be almost embarrassed to speak these words… after I finished he responded with; “That’s what I love about you, even in your darkest hour you come up with such inspiring ideas!”

I sat there staring into nothingness as I thought about this for a little while. He was right. I don’t believe I revel in darkness in order to find inspiration, so what it that makes me come up with my best ideas when I am feeling so low. I retreated to the library, picked up my journal and wrote these words:

Embrace the darkness… open your eyes, let them adjust to your metaphorical surroundings, take in what you see & allow yourself to recognise what’s brought you into the darkness, then let that guide you back out into the light.

When I’m in my darkest hours, I tend to ask myself lots of questions and spend time trying to find the source, this recent event however was different, it felt like it was inflicted upon me by the other person, some very dear to my heart which made it hurt even more. I’ve asked lots of questions of them to try understand what led to the decisions made that ultimately hurt me like nothing else ever has. In the process of confronting the uncomfortable reality of what led to this outcome I’ve continued to question myself, what have I done to enable this? In doing so I’ve unlocked many closed compartments in my heart and mind that I really should not have tucked away. In trying to be everything for everyone it’s easy to lock away who you are and the value you bring to the whole. Ironically doing so seems to make you appear less valuable to everyone else too. We need to believe in ourselves first, so that others too can believe in us.

If the light radiates from within us, it will only serve to warm the hearts of others, but if we neglect this light then our presence will most likely cast dark shadows over their happiness and that is not how I wish to live… nor do I think that’s how you wish to live either. So lets work together on regaining or building on our self confidence so that we can spread the light of love wherever we go.

<<= marie-nicole =>>  

xx

Ps. If you know of someone else who may be struggling with their self confidence please share this post so we assist them too!

PPS. A few other practices that I’ve been finding very helpful are:

> In the current issue of the Collective Hub, I came across a fantastic idea of using affirmations for passwords.  I changed mine immediately… the number of times a day I enter the password into my computer alone should aid in changing the dialogue I play over and over again inside my head.

> Mindful breathing, the simple act of taking time to bring clarity back to my thoughts through slow deep considered breaths has been quite powerful.

> TED Talks there’s power in hearing other people’s stories, findings & ideas… especially when struggling with something like self confidence or simply the need for inspiration or encouragement.

> Social Media – Filtering what I absorb and what I let drift past. Scrolling through social media can serve to brighten your day or pull you down deeper into the darkness, being aware of the types of posts that do the latter, these are the ones that I’ve chosen to see but not absorb. I give more time to those that inspire and encourage me, stopping to take them in & draw as much strength from them as needed.

> Seeing the world through my camera lens, while creating with my hands brings me a great deal of joy, my mind still tends to tick over and the destructive self chatter can easily continue while I work with my hands. But taking a walk or a drive and loosing myself in the act of capturing images takes me out of my head and helps me focus on the details of the beauty that surrounds me.

PPPS. Your turn… if you have any ideas you’d like to share of how you’ve rebuilt or fostered your self confidence, please leave a comment below. xx

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Daylesford to Bowning

I dedicated the last day of my recent solo road tripping adventure to capturing images of that which captivated & intrigued me OR simply made my imagination run WILD!

More time’s definitely required in this region to truly take in what it has to offer…

Macaroni Factory 1

The Macaroni Factory

 

Little Shack

Abandoned little shack

 

Farm Gate Cart

Farm gate cart

 

 

Daylesford Hotel 1

The Daylesford Hotel

 

 

Convent Gallery 1

The Convent Gallery

 

 

Farm House 1

Farmhouse Magnificence

 

 

Farm House Shed 1

 

 

Ruin &amp; Tree 1

Farm Ruin & Intriguing Tree

 

 

Boulders 2

Boulder Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset 4

Sunset Sky – Highway Side

<<= by marie-nicole =>>

xx

 

Copyright 2016: All images in this post belong to Marie-Nicole Roberts, requests for use welcome.

