Sunday, December 30, 2012

Etsy Seller Remorse

Since the opening of my Etsy shop, Lifelooklens, I have been able to excuse my treasure hunts as business trips. At least, that's what I tell myself when I go to thrift stores, anyway. I'm there on business. Searching for vintage and antique treasures is FUN. Don't tell anybody, though. Strictly business, here, friends. 

I've found several awesome things lately. They're all listed for sale now at my Etsy shop. It will be hard to let some of these treasures go, because I get attached. That happens when you have to measure every little item you find and describe everything you know about it in your listings. By the time you actually sell it, you feel a little sad as you carefully package the little whatevers to send away to some stranger. You hope that they'll like it. You hope they'll treat it nicely. Doubtful that they'll spend hours brushing an old antique lamp with a toothbrush like you did, though. 

Yep, the other night, I found myself surrounded by every household cleaner known to mankind. I had just sold my favorite lamp. Or, so I thought. I mean, I did sell it. But it's still chillin' right here beside me as I type. It's staying. Not my fault, though. We'll get there...

It begins with a CHA-CHING!!

 I hear it and my heart gets all fluttery-like. It's the sound of success that occurs when something sells from my shop. I didn't hear it yesterday and I miss it already. 

I check my emails to see what little treasure is going to be shipped off, and I feel sad when I see it's the lamp. Not just any lamp- my FAVORITE lamp. I found it at Goodwill and fell in love with it. Go figure, that's the stuff that always sells. I secretly didn't want it to. Now, I knew what I had to do and it was nearly 11:00 at night. Great. 

That lamp had to be cleaned before it went to its new home. It was dirty. I had no idea just how dirty until I had to clean it. It took me a couple hours of scrubbing away at it with an old toothbrush, but I polished that baby to a shine it had never known before. It GLOWED. I mean, I guess it glowed from the beginning since that's what lamps are inclined to do. I just didn't know it could shine so much brighter after a good toothbrush scrub-down, that's all. 

The house wreaked of chemicals- probably a toxic mixture of this and that cleaner. Dab of tarnish-remover here, spray of Spic-n-Span there, dab of 409, plop of polish, etc. Q-tips littered my dining room table and I had to open windows just to make sure I wouldn't accidentally kill our dogs or my husband or myself. What an obituary that would make...'Nashville Woman Dies While Cleaning Lamp for Etsy Sale, Toxic Fume-Inhalation Deemed Cause'...yeah, I'd like to go out better than that, my friends.  
<-----------Potentially toxic mixture.

With the lamp shining in newfound glory, I searched around the house for a box that would accommodate its size. 

Boxes are a pain in the rumpus. Any seller will tell you that. This time was no less of an inconvenience, as every box I found was either too big or too small for the lamp that I now began to resent.

I asked Josh for help. We foolishly decided that the safest way to ship a fragile antique lamp would be to take it apart. Yeah, then it'll fit in the box...Stupid, Stupid, STUPID idea. We know that now. 

One should never, ever, freakin' EVER take apart this kind of lamp unless one is prepared to be filled with insurmountable levels of frustration. Just don't do it. I know it seems like a good idea. I know you think it'll work out- and it may, but not before you want to throw that lamp at the wall after cursing at it for another hour that follows your toothbrush-scrubbing madness. 

Once we'd taken the lamp apart, we noticed how ugly it looked in separate pieces. We decided our buyer would not appreciate receiving a lamp in bits of brass and glass, without including a detailed instructions manual on how to put it all back together like the Etsy pictures had shown. Even with a manual, this customer would be far less impressed with a broken down lamp than she would with a fully restored and assembled antique. What were we thinking, anyway? We'd just need to put it back together like it was in the first place. We'd find a bigger box, rather than send a bunch of parts across the country. No biggie, right? 

Oh, Dear God, WRONG. I did actually pray when I tried to put that thing back together. I also asked for forgiveness for my cursing spree that followed that first hopeful and desperate prayer request. 

Josh and I put it back together, 3 or 4 times. Each time, the top piece was loose. We'd take it apart again to pull the cord tightly, in hopes that the top part would securely fasten. It didn't. 

All hope was lost, for at least 15 minutes, while my husband and I discussed various strategies of lamp-assemblage. We each disagreed with the other's theories, which got us no closer to success. The lamp sat on the table, drooping it's little lamp head as though it knew it would never be the same. Two foolish twenty-something-year-olds hadn't even been alive as long as the droopy lamp. How in the world did they think they knew how to restore and assemble a once-beautiful relic? 

Josh had returned to his nightly ritual of video game activism, to a world where he is king and no lamps threaten his attainment of victory. 

"I'm gonna do it. I swear, I'm not gonna let this stupid thing beat me. It's a lamp. I took it apart and I'm going to fix it if it takes me all night." 

Josh glanced at me with a doubtful look that also conveyed sympathy for my slow descent into madness. "Doubt it, honey." 

So, I tried every theory we'd shot down, in hopes of somehow piecing those damn parts back together. Failure after failure, I'd sworn I'd do it. I'd even gone as far as to say, "I can do it, Josh, because I do everything I make up my mind to do. I always have." 

I hadn't meant to sound so conceited, but rather to pump myself up, I guess. I couldn't believe this lamp had lowered my self-awareness, but I had no shame at that point. I WOULD put it back together. I WOULD stay up all night if it killed me. It was decidedly so. 

