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status update + current coupon codes/sales + giveaways/freebies

Order Backlog:

I got one huge Tupperware box of packages safely in the hands of the postal pickup lady last week, and I am working on the next. Operation Backlog Deadline is moving forward, and if it's not moving forward as fast as I'd like (guess whose car went *back* to the mechanic last week, after dying on the way to a job site, meaning I didn't get to the job and didn't get a paycheck for it???), I do have to say that at least a couple of handfuls of folks will finally get their packages this week, along with some freebies by way of apology and a letter from me (longish, but don't just toss it unless you're totally done with me, because somewhere in there or on a card in the box there is likely a coupon code just for folks whose packages ended up in shipping limbo for a while).

I am running low on some herbs, butters, and oils I need to make some stuff for orders already in-house and need to order those this week, so I was absolutely right that I didn't have enough squirrelled away from my out-of-the-house jobs to get everything made and shipped in one fell swoop, as they say. (And besides the damned car breaking down again, just a few months after it needed a new transmission -- and before I got the personal family loan for that mechanical work paid off! -- I have quite a few nasty chunks of expense I can't avoid or delay any longer, such as getting myself, the offspring, and the dog to their respective doctors and dentists and such, retaining an attorney and an accountant to deal with some serious unpleasantness with a creditor and with the government, and dealing with some insurance and doctor billing stuff that got messed up a while back and that needs money applied to it to fix.) But I am whittling away at the backlog, and as funds trickle in to the Paypal account, which is blessedly no longer in the negative, I am continuing to print shipping labels. Everyone *will* get their stuff as soon as I can get it to them, and I am happy to say things are going at least a *little* more quickly now than they were.

Email Backlog:

I haven't made any real headway there beyond scanning quickly for new stuff or fires that need putting out, or going in to search for a specific message. I am prioritizing getting these orders out, but I'm trying to get some help on the continual challenge of sorting through, labeling, filing, etc. iwith the inbox so I know what's what and what needs what action instead of just dipping randomly into an undifferentiated mass of messages (and there are *hundreds* of them, many hundreds of them). This will take time.

Reports and Services:

See above and previous messages for why I am prioritizing tangible items over services. These are the next order of business after the orders are caught up, and some refunds will be involved, which will be another messy element affecting the speed of order processing and shipment. But I do still plan on offering free phone sessions to folks who still want the session and who have been waiting longer than their original estimated turnaround (which is pretty much everybody now). I will discuss teh details separately once I can actually start scheduling things.

Current Sale (through Sun, Sep 20):

Everything in this BOGO collection/category is "Buy One Get One Free." You don't need to do anything special  - when I see an eligible item in your order, I'll add the second item along with the first as I prepare your stuff. You do NOT need to leave a note to tell me which items are eligible -- I already know that -- and you don't need to add the second item yourself; if you are buying one 2-dram bottle of Attraction oil, add that to your cart. I will make and send TWO 2-dram bottles of Attraction oil if your order is placed while the sale is active. If you put two bottles of Attraction oil in your cart, the system will not discount the second bottle; you'll just get a grand total of FOUR bottles when you get your package and you will have paid for two of them.

Basically, anything appearing in this collection -- that's all regular condition oils, powders, and bath/floorwash crystals, excluding specialty and custom-made items -- is BOGO Free, so if you order one, you get two in your package. If your order also contains items that aren't eligible, you still don't need to do anything - I know which are and aren't eligible, so I'll add the extra freebies and skip the stuff that isn't eligible for a second item/bottle/package free.

Because there is no coupon code you have to use to take advantage of this offer, you can still use other available coupon codes with your order as well, so you can pile on the savings with this one.

Offer applies to orders placed between 12 am Sunday, Sep. 13 through midnight Sunday, Sep. 20.
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Current Prize Drawing/Giveaway (open through Oct. 1):

My daughter agreed to sew another couple of treats for me to give away to two of you guys, whichever two are the winners of the random drawing that I'll hold after October 1.  You don't have to do anything separate - any order placed between now (Sep 13) and midnight on 1 Oct will be automatically entered to win. Given the backlog, it's possible that larger and/or custom orders will not be ready to ship until I've drawn the winners anyway, in which case I'd send the custom-finished prize with your order, but if you are identified as a winner after your order has shipped, I'll just send it along separately later.

I'll post more about this later, but I will have two mojo plushies (read more about them and about how this works in this post) to give away to winners. I have one small evil eye plushie as well (more info here), and the first prize winner can choose the plushie or the evil eye if s/he prefers that. If s/he wants the plushie, then the second prize winner will also have the same choice.

Current Coupons (through Sun, Sep 20):

Use code SEP15 to take 15% off orders over $30 (before discount, excluding shipping). Use code SEP35 to take 35% off orders over $80 (before discount, excluding shipping). Both good through midnight Sunday, Sep. 20.

For instructions on using coupon codes, see the applicable heading in the FAQ.

***

Terms of Service re. shipping/handling and prep times apply.
Read the FAQ here, including instructions on how to use coupon codes if you need them.
Read the latest status updates, including matters affecting shipping, communication, etc. here.


