Wednesday, January 30, 2013

the butterfly and the tsunami

Originally posted January 16, 2012

I take my responsibility to my fellow (wo)man pretty seriously. I would never harm another simply because it is within my power to do so. I also trust my fellow (wo)men to do the same. When passing oncoming traffic, I expect that the other person will not cross the center line. I expect that there will not be razor blades in my pizza or arsenic in my latte. We all have an awesome responsibility to each other, not because it's required by law, but because it is the right thing to do. 

Think about how many interactions you have on a daily basis. Like the ones I've mentioned above or others. Hundreds, thousands, millions even, when you are out and about. How many of those have resulted in personal harm? Very few, I would imagine. It's because we trust each other. We fundamentally know what is right and what is wrong, despite differing viewpoints. Yes, there are exceptions. Human nature is not perfect and occasional abnormalities, psychosis, and/or accidents happen. Also, I believe our awareness of how we are interrelated is diminishing. 

I take issue with those telling me that I'm not responsible enough to make my own personal choices. I know what is best for me, and make my decisions accordingly. It has nothing to do with what is legal, in most cases. For (a bad) example, as a teenager, I knew it was against the law to consume alcohol. That did not stop me from drinking nearly every weekend. It did not make the alcohol harder to get in most cases. I made my decision to do it and did it. Now, I'm not saying that underage drinking is right, it isn't. I'm merely illustrating a point. If there is something we desire badly enough, the law and its penalties tend to fade in importance (especially when you are an angst-ridden teen).

I respect others enough to make their own decisions as well. For example, I'll see someone in the grocery store who is unhealthy (by my own standards) putting Cheetos and Mountain Dew in her cart. Do I say anything to her? Hell, no! I am not arrogant enough to judge someone else's choices. She is not harming me by her decisions. Personal choice - I'm a big fan. Do what you want, as long as you understand how your decisions are affecting, or not affecting,  me.

I do not own a gun. Meaning, I do not have one registered in my name. My husband does and I like to shoot them. It's an awesome stress reliever and I like trying to hit targets of increasing difficulty. I like to hunt, but I just can't kill anything - personal choice. I enjoy being outdoors, watching my dog work, and seeing nature in all her glory. I have never been around or known any irresponsible gun owners and I've known a LOT of gun owners. I believe most people respect the power and responsibility they have when they have a gun in their possession. 

Recent events in Connecticut and other places have everyone horrified, and rightly so. Human nature is to DO SOMETHING to prevent something so unfathomable from happening again. We want action! I wish it were as simple as passing more laws saying you can't do this or that. I wish we could guarantee the safety of our children and everyone else in the world by simply signing pieces of paper. The truth is, no matter how many laws we pass or how many speeches we give, it will not matter. What does make a difference is teaching our children right from wrong and our power to cause harm or keep each other safe. The guns are not the issue, it is the lack of awareness of how we fit in with the rest of the world. Of how our choices ripple through the world. Sort of the butterfly and tsunami effect (look it up).

Personal choice rocks,

are you crazy?

Originally published August 22, 2012

I was recently asked what advice I would give to youngsters wanting to start their own business. Ok, this is funny to me. I'm six months in to starting my own business. I should be asking for advice. But as I am never one to shy away from any opportunity to give advice, I gave it a shot. I don't necessarily think the things I've learned the hard way qualifies me as an expert on everything, but I do believe that I can offer you some food for thought. Or at the very least, entertainment. 

Things you should consider before starting your own business, as learned by Ms.b.haven:
1. Seriously evaluate if you are crazy. Ask around, people will tell you. Sometimes we make decisions based on emotional events or serious hatred of our current situation. While it's not necessarily wrong to do this, it can color our judgement a bit. If you hate your job sooooo much you would do anything to get out it and decide to start a business without proper consideration of how it will impact your life, you will suffer more than is necessary. Starting a business out of desperation is dangerous. 

2. Believe in yourself. This was the toughest one for me in several ways. Believing in yourself is different from arrogance. Arrogance implies that you know it all. Believing in yourself means knowing who you are -- talents, faults and all. Accepting all of these aspects of who you are is imperative to life as well as business. BELIEVE that you can do this. But be honest with yourself as to your limitations (does not mean they are insurmountable).

3. Work hard. Like really hard. Like really, really hard. When you love what you are doing, this is easier than it sounds. You will/should work harder than you ever thought you could. I'm talking mental work, physical work, creative work (even if you are not thinking of a creative product/business), and social work. When you believe in what you are doing, you will be motivated to do all that is necessary for your business. Shortcuts do not exist, or if they do, proceed with caution.

