Got no work? revisited

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Blog entry by DocSavage45 posted 11-25-2011 09:06 PM 2369 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Reposting this as it might be timely around the holidays when we reflect on successes and failures?

Got No Work? You are not alone. But that doesn’t make us feel better. We need to survive. Remember when we prospered?

Charles Neil has asked me to talk about this and maybe by doing so we can help a fellow woodworker?

The thread that has been going on o the Blog started with Charles’ piece. “So you want to be a professional woodworker?”

Some themes: “don’t quit your day job,” “I love this but…”, “what have I gotten myself into?”

Everyone has a different emotional temperament. I get angry first, and that is why I teach “Anger management.” Some people get anxious first. These are our instinctive survival emotional responses. So when we are threatened we respond in our normal fashion. It works for some and not for others. That is why I have a job. Went back to it to try to survive the times we are in. I really wanted to make furniture. Hmm sound familiar.

You have heard of stress? There is good stress and bad stress. The good stress is finishing the customer’s piece, after screwing up a few times, having time and money problems, yet delivering it, getting paid, and oh yeah the customer loves it as much as we do. Bad stress is; and you can add to this…. No customers (I hate it when people complain that “I have to work.”) Bills, dwindling resources, and some professional people like Charles Niel have a large cost overhead.

All stress, good and bad, can become tiring, frustrating and overwhelming. Been there, done that, myself. What have I done? I have applied the skills that I attempt to teach my clients. All of them are simple to talk about. Just hard to do. Especially when we have been doing the stuff that isn’t working for most of our lives. Woodworkers know what framing means, I like to use the metaphor “Reframing” to get a better visual picture, a plan of action, and a way of measuring what I am doing to see if it works.

Grief over Loss

Kubler Ross wrote a book about “Death and dying”. There are five stages of grief over loss. Face it my ego, self worth, and income were in that image I had of me as a “Cabinet builder,” “furniture maker.” There is loss of self worth, self respect, income, and belief in who we are.

Now that’s where our coping skills come in. Are you the angry Type (like me) or the anxious type? I try to get my clients to self assess what they do when confronted with situations that are overwhelming, and they don’t know what to do.

It is important to know that I am grieving. It is a depressed state. It can immobilize me. I like the phrase I heard years ago….Depression is anger turned inward. I find it is true when we have no way to get it out, or over it.

Stages of Grief are:

Shock and Denial: We tell ourselves “this isn’t real”, or “not me? You can add your own?
Anger and guilt: Balme self or others for the loss. Pick a political party?

Depression: Extreme changes or loss can cause overwhelming feelings. Never saw my father cry. He just left the room.

Resolution: Requires us to go through our feelings, and accept our losses, and continue to live our lives. 911 survivors?

You may find yourself in one of these over your current situation. I sure did. Not easy even when I know the stuff.

What would Charles do?

He has shared what he does over the years. He gets angry. He goes and sits on his porch like a Big Dawg. He talks to Sherri. He comes up with a plan. He makes every effort to “think outside the box.” Then he does “something” Oh yeah my guess he checks to see if it is working for him?

Charles says he gets angry. That’s my way as well. I say, “Do something.” “Take control of what you can.” “Reframe it” (look at it differently). There is more. I also am fond of saying the great phrase “Doing something over and over again and expecting different results is insanity.” Some become anxious and very worried. This can be immobilizing. I make every attempt to have people on both ends learn about assertiveness. It helps to bring us back to the center.

Coping with stress

A coping saw is a hand held manual tool that has been used for years to cope the corners when putting up crown molding. So I think coping is a tool to get things done.

In traumatic events like 911, Katrina, tornadoes, and general disasters, we have ordinary people handling extra ordinary situations. When asked, I attempt to do some emotional first aide for the stress.

When you have not had a problem providing for yourself and your family and you are a professional woodworker, who is in an extra ordinary situation, it is important to check your existing coping skills to see what works. And add a few more to help your brain get clear of all the emotional stuff.

When going through trauma, and it is traumatic to loose your identity, feelings will well up. You can find yourself, not eating, or over eating. Not sleeping or sleeping too much. I find myself and my clients can become deregulated. I work to get us back on track. If you are depressed, you may be turning away from others? You may want to be by yourself? You may drink more than usual? Inactivity can be a big problem. If you were athletic or an active person and your sitting on your butt….Take a walk, in my case shovel more snow.

You can get through grief, but it may be difficult to overcome the feelings, by over-indulging.

Exercise helps us get the crap out of our system that builds up. Remember it is a self protection mechanism of the body to get ready to fight (anger) or flee (anxiety). So if bummed out, get out, and exercise your muscles and get rid of the poison.

When you are tired, bummed out, irritable, worried it is hard to think clearly.

