Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Open up the Scary Container

Recently, I have been reconnecting with some parts of me that I have been shoving away and hiding in a dark corner. I am bringing a sense of joy back into how I dress myself.
For the last 2 and a half years, I have just been in this weird space. I could see tons of beauty in others, but honestly couldn't find it in myself very much. I stopped wearing fun accessories. I stopped wearing fun shoes. I just sort of stopped. I had that damn track playing in my brain that every woman seems to have a copy of. You know. That one that says, "Yeah, I WOULD dress differently if I just looked how I wanted to! If my body was what I wanted!!"
It's easy to encourage others to do this. I see all shapes, sizes, colors, and varieties of women, and I just glory in them. I feel a PERSONAL victory when I see someone ELSE dress in this way that obviously makes them feel good and feel powerful. I get all giddy for them.
Heck, that is what my whole entire livelihood is about! I help put women into clothing that makes them feel like themselves again!
But, yeah....being totally honest here, I haven't done it at all for myself. I had just been so disappointed in my body during pregnancy, after pregnancy, and through the labor process. It didn't go how I wanted. My healing was arduous. I didn't get to breastfeed. It goes on and on. I had been carrying that disappointment around with me like a lead weight, and it affected my life in lots larger of ways than I thought.
Through the last year or so, I have just hated packing my costumes to go to shows! I used to completely have my stuff together! I would bust out these amazing costumes and just be a powerhouse of awesome. I loved how I looked and felt when I was at my booth at renaissance festivals.
And this last year has just felt like one solid slump. I didn't look like "me". My costumes didn't bring me the normal joy. I didn't even bother with making myself new pieces. I just took my disappointment and shoved it down away, and I had fun dressing everyone else except myself.
EEk! Look how young my kids were in this picture!!  Goodness!!

I am only just BARELY opening up that container. You know....it's like the one that you put leftovers in and pushed to the back of the fridge. It's that one that you forgot about. It's that one that has started to stink, and you found the source of the stench, and now you are afraid to open it..
Sometimes I just throw away the container...but I suspect that I need to clean this one out and dump the putrid rotting grossness into the trash. I want to fill this one with goodness again, but now I am in the process of cleaning it.
I am starting small. The other day, I bought myself some rainboots that are in the shape of cowgirl boots and they have a loud paisley print. I have been pulling out pictures like this one below, where I KNOW that I felt more like me, and I have been remembering what it felt like to....feel like me. ;)
It is different for everyone, but I think that "feeling like me" involves adventure, a certain reckless abandonment of tradition, and a lot of colors from the appliances of the 1970s. It involves texture and color. It has nature, exploding with flowers and vines and life!! It involved an embarassing amount of leopard print.
What would feeling like "You" LOOK like? What gives you life? What makes you excited? What makes you feel aligned and centered? I know you can find it. I know I can find it.
I am starting today. I am opening that container back up.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Delicate Tuba Player

I would just like to say a few things about goals and to-do lists here. 

I've always avoided this type of thing. I would make a list of things I wanted to accomplish. I would get about 2 out of 37 of them checked off. I would feel like a failure. I would tell myself, "Michelle, you shouldn't even try to make lists. You are jinxing yourself and calling in the powers of the universe to thwart you every time you make a list of what you want to do!"  I actually felt like I was cursing myself more than helping myself. 

It was the same thing with goals. I would sit down and write these lofty things that I dreamed of coming true! I would imagine them, envision them, anticipate them, FEEL them being true, just like all the self-help books I had read. And.....wah, wah. The goals wouldn't even begin to come to fruition. More disappointment. More "accepting" of the "way the world works." 

And yet, I can't stop. None of us can ever stop. We actually cannot say "I'm good where I am" and remain, as much as we want to. Even if we perceive any changes in ourselves, the world changes around us, and then we have to adapt. We don't ever get to stay. 

It occurred to me that goals might be sort of like when I decided to play the tuba my senior year of high school. 

I think I've told this story before, but it bears repeating. So, I played bass clarinet in marching band all through high school, until my very last year, when I wanted a challenge! I decided that I would like to play a new instrument, and when I thought of what would be the most beneficial, I had this glorious revelation! If I played something HUGE  and cumbersome, like the tuba, I would look "dainty" and "slight"  next to it. I had always been concerned that my weight had kept boys from being attracted to me, especially compared  next to my beautiful half Native American friend who was about 4 inches taller and 50 pounds lighter. I was always just grasping frantically at what I could do to make myself stand out next to her, when I felt so chubby and average.