The Rural Woman: Wealth Retreat

In all honesty money has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I know it’s necessary to live in our current system, but my focus in life has been more about living well, not to simply create financial wealth. Finding a balance where you earn enough money to support your needs and help you move forward is something I believe to be extremely important, which is why I took the plunge and booked myself into this retreat. Leaving my family behind for a few days was a new experience, but one I felt I had to have in order to give myself the love and care I needed so as to provide them with the abundance of love and care that they need from me. Nurturing abundance, in both a psychological and monetary sense, was the essence of this retreat. Our guide was the holistic finance guru Dianna Jacobsen who focuses on empowering women to realise their dreams and take charge of their wealth. There was less of a focus on numbers and more of a focus on wellbeing, self love, worthiness & building foundations for a life of abundance, based on gratitude and beliefs.

Below is a visual diary of the confronting yet empowering experience I embarked on throughout this adventure. I say confronting, as the digging deep into myself to discover what guided my beliefs about money and self worth (or the lack there of) was confronting, but the realisation of what has been driving my decisions and actions to date was very much empowering! These pics are only those taken on my phone. They don’t show everything the retreat offered, such as the massage, webinar & workshops (hosted by Rebel Black founder of The Rural Woman), breakfasts, lunches, fireside chats, tears shared (during Christine’s session which was meant to encourage us to embrace today in order minimise regrets in the future),  along with stories told about each person’s life journey and the mineral baths (no photos to share of those sorry, you need to experience those for yourself). I completely immersed myself in this retreat and set my phone aside most of the time. Hopefully though there is enough there to inspire you to do what you need to; to nurture yourself and perhaps take the time out of your busy life to reconnect with yourself and regain your inner strength. This retreat certainly did that for me, I arrived feeling raw and broken inside and left feeling I had it within me to repair that brokenness and stride forward. Oh and then there were the friends I collected along the way… an added bonus!

VISUAL DIARY:

{Night before the retreat} I arrived in Daylesford the night before after a very long and tiring drive with the last 2 hours being along goat tracks by starlight with next to no phone reception, guided only by the voice of the Google maps navigator, in an unfamiliar car graciously loaned to me by dear friends (as our car broke down that morning, just as I was set to leave for the 7 hour drive). I’d booked a room at the delightful Daylesford Hotel for the first night to give myself a chance to drive and capture some images of the inspiring landscape along the way, and ease into the experience rather than simply drive all morning then throw myself wearily into the meet and great & first workshop session on the Monday afternoon.

The morning of the retreat: I awoke to the fantastic view of a lovely country town, much bigger than I expected it to be… arriving in the dark the night before meant I had no idea of what the place looked like. So, I drove around for a while familiarising myself of where I was and where I needed to be that afternoon, then looked for somewhere inspiring to eat and when I saw a sign with simply the word LARDER written on it, I knew I’d found that place. It did not disappoint…

IMG_7168

Larder for brunch and brain storming

{The retreat begins} Upon arrival at 65 Main, Christine Lewis the guesthouse owner and host greeted each of us with her vibrant smile and bubbly personality… spoiled us with gifts sourced locally and from small time producers and we were made to feel extremely welcome and at ease. Our first workshop sessions with Dianna & Rebel on our beliefs, our energy and introducing new ideas to our subconscious were extremely thought provoking. Ending day 1 by walking down the street to dine in a beautifully restored old house come restaurant The Grande, which I did not take photos of… but it was magical, warming, the food tantalised our taste buds & our waitstaff Owen & Renai were very attentive… and Renai lit up the room every time she walked in. Conversations & wine flowed at a steady pace and the sharing of stories began, we were all connected by common threads feel at ease, if not at home, there together even after only being in each others presence for a few hours we became friends.

{Dinner on day 2}  After a rather confronting experience of digging deep within ourselves to gain a better understanding of what our story on money is (intense) followed by a full body massage and the message delivered loud and clear by my masseur that I really need to learn to ‘let go’… working on that! We all freshen up and headed out to the two hatted restaurant The Lake House. Every part of that experience was amazing, from the grounds, the buildings, the decor, the wine, the personalised menu, each course served was a work of art and tasted sensational! Connections between participants continued to grow and strengthen.

