Today's blog post may be a little different than what I normally write. A couple of things occurred this weekend that made me think a little (sometimes a dangerous thing!) and I spent some time pondering things and I feel that my conclusions may be worth sharing.
The first incident occurred on Saturday. I received a hateful, nasty, spiteful letter from someone who was angry at me for not leaving the free patterns up on my site for infinity. Apparently she had found some old links that were no longer good from years ago (you all know how cyber-space is – once it is up there, it is floating around "forever") and she was quite cross with me because I had at some point, removed the free patterns that she wanted. Nothing was mentioned regarding the free patterns that remain, only what I had removed. I was truly astounded because she called me every nasty thing she could think of for not leaving them there for her to enjoy.
The funny thing was that after ripping a strip or two from me, she said that if she happened to be wrong, could I please direct her to the proper link.
Humm . . . .
It bothered me for a bit, as I truly try to do what I can to help both the woodworking and painting industries. I donate when I can. I send little 'extras' from time to time, and I certainly enjoy taking the time here each morning to give a bit of insight into what it entails to run a small business. I like to think that I share quite a lot.
I realize that this person must really be unhappy in her life to treat a stranger so unkindly. After my initial shock and hurt wore off, I began to think about it, and tried to figure out what would motivate someone to take the time that she did to attack a perfect stranger in such a manner. Was she sick? Was she mentally ill? For certainly no one in their right mind would be so angry and abusive over not being able to receive something for free. And something old at that. It wasn't as if she just missed the cut. These patterns were from many months or even years ago. Many of them are back on my site to purchase, at our usual modest prices. If it were that important to her and she liked them so much, one would think that she would consider spending a couple of dollars to support me or Keith (I don't know which patterns in particular she was referring to) so that we can continue to live and function and pay our bills and design. After all – this is our living and not a lark for us.
But instead, she chose to call me hateful names and lash out. I don't think I would be human if it didn't affect me.
I was glad I was having a good week.
Another thing happened over the weekend, that also made me think.
Last spring, I was involved in an ornament exchange. Those of you who read regularly, know that I enjoy receiving hand-crafted pieces from other artists. I always enjoy owning pieces of work that others took the time to make, and they are among my most cherished possessions.
But this time, in this particular exchange, I had sent my things off according to the set time, and I never heard back from my partner – either about receiving what I sent, or sending what I was to receive from them. For the most part, I didn't think about it. But as I saw the others who participated showcasing their gifts, I felt rather bad. I tried to contact my partner many times, to no avail. Eventually I did go to the moderator and report that my own gift was not acknowledged, and I had not received one back. I admit, I grumbled a bit about it to friends, as I felt a bit 'duped'. Although I never felt hateful or angry about it – just disappointed. Eventually the moderator had another come in and 'pinch hit' and send me a gift. And it was lovely.
But recently, I heard from my original partner from that exchange. Not only did she apologize profusely, but she also insisted that she would send something now. She told me she had been ill for several months, and with all that was going on, by the time she remembered the exchange, she felt ashamed and embarrassed for not fulfilling her part in the exchange.
It really got me thinking . . .
I have always maintained that people are like icebergs. What we see of others is only a small portion of what they really are. The rest is hidden, and we are only allowed to see the part of them that they choose to let us see.
When I read the story of my exchange partner's troubles, it made me take a closer look at myself. While I have no control over the actions of others around me, I do have control over mine.
I could choose to be angry right back at the lady who wrote the nasty letter, or mad at my exchange partner for not letting me know sooner, but I really don't want that to happen. While initially I was upset with my exchange partner, one of my dear friends pointed out to me that something may be amiss that we had no knowledge about. To me, it wasn't about the actual "gift", but it was the principle of the thing to me. The lack of acknowledgement probably hurt the most. But I did realize that my friend was right and while I was never really what one would call "angry", I let go of the hurt feelings I had and truly and honestly felt better about things. Now that my partner has approached me and told me the entire story – I am very happy that I heeded my friends' advice and thought of the situation with a kinder, gentler eye. I think I need to do that more often.
And then there is the case of this letter.
It would be very easy to allow it to sink me or to spew nasty words right back to her. But that really isn't me. Conversely, it would be just as easy to take to heart the things she said to me, and allow them to ruin my day. But I choose to do neither. I choose to 'let it go' and hope that the tormented soul who wrote it will one day find peace. For certainly she must be going through some type of trauma or illness or crisis in her life that she is unable to handle. I believe that I am only the convenient recipient of her anger and frustration.
So I will do nothing. After this post is written, I will try not to think of it again. I did want to share these two incidences with you in hopes that it will encourage you all to think about things before reacting, as I am trying to learn to do. We never know what others are going through – especially strangers. We never know the reasons that others lash out – sometimes for no apparent reason – or hide themselves away. We have no control over others. Only our own reactions to their actions.
We all have our own path to follow. Along the way we meet many people. Some stay in our lives and some just pass through for a brief moment. Each person brings something to our lives. Sometimes it is good. Other times it is unpleasant. How we deal with each of those who cross our path makes up who we are and how we live our own lives.
I think we all lose our temper from time to time. I am no different. I experience sadness and disappointment, and I am not always proud of my reactions to others – especially when I am angry or feeling as if I am being attacked. But as I get older and continue the search for peace and happiness in my life, I understand that by showing compassion and empathy, and if necessary turning and walking away, I feel that I am closer to that goal. At times it is difficult to do, but when I am able, I find that I look back on the situation and feel better for it. And that is the way I want to live.
I am not trying to preach to anyone here. I am just expressing my own feelings and experiences. I felt it was a bit of a revelation, and I thought it merited sharing. I feel I have learned a valuable lesson. Thank you all for reading and thank you all who have shown me such a huge amount of support. I have so much to be grateful for.
My beautiful neighborhood – I love it! :)
Happy MONDAY to you all!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"