Musical Instruments are More than Music.

Growing up, all I ever wanted to do was to pick up an instrument and play it.

I didn’t want to have to think about the notes and I didn’t want to have to think about anything. I just wanted to pick it up, and play.

I come from a long line of flutists, and I was determined to have my own instrument but I was told that I have flute lips, so I picked up the “ancient flute” as I called it, I gave it a try and I fell in love with it. (I refer to my first flute as ancient, because my aunt played it, my mom played it, I believe a cousin or two played it, then my older sister played it, and then it was mine.) I started learning to play the flute in middle school. It’s fun to look back now and say, wow I have been playing the flute for 16 years! I just wanted to play music at will, I didn’t think it would also teach me self discipline, strength, determination, and it would show me that hours of hard work really does turn into something beautiful. I remember when we would first get a new piece of sheet music as a band, and I would see the runs or a high note and I would say how in the world is this possible?! They gotta be crazy thinking that I could play something like this! Then the night of the concert would come and that music was so easy that I would often laugh to myself and say why did I even think this was hard?? This was especially true when I had memorized all 3 pieces to our show freshman year in high school before band camp even happened. It was a grade 4 and one of the hardest songs I had ever played. Then came Pippin, and Symphonic Suite by Clifton Williams.

I guess there are a lot of things in life that can teach you self discipline, show your strength, and show you what hard work and dedication looks like. Learning to read music is like learning a new language. What scale is it in? Is it an accidental note? Do I know what that means? Every good boy does fine, F.A.C.E! Is the note coming out too sharp, or too flat? Is it in tune?

One of my first lessons in marching band was that if the band sounds bad, it is always almost blamed on the Piccolo, because it is so fickle! In tune for one minute, then out the next! As I ventured into marching band, played in the pit for school plays and into harder music, I reached a point where after almost 5 years of private lessons, my teacher looked to me and said, “Sarah, there is nothing else I can teach you, you are just as good as me, and I can’t teach you anything else.” I was sad to end lessons, but it was a big accomplishment in my career. As a young flutist, I first learned the flute with braces. Then I re-learned when the braces came off. I re-learned when I got them again, and I re-learned after my strength was lost during my open heart surgery recovery. I learned as I gained hearing, and lost it soon after. I learned that your breath is just as important as your tongue, lips and voice, that taking care of you is just as important as taking care of your instrument. Rest is vital!

They say that to become an expert, you have to practice at something for 10,000 hours. There were many days throughout those 7 years that I spent 8 hours a day, on top of band practice, and lessons on my music. (mostly in the summer months.) For years after school, I would play my flute at least once a week. It slowly moved to once a month and then every few months. On average if I had only spent 4 hours a day for 3 years, 8 hours a day for 3 months for two summers, and then 4 hours a day at least during 4 years of high school, and 1 hour a week during my first 3 years of college, after 10 years I would have gotten at least 11,800 hours.

When I wanted to learn the flute, I just wanted to play music, but I learned so much more, and became an expert at it too!

Feeling Better When You Work Out

When you start a workout, a lot of times we think “when is it going to be over?!” but working out is so much more than just keeping your body fit! It also helps your brain, it helps your body, and it makes you feel accomplished! Working out also makes you feel better about yourself all while making you happier. Did you know that working out makes you feel better because when you workout, your pumping that blood, delivering more oxygen to your organs, and you’re also releasing endorphins! Those endorphins have been proven to treat depression and anxiety better than any pill out there! Of course talking about it and resolving issues always helps out as well, but working out is a great way to escape, focus on yourself, focus on being and just enjoying the moment. You can do cardio, you can do weights, you can stretch, you can do a combo, you can do yoga, you can run, you can also just jam out to music and dance like no ones watching! As long as you’re moving and you’re working out you will feel better!

It takes about 3 months to really notice a change and really notice a difference, and that’s pretty much about anything. Everything takes 21 days to make a habit and it takes about 3 months for it to become an accomplishment that you can see even though you’re accomplishing something everyday when you visually see the accomplishment it just feels that much better! So keep working out, keep moving, you will feel better even if you only work out just to feel good, your body will thank you!