Your use of this site constitutes your acceptance of our Terms of Service, including your understanding of our posted shipping, handling, and turnaround times; guidelines for contacting us about a current order or service; and instructions for how to request a trace on a shipped item.
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current coupon codes / sales: Sep 4-12

As I mentioned in the previous post, I've given myself a deadline for getting caught up with everything. Part of getting caught up is finding the funds to fill and ship every order that is currently in-house, which includes a jumbo-sized Tupperware bin full of packages that are ready to go except for their labels, along with a fairly hefty stack of orders that will be packaged up as soon as the bin is empty.

I am about to ship some of these, but I doubt I have the funds to send them all off, and I know I don't have the funds to fill and ship every order that is in here, so this is another one of those sales designed to turn some of this stuff -- these supplies and materials and jewelry and such that I have around -- into cash so I can ship everything sooner rather than later. That means deep discounts for you, because I am operating under the "a bird in the hand" principle: it really doesn't *matter* anymore "what things are worth" or how much time/money I have invested in them already, because the *only* thing that matters is fulfilling my obligations to my customers and clients.

So I need to turn stuff into money, period, spending any incoming funds on shipping beyond the minimum expense required to fill orders (I need more patchouli, for instance, to fill current orders, and will probably need plastic bottles too - stuff like that.)

I will be running some kind of special or another between now and October 15, which is the deadline I've given myself to get caught up. I will try to update more as things go, and there will be various coupon/sale options as I get things sorted out, including some more giveaways. And, if I can get some other bottles and boxes finished, I'll be adding some stuff as well.

For now, though, here's what I've got, which is all good through Sep 12 at midnight Central time. You can use the following coupon codes at checkout, good for any item or service in any store category/collection at all (though I don't recommend you try to book or order anything urgent, obviously).

Current Coupon Codes:

code sep40 to get 40% off any order totalling $80 or more (before discount, excluding shipping).
code sep30 to get 30% off any order totalling $50 or more (before discount, excluding shipping).
code sep20 to get 20% off any order totalling $20 or more (before discount, excluding shipping).

For instructions on using coupon codes, see the applicable heading in the FAQ.

***

Terms of Service re. shipping/handling and prep times apply.
Read the FAQ here, including instructions on how to use coupon codes if you need them.
Read the latest status updates, including matters affecting shipping, communication, etc. here.


Your use of this site constitutes your acceptance of our Terms of Service, including your understanding of our posted shipping, handling, and turnaround times; guidelines for contacting us about a current order or service; and instructions for how to request a trace on a shipped item.
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status update and plans: shipping of backlogged orders, plans for next 6 weeks

Between my starting the first draft of this post and finishing the version I’m actually posting, some things (as usual) changed. I’ll mention the changes in brackets within the text.

This turned out to be rather a long post. I've put it under a cut. The bottom line for readers is that I'm giving myself a deadline to be caught up - October 15th. If I'm not caught up by then, i'll be putting the shop on "vacation" until I *am* caught up. Since I'm officially job-hunting again as the outside work has largely dried up and since there won't be even the trickle of income from here in that event, I am not sure *how* I'll get caught up, but I have to do something, and that is what this post is about.

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ETA: fixed! status update - a.m. version (site is broken, I'm not dead)

*DOMAIN/NAVIGATION ISSUES: ETA: Fixed as of Th afternoon (the 13th) -- and at least when I checked last, the site came up via the url karmazain.com on both Chrome and Firefox. That's progress!
My site is down. I don't know when the problem will be solved - I have been working 8-12 hour shifts 7 days a week lately at an outside job. But I'm posting to say I'm going to fix it as soon as I can, I'm not dead, I haven't gone out of business, and nobody needs to panic about their orders or their money disappearing. Things are just still slow for the same old reasons.
*ORDERS: Related to the above, as outlined in previous posts, I have had to scramble for income since I quit my university job and the very few orders that come in through the shop get swallowed up by the hole in my account and/or by required supplies, and so I have a slew of boxed up orders sitting here that I haven't been able to ship. Since my site has been a little wonky for a while (esp. for Chrome users) and I don't have the skills to solve the problem definitively/permanently, and since I have been out of the house so much lately and haven't been able to get anybody else to solve it, and since the shop and back orders are still in a total disaster state and I haven't really had much in the way of orders coming in anyway, there's no income there either. So I've been working overtime to earn some cash so I can eat, pay rent, and hopefully have something left over to ship all these orders sitting here. Part of my check that I just deposited is going to printing labels today, in fact. Since I still don't know when I can dedicate phone time to catching up on consultations, and since I am still not anywhere near caught up on the inbox and I am sure there are some refund requests in there mixed up with all the notifications from Shopify and Paypal about how shit is fucked up and some people are forcing their refunds to the top of the list with disputes and chargebacks, I am going to try to start refunding consultations too. Unfortunately, for reasons I've covered in previous posts, I have to handle the physical items orders first.
I feel terrible about this and I feel terrible about having to repeat how terrible I feel.
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I am going to try my best to update again once I can say anything definitive about the site fixes, about getting orders out the door, and/or about progress on the inbox (why no, I haven't had much lasting luck with any of the SIX assistants I've trained in the last 12 months, but the one before last who was really pretty damned good is back in town and I'm trying to persuade her to come back aboard). I have a LOT of stuff to chase down and solve, I'm already exhausted, and i have to fit 8 hours of outside-the-house work into this day somehow too.
But I wanted to say that I'm alive and aware of the site being down and am trying to fix all the things. I'm working on getting some orders out the door first, though. Because the site is down, I'm not sure if notifications through it will work properly, but once it's back up I'll manually update the order statuses
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status update + current coupon codes + drawing for multiple giveaways/freebies