I love my younger self for hatching this plan. It's still funny to me that I honestly imagined that playing a tuba would make me sexy. I think that might be an oxymoron. ;) Yet, I remember being a teenager and laying there in bed at night before competitions, imagining myself proudly gliding around the football field in my formations, while scores of handsome, intelligent, witty, cultured, almost-men sat in the stands with their jaws slack and their attention riveted on how RADIANT that gorgeous tuba player was!!! Wow.....next to that huge spit-valve clogged tuba.....that girl just looks soo.....skinny!!  (and I think it goes without saying that my pubescent, Jane Austen fueled fantasies also featured these men in breeches and coat-tails, clapping their hands and exclaiming "Capital! Capital!" in roguish British accents!)

*sigh* Do you guys see why I build corsets for a living? 
Ah, here we are. Photographic evidence. See? I told you. 

Well, friends. I can't say my plan worked. I can't say my dreams came true. Who would have even thought that it would actually REPEL boys? Certainly not teenage me. 

And yet.....

I had more fun than I had ever had in my life. I was challenged every day. I had imagined SO hard that I was beautiful, delicate and fine in my tubarific trills that I almost started to feel that way. Despite the outward appearances, I still held fast. And you know, it's the feelings that matter anyhow. We don't do anything for the actual thing. We do it for the feelings that we imagine that thing will acquire for us. 

Imagining wonderful things for our lives almost gives us that feeling without us even having to do the work! That excitement, that thrill of the unknown and the hoped for.....that is sometimes more delicious that the end result itself. I know we have all wanted something fiercely until we actually had it, and then the magic was somehow lost.  Is the magic in the yearning

I now have this wonderful story to tell you from my life, and it's integral to who I am today. I still get out there and strut my stuff in a big, sometimes uncomfortably non-conformist way. I still probably imagine myself as more of a bad-A than I actually am.....and that's totally okay.  Those goals and checklists and tasks help us to keep aspiring, changing and dreaming. And I heard something that I loved the other day. There was a guy in a podcast, and he just said something like, "You've never failed if you're still in the game."  Oh....yeah.....I guess so. I didn't give up. I can't give up, because I am always changing and evolving. I'm still in the game. 

And I look very dainty doing it. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Air Mattresses

The first year I did the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival in Muskogee, OK was one of the most humbling learning experiences I have ever been blessed with. (Now, friends in Oklahoma, before you say "Michelle! You should do this show! We need you back! Keep in mind that I have submitted applications and been denied. Who knows why? Meh. I always feel a little icicle stab in my heart when people say "Oh my gosh, you HAVE to do this renaissance festival! You will sell out!" and I think, "Um...I've submitted applications to that show and been denied for 5 years in a row. Thanks for the painful reminder." Basically, with a lot of these festivals, the only way "in" if you are a costumer is if someone dies. I'm serious. Ah, but I digress...) 

That part of the Midwest is just as humid, full of blood-sucking bugs, and sweltering as where I grew up in Missouri. Now, I would like to say, I LOVE the Oklahoman People. They are as stubborn as they come, and I genuinely like the accent. It's a bit Texas, but with Midwestern thrown in. You definitely are always called "Ya'all", even if they're just talking to you, yourself. For instance, "So, Michelle, ya'all wanna go get some BBQ?" (speaking to just me). I also love that tornadoes will absolutely ravish them every year, and they almost just casually shrug their shoulders and brush it off. People, I have been in tornadoes! Big ones. Anyone who can happily survive those is stalwart and worthy of your praise.

But, back to the festival.

I decided to save money by camping onsite with the other vendors. I super respect people who can do this year after year. I am apparently a total pampered wimp when it comes to camping. Or maybe it was the air mattresses that didn't seem to think it pertinent to be filled with air. All I know is that we crammed 8 people into what was probably a 6 person tent, and the air mattresses perniciously glued their sappy vinyl to our moist, simmering skin and clung to us during the heat-filled night while they silently got lower and lower to the ground, leaving us on a bed of rocks and twigs in the morning. My younger sister always managed to get rolled over into a crack between the two offending mattresses, and I would wake up in the night to her desperate sniffling and quiet sobbing, as she marinaded in her own misery.

