Dear lovely Tribe of marvellous friends,
It has been quite a time for us all, my goodness what a time. I hope you are safe and well.
I have been sitting in the garden with a cuppa having a think about the next few months after the announcement on help for self employed and the restrictions and such.
Whilst I don't have any income at all apart from this little world in the shed, many of you were so lovely and bought books or commissions to help me along and I'm so very grateful for that. Thank you.
I will hopefully be getting a little bit of help from the government in June we are told, not enough to live on, but something (and for that I am grateful as I know many are not getting any help at all) but I will need to keep working too.
I am in a quandary of keeping safe and healthy and not risking others and needing to pay my bills and eat but I think I have found a way, a little bit scary but courage is something I know I can find...
I am really tired and struggling to keep up with things just now. I need some space and peace in my mind. I am making so so slowly too. I have been talking to other creatives and most feel exhausted, unable to make or write. This crisis affects our hearts I think. All of us. It is like a grief and very tiring. So I want us all to be gentle on ourselves. Go easy, doing nothing is fine. Lower your standards. I found this blog by my friend Vivien Ray helpful to explain a little how I and many are feeling. We are being encouraged to do all these things while at home, that blimmin go getting attitude I can't stand. If you just need to sit in your garden, then do. Use it to listen to the birds and your heart and go gently with yourself. It is ok. These are extraordinary times and anxiety is exhausting (so is trying to spell it ha) so be gentle with yourself and others. We are all a bit scared just now and edges are frayed. Be kind.
So for once in my life I am going to practice what I preach and be kind to myself. I feel I am constantly reacting at the moment. I found myself anxious and stressed and tight chested and shouting shut up at my phone when it pinged again and that's not good, so time to take care.
I am getting increasingly nervous about going to the post office in town too often, so I have decided to temporarily close my website shop except for books and cards and small things like badges that are ready made and I can post in a letter box so I don't have to go into town and queue in the post office.
I am guessing it will be closed for about a month. We shall see.
I am also hoping to make up some letter sized Bertram teddy kits. One of my friends has one as an emergency bear in her pocket for when someone needs a hug. I thought you could you either send a kit so they get the joy of making it too or get ityourself and stitch some love into it before you send it off. Bear hugs in the post. Perfect for children with the book too, but this will be a stand alone and a bit cheaper I hope if I can get more nice felt cheap enough.
I have not had a proper break since I started this business and I think I need to have a break, so I am going to take a week to have a proper rest. Do my garden a bit, paint the shed, and rest. I have a book to read and if the sun shines I'd like to sit outside my shed and do nothing. I think it is what is known as a holiday normally and I don't usually have those. It isn't really a holiday with all that is going on but it will be a rest.
I also have become an aunt! I have a niece to make a welcome to the world present for, and while I can't see her, I can send her a gift and write her letters.
I am having a break from social media for a few days too but I will still post on my facebook page because I know that is important to many of you. I got my new ipad yesterday so can start doing films again too. Hurrah!
After my week's rest I am going to make all the orders that are waiting and huge thanks to those who are patiently waiting. I do appreciate it.
Then I want to redo my website. I have a plan to do monthly membership payment options and I've found a website provider that does that as well as gift vouchers. It will mean starting from scratch but I rather like that idea. I was going to do it in a few months time but it makes sense to do it now.
Oh and I also have a new book that will hopefully be published this Winter! That needs writing and the photos taking too. So I will work on my book.
When I've done that, (blimey it is getting busy eh?) I want to sit and make some new creatures, a new collection, new fresh work for you to buy, I wanted to do a virtual Wisley for when it was on, but I've not managed to make much for it yet due to all this so I'll need some creatures ready for that... and I'll reopen the shop maybe even with my new website if I get it done and my new things. How marvellous eh?
A lot of you have suggested I put a donation button on my website, or kofi or such. I don't like asking for donations when so many are struggling so I'm not going to do it. I think I can manage just fine with some juggling. If you really would like to do something, then can I suggest you buy a book? That way, I get some book sales, but so does my lovely tiny publishers who need to survive this too so I can write more books! It also helps the person you give it to. Lots of help! If you don't know of anyone, I can send to someone on your behalf. Secret kindnesses. I can also use the book money to help others too if I can because...
I also want to do a few things to help others too. I feel lucky to get a bit of help from the government I hope, when it comes in June so what I thought was if I earn enough to cover my bills, I can use the rest to help others. I'd like to make some copper moons and boats and maybe pompom animals if I can make them small enough for a letter box. Small things I can send out as gifts in envelopes to cheer those that are struggling. We've always had the pay it forward scheme, it was a little empty but a very kind lady added a generous donation yesterday and I'm going to just do a bit more myself too. If I earn more, then I'll make more to give away too.
So if you know of someone who is struggling, a bit lonely or whatever that would appreciate a little gift in the post, or a card, then send me a note of if you'd like a pompom animal or a copper moon or a surprise or card or whatever and their name and address on the contact form on my website. I can't promise to send all of them a gift if there are lots, but I will every so often spend a morning making moons or something and send them out. I find making pompoms calming for me so it is a good thing to do in many ways.
Kindness is needed now and I can't give money to those that need it, but I can give small copper moons and pom pom bears or such. I can give some love and kindness.
My lovely friend Jackie Morris has bought some more of my books for me to give to any families struggling. If you'd like a book sent to you or a friend, again just fill in the contact form with a name and address and tell me if you have a preference for which of the 2 books and I'll send it off. till they have run out. I have some copies of Paper boat for Panda and Bertram Likes to Sew to send. If others buy books I can send some of those on too.
I'll post on my facebook page and Instagram things to help you smile and keep us going in these strange times. I won't be looking at messages so much and I won't be replying to comments so much either as I need a rest and that can take up half my day. I hope you understand and I know you'll all support each other too.
I am looking forward to getting things sorted and done and new things ready.
I am trying to find ways to support friends and fellow makers too. My favourite quote is if you only have two pennies in the world, buy a loaf of bread and a rose. If you only have one penny, buy a rose. We need sustenance but we also need beauty.
Do buy a little bit of beauty if you have money to spare. Buy a book from your favourite author if they sell themselves, or Graffeg or one of the local indie bookshops that are trying to sell online while their shops are shut, don't use Amazon. Buy from craftspeople, musicians, authors, local shops where you can. Do an online yoga class. If I manage to earn enough after this month's break then I'm going to buy from other makers to support them too. The only thing we know to do is create, so commissioning your favourite artist is a great thing, especially if you ask for it to be ready for Christmas, but pay now. They get the distraction of work but help when needed. This is a time for us all to look out for and help each other. We can all do what we can. If you are struggling, then I send you a big hug and a virtual hand hold as we walk this wobbly unknown path.
Despite the worries, I am excited about having a moment to make some new work and a rest too, I know it will help my creativity massively.
I know a lot of you are struggling financially too so it makes sense to do it now and that also takes the pressure off you being tempted by small creatures ha.
If you have a birthday or something coming in the next month or two and were hoping for a commission for it, do email me and we'll see what we can sort. I can't sit still so I will still be making, I just need to control a little what I sell and what I post and some of my materials are getting hard to get too.
Please keep safe and look after yourselves and be kind to yourself and others and thank you so very much for your wonderful kind support. I'll be here posting films and photos as long as I stay well!
Wow that was worthy of a Sunday Ramble, if you got this far, Bernard the ever faithful facebook St Bernard will rescue you with drinks and snacks from a safe distance and take you back to the top of the blog.
Much love to you all