*DOMAIN/NAVIGATION ISSUES: There's still some sort of hiccup going on with some users navigating to the Karma Zain Spiritual Supplies site using Chrome. The hiccups do not appear to be affecting Firefox for reasons as yet unclear to me. I thought this was resolved after my last post mentioning it, but it apparently isn't, and fixing it is on a long, long list of things I need to have done yesterday, but it's had to take a backseat to getting these damned orders out and getting through the email inbox (more on this below). Anyway, my domain karmazain.com has NOT expired - it's registered through 2017. This probably has something to do with a change that Shopify made to how their domain forwarding/pointing works, and I'm still investigating, but in some cases users have arrived at a page that looks like my domain name is up for sale or something, and lately users are just getting a "can't resolve server" error, whether they enter karmazain.com or www.karmazain.com. Things are fine in Firefox though - it forwards you to the actual shop URL http://karma-zain-spiritual-supplies.myshopify.com like it's supposed to. I will figure it out at some point. Meanwhile, if you have the site bookmarked and are getting a blank page or error in Chrome, try Firefox and accept my apologies :(  You can always navigate directly to the Shopify location of the store, too, which again is http://karma-zain-spiritual-supplies.myshopify.com

**If you have not been following my updates here, you should probably read this post first to get up to speed on what's going on, why shipping is still delayed beyond the usual handling times, and why communication is still backlogged.**

*ORDERS: As I've mentioned elsewhere, I am in a hell of a Catch-22 with this shop situation. I can't close the store until I get caught up because chargebacks continue to come in, and in cases where they were credit card payments direct through the shop processor, I am getting screwed with those *regardless* of whether I can prove the item has shipped. As for Paypal disputes, once somebody escalates to a dispute, my only options for response are "I accept liabilty and will refund/have refunded" or "I can provide shipping info." I can't answer with "your order will ship as soon as I have funds in the account" or "it's set to go out next week" or anything else - so basically I hustle and try to get the package out, but I sometimes can't, and then I just have to accept the reversal/cancellation, even if I've already filled a custom-made or custom-finished order and have it sitting in a box waiting on a label.

I talked before about finally having adequate time to spend on/with the shop/altars after two academic years of working 80+ hours a week on teaching-related stuff, but the nasty Catch-22 here is that as long as I'm in the hole with the shop, all the time I put into it is not actually feeding me or my daughter (or my damned dog - more on her in a sec). So I have no choice but to work at another job as well, and I've been doing that right at full-time since the semester let out. I'm an independent contractor, in theory using the woodworking skills from growing up the daughter of two furniture craftspeople, but in practice basically doing assorted light construction for a couple of different clients, some of it woodworking but most of it just plain carrying, hammering, measuring, hauling, drilling, painting, and demolishing. It is physical labor, and while I come from strong, healthy peasant stock as I always say, I'm not in my 20s anymore (hell, I'm not in my 30s anymore, either, for that matter), and at the end of the day it's not as easy as it used to be to start a second shift of being on my feet (really a third, if you count the housekeeping/cooking/taxi-ing/similar unpaid but necessary work involved in being the mother of a dependent teenager and the daughter/granddaughter of folks who need help with things more often these days). So the hours I'd hoped to sink into the shop aren't quite getting sunk since I have to manage groceries and the power bill while I'm getting caught up. (The pay isn't all that great at this new gig, either, truth be told - in fact, it's miserable, but I'm working on remedying that.)

Ideally, my current work would involve more of this, which is a rolling "cart" for beer kegs made out of reclaimed 18th century French colonial wood and glass, made for a customer's wedding reception (and you wouldn't believe how heavy those antique doors are!)


But in practice it's a lot more of this, which is the underside/working end of a bar/restaurant we're remodeling:



As I've also mentioned, I got one final paycheck from my academic job, and I printed hundreds of dollars worth of labels as soon as it hit my account. It wasn't quite enough to get everything in-house shipped, but it was going to go pretty far, but then - because this is the kind of year I'm having - my 1.5 year old dog ate something she shouldn't have and had to go to the doggie ER at 2 am (where they charge you $100 just to walk in the door). Some blood panels and IVs later, my dog (whose name is Rocket for reasons that are immediately apparent as soon as you meet her in person) is fine, thank God, but the bottom line is pretty much that my dog ate your shipping label, or to be more precise, my dog's vet took all my money for your shipping label. (I'm also nearly out of ink, which is another expenditure I have to make before I can get the next batch out.)

