A New Year, A New Plan… Moving Our Business Forward

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We are back!!!

Happy New Year, I Hope you all had a wonderful festive period with your loved ones and are having a great start to 2017.

Today we re-open Cards And Candles For All Occasions after our extended, one month, Christmas break and along with those closest to me we have decided that I need to make some changes to the way I run the business.

As much as I love the handcrafted work I do and dealing with so many amazing people, both customers and suppliers, over the past few months I have been forced to stop and look at my own health too. Since launching Cards And Candles For All Occasions in April 2010, I have been working full time hours every day of every week, some times working straight through the night to meet customer deadlines or get things all done and the realisation has now come to me that I cannot continue in this way.

At thirty six years old, I have been suffering with Fibromyalgia, Depression and Anxiety for a number of years and especially over the past eighteen months my health has been deteriorating, there are days where I feel unable to function but I sit at my desk doing the best that I can to fulfill all of my commitments to our business and customers.

The end part of 2016 was particularly difficult for me as my health was not in a good place due to the hours I was working, I was taking on more orders than I could handle as I did not want to disappoint anyone and in turn this was adding to the need for working excessive hours and stress levels were rising. It was getting to the stage whereby I could barely function effectively as I was so exhausted, in huge amounts of pain and I constantly felt stressed. Something needed to change.

I took the decision to have an extended break over the Christmas period to give myself some time to recharge (I slept most of Christmas, only really waking up for my pain medication), re-evaluate the future of Cards And Candles For All Occasions and plan the best way to move forward with my business. The thought of closing the business was considered and discussed, but this is the last thing I want to do. I know what I want to do, I just have to put those plans into action.

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Over the last couple of weeks we have made a lot of decisions about the future of Cards And Candles For All Occasions and how we plan to move the business forward… in order for me to be able to continue with the handcrafted business which I love, the biggest change I have to make is to reduce the hours in my working week.

Until now I have pretty much been working seven days a week, every hour possible and it is having a detrimental effect on my health – the increasing pain, the insomnia and exhaustion, the mental effects of Fibromyalgia, they all contribute to making me miserable and the thing I have found hardest of all is accepting that I cannot keep up with the lifestyle and working life I held before Fibromyalgia took over.

I never thought I would end up in a wheelchair with a chronic illness at just thirty five years old!! But here I am, this is the life I have and now I have to move forward with a plan to make the most of what I have, make things so that they are manageable and in the bigger picture remember to look after myself too.

I need to find a suitable “Work + Life = Balance” otherwise, as a friend stated this morning:

You need to stick to the plan sweetheart or you will be permanently closed. Invest in you xx

The last thing that I want to do is to be forced by my health to close my business, but I can totally agree with the above comment as the way I was going before Christmas I was heading for a serious burn out and I cannot afford either physically, mentally or financially to risk this in the long-term.

Today is a big day for Cards And Candles For All Occasions as not only are we re-opening for 2017, but today is also the day we are implementing the changes which have been decided upon which will allow me to continue to work with you, our wonderful customers, on the unique, handcrafted and personalised products we all love.

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As I have said above, the biggest change we are making to Cards And Candles For All Occasions is our business working hours, with immediate effect our working hours are as follows:

Monday – open from 11:00am until 5:00pm

Tuesday – open from 12:00noon until 6:00pm

Wednesday – CLOSED

Thursday – open from 11:00am until 5:00pm

Friday – open from 11:00am until 5:00pm

Saturday – CLOSED

Sunday CLOSED

We hope that you will understand our reasons for reducing our working hours and in time, once we adjust to our new schedule we are hoping that it will make us more efficient in dealing with your enquiries and processing/handcrafting your orders. My hope is that by reducing my working hours it will help to improve my mental and physical health allowing me to be more productive when I am working, therefore if all goes to plan there should be minimal disruption to our customers.