4. Step outside your comfort zone. If you are uncomfortable doing something, that means that you haven't done it before or that there is some fear of failure. Embrace these opportunities! You will learn from them, I promise. The worst that can happen often doesn't. And if it does, you will come out of it a lot smarter.

5. Listen. People love to deal in worst-case scenarios. It is human nature. Listen, but understand that most folks do not know what your end goals are. On the other hand, a solid support network can be invaluable when those doubts creep up. They also might not know what your end goals are, but trust that you know what you are doing (even if you don't). Ask for help when you need it. There is absolutely no shame in admitting that you need assistance. Misplaced pride will do you more harm than anything.

6. Plan. There are a ton of resources on this topic that say things a lot better than me. PLEASE do not underestimate the importance of having a plan. Write it down. Refer to it. 

7. Love it. You have to be emotionally involved in starting any business. You have to love the hard work, the heartache and the triumphs of owning your own business. But, you also have to remember than it IS a business and may not love you back at times (refer to support network at these times).

8. Give yourself no choice but success. If you have an "escape plan" you will be tempted to use it. What-if's have no place here. You can't plan for everything, but you can plan on succeeding no matter what the circumstances. That's all part of the believing in yourself thing.

There are probably a dozen more things I could add to this list -- flexibility, fearlessness, resourcefulness, etc. While I used these things as advice for newbies, I actually try to apply this list to everything in life. Well, except for the plan part. Ha! Even if you aren't starting a business, think about how you live your life. Do you do everything you can to make yourself happy? If you aren't, why not? 

Crazy like a fox,

six months in

Originally posted August 20, 2012

Yesterday was the six-month anniversary of the opening of b.haven's online store. In those six months, I've made 62 sales, had one fire, four stitches, and had my stuff in three stores in Fargo, Baltimore and New Zealand. I've used every single thing I have ever learned and acquired lots of new knowledge. I've been elated, depressed, productive, not-so-productive, simultaneously hated and loved the post office, and bought more packing tape than I knew even existed (it comes in colors now!).

I have not bought a new pair of shoes in over six months. No new clothes or purses adorn my previously over-stuffed closet, and shopping actually seems like an ordeal these days. Wow, things have changed. While working for the feds, I could be counted on to shop at least once every couple of weeks and new clothes, shoes and purses were borderline obsessions. Now while you may think this is due to the fact that I have less money these days, which is certainly true, that is not the reason my shopping has taken a drastic downturn. 

When you are doing something you aren't in love with (i.e. you are miserable), you over compensate in other areas to make your life happier. Shopping was that for me. I loved the instant gratification and power that comes with buying new things. I felt better in control and it was an easy high to get. The shiny newness of new things were a distraction from what was really bothering me. I bought an Audi. I loved the fact that I had one and no one else did. I liked the prettiness of it and what its uniqueness implied....that I was different. 

Now I have no such inclinations. I'm deliriously happy with this crazy decision to start my own deal and all the chaos and worry that comes with it. My Audi is a paid-off vehicle that gets me from place to place, whose maintenance is always an issue. Clothes and shoes have a more utilitarian role for me now. They need to be able to get dirty, and dry quickly. They need to allow me to move around comfortably and have outstanding durability. My shoe choices are the same. Are they comfortable while I'm on my feet for hours and hours during the day? Can they get wet and dusty and still provide me with enough traction to navigate my often treacherous studio floor? These are the things I think about now, its not simply a "oooohhh pretty" reaction that gets my cash. 

The thing is, I'm happy. I need fewer distractions from my own life. I'm DOING what I've always wanted, I'm actually doing it! Every day is not paradise, mind you, but honestly I would not change my life, and the people in it, for the world. Do you feel this way about your life? I really, really, really hope so. If you don't, do something about it. There is no better feeling, I promise.

Now get to work, you are probably late for something,

neurosis in september

Originally posted September 10, 2012

September! I love September. This month has always felt special to me in a number of ways. It's my birthday month (which was a lot more fun pre-40). I love the dramatic season changes that happen during this time of the year. Especially here in North Dakota. You could have a 90-degree day at the beginning of the month and snow by the end. The landscape here is beautiful this time of year and the sunlight in the late afternoon/evenings is extraordinary in how it colors everything so warmly. North Dakota is blessed with constant breezes making the haze seen other parts of the country virtually non-existant. So pretty.

