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How to Use the Moon’s Cycle for a Monthly Time Out

when the moon in the sky looks just like the moon we drew as children, it’s time to STOP
when the moon in the sky looks just like the moon we drew as children, it’s time to STOP

I have to confess I work a lot.  I work a lot of weekends, too (much less often in the spring and summer!) and since my husband and I own separate businesses it is hard to coordinate vacations, so we do not take them as often as we would like to. I know I need a break when:

  1. I  get cranky. People asking me to do things that make perfect sense for me to do annoy the hell out of me (“Can you turn out the light?” “ME?! Why don’t you turn out the light?” – even though the switch is 18 inches from my fingers and 18 feet from his).
  2. I get spacey. I can’t remember the last 10 miles I drove, where I put the car keys I just had in my hand or why I walked into a room.
  3. I get overwhelmed. Getting out of bed requires Herculean efforts, my to-do list is never ending , my bed feels like heaven at the end of the day – I start thinking I need new vitamins. Friends telling me about their amazing vacation makes me want to stick a fork in their eye (but just one of those little appetizer forks, I’m not a savage after all)!

These used to be my time out red flags. I have found the real secret sauce for happiness for me (and others within stabbing distance) is to avoid these red flags in the first place.

This has become much easier for me since I started working with the monthly phases of the moon.

In a never ending circle the moon cycles through her phases every month. We start with the New Moon – this is the time of darkness when the seeds are in the ground – this is the beginning that only feels like the beginning if we are paying attention. Then she waxes (grows larger) – the action is on accumulating and doing; this is the time to get to work. The waxing moon moves through its crescent, half-moon and gibbons stages over the next two weeks. To work with this energy, we just have to work. We plant the seeds, we water the seeds, we weed the garden.

Then the Full Moon shocks us by filling up the entire night sky – this is not an ending time – it is a peak energy time. This is the point where we give it our all - this is the point the waxing moon is building us toward. Then she wanes (grows smaller) – our energy will be receding. This is the time to start wrapping things up and letting go of things. This is the best time to declutter – this is still an action time but the action is on releasing. This is the time to transition from the peak energy of the full moon to the low energy of the new moon.

to be rewarded with creativity at the New Moon, rest during the Balsamic Moon
to be rewarded with creativity at the New Moon, rest during the Balsamic Moon

The Balsamic Moon (the final part of the waning moon – its crescent cycle – this is exactly the moon we drew with crayons as children – the skinny letter C) is the 3 1/2 days each month that I always mark into my calendar for a time out. These are the days just before the new moon when we are allied harmoniously with withdrawing. When I am absolutely forced to work during this period I have noticed an uneasy restlessness to everything I do – nothing flows right. Life is just not as supportive of physical action at this time.

This is an excellent time for reflection and dreaming. We turn our backs on the physical world. We turn inward. We rest.

Ways to use this moon:

1.  Schedule your breaks at least 3 months in advance using the Farmer’s Almanac or Google. The Balsamic Moon is the last phase of the moon’s cycle just before the new moon. For example the next new moon in April is April 29th so I have scheduled my balsamic moon break for April 25-27th.

2. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do if you were on vacation far away from your studio and office.

If you want to manifest anything into form during the approaching New Moon – use the Balsamic Moon days to their best advantage by not thinking or doing too much. You will be rewarded during the next cycle with amazing creativity and energy (and you will not lose any friends to fork injuries).

Do you think this might work for you?

Ask the Makers ~ Vacationing

When we begin our journey of self-employment, we imagine traveling and taking vacations whenever and wherever we want.  The sad truth is that many of us forget to PLAN for a vacation, or even a one-day break.  We work constantly and suddenly it’s the holiday season and we’re sick, burnt out, and grumpier than all get out.  This month, which is all about taking a break, I wanted to shine some light on how us makers take vacations.  Be warned: the truth may frighten you but each and every one of us gets to make our own decisions about how we take time off for ourselves. 

