Acrylic painting of saluting ARMY cat by TaraFly, dressed in US military uniform

ARMY Cat was one of my earliest and most popular paintings for sale.

A few weeks ago, one of Etsy’s coordinators/admins, DanielleXO, announced her plans to host a “Holiday Boot Camp” to assist sellers with their shop preparations.

Since I don’t spend hours lurking in the forums, I found out a few days later from the head of EFA – EtsyForAnimals, Michele (MVegan5), when she sent me a personal convo congratulating “ARMY Cat” for being nominated as “Boot Camp Mascot”. …And politely admonishing me for not being an active EFA participant, although I’d removed most of the associated links and tags, in order to feel less guilty about riding on their coattails.
So I was obligued to replace the links, tags, join the various Yahoo and Facebook groups, and make a couple forum appearances.

TaraFly featured in Etsy Success Holiday Boot Camp Treasury

Nominees for Holiday Boot Camp mascot, voted on by the Etsy community

There was a public vote in Etsy’s Treasury, and Lou the Monster won by a landslide, but I do appreciate all the folks who voted for me (including many EFA team members)… it was humbling, and more than a bit embarrassing.

A few members were brutally honest: “TaraFly who?” Bwahaha. And I appreciate them as well, for voting according to their instincts, and not being swayed by a group newsletter endorsing a prodigal member. πŸ˜‰

At last, I decided to join the bandwagon and enlist in this Boot camp experiment myself. I’ll admit to needing a boatload of motivation to keep up with everyone else… as I tend to dig myself under a rock during the holiday season, and my shop sales reflect it.
This year, I vowed to myself that I would do everything possible to promote and improve my business (on Etsy and elsewhere) because we could really utilize the extra income this season.

Etsy wanted us to write a mission statement… what inspires us to “work our butts off” this year. On the surface, my statement is simple and obvious: “I don’t want to feel guilty anymore.”

I felt guilty browsing for toys at the Goodwill last year, guiltier still for writing Lydia an IOU for a big-ticket item she really wanted.
“Let’s wait until our tax return comes, Okay?”

TaraFly's daughter Mia hugging a half-finished handmade stuffed cat doll

The kids loved the stuffed cat doll even before she was finished...

I’m content to live without wealth, and to make things for our kids to wear and play with, and we’re setting an example for them, right? Don’t expect a lavish spread of expensive gifts, because god-forbid it isn’t healthy to spoil the children and make them ungrateful little materialists. Blah, blah…
I’d still like to be able to purchase at least a couple things on their modest wish lists.

Under the surface, guilt plays a hand in how I feel about myself and my contributions to this family as well. I had always measured my worthiness by a job-title, a paycheck, or my value to a company.
Now I feel guilty that Joe carries the weight of our household on his shoulders, and every time he comes home under stress from employer-fueled issues, I want to tell him to quit, get a new job, or at least take a vacation. Unfortunately, none of those options are feasible right now. I need to be able to contribute more to our bottom line without sacrificing the family-oriented lifestyle we’ve built.
(i.e. NO daycare, we’ve had enough of that drama!)

TaraFly's son and husband taking a walk at the park

Joe and Jakey take off, exploring the park...

When we met, we were both working for the same company, and bonded over shared responsibilities. Although we have many other things in common (cheesy sci-fi movies, cats, gardening, Photoshop), I’ve noticed a shift in the way we discuss our day. He doesn’t share work-related things with me anymore, and I don’t “bore” him with my domestic frustrations much either.. because we’re living in two different worlds and we both feel the other wouldn’t “get it”.
Just watch the way his eyes glaze over when I mention SEO and Google in the same sentance. πŸ˜›

I reminisce back to our first lunch date, where he divulged his dream of owning a workshop, building furniture and various wooden objects… and he boldly suggested I could be the resident artist who embellished the pieces. I’d love to be able to afford all the tools he needs, and hire him to build some jewelry boxes, picture frames, lawn decorations, shadowboxes, shelves, and countless other goodies for me to add some painted Regency Cat scenes.

Optimally, I want to be successful enough, over time, to enable him to quit altogether and work for me!

I selfishly want to draw him into my corner, and teach him everything about running Zen-cart and Etsy, how to program code, list items, and upload promotional photos… I’d like to teach him about packaging and shipping safely, and let him run all my errands… my own personal assistant… so I could spend more time painting stuff.
Of course, I’d encourage his creative time in the workshop while I torture the children with a BBC mini-series.

And I occasionally need a break to practice my cheesecake recipes.

“What motivates you?” is not a simple question after all.. but I can appreciate the exercise which causes us to dig deeper and put a human face to the formidable obstacle on our calendars, and in our own minds. In my case, it has four distinct faces… keeping in mind that my family will benefit the most from a successful holiday season.

TaraFly's son Jacob sits in photoshoot of her artwork.

Jake crashes an art photoshoot with his rugged charms.

Etsy’s Bootcamp may end after December, but for me, the lessons learned will need to be revisited often in the up-coming months.
It’s time to take myself a few steps further from this shallow rock.

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