At last, the lamp hung it's head no more. Miraculously, and because God probably felt sorry for me, the lamp was pieced together without any flaws. Victory was mine. 

The celebratory dance that happened next is one that I do not want any person to ever see. At least, not over a lamp. It was excessively joyful and belligerently arrogant. It was also involuntary. It just happened. Josh got up to check out my handiwork. 

"Yeah, it looks good, but what happens when you jiggle the top part. It falls, doesn't it? Let me see," Josh challenged. 

His doubt infuriated me, but it was expected since neither of us thought we'd ever successfully piece it back together. I jiggled the top of the lamp. I flicked it like somebody thumps an ear, out of meanness and spite. It didn't budge. 

More dancing ensued. "We are the champions" theme song was sung. God smiled. All was well at Dunailie Drive, once again. 

Then I heard a ding. 

Nothing's wrong with the lamp...I'll save you that suspense, because you're thoughtful to care and worry about me like that. :)

The ding means I have an email. No big deal, but I needed to check it. Could be a buyer question.

My heart sank as I read the email, which requested an order cancellation. No reason was given. Just 'please cancel my order, I'm sorry' ....


You've gotta be kidding. No way. But, WHY?

I ask the nice buyer why. I have to know why. I must know why. I neeeeded to know why. 

I told Josh. 

He asked why, too. He was calmer about it though. He saw the disappointment on my face and offered up encouragements like: 'Well, you get to keep it now, Gina. You didn't want to sell it and now it looks incredible and super clean!' 

Yay. hip. hip. horray. Even though he was right, I didn't feel exactly enthusiastic. 

I corresponded with my ex-buyer, who was extremely polite and a pleasure to deal with even though we didn't make a deal that endured more than an exhausting few hours of laboring over a lamp. 

As it turns out, the buyer had bought the lamp only because she'd needed the key part that turns it on. 

That shocked the crap out of me, seeing as how the listed price exceeded any that I'd pay for any key...unless it opened a door to heaven or something.  Nonetheless, she'd found the part she needed online for a few cents. Needless to say, she did not wish to proceed with the business transaction that would incur additional and now unnecessary expenditures. I didn't blame her. I mean, I understood her predicament and I knew the right thing to do was to issue a full refund and thank her for visiting my shop. I totally blamed her for the hours I'd spent cleaning and polishing a lamp that she had intended to take apart for the sole purpose of having a key turn-switch. I forgive her. She is nice. No hard feelings. I thanked her. She left nice feedback. That always helps when you sell on Etsy, where reputations are built upon the feedback of your customers. 

So, there's a lamp I have. 

It's really shiny and clean and pretty and wonderful. I almost kept it after this failed transaction. Instead, I re-listed it. I took lots of new pictures of it, as they show its pristine condition.  I forgot to upload those on Etsy, though. 

Maybe I do secretly want to keep it, after all. 

It's still for sale, though. I worry you might buy it and I'll have to ship it to you. I want to because I make money when you do that. However, if you're planning on taking it apart for a key- I will NOT give it to you. You may not do that. Not to this lamp, please. It has been through enough and so have I. Promise you'll take good care of it. You don't have to clean it now. 

I still need a box. I never got that far. 

Maybe I'll get there this week when somebody else falls in love with the remorsefully re-listed at Lifelooklens on Etsy. 

The top is blue. It's so clean, you can't tell how blue it is in this picture. Good ole' scrubby-scrub with a toothbrush did that. Who knew? :)

The key that caused so much trouble. Pretty lil' thang, ain't it?

The top's darker parts here are only shadows. I'm not defending it, I'm just clarifying that there's no dirt here. Seriously, none. It shines like the stars.

This photo wasn't featured on Etsy. None of these were. These are the clean up pictures. I'm not gonna put them on Etsy. If I did, you'd know how awesome my precious lamp is. Then you might buy it. I have mixed feelings about that and am uncertain of your intentions. :)

Here's the piece that gave us so much trouble when we tried to put it all back together. If you foolishly make the mistake of ignoring my advice to leave your lamp in one piece, you're gonna regret it. You'll run into the same problems we did. I'll help you, though, if you happen to do this. I know the secret that'll fix it. I'm still pretty sure it takes a miracle.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Pursuit of Happiness

I haven't blogged in a while...again. I enjoy it, so why does it feel like such a task lately? Life got busy. Some things had to go. Blogging shouldn't have been one of them.

With the holidays coming up- and a hectic work schedule with irregular hours- and a pharmacy student husband stressed with finals- and the opening of my new Etsy shop- and the trips to the post office during my lunch break from my real job, blogging was too hard to do at the end of the day. I said I was going to do better. I did better at everything else but blogging. Writing has always been my outlet. Whatever I'm feeling, whatever I can't say, I could always write. That's how it's been since I was four. Really, I started keeping journals then. At least two decades of my life are documented on paper. Most people don't know that and it's not really a great conversation starter, is it? "Hi, I'm Regina. I keep journals about what happens to me as I go about my daily living. What's even more interesting is that I've been doing it consistently since my childhood. What's your name?" Yeah...probably not gonna do that. But, when that little scenerio is put into words- it's goes better and is far more humorous than if I lived through the awkward experience. That's why I always liked to write. One of the many reasons, I guess. It makes me HAPPY.

