Wednesday, 21 October 2015

New Shop, New Blog!

I've been working hard for the past couple of weeks to get my Etsy shop going. You wouldn't believe how full each day of my planner is with to-do lists and tasks I've accomplished! I'm quite proud of myself actually, for getting as far as I have in such a short time, especially considering Eunice has her own time table that I have no choice but to follow. For example, this afternoon at 5:00, Eunice told me that I needed a nap. I told Eunice, it was 5:00 and if I napped, I will be up until the middle of the night. Eunice told me she didn't care and put me to bed. Two hours later, I woke up. And sure enough, it's nearly midnight and I'm wide awake, working.

Anywhoozles. That's how it is now living with Eunice the Fibro-Monster. And I'm going to succeed despite it. So with that.... I'd like to introduce you to... my new blog!

Some of you may have observed a discrepancy...  isn't your Etsy shop called Dawna's Sticky Business?  Well, yes indeedy, that is the name I used when I started the shop.  I decided to change the name.  Why would I do that before I even get off the ground?  You see, Etsy doesn't allow spaces in the names of the shops.  A good friend pointed out to me that DawnasStickyBusiness could be misread by people (I'll save you the trouble of trying to figure it out:  Dawn Ass Ticky Business).  Now I don't know what Ass Ticking is or if it is even a "thing", but I certainly don't want people looking at my business name and getting the wrong idea.  I kind of like Stick With Dawna better anyway.  It seems like it's less about me, and more about you wanting to return to my business.  :)

As I build stock and inventory, I plan to post regularly with photos, maybe I'll write some fun little articles about crafts or something, and I may end up expanding StickWithDawna from sticky items to some of my other artistic endeavours like my paintings, my scrapbooks and my digi-kits.  That's all in the future at the moment because of course, a small business needs to concentrate on getting up and running first and worry about expansions later!

Check out my shop tomorrow.  I have a few new items to list tomorrow morning and they should be in the shop before noon (Central time).  

Subscribe to my new blog so you can keep up with my activity. It's the circle of life:  as one part of you grows, other parts of you get left behind.  I'm not saying that I'll ever leave True North Scraps because that is a permanent part of me, but TNS is going to be sitting on the bench for a while.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

My big news!

If you have read the last couple of blog posts I've made, you know that Life has kicked me in the teeth more than a couple of times in the past few months.  However, I am not a person to lay down and take it.  I have been fighting back.  Lots of doctors appointments and physiotherapy appointments have been improving me physically.

I needed to do something positive and uplifting to help my mental health improve too.  Let's face it, you get a bunch of terrible things happening in your life and you start feeling sorry for yourself.  Even the most optimistic person in the world has to feel blue once in a while.  So I took it upon myself to do something I've been wanting to do for years, but never had the courage to try.  I decided the time was right to open an Etsy shop!  Introducing...

This is brand new.  I haven't even been open 24 hours yet!  So far, I have only 12 listings, but that number will grow quickly.  I am currently selling stickers for planners and calendars.  I plan to expand a bit and who knows, maybe even a few TNS kits might make their way into the shop after a while.  Right now, I have to concentrate my efforts on stickers though, but my down-the-road goals are expansion.  Let me know if you want to see TNS kits on Etsy, and if you do, which ones?

How about stickers?  Are you a person who likes to decorate their planner or calendar?  Do you want to see practical stickers, like reminders to clean the toilet or take out the trash?  Do you want decorative sets so you can decorate your planner by weekly themes like falling leaves or snowmen?  Please, let me know what YOU want to see!

I plan to set up a new blog for Dawna's Sticky Business and once I get it running, I'd sure appreciate it if you'd subscribe to it.  I'll keep you updated.

As always, thanks for reading, and woohoo!  I finally opened my Etsy shop!! (**grabs Bucket List and crosses "Etsy shop" off**)

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Life gave me lemons, but I'm not in the mood for lemonade

I've been putting off making this post for a while.  I've just been through one of the roughest fortnights of my life, I think.  There's a good chance I've made it to the other side now -- hopefully I'm not jinxing myself by saying that!

