My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #426: Keeping Up

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 08-09-2011 01:02 PM 8152 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 425: Taking Time to be Perceptive Part 426 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 427: Lettering as an Art (?) »

There are days when I wonder if I will ever get to use the scroll saw again. Seriously. There are so many things to do within the business that actually cutting wood seems like a rare thing for me lately. I know that is why I enjoy it so much when I do get the opportunity to actually cut, but it also makes me wonder.

There are many people that think that I get to cut and build things from the time I get up in the morning until I am ready to call it a day. That is so far from reality that I can’t even begin to tell you. I find myself envying when I read of others’ shop days when they spend all their spare time in the shop cutting. You wouldn’t think it would be that way.

Is it because I am a poor time manager? Although I know that I am not perfect, I really don’t think so. So much of what I do in between sawing sessions is vital to sustaining my business. If I didn’t take the time that I do, there wouldn’t be a business to worry about.

Once again balance comes into play. Trying to make everything work can be exhausting. There are days that I feel like a circus act, spinning ten different plates on sticks and doing my best so that none fall and break. You’ve seen that act, haven’t you? That’s me in the clown suit.

Organization helps a lot, but no matter how organized you are, there are still only so many hours in the day. My grandmother used to say that people are like pies. No matter how many slices you take, they still only yield the same amount. You can have lots of little slices or less big ones but you are still only able to do and give so much.

I think I have lots of little slices now. I am in a lot of directions and trying to do many things. Trying to prioritize everything and weed out what is really necessary and what is not is at best a challenge. I want it all.

Fortunately, even though I am doing lots of things at once, none of them are particularly unpleasant. I don’t know though whether that makes it harder or easier. I think both.

I was working on my pattern yesterday (reworking the old one and rebuilding it in an updated format) and my friend Leldon called me. We keep in touch and talk about once a week and he has been a great friend of mine for over 10 years. He also has a lot going on in his life and is an excellent scroll sawyer and friend. He is just now getting his finished scrolled items into a couple of local stores around town and it is a very exciting time for him.

We talked for a while, and I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with him. There was a point in the conversation when we both said how much we had to do and both kind of wondered why then were we spending an hour on the phone. I told him (kidding) that I was going to blame him here in my blog for me not getting done what I planned on doing yesterday. He said he planned on doing several projects and said he would post them up here before this morning. And I’ll be darned, he did it. You can see Leldon's Projects here.

I give him credit – he did get back to what he was doing and finish it. He said that since he told me about it, it gave him a reason or excuse to finish up and meet his goal. In my own defense, I did finish my pattern too.

In thinking about it, that sounds a lot like what I do here in my blog every day. I find that once I say to all of you that I am going to accomplish something, it is like putting it ‘out there’ and it motivates me to really get it done. If I don’t get it finished, there is usually a good reason why I don’t.

We all need these little tricks – many that come from within ourselves – to motivate us to complete things. Some are better than others at it and all they need is a silent commitment to themselves and they can get it done. Others need a bit more sometimes, like telling a friend or someone else their plans because somehow it seems to make the commitment more real. I find that the more directions we are in, sometimes the more difficult it is to meet all of our own standards and goals. As the pieces of the pie get smaller, our focus is spread out in several directions at once.

I don’t regret spending time on the phone talking to a friend. Even if it means that something else will be delayed a little. I suppose that I justify it as part of my life and since I am doing work-related tasks most of my waking hours, I think it is a good thing to take time to do some of the things that are important to make my life full and happy. Leldon is one of those things.

I have what looks like one more day here at the computer before I can update the site. I am hoping that I can get to the point where everything I need to do gets finished. I also have some outside errands that I need to do so my day will be broken up a little bit too. How much? I don’t know.

Realistically, I have a goal of working on some new projects for the holidays by the end of the week. It sounds like a long way off, as it is only Tuesday, but I have been asked by my friend Bernie to cut some lettering for him and we plan to see him on Sunday. I would like to have it done by then. These small jobs don’t really help me in the long run financially, but Bernie is a great friend and has done a lot for me and I feel he has very much earned a piece of that pie. There is little that I wouldn’t do for him if he asked.