There's this documentary playing on Netflix now. It's called 'Happy'. I may be watching it right now, actually. Well, hearing it. I like background noise when I write or blog but this one is really distracting a good way.

You should watch it. I swear, I feel more fortunate and happier and it's only 15 minutes into the show.

Life is stressful and difficult and stupid and frustrating and challenging and hectic and...IT'S NOT-

Life is what you make it. If you choose to focus on all the negative things that happen- all the cruelty and tragedy and loss and death and sadness- you're going to be miserable. I've been there before.We all have at one point or another.

The thing I notice when I look back on unhappy times is that I made decisions or formed habits that made me unhappy. I tried to live up to what other people wanted...what they expected me to be. I made that choice. I hated it. You- or, at least- I - didn't realize I was trying to be someone I wasn't back then. I just knew what would please people and expected those things to please me. When they didn't, I felt angry, upset...without adding more negative descriptions, I felt...bad.

I still do it sometimes. I mean, I still find myself trying to live up to someone's- or to society's expectations.  Nobody else defines me. Nobody else enables my happiness. Nobody but me, that is. So, even though I love blogging and writing- I needed a break to do other things. People have said that I'm talented and that they love my blog and my writing...

It felt weird to even type that. Feels like bragging. Too many my's, me's, and I's...but-
It's true. Enough people have encouraged this specific talent that I am inclined- but hesitant to agree.

After all, I've been writing since I was 4. I have plenty of room for improvement, but I've also read books that bored the peediddle out of me. Maybe I should take a break from something else in my life other than blogging. Not that it would be in the interest of others, but that it would make me HAPPY. Maybe my million other side-ventures haven't been what I needed to focus on in the first place.

I do love my little Etsy shop, though. Oh, and I also feel rewarded at my job. Obviously, my pharmacy school husband can't be where I cut back my happiness efforts of responsibility- He's the most important factor of happiness in my life. So...something's gotta go. But, WHAT? I'm still figuring it all out. Maybe nothing needs to go at all. Since happiness is a choice, maybe it's the only one I've got to make.

Today, I let go of my tendency to stress. I had to work but that didn't matter. I decided this morning that I would be happy all day long, no matter what. I drove to Jamestown, Tennessee today. I got there before my scheduled work-related appointments. Even though I felt exhausted from the drive when I got back home this evening, I feel incredibly happy when I look back on today....

Take a look with me. Watch that 'Happy' documentary, too. Stop worrying. Remind me to stop it, too. :) Life is good...

Jamestown, Tennessee. My destination today was marked with this tower.
 I spent my lunch break visiting some local antique shops and sight-seeing the oldest established town in my state.
At Walmart, souvenir shirts sell that read: "Where the heck is Jamestown, anyway?"
I said that same thing when I first found out I had to go here.

I'm glad I did, as it turns out...

  Mark Twain lived here. Just about everything is named after him in Jamestown.
This will sound ignorant, but I didn't know any of that. You might have. You're fantastic.

 That's okay, because I can probably one-up you with a treasure find of a 1917 book by Mr. Samuel L. Clemens, himself.

 I had to scurry through my car for change because the shop didn't accept debit or credit. In a panic, I told the wonderful elderly gentleman that I'd be right back and to please hang onto that book for me until I found some cash in my car. Frantically, I fumbled through more tote bags than any one person should ever own- or keep in their car-
until I found the $6.00 price that was listed just inside the shop. Pushing, rather than pulling the door when a sign had clearly stated proper door-opening technique, I finally managed to re-enter the shop. I held a mixture of quarters, dimes, and more pennies than one should ever feel comfortable exchanging in such a monumental transaction.

"Here ya go, Sir. Sorry that took a while. See, I couldn't go to the ATM like you suggested because my card got de-magnetized when I put a magnet in my purse."

"Oh,'s okay, ma'am."

"No, I mean, I know it sounds really weird but...

(Here's when I know I'm going to make things even more awkward...when I start to explain myself and my obscure behavior)

"...I work at a foster care agency in Nashville and we are trying to broaden our recruitment efforts so we got these magnets with our information and we've all been taking them with us to put out in places so that people know kids need homes."

"It's only $6.00 ya got here, ma'am. I'm real sorry-like but it's gotter' be $6.57 'cause we gotta pay the vendors, too, that sell here."

"Oh...uh, I see...Well, I understand. I'm just sorry that I put a magnet in my purse and messed up my debit card even though you don't take debit cards, because if it worked- I could've just gone to that bank ATM like you said earlier and save you all this trouble."

"Nah, it's okay. Dontcha' worry 'bout that, now, lil' missy. Happens to us all."

Except it doesn't. I didn't tell the wonderful shopkeeper that, though. He was the nicest and sweetest man in the world and my narrative captions are only intended to capture his wisdom and country-Southern accent that I more than likely reciprocated, unknowingly. I felt embarrassed and debated on whether or not to leave the shop, never to return. I took one glance at my find and I could not. I looked at the old man's face and saw that he felt bad for me and his empathetic expression for my embarasment was just...too much, my friends.  Back to the car I went. I needed 57 more cents.

I have no idea how it happened, but I managed to locate enough change in my all-too-lived-in-car to buy this silly book that I now slightly resent.

Marching up to the glass-front window, I marked the shop's front door "PULL" and followed instructions accordingly this time. 

