It is so exciting, the other day I made my 3rd sale on Etsy. That is a one sale a month average. Hardly an exciting start, as 1 sale a month is far from a living wage or even enough to buy a pizza. Depending on any discounts and cost of ads, it might barely be enough to buy a small pint of on sale ice cream, yet for me it is a huge deal as it gives me a minute taste of success and gives me hope that someday I might be able to make my dream a reality.
How long it will take for my shop to become a success, if it ever does, is uncertain. Like the Etsy and self-publishing experts warn, if you want to build a business that will last, you have to be in it for the long haul. You have to go in with the mind set that this is going to be a long term investment of your time. Otherwise you will be tempted to take short cuts that will hurt your reputation or even shut down your business.
You have to go in with the understanding that, especially if like me, you do not have a large media presence and a host of family and friends ready and waiting to buy your books or your latest Etsy creation, it is highly unlikely that your shop is going to start with a bang.
Like the tortoise in the story of the tortoise and the hare, if you want to have any hope of winning the race, you have to ignore the fact that you are not blessed to be one of the lucky few who can race out of the gate and within a few days be selling hundreds of dollars worth of goods. Like the tortoise you just have to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other, knowing that it will be days, weeks, months, and even years before you have a flourishing shop.
Instead of focusing on how far you have to go, you have to take aim at the first goal, then the second, the third, and so on. Knowing that even though it does not appear like much today, like a puzzle, you are creating the frame work that will one day fill into a beautiful picture that you can be proud of.
Sure there are going to be a lot of days where you feel discouraged because it seems like nothing you do moves the cart in the direction that you want to go. That no matter how much time and effort you make, success refuses to acknowledge you. Sadly, while you dream of making a thousand sales in a month, you might for a time have to celebrate that solitary monthly sale.
But hopefully with a lot of prayerful work and persistence, the day will come when one sale turns into two, then three, four, a dozen, and eventually one glorious day enough to pay your bills and enjoy the life of your dream.
If you would like to check out this fun collection of word games, mazes, and more, click here.
A few months ago I wrote a warning article on my Make Time For Happy blog, a fun blog inspired by my little pup, about the dangers of letting your dogs outside without keeping a close watch after a hawk or an owl came within feet of my back door. If it had happened when we first moved in 14 years ago, I could have understood. As very few of the lots in our neighborhood had been built and it felt like we were in the middle of the country. But now ever lot has been built on, and areas that were once nothing but trees have been cleared and transformed into neighborhoods and more and more it feels like we have been swallowed up by the city. So you would think that it would be safe to open the door and let our little dog spend some time roam his fenced in backyard.
For the first few years we had Happy, we often did that. But every once and a while we would notice the shadow of a hawk passing over heard and heard the birds madly screaming as the mocking bird or black birds gave vigorous chase. Oddly, as the houses sprang up around us, we were surprised one day to look out our window and see a hawk sitting on our fence. For a few days after we decided that it was better to be safe than sorry, and accompany Happy as he ran and played. When, after a few days, there was no sign of the hawk, we figured all was safe and we let Happy out as normal.
On and off for a few years, there would be a pattern of the occasional visit by the hawk for a few days each year, and then an all clear for the rest of the year. At first it seemed like there was nothing to worry about as the hawk would only relax on our fence for a few minutes here and there for a few days, and take off at the slightest peep. For those few minutes we were able to enjoy the priviliage of beholding this breathtaking predator from our family room window.
Then one year, there was a somewhat worrisome change, yet it took time for us to recognize how unnerving it was. After years of making the occasional visit and taking off, we noticed that instead of taking off the moment that we opened the sliding glass door, it would linger and let us admire it from the safety of the porch. Our hearts thrilled with amazement as we stood on the porch and enjoyed this rare view. As soon as I had the chance I got out my camera and snapped a couple of pictures, thinking how lucky I was to be granted this rare priviliage.
Then one day I tried opening my porch door and take a few steps outside so I could get a better picture. And to my surprise, the hawk stayed and let me take a few picture.
And after a couple of days take a few steps in its direction and take an even better picture.
It would seem that alarm bells should be going off at this point that this wild bird felt comfortable enough to let us open the screen door and get within 50 feet of it and then calmly turn its head and let us take its picture. Overcome with the excitement at being so close, it never occurred to us that this wild bird was slowly losing its fear of us, and that this could put our dog in danger.
Some days are definitely harder than others, and today has definitely been one of those days. Today has been a frustrating day full of interruptions and delay. Task that should have taken 5 minutes were turned into an hour plus exercise in misery as every time I started someone would come and ask a question or needed me to hear something important. On top of that, it seemed that every program was eager to reveal their peculiar quirks, crash, or somehow erase portions of the work I had struggle to complete.
