Thursday, 19 September 2013

A few is enough?

In this world of plenty options sometimes cause the biggest amount of trouble. Perhaps a wardrobe filled with clothes results in "I have nothing to wear". Maybe a fridge full of groceries results in you not eating at all because there's so many things you can't decide what to eat. What happens at our place usually is a book case full of CDs (or Spotify for that matter) results in "there's nothing to listen to". A pageful of things on your to-do list may result in you sipping your cup of tea and doing nothing because it's simply too much to be thinking about what to choose and how to choose.

Running a little dancewear shop means the world is open and full of choices. There are companies offering dozens of different types of shoes and leotards and tights and bags and everything money can buy, and to a little person like myself that is plain overwhelming. There's the everything new that's on offer plus the extra baggage of the stuff and belongings from the history, from the previous owner. Even if I had all the money in the world (which I luckily don't), the job of choosing would not be any easier.

About a year ago I grew tired of the skating tights of the shop. The collection was the heritage of the previous owner of Tanssiina, and to my eyes it was a mish mash of styles and sizes and colours that I could not deal with. There were about 9 different styles of tights for figure skaters alone, two colours of each style and seven different sizes to each colour and style. A plentyful of tights, which, when ordered, had to be ordered in packs of three. A quick calculation later I realised I'd need a fortune just to keep up the collection, which hardly anyone needed anyway. We are a dancewear shop after all, and are serving the local figure skaters, but with a fairly smallish and basic selection. The choice for the collection had been made without me, so at first I thought I was going to have to live with it and sustain whatever the previous owner had thought to be good. And I tried it for a good year and al half until I came to a halt.

As I sat down with my calculation of nine times two times seven times three times about 20-25€ (equalling plenty), I figured something HAD to be done. My shop and it's wee collection of skaters' tights would need someone to take responsibility for it and that someone needed (unfortunately) to be me. So I sat down with the collection and the knowledge I had of the local skaters and figured a scary and drastic change that I had no idea if anyone would be happy with. I figured I needed tights for rehearsals (thick ones), tights for competitions (thinner and shinier) and maybe, just maybe, something extra special (to make up for the loss of six extra models, to be honest). Not nine different models but essentially two, perhaps, and at it's most, three. I decided the tights that *deserved* a place in the shop's collection needed to be durable, well made, made in a place where I would know for certain how the workers are treated and paid, and made with the best possible materials. They would also have to be models that were not only needed by skaters, but would have to fit other moving people too (like the aerobics girls who use the shiny tights for their competitions). The cost would most definitely be more than the cheapest possible models', but I would KNOW what I'm serving and would only need to sell the best.

The collection of tights was reduced from that day on. I put all the old models on sale (and cried a little for I had bought them for full price), stocked up on the newly decided ones (and prayed the money that would come from the sales of the old models would pay for at least some of the newly acquired models) and have been sticking to the well decided models ever since. Only one of the nine models made it through to the new collection, and two new ones were chosen to cover up the loss of the rest. Now, almost a year later there's ten pairs of the old models left on sale, and the new collection is slowly finding it's place in the world. It looks like I'm the only one in the whole country to offer bamboo fiber tights for rehearsals, and our extra special shimmer tights are one of a kind too. The importer wonders about my choice of tights, for no-one else orders them and she has to specifically order my batch of tights all the way from Canada and they take time to order, but the collection makes me a happy shop owner. There are people, for whom the quality of the tights and the working conditions and environmental issues are important, there are people who care about the skins of their little girls who go skating with their tights right next to their sensitive skins. The collection is small, and it's early days for it, but the year has shown many times, that the direction is good and valid.

And the small skating tight selection has resulted in plenty of other choices for the shop too. One of my favourites is as simple as a pen. I've reduced the amount of ball point pens at the shop to one. There are two or three black felt tips for writing bigger stuff, but only one ball point left. And now that I put my hand into the drawer with the pens in it, my fingers find the one and only ball point in an instant. It is never lost. And every time I find the pen, the simplicity of it all makes me smile. I don't need ten pens. I don't need ten different types of tights. If I choose wisely, it might be enough to choose (and maintain) one, or perhaps two.