The old, gentle soul of the sweetest shopkeeper ever had kept his promise. My Mark Twain 1917 edition had been guarded by the most harmless and loyal stranger I'd ever met. He took a few bites of a sandwich and apologized for his 'rudeness' as I approached the counter.

"I'm sorry, ma'am. Don't mean to be rude at all but the misses' just dropped this off and it's a bit past my lunchtime."

"No, Sir...please, eat your sandwich and I'd like to look around more anyway. There's so much in this shop that it'll take me some time to see it all. I promise that this time I have enough change to pay for my book. Thank you for being so patient with me."

"Ma'am... 'twasn't a thang. I been there b'fore. Only, it was worse. I was at a restaurant and forgot my wallet one time. The lil' waitress asked me to pay an' I reached in my pocket and realized I'd left it in my car- just like you did with yer money. Don't worry about it at all and I'm sorry we don't take debit. If you'd had a check, we coulda' done that, but it's just not allowed is all."

If I were 100 years older, that man would have been in trouble.  Not because he was my type. My husband is completely my type. That shop owner was just an older version of him, that's all...and had a much more pronounced Southern accent.

I paid...finally. In change.

I shook the gentleman's hand before I left. I don't know what prompted me to do that but he seemed thrilled to ablige.

I grabbed my new Twain-y treasure and headed joyfully back to my car- this time, not to search for dimes.

Once inside my trusty little Altima, I inspected my new/old book and noticed something appaling...Not about the book.

My button-down, casual shirt had been worn today. When I travel, I dress comfortably. Today, my decision betrayed me.

While looking my book over as I sat in my car, I noticed something in my flip-down mirror that catapoulted my previous feelings of embarrassment. My middle button was completely un-done.


This unhinged button just so happened to be located smack-dab in the middle of my breasts, leaving the most revealing cleavage view that the public eye in Jamestown has seen in quite some time.

I still admire the old man in the shop. What other man do you know who could carry on a normal conversation while your lady parts are partially exposed without your knowledge? NONE, I tell you. That man is a saint.

Still, I wish he'd said something. Maybe when I thought he was showing empathy for my embarrassment about change, he really had a better reason for feeling sorry for me.

So, that's my story today. More things happened. Work-related and confedential things that I can't tell in near an entertaining way as my book-finding tale are not blog-worthy.

My today story may not be worth writing down, either. I can't tell it in a way that wouldn't bore most people.


My happiness project was acheived today.

My embarrassment was worth it.




Merrily home, went Regina today...enjoying a beautiful sunset...and a new book...

More importantly, enjoying happiness.

"I'm on the pursuit of happiness and I know- that everything that shines ain't always gonna be gold..."


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Etsy Escapades and The Interview

I'm on Etsy.

If you read my blog, you knew that already. The rest of you are now informed enough to understand what follows.

My new shop, Retrospect, has been open for 2 days.

I've made 2 sales.

I have encountered several obstacles along the way. Mostly, these challenges involve boxes. Weird, right? I mean, I just want to own my own business. Who knew boxes and postage costs would be so involved!

I conducted interviews tonight to find a suitable employee for Retrospect. By 'interviews', I mean- interview...with my husband.Since I'm working full-time at my real money-paying jobbie, I realized that I was going to need help to keep up with my off shore escapade on Etsy.

As I contemplated my boxing/packaging dilemma, I raided closets to search for a box that would best suit my newly sold items. I researched shipping costs. I listed a few new items to replace the ones I'd sold.

By the way, my phone makes a CHA-CHING sound when I sell something on Etsy. It's probably the most awesome thing I've ever heard in my life. It's the sound of success- no matter how small or faint...still, that noise fills my heart with a glorious feeling of trimph.

Anyway, about the interview...

It was weird. It was good. It was...confusing.

After all, I interviewed my husband.

He was playing his Xbox while I questioned him about his dedication to Retrospect, as well as his motivation to become an employee.

While I explained the job details about listing specifics of inventory and making spontaneous runs to the post office with little notice, his usual smile slowly transitioned into a secretive scowl.

He'd been so willing at first. However, he soon realized that my company could not offer him benefits of insurance, vacation time, or anything else that would make his boring efforts worth while.

I hired him anyway. He doesn't know it yet, though.

Josh asked me, sarcastically, if I'd made a decision about his interview outcome. I told him "we'd" get back to him.

"We" hired him.

As the new CEO of a brand new company that boasts a margin of profit, I commend myself for making the Retrospect reference of "we", a reality.

Now, it's official. I'm not alone in this anymore.

I have an employee.

I made 2 sales.

I have a margin of profit.

I'm a company.

Today, I became a We. :) :) :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Finding My Something

It has been too long since I've blogged. I have to be in the mood to sit down and ramble about whatever enters into my mind. I've been distracted lately. I have a new project. I'm finally at a pausing point in that project's never-ending process to catch up here, where it all started.

There are a million things I want to do. I start every project with ridiculous ambition. I work long hours, whether it's at my actual money-paying occupation- or just one of my crazy ideas. Problem is, I burn out a lot. I'm a perfectionist and that trait eventually results in what my husband calls a 'crash bandicoot.' He says I said this once when I plopped on the bed and he asked me what I was doing. Apparently, 'crash bandicoot' was my response. I was so tired then that I don't really remember. I'll take his word for it since my tendency to run around non-stop for weeks with very little sleep ultimately results in a day spent doing nothing but catching some zzz's.

