Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Fighting Winter Blues

There are people who love winter. They love cold weather, snow, and ice. Wonderful for them. Winter is the time of year when there is less sun, temperatures curb outdoor activities and it gets easy to isolate.
I have never enjoyed winter. Cold. Colds. Being Cooped up. Dangerous driving conditions. Financial stresses. Limited work. I do my best to try to put myself in states that do not get snow (or get very little) this time of year.
People ask often, how do you fight the Winter Blues?

Lists. Lists are important. Lists of favorite mood boosting activities, songs, movies, pictures, places.
Lists of goals and the steps you are taking to reach them. When your mood is at its darkest, its time to use the items on your mood boosting list. Look at your goals: what are you doing to accomplish them? What have you put off? Winter is a good time to accomplish things that you don't have time to sit down and do other times of year. Getting closure on projects is always a satisfying feeling.

Call or write a friend. Long winer no see, drop a line, a Meme, a Gif, a photo to a friend you haven't heard from in a while. Take time to stay connected. Talking and interacting with other people gets us out of our own heads and lifts our mood. The request for friends to share positive pictures or picture number such and such frequently impact you and the people who share positively.

Visit friends! Get out to social events! This winter we've hit $5 movie nights to get out and have fun, we also went to a good friends' birthday party at an Arcade for Adults. We tried out a new virtual reality game (pictured below). Dodging a virtual stone snake to snatch an idol, traveling through virtual temple ruins chases thoughts of snow away with lava pits!

What are you eating? Nutrition directly influences mood. Healthy, balanced diet equals better mood versus empty calories and heavy meals that literally weigh you and your mood down. Watch portion sizes, get fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet every day. Vitamins. Some people love them, others roll their eyes. B 12 is the mood booster. Magnesium supplements other than magnesium oxide (magnesium oxide is not a form of magnesium our bodies can actually use) like SloMag, Calm, Magnesium Maleate also help with lifting the mood, easing anxiety and depression. Sunlight. Get in it as much as you can. Your body needs that sunlight to work properly, let the sun in!

Get out! You don't have to have money to bundle up and go outside, it is cold but can you handle it for a brisk walk? If not, there are many malls and other public indoor places to walk where you might have to ignore advertising and dodge customers but you can get your steps in. If you have the money for it: this is the time of year to use the gym or recreational center near you. This winter I am going to a recreational center once a day, spending a half hour doing laps, then walking a mile on their track. I see people practicing basketball, volleyball, and I can meditate in the dry Sauna.

Pet Snuggles! Curl up with a favorite show and a snuggly pet. Research shows that holding or petting our animals improves our mood.

Picture time! Take pictures of things you find beautiful to share with friends on Facebook or Instagram. Looking for things that make you smile gets your mind focused on positive rather than negative.

Thought stopping. If you catch yourself wearing down the negative mood and thought trail, stop. Do you really want to? What reframing can you do? How can you make your focus and mood turn around? Each of us is different. Some can turn it around with humor, others need a hug or at least acknowledgement of the negative before they can get back to the brighter side.

Little things have a big impact. What can you do to offer people more brightness this winter?

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Looking Forward and Back. Truth. Perspective and The Unforseen Costs of Caring