Normally I'm a pretty cheerful chickie.  I understand Life has its ups and downs and that some days you are the bird and some days you are the statue.  I get all that and I generally embrace it because I know the bad days will give way to happier times in the future.  It's a cycle, the Circle of Life and ... well... blah blah blah.

However...  Two weeks ago, on September 22 the world screeched to a halt when it lost a very special man.  Even though it's been two weeks, I still can't believe he's gone.  My friend, Deputy Bill Myers from the Okaloosa Sheriff's Department in Florida was shot in the back and in the head multiple times by a despicable waste-of-space scumbag wife-beating coward.  After he was shot, Bill fought for his life for 6 hours, but he didn't make it.  I knew Bill very well.  He was a 20 year veteran of the USAF, who then went on to a second career in law enforcement.  He had decades of experience under his belt and he knew that every day he put on his uniform, he was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to keep somebody else safe.  He was kind; he was funny; he was gifted in many ways; he saved countless lives in daring rescues and with advice that altered the path other people took in their lives; he was tough when he had to be. He was a damn good man and I feel proud to have been able to call him my best friend.  As I watched his memorial service on YouTube, I was taken aback by how many peoples' lives he had touched; it seems everybody had a Bill story.  So now, the past 2 weeks have been filled with disbelief, mourning and memories of Bill.

Now, you'd think that'd be enough, but no...  Remember Eunice, AKA Whatever-Is-Wrong-With-Me?  On September 23 I had an appointment with a specialist to see if we could find out what Eunice's real name is.  Less than 24 hours after my very good friend was murdered, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  Now, don't get me wrong -- I'm grateful to have the diagnosis.  Knowledge is power, yada yada yada.  But sheesh.  Timing is everything, y'know?  Although it's better than some of the things I was imagining Eunice could be, and it's not fatal, it's still a kick in the teeth.  Fibro is cruel.  It's completely unpredictable.  And I ended up in a monstrous Fibro Flare as a result of all the stress of the past 24 hours.

That was a tough time, let me tell you.  I know all the cliche's and uplifting things people say during times like this:  "God doesn't give you anything more than you can handle", "When God closes a door, He opens a window", "When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on tight", "When Life gives you lemons, make lemonade".  Well, I'm not in the mood for lemonade or holding on to ropes.  What I want to do is channel my inner two-year-old and throw a first class temper tantrum at how unfair Life has been.  Instead, I remember something I heard Bill say probably 500 times to me, "Everything happens for a reason".  I don't know why he was murdered and I don't know the purpose for developing Fibromyalgia, but I have to trust that it's all part of a bigger plan and it's not my job to understand, it's just my job to go along with it.

I decided that I needed to leave the sadness behind.  I kept hearing Bill's voice telling me over and over that he didn't want me to be sad.  Well, he actually said it a bit differently, but it's not really appropriate language to use in a blog.  ;)  Hey, I said he was a good man, I didn't say he was perfect.  I know that as hard as it is to see the future when you are so busy remembering the past, you have to look forward.  There's a reason the windshield is bigger than the rear view mirror in your car.  It's ok to take the occasional glimpse backwards, but you have to direct your main focus ahead of you.  And that's why I thought that the time was finally right to take a leap.

I decided to do something I've been putting off for years.  I'm going to leave you with a bit of a cliff-hanger, because I'm not quite ready to make the announcement yet, but it's been a dream of mine since before I started designing digital scrapbooking supplies.  I just never was motivated enough or brave enough to go for it.  But now, with a new guardian angel watching over me, I think I'm ready to give it a shot.  I hope to be able to have a good news post within a couple of weeks!  (Depends on Eunice though)  I am currently making my goals, planning how to achieve those goals and getting down to the business of realizing them.  I've run into a bit of a glitch but I'm hoping that tonight I found a work-around to overcome that.

