Changes, Gorillas, moving forward

I am flabbergasted at the response my gorilla post has received.  It was shared and reached by over 2900 people on Facebook alone, and I know that it was forwarded on other social media, printed it out, or emailed it to folks.  That is beyond my comprehension and beyond what I had hoped for.

I am gratified and so very glad that people have found it useful.  Someone suggested that my words might help save a life by giving others a way to communicate the indescribable – and I hope that it does.  I have left it up far longer than I intended to – primarily because I have been uncertain at how to follow up – and secondarily because I want to be sure folks can find it if they want to.  So I am going to push up my sleeves and see if I can figure out how to permalink it in here….

Moving forward, I do need to get back to real life and baskets.  We are in the fourth quarter and chaos should soon reign supreme around here – at least we hope so.    Keep your eyes here for updates on new designs and new promotions.  I will probably pop back over to the deeper topics too – seems like folks like to hear what I have to say.

In the meantime, thanks for all the shares and kind words – those are some serious gorilla tranquilizers.

Smiles,

Lise

Gorilla on your Back

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I’ve talked about writing this article for several years, but the timing never seemed quite right. It’s rather heavy for a blog about gift baskets, and yet such an important topic that ignoring it seems the wrong thing to do. And then, as you will understand after reading, there is the fear of opening myself up to criticism and disapproval. All these factors have conspired against my doing this.  But the time has come.

I have both a chronic illness (Crohn’s disease) and clinical depression. In my universe, they are separate beasts that I struggle with on a daily basis to control. My friends and family are supportive and loving, but had trouble understanding what depression felt like until I came up with the Gorilla concept. to help my father, who also had clinical depression, convey his emotional state to his medical teams.

Depression is an ape on your back. Every day presents a different ape to deal with. The goal in living with depression is to have a spider monkey. Spider monkeys are tiny little fellows. They cling pretty tightly, and can certainly get in the way, but hey, you can manage a spider monkey. You can put a leash on it, you can walk around with it on your shoulder and it might require some attention, but you can breathe, you can think, and for a while, you might even forget it is there. A spider monkey isn’t perfect, but it’s absolutely reasonable.

Some days you have a monkey on your back. This guy is bigger than the spider monkey. He is probably still controllable, but he’s certainly more of a problem. He is going to steal your food, so you won’t eat much. He is going to distract you so you can’t focus on what’s in front of you, and he’s going to trip you up, but you can probably work around him with some extra effort.

Orangutans are harder. They are big, heavy and have really long arms that reach around and cause trouble. They push away things that give you joy, make it hard for other people to get near you, weigh you down. They will literally cause you physical pain and block your ability to see the path to relief. If you live with depression, you develop the strength to carry around an orangutan, but you are aware of its presence 100 percent of the time. It impacts the way you eat, sleep, play, work, and interact with friends and family. Having an orangutan on your back is a huge, heavy weight to bear.

Then there is the gorilla. Imagine how hard it would be to get out of bed with a gorilla on your back. Think about how difficult it would be to get dressed, to brush your teeth, to go to work and do your job with the crushing weight of a gorilla on your back. Imagine the pain — both physical and emotional — that the gorilla is going to cause. Try to breathe or eat or think; the effort is exhausting.

Now, live with your primate of the day when no one else knows it is there. They can’t see the monkey, orangutan or gorilla, and you can’t make them believe it’s there. They want you to shake it off, ignore it, think about something else. They haven’t lived with a monkey on their backs, and they cannot begin to understand how overwhelming life is with a monkey.

Those of us suffering clinical depression are given tools to help control and tame our beasts  — medications, therapy, exercise  — but some days those are not enough. If we aren’t using all the available tools, finding the strength and energy to pick them up is sometimes more than we can do, because simply being is an exercise in emotional and physical endurance.

So, how do you help someone like me  live with a monkey on his or her back?

One: Don’t be judgmental. Trust me, no one wants to live like this. No one would choose to deal with this. It might look like we are not doing what we need to or that we are wallowing in the pain. But from where we sit, we don’t see any way out. We are too busy just trying to breathe.

Two: Respect it. While you may never be able to fully empathize, respect that this is a very real pain, in every sense of the word. We know that what we are feeling may not be logical, may not be reality, but that doesn’t change how it feels  — and it feels lousy.

