My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #899: Mission Accomplished

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 12-08-2012 12:58 PM 4416 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 898: Forgotten Treasures Part 899 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 900: Recharged and Ready »

Once again, I can see the top of my kitchen table. The counters are clean and the floor is also clear. It seems that everything worth while has found a place and I can put my finger on most anything that I have.

I spent the day sorting and cleaning. I was surprised how much cheering I received from friends who stated that they also need to do what I was doing. It appears that everyone accumulates ‘stuff’ and few find the time to really sort through it all and keep it organized.

I actually enjoyed the process. It was a quiet time for me and gave me a chance to think and reflect about many things.

Some of the items I decided not to part with. For reasons that were even sometimes unknown to me, I had the need to hold on to them ‘just in case’ I wanted to display them one day. They may have had a story behind them, or some emotional tie that I just wasn’t ready to let go of yet. So I decided to keep them. I tried to keep those to a minimum however, as before long the ‘keep’ pile was beginning to grow larger than the ‘give’ pile and I realized that I would once again find myself in the position in which I began – with an over abundance of things and no place to put them. I needed to keep reminding myself “if I want or need it, I can always make it again.”

What is it about the need to have ‘stuff’?

We hear about those who have grown up in the depression and have been through difficult times, and now they tend to hoard things, as if there would come a time again when they would be in need. Is that part of human nature?

A couple of years ago, I needed Worcestershire sauce for some cooking that I was doing. Much to my dismay, I only had a drop and was unable to complete the recipe properly. As a result of that, within the next couple of weeks, I replaced the empty bottle not once, but twice. I did not do this on purpose, but ‘not having’ something must have triggered something in my brain to get it the next time I was at the store – even though it is an ingredient that I seldom use, and a bottle seems to last me for years. My disappointment of not having it when I needed it must have affected me to such an extent that I purchased some not only the next time that I was at the grocery store, but also clouded my mind so much that I purchased another bottle a second time in the visit after that.

It may seem silly, but I believe that ‘fear of not having things’ is powerful stuff. I also think it is a driving force behind why many people are so afraid to let go of things in the first place. The “What if I need it’s” are hard to ignore – especially in difficult times when so many are struggling.

But in this moment in my life, I do feel very comfortable with what I have. Even though I have been through some difficult times myself – as recently as a few years ago – I have learned that much of the ‘things’ that I had were not necessary in the first place. As I get older, I find that I want very little and that I find comfort in the simplicity that I live my life right now. I need certain things to keep designing and doing my job, and of course, I need my art supplies in order to create, but ‘not having’ is no longer a curse to me, and can even be viewed on as a blessing in many cases.

When shopping for Christmas gifts a couple of weeks ago when Keith and I went to the city, we went through store after store which had wonderfully magical Christmas displays and decorations. Seeing these displays was a delight for our senses, as was the hotel the other night. It would have been easy to indulge and purchase many items to make our little place here our own personal Winter Wonderland. But for what reason? What purpose would buying thing after thing be when we didn’t have room for what we already have? It was then when I noticed that I am beginning to look differently at things and much prefer to keep things simple.

When looking closer at what was available, I realize that much of it is mass-produced and cheap. If it lasted more than a season or two it would be a miracle in itself. Why then, would I want to accumulate more things only to have them wind up in a landfill in the next year or two?

So I decided to give gifts which had a bit more meaning and usefulness this year. Things that were made with care and would be (hopefully) appreciated for that reason. The gift certificate for Bernie and Ellen, who have everything they could ever really need. A heated blanket for my daughter, who lives in a place where the heat is costly and appreciates a warm bed (yes – I already had it sent to her, as she needed it now and I thought it would be foolish to wait) and some fine, pure hand-made soaps from my friend in Pennsylvania (we know her on Lumberjocks as Rivergirl). These are gifts that will be used and appreciated. And most of them will help local artisans and establishments such as the hotel and Kelly by keeping them working. And of course, the hand made woodworking and painted items.

I apologize for getting off on a tangent, but my point was that what allowed me to part with so many of my wood and painted creations was not only knowing that they would go to a place where it would be appreciated, but also that the money it will bring is much needed and will help the community. As I said yesterday, it is a win/win.

So I decorated my little tree for the holiday season yesterday. Most of the ornaments I put on it were my own. There were some that were received from others in exchanges from this year and past, and I cherish them for the time and care in which they were made.

While we may not have our place adorned end to end with holiday decorations, there are enough things around to remind us of the season.

Many times I am asked why I keep my tree up all year, and why go to the trouble to decorate it for the different seasons. I suppose the reason is that for me is that it celebrates not only one season or holiday or religion, but our lives in general. No matter which religion we choose, or even if we choose none at all, it is a reminder to me that each day should be appreciated. And each day we should practice kindness, tolerance, compassion and understanding towards each other.

We don’t need a holiday for that.

Have a wonderful weekend.