In the meantime, do me a favour, wouldja?  If you are tired of all the violence and horrific news, show support for the people who work hard and are willing to sacrifice absolutely everything to keep you and I safe.  Lights on for Deputy Bill Myers  Blue Lives Matter.  RIP William J Myers, EOW Sept 22, 2015.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Old School Organizing, With a Twist

I admit it.  I'm a stationary addict.  A pen addict.  Glue.  Markers.  Stickers.  Addicted, addicted, addicted.  My studio is filled to capacity with coffee mugs with broken handles holding pens, about a dozen Really Useful Boxes holding stamps and ink, markers and pencil crayons, note paper and stickers.

I have always been old-school when it comes to schedules and calendars.  I'd much rather write an appointment down in a date book than enter it into a cell phone or computer calendar.  I have a couple of date books on the go - one is purse sized and the other is desk sized.  But I always wanted to take the next step...

I've been ogling all the pretty, decorative yet functional planners on Pinterest for a long time.  I've looked jealously at all the creative ways people come up with to organize their lives.  I want to be one of those people too.  Well I finally took the plunge!  After a couple years of trying to decide which planner was the right one for me...  Filofax?  Erin Condren?  Daytimer?  Cheap generic one from the Dollar Store?  Even printing my own...  I stumbled upon the one that is perfect for me.

I found the Create 365 The Happy Planner from Me and My Big Ideas just by accident a couple weeks ago.  It's not one of the more popularly pinned planners for some reason, but I feel it should be!  I ordered the optimistically titled "Good Things Are Going to Happen" one and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  It was on backorder, probably because they were getting geared up for 2016.  My planner finally arrived and I excitedly opened it up and just about melted into a pile of giddy goo.  It has a monthly calendar on two pages so you can keep your month organized in one place and actually keep track of all appointments there.  But it also has two pages per week with little rectangles for morning, afternoon and evenings.  This is where I found my bliss!

I have been immersing myself into decorating each section, while keeping track of my appointments and significant daily happenings.  I have been using washi tape and stickers, and different coloured ink for colour coding my life.  Doctor appointments are in pink, physiotherapy is green, my husband's appointments are in dark blue, I use aqua blue for fun "me" things like mani/pedi appointments or lunch dates.

What I think I appreciate the most about this particular planner though is the system they used to hold it together.   It's like the Levenger or ARC system.  The rings slip into little slits that look like mushrooms and they are so easy to remove to write on and then quickly replace into the book.  You can buy larger rings than the ones that come with the planner so you can expand to hold little extras like the cards that you can buy on the MAMBI website.

My pretty planner
It's definitely nowhere near as elaborate as some of those Pinterest ones, but I'm satisfied with it.  The only problem I have is that when I've finished doing one page, I have to wait until tomorrow to do the next one!

I didn't stop there though.  I also have wanted to keep an art journal but hadn't really been able to decide how or what exactly I wanted.  Well, I finally worked that out too.  I found a beautiful leather hand-bound journal with handmade paper on Amazon that was really reasonably priced and incredibly high quality.  I played around with it for a while, trying to find my style.  I discovered that I'm not so much interested in actual art journaling as just journaling and making it look pretty.

My Journal

I'm not getting reimbursed by any of the companies I mentioned, but I linked to them as a courtesy and so you might be able to find them if you are interested after seeing mine.  I just have been so excited watching my week being recorded in a creative manner that I had to post them in my blog.  I've ordered some cute little stickers from Etsy and they just can't arrive quickly enough for me.  If anybody knows where I can buy some flare up stickers (as in fibromyalgia, RA or MS flare ups), please let me know.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Sharing my story

Hi everybody. I want to tell you a little about my story. This could get long because it is something that has been occurring for the last 7 years. I've told people before about my brain injury. That happened in 2008 when I fell off my bicycle and hit my head on the pavement. I was wearing a helmet and I know it saved my life.