{The Convent Gallery on Day 3} After another series of workshops (including one by Dianna on managing finances in a positive way & another by Kerry Griffith’s on self love), this time less confronting and more empowering, we headed out to The Convent Gallery on an empowered high… we were given a guided tour of the intriguing buildings, and had the opportunity to hear from Tina Banitska (the owner) directly about her very own journey of turning her dreams into reality. I could have sat and listened to Tina speak all day, her foundation building childhood experiences, passion for life and love of story telling was very much akin to that of my own story… I absorbed as much of her energy as physically possible and wanted to plead that we stay longer even though we were already behind time. However, they did manage to pry me out of there and I am glad they did as what followed was like nothing I have ever experienced… we then spent the next 2 hours soaking in mineral baths at Hepburn Bathhouse. A first for me and like nothing I have ever experienced, such a blissful way of spending the afternoon… the conversations flowed as we let the bubbles from jets massage our bodies again, next we floated in the therapeutic salt pool and ended off with time lost in the semi outdoor hot pool, as the sunset and the temperature dropped, which made us appreciate the comforting warmth of the hot pool even more, time simply slipped away, further connections were made, information exchanged and new friendships formed. What an experience… one to be had again that’s for sure.

{After letting our cares float away} The retreat had come to end, but the fun had not, some of us decided to make the most of our time together and ability to take advantage of our flexibility so we headed out to dinner again. Thanks to Christine we were introduced to a fantastic little locals haunt Cliffy’s where we bumped into the delightful waitress Renai (from our first nights dinner at The Grande) and Tina (owner of the Convent Gallery) whom I truly hoped to cross paths with again… voi la, there she was, it was enough to simply see her again I did not have to engage in an extensive conversation to benefit from her presence… at that point the priority was to converse with my new found & treasured friends, although we had only just met 2 days earlier we had a strong thread connecting us all and it felt like we’d known each other for years.

{A new person} On the last day of my adventure I took my new found inner strength and sparks of a new and improved version of me to come, and set out to take in the beauty that surrounded me, capturing images that spoke of a desired lifestyle using my DSLR camera to really capture the essence of each scene… I will share these images with you in my next post. My love of capturing the beauty of living through a lens was reignited that day, rather than simply using my camera as a tool for taking product shots I am inspired to follow my hearts desire and capture shots that represent a way of living…

As founder of The Rural Woman Rebel Black says: “may you bloom where you are planted.”

That is my wish for you too… along with accepting who you are and living out dreams, your individual gifts are valuable don’t let them be submerged in the name of doing, start being!

<<= by marie-nicole =>>

xx

 

WHY Leather & NOT Polyurethane

This is a rather contentious topic for some… which I’ve experienced first hand, face to face with market goers… I am NOT AT ALL an advocate of animal cruelty, factory farming or caging animals in order to make clothes. Just as much as I am NOT an advocate of the production of fabrics and clothing that destroy our environment and/or communities in countries that we cannot see with our own eyes from the comfort of a shopping mall… the devastation of mass produced clothing is causing them to be easily overlooked when all we focus on is how much it will cost to purchase an item. So, all that said I’d like to share with you why I choose leather over polyurethane…

In an endeavour to utilise as much of a resource as possible, when I first started making guitar cases out of old woollen blankets, I expanded into totes and satchels, which led me to create my RESCUED AND REPURPOSED product range. I chose to work with kangaroo leather for the bag straps and closures, as I came across a tannery that specialised in tanning roo skins and cutting lacing out of them, the remaining pieces (the limbs) were of no use to them so I saw potential in rescuing these too… just like the blankets. In expanding on my leather work skills I have also stemmed into working with hair on hide which is still based on the skill of sewing but just with a different medium.

For years I have been talking to customers about the quality and benefits of old woollen blanket material, it’s insulating and protective as an instrument case, it breaths and water beads on the surface rather than penetrating… along with the fact that these character filled blankets should be treasured rather than discarded. With the introduction of kangaroo leather to my range many conversations have been had about the benefits of roo hide, with it being light weight yet strong, along with numerous conversations about the benefit of using this rescourse, especially with the culling of kangaroos in our country. It’s far better to use the flesh and hide than just let them go to waste… also far better than opting to use a man made product that is not environmentally friendly in place of a natural fibre!