September is also a time of great activity here at b.haven studios. This is my first full season of shows and art fairs and I'm super busy preparing. It forces me to think much more pragmatically than I really enjoy doing. I'm always working up to the last minute, no matter how well I've planned. I worry about whether I'll have enough inventory. I worry about how I will get from place to place and if maybe I should purchase or rent a trailer. I worry about whether the costs of a hotel room are appropriate and whether I will make that money back during the show. I worry that my stuff will not sell well, or sell too well, and I'll have to schlep all the stuff home or race back and produce a ton more items for the next show. I guess what I'm saying is that my neurosis kicks into high gear in this month of change. 

This worry is all a result of my inexperience, I realize. I have to go through all of this in order to know what I'm doing. This is the worst part for me. I'm one of those people that hates not knowing. I badger my poor husband to death when he has a gift for me, and try to talk him into giving it to me early. I ask invasive questions relentlessly of my kids so I know what is going on. I research my father's cancer diagnosis until I can read research papers with medical terminology and understand what it means. I want to all the options for everything all the's exhausting.

In contrast, I love surprises and delight in learning something new, regardless of the subject. I am fully aware that my need to understand and "know" is all part of a desire to control. Control the situation, control the outcome, prepare for worst-cases and best-cases, know exactly what I will do given any situation...simply put, control. I've had to learn to enjoy surprises and appreciate what they mean. The reality of life is that we control nothing except our actions and reactions. We have to trust ourselves to be able to handle whatever comes our way, good and bad.

This is a constant theme for me, if you haven't noticed. I struggle with trusting myself, so I admit it publically as a sort of therapy. We should all admit our weaknesses more often. It's cleansing and shows everyone around us that we are all the same and not afraid to face our issues. And we all have issues. Now, I'm not talking about complaining here, simply admitting to those we love and ourselves that we are not perfect but expect perfection of ourselves....just like everyone else. There is something comforting about realizing that we are not alone in our self expectations, and they are often unrealistic. Letting go of that perceived control lets us enjoy the unexpected, or at least handle it in a more reasonable manner. The fear of "what if" is lessened and our knowledge of ourselves increased. The more we know about ourselves, the better we are able to trust that we can handle anything.

If you struggle with letting go, get a dog. Preferably one with behavior problems that you work out together (like Belle, pictured above). 

There is no better mirror, trust me.

hand made is the new handmade

originally posted September 24, 2012

As many of you know, I had a couple of shows a week or so ago. My dear friend and college roommate, Shelly (pictured above), came up to assist me. She has a weird calming affect on me, always has. She is a talented artist in her own right, and always has great ideas. I am very grateful for her friendship, smarts, talents, and loyalty. That girl has stuck by me through a LOT of stuff over the years. It was delightful having her share this whole new adventure with me. 

The Pride of Dakota day at the ND Capitol was a bunch of fun. I met several people I had only come to know online, and it was nice to have a real, live face to go with the names. I loved the setting and our space and was quite pleased with the sales. The Dickinson Harvest Showcase was just two days later. Saturday was a decent day. The crowd was mixed and it was nice talking with folks from the local area as well as new transplants to North Dakota. Sales were good, I was encouraged. And then came Sunday. Lots of people, but it was like pulling teeth to get people to break the threshold into my booth. Made a couple of sales, but it made for a loooooong day. But that is just how it goes sometimes (from what I hear).

I heard a ton of interesting comments -- good, bad, strange, and what...?! I loved it. I also realized that we have all become strangely detached from the handmade process. I heard, "can you do this same thing in a different color?" more times than I can count. Why, yes I can, but it is just not as simple as that. The things look the way they do for a reason. So, in the interest of education, here's a VERY brief description of my process:

