As we find ourselves on Friday already, I am once again in awe of how another week has passed so quickly. I can honestly say that this has not been one of my 'favorite' weeks, as there were several things that happened over the past several days that were not very positive.
I missed writing for a couple of days because I found myself in somewhat of a state of 'limbo' and I didn't feel that I accomplished as much as I would have liked. Much had happened over the course of the week and while much of it did not affect me directly, some of it did and it took all of my energy to digest things and keep myself in a positive state.
Sometimes stepping back and watching things unfold without participating is the best way to learn from situations. Observation is a valuable method of studying something and understanding things a bit better. By not actively participating in things, I sometimes feel it is a far better way to asses things and make conclusions regarding things. It also allows me to study and asses the behavior of others as well, and judge their credibility by seeing how they act and react with others, without becoming personally involved. I feel that this allows me to be more objective – especially when I am close to the situation.
As you can imagine, I was feeling rather low this week. The circumstances of one of the main avenues of my business and income had changed drastically and while it was only part of my business, it was also something that greatly affected not only my colleagues, but my friends and customers -all whom I care greatly about. Since I put myself out here in my blog almost every day, I became a sounding board for those who were also affected by the events. I realize that since I make myself accessible to the public on a daily basis, not only do I benefit from this exposure, but I also sometimes pay the price for it. Besides the many questions and inquiries that I received from the several places that I post this blog, there were also countless notes, letters and emails sent to me privately. Many were supportive, but many were not and were filled with anger. I tried to deal with each one of these notes and emails and comments with the same personal care that I always give them, but for the most part I am in the same position as everyone else. I have shared what I know and as someone who also lost a large avenue for my business, I am trying to make the best of what was dealt to me and move on to positive things. I would think that would be natural and expected behavior.
For the most part, people have been kind and understanding. However, some feel the need to vent to me and blame and call names and chastise me for feeling bad for those who not only employed me and helped my business tremendously over the years, but whom I also considered my friends. I don't really understand this behavior at all.
For over four years now, nearly every morning I write here in my blog and share my thoughts and experiences with you. I have always admitted that I began this blog to improve my business and exposure. That is why many people blog in the first place. But I also stated time and time again that one of the residuals of writing here each day is that I have truly made some wonderful friends from all over the world. Places such as Lumberjocks.com, where I began writing in the first place, has very few scroll sawyers and even fewer painters, and I think I can safely say that by posting there, I in all likelihood picked up far more friendships than customers. I list that as an example only because it is probably the venue that I am able to track the best (my own software on my site is not good with tracking such things). This means a lot to me.
I come here in the mornings and spend the first couple hours of my day writing and sharing experiences because I continually receive letter after letter from those who appreciate that I share my personal experiences – good and bad – with them and they say the learn from what I discuss. For every 'comment' I receive on the many public boards that this blog is published, there are usually several more private messages from people with questions, encouragement and gratitude to me for being open and honest with them every day and giving them insight to some of the aspects of small business that they would not otherwise be able to see. They can attest that I answer each one personally and carefully, as if we were having a cup of coffee and discussing things between friends. It doesn't matter to me if they are potential customers or not, or which type of business they are in or if they are even in business at all. I try to help whenever I can. Keith often chides me that we help others who will ultimately compete with us! I smile at this because I feel confident enough in my company, business practices, designs and integrity that I honestly wish them all the best. I believe there is lots of room in this world for many designers, and that the only way our craft will survive is by supporting and promoting others. And I try to do that.
What I don't understand is the people who feel the need to attack and belittle me or my opinions. I fully understand that there will always be others who don't agree with me. As I peruse the web, I certainly see others express their thoughts that I don't particularly agree with. But instead of confronting them and trying to pick an argument with them, I simply click a button on my mouse and move on. After all – whether I agree with their thoughts or not, they have every right to them as I do mine. I certainly don't think that I am always right, but I do believe that I have the right to express my thoughts – especially on my own blog – and not be attacked or called names because of it. Maybe I expect too much.
This happened a couple of months ago when I began posting my blog in another forum. Prior to doing so, I obtained permission from the site owners to do so, as I really don't want to post where I am not wanted. But a new member came in after several weeks and began harassing me and calling me names and I guess you can generalize what they did as 'bullying' both myself and Kieth to the point that I decided it wasn't worth it. I no longer post there and I don't see doing so in the future. The bully crawled back away and hasn't posted since I left, which leads me to beleive his entire goal was to remove me from a site that he had no intention of participating in or improving or adding to in any way. It makes one wonder – why?
I truly try to weigh and consider all the opinions that are posted on my blog. Whether they agree with my own views or not, I treat them with consideration and respect. I don't block people or comments because I honestly feel that everyone has a right to their thoughts and opinions. The only time I did was at the aforementioned incident, as the poster was extremely abusive and the moderators did agree and remove the remarks. Because I try to follow this line of thinking, I usually just leave the post there and move on and not be drawn into an argument. But sometimes that isn't enough for some people. They can't state their side and leave until they engage you in an argument. If you ignore them, they try harder.
What fascinates me even more are those who create a new account just to troll my post and anonymously attack. In a way it flatters me that someone would go through that much time and energy just to try to put me in my place. Yet they won't do so under their own identity. They will use a screen name to mask themselves from the rest of the group. They don't even have the decency or back bone to confront me with their real face. I look at those individuals, not with anger, but with pity, as I realize how empty and sad their lives must be for them to go to all that effort to spread their poison. No wonder they are miserable. I would be miserable as well if I spent my day looking for arguments under the mask of an internet identity. I truly feel very sorry for them when I think how empty and angry their lives are.
Today I begin the 54th year of my life on this planet. Perhaps number-wise I am considered "middle age" (I could only be so lucky as to live to 106!) I look back on the last half-century of life that I have lived and I believe that I have learned a great deal from the many, many mistakes and observations that I have made.
One of my favorite things that I have learned is a phrase that I recite often here in my blog: "We follow where we focus."
No other phrase has served me better.
I choose to focus on the good in people and situations. I like to give the benefit of the doubt. Even if I am wrong about someone, usually there is something there that serves as a positive that I can walk away with. I try to treat people with decency and respect – even if they don't return the sentiment to me. I try to allow for others to express their opinions and while I may sometimes agree to disagree, I still feel they have every right to have them. I don't actively try to hurt or belittle people, as I feel this world is a harsh enough place and those who are unkind and abusive are fighting their own demons, which are much more powerful than I can imagine. And I always try to look for hope. Each new day is another chance to make a difference. Whether it be large or small. If writing here makes even one person smile, or learn something or feel better about something, than it was worth my time, and I will continue to do so.
Is this an idealistic way to live?
Probably so. But it is the way I choose to live and by thinking this way and being this way I find I am my happiest. This is how I am true to myself. And because I am happy, it affords me the great luxury of sharing that happiness with you, my readers and also my friends.
With that I will end this very lengthy post. As always, I appreciate every one of you who reads. Whether you comment or not. Whether you agree with me or not. Whether you are a scroller, painter, small business owner, or just someone looking for reading material with your cup of coffee in the morning. I thank you all for taking the time to allow me into your day. It is time now for me to get back to creating. I can't wait to share what the next year will bring!
Have a wonderful day!
(The most adorable birthday card in the world!)
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"