Cat’s Answer:

Ugh- I don’t know, but way too long! Before I had my own business I was in banking for 10 years. I lost weeks of vacation every year and never used any of my personal days! The year before I left they decided to require all employees take 2 vacation weeks together (they said for work life balance reasons, but the real reason was they thought any employee embezzlement would show up in 2 weeks!) – it was the first time I had ever been off from work for that many days at one time in my life and it was absolutely when I knew I needed to leave!

Lisa Jacobs’ Answer:

A creative career is demanding! Yes, I’m typing to you in my pajamas from my couch under a blanket with a warm cup of vanilla chai tea beside me. The irony is not lost on me. But, I’ll say it again: a creative career is demanding. We make it all up as we go along!

I’ve learned that if I don’t take the break (in the form of a digital sabbatical, weekend away, or a simple day off), the break takes me (in the form of the flu, an injury, or exhaustion). The latter never adds up to the vacation my spirit was craving. I try to always heed burn-out’s whisperings of warning.

Jess’s Answer:

I learnt the ‘take time off’ lesson the hard way. When I was transitioning Epheriell into my full-time business, I spent a long, looooong stretch of time – probably over a year – working 16-hour days, pretty much 7 days a week.

Now, on the one hand, that time was crucial in getting my business going. I made a lot of progress during this time.

BUT. I also gained about 10kg because I wasn’t exercising, and eating poorly. I was strung-out, worn-out, and it culminated in a bit of a burn-out. It took that burn-out to make me wake up to how unbalanced my life had gotten. I had to re-learn that I was more than my business, and start the long road to living a more rounded life.

These days, I have good structures in place. I have hobbies outside of my business (which was my main hobby when I turned it into a business) and most of these are some sort of physical activity, so that takes care of both my mental and physical health. I also schedule regular trips away – even if it’s just a night or two – in order to reconnect with myself as a whole person.

All of this has the consequence of making me a better business-person, because of wasting my time on useless ‘busywork’ I’m much better at getting what needs to be done, done.

Eleanor’s Answer:

I think the longest I’ve gone without a proper vacation is about a year. I don’t recommend, my productivity plummeted and I finished the year totally unfocused and unsatisfied with what I had done/not done. Taking time off is VITAL for recharging your batteries, doing your best work and staying focused.

Danielle’s Answer:

Hmm… To me, A “break” or “time off” from work would mean absolutely no possibility of getting any orders or requests for a period of time, which usually means shutting down shop – I haven’t done that since I’ve began my business … so, four years??! But I still take little breaks for fun, of course! I have recently been making more of an effort to not respond to emails on the weekends… baby steps I guess…

Stacie’s Answer:

I feel like I work all of the time. I was literally in labor and still sewing pillows and dropping them off at the post office while I was on my way to the hospital to give birth to my second child! Being focused and having ambition are great qualities, but if you never take a break, you can get so deep into work that you fail to look up and see what is going on around you! Today I have set work hours, and always take Thursdays off to be with my kids. Not only does this give my brain time to get away, but when I go back to work the next day I have fresh eyes and a new perspective on what needs to be done!

Megan’s Answer:

The longest I’ve ever gone without 2 days off in a row was 8 months.  It happened last year and my fall season fell into the winter-prep season which snowballed into the holidays and moving to a new state.  I was the grumpiest person to live with and every muscle in my body ached from the sheer stress of it all.  I would go out on 4 hour bike rides just to escape for a little bit.  I will never, ever do that to myself (or my partner) again.  If I don’t take a vacation every month, I become physically and creatively drained.  I pull ideas up out of me instead of letting them come.  All of my work feels meaningless and rushed.  I flirt with depression and failings of failure,  no matter how many orders come in.  This year I’ve made it a huge part of my business plan to schedule in monthly vacations.

C&T Recommended Reads – Week 15, 2014

From Megan:

Create & Thrive Reviews ~ The Jewellery Market: A Masterclass





What is is: The Jewellery Market: A Masterclass

By: Judy Head and Mastered – an online platform that delivers the best creative education to those in the fashion and jewellery fields.