A friend of mine got banished by the powers of Facebook again. I know because he's wise enough to have a back up account. Was it bots mindlessly flagging and checking his posts? Was it a silent troll smiling as they reported memes for whatever small reason? Was it an algorithm, and why do I wish I had paid more attention to algorithms in school now?
Does it actually matter?
I take this small external situation and use as an example. My friend had a back up plan and a good sense of humor. He's already moved on even though it keeps happening. He does sometimes post over the top memes, but the intent is shock comedy.
One of the biggest frustrations I deal with is myself. I give too much, I try too hard. It has happened when I finally can't or choose not to; the individual or individuals I gave so much to and did so much for don't want people to be aware they were abusive or apathetic at best.
There is no good part of a bad relationship and even after it's over you keep paying for it. You pay because even as you work on yourself, even as you grow, even as you take responsibility on your shit- they're still out there like bots on Facebook quietly influencing the perception of others. You wonder sometimes when people you were friendly with become distant, but the minute you say anything it somehow confirms whatever crap they've spread.
No one asks. They believe what they want to believe.  Think about the Facebook banishment. Similar situation a year ago, and a different guy I knew started harassing and threatening legal action at a friend. He was convinced she was stalking him and silently reporting his every post, even though he blocked her. She didn't want to think about him let alone have anything to do with his posts. People who didn't like her and wanted to believe the Bad Stalker Story did, regardless of the truth- that she wanted zero to do with that guy and stalking him was the last thing she'd ever willingly do as it would mean she had to look at what he was posting. Truth didn't matter to the people who wanted to believe the worst.
Back to today:
My biggest frustrations come from trying too hard, helping too much and paying the price as my efforts didn't help me but helped people who were self motivated to use what I offered.
A good friend told me this past summer "You have too many asshole friends." He was right. I've been weeding and paying more attention to who I share time and effort with. Spring cleaning my friends, keeping the real ones who give a shit, ask questions, reciprocate. Letting go of users, manipulators, false friends.
Too many real, shitty memories I don't get to escape from to tolerate having someone claim friendship and in the same breath downplay or excuse abuse.

2017 also taught me the worst liars are quiet. They are opportunists. They pick who they sling their shit to. If you eat it, it's on you. People who don't like the word integrity, often don't possess it.

It's a new year. I am working forward, like my friend who had a back up plan. I've been working on my fiction, making jewelry and learning silk marbling. I'm preparing for a fabulous spring. I have a future to build, a sincere and fantastic guy to build it with, a fictional raccoon, and a growing Kitten. I'm going to be more conscious of who I help and how.

People will believe what they want to, regardless of the truth, regardless of their experience. We get no say in what people believe, but we can keep focused forward and moving forward.

May 2018 be the year you hope it is. May you buy Fuglyware and the excellent coffee partnering with Fuglyware. May you come marble silks with us. Maybe you'll come watch me tell stories on stage. Maybe we'll all find a reason to smile, laugh, and appreciate each day.

#fuglyware #2018goals

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Spinning Your Wheels versus Progress

Ever feel like you are stuck? You try to move forward, but you find yourself walking in place. Life events create hurdles for you to overcome. Unexpected events shake you, distract you and you find yourself standing in the same place a year later. You wonder why the places you want to go, the things you want to do, they never seem to get any closer.
You find you are spinning your wheels. Working hard to stay in the same place. You struggle even more, get your feelings behind you to give an extra push. You're invested now. You've got to bull your way through. Or do you?

Sometimes you have to take the time to sit down and make a list. What are your goals? Where do you want to be? What do you love doing? Why aren't you doing it? What are you waiting for? What excuses are you accepting as an okay reason not to succeed.

This winter, short days and long nights, has given me the opportunity to stop spinning my wheels. Stop surviving and shifting place to place in an endless quest to move forward. There is a list of gear I need to work on videos, a few expensive pieces of sound equipment for stage shows, supplies and materials for a new business letting people pay to do their own silk marbling at Art Shows and other events. A sweet kitten to play with. Books to edit and write. Ideas keep popping in, but they don't write themselves. Then there's marketing. Exposure. Spreading the word. Finding ways to network.

Every direction has a hundred tasks and small details. What is the camping like? What are the tax rates and event fees? How much will it cost us if we don't sell a single thing? Keep writing. The more I write, the clearer it is and the more vivid. Day after day of staring at a computer screen, reading my own words over and over. Are they the right words? Are the sentences smooth? Are the descriptions thorough, do they flow naturally? Was the thought clear in my head but muddy in black and white?

Day after day of going back over stories. Adding the missing details, fixing sentences, eliminating a thousand thats that dotted the manuscript like mold. That became my least favorite word, along with "You know" which was a verbal hiccup I fought telling stories in the street. The cheap hook to keep attention when something flashy happened nearby and eyes started to glance away. You Know is the magic that brings focus back. You Know That. Ugh. There they are again.