There's still work to be done, and the skating tights are definitely not the only area that needs careful thought and deep culling, but I'm seeing the good results in choosing one (or few) rather than ten in a lot of different areas of the shop. There's one type of gymnastics balls (six colours, but one type), one type of menstrual cups (three colours, but one type), one type of glittery tapes for the gymnastics hoops and clubs (12 colours, but one type), and they all have resulted in people finding the products more easily, because something in this world of plenty has already been chosen for them. And because the thought process behind the products have been thorough enough.

So even if the process of ending up with just a few is sometimes hard and takes up a mountain of thought, and the resulting few need all the care and attention you can give them, living with the few does make the world a little easier place to live in. It reduces stress for there's less to maintain and choose from, it gives you the possibility to be on top of the things you've chosen rather than letting all your stuff take control over you, and it makes you wiser because you have to think things through before making decisions. You'll know that with each desicion your collection of stuff becomes more and more toned to your needs and your priorities.

My next "fewing" for the shop will deal with the social media.
What's yours going to be?


Monday, 16 September 2013

Jewelry without jewelry 2

Nail art has proven to be a great hobby. It requires quiet time, concentration, learning something new every time and a simple play with colours. It does not require much - a few bottles of polish, and if you fancy, a thin brush and a pin or a needle. There are plenty of tutorials on the internet if you like learning on your own, and local salons sometimes do workshops that you can attend if you want to learn in a group and with personal guidance.

I have only started my hobby, so I don't count myself skilled at all. But I do like learning new things every time I watch a tutorial and try out something new.
I like online tutorials, for you can watch them as many times as you need and learn by seeing, you don't need to allocate a specific time for your hobby and you don't have to spend time going anywhere to get to your class.
It is a simple hobby that one can do with very little investment, and it makes one breathe, take new information in one piece at a time and gives the possibility for a quiet time concentrating.

The tutorial for these three different designs can be found here:

While practicing Project333 I've found that decorating one's nails can be easily used to replace jewelry that would otherwise take up (sometimes too much) space in one's home and add to the everyday clutter in life. And I've completely fallen for the idea of jewelry without jewelry. This jewelry doesn't have to use up space in your home, you can alter it to suit your mood and style and occasion and make it fit every outfit and every situation if you please.

Some caution needs to be taken into account with nail polishes too. There can be too many of them, and the accessories that go with the whole nail art scheme. So I've decided to keep my colour choices scarce and only work with the few colours that fit the small box I have designated them. I'll stick to eight colours that all are somehow matchable. I have four now, so there's still space for a few. But above eight I will not go :)


Monday, 9 September 2013

A piece of calm

Life needs moments of calm - even brief moments. I find one way to remember calm is through memories of previous calm times. A quiet moment, a sudden stop by a pretty flower. They all can happen and be appreciated right now (and ought to too!), but sometimes one needs a little reminder of how the calm feels without the pretty flowers in sight.

One good way to remember calm is through pictures and photos. You could have a book of calm on your work desk to go through when needed, or if you lead a paperless life, maybe a wall of pinned photos on Pinterest. Or when you find places and moments of calm, you could take pictures of them to go back to that moment and time when it's needed later and make a collage of them on your desktop.

For the picture-minded people a simple photo can reduce the pace of one's heart rate, make one remember to breathe deeper. To help one stop in a moment and to just be for a while, even in the middle of life that seems to have got more things to accomplish than time to accomplish them. 

And what's truly great about these little moments of calm and peace in the middle of a frantic life is how they -by giving you the opportunity to stop - serve as a reminder of what's really important in life, and a reminder that your stressful chores are only exactly just as big as you give them freedom to be. 