What It Includes:

  • Expert tuition from Judy Head, the UK’s leading jewellery business consultant
  • 6 modules
  • 30+ video and written lessons
  • Lifetime access to the course materials
  • Your own personal career coach


Why We Loved It:

This masterclass takes you through all the steps of turning your Etsy shop into a jewellery business that has wholesale accounts across the world and a strong collection made with a customer in mind.  Judy will teach you the basics of the jewellery market including who buys what, why, when, and where (facts many people overlook before they begin creating and marketing their collection).  She discusses how to buy ONLY the supplies and studio materials you NEED to get started, which eliminates a lot of wasted expenses.  But, best of all, she helps you devise a marketing plan that fits your collection and shows yous how to grab the attention of the press.

Judy is extremely passionate about helping jewellers like you turn your passion and skills into a creative career that changes your life.  She has so much knowledge to share.  Honestly, we couldn’t believe how many videos she and the Mastered team had created.

No matter what learning style works best for you, this masterclass will be a wealth of knowledge since it combines video lessons, demonstrations, exercises, picture galleries to inspire you, and projects for you to complete.


Best of all?

You get email access to your very own dedicated career coach at Mastered for one month.  Yep, one month of advice, nudging, and whatever else you need to develop and reach your creative career goals.


C&T Trees: 4 out of 5!



 Image source: Mastered

{A note from Jess: There are a phenomenal amount of useful and informative books/ebooks/courses out there – so how do you choose which ones are right for you? Megan & I decided to start a monthly review series here on the blog where we share our favourites with you. If you know of a great book or info product out there that you think we should take a look at, make sure to contact us and let us know about it!  Disclaimer: C&T is an affiliate of some of these products. We give honest reviews and only recommend stuff we think is genuinely useful and practical.}


This month we are discussing the idea of taking breaks from work. It is an interesting subject for me because I’ve never taken a break in the sense that I’ve shut my online shop down or put a hold on taking orders for a certain amount of time. To me, that would be considered a “break from work.”

I don’t know if it is actually possible to really take a break from work …

If it is, the consequences are serious unless someone takes over for you while you are in break mode. Unlike a regular job where you have vacation days and you are completely away from your work and very likely can get away with doing no work whatsoever whilst on vacation – such is not the case for the self-employed, small business owner. No one expects that if you work at a coffee shop, you’d have work to catch up on or do on your days off… it’s just not like that. The expectation, I believe, IS different for the self-employed. Probably because there is such a huge overlap between personal life and business for entrepreneurs.

For myself, I don’t find that I require, or desire long stretched of “time off”… the beauty of being self-employed is that you can create your own schedule and set your own work hours – and most of the time, this is flexible. So while I do feel I work hard, I don’t FEEL drained or in dire need of a vacation.

All of the time I have gone on a trip someplace – near or far – I’ve left my shop open for business. It can take a while to bounce back from several days off the grid but it just never seemed worth the shut down to me. A simple “only checking my messages once a day” would suffice. When we have the freedom to schedule our own time, we can work smaller breaks into our days or weeks and we can take time away from our desks as needed –the way I see it real long-term breaks are not as necessary in this sort of work-style.

It actually stresses me out more to think of being totally disconnected from my work for any extended period of time… Does that make me a workaholic?

But what about just time away to clear my mind and rejuvenate creativity? It doesn’t work that way for me. Having the business rolling continuously is the thing that keeps me inspired and motivated. I get more done when I have more to do. I can still go out and take trips or breaks – but I like to keep business on track as much as possible.

So while I haven’t ever officially shut my shop down for any length of time – I have had days or weeks where I am “quieter” or not working as much – but very much still open for business. At this point I feel that if I were to take a longer break – and shut my shop down for a period of time – it would be out of necessity, not desire.

It is interesting to hear how others feel about separating their personal lives and desire for vacation with their business lives and desire for business. Seems these decisions are dependent on the person, their business and the particular moment of time in question. Another wonderful thing about being self-employed is that things are always changing and you have a great deal of say in how they do.


image credit: The Merriweather Council

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