But you can't stay mad at this face:


She's supervising, that's it - she has to inspect all the paper in the trash bags before we haul it out of the shipping area :-)



Then, as I've also previously mentioned, there are some ongoing family obligations related to being a member of a very large, close-knit Irish Catholic clan with some of the family elders truly getting on in years. There have been more hospitalizations and more traveling around for these types of things, and of course in the midst of all this my laptop died, mucking up any ability to stay on top of things while on the road, because -- yeah -- that is the kind of year I'm having.

Though I did get a picture or two of the old family homestead from my mother's father's mother's era: some land outside Bermuda, Alabama where the clan once dwelt, and then a shot of Burnt Corn Creek (you think that one's colorful - some members of the following generation settled on the banks of a creek called Turkey Branch!)



Anyway, I am steadily prepping and packing orders, but I am still behind, and I am still not flush with the business account. I've shipped a lot, but a lot of y'all are still waiting on things you expected before now, and I need to try to get the business account back into the positive again (yes, I had another chargeback this past week). And those of waiting on services are still waiting on me to get caught up with the tangible item stuff before I can dedicate time to those when I can be sure chargebacks aren't around the corner and I have enough in the bank to feed the hungry mouths around here.

I'm working like a dog, y'all, I promise (though not like my dog, who doesn't do a whole hell of a lot of anything resembling work), and I have not forgotten anyone or anything. I will make it right, and I am making progress -- just not as quickly as I'd have liked.

In good news, I have a new assistant, and let's keep our fingers crossed about this one, can we? She's just started training, her name is CK, and y'all be nice to her so I don't have to lose *yet another one.* I'm going to be nice to her too, which needs to start with paying her on time, so the pressure is on from all sides, for real. But we put in several hours tonight and will put in several more tomorrow, and have the eternal goal of one day seeing the bottom of the inbox in mind.

Current Coupon Codes:

From now until midnight on Tues, July 14 (Central time), use the following coupon codes at checkout, good for any item or service in any store category/collection at all:

code july40
to get 40% off any order totalling $60 or more (before discount, excluding shipping).
code july30 to get 30% off any order totalling $40 or more (before discount, excluding shipping).
code july20 to get 20% off any order totalling $20 or more (before discount, excluding shipping).

For instructions on using coupon codes, see the applicable heading in the FAQ.

I plan to do at least one more sale and one more giveaway/drawing this month, later, too, but I don't know the details or dates yet. This 40% off digs deep, though, so I'm not likely to repeat that percentage in any sale offerings after this if I can avoid it. So carpe diem and all that.

***
Drawing for Free Gift: "Evil Eye Plushie"
In addition, you can enter to win a drawing for a free adorable thing that I don't have a name for, so I'm going with "evil eye plushie" right now. Just type "evil eye plushie" into the "Notes" box during checkout to enter; you can enter with any order at all placed now through midnight Central time on the 21st of July). More detail below.

As I mentioned before, my daughter definitely inherited the family crafty gene, and some of her creations lend themselves to spiritual ends, and I asked her to make something new and one of a kind for a giveaway/drawing for y'all and she came up with these plushie evil eye charm things.

  


The one with the beads already attached has already been gifted to a client, but the other two are up for winning - first prize will have first pick and second prize second pick. They are ready to have your custom herbs, curios, petitions, and/or personal concerns added, at which point they can be sewn up and have whatever appropriate/preferred beads, bells, feathers, mirrors, etc. attached before they come off my altars and make their way to the winners.

When she sews her little plushie things and fills them with hypoallergenic pillow stuffing, she leaves a little segment of seam unsewn so that you or I can add appropriate herbs, personal concerns, etc. suitable to your petition/intention. We can talk details via email once the winner is identified, but you could either send me things for inclusion or I can send you instructions for how to do the personalization part yourself.

Whether or not you use the July40/30/20 coupon code, you can enter to win this customized evil eye plushie by simply placing any order at the shop, no matter the amount or product/service type, and typing "evil eye plushie" into the "Notes" box. On the first or second page of the Shopify checkout system, you'll see a text box that says something like "Notes." This is the one I'm always telling you NOT to use when you want to give me more info about your order, because what you type won't print with your order and so I generally won't see it. (So you should never use it to give me customization info or leave me a note about an order or a question you want an answer to - I will NOT see it if you do this in ordinary cases.)

In this case, though, I have set up a quick and dirty workaround that will flag me when a note exists, so even though the contents of the note will not print, when I see that flag during this sale/offer, I'll manually go into the system the "back way" for the order processing rather than through the normal workflow, and I will check to see what the "note" field says. If you type "EVIL EYE PLUSHIE" there, then I will manually mark your order printout and, once, all entries are received, it will join those "in the hat" and I'll draw the winners at random
and contact them for customization details. One order equals one entry.

There will be two winners; each will receive ONE customized evil eye plushie. Please be aware of handling times for customized / custom-finished items per FAQ/TOS.