What are your favorite workouts?!

Some of my favorites are a good ol’ cardio session, some stretching, and boxing! You can look up on YouTube and see there are many many free workouts on there, and if you like the dancing you can even look up Just Dance and dance along to lots of fun songs! Go get your body moving, work on staying motivated and you’ll feel better before the year is over! And before you know it you’ll want to workout just for those endorphins and just for the feeling of just feeling good! That is the greatest feeling!!

How to Increase Reviews and Repeats

If you are a small handmade business you’re probably wondering how to increase customer reviews and get customer repeats. Here are some ideas that you can incorporate into your business to increase your chances of getting a review or new sale.

One way to get a review is to just ask for it! I know I can be a bad customer sometimes and I forget to review things, but if someone sends me a message and said “Hey please don’t forget to review my item!” I’ll go over right away and review it! Most of the time if your customer is satisfied with the product unless they really really really love it or they really really really have a problem with it they typically aren’t going to review it. So by asking your customer to give you some quick product feedback, it can remind them that its important to you! It is also nice to have so that potential customers can see that’s an awesome product! You can also send them a thank you note and include incentives such as “Hey if you leave me a review, I will send you a coupon code to use on your next purchase”. This will also help turn them into a repeat customer as well! If they are already a repeat customer, another way to increase your reviews is, if your customer messages you privately and tells you how much they love that item you can simply just ask them “Hey do you mind putting that into a public review so that everyone can see how happy you are with your product? It would make me feel really awesome if I could share that with everyone!” Most of the time they will say of course!!

If you would like to have repeat customers, you can build your email list and send out a monthly newsletter sharing sales, new products and info they need to know! You can send them little goodies with their purchases, you can hold giveaways, and you can also check on them periodically. Say for instance you create scarves and the winter months are coming up, so you message your customer and say “Hey I know you got this scarf from me last year, I wanted to check in to see if you had seen anything new or if there was something that I can create for you!”

They might just message you back and say no thanks but you planted a seed in their head and you contacted them let them know that you’re thinking of them! If you’re looking for a way to increase your reviews, but you don’t feel comfortable saying review, one way to promote this is to host a giveaway! You can say, “Hey I’m doing a giveaway for all of my customers for customer appreciation week! To enter the giveaway I want you to leave some feedback on the product that you purchased and you can also share your favorite product for an extra entry! One winner will receive their favorite product!” This will not only get them looking at what they purchased in the past, but it will also get them to your store to browse, and if they see something they like they might also purchase it as well as they as they leave their review. Reviews are simple, sometimes you just have to ask for them. They only take a minute but they are often overlooked, so if you’re looking for more reviews so you can get some more feedback you can always ask for it! The worst thing that happens, is it doesn’t happen, and that is ok too!

How Having a Baby Improved My Health

When I was pregnant with my first child I saw a glimpse into a future that I did not like. I couldn’t stand for more than 5 minutes because my back hurt so bad. My feet and my legs were so swollen that I had to constantly lay down and elevate them. Just a little bit of heat outside would make me puff up instantly. I couldn’t bend over, and I needed help doing an easy daily task.

Now I’m not comparing pregnancy directly to old age but, I’ve had family members who suffered from not being able to do daily tasks because of swelling and other complications from medical problems, and so I saw a future where I could see myself in those shoes if I didn’t change. What I changed was simple. I started eating less, I started tracking my calories, and I realized I was eating way too much. I eat at least 50% less than what I had in the past. I started working out when she was 5 weeks old, and I lost the “baby weight” and more, and I am keeping it off! (That has never happened in all my past struggles with weight!) I stay active, and I still have a ways to go. Now doing those things won’t guarantee that I won’t see a future like that, but it does help me steer in the direction where I won’t. I didn’t want to be the person or mother that says “sorry I can’t play with you my back hurts”, “sorry I can’t pick up your toy”, “sorry I can’t do that I’m limited”. I wanted to be limitless. If that was my future, I didn’t want to be old. So I guess you can say in away fear made me change, but I also wanted to show my daughter what a healthy lifestyle could look like and I was hoping that she’d pick up some things just by observation, and she already has! She is 2 1/2, and she loves being active and sometimes she even asks me to be active!