We would get done with a long hot day of working the festival, and return back to camp exhausted. However, instead of some sweet respite, my sister-in-law Jill and I had to take care of the little toddlers we had at the time, as well as endeavoring to persevere through early stages of pregnancy. That year, we were scheduled to have more babies, with due dates one month apart.  We alternately took turns throwing up behind the booth in the mornings, and at night, we would high-five each other as we walked past in the dark, boggy woods, making our way to go and urinate on what was probably a patch of poison ivy. Elegance at its finest.

One of the reasons that I know that this job is the right one for me is because I still ENJOYED myself, even while I was miserable. It's sort of like those early stages of a relationship. You are agonizing over ever glance, every text (or phone call, from my day), every touch. It's painful, and somehow delicious. You want more. I think that perhaps, you are feeling desirable and special, and that feeling is a drug. You are finally seeing yourself through another pair of eyes....and those eyes see you for how special you are.

When you attempt to do something difficult, but you also find a small level of success, you start to see yourself with those eyes again. You say, "Wow, that version of me is awesome."  However, just like relationships, you can get complacent. Your vision gets obscured by what people call "reality" and you lose that love and fire. There's no longer this symbiotic relationship where you both feed excitement and desire into each other while also soaking in the passion from the other person. Instead, there can be the disappointments, the setbacks, the shortcomings. The touch that gave you a wild, scattering of nerves now gets batted away.

I have to keep my love for my JOB alive just like the love in my relationship with my husband. I choose to wake up every morning and feel excited about both of them. I got to sleep at night just awash in sweet gratitude for my good fortune. Now, it IS totally easy to slip back into the other realm of existence where I am frustrated, defensive and looking for flaws. The thing is, I started this whole entire business based on bold choices. Bold choices to jump headlong into doing large festivals. The boldness of selling my pieces for what they are worth. The boldness of making costumes for a whole entire living.  It I started out with boldness, and found the joy in the journey along the way, then it makes sense to continue on, fearless, and loving every moment.

As always, thank you deeply for your support. I want you all to know that I choose that same passion and fire for you. I wouldn't sleep on dying air mattresses in the woods for just anyone. Ya'all are special to me. ;)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

I never posted this blog....because it was real dang depressing.

So, when I am so pent up full of negative energy, usually I blast out words into whatever space I have. I get the words out of me onto whatever medium is in front of me, be it a computer, a phone, or a notebook. As such, there is a lot of things that I started out as a blog post, and then could not bring myself to finish, because when I read it, I thought, "This came from a deeply negative place of lack and jealousy and hopelessness, and I DO NOT want to spread more of that out into the world." 

Anyhow, I am pulling this blog post back out, even though it was written back in February. I'm going to soothe my former self by talking to her from a better perspective that I have now. I'm really grateful that I wrote this negative thing, because I honestly hadn't remembered being that...well...pissed off. 

Anyhow, the CURRENT me that is soothing and consoling will all be highlighted in a nice, girly pink color. The original stuff is just left as is. Hopefully this will help any of you who are in a negative, stuck space. 

And so, we begin. 

        Huh.....You know, I'm super grateful for motivational things. I'm a junkie. I have to consume a WHOLE lot of happyhappyjoyjoy type of information to help counter-balance the crazy crap that would otherwise play in  my brain like a power song from the 80s on a never-ending loop. (This week, I have had "We Built this City on Rock and Roll" in my head for about 95% of every day.)

*I must have been an 80's radio DJ in some former life....the only problem  is that I was born in the 80s....so my past life wasn't that far from my current one! ;) 