Three: Offer the help you can. Be a friend, show the love. Don’t walk away or get angry  — that just feeds the monkey. Ask (gently) if we have taken our meds, help us make a doctor’s appointment, come by and just spend time, even if we can’t tell you we want you to. Listen to us, let us cry and encourage us to not check out from the world. And know that sometimes we are doing all the things we are supposed to be doing … and yet King Kong is moving in. It is just like that sometimes.

Finally, watch for cries for help. I am blessed; my family and friends know that when I have gorillas, I need support. And thanks to this analogy, I am able to tell them how I feel with just a few words, instead of trying to explain how the day is going. I have a monkey, I have an orangutan, I have a gorilla.

The gorillas are real.

June Newsletter

Well, we missed one.  The May newsletter was a casualty of the season this year.  On a personal note, both of my sons are graduating this year – my eldest from high school, my youngest from 8th grade.  That has created a whirlwind of ceremonies, events and assorted celebrations.  We’ve had a fabulous time, but things do manage to slip.For BasketWorks, May was crazy busy, more so this year than ever before.  Mother’s Day and attending the Sweets and Snacks show keeps me busy most years, but this year we also changed the hosting service for our website (no more downtime, hurray!), added new designs to the site, cleared out excess inventory and had our first survey on our Facebook page.

I hope that your spring has been as much fun as mine has been, and that your summer is full of fun, family and friends.

Lise

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Every week I order product.  Generally, I am simply reordering those products that we use all the time – containers, shred, ribbon, etc.  No big deal, no significant decisions or choices to make.

But often I am selecting something new and trying to guess what my clients will prefer.  Sour Jelly Bellys or the traditional 49 flavor assortment?  Ginger cookies or Lemon snaps?   Snickerdoodle coffee or hazelnut?  Or just a morning blend?

With that in mind, we held a survey on ourFacebook page, where we asked for YOUR input on what our next Bath and Body scent should be as we expand our line.   The winning scent in our survey was Lemon Cream, with 31.9% of the vote.  We are sending a $50 gift certificate to Petra S. as a thank you for participating.  I am planning on asking your opinion monthly and giving one respondent a $50 gift certificate – one more way we’re listening to our customers.

We will be posting our next survey next week and it will run for two weeks – be sure to watch for it!

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An Extra Boost..

Last summer at the Chicago Gift Show, we met the folks from An Extra Boost of… and absolutely fell in love with their oversized mugs.

We took their Extra Boost of Comfort and Extra Boost of XOXO and created four different styles – soup, coffee, chocolate and tea.

Take a look, let us know what you think!

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Clearance Sale

We like to keep all of our inventory fresh (not just the food!) and we realized we have been carrying some of these items for a while.  So we decided to discount them to make space for new items.   We have mugs, glass houses, art kits, dog bowls, holiday ornaments, gel gems – the list goes on.  We have about a dozen items up now, adding more daily!  Check out our Clearance Page here for all our discounted items!
Remember that after we receive your order we will manually combine all clearance items going to a single address and reduce shpping prices to reflect the actual weight of the complete order.
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by phone 847-559-9379 or 888-794-4387
by email  info@79gifts.com
our website: www.79gifts.com
on Facebook: BasketWorks.Chicago 
at my Blog: www.79gifts.com/blog/
LinkedIn
Twitter 
Google+ 

We’re Hiring!

help wanted

 

Know someone in the Northbrook area looking for a flexible part-time job?   We are looking for a self-directed, hands-on individual to build, package and ship gift packages for our growing business.

The position is for 20-25 hours per week, and includes stocking product, managing inventory (receive, track, organize), shipping packages, building some standard packages, local deliveries, filing, light cleaning and the occasional personal assistant duty.   The primary requirement is a willingness to work and follow the directions – I can teach the rest!

We run a serious business, but I am flexible with employee’s hours and days – I will work around college schedules, school schedules, volunteer schedules…..lets talk.   We are looking for a permanent employee, so folks home for the summer from college are not a good match.

Caveats – the job is standing 95% of the day, going up and down stairs multiple times a day.  We carry around boxes – usually around 15 lbs, but can be as heavy as 30 lbs.  There are 2 dogs and a cat on premises, as well as teenagers.