***

Terms of Service re. shipping/handling and prep times apply.
Read the FAQ here, including instructions on how to use coupon codes if you need them.
Read the latest status updates, including matters affecting shipping, communication, etc. here.



Your use of this site constitutes your acceptance of our Terms of Service, including your understanding of our posted shipping, handling, and turnaround times; guidelines for contacting us about a current order or service; and instructions for how to request a trace on a shipped item.
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status update: shipping backlog, orders containing soaps and candles

As of today, I have a positive balance in my business account again (thank you to those who have continued to invest trust in me). This morning, I ordered the candle-making supplies I need to fill the backlogged orders containing candles; with luck they'll be here by the end of the week and I can start catching up on those.

I'm starting to catch up on soap orders today, as the first new batches since I was able to restock the soap making supplies are now cured and ready to ship, and I have been steadily making soap since last week to get those caught up.

I will be able to ship some packages this afternoon. As of right now, the business account balance is *not* sufficient to ship everything that's ready to go, but I'll start with the oldest stuff first and get it out the door, and as funds are available (God willing) I will continue to get packages shipped.

As I've outlined previously, I'm aware of the snafu with a batch of orders mostly from around December for which the label was generated but the package not delivered. It's a long story, and I take full responsibility: assistants can't be expected to do things they aren't properly trained to do and it's my fault for not realizing the error for so long after I got back into town. I am still in the process of manually checking delivery status of *every order* from the time period during which I was not personally doing or overseeing every step of the packing and shipping process, and in cases where orders have not been delivered, I am getting the packages out in cases where they didn't go and getting them reshipped in cases where they were returned to sender/not accepted by the shipper. It is not necessary for you to do anything except in the unlikely event that your package was shipped and simply disappeared, in which case we might need some paperwork to go through the post office for reimbursement, but this is very rare (I haven't found a domestic case like this yet) and if it does end up being the case, I will initiate the process and contact you, so you still don't need to do anything to initiate this. One way or another, you'll get your order.

Please know that, even in the worst case scenario, if no further orders come in, I get one more paycheck from my old job, so if it comes down to it and cash flow continues to be a problem, I will use funds from that paycheck to fill and ship the orders that are backlogged and/or waiting for labels. (I will shortly thereafter be in the food stamp line and applyling for whatever minimum wage paying slow death I can get, if income from this endeavor simply ceases, but I don't expect that to happen. I do not expect it to get back to where it was, say, last spring anytime soon - I've damaged too many client/customer relationships for that - but I should be able to stop operating in a nearly constant deficit once I can get these backlogged orders out and the damned chargebacks stop coming in.) For the first time in many years, I'll be able to give this work enough time - it's been a long time since I've *had* enough time to give it.

So please, be confident that one way or another, your order will ship/be fulfilled. Once the backlog is cleared up and I can finally stop hemmorhaging money due to chargebacks, I'll be moving consultations and reports to the front burner and can start getting those cleared up (and yes, I do still intend to offer phone sessions to those who have been waiting longer than the quoted estimate - I have to get these fires put out re. disputes/chargebacks on orders first, though, before I will be able to definitely dedicate protected time to scheduling phone sessions with no risk of my having to cancel or rearrange bookings - to see my game plan for those, see this post -- but I will set up a way for y'all to book your spot via an online calendar).
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Memorial Day Sale 'til Tues night: up to 40% off + drawing for free mojo plushie!

ETA: Drawing Winner: JN from OK

***

*DOMAIN/NAVIGATION ISSUES: There's some sort of hiccup going on with some users navigating to the Karma Zain Spiritual Supplies site for reasons as yet unclear to me. My domain karmazain.com has NOT expired - it's registered through 2017. This probably has something to do with a change that Shopify made to how their domain forwarding/pointing works, and I'm still investigating, but in some cases users have arrived at a page that looks like my domain name is up for sale or something. The registrar may have screwed up, I just don't know yet. If you have the site bookmarked and are getting a blank page, make sure the address bar contains WWW.karmazain.com and not just karmazain.com; you may also need to clear your cache. I am currently investigating this but in the meantime/ if all else fails, you can always navigate directly to the Shopify location of the store, which is actually http://karma-zain-spiritual-supplies.myshopify.com/ - I just have www.karmazain.com set to forward to it, and it's apparently this forwarding where something has gone awry.

*CREDIT CARD CHECKOUT: If the Shopify platform tells you that you can't use a credit card to make a payment, just choose Paypal as your checkout; you can check out with a credit card through Paypal. Shopify is referring to itself as the payment processor when it says credit card payments cannot be processed, but you don't have to use their payment processor (even when it's enabled, which it currently isn't) - you have a choice.


Current Coupon Codes:

From now until midnight on Tues, May 26 (Central time), use the following coupon codes at checkout, good for any item or service in any store category/collection at all:

code memorial40
to get 40% off any order totalling $60 or more (before discount, excluding shipping).
code memorial30 to get 30% off any order totalling $40 or more (before discount, excluding shipping).
code memorial20 to get 20% off any order totalling $20 or more (before discount, excluding shipping).