Several times I stopped and walked away. Took a day to make jewelry. A day to play games. Sanity days. Days away from the other worlds and characters running around in my head.

Working on plans to move forward. Publishing on Amazon in ebook and paperback, pursuing audiobook options as well. Starting a little business and doing events when I'm not already contracted to be somewhere entertaining or managing a shop.

I am stepping into 2018 with a smile and a feeling of accomplishment. The to do list is long, but I do not feel like I am spinning my wheels anymore.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What Shadows Hide

When I was young, my Dad's sister got her second divorce. Alcohol and abuse. The family made her, a hard working nurse and mother, the butt of many derogatory comments and jokes. Women were either dominating business owners who were practically sexless or they were talked about like objects.
When I was about twelve, one of my cousins held me down, forced my shirt up and gave me a titty twister. I fought. I called for help. Everyone there laughed. I went to my Dad, he dismissed it. When several other male family members found out they were not amused, and made sure that cousin never had a chance to try again. I felt like a shadow, a lesser human because I was told that I didn't have the right of choice- because of my gender by my own Dad. The other family members who disagreed were the quieter younger men- a great uncle who was younger than my dad, an older male cousin and my youngest uncle who didn't like that cousin's rudeness or behavior. No one spoke out. They quietly menaced him, shadows themselves.
Those guardian angels didn't know about my mother's brother and his secret sleep over seductions. The clues were there. He ended up marrying a fourteen years old girl. Got kicked out by my grandfather for his interest in underage girls. He was never reported - see, the answer when you speak out is "she's crazy, she's exaggerating, she's." Victim blaming, dismissal, excuses. Shadows, more shadows.

I got married in my young twenties. One night I woke up with him forcing penetration. I fought, but it's not easy to break free when someone already has you pinned. He said it was his right. Wrong.
I left. A retired man rented an apartment to me, a safe haven. He had another young lady in the basement apartment and one in the garage. He looked out for us while we healed and got back on our feet. My male co-workers modeled respectful behavior and my cousin Scott, as ever, was there for me as I dealt with the ugly emotions that needed to be done to with. Scott doesn't put up with shitty people. He's always called people out and been one of the bravest role models I've had.
Fast forward, years later I was working at the VA. A client threatened violence toward us, his treatment team. He had tested positive for crack. In the chaos, one of the VA cops grabbed me, walked me to my office to teach me self defense because "these guys can be dangerous and you need to know self defense." I was unsettled and he was an authority figure, someone I trusted. He fingered me to teach me not to freeze and break a hold from behind. My co-workers realized something was going on and kept knocking at the door trying to get in. He put them off.
Afterwards I went to my mentor, a Veteran who worked in Human resources. He asked me questions, got details. I didn't see that cop again. I found out from a good VA cop friend that he was fired for sexually assaulting and harassing female employees. My mentor had represented me, my co-workers too. No one said a word, other than the words that needed saying: that behavior is not tolerated here. No one made me sit through a court case or go through questions, my mentor handled it and stood for me. He, he was the one who counseled me and helped me heal. She did not deserve this, this was not acceptable: his words. Notice: for each instance, one guy acting negatively and more than one guy standing up and demonstrating respect.
Getting grabbed at bars, gas stations; cat called; these things you lose count of. Getting compliments, good Samaritan interventions, respectful intetactions: these are what I appreciate and count.
Regardless of gender, consent is key. There are too many stories like these in the lives of friends and strangers. We can intervene if we see or suspect, we can question and support. Shine light into the shadows, if they are empty great- if something ugly is lurking we can change it.
We can teach the next generation that abuse doesn't have to be part of their life experience. Idolizing abusers and abuse is unhealthy. Minimizing and dismissing is unhealthy. Labeling victims is deplorable. Many abuse victims punish themselves every day, racking their brains to figure out what's wrong with them, why them, what is wrong with them. Some realize it's external, it's the abuser's fault not theirs; they heal but never forget. We watch the shadows, ready to avoid or confront the next attempt- never wanting to feel powerless again.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Being is Believing