Before making my hair on hide vest I only had a synthetic fur vest which I bought second hand and adored… it’s a rather fun, faux shaggy goat hair… I wore that vest a lot over the past 2-3 years. Vests are great if you just need to break the chill and keep your core warm, but the difference between wearing the synthetic vest lined in a synthetic opposed to a natural fibre unlined vest is phenomenal… the natural fibre breaths and does not make you sweat as easily for starters. Recently I wore my kangaroo hair on hide vest on a day that would be considered too hot for fur, but I wore it almost all day, granted I was wearing a light weight sleeveless top underneath it, but I am certain had I worn my synthetic vest instead I would have had to take it off much sooner.

IMG_6075_2

Nature has things all worked out, it knows how to keep things in balance, it’s what we humans do to it that throws it out of whack. It concerns me that some people are opting to use manmade materials in the name of stopping animals from being harmed and yet overlook the impacts the production of these materials are having on the communities that reside within the area of those factories, as well as the impact this having on our environment.  The tanning of leather using the vegetable tanning process is not as harmful to the environment as the production of plastic based products… plus leather is biodegradable, while polyurethane is not at 500 years to breakdown! Before opting to buy a polyurethane garment in place of a natural fibre like leather, because you  think it’s not fair on the animal ask yourself is this material actually healthy for me to wear… and are the lives of others along with the preservation of our environment not important too?

<<= by marie-nicole =>>

xx

 

PS. Happy Earth Day… let’s work together on preserving this beautiful planet we call home… for us, our children, our global community & animal kingdom alike!

PPS. Kangaroo Fur Adjustable Vest is now available, individually & meticulously handcrafted in a sustainable manner, made to order, here.

PPPS. Kangaroo Leather Satchel with featured lacing design available here.

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Set up a ‘ready to shoot area’

Writing listings that help tell your story was the topic of my last post in my Selling on Etsy series. As well as keeping the process of writing those listing simple, equally as important  is keeping the process of photographing your products for your listings.

Set up a ‘ready to shoot area’

The photographing of products is such a crucial component in enticing shoppers into your online store, especially since they can’t draw from the atmosphere of your space, the reception they received and how they were made to feel while they were there, as is the case in a bricks and mortar store. Ensuring the feel of your images are consistent and making the process of capturing them simple for yourself to achieve will keep your shop looking and feeling professional while telling an overall story representing the ethos of your business.

Running a micro business often means you cover most, if not all roles, in every step of the process yourself, so it is important to have systems in place that allow you to complete each step efficiently. Especially since most of us Etsy sellers are women with children (as per the finding in the recent report shared on the EtsyAU blog) meaning we are restricted to working around the needs of our families and sometimes with them right under our feet, so the simpler we can make the process the more enjoyable it will be and the outcome will in turn be much more rewarding. Although I love to be able to venture off into farmland or down into the village for a shoot, sometimes the weather at the time of a scheduled shoot does not allow for me to do so, or my window of opportunity may be narrow due to a hectic production schedule or family commitments, prohibiting me from achieving this in the timeframe that I wish to capture and then list my products…  so I like to have a back up!

For me that has meant finding an area in my studio with the most consistent natural light and setting up a display that can easily be tweaked to capture a product in a snapshot as well as rearranged and adapted for a more complicated shooting session.

Here are some examples of how I use my ready to shoot area:

I like to use props that are sourced from nature, or rescued items such as vintage suitcases, wooden bobbins, ladders & doors… as these all fit in with the feel of my studio and the ethos of my business. It also represents how I set up my market & festival stalls, no matter whether people see my products in person on online the style and feel is recognisable… keeping the ‘branding’ consistent.

Allowing these processes to be simple and manageable will also mean allow to have time to try new things, learn new skills and keep on growing as an artisan and business owner, which I will talk more about in my final post in this Selling on Etsy series.

<< == by marie-nicole ==>>

xx

 

Story telling continues in listing descriptions

In Selling on Etsy: Part 2 I talked about ‘telling your story‘ and how social media allows you to connect all those dots, for online shoppers and even those who may have seen you briefly at an event and then looked you up online. But what about those who find you simply through doing a search within in Etsy itself? This is where you have a chance to share the philosophy behind your work as well as the specifications of the products.