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

10 comments so far

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2656 posts in 3550 days

#1 posted 12-08-2012 02:58 PM

A very good read this morning! Stay warm and happy!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6859 posts in 4003 days

#2 posted 12-08-2012 03:02 PM

Nicely written Sheila.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Dan Krager's profile

Dan Krager

4033 posts in 2258 days

#3 posted 12-08-2012 03:15 PM

I’ve come to look forward to your posts and it confirms what my gut told me about you from the first contacts. We see many things so much alike, and this post is one of those detailed.
I have had to deal with pack rat tendencies and your comment about deprivation started me thinking. Yes, I’ve heard that those who lived through the earlier great depression are most affected by the memory of deprivation. I was born shortly after that great depression (they were celebrating?) and lived most of my life in rural areas where self sufficiency was the only way to survive “out there”. Resources were carefully guarded, efficiently used, and waste was minimal. We lived in our own “ecosystem”, which sometimes expanded to the neighbors. Stuff was reused again and again and it was a treasure to find “just what we needed” in a pile of stuff too good to throw away. The bigger the pile, the more likely to find just the right “treasure”. I still refer to a junkyard as a toy store. Creativity was involved. Creativity sees potential. When you’ve invested so much time and energy to cut down the tree (no chain saw), prepare boards out of it (no sawmill…split and hand plane) you tend not to waste much of it. It was less effort to use “leftover” than to get another tree. So the left overs accumulated…
In my own case, I’ve now “completely” equipped my shop with both power and hand tools. I don’t think there is a woodworking operation I cannot do from microscopic miniatures to 57’ Chris Craft rebuild from limber chain up. Can you envision a 1967 VW Woody (all chrome replaced w mahogany, only fenders and top not covered with wood) complete with wooden hubcaps? I can live and do all this without electricity now…not nearly as convenient nor comfortable but doable with grace. I can always “see the need” for a better tool to do the job and that is my “collectors disease”. Like, how often do you use a radius plane? I’ve never used or needed one, but I have a damn fine one! There is no doubt in my mind that a use will come up, maybe sooner than I expect because everything I do is custom made.
And I too clean the shop for therapy. I will probably scrub the floor on my hands and knees and polish everything twice this weekend because I’ve been pretty down. I can’t get this business off the ground here. (Think Orville and Wilbur or Minnesota Loon) I’m tired of trying after a year. I’ve produced about $3500 worth of sales all year! On the positive side, it’s a good thing I don’t need the income so badly and it’s sales I didn’t have before. I’ll keep tinkering and poling around with enough patience and something will show up
Thanks for listening. Keep on posting. It’s encouraging. And I like your kitty pics.

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL One should always prefer the probable impossible to the improbable possible.

View patron's profile


13606 posts in 3365 days

#4 posted 12-08-2012 03:26 PM

good morning sheila

you wrote

Once again, I can see the top of my kitchen table.
The counters are clean and the floor is also clear.

what does this mean ?

maybe i need a cup off coffee
and to read it again

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2880 days

#5 posted 12-08-2012 03:31 PM

Sheila now that you have clear worktops do you

think that you could come and do ours? :)

I’ve found that I cant throw away anything unless

there is absolutely no chance that it can be used for

anything. Thankfully recycling saves our house from



-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2944 days

#6 posted 12-08-2012 06:31 PM

Hi, everyone: Thanks for the nice input. David – the reference to once again seeing the top of the kitchen table was because the previous day I began weeding through every cabinet, drawer and closet in our place here to “reorganize” finished projects and find a better use for them than getting broken or damaged. By Thursday evening, I was out of steam and decided to leave everything just where it was until the next day to finish. :)

I do feel that cleaning and getting things in order is therapy. I always feel better when I have a handle on things and everything is in its rightful place. I feel for you with trying so hard to kick start your business. I believe that all of us who are small businesses understand how difficult it is to keep things going. Even for myself, who has had a margin of success, I find that if I slow down even a bit, things slow right down with it. This upcoming year will be interesting to see what is in store for us, when we are no longer associated with our largest distributor. It will be a year of adventure, that is certain.

Keep your chin up and keep doing what you do best. I find that my best selling patterns are the ones that I do just because they come from my heart, not because someone expects something from me.

Jaime – I have had numerous invitations from others in the past few days from people that wish to have me come and ‘help them’. I would love to do it if I could, but I would also be afraid of angering people because I can be absolutely brutal when it comes to moving things out. When I am not, it is Keith who is the one who can be even more unforgiving than me. More than once I have become cross with him because of his eagerness to discard some of my things that I may have preferred to have kept. I wouldn’t want it to come between us. However I will happily cheer you on from the sidelines. :)

Have a great day!


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

View Celticscroller's profile


1269 posts in 2097 days

#7 posted 12-08-2012 06:50 PM

Good morning Sheila. A great post! I love your philosophy. I too live in a small place and both my husband and myself work on the premise that if you haven’t seen it or used in 6months, you don’t need it so out it goes! If something new comes in something old gets recycled. (Things never get thrown out – someone’s junk is another person’s treasure) This works in the house – not so much in the workshop! We seem to be able to accumulate wood and tools quite well!
Enjoy your day. Dry and sunny here – a good day to finish up some angels.
Love your tree.

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3139 days

#8 posted 12-08-2012 10:25 PM

beside to get the clutter out of the house
its always good to get a clean workspace / bench
between projects and with your small place I presume
its more than importen to have it 100 % clutterfree 24/7/365 :-)
I´m forced out of the shop the next few days since
I didn´t focused on the job I did so I ran a pointed cutting edge
into my finger when I used wet/dry sandpaper on a plough plane iron
I have had in a Citric Acid bath and need to get rit of the gung
after the rust remove , I do like this kind of sanding its like sharpening and honing
without power maschinery …... little like going in Zen mode …. :-)
this time though I got sidetracked and was thinking of how I can make a new aplience /jiig

on the other hand I proppebly have to fight with a little 14 hours Blitz of snow tommorrow
~~ 12 inches is expected ….. well lets see if it is me or Silke that gets happy ….. LOL

take care

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2944 days

#9 posted 12-09-2012 11:51 AM

Oh Dennis! I hope you are OK. Sometimes cuts can be really nasty. Especially when working with old and rusty tools. Be careful and wear gloves until it is completely healed. So sorry to hear. Tell Silke I am cheering for her! I am still awaiting snow here. :)


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

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2828 days

#10 posted 12-11-2012 12:54 AM

Well said Sheila. Wish everyone had your outlook.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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