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The second change that we are making to Cards And Candles For All Occasions to help in moving forward more efficiently is lead times for our orders, with immediate effect we have listed below the minimum amount of notice we will require for each product we sell to allow us to source materials, design and handcraft your product ready for dispatch:

Standard Greeting Cards
Minimum 10 days notice

Keepsake Cards (eg. Bookatrix, Easel Drawer, Handbag)
Minimum 14 days notice

Exploding Box Keepsake
Minimum 21 days notice

Ecosoy Candles
Minimum 14 days notice

Wooden Gifts (eg. Themed Frames, Plaques, Candle Holders)
Minimum 21 days

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support and look forward to working with you throughout 2017 and beyond.

xxx Love Laura xxx

Cards And Candles For All Occasions website

Cards And Candles For All Occasions on Facebook

Cards And Candles For All Occasions on Twitter

Why Did I Start Planning?

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Anyone who is not involved with the ‘planner community’ will no doubt be wondering what it is all about… why choose a planner instead of just a standard diary? What is so special about the Happy Planner?

Until a couple of months ago I wondered the same thing! I only recently got my first planner (a Happy Planner) and have been using it since the beginning of March.

Since January I have been using the “Relax With Art Diary 2016” but because both Dan and I being self employed with our own businesses, there is a lot of admin to keep on top of.  Admin work for three businesses is a lot of paperwork and a small A5 diary just isn’t enough to keep track of everything for:

Badger’s Woodcrafts

Buzzworx

Cards And Candles For All Occasions

All of that is before I start taking into account our personal life, my health and all of the appointments I have to attend, so my normal diary just wasn’t fitting the bill. I was finding myself having to use an A5 notebook alongside my diary just to fit everything in.

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When I first started looking at my Happy Planner and looking around the different ‘planner’ groups on Facebook, I started to realise the potential of this book… there are so many ways of making it work to suit your personal needs.

It really is a blank canvas for so much creativity, personalisation and customisation. I knew it was going to work for me.

As someone who has suffered from Anxiety and Depression for a number of years, I find lists and organisation help to keep my mindset more settled and if I can look in my diary/planner and see the plans for the day or week ahead I am less nervous about what is to come.

Suffering with Fibromyalgia now too, I need a lot of planning in order to live a steady and manageable life, both with the cognitive memory issues associated with this illness and the pain it causes – if I plan a “day out” then I know that I need to also plan a couple of quiet days afterwards as I will be suffering with increased pain levels and tiredness.

Most of my life is now sorted out in my diary, planner and numerous lists/notebooks so that I can know what needs to be done, where I need (or want) to go and when I can have time out to chill.

My list and notebook collection could be classed as a bit of an addiction, but then I’ve always been a bit of a stationery addict, and in all honesty if it helps to keep me organised and less stressed then I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

notebooks

With my business specialising in papercraft (handmade greetings cards, keepsake cards and such like), I have always had an interest in scrapbooking but have never really known where to start but since starting to use my Happy Planner I have found so many ways to customise it by adding planner themed stickers, journal cards, photo pockets and lots more.

I find creating a layout in my planner is very therapeutic, working out the appropriate and best layout of my labels and task stickers each week, adding an inspirational quote, theming my week based on an occasion or what’s happening… it’s almost like the first step into the scrapbook world but for now I’m more than happy with my planner and can’t see myself going for a full-blown scrapbook anytime soon.

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Now that my A5 diary isn’t really used for work, I can keep it focused on health related information and appointments. My doctor suggested that I track my anxiety levels and also my pain on a scale of 1-10, where the pain is worst and generally how I’m feeling each day so that is now the main focus of my Relax With Art diary, the best bit being if I feel myself getting too stressed there are colouring pages within the diary I can use to try to relax a little.

When I decided that this was the way forward for my diary I contacted Loonicorn on Facebook and had some custom stickers made which are helping me greatly with keeping track of my health. Definitely good information to take into doctor appointments so they can see how things are on a day-to-day basis.

Planner stickers from Loonicorn

So working with my A5 diary which I can take out with me and my Happy Planner which tends to live on my desk, I am finding it much easier to keep track of everything and with things laid out in front of me, together with being able to decorate and customise my planner, that I am feeling a little less stressed and more motivated. Being organised with everything written down is definitely helping my mindset.