Interested?  Call me at 847-559-9379 or pop me an email at info@basketworks.biz.  Please forward, share and otherwise distribute this to those you know!

Smiles!

Lise

Been awol….

DOMESTIC GODDESS 180So it was pointed out to me that I have been awol from this blog for almost a month.  Not the way this is supposed to work.   My apologies (not that I really believe that I have an audience of folks waiting with baited breath for these posts, but I can hope…). So what has been keeping me away?  What are you going to hear all about in the coming days and weeks (which is really what that question means)?  My calendar was stuffed in full in May – my birthday (we’ve already covered that), moving my servers, running surveys, Mother’s Day,  Sweets & Snacks show, a holiday party(delayed because the 4th quarter is so insane),  an anniversary party, a memorial service, working on an Eagle Scout project, prom, Senior awards, graduations, family parties celebrating said graduations….I’m exhausted just looking back at my calendar! But no excuses.  I simply dropped the ball.  OK.  Happens.  Picking myself up and moving right along…  First and foremost, new items in!  We found some fabulous new items at the Sweets and Snacks show that we are bringing in and I will be introducing in the the next few days.  Some retro (intro?) spective thoughts on the end of the school year, and moving forward. Glad to be back…. smiles! Lise

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Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday….to me!    My birthday was last Friday, and I must say, it was absolutely lovely.  I started the day with a 7 am meeting, full of warm wishes and friendly faces.  I will admit that I could do without the early start (not so much a morning person) it did set a great tone for the day.  A friend stopped by to take a walk with me – and I actually made the time to go out and take the walk!

Sandi took me out for lunch and surprised me with a new Kindle (paperwhite…now I can read without a light!)  My sister stopped by with a chai latte and tulips for me.  Homemade ravioli for supper and a square dance to top it all off.  Really really nice.

But one thing had me grinning like an idiot all day.  Facebook notes.  All day I had these little blips showing up on my page as folks took 30 seconds to wish me a happy birthday.  And you know what?  It really made me smile.   Still making me smile.

So thanks to everyone who took time out of their day to help make my day so special.   I really appreciate it!

Smiles.
Lise
(PS – if you haven’t taken our Facebook survey,  I’d appreciate it if you would swing by – it takes about a minute and a half!)

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And the decision is…..

We had our second admitted student day last week at Knox college.  Beautiful campus – small to the eyes of this Big Ten girl, but full of trees, green areas, and old, history-infused buildings.   Stand out moments:

  1. We toured campus and saw the spot where one of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates took place, as well as a chair that Lincoln (and more recently Obama) sat in – available for prospective students to sit in as well.    Very cool piece of history in that.
  2. The library at Knox is my personal idea of heaven.  Large comfortable furniture, wooden paneling and built in bookcases and glass fronted cabinets.  Enough modern conveniences to be useful.  And a special collection of rare books including Carl Sandburg, Ernest Hemingway and F.Scott Fitzgerald.  I want to know if they need a professor of entrepreneurism.
  3. The students are quirky.  In a good way, but clearly, marching to the beat of your own drum is not only accepted but encouraged here.  Clothing styles from early American hippie to modern punk, buttoned-up preppie to relaxed casual – we saw it all, and not in clumps but rather mix and matched.

We were impressed with much of what we heard and saw.  So, we were down to decision time.  Drake or Knox?  Really….no bad choice here.  We felt comfortable with the quality of education and life at either school.

  • While there seems to be somewhat less of a focus on internships at Knox than at Drake, there is a very high focus on interaction between Professors and students.
  • Drake is larger, Knox is closer.
  • Drake is blue, Knox is purple.

Final choice – Knox.  Why?  Just felt right.

Good as any other reason when weighing two equal options.

Smiles.

Lise

 

Passover

Passover starts tonight, and in my house that means a full house, a full table, family and friends.  As holidays go, it isn’t my personal favorite – a little too structured for my taste.   But it is certainly a holiday that stands out, defines our household as Jewish, and that is good.  And it continues the traditions from both my and my husband’s families.

This year we are a little on the smaller side – we are seating 30 (it was 29 until a few hours ago when we added one…).   I say smaller because last year we had 45.  This is quite the feat when the entire house is under 1500sf.   Furniture goes to live in the garage, tables get arranged, chairs are borrowed.  But I wouldn’t cut back on our guest list for the world.   Both sides of the family – everyone in town.  Friends who ARE family.  And always, always, those  who for one reason or another have found themselves without a table.   There is always room for one more.  (Well, last year we managed the one more, but only because one left early…..)