Despite the protection, I still managed to split my head open and I remember the sound my head made when it hit the pavement. That's the last thing I clearly remember until about an hour or so later when I was in the hospital getting stitched up and I don't remember the next few days until about a week later when we were in Vegas on a vacation we had been planning to take for a year. I remember little bits here and there in between but for the most part, it's lost.

After the accident, I began discovering problems with numbers and with finding words. Strange things happened -- like one time I was knitting and I had to count the stitches on my needle. Except I couldn't remember how to count. I had no idea. Suddenly the stitches grouped themselves together into sevens and I counted them by sevens. I was never great in math and the multiplying 7s and 8s were the hardest for me. So to suddenly be able to count by sevens freaked me out!

Now we'll fast forward a few years to about 4 years ago. I was CTing a lot and designing a little then, taking some designing courses online and selling in a little shop, making a few dollars. It was so exciting! I wasn't able to work outside the home anymore due to some painful things that were beginning to pop up. I always explained it away because most of them could be attributed to actual injuries like a torn MCL in my knee, sprained ankle and broken foot. I had my gall bladder removed. But there were other things too. Unexplained swelling and aches and pains. I saw my Dr about that for the first time. He tested me for thyroid problems and a bunch of other things they test for first. Everything came back normal. My Dr told me "Unfortunately, some women your age just 'get lucky' and develop things like oedema for no reason". I accepted that. After all, I was beginning peri-menopause and I had no idea what to be expecting. I googled peri-menopause. Lots of my symptoms appeared. Well, my doctor must be right.

In the interest of saving time, I'm going to just say that in the next couple of years I decided to go into designing full time. I found a few shops to sell in and was making some nice pocket money and I loved being able to create things and seeing other people use them. Things were going great, except... the brain fog was getting worse. I was having so much trouble concentrating. I couldn't think clearly enough to organize things in my head -- things most people can do like remember a couple of numbers immediately after being told them (you know, "Hey remember 214 for me for a minute while I do something else. Ok, what was that number I asked you to remember?" "Shoot. I don't know." I started doing strange things like typing the word fork when I really meant to type the word fire. I explained it all away. Must have something to do with that bicycle accident. The oedema was getting worse. The pain in my joints was getting worse. I started needing naps - not wanting a nap; needing a nap. I started to get frustrated and I went back to my doctor. Once again he did blood tests, but he did the same ones. The ones you get done at an annual physical. Once again, everything came back normal. And once again I was told "Women your age..."

More weird things happened. I noticed my face has begun to get a flushed look across my cheeks and nose. I started to get strange rashes and there was no explanation for them. No I didn't start using a different laundry detergent, no I didn't start using different shower gel or shampoo, no I didn't touch anything that would irritate your skin.

I started noticing that when I was typing my hands would shake. Then one day I was holding a glass of water and my hand was shaking so badly that the water spilled out. Back to my doctor! He diagnosed me with Essential Tremor. Nobody knows what it is, but it is more common than Parkinsons Disease. It's a neurological problem that affects you when you are actively doing something - like holding a glass of water or pressing and holding the shift key on your keyboard. I was given a prescription for propranolol and it stopped the shaking problem. But my body didn't like taking propranolol. I gained 70 pounds in a little over a year. During that year, I asked my doctor to get weaned off of propranolol 3 times because I was gaining weight. He told me that the propranolol was not likely causing the weight gain, because you know... "a woman my age" can find herself gaining weight. Finally, I just quit taking it. And guess what? I haven't gained a pound since. But now I have the pleasure of trying to lose those 70 pounds. And you know what? A woman my age has trouble losing weight. LOL

I started having a very hard time keeping track of deadlines for my stores and there were many contractual obligations like hosting speed scraps and monthly challenges that I was finding to be overwhelming. I couldn't keep up. Instead of loving to design, I was finding that it was no longer enjoyable. My health was taking a toll on my designing, which stressed me out, which affected my health more. I made the very difficult decision to leave designing and concentrate on getting better. I've taken up making mini scrapbooks and painting. My goal is to start selling them when I feel better. Until then, I'm getting quite a nice little inventory started. :)