For instructions on using coupon codes, see the applicable heading in the FAQ.

***
Drawing for Free Gift: "Mojo Plushie"
In addition, you can enter to win a drawing for a free adorable thing that I don't have a name for, so I'm going with "mojo plushie" right now. Just type "plushie drawing" into the "Notes" box during checkout to enter; you can enter with any order at all placed now through the end of May (midnight Central time on the 31st of May). More detail below.

My daughter definitely inherited the family crafty gene, and although she is more interested in physics than rootwork and was already a dyed-in-the-wool cynic by 13 or so, some of her creations lend themselves to spiritual ends, like these cute little plushie... bat things:



She makes these and sells/gifts them, so I can't guarantee that she still has the specific plushies in the photo anymore, but she has a herd of these already sewn up in a variety of color schemes, so the winner can give me a couple of preferences for colors or color schemes and I will try to meet one of them.

When she sews her little plushie bats and fills them with hypoallergenic pillow stuffing, she leaves a little segment of seam unsewn so that you or I can add appropriate herbs, personal concerns, etc. suitable to your petition/intention. We can talk details via email once the winner is identified, but you could either send me things for inclusion or I can send you instructions for how to do the personalization part yourself.

Your plushie could have protective herbs and a St Michael medal added and be your Safe Travel car mascot. You could add your own personal concerns and/or petition and give him/it to a loved one after a light dusting with appropriate powder or censing with appropriate incense, so you'd stay on your target's mind or have your target gently swayed to take certain action or be open to certain influence. Add herbs suitable for a loved one who needs some good juju but wouldn't carry a mojo bag or doesn't believe in "that stuff," so you're giving a subtle gift of spiritual benefit. Or keep for yourself. Your little plushie friend can even be named for and baptized as you or your target as a whimsical, modern take on a voodoo doll or doll-baby/poppet. The possibilities are nearly endless.

Whether or not you use the Memorial Day coupon code, you can enter to win this customized mojo plushie by simply placing any order at the shop, no matter the amount or product/service type, and typing "plushie drawing" into the "Notes" box. On the first or second page of the Shopify checkout system, you'll see a text box that says something like "Notes." This is the one I'm always telling you NOT to use when you want to give me more info about your order, because what you type won't print with your order and so I generally won't see it. (So you should never use it to give me customization info or leave me a note about an order or a question you want an answer to - I will NOT see it if you do this in ordinary cases.)

In this case, though, I have set up a quick and dirty workaround that will flag me when a note exists, so even though the contents of the note will not print, when I see that flag during this sale/offer, I'll manually go into the system the "back way" for the order processing rather than through the normal workflow, and I will check to see what the "note" field says. If you type "PLUSHIE DRAWING" there, then I will manually mark your order printout and, once, all entries are received, it will join those "in the hat" and I'll draw the winner at random and contact him or her for customization details.

Winner will receive ONE customized mojo plushie, not necessarily the one pictured, and I can make no guarantee of a certain color. Please be aware of handling times for customized / custom-finished items per FAQ/TOS.

***

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Read the FAQ here, including instructions on how to use coupon codes if you need them.
Read the latest status updates, including matters affecting shipping, communication, etc. here.



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stabat mater dolorosa

status update: shipping status and catchup

And of course LJ ate my finished status post after I decided at the last minute to add a photo before hitting save (like a genius). Let's try this again, but the shorter/bullet point version without all the nice little links to previous posts with more details and such:

If you didn't read this update, start here; it explains where things are at and this is where I'm picking up from in terms of updates. As previously mentioned, I decided this last semester to resign my university teaching position -- my "day job" -- and leave academia. Over this past week, I finished up all grading and other semester obligations and got everything semester-related tied up. While I still have to sort out and organize some files and records to turn over to my supervisor when I turn over my office and keys, the semester -- and thus the related activity that was consuming 80+ hours a week for the last couple of years -- is behind me.

I had to spend most of the remainder of last week doing some freelance/pinch hitting work in order to get together the money to get my car with its "new" transmission out of the mechanic's. As of Friday when I got home with my car, I have spent every available waking hour working to get my bearings with the info and lists Mia compiled for me while she was helping me out (she's since left town for her summer plans, so I am again without an assistant, but she organized a lot for me while she was here).

As I've outlined previously, I have a greater liability for tangible items than for services/reports, so unfortunately I have to get caught up on these orders/packages before I can turn to devoting my full energy to readings/consultations and reports I owe. I have spent a significant chunk of time getting caught up on orders this weekend, but as I also outlined, there's a Catch-22 going on that means I have two large USPS bins full of packages that are ready to go but that I can't ship right now (and this cycle is what I have to escape to stop the ship from leaking): my account has not been very far away from a negative balance for more than a few hours for months now due in large part to the way the chargeback situation works with the payment processor I signed up when I moved the shop to a new platform.