Irritating and pain inducing struggle that it was, I had brushed most of it off as the unwanted misery of one of those trying days when it everything goes wrong and you wish that you could just stay in bed until today turns into tomorrow. Tired and worn, I have learned to take a deep breath and remind myself that this too shall pass, and take an extra long break to recuperate.
All would have passed with only minor notice, if it had not been for an unexpected disappointment. For weeks I have planned to get a brand new math sheet creating program that was scheduled to come out tomorrow. For days I have watched every video that I could, and planned what I would do when I got it.
That was until tonight, when less than 14 hours before its release, the breaks were slammed shut because my mother feels the price is to high. Suddenly, without any warning, hours of waiting and planning went up in a puff of smoke.. In that second my heart sunk and discouragement took hold.
It reminded me how much has changed since my father died. If he was alive the price of the program would not have been an issue. As my eager cheerleader he would have helped me pour over the different bonus packages to help me chose the right one.
It is not that money was not an issue while he was alive. As long as I can remember money has always been tight. As much as my father would have loved to give me a blank check and let me get whatever I wanted, he had to settle for long talks to help us pick and chose which items were the most important and which we might desire but must pass on for now.
But things were just better enough, that there would have been no question about whether or not we were going to get this program. After a few minutes of seeing what this program could do, the question would have been settled, it might mean waiting on other things for my little business for a few months, but he would have said it was a deal too good to pass up.
Even then, some of the heartache of missing my father and the way things were before he died might have been avoided, if it were not for the fact that all of this is a stark reminder of how my life and business have stood still. ears of fighting to go to school, years of struggling to make books, and I am still in the same place as day one. A lifetime of struggling and doing without, giving up holidays and summer vacation to study, staying up till midnight to do homework, getting up at 4am to get ready for school, some semesters enduring 12 hours without food because I could not afford to go to taco bell and get a burrito, at times having to go to class in a wheelchair, pushing myself to the point that tears were running down my checks with each step because I was ignoring the symptoms of a massive infection, enduring long hours in class with an undiagnosed and untreated migraine, for what?
Even now, after school my dream of going to school and becoming a doctor, then settling to try and become a nurse practitioner, and for now even getting a bachelor degree has been demolished, I have pushed myself to the point that every bone in body hurt. Where my nerves were so raw that it felt like someone was scratching their nails down a chalkboard or putting bare wire in water, and even worse, triggering hours of intense nausea that kept me from eating or functioning until it passed.
Why, in hopes that this puzzle book, that poetry video, blog, notebook, or activity pack would be the one to take off and earn more than a buck or two here and there. That at last, my dedication and perseverance, my willingness to work until my body said no more, would at last be rewarded. And success, even a little droplet of success, would finally come my way. And finally the pain of having to spend a lifetime on the sidelines watching my family, my neighbors, my classmates, and you tubers get their dream job, graduate from school, some become doctors, get engaged, married, have kids, buy their dream home, and live the life that will never be mine, wash away.
In that one crushing moment I felt that bitter weight of failure. That agony of knowing that no matter what I do, no matter how hard I struggle, I will never know the thrill of success or the joy of being a part of life. For good or for bad, for some reason all of my best efforts have ended up in a sea of tears that could not be kept in a hundred bottles for their multitude.
It has taken a lot of effort, but most days I am able to bury the pain of missing out on life’s dearest mile markers. It is not easy, but most of the time I can put on a brave enough face to convince those who long to be convinced that I am content not to marry and have kids, that I am satisfied to be forgotten as I sit on the sideline and watch the world go by.
Thankfully, the effort to make my books and humble little videos, keeps just the tiniest enough sliver of hope alive, that most days I can ignore the deep ache in my heart. Over and over I tell myself today will be the day, and if not, surely tomorrow will be the one. Perhaps this book will the book that will change the course of my life and allow me to enjoy the pleasure of earning my own living.
But tonight, when yet another hope crumbled into a billion particles of dust, I had to admit defeat. In spite of all my pushing myself to the point of being bedridden, the multitude of missed meals and hours of sleep, and countless other little and major sacrifices so that I might finally hold up my head instead of always having to hold out my hand, I have gotten nowhere. In a cruel twist of fate, the classrooms full of students who barely made an effort, have enjoyed the thrill of victory, have known the joys and frustrations of work, love, and family, while I, the one who gave every ounce of her feeble strength, have only tasted failure and disappointment. And all my hard work and dedication has only netted my aches, pains, infections, migraines, emergency room visits, loneliness, tears, broken dreams, and more.
