After beginning this year with a computer down and bit by a spider, I went on to catch a flu bug and loose my voice! While some people (not mentioning any names....my family!) appreciate my voice being gone for a bit, it was really an inconvenience! After a bit more than a month, four antibiotics, two ER visits, and three Dr. visits, I am FINALLY up out of the bed and back on line! I apologize to all my online friends and customers, I was not prepared to loose my health AND computer during the same time period. I was hit fast and hard with this all and did not have time or means to make the proper notices in my shops or on my blog. I only managed one blog entry this whole time, when my Mom was here and brought her computer. Unfortunately she left rather unexpectedly herself, taking her computer with her, to deal with another medical situation. While Mom was home long enough to take me to the ER and get my prescriptions, she left before I even thought about the relatively new vacation mode. Eventually, albeit very LATE in the game, I managed to get a phone message to a friend in Florida - THANK YOU GENA!!- and she put my shops on that cool vacation mode feature! Unfortunately, since this was just last week, all of my on line ventures have been unattended for several weeks. Through statistics pages I can see that some people have been very faithful in checking on my blog ( THANK YOU!), and people have continued to look at my photos (THANK YOU!), and I have received the usual amounts of emails (still sifting through these...they add up fast!). So.....even though I committed REALLY BAD business practices FOR SURE, I am hopeful that I will be forgiven and that I will be able to get back into the swing of things without too much difficulty. Just before I became ill I attempted to get my computer fixed. $100 and two different repair shops later, I was told that I really just needed to buy a new computer. While I know that it is "just money", as someone told me, it was also something that I didn't quite have at that moment. Since Santa didn't leave me one under the tree either, I had to wait until January to make the purchase, then I ended up waiting almost a whole month to get it. It just arrived and since I am actually feeling better now, I am even up out of bed most of the day now, it is good timing! I really need to get back to my shops and the radio show. Although I have been making Unique Garden Essences products for eleven years now, I have never experienced the business problems of this past month before. I have been single ever since I began my businesses, have always had to do each step myself, but this experience has really pointed out the problems of being a sole proprietor. Aside from the fact that I have no one else to make a lotion or cream (and am not even sure that I could hand my recipe book over to anyone else!), I found that I had no one knowledgeable enough to go into my accounts and check them. Trying to think straight enough to whisper shop names, pass codes and web site addresses was simply not possible. And, to make matters more complicated, my computer, the one that broke in late November, held the lists of all my on line shops and groups. I, like most all of you I am sure, belong to many social and business groups on line. There is NO way that I could ever remember all of them without a cheat sheet. So what do you do when your cheat sheet is missing, your computer is down, and you can't speak ? What do you do when you are unexpectedly ill and can't monitor your business? I should have had a better plan in place for an emergent situation. I should have a hard copy of all my URL's, account names and passwords. I know this can be a security issue, but it is a necessary risk for the single artist business. If you don't have a mate or close friend that you share your business practices with, or even if you do, having a hard copy of this info will make it easier for someone else to step in and monitor your accounts during an unexpected absence. Plan for the unexpected so that your business can go on even when you can't be the one checking in on it. Sooooooooooo, now I am back on line and wading through the hundreds of emails that I received while I was being no-tech. I am apologizing to people that asked me questions I didn't get answered, filling orders that didn't get handled in a timely manner and apologizing to those customers, hoping that they will understand and forgive me, and attempting to make it to my social sites and touch bases with the various groups I belong to. I also need to contact my teams and let them know I am back on line. My body may almost be healed, but I wonder how long it will take for my businesses to heal. I know that I took several backwards steps with regard to my businesses, if for no other reason than the fact that I have not been advertising them for two months, but I really pray that I haven't irrevocably harmed them. I suppose time will tell. Til then, I apologize for not being here and I hope that you all will forgive me for not being better prepared for my emergency. I am feeling MUCH better now and hope to be fully back and open for business next week. Until then I will be working on updating everything and cleaning out the emails & convos. Thanks to everyone who sent me well wishes and thanks to all of you for hanging in there with me! I'll be back to spa type posts the first week in February!