What's kept me from blogging? Why haven't I been taking and posting any pictures?

THE PROJECT, friends. The project.

Part of me wants to keep it a secret. Not because I enjoy playing coy, but rather because I am afraid of embarrassment- or worse, failure. Guess it's make it or break it time, huh?

I want to start my own business.

I want to work for myself.

I want to be FREE.

I want to do what I LOVE.

Yeah, don't we all?

The challenging part is starting. It always is. Whether it's quitting smoking or taking on a new challenge we're unfamiliar with...

We say we can do it. We say we will do it. But...


I don't know if I have or if I haven't, to be totally honest with you. I said I wanted to be a photographer. I bought a nice camera. I took lots of pictures. I studied and taught myself about focal length, aperture, exposure, photo-editing, etc. Then, I entered some contests. I submitted some photos. I contacted newspapers.

And then what happened?

Eh, not much. I have more pictures online now that anybody can save to their hard drive or post on their facebook pages or websites without giving me any kind of credit. No worries, I'm not bitter...much.

I moved on to another dream, anyway. I decided I'd be a writer. I've kept journals that document my entire life's story. This habit began when I was 4. I always loved writing. It was my outlet. I could vent. I could put everything I felt into words and make sense of my feelings and my life.

Yeah, that's awesome...right? So what happened?

A LOT, in short. None of it made me famous. I don't want to be famous, anyway. No sour grapes here, just sounds like a hassle to have paparazzo following and documenting what an eccentric weird-ee I can be sometimes. I take my Jack-Russell out every morning wrapped in a blanket with a camouflage one-sie underneath so I stay warm. My hair looks crazy as I toss it while I try not to drop my dog as I struggle to open the fence gate that leads to my backyard and my pup's pee-town. No magazine needs to see that. I'm fine with being anonymous. Anyway- see, I get distracted...back to the point-

I guess if I had to mention accomplishments that resulted from my writing efforts, I'd include the following:

-  Creative Writing contest winner in Elementary School.
- 4-H Speech Contest (which were written, so that counts, right?)
- Poem published in book, called "I Hate Schools" by Regina Cannon (I was 8)

...Yeah, I'm going to stop right there before I impress you all with too much pre-middle-school awesomeness.

I stopped keeping journals after a couple people found and read things that I should've never written or should have tossed into a fire. Let's just say that there were undesirable consequences that followed my putting a pen to paper during teenage years that were full of angst. It's okay. I moved on. I endured the repercussions for my actions and for my decision to vividly document them in written form. 

Years passed. I started writing again. Only to myself. Not letters like, 'Dear Regina, how are you today?', but more reserved and conservative scribblings of my daily life. They were really boring. Even now, when I read them, I am unmoved and unconvinced by the writer. If I didn't believe her, who would? A dingleberry, that's who.

Then, I started a blog. You're reading it. It's fairly inconsistent, pertaining to frequency of postings and topics of discussion. I know that, though. I do what I want here. This is my changes quite frequently.

I didn't anticipate success from my blog. I have no followers. I'd feel like a cult leader if I had tons of followers. I blame my inconsistency of post topic content for my lack of followers. I've read that successful blogs must focus on one subject or topic.

I don't care.

Lifelooklens isn't about gaining publicity, nor is it about gaining popularity. It's about writing whatever I feel when I sit down at the computer. It just happens. I wouldn't follow me either. I rarely know where I'm headed.

My ambitions are many. They are ever-changing. Some may say that I don't stick with them. Those 'some' may be correct, though I'll never credit them as such.

I'm just trying to get the most out of life. If it means jumping from one interest to another, so be it. Maybe I can do them all. Maybe I can't be successful at any of them, though I doubt that. I don't doubt because I am conceited, but rather I doubt because I believe I'm talented at something. I believe everyone is exceptionally good at something.

I just don't quite know what my something is yet.

That's what I've been working on lately...Finding my something.

I take pictures just about every day. Most of them are on my phone and will be featured in upcoming posts. I'm just behind on blogging. Blogging is my outlet now for my writing, which may be my something. Maybe pictures are also my something. Maybe neither. We'll see.

My new potential something is acting on my dream to start and own my own business. 

Turns out, it's much harder than taking pictures or writing. Mostly because I don't know what I'm doing...

YET, that is.

Anyway, friends....


I tried selling on Amazon and failed, miserably. Working full-time and trying to keep up with my sales and listings was catastrophic. I suffered embarrassment. I underestimated the attention to detail in item listings, which resulted in selling a vinyl record for $110.00 that ended up being mistakenly listed as a CD. A claim was filed and amicably resolved, despite my confusion about anyone who prefers CD's to rare vinyl records.

No more Amazon.

I didn't attempt selling on Ebay after my Amazon atrocity. My buyer reputation on Ebay is too good to mess with! :)

So, yeah. I could've summed up my new project in three words- I'M ON ETSY.

Instead, I decided to tell you more than you probably wanted to know. Maybe I journal-ed a little bit. Maybe blogging and writing are my true 'somethings'.

For now, it's RETROSPECT, my new ETSY shop, by Lifelooklens. :)

After all, don't we all know more when we look back on things and see so clearly what we should have done or were meant to do? That's RETROSPECT. It changes. It's ever-evolving and my ETSY shop may fail. If so, it wasn't my something, after all.