Serigraphy ("silk" screen printing) is a printmaking process that a lot people rarely give thought too. Most people know it as how t-shirts are made and that is true. What I do though, it a bit, hands-on than your typical t-shirt shop.
  • Each color requires one screen -- essentially a screen stretched over a frame. Think of your window at home. That screen has to be prepared, often taking a day or so depending on the humidity, and then coated with emulsion. Emulsion is light-sensitive, and a prepared screen must be kept in the dark until it is ready to use.
  • The artwork I use is hand-drawn by me. I do use some computer-generated type, but try to customize everything "manufactured" as much as possible in order to truly make it original. I separate that artwork into the individual colors and make those colors black.
  • I then transfer each color to a clear plastic sheet, called a "positive." So if I have a piece of art that has three colors, I have three positives with black where the color will be.  
  • I take the positives and adhere them to the emulsified screen backwards, usually with clear tape, in a dark room illuminated with a photo-sensitve light bulb.  
  • The screen with the positive attached is then exposed to a light source. I use a light table with bulbs on the bottom and a black rubber blanket on the top. I expose the screen to this light source for 2-5 minutes, depending on the type of finshed product (paper or fabric).
  • Once the exposure has taken place, the screen is no longer light-sensitve. The emulsion that has been exposed to the light has hardened, the areas "blocked" by the positive have not. I remove the positive from the screen and wash it. The water will remove the areas blocked by the positive and leave the areas hardened by the exposure to the light solid, so it's essentially a reversed image of what was on the positive. Pretty nifty, huh?
  • Once the screen dries (usually a half day or so), it can be used for printing. The screen is attached to a table or flat surface using hinge clamps. The back of the screen is facing up. I pour ink onto this side and use my squeegee to drag the ink across the screen. It passes through the open areas onto the fabric/paper underneath. Ta-dah! One color is printed! 
  • The second (and third, etc.) color can be printed as soon as the first color dries. If I'm printing paper, usually a few hours to a half day, depending on the humidity. For fabric, I use a heat source to dry the ink and make it washable. Plus, I let it "cure" for a day or two. 

Like I said, that is a very brief description of my process. My point in explaining this is that I do not simply hit a "print" button to produce my work. Every item is hand made and so every item is just a little bit different, making every item an original. Please do not mistake my intentions here, I am not offended or mad at any of the comments made to me about my work. I love hearing what you have to say. I simply wanted to explain how what I do is considered hand made and that each item goes through an involved process for production. I also realize that they are tea towels, and not intended to be hung in an art gallery or taken terribly seriously. :)

I've been printing for just over a year now, so I am not an expert by any means. But if you have any questions or want to see the process, please let me know.

We're all hand made in some way,

thinking like a business person gives me a headache

Originally posted October 1, 2012

October? October! Man, time really travels quickly when you are behind. 

Last week was a hard one for me. I was plagued with a migraine that lasted waaaay too long and I wasted almost three whole days trying to recover. For all of you migraine sufferers, wearing sunglasses while working on the computer does not help all that much, just so you know. My migraine frequency has lessened as I've gotten older. So much so that I've let my prescription medication expire. Which is good, except when one strikes without much warning. I do believe I brought it on myself with a couple of poor decisions -- eating badly and over-committing to some custom work.

While I LOVE doing custom work, it often is not financially smart. Meaning, people will ask for a single print of something they want but also expect to pay the same price as my other works. I totally understand this, and often I can make the custom piece work for other things and justify the "loss." Let me explain. I told you about my "process" in last week's post. Thinking like a business person, I need to factor in my time and materials into the cost of each item. By producing multiple prints, I can bring the cost per piece down significantly. That is how I figure my pricing. By only printing one item, but using the same amount of time and materials as I would printing multiple items, I SHOULD charge nearly three to four times the cost of my other pieces in order to break even. Like I said, sometimes this loss is excusable as I can use the work for something else. Often times though, the custom piece is so specific that it just not possible, which is exactly where I'm at.

I am a pleaser by nature. I do not enjoy saying no and my first reaction is always to say "of course! I'd be happy to!" Then I get back to the shop and cuss myself for not thinking through what I've committed to do. So how do I fix it? Do I bite the bullet and tell the requester, "you are going to have to pay three times what you expected to pay," or "upon further reflection, I am going to have to say no, I can't do this thing I've committed to...?" OR, do I do what I usually do and honor my committment and take the loss as my penance? The last one puts me even farther behind in my holiday production schedule and stresses me out way more than it should. It will mean not only will I lose money on this item, but potentially lose future revenue because I will not be able to produce the amount of items I need for upcoming shows. While this sounds like I'm over-reacting (I probably am), it does have a significant ripple effect on everything else. The main issue is that I've done this "of course, I'd be happy to" thing my WHOLE LIFE and never seem to learn. I'm so frustrating. 