     All the same...is there some broken part of me that wants to use sarcasm as a deflection shield against too positive of things?  Yes, Michelle. It's a real thing. When you see someone that is on a different level than you, there is that huge gap between where you are currently (which will pass) and where that person "seems" to be in their life. The disparity CAN be used as a tool. You can say "Oh, see that awesome over there? More of that, please? Start focusing on loving, loving, loving, and you can start taking small steps up to where that feeling is that you want!!  I know a woman who is so good looking and flawless that it makes me want to hide in a corner and suck my thumb. Granted, she has worked her rear off for it, blah, blah, blah, and somehow Pinterest decided that I would like to follow her since she was one of my facebook friends, and so I've been getting all of the pins that are her fitness inspirations.  *Well...future Michelle is struggling with this about....50% less. I'm working on being happy for other people in my brain. If I can't be happy for people's successes, how could other people be expected to be happy for my own?   Now, the "fitspo" thing itself is actually really interesting, because apparently it's linked to a plethora of eating disorders and leads you down a dark tunnel of "thinspo". Holy night. I don't have the time, education or mental stamina to even touch this subject. Suffice it to say, you can really jack up your brain looking at photographs.  But....see, that's the thing. Maybe these "sweat hard and ponytails" type of mantras and memes work?? Like....does this beautiful woman I know read one of these and think, "Hecks yeah! I'm going to leap out of my chair and do 500 burpees right now because I'm hot and the harder the pain, the better the gain!!"???
*I've talked to my brother about this since. He is a wonderful inspiration for me, and he has a facebook video he posted this year where he bench-pressed 405 pounds!! Twice!!! He said that every personality works differently with motivation. What totally pumps some up will make others not get out of bed. It's important to follow what works for you and pay attention to how you feel and what you accomplish afterwards! Thanks, Dana, you beautiful bearded man!!

          I hate to say it, but this  up there is probably the reality of how my brain sounds about 75% of the time. *I love you, Michelle from February 2017. I love that you went and found a blob fish to make your own demotivational poster. You are freaking hilarious, and I can see that more and more now!  I have been trying my guts out to change how it sounds, but that voice is  just...um....really loud and persuasive.   *I am just going to step in here and say "Thank GOODNESS I got a coach. I put off getting a business/life coach for years. When I first heard the term, I rolled my eyes and made fun of anyone who would ever get a "life coach". Well....about 6 months in, I'm feeling better than I have in a long, long time. I have doubled my income, I have knocked out 3 huge goals that I've had sitting on my brain for 10 years, and I got them done in the last 3 months....hmm....Anyhow, my amazing, wonderful coach Amy http://divineunlimitedpossibilities.com/index.php/tag/amy-anfinson/  told me that the negative voice "seems" to be louder because I've been listening to it more. It's like if you had only listened to a certain political view for your whole life. When you hear the other side, you are so uncomfortable that you feel rage! It's similar with negative voices. You might be used to them, and when someone says, "You are worthy and you are capable of anything" it might make you want to troll that positive voice on the internet and compare it to Hitler!   Let me  just put in another plug for Amy here. I spent about a year and a half saying "No, I don't need any help. I am doing this all on my own!" while I watched my oldest brother go from making $40,000 a year to $250,000 the next year while he was using her as a coach. Basically, look at any successful person out there, and I can guarantee you, they had a really good mentor. Thanks, Amy!! 

When I hear OTHER people talk like this, I usually throw a fit and tell them how spectacular they are. If my sister is having a day where she feels worthless, the explosion of passion that I feel to the contrary is potent indeed. In my brain, suddenly this voice comes out of nowhere and has all of these sensational, heartfelt, pure-love-buzz things that I want to shout from the mountaintops! "What? Look at you! You're so intelligent, witty, talented, consistent, loyal, warm!! You are so beautiful to me that I cry when I think of you, because I love you SOOO much!"   Yet, that voice just hasn't been good at coming out of the woodwork when I personally need it.   *Once again, it's about whatever "station" you are tuned into. Just because you are sitting there, watching this reality unfold in your brain on one channel DOESN'T mean that there isn't thousands of other channels available and happening at the same time. Just because you're watching "Modern Family" doesn't mean that "Keeping up with the Kardashians" doesn't exist!! (although, that is a beautiful reality, right there....) You can "tune in" to any reality and narration you want. You created and rehearsed this "story" of how your life is, and you can write another story and listen to that!

        That's probably 99% of the reason I just haven't been able to even write in my Damsel in this Dress blog for about the past year. My brain sounded so depressing that I thought, "Oh my heck, there is enough drama and depressing crap on the internet without me adding to it!" What the world needs now....is love, sweet love.

        So, here. Some love. But, by golly, I just look at inspirational stuff like this and want to.....I don't know....troll it on the internet! (that was the worst thing I could think of to do at this hour in the morning.)  *Huh...funny, I mentioned "trolling things on the internet up there as well. I must still be sensitive to it! ;) I look at "before and after" type pictures and roll my eyes. *Which is great. I am literally WRITING a BEFORE & AFTER blog. Nice, Nice.  I read inspirational stories about startups that turned around and sold their company for millions of dollars a couple of years later. All of that stuff seems so static. It's fairy tales. It's stuff that happens to "those" type of people....not to me. *Which is totally great, because you just posted PROUDLY about what fairy tale type of crap happened to  you later this very same year!!  Good job, Michelle!! 