So with that said, I had better get to it. I am woefully behind in my email again, but I am doing my best to catch up and hopefully will by tonight. I don’t really like when I can’t answer people right away, but for the most part people understand. Sometimes I am just out of pie.

Have a great Tuesday!

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

12 comments so far

View patron's profile


13653 posts in 3846 days

#1 posted 08-09-2011 01:48 PM

well bozo

you are doing a great job

but 11 plates would be a better act
don’t you think

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

View KnotCurser's profile


2032 posts in 3573 days

#2 posted 08-09-2011 01:50 PM


While I might have an hour or two each day to dedicate to my hobby, I have a complete staff of individuals who take care of my pay, health care, taxes, etc….... at my so-called “real job”. That’s the reason I don’t get paid as much as if I were to go into business for myself.

While I envy you for your courage and (sometimes) freedom to schedule your life how you wish and to take the chances you do to gain in your career, I understand that I have traded income as well as some of that freedom in order to have a lot of my life handled by others. It’s a good trade-off for me – I can live with it.

You also have to do all those other jobs that I rely on others for – no wonder you have little time to dedicate to cutting, you are doing the work of at least 5 people – and handling it pretty well, I must say! ;-)

I tossed about the idea of owning my own business and contracting myself out to others for much more money, but the idea of having to do all the extras just didn’t even out. I am thrilled that it has for you!

When your business grows enough, and I am sure it will, you will HAVE to consider hiring a person that is skilled in office management to take care of all those things that is taking up a lot of your day/night. Otherwise there just won’t be that many hours in the day to do it all yourself. That is a GOOD thing, BTW.

I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come. – Michael Jordan


-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: [email protected] /

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3541 days

#3 posted 08-09-2011 02:46 PM

I find that the projects I blog as I’m doing them tend to get finished quicker. If thats possible.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3425 days

#4 posted 08-09-2011 02:48 PM

LOL, David! Throw another one on! “I ain’t dead yet!” :D

@Bob – Thank you for your insight and sharing your thoughts. It is somewhat of a double sided sword. I never, never want to appear like I am complaining about being busy. I like being busy and I love meeting people through what I do and I also feel very fortunate that things on my business are holding their own. I suppose I only feel the need to explain my lack of producing new things because from the other side of the table, I wonder if people are wondering what the heck I do with my day and why don’t I make more patterns. It does bother me when I can’t respond right away to emails, sometimes it takes me several hours of the day to do so. Even with my partner taking on a lot of the load, we both find we are never out of things to do. So much of the daily tasks have little to do with how much money we make in the short run although everything affects the business in the long run. It is tricky.

Yes, I am fortunate that I am holding in this financial climate. We will see how long that will last. Hopefully what I do will pay off in the long run. It means a lot more to me than a pay check, you know. But my landlord doesn’t really care about that. :)


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

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3425 days

#5 posted 08-09-2011 02:56 PM

Just saw your post Martyn:

Yes, they do. In a small way, that is why I spend every morning blogging here. I kind of map things out and I kind of give myself self-imposed deadlines as to when I will have this or that done. I think the time I spend typing here is well spent, and while I am writing, I am organizing the day’s activities in my head. I also know that if I say I will do something here, I like to think that I will have it done by the next day or when I said it would be. My conversation with Leldon yesterday was a good example of that. I kidded him that he wouldn’t get his project done and well and behold this morning there were three emails in my box telling me he posted three projects. Good for him!

With all of us living all over the world, I think it is great to network and share and encourage each other in this forum and as friends. Even if we don’t reach our goals, it is great to have someone to talk about them with or even discuss what went wrong or why we didn’t get done what we wanted. It is great to have this support!

