Friday, August 26, 2011

August Birthstone: Peridot

Peridot is the official birthstone for the month of August.  Gem quality peridot comes from Arizona, Burma, Norway, islands in the Red Sea, Hawaii and is sometimes found in meteorites. It has been mined as a gemstone for over 3000 years, and is even mentioned in the Bible under the name of Chrysolite. 

The earliest known peridot mine was on the island that is now known as St. John’s Island, about fifty miles outside Egypt.  Legend says that peridot was one of the favorite gemstones of Cleopatra and that some of the 'emeralds' worn by her were actually peridot.

Pirates really respected the peridot. They wore it as a protection from evil spirits but to be effective against it had to be strung on donkey hair and worn on the left wrist. Peridot was also said to ward off nightmares and evil spirits in the night if one slept with it beneath the pillow.

Peridot is a clear, transparent green stone, ranging in hue from the vibrant green of spring grass to the muddy deep hues of an olive. The more clear and vibrant the green, the more valued the stone is considered. Because of the particular refractive properties of peridot, the stone has a velvety appearance rather than the fiery sparkle of an emerald.

Wearing a peridot is believed to promote peace of mind & calmness and to heal depression & mental illness.  Peridot is considered to be a tonic for the entire body rather than being associated with any particular system of the body.  In days gone by, medicines were often served in cups of peridot because it was believed that peridot enhanced the healing properties of the medicines.

The stone is said to promote openness in relationships, warmth, friendliness and love making it an ideal stone to be exchanged between friends to promote a long and healthy friendship. It is also the official gemstone of the first wedding anniversary, when love is still young – green and growing like a spring plant.

Capitalize on Your Strengths, Don't Focus on Your Weaknesses

A very smart man keeps reminding me that I should do that.  Stop commiserating about what I can't do (or do anymore) and concentrate on what I'm good at.  So, what am I good at?  What are the strengths & talents that I should be capitalizing on?

For the purpose of the audio book I'm currently listening to, a strength is any activity where you exhibit consistent, near perfect performance.  I could not take the online test associated with the book because I purchased it second-hand at a thrift store.  The web access code had already been use, presumably by the original owner.

I did, however, find a free online test very similar to the original.  The RichardStep Strengths Finder (RSSF) Test attempts to provide a way of pinpointing your preferred patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving.  The questions are based on the data from the book I'm listening to.  According to the results of this test, here are my top 5 strengths....

1.  Belief (95%):
People strong in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values
emerges a defined purpose for their life.

2.  Input (90%):
People strong in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive
all kinds of information.

3.  Positivity (90%):
People strong in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and
can get others excited about what they are going to do.

4.  Woo (90%):
People strong in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over.
They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.

5.  Responsibility (90%):
People strong in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will
do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.

Okay, that does sound a lot like me, I think.  I was surprised that some of the other identified strengths did not come up higher than they did in the results but this is not an exact science, I'm sure.  The ones that stand out most in my mind are....

•  Learner (75%): People strong in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.

•  Focus (75%): People strong in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.

•  Communication (65%): People strong in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.

•  Discipline (60%): People strong in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their world is best described by the order they create.

Perhaps I don't know myself as well as I thought I did.  So, where do I go from here?  I guess that I have to figure out how to capitalize on my top 5 strengths, as identified above, and learn to work around my weaknesses.  I must try to maximize those strengths, using them to my best advantage, and stop attempting to fix my weaknesses. 

Looks like I have some work to do.  *smile*

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What To Sell

How do you, as a vendor, know what will sell?  The answer, if you are being honest with yourself is, 'I have absolutely no idea'.  LOL  On the best of days, it's a crap shoot.  People are funny.  You never know what will appeal to them.

Products that I thought would be wildly popular have been sitting in my inventory for two years with no movement to speak of.  Items that I was unsure about, even skeptical, sell like hotcakes.  Who knew? Obviously, not me.

So, how does one go about choosing which products to sell at events?  My strategy is to stick with a few basic lines, products that are at least consistently turning over, if not big sellers.  Then, I keep addings new products & designs as they become available.