Will I rise or will I fall? Will the day ever come when my hard work will translate into something greater than an empty dream, unfilled longings, and a quietly broken heart? Will I ever know the joy of finding true love, of earning my own wage, or at least being able to earn enough that every once and a while I can have the pride of being able to say, it may seem expensive to you, but its my money and I think its worth it? I do not know. But it sure seems like on this earth, success will never be mine no matter how hard I try.
The only thing that I can do is give my broken dreams to God and ask Him to dry the tears of my heart and give me the strength to get up tomorrow and keep on fighting until there is no more time to fight. And trust that one day He will keep His promise to swallow up the years that the locust have eaten up, and exchange all my tears for shouts of joy and happiness.
Initially I had plans to write about some of the difficulties of starting an Etsy shop when you are basically housebound. That was until my uncle called and said that he was coming to deliver some stuff to our house this afternoon. Even though he was in the middle of emptying my grandmother’s apartment due to her recent death, the fact that he was making the near 3 hour round trip out of the blue struck me as odd. Due to another potential reaction to the super safe iron for pregnant women, my appointment for Monday’s iron infusion had been delayed for another week. And since he and my aunt had made the long trip to our house Sunday to deliver a bunch of furniture, this sudden, unexpected delivery caught my attention, and I could not help but think that God was sending him to our house for a bigger reason.
For the next two hours, except for the fact that both my mother and I felt miserable, things went smoothly, and it seemed that my initial instincts were unfounded. That was until I remembered that the day before we had missed a call from the hospital nurse to see how my mother was doing after her four or five day stay in the hospital almost a week ago due to extremely high blood pressure and chest pain. I did not think too much of the call, and decided that despite the pain I was in, I had better clean as many of the dishes before my uncle arrived, until my sister came rushing over with the phone and insisted that I needed to talk to the hospital nurse.
Happy Sabbath everyone. I hope that everyone is enjoying a wonderful Sabbath day. I know that for me and my family it is going to be rather tough since it has only been a few days since my grandmother died. She fell asleep in Jesus a few days ago, on my Mother’s birthday. It was a mixed blessing as it is never easy to lose someone you love and even harder on a special occasion like your birthday. But it was a blessing because my Grandmother was suffering. She was 101 years old, blind, and a few weeks earlier had had a stroke that made communicating very difficult for her.
While it is never easy to say goodbye to a loved one even for a few hours, deep down we all know that the Lord did the wise and compassionate thing in letting her fall asleep until He comes again. And from the signs in the sky, in politics, nature, and at every turn, we have good reason to trust that our separation will not be long.
Ironically, I started creating the Bible games and quiz videos because of my grandmother. I had been creating Sudoku, activity books, and notebooks to sell on KDP for a little over a year and I was seeking a way to honor God with my new skills when one day my mother told me how frustrated she was that she was unable to read her Bible because she could not see and she was starting to forget some of the verses.
I felt so bad for her and wondered what could be done to help her. After a bit of reflection and prayer the Lord brought to my mind a new program that he had sent my way that turned text of multiple languages into speech. I was looking forward to showing her the videos I was making and had had just released the first few videos when her health began to rapidly decline. Sadly I was never able to show or tell her about the videos I had made to try and help her remember God’s word.
I wish I knew why my wish of helping my grandmother study and remember the word of God was not allowed to happen. But even though that wish cannot come true, it would be my greatest joy if even in a small way, these videos can prove a blessing to you and your family, and help you draw closer to God, and in some way help you to build a foundation for eternity.
Finally, after 5 delays due to my mother being hospitalized, my Grandmother having a stroke, allergies, and other chaos, I was able to get my 2nd iron infusion yesterday. I can hardly move today, but it feels so good to have some iron as it make breathing so much more comfortable.
Well the moment I finished that video everything went absolutely crazy. My mother’s blood pressure started rising like an airplane, their were issues with the bathroom, and phone calls galore. And to my dismay issues with uploading my file, turns out my files had to be 20mb or less. In the middle of the chaos, while on step 3 of creating my shop, I did something, who knows what, that locked up my account and got it suspended.
And as an added bonus, after months of slow but steady prep work, I was finally able to open an Etsy shop. Opening an Etsy store was an idea that was recommended by several leading KDP low content You Tube channels as an easy way to diversify. After all, low content creators already have the content used to create their coloring and activity books. With a little mixing, matching, and tweaking, they can easily create digital download activity packs and coloring pages to sell on Etsy.
After several months of utilizing what little energy I had to create a few activity packs, after a bit of prayer I decided that it was time to open my storm. The first few minutes went by smoothly, and I decided to follow the recommendation and create a little video that I could post to Etsy and add a little sound and put on You Tube to show off my new package, On the Go Bible Games and Coloring Pages Printable Bundle.