Check out your feelings
Vent and cry if you feel it welling up.
Do the normal activities
Take care of your health
Look at what you may be doing that isn’t working
Find a friend, spouse, family member who you trust to talk to
Share what is bothering you
Talk to God, but don’t ask for favors
Be prepared when those feelings sneak up unexpectedly
Find other woodworkers in your area who might feel as you do
It’s not the macho thing to do, but contact a professional counselor/psychologist/social worker

When you are not feeling overwhelmed, then try to think outside the box. I recommend “What Color is Your Parachute” It’s a self help tool for people wanting to change what they do in working lives. It may help figure out your “other skills.”

It’s all hard to do. I do it every day. Hate whining, especially my own. Find good feelings from your friends, family, pets, but not from drugs or alcohol, which is a whole other story.

Thomas J. Tieffenbacher, M.A., L.P.
Minnesota Licensed Psychologist


-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

7 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3574 days

#1 posted 11-25-2011 09:45 PM

Hey Tom Thanks for the free counseling section . With the economic and holiday season upon us we can all use all the help we can get. Thanks for your good thoughts.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Delta356's profile


463 posts in 2851 days

#2 posted 11-26-2011 12:19 AM

Thanks Tom, I have found that work is slow durning the winter…. To slow these days…..

Thanks, Michael Frey


View woodnewbee's profile


76 posts in 3103 days

#3 posted 11-26-2011 04:40 AM

thanks for the reminders. i spend lots of time with people who are down and out and tend to forget things that need done. In teaching Psych First Aid we often talk of “the new normal” sometimes gives new perspective. thanks again, WaynO

View Arthouse's profile


250 posts in 2647 days

#4 posted 11-27-2011 02:04 AM

Over my thirty-five years as a professional I have been humbled and seen the ups and downs but I stay swamped with work year round. i stay small , very flexiable in what I do. I never turn down any work whether large or small it usually leads to larger jobs. I do 50 % custom and 50% speculative of my lines of furniture. I am always going to job sites looking dropping cards meeting people. I call people looking for Church work or interior finish work to find leads. I create my own work. The one main thing I see in the construction industry is if your good you have no fear. If you are talented and have a designer eye that is an added boost. I see talented Architects who are always busy regardless of the economy . They may not have a ton but they have work. The one main issue described above from Tom about one’s feeling is this . I have disipated the ignorance of myself to go on my spiritual journey and whatever happens happens I am not in control I have turned my life and my will over to the care of God. I am doing his will not mine because amazingly it’s all this and Heaven too.

-- "The hand is the cutting edge of the mind but the wind and sun are the healing factors of the heart

View DocSavage45's profile


8552 posts in 2839 days

#5 posted 11-27-2011 08:46 AM

Glad people are taking time to read it, thanks for taking time to comment. We all have a different path.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View S4S's profile


2118 posts in 2678 days

#6 posted 12-15-2011 01:47 AM

I have faced much death and loss and tragedy this year . When those you love depart , they take a large part of your soul with them . Your shared laughter , secrets , celebrations , hardships , hopes . Gone, and at rest , leaving just memories . It was not my strength , but rather the seeds of love that I had planted along the way, that kept me from the abyss. The strength of those who loved me was great and abiding , in the depth of compassion and understanding that was shown . Through it all was Art . And Hope .Overcoming loss. My thoughts about art evolved again . I began to see new things in different ways , and old ideas took on new perspectives . There was great solice in the words of Buddha , The story of Job ,Great philosophers, The music of Mozart and Albinoni and countless other masters ,woodworking artists, countless painters and sculptors whose works I have enjoyed since childhood , The sonnets of Shakespeare…..the poems of Frost , Baldwin , Angelou and countless others . I found that Art had woven such a rich tapestry in my life , that I was reluctant to leave it behind . It held Hope and promise for me when my hours were darkest, because it had already taught me about dark hours, and how to reach beyond them into joy , and embrace the cycle of life , and embrace those around me on life’s journeys .
No matter how hard that journey becomes , we can see it through , with Love and Hope ,together . !! In dark hours I used to listen and watch this nightly , it comforted me and served as a reminder to tell others how special they are,while I can .

View DocSavage45's profile


8552 posts in 2839 days

#7 posted 12-15-2011 03:18 AM

It’s great that you found your way. I was commenting to my clients today that I had lost mine. And last night I asked my ancestors to help me find some piece. Looking on the LJ sight today and seeing the Tree Wall Cabinet brought me back. James Krenov’s writting has sent me into positive places.

Had left my creativity and desire on a shelf while taking care of functional matters. Got it back!

Thanks for the music. I play the classics for my cats in the barn. LOL And they let me listen when I’m there!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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