Give a breather to your brain, maybe several a day. Let your book of calm or your simple photos take your mind off the to-do-list of the day and carry you off for a minute or two. Not because your life is not worth living where you are and as it is, but because it is good to be reminded of the simple, or the best in life - so that in the middle of your ordinary day you'd know where your priorities lie and you'd know how to make the rest of the day be in line with those priorities. 
With your priorities comes a way of dealing with the stress factors of the day. Be it sending letters or picking up kids or doing paperwork or housework - when you know what's important in life, like *really* important, you'll know how to deal with the rest of the to-do's. By giving yourself a reminder of the peaceful, you'll find a way to deal with the stressful without it overtaking everything in life. And in the long run, that's gives you much more of the peaceful in life, and slowly culls the stressful that doesn't even have to be stressful :)


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Survival plan.

Things in life tend to get hectic occasionally. The beginning of the dancing season in August means there's plenty to do at work, all days go by serving live customers and being in a frantic rush. The shop at the end of the day looks like a tornado has hit it, I haven't had time to do any of the "extra" things I was "supposed" to do, there's bills to be paid and orders to be made and people to be contacted and I feel exhausted.

It'll only last until people are nicely settled into their normal dance-class routines, and then it's time to breathe again, and things will get back to a more dealable pace. But until that breath of fresh air shows itself from around the corner, something needs to be done, and things need to be put in order. 

So I've figured in order to survive, and in order to enjoy even the frantic days of this life, there has to be a survival plan. And here's what my plan looks like (I try to learn to live by it, slowly):

Simply put - the brain will not have enough bandwidth to work on if it's running out of steam before you even begin your day. Getting enough sleep means even on the hectic days your brain will still have power to think straight.

Plenty of veggies and one or two warm meals a day. Snacks and breakfast and evening things. Consistent flow of decent energy keeps you in much of a better mood and makes you being able to function.

Just breathing for a while without doing anything extra will help just that little bit. It'll give you space to get your head around things and to see things in the right light. It can be called anything you wish. Meditation, prayer, me-time, fishing - you name it. Or it doesn't have to have a name. Just be.

Exercise of any kind will make you think of other things and not concentrate on how stressed you are. It'll make you think of yourself and of how you feel. It'll ground you towards gravity and remind you of who you really are. 

Being with the people and beings and things that you love obviously gives you comfort and fun times socially, but it also is rewarding to simply love. To be giving something of yourself to someone or something and not expecting a return. To show support and respect. And if you're into the religious in life, this goes with that too - loving your neighbour, loving your God. Spending time with things that are important in life. Giving yourself to the things and beings you love and being grateful for them.

When everything else in life gets messy and out of control, a clear table top will make all the difference. It'll give you hope to know that simple things can be found anywhere, and they can be made everywhere. Simplifying requires some energy, but the energy you get as a reward of simplifying something that needs to be simplified will be enough to not only fill the void it left behind but to top up some of the remaining need for energy with an added bonus of some calm feelings. And simplifying goes as well for your table tops as for your finances, for your relationships as well as for your bookshelf. The less random thoughts everything around you creates and forces you to take action and to be a part of itself, the more you will have space in your bandwidth to decide whether you really want to be a part of it or not. If the hallway table speaks to you every time you walk past it requiring you to clean it up, perhaps it's time you took action and quieted it once and for all. Keeping the table clear means one less thing to stress about when things get hectic.

Looking at the survival plan I realise these are the things that are needed in life anyway. It might be a survival plan to get through the hectic days, but at the same time it's a survival plan for life. Without food, rest, exercise, compassion and some time without stress life could not go on for long without it influencing our lives in a fairly bad way.
And although the plan seems quite vague, and is full of things everybody knows are needed in life, it serves as a reminder of what's really important (and I for one tend to forget them when things get hectic). What's best is when the really important things are in order, there's space and time and energy for the not-so-important too.

This is what I need to remember.