Back to just me. I'm hoping that this back and forth between the past me and the current me has been helpful! This was a real blog post that I found this morning and I had totally forgotten about it! I'm just wanting to PROVE that when you change your thoughts, you change your life. I've always been a little scared to share the fact that I'm really successful with people. I was worried they would want to drag me down. Yeah, I had some people that wanted to drag me down, but guess what's awesome? The "block" person button on facebook.  :D  However, the success has ONLY come because of some major lows and some real freaking dark stuff. I'm so grateful for the contrasts of my life! They make the good times sweeter, better, and more palpable! 

And, one more time. If you need help, get a mentor. Get a coach. Reach UP. Stop reaching down. The answers you need aren't down there. They are up. I love you all. I love my past self. I love my current self. I love my future self. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Grab Bag RULES and Details for 2017!

Okay! It's that time of year again! The MOST wonderful time of the year!! I'm here to give you some details about our Grab Bags this year, so listen carefully, pull up a chair, get yourself a cup of hot cocoa (I'm cutting down on my sugar and I like weird health foody things, so the cocoa that I'm drinking is actually made of reishi mushrooms....yeah.....) and indulge in the details!

Why This Sale Happens!
*Every year we have this sale to clear out specific types of items. When I am producing corsets through the year for my shows, I always try to make sure to have a very good size range, and it's one of the most important things to me to endeavor to fit EVERY lady that walks into my booth. I like to have a booth that is filled with possibilities for every size, and doesn't leave anyone out! Therefore, when I have wonderful success, like I always do, and I sell out a ton of the sizes, I'm left with these lonely pieces. When ladies come in and squeal with delight because they've found the perfect fabric for them, only to find that I have 3 sizes left, and none of them will fit....well...it's not how I want to live my life.

*Additionally, it's good to remember that lots of my time in my days is spent building relationships with fabric suppliers so that I can get better wholesale deals on the raw materials so that I can keep passing on the savings to you. Trust me, I'm not going over to JoAnn and paying retail for my fabrics. These corsets would have to be marked up to about 4 times the price if I had to pay out that much.  However, to get my good prices, I have to tell the supplier that I will buy WHOLE bolts (about $1,200 each for our beautiful chenille upholstery) and I have to tell them that I will also be buying 10 of those bolts at a time. Money talks, people. My suppliers also offer deep discounts if I will buy discontinued fabrics WITHOUT being able to see them first! Gasp, it's sort of like what I'm doing to you with the grab bags!! Anyhow, when we have corsets that are made out of discontinued fabrics, and I obviously can't restock my sizes, they go into these Grab Bags. The great thing is that means they are a lot more rare, special, and unicorn-y!

Black Friday, November 24th, 2017 at 7 AM MST (That is Mountain Time. This will be 9 AM East Coast, 8 AM Central, and 6 AM West Coast)

Cyber Monday, November 27th, 2017 at 7 PM MST (Same time breakdown as above. only in the evening!)

HOW the Levels Work!

*I will try to make this brief. Since we don't only do corsets, we also have other wonderful handmade items in the bags as well! When we are packing, we TRY to make things match, but after we've packaged up 100 boxes, the pickings might start to get sparse. That's why we pack up the most expensive boxes with the most items FIRST, and then when all of the extra skirts, blouses, and other things are gone, we do Level 1 boxes, which only  have the deeply discounted corset.  

*Speaking of "extra items", these are the fun, marvelous things that we make through the year to match with our corsets. This could be blouses, cropped vests, cloaks, hooded vests, ruffle harnesses, tie-on peplum ruffles, bustle skirts, full length skirts, carousel skirts, all the style of skirts, detachable hoods, detachable sleeves, and all manner of wonderous things! This year is our best skirt selection ever. I did something that I've NEVER done, and just took my WHOLE ENTIRE skirt inventory and put them into the boxes, regardless of whether or not they would normally qualify. 

*So, about the Levels.