I was going out to eat the other day with my family and there were two older gentleman that were walking out and I just heard a smidge of their conversation. I had to chuckle to myself because it is such a real thing that we all take for granted and the one said to the other “I forgot to take my Advil last night so now I’m in pain.” and the other laughed and said “What hurts?” and he said “Oh my back!”. I always joke about how old I am because I always have little aches and pains here and there, and I can only imagine what it’s going to be like in another 10 or 20 years, so this just confirmed that staying active and healthy might help curve those aches and pains. Although staying active and healthy can’t prevent everything! We put our bodies through a lot over the years! Having a baby allowed me to reevaluate my health. It showed me that my health is not just mine it’s my child’s as well. If I’m not healthy then my child is not healthy and by showing them healthy habits from the start, even when they don’t realize that it’s a healthy habit and helping them build those habits from the beginning makes it worth it. It makes all the improvements worth it. There are some days I wish that I didn’t want to track my calories and that I could just go out go out to eat whatever I wanted, and revert to my old ways. When I can eat a whole plate of food and not worry about the calories in front of me. If you know what to look for you can eat a whole plate of food, and still not blow it all! I went out to eat for breakfast and I had an egg white omelet with turkey sausage, tomatoes and spinach, hash browns and a piece of rye bread. Calorie wise, I was able to eat the whole thing, but I didn’t. I got too full, haha. It’s fun to have that option though isn’t it?! So I owe it to my baby to help me get healthy, to see that my health is important and to see that it’s never too late to change your habits. To start new habits and to live a healthy life and by doing that I’m hoping that I don’t see that future that I envisioned, but I see a future where I can be active and healthy and happy.

Customer Service: The Essential Business tool That is Often Missed.

As a small handmade business you might be wondering why you need customer service. Let’s begin with what customer service is in the first place. When I think of customer service, I’m thinking of a big store, and I’m thinking of how they handle issues that come their way such as, returns or exchanges or upset customers. There is more to customer service, in that customer service is how easy and fast it is for them to buy your product. Customer service is how fast you get back to them when they have an inquiry about one of your products. Customer service is the quality of your product. Customer service is how you present your product to your customer when they receive and open it. Customer service is how you deal with issues when they come up. Customer service is your business! Anytime you are selling a product to a person, customer service comes hand in hand.

Let me tell you an example about excellent customer service. Excellent customer service is taking the time to make your product right the first time. Excellent customer service is going above and beyond a customers expectation. Excellent customer service is responding to an inquiry in a timely manner. Not taking days or a week to respond and give an answer, but maybe an hour or two at max. Now I’m not saying you have to be available 24/7 because we are people too and we’re more than just our business, but the faster you answer your question the more likely you are to get a sale if that is what the inquiry is about.

Let me tell you about bad customer service. With bad customer service you will loose a potential customer just by not answering in a timely manner. You are telling them that they are not worth your time, and/or that you can’t be bothered. With bad customer service, you will not gain a repeat customer. If the product arrives damaged, and you just say ” oh well” not my problem. It might have been the deliverers fault. But it has your name attached to it, so fix it! Customers can have a bad experience and still come back because of the way you fixed it. Validate their problems. If it is a refund, a free product, an exchange, fix it. Bad customer service is not allowing your customer to reach you in a timely manner when there is an issue. This only makes the customer more frustrated and upset, and there will be bad reviews that you can’t take back. If a potential customer comes across that review, they are likely to flee and find a similar product elsewhere. Bad customer service is messing up customized products, or just doing what you want, because “you know best”. Just don’t do it.