For years I focused on my weight, wanting to get it down. I exercised. I got frustrated. It just slowly climbed. Emotional stress was bagged and wrapped tightly, always carried. Worries were with me more than my shadow was.
I worried. About money. About my appearance. About work. About making the moments happen. I was driven, but spinning my wheels in tight circles.
When I stopped focusing on these issues and just lived, got up in the morning and focused on tomorrow things started to change.
My voracious appetite dwindled. I began to shrink. My headaches decreased in number. Unhealthy relationships brought back stress, as I sought to offer my partners everything to be the perfect partner. Instead, I faced criticism. Stark. Private. Personal.
I smiled at the world and had to grow or break. The more stress I faced, the more my habits changed. With someone else sniping me, I couldn't afford to do the same. I grew. Stronger, harder, thinner, and brighter.
I quit worrying. Why not look for the bright moments, why not just flow with what life has to offer- good and bad?
Why focus on what other people think, especially the ones with constant complaints spewing out? Why not, upon running into them, offer them positive as other beautiful people had done for me in the past? Why not look where I'm going, look for solutions instead of blame?
I'm at a point of freedom. I need this time for me to solidly be me, to reach a point where I stay true to me, even in the face of love. You can't really love if you give yourself away so much, to be what someone else desires. You become less rather than more, anxiety creeps back in along with insecurities. Their moods and whims try to shape you and unhappiness is not a companion worth having.
Faced with spinning, frustrated and mired down you can keep digging in or you can let go, reach out and find the tools and support- material, emotional, psychological- to take that proverbial baggage and discard it. You can become the person you want you to be. You can care or not. You can dance. You can explore yourself and the many paths ahead of you.
They say, when one door closes, a window opens. I've found that the walls, well, they aren't real. Walk through them. Close your eyes, believe in you, and see what happens when you do.
I stand on stages entertaining a variety of crowds with different shows. I tell stories in the lanes. I connect with fascinating people. Earlier this year, I faced a crowd of over a hundred and forty people day after day; there was a rush as I turned on the microphone and the words carried us all to other places, away from the Texas heat.
I believed I could. They believed. I did.
You are free to believe in what you choose, but choose wisely. Believing you have limitations is a brick wall that you make in your own path. The only person it stops is you, and the worst part, is that wall is not real.
See you on the other side.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

