So how does one begin their 1000th blog post in a series?
Most of you who know me and read regularly know that I am not a ‘numbers’ girl. I tend to look at numbers as a necessary evil, be it when they are referring to things like age, number of friends we have, or even net worth. While I realize the importance of how numbering something helps us organize things in this crazy world we live in, I can’t help but think that numbers on their own can be cold and desensitizing. Looking at someone or something based solely on statistics and numbers only gives us a very small part of the picture, and hopefully people look beyond those initial figures and consider everything that is involved. For while using numbers is an efficient way to benchmark something, it is rarely enough to give us a complete understanding of any given subject or event. We need to teach ourselves to look further.
But as I sit here this morning and begin writing my 1000th post, being aware of that number, it causes me to look back and reflect on my life over the past three years. I joined Lumberjocks.com nearly three years ago, at the end of May in the year 2010. The site here was referred to me by Steve Good – a scroll sawyer who writes a daily blog of his own at his site Scrollsaw Workshop. He thought that I would enjoy it here and perhaps use the site to network and market my own site. Little did I know how much impact joining here would have on my life.
I had recently gone through some major life changes. I was just coming out of a time when things in my life were not so good. I had made some poor decisions in the past that had really affected me both mentally and physically. For a designer, this is a huge disaster. After a long battle of receiving my paperwork to live here in Canada (I was originally from the Chicago area) I felt worn out and deflated. My business was struggling because for the past several years my attention was elsewhere, and I was barely surviving financially. I had hit the proverbial ‘bottom’ and I realized that it was sink or swim for me and I would have to give the business a full blown effort, or give it up completely and seek employment elsewhere.
But I finally did have my paperwork and I lived in a beautiful small town that was peaceful and quiet. I didn’t want to give that up after fighting so hard to be here. The problem was (and is) that there are few jobs available in our area, and certainly none that required any amount of creativity. As I recovered from the battle that I had just fought, my need to be creative grew, and I knew that I would only be happy doing what I feel I was meant to do – be creative and teach others to find their own creativity within themselves. So it was with much trepidation that I began this blog.
In the week prior to me beginning my daily writings here, I had two separate calls from customers who were both amazed that I answered my own phone. At that time I had been a contributing editor for Creative Woodworks and Crafts magazine for nearly 12 years already, and with that position, people naturally thought that I was highly successful and thought that I employed a full staff. I found that almost laughable, as the truth was that my finances were quite a disaster, and the business was not only not self-sustaining, but probably costing me money in the long run. My life was very much the opposite of what they pictured.
So when I joined Lumberjocks and saw that as a member we each got our own blog page, I thought it would be a good place to tell my story. After all, there are many woodworkers here that are aspiring to have their own businesses and many of them are going through many of the same things that I was regarding business. I thought it would be a great place to talk about these inside things and not only learn from them, but also hopefully help them avoid some of the pitfalls that I encountered. So I started writing.
I never intended this to be a daily practice. I thought that I would check in once a week or so and just write occasionally. But as soon as I began, I met some very inspirational people that I now consider ‘friends.’ I had felt silly writing that first post. After all – who wanted to read about someone who had a struggling business. I certainly wasn’t a role model for anyone, and I still didn’t know if I would even be able to continue what I was doing for much longer. But I did feel that I had learned some things over the years and I wanted to share that information with others and also learn from those who have had experiences that they were willing to share.
It is because of you, my readers that I keep writing. You have all embraced me as not only a designer and colleague, but also as a friend. I can’t even begin to count the great number of friends that I have gained from writing here every morning. You live in all corners of the world, yet come by to ‘visit’ me and share your lives with me, as I do mine with you. You have supported me and inspired me and not only shared in my triumphs, but helped me on some of my most difficult days.
In the beginning, when more days were a struggle than not, you all gave me a reason to keep moving ahead. I found myself doing things because I didn’t want to disappoint you all and once I started writing on a daily basis, it gave me a purpose to keep working hard and make a good example of myself and keep coming back.
There were days when I would just not feel like working, but I pushed myself to do so in order to have something to show for the day in the next mornings’ blog. And when I did present my accomplishments, the positive comments and encouragement that I received from you all got me through some times when I doubted myself and felt so unsure that I was doing the right thing. You were all like cheerleaders to me, and I didn’t want to let you all down.
As a result, I am now in the habit of having a good work ethic again. I always try to do the absolute best that I can because not only do I know that you all expect that of me, but I also expect that from myself. This is all the result of the positive support and reinforcement that you have given me. I don’t know how I can ever thank you enough for that.
When I began this blog, I had just emerged from a very abusive relationship. My self esteem was in the basement. I had lost all confidence in my abilities and I didn’t trust any of my own decisions. I look back on these three years and I realize that it is not only because of my being fortunate enough to find a wonderful partner, but also because of all of you – my friends – that helped turn things around for me. You have all contributed to the person I am today – honestly happy and comfortable with my life. And that is the source of my creativity.
I realize that this post is a bit personal, but from the first time I posted, I warned you that it may be the case from time to time. You cannot separate creativity from personal feelings. While I do speak personally on occasion, I have prided myself that in 1000 posts I don’t discuss politics, religion or other beliefs of that manner, or try to force my opinions on you. The only opinions that I wish to promote are kindness, compassion and creativity. (Oh – and an occasional cat picture!)
I apologize for the length of this post, but these are things in my heart that I want to say.
Thank you to Martin and those of you who maintain this site. You have enriched the lives of so many through your efforts.
Thank you to Steve Good for sending me here. You are a mentor to so many and I truly admire your dedication to woodworking and scroll sawing in particular.
And thank you to all of my friends that I have met through this blog. Old and new, there are just too many of you to thank individually, yet every single one of you holds a special place in my heart. You are all the inspiration that gave me new life as a designer and a person.
But most of all, thank you to Keith, my partner, for putting up with my daily antics and believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. We have seen our little business growing together, and I know this is just the beginning for us.
I had thought of ‘retiring’ from writing after my 1000th post. After all, how much can I say? But as new people come into the woodworking field, I feel that I still can offer something to them here each morning, as we watch our business grow. Besides – there is no way that I want to lose touch with those of you who stop by to say ‘hi’. For some it is our only time to communicate, and I would miss that terribly.
So on we go to the next 1000. I have no idea how far the road will lead. As long as you want to put up with the cat pictures and the quotes and my silliness, I will keep writing.
I did do some cutting yesterday, and I had some pictures to show you. But this has gotten too long already and I will post them tomorrow. While I was cutting though, as usual I had my music on. This time it was some old Elton John stuff – really old from when I was a teenager (I adored him back then – and maybe still do!) I heard a great song that I probably haven’t heard in 20 years and I found it on YouTube. Just something nice to start your day:
I hope you enjoy it. We’ll see you tomorrow! :)
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"