In retrospect, I'll know what my something was all along. Hopefully by then, I'll have realized it. :)



Wednesday, November 14, 2012


My brother-in-law and his girlfriend got a dog. That makes me an aunt...kind of. My nephew, Rowan, is probably furrier than your nephew. He might also be smarter and cuter, despite his canine condition. Micah and Makaili broke their clan's M-name when they decided to add a four-legged family member. Still, Rowan got a nickname. His parents have alias names, too. Mak, Makalaly (Mack-u-la-lee), Mikey, Bruddur, Ricky Smooth (don't ask)...

So, I naturally nicknamed their dog. Rowan seems too mature a name for my spunky little neph-dog. At least for now, anyway. I call him Rowie. Not sure why I rebel against Rowan's more suitable and dignified title, but I do. Rowan came over for a visit recently and I probably called him by his real name a total of one time, before affectionately referring to him as Rowie. Hopefully, his parents won't mind. Micah has called my dogs a variety of colorful names- especially when Halle greets him at the door in her usual manner. (Barks, jumps up, and...smash! Her paws land on the same spot just about every time. Let's just say that it's a good thing Micah got a dog because Halle has threatened his chances for having human children.) My dogs were not especially nice to their new cousin. Halle is jealous that she now has to compete for her uncle's attention. She sulked when she watched Rowie scamper around our house. Lucy took a more direct- and vengeful approach by snapping and growling at Rowie, who did not acknowledge the hatred she directed at him. I love Rowie. My dogs do not. That's okay- all families have their issues, right?

Meet Rowan. I am not sure if his last name has been determined yet. I didn't think to ask. I should probably find that out since Rowie is my only nephew...
THIS IS MY FAVORITE! Definitely the weirdest picture I've ever taken of a doggie! :)

It is not easy to take a good picture of Rowie. He is far to busy to be bothered...and very, very fast. I managed to get a couple pictures that turned out but most of them were blurred by my nephew's tendency to stay on the move.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sounds of Silence

Fall is my favorite time of the year. Thankfully, I got to visit one of my favorite places during my most beloved season this year- my grandparents' home! Why is this place so special? I don't have enough time to explain. In short, it's because so many memories were made on these grounds. It's where the people I love dwell and where I ran through the woods uninhibited during the days of my youth. See my previous post(s) 'To Grandmother's House We Go'- then maybe you'll see why there is no place that compares to this one.

 Journey with me now- to an Autumn day, to a place that will always feel like home...

Trees have just begun to shed their leafy coverings, which fall silently to the ground. Sounds of wind chimes echo through the air, filling it with melodic rhythms that sound time's passing. These chimes have been at my grandparents' house since I was a little girl and their ringing has always been music to my ears. 

Mamaw recently gave me a set of chimes for my birthday. I'd fallen in love with the set she had that played notes in the key of E. I questioned her about where she'd purchased her set and after she answered, I kind of forgot what she said and how beautiful the music was that her magical chimes had played.

 I freaked out with enthusiasm when I opened my present this year to see a set of chimes that resembled those I'd coveted during my last visit to her house. There they sat in my hands, thoughtfully wrapped in tissue paper and birthday packaging...

MY own wind chimes. The BEST wind chimes. Whatever set of wind chimes you have- No matter how great you think they are- MINE are better. They sound notes in the key of C that make you feel as if you're listening to angels' singing. 

Mamaw and Papa are so thoughtful like that. I'm not sure if Papa did the shopping for this particular birthday present but he's still wonderful, too. Mamaw has always been an exceptionally great gift-giver. She remembers the little things you say about what you like. She remembers things that you don't even remember saying. Then, she gives you a gift that nearly makes you want to cry. 

Sure, wind chimes may be a silly reason for tears but my reaction to receiving this gift is explainable. I was moved by the uniqueness and thoughtfulness that my shiny new chimes represented. To me, their sound resonates with memories of happiness and love. Echoes of memories play in my mind now, each time the wind blows and I think of my family. I am reminded of what is truly important and precious. I feel grateful, happy, and loved when I hear my chimes playing.  As they dance in the wind, so does my heart.

I'm going to have to think really hard to give Mamaw and Papa a gift that would even compare to this one, huh?

I've walked down this path hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times. I used to skip every other stone when I was little. Sometimes, I still do that- just for the heck of it. Years ago, if I missed a landing while pretending the stones were surrounded by hot lava, I had to start all over at the beginning of the path. I gave myself three chances to make it all the way down to the stepping stone's end as I hopped from square to square. Like Mario, I had three lives. There were no 1-UP mushroom chances if I failed my mission. My imagination grew then like the trees in the forest which surrounded me. 
At 25-years-old, when standing in this place, it still does. 

Fond memories are sometimes forgotten in our grown-up world, aren't they? It isn't until we revisit them that we remember fond moments of our past. As I stood here, I thought about how much I have changed. As years went by, I stopped skipping from stone to stone. I increased my already too-hurried pace as I trudged down the same path that had once been threatened by imaginary lava. I didn't look around at the beauty that was so evident. I became too focused on what task I needed to complete next, what place I needed to go, and where I wanted to be. All those hurried trips I took during my transition into adulthood would later be regretted, for everything I was looking for had been here all along. I realized that a few years ago. 