After the Flood: A retrospective on the Fox River Flood

Weather is a part of life. We joke about the weatherman and how wrong the weather predictions are. When we don't want weather to hit, we tell ourselves what we want to hear. It's only a low chance of rain, it will pass fast, they're always wrong, this never or always, and why read that pesky warning. If I ignore the warning, and just look at the chance of rain or snow, I can live comfortably in denial. There's the other extreme too, of immediately react for the most extreme potential. Both extremes are dangerous.
Second week of July in Illinois, weather warnings were up. The forecast called for possible rain. The fine print mentioned water levels, flood levels. I did think about that, recalling this area of the country got heavy rain through June. The ground was still saturated. I was concerned. My carport tent survived the worst storm, laundry was soaked though as I'd had to get out there and do extra staking. Friends let me visit them Wednesday, laundry dried while we caught up and had the chance outside of the frenetic pace of life to visit.
I got home. The warnings looked worse. I asked several people about them, if it flooded several more feet from run off what would the river do? I was thinking about putting everything back into the van. Both of the intelligent people I talked to explained why I was safe and likely overreacting. I kept my laundry in the van, but didn't move the fridge, groceries, kitchen or totes of personal items back in.  Totes don't leak until they are submerged. Why would I expect that, partially ignoring the voice of reason that seemed like the voice of overreacting in my head. Even then, warnings were that we might get fifteen feet total rise, and the river was almost at fourteen. It was swollen but mostly within its banks. Another foot shouldn't be that bad. Rationalize.
I fell asleep somewhat chagrined. Had I overreacted that day? Had Gracie too? I fell asleep wondering, but relieved she and Roxi had gone to stay with friends away from the river. I would stay and watch camp.
I slept. It didn't rain that night. It did not rain that night. No rain that night.
But runoff. Runoff slowly, subtly raises water levels. A friend taught me that during the bad Minnesota flood years ago. It's not the rain, it's the runoff.
I woke up Thursday because the fan stopped working. Had the power gone out? I sat up, looked out the window. Water everywhere. I fumbled contact lenses in. The kitten looked confused. I grabbed him, my wallet and phone. I went facebook live and jumped out. If something happened or was happening, I wanted folks to know and it looked bad. How would anyone know we needed help if I didn't get word out? Could we get out?
The water was mid-calf. I ran to dry land. Thought. Ran back. No current yet. The van was getting wet as water rose. The carport tent, fridge and other items were already knee deep in water. I started slowly as thoughts came together. Get the table. Get the chairs. The fridge is floating, nothing I can do to save that. Already face down, burnt out and drowned.  Unplug the power cords. Be relieved the power is out and I'm not getting electrocuted. Pause as an avocado in one of my kitchen bowls floats out the door as if headed on an adventure. Wave goodbye to it. Shock. Numbness. Video. What to do. Water rising.
Water was now mid-thigh in the carport tent. The van was almost knee deep. Did I mention the transmission died on the journey to the park? It was on the list of things to deal with. Now a different more immediate list took precedence. I went for help getting it moved, of all the times for a transmission fail, this seriously was the worst time. I went to the owner of the park, he was busy pulling boats out of the water. Boats are expensive, beat up vans are cheap. I understood his choice but wasn't happy with it. He didn't seem to understand that it was not able to move itself.
I found a guy with a diesel truck, talked him into towing the van to the parking lot out of water for the moment. He was initially resistant, but it was my home and I was politely persuasive. After he moved it, he was surprised to find himself glad that he had helped. I thanked him. I went back, started hauling Gracie's pop up trailer out by hand. One of the other residents saw me, he ran and helped. We got it to dry land. The water kept rising.
Friends gathered and dispersed. Some knew what they needed, what they lost and could easily express it. A place to stay for a family with two toddlers. Clothes, dog food, tent, air mattress.
I out word out.
A lot of folks offered help. Places to stay were found. Clothing poured in. Red Cross was a buzz word.
My friend Terrence Hespel was a shining knight. He kept me focused and gently guided me through my shock. Kimbelle, Terrence, Tammy, Joya, Steve and Nicole and several others offered me places to stay. Steve and Nicole took in the family with two toddlers. The weekend at Faire was solidly focus on the patrons and the magic. In the back of my mind, the avocado kept bobbing past me.
Monday, Terrence took me to the van that did not run. We looked at the stinking stuff I thought I saved. He got a garbage bag and we dumped a tupper of personal paperwork, hobby gear, and a good portion of my life into that bag. If you haven't dealt with a flood, here's a fun fact. Flood water that goes through areas where people have septic tanks pick up and carry the waste with the water. It's nasty water. I got a severe sinus infection just from the first morning of sloshing around in it. The doctor told me it's common when people go into floods.

