Every 31st December we usher in the New Year – full of hope, wishful thinking, a change (always for the better), a fresh start and all that. And this year will be no different; we will welcome in 2020 with a bottle of fizz, party poppers, Auld lang syne and a fervent hope that fate will be appeased and do the rest.
For like every year, I want to be fitter, thinner, more at peace with myself, to get my finances in order, to start a new business venture, to finish writing that book (finally). And then I mentally add another load of goals: give up smoking, chocolate and alcohol, eat more vegetables, eat less meat, get more sleep, dust off the bike in the garage, paint the living room, mend the guttering.
All the things.
All this year.
So, now I’m thinking perhaps no more New Year resolutions for me – they only get broken anyway.
Of course, a lot of it is in my own hands – and I’ve come to realise that every year I expect my hands to hold too much. I have ‘over-expectations’ – and quite obviously tiny hands. Therefore, 2020 will be pared down on the expectations front, I am going to try to focus on being more at peace with myself (yeah, I know – probably the biggest one on the list) – because I figure if I can move towards that, then the others will probably start to fall into place.
Motivation will certainly be required, but yep, I think this year will definitely be better.
Well, goodbye to all that! Last year was a right stinker for us and we were definitely glad to see the back of it. Wind back to 31st December 2017 and there we were, celebrating the arrival of 2018 with a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne, a toast to the future, party poppers and a wish for everyone to have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. The New Year however, had other ideas. It looked at our welcoming party and laughed in our face. Rather than being a welcome to the good life – 2018 decided it would be a total dirtbag and throw down a number of challenges one after another throughout the next 12 months.
Poor health, huge financial bombshells, both parents being very ill (mum had 3 separate life-threatening episodes) and even Louie the dog was touch and go there for a moment too. But here we are – we got through it So, on to the next year – and going by the premise that nothing can be like last year (I know, I know, don’t tempt fate), I can only hope/pray/wish that 2019 will be in a better mood. Of course, mum and dad and Louie are not out of the woods yet, there will also always be surprises (both good and bad) and then there’s always Brexit, which is likely to pee on anyone’s parade, no matter how you look at it. But there are also positives. The hospital tests mum had detected a rare congenital heart deformity, so they can now look to managing that in a way that can improve her quality of life. Dad’s radiotherapy treatment looks as though it may have put his cancer into remission. Louie is still with us and as for the finances, we may think it’s the end of the world, but I remember reading a while ago that: ‘no matter how bad you think your life is, there is always someone else who would see you as living the fairytale’.
Has the last year made me stronger? Hmm.. the jury remains out on that one. I still have regular wobbles and periods of self doubt about how I’m going to cope, but as Sir Elton John would have it – I’m still standing. And that’s always a start.
I hope 2018 was kind to you and yours and wish you all an even better and brighter 2019!
So now the Christmas decorations are packed away and the last of the tree pine needles have been vacuumed up (I wish – if it’s anything like last year, I’ll still be finding them in July) and I find myself in true John Lennon style looking back at ‘another year over – and what have I done?’
Well, 2017 was a bit of a mixed bag, but on the whole it was very positive. I experienced so many wonderful things last year and I realise as I am getting older, I certainly tend to prefer experience over material things. Gone are the days when I’d drool over the latest phone, jeans, trainers, handbag, computer or whatever. It took a long time and a lot of hard earned cash for that particular penny to drop. Oh, quelle surprise…those things never last – what was I even thinking – they aren’t made to. The whole idea is to keep you hooked – always wanting the next new thing: just take out your wallet and open wide – this won’t hurt a bit (much).
Now, experiencing a beautiful vista or work of art gives me a much bigger buzz – and for much longer. They say experience is the best teacher, but it comes at a price. Unfortunately, this is very true (soz Mr Bank Manager – but please, won’t you look at my gorgeous pictures of Vesuvius?). I may have to work even harder this year to keep Mr Bank Manager sweet (I know… how about a slice of Bakewell Tart? No? Well, wait till you hear this piece by Prokofiev…).
Any road up, back to what have I done. I’ve deliberately left out the negative stuff at the moment – now is not the time or place to go there – instead, over the next couple of weeks here are some of the more positive things we got up to in 2017…..
SPRING AND ETSY
This was quite a big leap into the unknown for us. Having made a few protest badges because of the political climate in the UK (what with Brexit and austerity), we decided to take the plunge and dip our toe into the choppy online seas. We had read that Etsy was a tough nut to crack: don’t get your hopes up they warned, could be weeks or even months before you see a single sale! Undeterred, we thought we would still give it a go, after all, you don’t know if you don’t try, right?
So last March we opened an Etsy shop, made ourselves a cup of tea, sat back and waited. Anyway, to cut a long story short, our very first week online saw our first sales (we were so unprepared, we hadn’t even ordered enough padded envelopes!) and since then we’ve gone from strength to strength. It’s certainly taken us by (pleasant) surprise, in 10 months we’ve sent badges all over the world: to 30 different states across America, to 15 different European countries as well as the far shores of Australia. Sure, we’ve had a few challenges (with both equipment and customers), one or two requests have certainly raised an eyebrow and we’ve met (phew) tight deadlines, sent out buttons for weddings, schools, baby showers, parties, protests and graduations…. and it’s all been a blast.
Cutting the design
Hand-pressing the final pin
We still get excited when orders come in and every single one, whether it’s for a single button or a 100 custom-designed badges, is pressed and sent out with the same care and attention to detail. My colleagues may roll their eyes when they see me hunched over a 1 inch button pin with a magnifying glass, checking for lint and making sure the button is “clean”, but I want our products to be top quality and so far, our reviews are saying it’s all worth while. Our aim at ButtonChops is to bring back a business sense of high standards, value for money and excellent customer service. Old fashion ethics in today’s cheap and disposable world maybe, but I for one, was fed up with being expected to accept poor quality items and even worse customer service (“that’s the way things are now – like it or lump it”). I wanted to do something about it.