 Slow down, you move too fast, got to make the morning last. 
- Simon and Garfunkel, 59th Street Bridge Song 

I was reminded again at this visit, when I looked again at the blue stepping stone pathway, that I needed to slow down. I decided to try my childhood stone-skipping mission again. Dressed in my Catwoman costume, I had a bit of trouble because my tall-heeled boots were unsuitable for avoiding lava. Yes, I was dressed as Catwoman. It all makes sense, don't worry. 

Mom and I had stopped to visit Mamaw and Papa before heading to my Aunt Tina's Halloween party. My grandparents don't celebrate Halloween- a decision that I will never understand, as I LOVE holiday celebrations of every sort. Since they would not be attending our annual costumed celebration, Mom and I decided to arrive in-costume. Even though my stone-skipping ability had declined severely, my imagination ran wild as it had during my youth. 

Standing here, dressed as Catwoman, had not ever been done. A new memory was made as my grandmother's chimes blew joyfully in the autumn air, sounding welcoming tones for my return to the path that's always lead my heart home.

Vivid oranges and yellows exude now from the forest leaves, which flutter in cool autumn breezes. Flowers which once grew abundantly during warm months are fewer now in number. A calm silence has befallen our garden path, whose stones have become cool to the touch. Shadows increase as the sun prepares for its daily retreat into vibrantly colored blankets of hills. Darkness will announce its arrival within the hours that follow, announcing Fall's encumbered burden of shorter days. Luckily, Catwoman does not fear darkness. She greets it as she stands in a beautiful garden, whose daytime beauty starkly contrasts with her dark figure and all nightly shadows she brings.

Though stealth and coordination are typical characteristics of Catwoman, they were not evidenced by my imitation. How she ever got around Gotham in those boots will forever remain a mystery to me. Luckily, my ankles withstood my stone-skipping trials. Any other missions that require more agility should be assigned to the real Catwoman, especially if she's still going to wear those impractical boots.

As I stood here listening with my pointed ears, I thought of a song to describe the eerie, yet beautiful quietness that surrounded me...

"In restless dreams I walked alone 
Down narrow streets of cobblestone 
'Neath the halo of a street lamp 
I turned my collar to the cold and damp 
When my eyes were stabbed 
by the flash of A neon light
 that split the night 
 And touched the sound of silence"
This song has always held great meaning to me, personally. Lyrics are applicable to my life and they may not be related to by others. After trying to explain why this song is perfect for this blog post, I became frustrated. I couldn't describe it all in the eloquent manner I'd anticipated. However, I found words used by better-versed writer(s), who I completely agree with about this song's meaning. One should never underestimate Wiki-Answers, except when siting sources for a college paper. (Been there, trust my advice.) 

For a full analysis, click here ----> What do lyrics mean?- Sounds of Silence

The following is an excerpt from the above link to lyric interpretations:

"So I think that a holistic universal meaning to the song is one that we are searching for (truth, guidance) and it is already right under our noses. We walk by the truth (on subway walls and tenement halls) everyday and take no note but rather we construct elaborate gods and complicated idols to interpret a reality we are, by definition, already in tune with. The title of the song itself seems to me to reflect that paradox.

I am aware Simon in an NPR interview has admitted there was no profoundly deep meaning to the lyrics when he wrote them. He said he was possibly expressing teenage angst and frustration as to how they are largely ignored by society, however, my interpretation I think is one to give clarity to the stream of consciousness with analogous symbols (where I didn't ramble too much) and largely holds true to that theme."

 Well said, Wiki. I concur. :)

I had searched for truth and guidance during my teenage years, often in a rebellious and sometimes self-destructive manner. Everything I had been looking for had been right in front of me all along. Many teenagers have similar experiences and I know that not everyone has a happy ending to the confusion and difficulty of adolescence. I was lucky to have the support of my family during the years I spent trying to find myself. I am immensely grateful for this.

I did not express my gratitude or appreciation for those closest to me until I reached my mid-20's. Thankfully, I was forgiven by those who had always loved me unconditionally. My parents, grandparents, and several other key family members, knew who I was even when I'd forgotten. They believed in my potential and encouraged me with their acknowledgement of my strengths and talents. They told me I could do everything when I thought I couldn't do anything. They insisted that I was important and refused to accept my objections or self-deprecations. Because of all they did, I now believe in me, too. 

I stand triumphantly here, dressed as Catwoman, at the end of the stone pathway. Many stones were tripped over along the way before I arrived here. With each misstep, I kept going. My mother and grandmother followed behind me, much as they did on roads of uncertainty during my life's journey. They encouraged me and I finally arrived here because of them. 

For that, I am blessed.

 Everyone needs the support of superheroes- even Catwoman. 
"I could give you more happiness than anyone in the world." 

"How do you propose to do that?"
"By being your partner in life, I mean it's me and you against the world." 
"Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat."
- Mark Twain Notebook, 1894

"What are stumbling blocks and defeat before you, can be stepping stones to victory if you remain determined." 
- Author Unknown.

Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment.  
~Henry David Thoreau

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.
- Henry David Thoreau

You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give. 
- E.O. Wilson

...I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.  ~Elizabeth Lawrence

"A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made.  The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air."

-   Eric Sloane

I suppose an artist takes the elements of his life and rearranges them and then has them perceived by others as though they were the elements of their lives. 
- Paul Simon 

 Preserve your memories, they're all that's left of you. 
- Simon and Garfunkel, Bookends

 It seems to me that at nineteen or twenty, a young man is burning to be great at something. I was. You have a vision that's beyond the neighborhood. You want to make a mark while you're alive. You don't know exactly your future, but you want to be great at it. And greatness is an important word.