Listing descriptions

When I write a listing I like to give shoppers as much information as possible, not just about the product’s materials and it uses, but also the inspiration behind the design, where the materials are sourced and even details about the photographs, including the props and/or the location I was shooting at. This is all a part of the story and the enjoyment of every step of the process. To keep writing each listing description simple, I set up a template of sorts with separate sub headings breaking up the information into blocks, so if a shopper wishes to get straight to the point about the measurements they can or if they’re someone who loves the little details they too are catered for.

Listing descriptions

Repurposed Blanket Guitar Case shot in the leafy main street of our village in autumn…

My subheadings go something a like this:

~ The inspiration

~ The photos

~ About the [product name]

~ Size

This is especially helpful when you have a large variety of products for sale in your shop, some of which are of similar design just made out of a different materials like my Repurposed Blankets Guitar Case Range, I keep a stock of stand classical sizes available as well as offer a Bespoke Order for larger and different shaped guitars. Each standard classical is still a one of a kind as I don’t often get the same blankets in. So when I have made a few stock items but want to list each one individually (a few days apart), it is simply a matter of copying an existing listing to changing the specific details for the each product.

In much the same way that I do this for my listings, I also have a ‘ready to shoot area’ to simplify the process of photographing products. Which I will talk about in my next post!

<<= by marie-nicole =>>

xx

 

Large companies create story boards, artisan’s live those stories…

In my first post of this Selling on Etsy series, I talked about how I’ve used Markets and Events as a promotional tool, taking the opportunity to trade in person and promote my online store. In the lead up to such events, during them and afterwards, I share the story of my journey which brings me to this post. Selling on Etsy: Part 2

Telling your story…

Social Media has been a fantastic way of building further credibility online, where shoppers can’t talk to you face to face, especially when it comes to demonstrating the authenticity of what my family and I are about, and how that relates directly to what my work is about. Sharing the process of creating my products and the environment they are created in is a part of this story telling.

Part of the reason for me changing direction in my creative career was to be able to include my family in my adventures. So I also share snapshots of our travels, especially when we head off on a weekend adventure together to trade at a market or festival. The flexibility of running an Etsy store means that my shop is still working for me while we’re exploring and I do not have to physically be in one place all the time.

During these events I do place my Etsy store on vacation mode, with most of my products being one of a kind, I don’t want to risk double selling an item.  I also state in my vacation notice exactly where I’ll be trading, during that period, to give online shoppers living nearby the opportunity to visit my stall in person.

Cécile - Millthorpe

The evening before Millthorpe Markets, enjoying a local drop that we picked up during our exploration that day… finishing off some work outside Cécile 1965 Franklin (our home away from home).

Aside from sharing my production process and traveling trader adventures I also like to share images that validate (for want of a better word) my use of recourses especially since this relates directly to the way we live, our waste not want not approach to living means everything is viewed as a valuable resource with potential, so it is not discarded unless it’s truly deemed useless. That may sound like we’re hoarders, but I can assure you we are not… keeping our surroundings both beautiful and comfortable is just as important in my workspace as it is in our home and garden. Sharing snippets of what we as a family engage in to create and sustain the lifestyle we choose to live, based on what we truly believe in, only stands to strengthen what I speak about in my listing descriptions.

Larder Love

Our larder is right in the centre of our home, which represents our lifestyle perfectly… growing, tending, preserving & appreciating every step of the process of living off our little piece of land is central to our existence.

I believe its possible to be both personable and professional in your approach to social media, being yourself takes a lot less effort than pretending to be someone you are not… Etsy shoppers support authenticity. So as a sole trader, artisan, artist, designer or micro business, giving customers a true sense of what you stand for through your story telling is far more beneficial than trying to keep up the appearance of being a large company when you are not! Keep in mind that large companies (if not selling on a cheap price) try to create story boards for their promotions that capture the imagination of their customers… while artisans live those stories! Don’t be afraid to share the story you are living, as it can both inspire others to work on living their own dream as well as providing your buyers the confidence to support your work.

“Large companies create story boards, artisans live those stories!”

My next post in this series will be about listing descriptions, your descriptions are a part of your story telling opportunity! Selling on Etsy: Part 3 will expand on this further.

<<= by marie-nicole =>>

xx