It’s been far too long since I’ve written something and writing is something I’ve decided I quite like to do when I take, or make, the time to sit down and do it. As with so much of what I do I always feel the time, place, and mood have to be just so to begin. Stupid, I tell myself (and I’m right!), stop that worrying and just begin! So here I am, on a sunny winter morning in my favorite park with the deeries (that’s what I call them) and the dog walkers, sitting in my warm car, writing to catch you up on how 2018 went and what’s ahead for 2019. [Just so you know it took me even longer to get this up online, so everything I’m talking about here was a week or so ago].
This is a first for me…writing any blog in the first two months of the year (but of course we didn’t get it published till March, oh well, close enough). Looking back, it seems I must have gone into hibernation in January and February, as I’ve never posted anything in those months. This, I’ve decided, is going to be the best year yet, and a year full of firsts, new places, new and wonderful goodies, and mostly new friends!
So far, so good. This year I’ve already attended the Cincinnati Travel, Sports and Boat Show (a first, and a great success!) and at the very last minute I found myself with the last available spot at the Cincinnati Home and Garden Show (another first me, which also went very well). You also may have saw me at the O.F.F. Love Market in February which I do every year. And then there’s been the travel planning for a 3 week adventure somewhere VERY exotic (but you’ll have to keep reading to see where we’re going and when…hint…we’re already there!). So a lot has happened, I haven’t been exactly hibernating, but I still do miss my writing and wanted to get back to that.
After the first couple days of the Home and Garden show, and meeting lots of new friends there I was surprised to recognize how very big my world has become. I know I’ve seen it in bits and pieces, but I’d not seen the big picture so clearly. As a result of this crazy new Whirling Girl adventure, and more directly and honestly a result of my sobriety, my world today is HUGE and growing bigger every single day!
I’ve added so many people to my world, people I most certainly would never have met and known and reconnected with (that’s a biggie too), if I were still sitting in my lonely little world drinking and smoking pot all day.
To sum up 2018, I think I’d have to say it was year of learning…not so great in terms of sales (but not awful), but many new lessons learned. I’ve hopefully progressed considerably on that long learning curve. Markets weren’t as good as we’d hoped, mostly due to some very uncooperative weather :( We spent a good bit of time and money working to increase sales in our online store. Some stuff worked, some didn’t, but again, we learned a lot. Our Mexico trip in March was great fun with great exploring and lovely people and neat finds. I highly recommend Oaxaca (the whole state) as a travel destination and am happy to share my experience, just send me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Then in July I took some time to be with my family and we rented a beach house in the Outer Banks of North Carolina (a favorite family vacation spot of ours that we’ve been visiting for yeeeeaaarrrrss). It wasn’t the whole family, but I did get to see my son and family who live in Colorado and two of my sons from Cincinnati, plus of course Ed, my brother, and even The Whirling Girl’s own Jen who you’ve probably met at a market or two :) We had a blast and it was great to reconnect as a family.
My Turkey trip in October was a great success on all fronts and I managed to do almost everything on my list. I have great stories I still intend to share! I made lots of new friends, good connecting and I bought TONS of gorgeous new goods (66 large boxes full to be exact, plus a few extra bags!). Tail between my legs, I must admit that I received a pretty severe scolding from Kim (my outstanding daughter-in-law, business advisor, mentor, etc.). I bought WAY to many different styles, colors, etc. etc. I did NOT follow my very specific instructions to buy a lot of fewer varieties. Poor Kim, and bless her heart she tries so hard to keep me reigned in. However, it appears that in the moment and on the spot I just can’t resist or contain myself :) I am both willful and stubborn! All of that said it’s all working out so well as I now have lovely little collections to provide me with several fun product launches throughout 2019…so stay tuned for that! And I’ve learned yet more valuable lessons :)
2019 will be a GREAT year, I’m sure of it. I’m invigorated, excited, and off to a wonderful start! Usually I sell virtually nothing in January and February. This year, by the end of February I’ll already have had 3 successful markets under my belt. Also, in part due to promo codes I’ve been using at the shows, my online sales are way up too! And…BIG NEWS..we’ve just begun the process of building a brand new website, using a new sales platform (Shopify, let me know if you’ve used it before and can offer any tips!) that will help take my business to the next level (and relieve a LOT of stress and work on the back end for me). The new site will be great fun and easy to use and will include all new vibrant and truer to color pictures to give you all a better sense of how gorgeous our goodies are in real life. Here again, Kim is orchestrating and overseeing the entire project, as I’l be off traveling The truth is, I have completely no clue about any of it and would absolutely be of no use anyway. I could never have done any of this without Kim’s unending love, support and free help. The Whirling Girl must be a great success so that someday I can actually pay her for all she has done.
Now on to travel plans for 2019. Where are we going first….? NEPAL! Did you guess that?! I bet not. And yes, Ed is coming too. We have 3 weeks and we’re actually already on our way there as you read this! We even have a layover in Dubai so stay tuned for that! I’m tremendously excited. I’ve been so busy with all else that other than booking flights, I don’t have any specifics figured out. I expect it to go something like this…
First we’ll spend a couple days in Kathmandu, the capital, recovering from the long journey, planning the coming days and most importantly, checking out all possible shopping venues and wonderful Nepalese products to get some idea of where I’ll want to go and what I might like to buy.
Then, probably off to Pokhara, evidently a lovely little town on a lake and the entry point to hiking the more popular Annapurna treks. I’m thinking we’ll leave most of our belongings there, and test our limits on a 3 night / 4 day trek up in the Annapurna Sanctuary area. My son and daughter-in-law did a much longer trek in the same area back in 2014 and wrote about here, so you can get a little taste of what we’re in for (in case you’re wondering, this area wasn’t much affected by the devastating earthquake in 2015). We’ll trek, unguided, long days up into lovely little villages, getting close as we can to the majestic Himalayas for some magical views. It’s supposed to be awesome with people, animals and little tea houses all along the way. Ooohh I can’t wait!
Then we’ll head down to the jungle in the south of Nepal, right near India. There are supposed to be tigers, rhinos, elephants and more there in the Chitwan National Park. It also looks like there are neat little indigenous villages nearby that you can visit on bikes on fun little country roads. (I so love little villages!)
From there back to Kathmandu for some serious shopping with time to figure out shipping and maybe just packing extra bags (in my 4 huge duffles from Guatemala I always take for that very purpose, they’re the best!)
As I’ve said, nothing is really figured out or planned just yet, including transport from place to place. I always rent a car wherever even remotely possible, but from all I’ve read, that’s not possible (only a car with a driver…the roads are apparently worse than you can imagine and only a local can manage). So we shall see, but am certain it will all go superbly :)
I’m setting my sights on a solo trip in the fall to somewhere in South America, as I’ve not yet been there. At this point I’m thinking maybe Ecuador…lots of fun warm and wooly goodies for the holidays and winter I imagine!
Sorry to be so long but there was much to say :) I need help or would love your thoughts and ideas about what you might like from Nepal. I’m open to anything and would love to come back with the Nepalese goodies I’ve been searching for! Can’t wait to tell you all about my trip…don’t forget to follow along on Instagram (@the.whirling.girl) which also gets posted to Facebook to see how things are going along the way. I tend to use mostly Instagram Stories while traveling (which only last for 24hrs and don’t get re-posted to Facebook), so if you don’t yet use Instagram, but want to follow along, I highly recommend you watch this quick video and start following now! See you on the road!
The Whirling Girl
(aka Sandy Merrill)