My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #729: I Didn't Quite Make It

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 06-11-2012 11:59 AM 6786 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 728: Lollygagging Part 729 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 730: Alleviating Fears by Communication »

While I would like to start of the week here doing a victory dance because I reached all the goals that I had set for myself yesterday, I am afraid that isn’t the case. While I gave it a valiant effort, I didn’t quite finish what I wanted to do and the ornaments that I am working on will have to ship out tomorrow instead of today.

In some ways, I am quite disappointed. I had set out to accomplish something and I failed to do so. Part of me dreaded having to write here today and admit my failure to everyone. It is a bit humiliating.

But when I began writing here daily, I made a promise to myself that I would not only share the good things that go on regarding my life as a designer, but everything – good and bad – that pertains to my work and designing. Part of why I began writing here was because so many people that I knew both as friends and as customers had aspirations of becoming a designing or making woodworking or designing their main source of income and after (at that time) almost 15 years of going through many ups and downs of working in the industry, I wanted to share the every day process with them so that they have a better understanding of what it involves.

Today is one of those days when I didn’t meet the goal I had set out for myself. I suppose I am not ‘super woman’ after all.

I spent the entire day working on the ornaments. I had even made my breakfast the night before (a yummy sausage strata) that I only needed to pop into the over and eat. I wound up skipping through lunch altogether, as I just didn’t think about it and we had some (actually really good) left over pizza from the night before that Keith put in the oven to heat for dinner. So no time was wasted there.

Besides painting the second set of 12 ornaments, I also am required to send two sets of wood blanks for each of the two patterns, along with copies of the patterns. With the other patterns, the blank pieces, along with a picture of the pattern were used in the picture for the catalog and website, so I imagine that this is why they need them. So finishing up the painting was only part of what would be necessary for me to get the shipment in the mail.

Around 4pm, my partner Keith offered to cut the additional pieces for me. At the time I was painting piece #7 of the 12 and I still had high hopes of completing things before the day was done. He made the trip to his parents’ house where our wood was stored and cut the last of our stock into the 10” x 10” pieces that we would be using for cutting. This was a great relief and I was really thinking at this time that I would be able to meet my goal.

When he returned an hour or so later with the three foot plus high stack of boards, I was ever so grateful to him. He then offered to heat up dinner and all the while I painted on.

I only stopped a short time to eat, and then continued on with my task. But I was getting tired and as the clock seemed to be spinning on the wall, I started to begin to wonder if I would reach my goal.

At 10:20, when I was just about completing ornament #10, I came to accept that I would not be able to finish. It was a difficult decision to make, as I am not one to give up easily, but my body was aching and half an hour before I had made a small mistake that I had to correct. My battery was just running out.

I had at least two and a half more hours of painting ahead of me, and I also had to paint the backs of both sets (24 pieces) drill the holes in them, and create at least the covers of the pattern packets. I then had to box them up and get them ready to send on their way across the country. I just couldn’t imagine myself staying up and continuing on. So I will finish up today.

While I was disappointed in myself on one level, as I looked at the pieces that were in front of me my disappointment began to fade. What I had done so far was quality, and I am quite proud of them. At one point, Keith suggested that I send the pieces that I had shown here on the blog last week (the ones I used for submissions) but as I repainted each piece, I also refined the designs on them and made them better than the first group. And I only wanted my best work to be sent.

I probably could have made it easy on myself and sent the original pieces, but something inside me wouldn’t let me. Am I being sadistic? Or crazy?

As I compare the two versions side by side, in my own mind there is no comparison. The second versions of these pieces are superior and those are the ones that I need to have sent. While I am willing to compromise slightly on my own time schedule, I just can’t do so on my designs.

So another day it is.

I slept until after seven today. I guess I was really tired. I no longer feel the urgency that I have been feeling the past several days and that is good. My disappointment has been replaced with a good feeling of calm because I know that I will take the day to finish these up properly. Tomorrow, when they go out the door, I will not be second-guessing myself as to if I gave it my best shot. I will truly know I have. There are just 24 hours in a day, and there is only so much that you are able to pack into those hours. I did my best to finish, but I just came up a bit short.

And it wasn’t because I was lolligagging.

I feel that I learned a valuable lesson through all of this. We all have our limitations, and sometimes the limitations win. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we “lose”, it only means we need to accept what we are and what we can accomplish in a given window of time and be happy with what we DID accomplish. If I would have cut some corners, I would have finished in my self-imposed time frame. But the victory would have been hollow because the quality would not have been there. To me it was more important to do things right than to meet a deadline that I made for myself.

The ornaments should still arrive in time for photography. My contact said there were two days that they had scheduled for shooting pictures for the catalog. I hope that when she sees them, she feels that they are worth it and she will schedule them into the second session if they aren’t there in time for the first. I am going to contact her today and let her know where I am at with them. Hopefully, they will be willing to work with me on this.

If they cannot, then I have to be ready to accept that too. The worst thing that will happen will be that I have two new designs that are something that I am proud of. I have had many new people join my mailing list that have purchased the kits for the other ornaments and they are very pleased with them and looking for more designs. I will be putting these up on my site soon, so they will be available there no matter what. So I can’t really lose.

All I can say is I really did my best. What will be will be. I will finish these up today and they will be on their way tomorrow. And I will be able to move on to other things too.

The sun is shining and it is another beautiful day here. We haven’t had any real heat yet, but it has been pleasant and there have (thankfully!) been few bugs. It is a beautiful Monday, and I am going to enjoy it.

I hope you all have a great day too.

(Random cat picture!)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

3 comments so far

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6855 posts in 3978 days

#1 posted 06-11-2012 03:22 PM

Hi Sheila;

It is those kind of goals and expectations that causes one to burn themselves out. Believe me I know.

You seem to have a tendency to push yourself to unreasonable limits, which could lead to resenting having to get things done. Sometimes you just need to chill out.

And pease don’t take that the wrong way, but as someone who’s “been there”, i know what you are going through.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 2883 days

#2 posted 06-11-2012 03:34 PM

Setting realistic goals is the key. You can not build a house in one day. You can not finish a three day project in one. Now if you let your standards fall ( and you won’t) then it becomes more possible. We know you did a great job on these. That is what we have come to expect and that is why we continue to come back you yoou.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2918 days

#3 posted 06-11-2012 04:06 PM

Thank you both very much. Lee – I don’t take it in a bad way at all. Sometimes I know my expectations are high. Sometimes I think I should slow down. But the memories of when I wasn’t working much at all are still too close for me to be able to do that in good conscience. Granted, I didn’t have the focus I do now. My personal life was quite a mess. I had to take one step at a time to change my lifestyle and realize that if I didn’t take my job seriously, no one else would either.

It is hard to turn that off sometimes. It has become a habit these past three years to the point of if I sleep later than six am, no matter what time I get to bed, I feel like I am ‘slacking.’

I know you are right though. I feel as if the elephant is riding me. I dreaded having to write the blog today and say that I didn’t finish things. I felt like I was in school without my homework done.

I realize that I put a lot of pressure on myself, and have no one but myself to blame for that. I need to take a step back and take a breath and perhaps a day (or two) away, I think. Keith told me as much this morning. :) I have today to finish this up and then tomorrow to finish the article for the magazine, and then I think on Wednesday I am going to coast. It is finally warm here and perhaps I will answer that call that I have been hearing from the beach. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Thanks again to both of you for your support and friendship. Sorry if I came off as griping, as I really am grateful for the working opportunity. I just need to chill a bit and take a breath.

Have a great day! :) Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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