As soon as I get a positive balance, I first have to deal with refund DEMANDS that I have no choice about because the customer/client went the dispute/chargeback route; to make it worse, I have to prioritize these ahead of everything else b/c of the payment processor's and/or credit card company's deadline. Then I have to juggle often competing priorities with the remaining funds: 1. refunding customers/clients who are eligible for refund and have requested one; 2. shipping labels for packages/orders that are ready to go and need labels purchased and printed; 3. ordering supplies/materials i need to fill in-house orders or fulfill in-house services. Over the past few weeks, I have managed to ship a couple of packages a week, restock the materials I needed for soap-making, refund a couple of consultation clients, pay my assistant for her much-needed help, and restock the containers and bottles I was out of or running low on.

But as of Sunday night, the 24th, my business account is again in the negative (due to yet another panicked dispute that resulted in the processor reversing the charges despite my having uploaded shipping information and a copy of the TOS that buyers agree to by using the site even when they don't bother to read it). So while I've shipped a few packages, refunded a few orders/bookings, and am getting caught up on orders that were waiting on soap from when I was out of soap-making materials, I still have a lot of packages sitting here ready for labels that I can't ship, I still have customers/clients who have asked for and are waiting for refunds that I can't process right now, and I'm out of wax for votives and tealights (so orders containing those candle items are still processing more slowly right now).

The longer these packages sit here, the more likely it is that another chargeback will come through because a customer hasn't gotten his or her order. The longer it takes me to get these packages out and deal with all the red tape associated with the payment processors/customer claims, the more likely it is that another client will request a refund on a booked service. I have to get my head above water and catch up on *all sides,* but the situation forces me to focus on physical items first. Until I get caught up on all sides, the ship keeps on leaking with additional problems.

I've already borrowed money from family twice since last fall to ship orders and/or order supplies I needed to fill existing orders, and esp. given the expenses associated with the illnesses, travel, caretaking, and funerals that my family has incurred over the last few months, nobody is in a position to lend me any more even if I were comfortable asking (and I'm not). I can't just shut the shop for a week or two to get caught up, which is normally what I'd do at the first sign of an emergency or backlog, because the money to fill and ship existing orders *has* to come from the shop; there's no other source for it right now. But first, there's a hole that any incoming funds have to fill before I can use any of the money to ship packages or order supplies, and once that negative balance is taken care of, I have to use whatever amount of money as strategically as possible, since it's pretty damned unlikely I will see a sudden influx of sales netting sufficient funds to cover *everything* that needs covering in one fell swoop.

Then, of course, I have to eat. Obviously, I haven't drawn a paycheck from the shop for myself in a long time now, and the way things have been going, it could be a while before I will actually see any income from it again. All incoming funds are immediately absorbed by operating expenses. That's why I had to pick up some outside/freelance work last week to pay the mechanic, since the hours I sink into the shop/orders/correspondence don't directly/immediately result in money in my pocket right now. So until I have the funds to get caught up, I have to do additional outside work too since I'm no longer being paid by the university and I do need at least some of the hours I sink into work to result in cash so I can feed my kid and pay bills. I also have a looming deadline for paying a fairly significant tuition bill to my PhD institution so I can get re-enrolled to finish and submit my dissertation and finally graduate; while I finished coursework a long time ago and got the job I just resigned from without the PhD in hand since I was nearly finished (and had even published a chapter of the dissertation in article form already), I do need to formally finish the degree before it's too late. So the sickening irony is that when I finally have time to put all of my attention into the shop and the backlog, I can't actually afford to do that.

It isn't out of the question that I end up being forced to take the shop offline for a while or even go out of business, but I am still going to try to avoid it in the hopes that if I can just get caught up, it can be a viable business again (and perhaps, finally, even grow in directions it couldn't when I was in grad school full time and then teaching full time). But I have to survive all of this mess and clean it all up first, before I can even start to actively pray that I have any readers, clients, customers, etc. *left* who are interested in giving me another shot down the road and before I can even think about turning any of my time to writing actual content, finishing any of these books I have had on the back burner for so long, developing any of the new lines or formulas I was working on at various points in the past, or trying out new models for handling scheduling and conducting sessions for clients. It's conceivable that I could in the near future actually have time to do some of these things, but what I need now in order to get caught up is cash: the cash to order supplies I need to fill orders and to ship these orders that are waiting on shipping labels (and those that will be joining them in the "ready to go" bin shortly).

This, of course, at a time when my old clients and customers have had their patience strained beyond any reasonable limits and I have done virtually no work to cultivate new client/customer relationships or give folks any reason to want to get to know me or my work better! I am trying to encourage customers to make purchases in the midst of my explaining that I really need them to because otherwise I can't ship stuff they (or somebody else) already ordered last month or the month before! Without my explaining how the situation got like this, it would sound insane, like "hi there, thanks for reading, please order something that you might *never get* because I am always playing catchup with old orders and still haven't caught up after promising for five months that I was working on it!" Even *with* my attempts at explaining how some of these events have been (blessedly) unrepeatable and that things in my life have changed sufficiently such that I have about 500% more time to put into the shop and customers/clients now, it's still not a very reassuring proposition, I imagine! (See here for the blessedly unrepeatable and here for the plan of attack on fixing this mess.)