Then we went to Red Cross. Cause they help, right? They offered clothes. Canned foods. Hot processed foods if you can drive there daily, and hot showers and a shelter to sleep in again great if you have transportation. They opened a case for me. Made me list everything I lost. I was on the verge of losing it to tears when Terrence stepped in. I finally just pulled up pictures from my camp. After making me do that, then the worker explained I could have cloth gloves, paper painting masks and weak large garbage bags to clean up with. There would be no financial assistance and I was warned not to move back in due to more heavy rain in the forecast and two dams to the north being at capacity already. So after making me list everything, what I was offered was minimally useful. There was a multi agency help center set up for three days. I couldn't get to it, staying with wonderful friends two hours away, safe and indoors. I called. Still more of an emotional wound than a help. They just kept offering me shelter, without transportation.
I found out the week after that the only people given financial assistance were people with kids. In retrospect, I would rather not have gone to see them and saved myself from having to rehash my losses for them to map. Apparently, they are helpful if you have insurance and need to make a claim or if you have kids. Otherwise, the help was minimal and not practical unless you could drive there daily or staying in their public shelter was your only option. I wasn't impressed. I was disappointed, considering how many friends donate and volunteer. I guess, if your going to donate: give appliances, contractor strength garbage bags, vinegar, toiletries, pet supplies, household goods, rubber gloves, muck boots. Those cloth gloves were useless in dealing with soaking wet fecal mud covered objects.
The same week the water went down enough for Tammy and I to go and buy muck boots, rubber gloves and strong contractor garbage bags, and vinegar to clean up with. My camp was still sitting in stagnant water that almost came into the top of the boots it was so deep. Tammy worked on getting the Shelter Logic carport tent ready to move to dry ground so we could take it down and bag each part to disinfect and clean it. I was relieved it withstood the flood. If it could handle it, I could too.I carried six loads of my own gear, now garbage to the dumpster. Irony. The one tupper of clothes I had filled to give away before the flood had floated but stayed in the tent. This ended up being good, as we had poop scented clay mud all over our clothes by the time we were done.
We wore mismatched clothes, laughed, and headed to McDonald's to wash, sanitize ourselves from head to foot as a guy sat watching, looking perplexed. Apparently he had never seen anyone use sanitizer like body and face lotion.
That night and the next day I soaked then scrubbed parts of the carport tent with vinegar water. It got hosed down and sun dried. Everything got vinegar washed and scrubbed and sun dried. Tammy, Terrence and their son Alex have been the finest hosts, making this easier to deal with and letting me stay the season at their house so I can recover financially rather than end up further strapped trying to rotate camps at state parks.
Friends. Friends reached out. A double steamer and rice cooker from Eddy Jeff. Dishes from Roger that ended up with one of the families, a number of people bringing in bags and bags of clothes, dog food and other needed items, Kathie and her husband bringing me colored pencils and a beautiful pen her husband made to replace the ones that wept their colors as they tumbled out of my life. Others sneaking a generous tip in my hat with a sweet note. Getting out to New Mexico to buy a new van, and having Suzy surprise me by loading the van up with a plethora of donations: spices, measuring cups, cups, towels, dishcloths, an air mattress and bedding for my van with new pillows, several framed pictures of the Painted Lady with children to take the place of some that were lost. Her brother, my friend Ivan drove up eight hours with Bridget from Mesa Arizona with more donations and gas money to help. A camp utility tent, kitchen gear for camping, a stove for me and a machete to keep me safe on the road. There were toiletries, brand new clothes, several crates of food stuffs, all useful and all well received. Brand new clothes, beautiful homemade tie dye, stuffed animals for kids. So much useful stuff. Judy sent Bridget to get my measurements, she knew I needed new garb for the painted Lady and dark faerie tales. Judy is a seamstress for one of the festivals. Judy is making the garb I need, taking a huge item off the heavy to buy and do list.
The flood took place in hours. The Fox River crested at over 17.5 feet. Flood stage is 11 feet. I was lucky it wasn't higher or faster.
It's taken weeks to organize, sort, and finish letting go of things that weren't really saved.
Now, I work forward. I've got a vehicle, James, the new van who is perky and performs reliably. I'm following up on closing out the old van whether it gets repaired or becomes scrap. My camp mates and I are waiting on a refund from Fox River Recreation that is supposed to come in a month. I'm figuring out what I still need, starting to pick up pieces to fill gaps.
Ivan asked in New Mexico how I felt about losing the stuff. My answer now is the same as it was to him then. It hurt but the new pieces that folks have given, those things now have positive memories attached to them. Those things came with love. Some of the stiff I lost reminded me of my past two relationships. Better to let go of baggage than carry it.
Better to let go than let it drag you down and pollute your life. My friends, so many offering help, hugs, meals, gifts, items. This crazy summer, this flood, has given me time to really think and to appreciate the love and compassion my friends have. Some day, when the time is right and I am ready, I will find a guy who is as motivated as Ivan driving right hours, as intuitive as Terrence knowing what to say and do to keep me on an even keel, as loving as all the friends who took note and offered aid, anticipating and giving without considering our needs a hassle. Someone who communicates openly and honestly who has a parallel philosophy and relationship goals. For now, I am going to keep focused on rebuilding my life. I am going to enjoy my kitten. I am going to do extra work flying around doing side gigs. I am going to enjoy time with friends, making more beautiful memories.
Friends have been the strongest safety net. It has been humbling and at times I blink back tears just realizing how much they've been there bringing me up and it's made it possible to smile even at the darkest moments.
I love my friends. Each of them is exceptional. I have great gratitude, my heart is flooded with it in a beautiful way!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

