First of all, I want to thank everyone for the comments and advice on yesterday’s post. I really do appreciate the different viewpoints that were given and I honestly feel it will help me make better decisions in the future. In the couple of weeks since I started this blog, I have learned so much for everyone I can’t even tell you. I hope in some ways that I have also been giving you some insight into what it is like to work the way I do.
I wasn’t sure that it would be much interest to anyone, but the positive comments and encouragement I have received from people, both in the comment section and privately have been very rewarding. I realize that what I write about isn’t all about building this or building that, but I feel that most of what I talk about is related to woodworking and the business of woodworking. The project itself is just the tip of the iceberg. I find that people are really interested in what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ in woodworking – especially if they are thinking of doing it themselves.
I think it takes love and true dedication to ride the ups and down that occur, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love what I do and every single day I realize that I am lucky to survive in this job. There used to be someone in my life who judged only the paychecks and was constantly at me to find a ‘real job’ or a better paying job and it was probably the most difficult time in my life. My work suffered because it was being devalued every day and it began a vicious circle of making even less money and being less creative.
It took a lot, but I changed that part of my life, and I now am surrounded by people who support my dreams and believe in my abilities and they are the ones whom I give credit to for any successes I am seeing. I am not there yet, but business is starting to turn around. It is like stopping the wheels of a locomotive and putting it in reverse. It takes a lot of time and strength. I have a partner that supports me even on the bad days and is there to shore me up when I want to quit. I know it has to come from within myself, but having someone there cheering you on sure beats the opposite. I also have had some great contact with fellow woodworkers like you and customers and my editor which is always a positive thinker (how do we make it win/win he always asks!). No man or woman is an island.
I had a customer send me pictures last week of a little moose ornament from a set I designed that he made. You may think ‘that’s nice’. But the kicker is that his daughter was getting married and she asked him to make 80 of them for the table favors at the wedding! 80! So he sent me a picture of all the pieces cut and in progress and he even painted them to look really cute and I was so overwhelmed when I saw them. To think that someone would take one of my ideas and apply it in such a way was not only touching, but incredible.
Last year when things were not so good for me I was really considering quitting. Business was bad, I wasn’t making a decent living and I just felt burned out. On one of my saddest days, I received a call from a customer of mine in British Columbia, all the way across Canada. I had ‘met’ her a couple of days before coming to Nova Scotia, as she ordered from the phone and we got to talking. She used to live here and calls it the ‘other paradise’ from BC where she is now. We have been friends for six years and every once in a while she calls and we have a nice chat. She told me if I were ever in BC, she has a guest house and I was welcome to stay. She also said how she loves my designs and puts on a show each fall and sells hundreds of things. She thanks me for the work I do, as she can’t draw (she says) and doesn’t know what she would do without me. I don’t know what I would have decided without that call.
It was a coincidence that she called that day I was going to give up. Or was it fate? After talking to her, I felt like even if what I do is silly, it does add to some people’s lives. I thought of all the other stories like these that I have heard over the years from my customers and students and it made me think that maybe I should follow my heart and give it one more try and not think of the negative people who don’t understand it. It means more than money to me. Really and truly.
I love reading and posting different quotes (there is a thread in the Coffee House forum now on quotes) and one of my favorites is “You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job, and not be paid for it.”
- Oprah Winfrey.
I realize we have to pay to live and eat. But I also realize that it isn’t what makes us happy. I know if I am patient, things will work out how they are supposed to.
So with that said, I will get going with my day. I have enjoyed writing this series, not because of the audience, but because it allows me the chance first thing in the morning to organize and plan my day. It has allowed me new friendships and brought new people into my life and has given me the opportunity to learn and share what I have and still am learning.
I finally finished writing a difficult pattern yesterday. It wasn’t difficult in the technological sense, but it was one of those projects where I would rather clean the cat box than finish writing. I was easily distracted and for some unknown reason had to struggle to finish it. What should have taken a couple of hours took several days to do. I just couldn’t focus. Did you ever have a project like that? But it is done and I have a great sense of freedom and can now move on to other things. I can’t wait to start my day today and ultimately make some saw dust.
Thanks very much again for your encouragement and also your honest opinions. It really means a lot. :)
Have a great Friday!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"