-Art Garfunkel


And every stranger's face I see
Reminds me that I long to be, homeward bound.

-Paul Simon
(Homeward Bound)

When you're weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
I'm on your side. When times get rough
And friends just can't be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
-Paul Simon
(Bridge Over Troubled Water)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Catwoman Forever

This Halloween, I am Catwoman. 

I wish I could be Catwoman every day, although my costume would be unbearable to wear during summer months. Nonetheless, I’d probably run around wearing it if I wouldn’t be deemed by society as a crazy lunatic. I was Catwoman at my aunt’s Halloween Party this past weekend and must say that I want more excuses to slip on the suit that instantly turns me into a fierce creature of the night. I suppose my desire to prolong duration of my villainous role is understandable... 

After all, everybody wants to be a cat.


I spent time with my costumed family members over the weekend and we all embraced our characters. This created more interesting interactions between my relatives, who carried on conversations about topics that coincided with their hero/villain’s interests. We all really love the holidays and Halloween is one that excuses the quirkiness we all share. Catwoman and Batgirl spent time catching up with each other and the two found that they had quite a bit in common. Jessica had arrived as Batgirl, which made me feel more comfortable in my skin-tight Catwoman apparel. She and I enjoyed a brief escape from responsibilities that exist in our non-costumed, day-to-day lives. I’ve always admired Jess, though I’d only admit that now that I’m a ‘grown-up’. She and I grew up together and had our share of differences when we were moody adolescents. Now that we’re both married and working full-time, we understand each other more thoroughly and our bond is unbreakable even when we’re not in costume.

Meet Batgirl Jessica. She’s a mommy of two children, which makes her a superhero 24-7.

I have to admit that purchasing a non-specified black bodysuit and then adding a few key accessories created my Catwoman costume. I ended up saving money by this improvisation since a ‘real’ Catwoman costume was priced over my hubby-approved allowance for Halloween expenditures. 

It’s probably a good thing that he suggests limits to holiday expenses because we’d otherwise be destined for financial ruin during the holiday season. I’m an avid celebratory participant of all things that involve playing dress-up. I browsed for costumes at several stores before I stopped in at Performance Studios in Nashville. Excitement overcame me when I entered into the costume store of my dreams. 


My kid-like enthusiasm overwhelmed me, for my Halloween costume choices were seemingly endless. I tried on a Catwoman costume and considered purchasing it before I happened upon a nearly identical black body suit that bore a more optimal price tag for my budget restrictions. 

 I later ended up buying some boots for $20.00. I guess if you wanna get technical about it, I only saved $10.00 since I had to have new boots to go with my ‘it was on sale’ outfit. To reason my festive splurge spree to my husband- and to anyone else who doubts my savvy penny-pinching, bargain-shopping ability, I present the following mathematical proof of my money saving decision making skills:

black suit = $30.00    <  Catwoman suit = $65.00
cloth gloves = $2.00 <  leather gloves = $30.00
Catwoman mask = $12.00 < Other Catwoman masks = $20.00
Boots from Ross = $20.00 < Same boots, other store = $65.00
Belt from Mamaw = FREE < $25.00 belt with Catwoman logo

My Catwoman cost = $44.00 < Authentic costume cost = $205.00

(* Deduction of $20.00 has been factored in on my Catwoman cost, as purchase of Fall boots was necessary and these will be worn with other non-Catwoman outfits, making them a non-Halloween purchase that should not apply.)

$205.00 - $44.00 = $161.00 savings

If you really wanna be a stickler, go ahead and add that $20.00 for my boots. This changes the equation but not the outcome…

I still SAVED $141.00 even if you don’t let me excuse the awesome on-sale boot purchase.

If you're at a loss for an awesome Halloween costume this year, go to Performance Studios. You have the option of splurging or bargain shopping, but you'll love the experience either way. :) 

--> Before heading to our Hero/Villain-themed family costume party, Mom and I made a quick stop at a nearby park walkway. B.B. had spotted a bridge that she thought would be a cool photo locale for her passenger, Catwoman, who concurred with a suggestion to stop for a quick photo-op. 

B.B. is a known name to those who frequent my blog. Others should check out other posts dedicated to my mom's photographic talent. Bashful Blogger got some great photos of Catwoman as the feline pranced through a creepily deserted park. 

Ever vigilant, Catwoman was caught while taking a stroll down a mysteriously surrounded sidewalk in Lenoir City, Tennessee. 
I don't normally like to post tons of pictures of myself. 
I can't help but fear that I'll be perceived as conceited 
for uploading self portraits. I fear this because I think 
poorly of those who have at least 1,000 pictures dedicated
 to themselves on Facebook. This posting will be my only 
exception to my rule. I am not Regina in these photos...

 I am Catwoman. 

Catwoman is rarely caught on camera, though millions seek 
an opportunity to capture her on film. 

B.B. and I, er- Catwoman made an agreement...just this once.

You'd feel more confident being Catwoman, too. :)

I want to be Catwoman forever. At least I'll have a reasonable excuse to do it again next year. Hopefully, Jess feels the same way about Batgirl...and B.B. is camera-ready.