By doing that, you keep customers' interest because if they don't expect to see anything new, why would they bother to stop by your booth and look again?  They already know what you carry and have either purchased it previously or simply don't want what you have to offer.

There are customers who, for whatever reason, did not purchase the first time but do come back the next time they see you at an event because 'they regretted not getting it before'.  Or they bring back their friend to get one too because they like theirs so much.  Word of mouth is a wonderful way to advertise.

You end up with three different streams of customers...

1. Those coming back to purchase a product they know you carry.
2.  Those who are looking for something new & different knowing that you always have something in that category.
3.  Those that are totally new to you and have never seen you or your stuff before.

You need to cater to all three types.  Maintain a high level of customer service.  Happy customers not only come back time and again, but will tell their friends to check you out too.  Be open & inviting as people browse through your booth or even just casually pass by.  Smile.  Offer information & stories relevant to the products you offer.

But most of all....keep it fresh, new & exciting.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

July Birthstone: Ruby

I know that I'm late in posting this but better late than never, right?  The birthstone for the month of July is the ruby.  It ranges in colour from pink to crimson red to orange red.  The most beautiful crystals are thought to be from Burma, but quality rubies are also found in India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Kenya, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States.

Ruby mining dates back more than 2,500 years ago and it has been on of the most highly prized of gems throughout history.  It was called the "Rajnapura" or King of Gems by ancient Hindus.  The ruby was believed to have magical powers, and was worn by royalty as a talisman against evil.  It was said to grow darker when peril was imminent, and to return to its original color once danger was past—provided it was in the hands of its rightful owner.

Rubies were thought to represent heat and power.  Ancient tribes used the gem as bullets for blowguns, and it was said that a pot of water would boil instantly if a ruby was tossed into it.  Ground to powder and placed on the tongue, this crystal was used as a cure for indigestion. 

It is a heart chakra stone and encourages the stimulation of the loving emotional side toward nurturing.  It can be used to stabilize one’s economic status and it could help in finding an authentic life expression, doing what you love and perhaps beginning a new fulfilling venture.  It can assist a person in changing their world, promoting creativity and expansiveness in awareness and manifestation.

It has been said that the red glow of ruby comes from an internal flame that cannot be extinguished, making a gift of this stone symbolic of everlasting love.  With its hardness and durability, it is a perfect engagement gem.  If worn on the left hand, ancient lore has it that the ruby will bring good fortune to its wearer too.  I don't know about you, but I can use all the good fortune I can get. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

Yes, the best laid plans of mice and men often go array.  It has always been my 'intention' since starting the blog to post to it several times a week.  Alas, that has not been the case.

There are several factors, not excuses, that have contributed to my absence.  The hot, hot weather this summer has kept me off my computer and out of my house, which is not air-conditioned, in a more climatically friendly environment....the mall, for example.

In July, I was also preparing for a big event that we were attending & vending at near the end of the month.  I thought of & executed a new display system for the pewter pendants.  They were getting lost in the little reclosable plastic bags I was using.  People could not fully appreciate the beauty & craftsmanship of them.  See the results below....

I designed the labels, cut out the cardboard hangers, strung them all on cotton cord, then put them all together as seen in the photo.  That took a lot of time and sapped what little energy I had available.  I typically fell into bed early each night with the fan blowing on me.  There wasn't much else I could do, the heat was killing me.

I was completely offline and out of touch for the last ten days of the month.  We were camping at Raven's Knoll, west of Eganville, ON at the Kaleidoscope Gathering.  KG is a non-denominational Pagan/New Age camping event that takes place once a year.  We had a great time, by the way.  It was hard coming back to the 'real' world.  I'm already making plans to attend next year.

Of course, chronic pain always stops me from doing some of the things I want to do and often a lot of things I 'have' to do.  I need to pick my battles some days.  Hopefully, the cooler weather will come soon and I can get back to 'normal'.....whatever that is.  *smile*