When you create your products, imagine you are the customer. Will you be satisfied with this product? Are you getting your monies worth? Does it surpass your expectations and meet your standards? If so, you are doing good. When you have an issue, put yourself in your customers shoes. Are you resolving it the way you would like it to be resolved if you were that customer? Make it right. Do not skip any corners. If everything you do through the eyes of a customer, your customer service will be excellent, and customers will flock, just to be apart of it!

Thinking too Much

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you will never get it done.” – Bruce Lee

Isn’t this the truth?! When you think too much on something it can become distorted, fears can sneak in, the million what ifs appear, and all the sudden you are procrastinating.

Now this doesn’t happen on everything that you think of too much, but if you’re thinking about something big like a business decision or just something we need to get done around the house, the more you think about it the less action you’re doing.
You’re sitting there, you’re thinking, and you’re thinking about it but you’re not doing anything! So when you start thinking about something you can put it right into action you can make it a To Do List so you can do it later, you can get up and physically do it right now! You can brainstorm and think about it even more continuing on your first thought spreading it out so that you know where to go. If it’s a business decision you can do a type A and type B and you can run tests and decide which option is best. When you sit on something and you think and you think, time passes by and before you know it it’s just a thought; there’s no action behind the thought and you store in your brain for another day. So what if you took your thoughts and you put them into action? What is going to happen? Are you going to get more accomplished? Are you going to actually start a business or that book or that idea that you’ve been thinking of? What’s it going to look like in a year, maybe 6 months, or in a week if you have something that you want to accomplish and you get it done, what will your goals look like? Can you put it on your bucket list? Also, what’s the point of having a bucket list if it just sits there?

So maybe it’s time to gather your thoughts and put them into action. You can do great things in small little steps. Remember most of the time when you see an overnight success story, it is years and years and years in the making and there are many thoughts behind it. When you see a business that is running smoothly and you think to yourself, “I wish mine ran that smoothly.” imagine all the work they put behind that one thing just to make it become that product, and that idea. There are many ideas that don’t ever come to fruition, and that is okay! If this idea is going to make you fulfilled, if it’s what is going to make you happy, going to make you feel accomplished, then you should put that thought into action! If it’s a thought that you’re not sure how to get it into action, keep brainstorming, keep thinking, keep mulling it over but, never stop thinking, never stop dreaming, and always reach for the stars!

Do You Need a Daily Routine

As soon as the clock strikes midnight, we start over with a brand new 24 hours. Time is unlimited, but always resets. Do you have a daily routine? Does it change day to day?

My routine is very vague, and consists of waking up, catching up, breakfast, a work out if I can fit it in, and a shower. Then the other 99% of my day is toddler time, and that makes the day what it is. Some days I try to fit in laundry, and some cleaning, and other days its all about having fun, and learning. Other days it’s fitting in doctor appointments and running out the door.

I also think routines change as the seasons do. I try to not put too much in stone so we have some wiggle room, but having a daily routine helps keep the day flowing, helps me keep productive and lets me feel like I have gotten a lot accomplished. I do everyday, but some days it doesn’t seem like it.

For a stay at home mom, it can be hard to get into a daily routine, but you can create a routine for yourself and your little/s.

My daughter is usually up and at em by 7:00 am. So that is when my day starts. Here is what a typical day can look like.

7:00 – Waking up, quiet time and breakfast. Get posts done etc.

8:00 – Educational videos/ cartoons and play time/ working out and chores.

9:00 – Get dressed and ready for the day, make to do list, clean up toys.

10:00 – School time!

12:00 Lunch time.

12:30 – Quiet time, and nap time if you can, then this is time for Mom to read, take a bath, get some me time in… work on my business.

2:00 – Time to play some more.

3:00- snack and a movie, and dinner prep!

4:00 – get dinner cooked

5:30 – Dinner time, family time and relax!

7:00 – After any errands are run, time to wind down, quiet time, and start bedtime routine.

9:00 – Lights out.

Then depending on the night, I can watch some t.v shows that aren’t toddler related, or catch up on some sleep, and then I go to bed, wake up and do it all over again! What does a day look like to you?!