I can’t believe that I am still sleeping like I am. I am not sure if it is the cold or the relief of returning home or the adrenalin level finally returning to normal after everything. Maybe it is a little bit of everything. I just feel like I have never been so tired in all my life.
The cold is really on its way out now, with just a little congestion and sore throat left. I haven’t taken medicine for it is a couple of days, and the fact that it is tolerable without anything is a good sign. Hopefully by the end of the weekend I will be back to normal again. I am sure that getting the extra rest and with getting my eating and everything back to normal it won’t be long.
I am slowly getting things caught up. At least I have done all the important things that needed immediate attention. As my American friends realize, it is tax day today and I was able to send those off on Tuesday, so that is one big thing I don’t have to think about anymore.
I figured out the numbers for the trip and it came out that I just about broke even. The cynics may look at that as a failure, but I think it is wonderful. I have long ago learned that in business you can’t put a dollar value on everything and look at it all as black and white. Of course you need to be responsible and the business needs to make money, but you don’t always have that ‘eye for an eye’ as far as investment and return, be it time or money. The contacts that I made and the good will that I earned both from customers and from colleagues is as they say “priceless”. Not to mention the fun I had and also the wonderful experiences I encountered.
In reflecting back on things, I suppose I have to say that the lectures were probably the most difficult part. Typically, I consider myself somewhat of a social person. When meeting new people, I am genuinely interested in what they are about and like to hear stories and get to know people. Lecturing to a crowd is quite different though. I am not as comfortable with all eyes locked on me and looking for me to enlighten them. I far prefer back and forth interaction.
The lectures at the conference were (as I eluded to in past posts) not without incident. Although nothing was tragic, there certainly were some glitches.
Upon arriving at the center, I was very anxious to see the place where I was was to make my presentations. Somehow not knowing how big or what type of room it was added to my anxiety and I was sure that once I saw the actual place, I would be able to feel more comfortable about the whole thing, knowing what I would be up against. I am told that I have a “quiet voice”, (although my own children would probably attest to the opposite!) and I wanted to be certain that what I had to say would be heard.
The room was a good size, with approximately six to eight rows of chairs lined up. There was a workbench up front and a scroll saw (a DeWalt) and a TV monitor on a stand to the far side. There was also an easel with paper and markers which I had requested. Everything looked in order.
The man in charge of the presentations stopped by to ask if I found everything satisfactory and I inquired about the camera that they were going to have to show my cutting demonstrations. He said they were getting it and that I would also have a helper there for the presentation so that if I needed anything at all I would have assistance. That was good.
I had never really made a formal outline of what I was going to talk about. Initially, I was planning on a somewhat beginner lecture first and then for the second presentation of the day I would cover more involved material. However, upon talking to people at the show, there were many that were not what I considered ‘beginners’ that had come with larger groups and they were on a schedule and needed to be at the earlier demonstration, so I decided to just cover everything in a general sense and then take questions and allow the audience to direct the level of expertise. This, I felt would be most beneficial to all involved.
When I arrived for the first presentation, there was a moment of terror when I realized that the room was quite crowded and that there were people slightly spilling into the hall. Could all these people come to see me talk? YIKES! I sucked in a deep breath and saw the gentleman who was in charge of arranging things and asked quickly if everything was ready and he said it was and zero hour was upon me. I was “on”.
I began with an introduction as to who I was and it amazed me how quiet the room had become. I felt as if all attention was on me, which was something that I certainly wasn’t used to. I kept talking though and started to feel a little looser and more at ease in front of the crowd. They really wanted to hear what I had to offer. That was good. I proceeded with some demonstrations on how to apply the pattern to the wood and such and it got to the time when I would be cutting on the saw and something dawned on me – no camera.
I kind of looked up and asked in general “weren’t we supposed to have a camera here?” and a voice from the back of the room calmly replied.
“Oh, we weren’t able to get one.”
I was momentarily dumbfounded. I am certain I had that ‘deer in the headlights’ look as my mind raced as to which direction I was now to proceed in. Part of me wanted to bolt for the door (just part) while the rest of me was frozen in front of a room full of eyes looking to me for the next word. I thought of the dream I had before I left where I was standing there speechless in front of the crowd and how some of you chuckled at the though of me ever being unable to speak and somehow it gave me absolutely no satisfaction knowing I was right on that issue.
After what seemed like hours and was literally only a second or two, I looked up and saw the easel and marker and thought “now there is plan B”. Instead of being able to demonstrate things on the saw, I would have to settle for using the drawing board to clarify my thoughts and ideas on cutting. Although it was not quite as effective as the actual demonstration, it was certainly sufficient and did help get the point across.
After the initial changing of gears, I felt that things went fairly smoothly. People began asking questions and the lecture turned into somewhat of a discussion of many different aspects of scroll sawing and cutting. I did know my material and was able to answer things that were asked and I even learned some things from others who had their own ideas of how to do certain procedures. Scrollsawing is like many of the other aspects of woodworking in that there is more than one way to do most everything. There is no one correct method as long as you are comfortable and safe in your approach.
Overall, I think that first class went well. In speaking to others who attended afterword, most said they learned something new and all said they enjoyed the presentation. When I returned to our table, it seems that Keith had heard that I had a glitch and many thought I would be upset about it. I truly wasn’t, as these things are to be expected in putting on a production the size of this show and everyone seemed to be quite concerned with getting a camera for the next presentation which was to be given in a couple of hours. Mistakes do happen and God knows I make enough of them not to chastise others when things like this happen. Besides, people who attended were quite understanding and as long as everyone had a good time and hopefully learned something from the information that I had to offer, that is all that mattered to me.
All in all it was a good experience and I am grateful that they asked me to participate. The subsequent lectures were each a bit easier for me to do. Once I got on the saw I felt at ease and knew that I could offer something to the newcomers and maybe even the veteran scrollers alike.
It has been nearly seven years since I have done a show or been around people like this. It struck me as odd how much I, myself have learned and advanced in that time. I think that it is good for me to get out into the real world from time to time because it raises my awareness and helps me be a better designer. I love hearing stories and getting to know others and I also like hearing not only what successes others have had with their scrolling, but also what stumbling blocks that they encounter so that I am better aware when I design and write instructions so I can help them overcome them.
A trip like this was long overdue.
I see that this story has gotten quite lengthy and I apologize for that. I suppose that I am getting back to normal after all! :D
I have so many good stories and observances to share with you all and I will do so in subsequent blogs. Although the past weeks have been incredibly busy, I have missed my daily dialogues with you and I am happy to return to this important part of my life.
I hope you all have an incredibly creative and happy day!
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"