📝 Let’s hope it continues this way 📝

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It’s 2016 and we’re open for business!!!

💻 🎨 🎈 ✂ 🎉 We are back!! 🎉 ✂ 🎈 🎨 ☎

We are now OPEN for business, back to normal after our Christmas break.

Thanks to the flare up of my Fibromyalgia and damaging the ligaments in my knee while visiting family in Scotland over the festive period, I thought it was best to extend my break by an extra week to recharge my batteries and hopefully get the pain, etc to a manageable state.

I am determined to control my Fibro, it won’t control me… I have a business to run!!

So here I am… as I sit here looking at 2016, thinking about the year ahead,  I have lots of new ideas to work on, I have some new stock which needs to be photographed and uploaded and a few pieces of new stock just to be framed which will then be ready to go 🎨

Is there anything in particular you would like to see from Cards And Candles For All Occasions throughout the coming months?

We are looking into a few different sales avenues to run alongside our website and this page and will update you on those as soon as any plans are finalised.

It’s great to be back, but please bare with me as I get back into the swing of things and get all of our new year admin sorted out 📖 📝 📖 📝 📖

Let’s hope it’s a great year for us all!!!

Looking back over the past twelve months, I would like to share some of my favourite makes of 2015:

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Valentine gift box

Facing Reality – Life With Fibromyalgia And True Friends

Thinking

Yesterday was spent chilling at home, making plans for year five of our business, www.cardsandcandlesforalloccasions.co.uk, and chatting with customers… thinking about lots of ideas and new products that I would like to work on over the coming months and building new contacts to grow our business is a must.

I had a Fibro tantrum in the afternoon but it will not keep me down… I have heat pads for my hip pain, magnesium spray for my cramping legs and prescription medications to manage it all. It is true what they say “I may have Fibromyalgia but Fibromyalgia does not have me” – I will not let this drag me down, I refuse to let an illness rule my life.

Fibro slows me down

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in February 2014 after many years of symptoms, it is something which I always thought that I was too young to have. I always assumed that doctors would diagnose my problem and provide a cure. Sadly I was wrong, Fibromyalgia has no cure. This illness is something which is managed by long term medications and exercise, changes in diet can also help.

I dont look sick

What are the symptoms of Fibromyalgia? Symptoms can vary from person to person, some people have more symptoms than others where other people have an extended list of symptoms which also affect existing illnesses. The symptoms I suffer from include:

* Headaches
* Pain and pins/needles/numbness in hands and fingers
* Pain in shoulders, arms and wrists
* Restless Leg Syndrome – especially at night
* Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
* Insomnia – disturbed and restless sleep
* Back pain
* Hip pain
* Knee pain – knees regularly ‘give’ way
* Ankle pain – ankles regularly ‘give’ way
* Brain fog – memory problems, issues forming sentences, general ‘fuzziness’
* Depression
* Anxiety

There are days where I need to rest and use my stick to get around, but I’m starting to realise that if I take it easy for a day or two then the Fibro flares don’t last as long and I can get back to normality sooner.

Real Woman

Just lately I have done a lot of thinking, I have been looking at the people who surround me… I have so many wonderful friends who I value and know that they are always there for me when I need support, need someone to talk to or just need a friend.

I have realised just who I can and cannot trust… friendships and relationships come and go but in time we realise just who really matters in our lives.
I have had many friendships over the years which have ended for various reasons, not all of these were genuine friendships, in that people were only interested in what they could gain or how I could help them… I now know that I do not need this sort of person in my life.

You will only get the chance to walk all over me once – people need to realise that I am not just here for their personal gain and I won’t keep letting you come back to do it again.

True Friends

I have some very important, special and valued people in my life who know me, support me and understand my illness and other aspects of my life and past… those are the people who matter to me.

I have friends who have similar backgrounds to myself, friends with the same health issues as me, friends whose lives are polar opposite to me but at the end of the day we are always there for each other and will always help each other where we can.

Life is about living for the present, not living in the past… follow your dreams and reach for the stars, never let someone else bring you down. Stay positive and remember that true friends are always there for you.

Destiny