This has been a year of so many ironies; I only hope I can laugh about at least some of them one day. I'm explaining all of this not in an attempt to make excuses -- I freely admit that I have not handled things ideally and have not been a model of good emotional, psychic, or spiritual health and hygiene these last months, never mind a model of even remotely imitable business practice. I've handled a lot of things very poorly and if I've done anything well at all by way of making an example, I've been an example of what not to do (maybe, at best, I've demonstrated that I am in fact very human and can fall flat on my face and be overwhelmed and depressed despite my supposed experience and knowledge with navigating rough spiritual and emotional waters -- but that's not actually a quality most folks are looking for in a rootworker; not surprisingly, most folks would usually rather trust a worker who isn't out there flailing around in rough waters with them but in fact has found some firmer ground to stand on and from which to help them navigate....)

So I imagine I've done myself nothing but damage in explaining all of this. But this has been an absolutely unprecedented, very longstanding backlog and I feel like I owe you guys an explanation even though I can't possibly expect people to just take my word for it that things are clearing up and there won't be any more problems. I don't know how many times I've said "Well, things have to start looking up now, after that!" only to face yet another challenge this year, so I'm not going to keep tempting fate by making any promises.

But I do want to at least explain what has changed and how I can now put more time into things, and to explain how things got like this in the first place so you guys don't think I just suddenly stopped giving a damn and that I don't care about you, your orders, your concerns, your faith in me, or your own challenges and situations that you're seeking to apply spiritual remedies towards. I do care and I'm very sorry, and I know that nothing but my proving it through actions and consistency in the future will serve to reassure; all these words aren't worth a lot by themselves, not until I back them up. But I do feel like I need to explain the admin side of this mess at least a bit so folks can understand that it's not as simple as my just turning all my energy to the shop and the backlog now that I don't have such a time-consuming day job, such that I can just ship all these in-house orders, catch up on all the consultations and reports in a week or two, get to the bottom of the inbox in a few days, and then be back to business as usual. Getting caught up is going to require a lot more than just my having more time to put into it now.

To this end, then, the most realistic strategy I have at the moment is a sale, and my next post will announce Memorial Day coupon codes offering up to 40% off of any items or services at all. For some stuff like condition oils, a 40% off coupon means I'm selling the item at no profit to me at all; but a bird in the hand, as they say.... I have to stop the vicious Catch-22 of chargebacks/disputes by getting the backlog shipped ASAP. Focusing on services that don't require consumable materials would seem like a good strategy, since the fees for readings or consultations are not absorbed by the cost of shipping or materials. And doing those via phone or chat would seem ideal, since I can do them more quickly that way and since readers charge more and clients pay more for the short turnaround on phone sessions. But the queue of already-owed consultations is so long that I couldn't book any new ones for phone or chat before the queue was taken care of, so while I still plan to schedule some of those for clients who've been waiting as soon as I can sort out the logistics of scheduling and conducting real-time sessions, that isn't a short term strategy for increasing cash flow. And I'd love to be able to finish some of these nearly-finished new shrines and altar bottles/altar items and jewelry to make available, but I have to prioritize on the backlog mess right now and so I can't afford to put my energy into anything that isn't definitely going to turn into available cash in the short term and thus help me get these packages shipped; if I work on these for a couple of days and they don't sell right away, it will get me deeper in the hole.

You can see the kinds of decisions I have to make about where to put any available money and time. And you can possibly imagine, if you've been reading these past months, how easy it has been for me to get to a point where I'm just plain not sure what the best decision is about where to allocate available time and energy. At the very least, I hope you can see at least a little of what's on my plate, enough to be assured that despite my poor handling of some stressors and tragedies (that has fed into my poor management of my business and my customers' / clients' needs), that none of this has been about contempt for my clients or their lives or concerns, or lack of interest in them or their situations. I have not stopped caring. I just stopped functioning very well for a while, after functioning at burnout levels for too long. I spread myself too thin and when I stumbled, I fell. I am dusting myself off, and I intend to get my feet back under me and take care of business. If you are still around when I do, I'll be grateful beyond measure for your patience and faith. But even if you find that you aren't so inclined to trusting me for your spiritual goods and services, thank you for giving me a chance to at least try to explain.

I'll provide more updates when I have them. In the meanwhile, watch for a second post with sale/coupon codes and details. While it's quite likely shipping will continue to be delayed beyond the ideal minimum of about 10-15 business days since I have to get older orders shipped out first and there are quite a lot of them, I can definitely assure you that I have a whole hell of a lot more time to put into my shop, my altars, my inbox, and my customers/clients now, as of this week, and I am working like hell to prioritize available time and resources to get caught up, track down and resolve every outstanding issue, and make every order and booking right with the client/customer, one way or another. It will take time and it's not going to be simple, but nobody is going to get lost between the cracks.

Happy Memorial Day; blessings to all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in their service to their country and defense of our freedom; and peace and healing to those beloved they left behind.