While the dinner might not be what my great-grandparents’ served, and the service is decidedly more relaxed, one thing has not changed.  There is always room.  There is always enough food.  Guests are always welcome.   Seder or just Wednesday dinner, that is a perpetual truth at our house.

And for that, I am grateful.

For those of you who celebrate, may you have a holiday of family, friends and joy.   Smiles.

Lise

Journey to Space….

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After picture – see below for before!

So, last April, it became painfully obvious that our 400 square foot work space was no longer going to cut it.   I had 3 to 4 people working in here at once, and while we were all quite chummy, there are limits to what can reasonably be accomplished when space is that tight.  Add to that the chaotic condition of the garage and you have a recipe for disaster.   So I undertook to expand my space.

We considered digging out additional basement – not only was this cost prohibitive, there were definite structural issues for our 60+ year old hose there.  We looked into renting space, but if I wanted to stay within half an hour of home, I was looking at annual rents of over $25k a year – plus utilities and build outs.  So the most reasonable option was to refinish the garage.

We started by renting a moving pod and emptying out the garage.  First time in 16+ years that it had been completely empty.  Found things that I had forgotten about, found things from the previous owners that i never knew were in there.   (I did however finish my oldest son’s baby book – BEFORE his 18th birthday.  I count that as a win!)    In any event,  that process has been a large impetus for our clearance sales….

We had the garage rewired, brought out phone and internet, new lights.  Insulated the entire thing and HVAC.  I painted it all a bright white.  Laid a new attic floor as well as a new concrete floor.  Moved shelving around, bought some new shelving.  Sandi built a handy-dandy box holder on wheels for me.  Rigged up a pulley system to store our packing peanuts above the garage door, and while we were at it, we insulated the garage door.    Of course, the garage door opener went kaput during all this, so we installed a new one.

Then came the hard part. Moving everything back in.  I was bound and determined to make decisions about what was coming in – sorting through every box, selling, tossing or giving away things that were no longer needed.  (A work still in progress….).  The result?  Our new space has a work desk for shipping baskets – building too if need be.  The attic is full of silk flowers, carefully labelled so we can find what we want.  We added a computer desk so that we can create shipping labels on the spot.  Because we are climate controlled, we are able to store foodstuffs without a problem.

The difference is amazing.  While I still spend the majority of my time in the basement, my guys are able to work upstairs and not crash into each other.  We actually have a space for staging packages waiting to ship out.  All lovely and beautiful.  If you are in the neighborhood, stop by and see it!.

I know that in the newsletter I promised more pictures here, but that just didn’t work, so I have created a full album on our Facebook page – check them out!  (This link will take you to the first picture….)

In any event, it has been quite the journey and I am glad we finally made it!

Smiles all!

Lise

inside garage

Before

Spring Cleaning

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Table of books and containers to go away

I’m not a big one for spring cleaning.

Let’s be real.  I’m not a big one for cleaning, period.   However, several things have come together to make spring cleaning a thing around here this year.

I need to get rid of the moving pod that has been taking up space in my driveway – so I need to sort through everything in there.  And then I need to make a place to put anything I am keeping, so I need to sort and clean out other spaces.  Sandi asked me for a list of all the books I have from my favorite author – so I cleaned out the bookshelves and got rid of 20 or so books (this is a major accomplishment for me….).  And I found a bunch of fun new items at the Housewares show that I want to bring in, but I need space, so I am listing excess inventory on Amazon. (check that out here).

Neat & Tidy bookshelf

Neat & Tidy bookshelf

Now that all said, what it means in practice is that everything is a bit more of a disaster.  While the bookshelves are a thing of beauty, there are several stacks of books waiting for a new home.  There is a stack of stuff to be listed on Amazon or Etsy, stuff waiting for me to sort…..stacks everywhere.   Slowly but surely I am working my way through everything, and that does feel good.

So if you are looking for a deal, check out my Amazon, Etsy or Clearance page – generally there are different things on each page.   I hope you see things you love.  If you see many things you love, I am happy to combine shipping for you.

Now….if only it would FEEL like spring.

Smiles

Lise