*Level 1: Corset Only   
UNDERBUST PRICE: $50 + $20 s&h    
OVERBUST: $75 + $20 s&h
You will know if the corset is underbust (goes underneath the breasts) or overbust (goes up over them, more like the fit of a bra). You will know the waist size of the corset (remember, we measure the corsets by pulling THEM tight, like they would be on a human being. I've had people send me pictures where they just laid a measuring tape on the corset to measure it. Well, friends...the corset doesn't just "lay" gently on your body..it's pulled extremely tight and supports! We try to be as accurate as possible!) but you won't know color, style, or any other details. 

*Level 2: Corset + 1 Item
UNDERBUST PRICE: $100 + $25 s&h
OVERBUST PRICE: $125 + $25 s&h
Same info on the corsets as above. This will include one other item. I know that this year's packages have a lot of beautiful, soft, wintery cloaks along with the corsets. Holy NIGHT, I'm generous!!

*Level 3: Corset + 2 Items
UNDERBUST PRICE: $200 + $38 s&h
OVERBUST PRICE: $250 + $38 s&h
Same info on corsets. We try to put the corsets in here the are a little bit more expensive to begin with. I know we have a lot of gorgeous Voyager Corsets (Retail $179-$209) and Over-Archer Corsets (Retail $225 to $250). When my team  is packing these, I tell them to try to add up the math on the items as they are packing and be sure that everything is AT THE VERY LEAST 30% off of everything, but I would say that they are more like HALF OFF. Anyhow, the two other items along with the corset are also probably going to be more pricey pieces. We really do try to be generous with these bags! 

*Level 4: Tailed Corset or Peplum Ruffle Corset. Fancier, Coat-Style Corsets that are the Premier Line of what we produce!
+ 3 Other Items!
***If the coat has matching sleeves, the sleeves count as an item!***
Underbust: $250 + $38 S&H
Overbust: $300  + $38 S&H
These are our Deluxe packages, with the most expensive, most sought-after items in them! They are the ones that are most likely to match, and the bags that are the most likely to cause people to get into online fights.(haha, not really. I've been amazed at how kind and supportive you all have been!). This year, I know that we have a TON of gorgeous Peplum Ruffle Corsets. I'm really excited about these ones! Just the other day, I was packing an overbust coat with a retail price of $459 along with a full length bustle skirt ($129) a blouse ($39) and a pair of bloomers ($49). Holy crap!!

How to Buy:
So, the reason that we switched to posting these items on facebook is because we have broken etsy several times, as well as my own site, when people were all purchasing as the exact same SECOND! With the facebook commenting program, when you comment sold  (with NO capitalization, punctuation, extra comments, or anything!) Soldsie captures those comments in the exact order that they come in. We can see on the back end who comments first. If your facebook is set to see the most "popular" comments first, instead of seeing the comments in the order they come in, you might see your comment at the top and get all excited. Be sure that your facebook is set the proper way!

Here is an example of how it would work. I want a Level 3 Underbust Grab Bag in a size 29. When I see that  exact item pop up on facebook (items are auto-posted every 15 seconds. We don't do this manually!) , I will comment sold  If I have already pre-registered with Soldsie, then I will go to my email that I  used to sign up, and there will be an invoice that I can pay! I pay with either a credit card or paypal, and I gleefully await my wonder package!  If I haven't registered, Soldsie will comment BELOW my sold comment with a registration link. I register, pay, and then I'm on my way!

*You only have 30 Minutes to  pay your invoice! 

*If you don't pay within 30 minutes, it goes to the next person in line that commented after you! Normally, you could "authorize" your funds and be moved to the front of the line, even before people that commented before you. You would be saying "Here's my money, authorized, take it!" However, we had a lot of problems with banks holding funds for a stupid amount of time last year. It wasn't on our end, it was up to the banks, but good glory!

*If you purchase two bags, don't wait to see if you've gotten them both before you pay! It's best if you don't just comment on several things and hope to win one like a lottery. I've had people that just commented on several things because they were worried they wouldn't get even one, but then they ended up with 3 or 4 invoices that they couldn't afford. It generally makes it more difficult for others. Only comment on the things that you are willing to buy.

*No Combined Shipping!  
I have already paid my crew of about 10 people to work every day, all day, for the last two weeks to ONLY do  packaging. We absolutely cannot afford to un-package everything and try to re-combine, re-box, reprint different labels, and keep everything straight. Sorry, guys.

We get one invoice. We get the box. We put the shipping label on the box. We ship it.