The whole point of my choosing to screen print was to produce my work in quantities. I chose this rather than painting because of the opportunity to share one piece with several people. Now I am rethinking. May be I should go back to painting and sell a single item for a lot of $$ making it more precious and available to only one person. Goodness knows, my painting skills are a lot more sophisticated than my printing skills. Or maybe I should just generate everything through my computer and printer and sell a whole lot more for a whole lot cheaper, like a number of other artists do. Or maybe I should just stop feeling sorry for myself and learn my lesson for once. Yep, that last one works for me. 

Walking the line between precious and mass-production,

horse sweat and home

Originally posted October 8, 2012

When I was a little girl, my best friend was a one-eyed Shetland pony named Sugar. With a special needs sister who was allergic to everything and scared of horses, and a mother who was always busy trying to figure out how to help her, I was alone a lot. Although it didn't seem that way to me. Sugar was there. I braided her hair and rode her around wherever she wanted to go. Dad said no saddle until I learned to ride bareback. She wasn't the best-mannered pony but I think we had an understanding and she liked me. To this day, the smell of horse sweat, hay and leather makes me instantly remember home. 

My second best friend was my dad. To me, my father could do no wrong. All fun things centered around him. He cut a special little door in the side of the barn for me so I could get in there easily and play in the hay bales or feed the horses treats. We'd walk around the woods looking for deer or mushrooms, or young trees to transplant to our large, newly created yard. In the fall, we'd cut wood for our wood-burning stove and I sometimes got to drive the truck back into town. He tied a giant rope swing to my favorite tree in the horse pasture in which I spent hours doodling in the dust underneath it. He let me "help" with whatever project needed to be done around the house. Be it cleaning out the flue on the roof, or painting the shed, he always let me assist him by handing him tools or answering my endless questions. On Halloween one year, my mom had taken me and my sister trick-or-treating and we had just pulled up in the driveway. It was dark by then and as we were walking to the house, I heard "WooooOOOO" and my father comes jumping off the roof in a sheet. My sister started screaming and crying. I got a big case of the giggles and was filled with awe that my DAD JUMPED OFF THE ROOF FOR US. 

When I was 11, my parents divorced and I felt terribly betrayed. My two best friends were leaving me and we were moving to town. Wow, I was angry. In that way that a young kid gets angry when they have little understanding of the world. Everything changed and my "home" was gone forever. It's funny how that happens. As a kid, it never occurs to you that things change and life goes on. 

It took years, but I "forgave" my dad and we now enjoy the same type of relationship we had when I was a child. While he may not have always understood my decisions, he has always been my biggest fan (even keeping and displaying with pride those horrid first paintings in art school), my most consistent advisor, my strength in hard times, and my Home. Beating cancer once, it has reappeared and he's fighting it with a wink and a smile. It breaks my heart that this man who has given so much to so many has to endure this horrible thing and I can't simply hand him tools and ask him questions to help. He told me once, that all he wants is for me "to grow up to be a good person." So that is what I'm trying to do -- grow up. It's hard focusing on work when my Daddy is nearly 1000 miles away and going through this thing. He told me I'd better stop taking this so hard or he was "going to skip chemo and come up and beat my ass." Ha! Guess I know what I need to do.

Thinking of horse sweat and home,

It was a funny story...

Originally posted November 23, 2012
Ok, ok, I know it's been FOREVER since my last post. And yes, I do feel guilty. The last month has been exceptionally insane. I've been to Missouri (my home state) twice which takes a crazy amount of time since we drove all 900 miles both times. Once was for Baby Girl's birthday (step granddaughter Emery turned two - upper left photo), and once for a show hosted by some of my oldest and dearest friends (upper right photos). The day after we got back, the water line on the refrigerator sprung a leak, causing a flood of unbelievable proportions. After dealing with service guys, the insurance company, and the chaos that ensues from not having a kitchen for two weeks, I'm now gearing up for the holiday rush of shows. I'm tired. 

BUT, I did want to share some lessons that I've learned over the last few weeks:
Lesson Number One is that if you want a rewarding life, you must surround yourself with people that inspire you. The show in Missouri was hosted by my college roommate, Shelly, and her family. It was held in Shelly's mother's house, and everything that was offered was handmade by her, her sister, her mother, her brother, my other college roomie's husband, a church friend and me. The array and quality of items was astounding! If you want to see more, please go here. It wasn't your usual "craft" show with blue geese and croqueted potholders (not that there is anything wrong with that), it was REAL art from the hearts and hands of some of my oldest and dearest friends. I was so lucky to be a part of it and felt crazy-blessed to have these people in my life. Fun, fun.

