These past few weeks have been quite busy. While I have always been pretty busy and had several things on the go at once, it seems that lately things have taken on a different 'tone' of busy. It is hard to describe. It is just a different 'feel' as to the things that have demanded my time. It is exciting and I will admit a little bit scary at the same time. When I take the time to actually asses things and consider what is going on, I realize that these new demands are just part of a growing business. Because of that, I think it is important to handle them in a way that will benefit both ourselves and our customers. That isn't always the easiest thing to do.
It comes down to making choices. My grandmother used to say we were like a pie – the more slices we have the smaller the pieces. I like that analogy because it really does hold a lot of merit. We all have the same 24 hours each day to accomplish. I remember as a young child that I was in awe of the accomplishments that some made so early in their lives. When I first read that Mozart was only in his mid-30's when he died, I was amazed that all of that beautiful music was created in such a short lifetime. (I am listening to Mozart now, which is why it came to mind.) That is only one example of the many prolific artists, scientists and creative people that we consider successful. What set them apart from us? Was it ONLY their level of creativity? Or was it a mixture of creativity, time management and (yes) chance?
My biggest complaint in my life these days is "not enough hours in the day." As our little business grows, so do the mundane tasks that take us away from the creative ones. Doing our daily mail has gone from maybe one or two pieces per week to anywhere from 50 and up. I am so thrilled to not only be selling patterns, but also my wood surfaces as well. With the high cost of postage these days, both Keith and I are surprised that so many of our customers still want their patterns sent through the mail. We never mind, and we have the printing situation well under control as far as a cost effective and efficient system which allows us to offer full color, high quality patterns at the same cost as PDF files, but it does take us a little longer to package and ship everything. It is just part of the process.
When I am cutting wood (which is a lot lately) I have lots of time to think about other projects that I want to make. The more I cut, the more I think and therefore the more that I have planned for future projects. This is a wonderful thing for a designer, as I can't remember the last time I was trying to think of what to make next. My bigger 'problem' these day (which is NOT a problem – that was sarcasm) is to decide which project to make NEXT. There is now a backlog of new projects ideas in my mind that I am realizing will take me several years to implement. That is if I stopped thinking of new things this very moment (it WON'T happen!)
Add to that the many, many wonderful new products that are available for artists and being creative (thank you, DecoArt, Derwent, Faber Castell, Martin Weber and all the art and fiber supply companies!) and I think I am going to be busy for a long, long time.
I guess I am what one would call a "Multi-Media Artist." I used to define myself as either a "Woodworker" or a "Painter". It was simpler back then. There were those who did woodworking and those who painted. The two art forms were clearly segregated and it was rare to come across someone who did both. But things have changed quite a bit. Painting has expanded to mean anything from Decoupage, Stenciling, and renovation of old furniture to working with traditional acrylics, oils, pencils, watercolors, markers and just about any other medium that artists can get their hands on. Woodworking has also expanded from scroll sawing to intarsia, wood turning and just about anything else that can be made with 'tools'. There is much cross over into different media as well, as people are looking for and exploring ways to enhance and embellish their projects to make them unique. I think it is fabulous!
For myself, I find that sometimes I begin to feel overloaded. While I am used to having several projects on the go at any given time, lately I have felt this what I will call 'desperation' to make the things I am seeing in my head. The clock is ticking and I feel like a child at an ice cream buffet that doesn't know which flavor to taste first. I have so many wonderful supplies at my home here and many of them have barely been used. My biggest conundrum is finding the time to do everything while still keeping the ship here floating. What a challenge that has proven to be!
It wasn't really until the late afternoon yesterday that this really came to light for me. I was actually 'caught up' on my orders, with everything ordered out the door and all my external deadlines met. That hasn't happened in weeks. But as I sat in my living room trying to decide what to do next, I still felt the aftermath of that "I have to get things done" feeling. Surprisingly, it isn't like a switch that one can turn on and off. It is as if my adrenaline needed to take time to reach lower and 'normal' levels after being so hyped up for weeks. I mentioned to Keith, who was going out for the evening, that even though I was all caught up with things, I still felt 'anxious'. It puzzled me.
I suppose I can assimilate it to a freight train. When going full steam, you can't really stop it on a dime. It takes time to slow down and stop and I needed to respect that. I forced myself to slow down last night. I had made some dinner and phoned a friend for a bit. I then picked up a new piece of embroidery that I am making for myself and put on an old movie and settled in with the cats for a quiet evening.
It felt wonderful.
Keith thinks I am crazy when he sees my embroidery projects. I think he fails to see the purpose of hand stitching something. But to me, I love the detail of it and I also like that it is being creative with absolutely no pressure on me whatsoever. Not even from myself. If I make a mistake, I simply cut the thread, pull it out and try again. I can pick it up and work for five minutes or five hours – whatever I feel like – without lots of preparation or set up. It helps my mind slow down at the end of a crazy busy day (which has been most of them lately) and it allows me to relax and actually sleep better. That is really powerful stuff.
We all have our things that we feel relax us and help us shut down. I think we really need that in our lives. These past few weeks I have found myself staying up later and later to keep 'going' only to have fitful sleep and waking up only slightly later than normal and feeling a bit tired most of the day. It is not a healthy or productive cycle, as something eventually will give.
When I started my business, I vowed to do whatever it takes to make it successful. That was so many years ago that working 'all the time' has become somewhat of a habit. Even to the point of writing here in the morning, although I do feel it is very much like therapy for me, as it helps me map out my day. But as our business grows and the tasks to run it grow and multiply, I think that it is more important than ever to remember to allow ourselves time to relax (what does that word mean anymore?) and refresh our mind and souls as well as our bodies. Otherwise we will eventually burn out. It is inevitable.
So we do our best with the time we have and everything else will just have to fall into place. Sounds easy. ;)
Today I have a nice little pile of new things to work on. I created these pieces as both a pattern for my woodworking followers and as surfaces for my painting followers. I will spend the next couple of days 'playing' with them and having fun showing you all how I can bring them to life!
Wait until you see what I have in store for them! I have been thinking about them for weeks!
Keith also has a new pattern up on the site.
This SLDK407 Jeremiah 29:11 Bible verse plaque pattern isd part of his Large Sectional Bible Verse Plaques series. he is working on more designs to add into this group as well. As with all of his plaques of this nature, you can purchase just one individual plaque or mix and match for a better price for multiples. I have watched him take many days to make this beautiful design! He spent many, many hours drawing, changing and re-drawing the elements and lettering to look just perfect. I cna't believe how many times he changed things. But the result really shows all of his hard work, as the design and lettering flows so beautifully. Don't you agree?
We are getting another light blanket of snow as I write. It is the fluffy, gentle flakes like we see in movies. So quiet and pretty. It is nice to take the time to enjoy it and take it all in. Sometimes it is good to 'just be.'
Have a wonderful Thursday! The weekend is right around the corner. Remember to take time to feed your soul.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"