*Every package will come with two ribbons, a business card, a cute little button, a sticker, and TWO $20 OFF coupons! Wow, so that's like another $40. Heck yes!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Grow a Pear

Saturday mornings should have been classically glorious when I was younger, but the second it started getting to be springtime, my parents would designate Saturday mornings for yard cleaning. I can hardly blame them. I mean, I only have four kids and they completely wreck my house in a matter of minutes! Having eight kids, like my parents did? Yeah...I would make them freaking clean. Anyhow, we lived on a huge farm, as I have mentioned several times. Our yard probably covered about an acre or so, which is real dang huge, and we were all sent out to make an attempt at cleaning. 

Southwest Missouri is wild and unkempt. Things flourish when you don't want them and they die and wither when you do want them. For instance, we had masses of blackberry briar patches that would scare the pants off of Brer Rabbit. Wait..was he wearing pants? Anyhow, our whole land was filled with strange plants that just blasted from the earth and refused to be chopped down, rooted up, or burned with fire. One morning, in particular, we were burning things. Obviously, this wasn't a bad job for us to do. I mean, destroy on purpose? Check me in. 

We were supposed to be doing our burning chores, but my younger sister suddenly got distracted. "Look!", she yelled, pointing upwards to the heavens. There, at the very top of our pear tree was one single, shimmering pear. Well, "shimmering" is not a fair adjective. This pair tree was jacked. None of use knew what to do with fruit trees, and we didn't quite have a trusting relationship with this tree in particular. It grew pears that my sister lovingly named "Leprosy Pears".  The skin on them was mottled, thick, and a hideous brownish green. Not unlike the Orcs from "Lord of the Rings." I'm serious. They were an atrocity. The irony is that they were some of the best pears I had ever tasted. Sweet, but not overly so. Hardened and crispy to the point that we could have used them to prop up dead cars instead of the cinder blocks that were currently assisting us. (Cliche, right?). I honestly liked these horrible, weird pears. Then again, that should come as no surprise to any of you who know me. You might look at some of my personal costumes and think, "Oh my gosh, she got her inspiration from the Leprosy Pears!" 

So, here was this one pear. Fruit trees are strange in the fact that some years, the bumper crop is so profuse that you could solve world hunger if you could just transport the dang harvest, but then the next year the tree will produce only a few measly little offerings. (Honestly, perhaps I should learn from nature here. Sometimes, you push hard and produce. Sometimes, you take a break and don't impress anyone. ;) ) My sister, my brother, and I KNEW we had to get to this pear. There was no way that we could climb this treacherous tree, because the unpruned branches got more and more spindly and sparse as they traveled up to the top, where the pear was. We decided to just start throwing things to knock it down. Whoever felled it to the earth would gain victory over the Leprosy Pear and get to feast on its vessel!

The only problem is that the pear would not come down. The only other problem was that we weren't doing our burning chores. The only other, more different problem was that my Dad was overseeing the burning, and his kids were no where to be found. 

Okay, so if you've ever watched "Parks & Recreation", then you have a good idea of who Dad is. He's sort of Ron Swanson with even less patience for stupidity. Everyone else thinks that they know a guy who is a hard worker. Your hard worker cannot beat my Dad. Sorry, I know I sound like a kindergartener here, but I'm right. He sacrificed every single day of his life for his huge family. He knows how to do everything! He is the best finish carpenter in the history of history. He's worked on mansions worth millions of dollars. He's put all sorts of fancy carved columns in all sorts of fancy places. He has built two different houses for my family from the ground up. He only speaks wise words. He doesn't fill up conversations with useless niceties. And, holy hell, he does NOT tolerate people goofing off when they are supposed to be doing their burning chores!!!

I think I had just thrown a shovel up into the air hoping to hit the pear. True story. Then, I heard some twigs snapping and the sound of footsteps. My blood ran cold as my I turned slowly to behold the dark shape of my father walking out of the mists of smoke. All of us kids just stood there in terror, rooted in place and trembling at the amount of "not work" that we had accomplished. I just knew I was going to get in serious trouble. 

My dad silently tromped forward, stopped next to us, bent down, picked up a faded red plastic Fisher Price wheelbarrow, flung it heavenward, and knocked. the. pear. down. First try. He stooped down, picked it up, and handed it to us. 