Good news, hopefully anemia will not be controlling my day much longer! I am scheduled to get my first infusion this Thursday. Which is great, because even with the occasional iron pill and daily drinking of the prune, Rasin, grape, and date drink, my hemoglobin is quickly dropping, and it is becoming harder to do even simple task like eating without becoming short of breath. My iron is getting so low that even though I am spending a few minutes in the sun nearly every day to get some natural vitamin D, I am becoming as pale as a ghost.
I am still not a fan of spending most of my day hooked up to an IV, but at this point it is an answer to prayer. It will be so nice to be able to do simple things like stand up and walk down the hallway or get something out of the microwave without becoming winded. While there are many big things, I want to do like complete 5 minutes of exercise on my total gym without gasping for breath or spending ten or fifteen minutes a day completing my next poetry or story book, it is the simple things of life that I am looking forward to.
Each time my iron drops so low, I am reminded how easily we forget the many little gifts that God has granted us. The ability to eat without feeling like you are going to suffocate, to bend down without fearing that your breath will be completely taken away, or comfortably walk a few feet without hyperventilating are all too often taken for granted. Too often we spend our lives chasing the big gifts, and think ourselves ill-used and believe that our prayers have been ignored because we do not receive the big bonus that we deserved, the funds to take our dream vacation, get a promotion, or some other desire of our heart.
Hurray, after more than a month since I got my lab results back showing that my iron saturation had dropped to a 4 (the low end of normal is 15), I finally have an appointment with the hematologist. I wish that I could say that I was looking forward to getting an iron infusion. But while I appreciate the temporary increase in physical and mental energy an iron infusion brings, I am not a fan of having to spend 6-8 hours getting an infusion, and the uncertainty of how I will react. To make matters more difficult, this will be the first time that I have to get an infusion without the companionship and protecting watch of my father.
But even though I do not like getting an iron infusion, my stomach cannot tolerate taking iron pills for more than a few days at a time. After a few days it makes my chronic nausea so strong that I dread meal time to the point that I at times I am delaying and even skipping meals. To alleviate the nausea I have to stop taking the nausea causing my iron levels to sea saw up and down, and slowly causing my iron stores and iron saturation to drop to a point that I can barely lift my head off the sofa and where some days even a few steps leaves me gasping for air.
Fortunately, while I have been waiting for my referral to reach the the hematologist, I found a couple of natural ways to help me get enough iron to help me do one or two task and breath a bit more comfortably. One natural remedy is to drink a bit of beet juice mixed with another juice like grape or apple juice. Mixing it with another juice is important as on its own, probably due in part to its strong flavor, it can be hard to keep down. But mixed and diluted by another juice like apple or grape it become more tolerable.
It was so exciting, our dream of moving to the country seemed like it was going to come true. My parents had brought three beautiful acres in the country, and it would not be long before we left the city life for the peace and quiet of the country. My father was so excited that he every time we visited the he would pull down a few of the thin trees that would easily give way.
He even went to the store and purchased a chain saw so he could cut down and clear the land.
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For the past few weeks, I have repeatedly sat down and tried to make a post. But even though my head is full of ideas, as soon as I sit down in front of my computer, the words seem to evaporate, and I quickly find myself mindlessly scrolling through articles I have no intention of reading, doing my best to avoid the painful memories of my first year without my head cheerleader, sounding board, and father.
He was the first one that I went to after hearing about self-publishing and when I decided that I would like to start my own You Tube Channel. When I was ready to start running Amazon Ads, he was the one who helped me with the funds. Whenever it came to major purchases or decisions on what step I should take next, it was his patient ear that I turned to. Without him I felt like a ship without a rudder struggling to weather the storm.
Over and over I felt the pang of loss as I faced a tough decision and turned to look for advice only to be greeted by his empty chair. When a bit of good news such as having 5 books sell in one day or like today when my Poetry Channel finally reached the 200-subscriber mark brought a smile to my face, how fast it faded as I realized that he was not going to be there to share in my simple joy.
Life had already brought enough lonely tears as I watched the mile markers of life pass me by. Locked away by endless days of pain and seemingly forgotten by the world at least I could count on the support of my family. And now that one support, that one precious gift that I had been blessed with, was being taken from me. Love, career, success, friendship, the satisfaction of earning my daily bread, the joy of having my own home, children, independence, and all the pleasures of adulthood had been denied me. Like a time capsule buried in the sand I had watched the years go by, yet my life had remained unchanged. I ate, I dressed, did what I could to maintain my sliver of health, put on a cheerful face, and waited for my chance to become a part of life as I had since childhood. Only now there was one less voice to celebrate the few successes and encourage me when life rained down its many disappointments.