Unfortunately, I'm not getting better, it's actually getting worse. I've started noticing that some foods will send me running to the bathroom almost immediately after eating them. Dairy products and onions seem to be the biggest offenders. The rashes come and go. My skin gets scaly on one leg and gets very itchy. I have Restless Leg Syndrome so bad that it goes into my arms and neck too and I take medication for it so I can sleep. When I wake up every morning I have what I call a "mini seizure". I can't stop it from happening - my body just goes rigid and everything shakes, including my eyes. It lasts about the length of time that it would take to yawn and then it is over and done with until tomorrow. My arms and legs feel like they lose circulation and I get pins and needles or just outright pain in them. My knees, elbows, ankles and fingers ache all the time. Sometimes my knees ache so badly that the skin feels like it's on fire and I have to put ice packs on them. The sides of my feet hurt, as if I'm being stung by a swarm of wasps. The only time I don't hurt is once I'm finally asleep.

I finally marched myself into my doctor and told him that he needed to find an answer to this because I know many "women my age" and not one of them has problems like this. I handed him a page full of symptoms and he had a look at it and raised his eyebrows. It was like he finally heard what I'd been complaining about for the past 4 years. He arranged for more blood work, but this time, he was looking for less common problems like Lyme Disease and even HIV. Those tests all came back negative. He arranged for me to see an Internal Medicine specialist.

I am now waiting for my follow up appointment with the Internist to get the results of the blood work that he ordered, plus I have an appointment with a Rheumatologist. The Internist is checking for Lupus, Diabetes 2 and Crohns/Colitis. The Rheumatologist appointment is for Lupus and Fibromyalgia. Once again, I turned to google. I know better than to self-diagnose, but let's just say I won't be surprised if the Rheumatologist diagnoses me with both Lupus and Fibro.

On top of all that, I'm dealing with the injuries from the motorcycle accident on July 1st that I told you about a couple blog posts ago. I attend physiotherapy twice a week and I am making progress. I have got a little use back in my leg. I've always been able to walk, albeit slowly and painfully, but I can't do things like lift my leg high enough to put on socks or shoes. I still use the walker, partly because I need the support but mostly because I can't walk far and need to sit down frequently. Stairs are very difficult and I avoid them as much as possible. Fortunately for me, this was a motor vehicle injury and our insurance has been pretty good to me. They bought me a raised toilet seat, a grab bar for the shower, and today I'm supposed to be getting a yoga ball to sit at my desk and for some of my physio exercises. They have leased the walker and a bench for me to sit on in the shower. They are paying for a housecleaning service to come in and do the things I can't do like clean the bathtub and vacuum and even make my bed.

I feel very fortunate that they are doing all this for me because between the accident and the other health issues, I just can't do it alone anymore. I am trying to stay positive. There is a lot of stress in my life right now but there's no point in worrying about it until I get the diagnoses. Somebody once said "Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but you don't get anywhere doing it".  And that's so true.

I try to find humour in little things. I've started calling Whatever-Is-Wrong-With-Me, "Eunice". Eunice is quicker to say and WAY easier to type than Whatever-Is-Wrong-With-Me! My apologies to anybody who is named Eunice. ;) I chose that name because of the Carol Burnett character Eunice in some of her skits. Her Eunice isn't nice, and neither is mine. LOL

I was raised to be very independent but I'm finding out that it's ok to ask for help. I'm overwhelmed by the prospect of what life will be like after Eunice finally gets a real name. I would like to show you one of my paintings. A couple of days ago, at 2:00 in the morning when I couldn't sleep due to the pain, I painted what Eunice feels like to me. I found inspiration in a painting of a woman in a similar pose, but I put my own spin on it. This is not painted in my usual style because I usually paint only landscapes.  My perfectionist side hates painting muscles and bone structure.  Plus... she's green.  I find lots of ways to criticize this painting, but everybody I've shown it to tells me that I accomplished what I set out to do, which was painting what being overwhelmed by chronic pain is like.  My physiotherapist wants to hang this painting in the clinic.

