Sunday, February 28, 2010

Knees and Paws TV and Utube ad

I am thrilled to report the status of our plans to make a local tv and utube ad for Knees and Paws. My brother, Ken, who is a professional video/audio tech, has agreed to shoot our 30 second add. My mom has offered the talents of her wonder dog, Bear the chocolate lab who thinks he's a person. We also have two delightful child actors (one of which is my son), an announcer (my husband...who has a wonderful voice), a writer (me...although writing comedy is tough!), a location, and positive intentions all around. We will be shooting on March 27.

The Faux Fur Endowment

God Bless Mom for gifting Knees and Paws with enough beautiful faux fur for a new shop section I'll call Premium Vintage Faux Fur Knees and Paws. Two huge boxes of vintage coats arrived on my door step yesterday. They are so wonderful that I'm debating whether to repurpose them. As you can see, we had a blast dressing up for a family rock star photo shoot. Sometimes, this job allows me to be the opposite of Cruella DeVille! I get to turn coats into puppies (or at least accessories for kids who love to play puppies).

After School Sewing Lesson

Once and a while, someone comes into your life that makes cloudy winter days full of sunlight. My son's friend has a big sister who is facinated by my sewing machine, the collection of fabric on my shelves, and the creative process. With her interest, I have offered to give her some after school lessons. This week, she decided to make a Hello Kitty doll for her best friend. Each time she makes a new item, the result is always a gift for someone she loves. A tiger print make-up bag, her first attempt, went to her Grandma in New Orleans. I am continually amazed at her patience, determination, and fearlessness in attempting a new skill. Her eighth birthday is coming up next week. I managed to find a second hand child's sewing machine for her gift. Now, she can practice on her own unique designs at home any time.

The irony in all of this is that my mom, who has the patience of ten saints, tried to teach me how to sew, crochet, and cross stitch at different times in my childhood. I struggled so much that I gave up and turned to books as my main pursuit. Yet when the idea of Knees and Paws came about, I decided to relearn to sew. For a month, I broke needles, made horrible frankenstienish creations and swore like a sailor. But I was determined to let the idea of Knees and Paws become a reality. Now, I am proficient enough to share what I know with my young friend. This has given new meaning and energy to the business and my life.

After School Sewing Lesson

Friday, February 5, 2010

A vision statement in the making

A great philosopher of our time once wrote "Night and day, dream of what you intend to do and what you intend to be, and those dreams will interpret your intentions. Let no doubt in. Just as the visible world is sustained by the invisible, so too do the manifestations of man find nourishment in the visions of our solitary dreamers. Be one of those dreamers." (Dr. W. Dyer, The Power of Intention)

And so, in the practice of my daily dreaming, which is a sort of meditation, I began to ask some questions which, if answered, may become a reality for the business and for my life in it. These questions are: What kind of business is this? What would make it a place where people want to contribute their time, energy, creativity and skills so that it becomes a rewarding endeavor for all involved? How will it grow? How will it become a place that produces a well loved product, but also a place that inspires and gives? Can a business change what it means to work so that work feels like play?

When I decided to leave a steady, full time job with benefits to invent and create a children's product, I took a blind leap. The reason that this act appealed to me was that it allowed me to contribute something from the extremely familiar and comfortable surroundings of my home. I wanted to work in a place where I could go out walking for an hour or two in the mornings, immerse myself in creative work, be self directed in my experiential learning, and be home when the bus arrives at 2:30.

Being available to my son is something that I'm not willing to sacrifice in the name of success. The memory I have of children drooling on themselves while staring into space, trying to get comfortable on plastic stools at the after school program is one motivation. Another is the reality of every working mother: the balancing act one plays in the attempt to provide loving care for one's children when you can't be there. When I worked for a local private college, my boss would not tolerate the presence of my children for any reason and at any time during my work schedule. Never mind that it was a learning institution! Thus, the company Knees and Paws has as it's first policy: CHILDREN ARE ALLOWED HERE.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chaos is the beginning of creativity

"Chaos is the beginning of creativity" When I read this line in Jill Bolte Taylor's My Stroke of Insight, the idea made perfect sense and provided a way for me to accept the current developmental stage of Knees and Paws. Despite my dilligence in maintaing a neat work area and devoting myself to the daily maintenance of a small business, it still feels like chaos in my mind, for the reason that every day, I learn how much more there is to learn and do. Web design, as one can see by visiting is something that frustrates me. The version I have in mind is not what it looks like today. But instead of feeling ashamed at my attempt, I have decided to celebrate the fact that I am attempting to learn a new skill and not be ashamed at its humble appearance. In the end, I'll be able to laugh and have a good memory of the early days.

In creating something great, an artist or chef doesn't worry about how neat everything looks during the process. On a good day at my machine, when a new version of my product is being formed, there will be a pile of thread and scraps all around my feet and my clothing is full of loose fibers. It's strange, but I actually feel comfortable in a little mess, more comfortable than when the house is spotless after a day of housekeeping. It similar to the feeling of being in the garden while pulling weeds. It's messy but beneficial to the soul.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Thoughts on a Snow Covered Day

"With true strength, you feel you have the courage to open yourself up to life and all its possibilites. You are willing to take risks, be seen, go for what you want. You experience your mind as bright and intense and your vision sharp and clear. There is no hesitation, no hanging back, no ambivalence." --Byron Brown

Today on this first day of Feburary, the sun is shining on the snow and I'm happily sipping my coffee while my son plays in the next room. The beauty of this life is a blessing and I am thankful for all of it. I remember times when I was lonely, afraid, sick, desperate and full of anxiety. But today is not one of those days! I'm here in the moment sharing my mind and my heart with....well, maybe only God and my husband....but that's okay. Today I want to share some thoughts about risks and the courage to be seen.

I decided to work from home several months ago, which so far has been a fantastic decision. In the comfy office where I nest, I feel inspired to create, to imagine and to give myself permission to learn technical skills. However, I still struggle with the concept of risk taking and "being seen". The harsh judge inside me is relentless in telling me that the product I create is silly and frivolous and not good enough to be presented to the public. During conversations with my loved ones and friends, it's always easier to talk about events or places, children, problems or pets, and difficult to broach the life-changing event of my current project. I'd like to avoid sharing things that I think others expect to hear (such as information related to sales). Instead, I'd simply say that right now, the benefit of taking this risk is that it requires my willingness to step out of my comfort zone to learn new skills, to reach out to the community, to create every day, and to believe, as Will does in Shakespeare in Love, when he says, "it all works out in the end. I don't know how, but it does."

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