More Bang For Your Buck

Fourth of July approaches, red white and blue decorations bloom and our thoughts turn to magnificent fireworks.
It is my second year working fireworks. I've learned a few important facts worth sharing. Safety first folks. That should be common sense but I remember being ten and watching my drunken father shoot his brother in the arm with a Roman candle. They had to drive out of state to get the Roman candles to shoot at each other, as New York was a sparkler only state. Imagine them trying to goof off by chasing each other with sparklers. If it seems dangerous, please use caution or at least hold yourself accountable. My uncle always said he just didn't dodge fast enough.
Consider pets, let neighbors know so they can tuck pets inside if they're nervous. Consider where you are going to set them off. A twenty foot tall fountain under a ten foot tree is a recipe for fire, not fireworks.
Have your water handy. You probably won't need it but be prepared.
Now with safety covered, let's talk sales tactics and options.
Tents. I worked for an excellent company last year in Minnesota. Everyone was trained, professional, and prices were reasonable. Be careful with tents though. Not all companies are as high quality as Renaissance Fireworks. A lot use a few items that are reduced price to seem like a better deal than their competitors- and you get so busy being delighted by a small discount on a few things you don't notice you are getting gouged on everything else.
Buy one get one can be cool, but price compare: the store not doing bogos likely has lower per unit prices. It is okay to price around. Math is your friend.
Second, quality in sales experience. You're spending money to have a special memory with loved ones. Go where the sales staff makes your buying fun, where they can find out what you want and offer you the fireworks that will delight rather than disappoint. At The Castle we gathered and watched a display of the new fireworks we were considering selling. We rated them on quality and price. It shouldn't be like buying fast food. Last year, I enjoyed talking with people and helping them out to put togethet fun displays from novelties to heavy weight show closers.
Don't limit yourself by being lured to a little stand when you can go to a larger location with more options.
I was impressed with the giant display of heavy weight 500 gram fireworks we have at The Castle, tables and tables. The alphabet hardly had enough letters for how many we have available. Not ten, easily over thirty options in 500 gram heavyweights and that's a conservative estimate.
Third, assortments. Assortments can be amazing or lame. Skip the single company assortments for ones good fireworks sellers put together. Mark and Jay put fantastic assortments together with great value. No lame fillers. Various fireworks from multiple companies. Shawn, Jeff and Cory put together assortments at The Castle of excellent favorites starting around thirty dollars all the way up to a thousand dollars- worth far more than what you're paying. They know what's good and they put it together for you to make it easy.
Don't let a cool wrapper or gimmicky name be your deciding factor. Find out what it does. Watch the firework on YouTube, is it what you want?
State laws limit what you can sell. In Minnesota we were often frustrated as folks wanted fireworks we could not sell by law. They knew, asked and we had to tell them over and over that we could not sell artillery. They shrugged, left and drove to Wisconsin to by their artillery. We would have loved to sell them what they wanted but our hands were tied by law. We had plenty of people who still bought our fountains, novelties, and 500 gram fountains; as I said our prices were reasonable and we made it a positive experience.
We're working hard to get the Castle and Children's House ready. We have a great team working to make fireworks buying an experience that starts off your holiday with a Wow and a smile. We love fireworks and want to share that delight with you.
Have a great 4th of July!