Our dream of retirement may be affected by this diagnosis also.  That's another post for another time, but we had been hoping to retire in five years to someplace where it's warm year-round.  We will be young enough that we could live somewhere warm and enjoy it like a permanent vacation.  Perhaps Costa Rica or Panama.  But it may not be feasible to leave Canada if my needs mandate staying here for the healthcare we have here.

I hope that one day I will be able to return to designing.  But whether or not that will happen is anybody's guess at this point.  At the very least I hope to one day be able to sell my mini albums and paintings.   I'll blog about them another day.  Right now, I've tired myself out and it's time to say thanks for reading this!


Saturday, 15 August 2015

Scraps N Pieces August Blog Train

Howdy!  It's been a long time since I've participated in a blog train.  It's pretty exciting to be involved this month.

I'm having a very bad week, health-wise, so I'm going to keep this short and sweet and directly to the point.

My contribution to the blog train is this mini kit of 5 elements and 3 papers:

Here's the list of our scenic stops:

Love it Scrap it Blog
Lavender Mint Graphics>
Darcie's Blog
Shuckclod's Stuff
Ann's Scrapbook Heaven
Triple J Designs
Curly Whisker Designs
Time Out Scraps
Heather Z. Scraps
Kandi Pixel Designs
JMC Designs
--> True North Scraps <-- you are here
Day Dreams 'n Designs

Thanks for visiting, I hope to see you again soon!

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

I miss you! Let's chat

It was about a year ago that I made the difficult announcement that I was closing up my shop.  I can't believe how this year has flown by because it feels like it's been much longer than that.  This blog post is a bit hard to make because it is about me, not scrapbooking, and is not announcing a return to designing... yet.  But I wanted to write a short update because soon you will be seeing me around at Scraps N Pieces a bit more.

I miss designing so much!  I opened Photoshop the other day to see if I 'still had it' as far as designing goes.  It's much like riding a bike - I discovered that I still remember many of the little tricks I used to make CU products my own.  I still remember the keyboard shortcuts.  And I felt the passion I had for creating my designs.  It was a fun day!

Then I got the bright idea that I should see if I could do something for the blog train at Scraps N Pieces.   I will have to push it today if I'm going to be finished in time for the deadline though.  Deadlines and the effect they were taking on my health were the reason I had to hang up my designing hat last year.    So... we'll see.  Maybe I'll make it and maybe I won't.  If not this month's blog train, maybe next month!

Health issues still plague me and unfortunately it's come to the point of specialists testing me for some very serious diseases.   I am certainly hoping that they are wrong.

Oh, did I mention my motorcycle accident?  On July 1st, my husband and I were celebrating Canada Day by riding our motorcycle to one of the parks in the city to join in the festivities.  Unfortunately, a careless driver ruined our day and we found ourselves down on the ground with paramedics taking us by ambulance to the hospital.

We were fortunate however!  Our injuries, although debilitating, were not serious enough to be life threatening.  My husband suffered a head injury, both collarbones were dislocated, his shoulder was dislocated and he suffered a massive deep bruise on his thigh that is now developing some nasty scar tissue.  I fell on my hip, hit my head on the ground, and the car's tire stopped on top of my fingers.   I was very fortunate that out of all that, my biggest problem is soft tissue damage in my pelvis.  I am officially considered handicapped as I have a lot of trouble walking on my own, standing for longer than about 5 minutes, and I can only lift my right foot about 6" off the ground so I can't even put socks and shoes on by myself. I use a 4 wheeled walker to get around when I'm out.  My fingers are still sore, but there were no broken bones and I can't believe it, but I didn't even lose a fingernail like I expected to.  My husband is recovering quickly and despite all the dislocated bones, his bruises and constant headaches are his biggest problem right now.

If you've read this far... wow!  You must be pretty bored.  LOL!  I'm sad that I'm not announcing a return to designing yet, but at least I'm thinking about blog trains...   See you around at SNP.   ;)