Oh my gosh. What just happened? We didn't get our "butts whupped" (that's how you do it in Southwest Missouri). We didn't get in trouble. I honestly just remember us all quietly going in and eating lunch. Also the Leprosy Pear. 

I still think of this story all the time when I feel overworked, overwhelmed, and underappreciated. When I remind myself to "stop and smell the roses", I oftentimes snicker to myself and say, "Michelle, just stop and knock down the pear." 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Pop Your Balloon

Corsets in all their glory! Now on the website!!
The hottest boy in my fourth grade class was named Eb Scroggins. I know, right? What's more is that his brother was named Obe, and his brother's BEST FRIEND was named Zeb Sturgeon. Holy night! You can't make this stuff up. So, Eb had a sweet early-90's buzz cut, a surprisingly strong jawline for his age, and freaking dimples. Yup, all the girls were in love. In particular was the most popular girl in the class (It's so nice that the popular kids always end up in love....right? I mean, in the movies, the popular kid goes bravely outside their circle to befriend a loner....a strange, quirky, witty delight that ends up.....having to change themselves to become another one of the crowd. Huh. That's depressing. Phew, back to the story!) named Jessica Tatum. It's always a Jessica, isn't it? (sorry to the GOOD Jessicas out in the world! I know and cherish a few of you....but your name has been soiled.)

The coolest kids in the class formed a soccer group at recess, and it was super elite. Like, we're talking Skull & Crossbones Society type of crap here. I certainly wasn't part of the group, but my friend Brenda had managed her way in, which is where this story comes from. You see, all the girls in class were all sorts of jealous of Jessica Tatum, because she had blond highlighted hair and it managed to never lose it's perfectly curled 90s glory. She also had..um..."bloomed" rather early, and as all of us women with breasts know, you can't stand it when you don't have them, and then when you have them, you complain about them..?? (My deepest gratitude goes out to the few of my customers who have just been  happy with their breast size. Way to go! And no need to launch into an attack about how the too big of breasts hurt your back. I know that, gals. I have heard everything and anything about breasts over the years of doing corsets. ;) Trust me, gratitude takes you miles further than disappointment and complaining.)

Anyhow, Jessica and Eb were "going out" together, which I believe means to literally "look at each other and giggle sometimes, pass maybe 5-6 notes a week, and hang out within around 20 feet of each other at recess." They were always down on the soccer field of elitism, looking cool, and doing whatever cool kids do. One day, they were in a particularly aggressive game, and Eb had to leap in and push someone out of the way to get to the ball. That someone was wearing a white shirt. That someone suddenly had an inexplicable and sudden splat of brown goo leaking out of that white shirt right up in the chest area. That someone was Jessica Tatum. 

Apparently, Jessica had been stuffing her little training bra with water balloons filled with chocolate pudding! I mean, I'm not sure if it was always chocolate..maybe sometimes it was vanilla, but holy FREAK, pudding!!!!! Part of me looks back and admires the creativity, and part of me wonders what was wrong with basic wadded up toilet paper. Yeah, so Jessica ran off the field very quickly and her mother came to pick her up. 

We didn't see her for another week. I'm not sure what was going on in her little brain. Honestly, I've never understood the brains of the girls who just naturally have that "certain something" and attract all people to them like sugary drinks attract insects. Like..if you got inside their brain, do they actually, on some level, BELIEVE, "Yeah, all boys like me. Girls like me and are jealous of me. Everyone wants to be with me."  Or is it like the narration in my own brain, which..uh....certainly doesn't sound like that?

The crazy part is that she still came back to school with head held high, no one ever talked about it again (except here on my blog.......and no, I didn't change the names to protect the innocent. The names were too perfect. Sorry, guys!), AND she still had perky, early blossomed breasts. Holy cow! It was a Martha Stewart level comeback!! 

I've always took this story and used it as an illustration in my life to show me two things. Number One, you can handle a LOT more than you think. Number Two, all of us are probably doing a little bit of...um..pudding balloon stuffing. All of us want to be the first, be the best, be admired, get noticed, feel special. All of us have vastly different, and sometimes destructive methods, but we all are filling our balloons with SOME level of pudding and stuffing them somewhere in our lives....and maybe that's okay. Maybe it's a "fake it til you make it" type of deal. Maybe it's that we are just displaying something decorative on the outside that we KNOW is on the inside and will eventually find its way out into reality. 

Just watch out on the soccer field. Don't let anyone pop that balloon.