Lesson Number Two is that even bad things can save you. Meaning, our kitchen flooded, yes. But because they had to move the kitchen island, we found some bad wiring that could have caused a fire VERY easily. I have always hated the color of the flooring in our kitchen, so replacing it was not a horrible idea to me. 

Lesson Number Three involves the importance of sappy, emotional stuff surrounding a love of family. My family is made of step kids/grandkids, a delightful husband, lifelong friends, and a truly inspiring father and terribly devoted stepmom. My family is not traditional and does not include only people I am tied to by blood. I've spent the last month, even if it was only a few minutes, with my favorite people in the world and have been close to tears more times than I can count because of the love I have for these people. If I am to be "judged" based on who I am surrounded by, it would be difficult to say that I am anything other than an outstanding person. Ha!

...and we all smiled at it,

ego in a bottle

Originally posted November 23, 2012

It's the day after Thanksgiving and I think I'm still stuffed! Being so far away from family, I made an extra-special attempt to make a great meal for my little family. I think I did an outstanding job, by the way. Ha! 

Last weekend was the Fargo Pride of Dakota show and I think it went particularly well. I met a lot of very interesting people who asked some very interesting questions. The most curious one to me, and the one I heard most frequently, was "you MADE this?" While that is flattering that my stuff looks like it wasn't handmade, it was also a little funny to me. How do I explain that while every single item I sell is special to me in some way? That each and every one has a story behind it, and that while they may communicate light and happy messages, most of my work is the result of turning a difficult or sad situation into something else? I explained the stories behind them if I noticed an interest or if they would stand still long enough. Poor people...I was the gabby "vendor" that took too much of their time trying to convince them that my stuff WAS special. <sigh> I need to work on that. If someone enjoys my stuff, just let them enjoy it, is what I tell myself...later.

What I took away from the show was a feeling I wish I could bottle and keep for those times when I think, "what the hell am I doing?" I felt a sense of happiness and accomplishment that I was connecting with people. The folks that would come into my booth and chuckle at something they saw there, or those that shared part of their lives with me, regardless if they bought something, made my heart smile. My ego was soothed, my inner voice that screams you-are-too-(enter self-loathing adjective here), was silenced for a bit. 

We spend a whole day this time of year being thankful for whatever we are thankful for. We feel the need to name specific things at the dinner table or at family gatherings. I think that's awesome, really I do. What I try to work on personally, however, is feeling that sense of thankfulness and gratitude way more than once a year. I continue to strive to be worthy of this life I'm living every single day. Sometimes, all day even. Ha! No, seriously, I owe everyone I come in contact with something of myself for being a part of my world. It is the only way I feel whole inside, and the only way I know how to live a happy life. Ok, that was a bit more revealing that I intended to get in this post, but I'm feeling all emotional today. You can roll your eyes if you want. Taken at surface value, this whole post does seem a bit like insincere gibberish ("does she REALLY believe that?!"). I'm ok with that. Maybe its the tryptophan.

Happy leftovers,

holiday holidaze

Originally posted December 10, 2012

Oh, how I love Christmas! This time of year is crazy and busy and frantic and stressful...all the things I love most. Ha! No, really, the reason I love this time of year isn't based on pretty lights and shiny packages (although I do love those too). The reason I love this time of year is because the majority of us spend time thinking about other people. 

Thinking about ourselves is natural and necessary. What do I want? How come I'm not getting what I want/need? Do I like this or hate it? What do I think of me? These are all questions that cross our minds, right or wrong. At this time of year, we change the "I" to "he,"she," or "they," and that can be a refreshing change of pace. Focusing on another's needs/wants can take us out of our own head for awhile. And we give. We give presents, our time, our love, our money. All in the spirit of saying, I care about you. Feeling cared about is one of the best experiences we get to enjoy. 

Saying, "I care" can be hard. I speak from experience. I makes you feel vulnerable and you risk being hurt. I struggled with this, even with my own family members, for a long time. It was much easier for me to make them something that showed how I felt, than it was to simply say it. I felt the words were just so...easy to say, I guess. By making a present for someone, I got to spend time thinking about that person in detail and what they meant to me. I was able to pour those feelings into my hands to be able to create something specially for them. This is whole basis of b.haven.

Now I'm not saying everyone should make their loved ones presents. I just want to encourage you to find a way to say you care with a good amount of sincerity behind it. Buying something is easy, giving of yourself is much harder and much more rewarding.

Just sayin,