Sheila :)

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

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4590 days

#6 posted 08-09-2011 03:37 PM

Hi Sheila- you’re sounding a little overwhelmed this morning! Dividing up our time and accomplishing a full list during a day, or month, is a fine goal, but don’t forget to take your days at that beach while you still can! It’s good your life is so full. Do what you can do; it’ll all still be there tomorrow.


View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3425 days

#7 posted 08-09-2011 04:09 PM

Thanks, Barb:
I suppose I am a bit overwhelmed now. I would love to take a day or two at the beach, but with the stock market plunging and unrest in other countries around the world because of the bleak financial picture, it is very difficult to take any kind of break at all. What I offer is a luxury, not a necessity, and I am sure that my products are among the first to fall off the budget sheets of families when things get rough.

I am planning the day Sunday to relax at my friend Bernie’s cabin. I look forward to it and it will be a good day, rain or shine. :)


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

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3620 days

#8 posted 08-10-2011 01:32 AM

you don´t have to answer E-mails one second after they have arived
if you do it at the same time evry day most people will be more than pleased
and think that was fast you answered them
and not all tasks have to be done everyday those that don´t you just have to do once a week
but at the same day in the week … strech the 24 hour schedules to be a week schedule
and include buffer zone´s for the unexpected decissions like a brake at the beach or a walk
in the nature :-)
or you make your daily list of what most be done … then do the most importen and pressing task´s first
but when the clock is 12 or what you decide but the same time every day you shift to what
you will do depending of your mood
you will see it all goes well with out the same stress
I know people when they make the daily list they mark it with how long time it every job most take max.
even though others wuold think its lousy job they have performed they manage to get most of it done
satisfiring without having overtime every day

have a nice evening

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3425 days

#9 posted 08-10-2011 02:24 PM

Hi, Dennis:
I waiting until the morning to answer you (see – I can take advice!)

You have a lot of good points there. I will take them to heart. I know I push myself a lot and sometimes it takes its toll on me. Thank you for all the great ideas!

Sheila :)

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

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3620 days

#10 posted 08-10-2011 03:12 PM

LOL you sure can ha ha :-)
some of the ideas is just short versions of what I id hear and learned on a leadership/management course
I tok thrugh two classes a few years back ….....sadly I never have been able to use it for real
and now I have forgot the most of it = learn it and not using it = not have learned a thing
but I was proud of myself that I got graduated even though with the lowest caracter on the scale
still nead to take two more classes before they count anything but do to the finasiel crise of my own
back then I didn´t have the money for it
with books (expencesive here) and the travel back and forth including the payment for the class
they cost me between 2000 and 3000 $ each …. well at least I learned something about myself
so the money isn´t so wasted as others maybee think :-)
not that I schedule my day they still flood as they best can … :-)

have a great day

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 3425 days

#11 posted 08-10-2011 03:34 PM

My daughter just called me yesterday and said her books for starting university cost her more than her car! (It’s not an expensive car – but you get the point!) She is starting at a community college in two weeks and can’t believe the cost. I do know what you mean. I went for a couple of years to a State University and I remember how it was to make ends meet. I finally had to move back to Chicago and got a job at a downtown bank and from there my life changed and I never returned. I did take some courses over the years, but the cost of them was quite a bit and I was already working for the magazine and it wouldn’t really make a difference if I had a piece of paper saying I could draw or not. So I never finished.

I still like learning as you know and online courses are good for specialization in certain areas. I don’t think that those two years I attended university were wasted though, as I had several writing and English courses as well as technical writing which helps in developing my patterns even today. However, as evidence shows, I still have trouble typing early in the morning sometimes! (see comment above!)

Anyway – your support and friendship and advice is always appreciated! You are a great friend! :)


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

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3620 days

#12 posted 08-10-2011 03:48 PM

of course there is nothing wasted when people take classes even if they are totely out
of the line of what they do and interrest them ( like those the company´send you on )
here in Denmark we don´t pay for the university or at least we didn´t do it before
in the late yers they have make the student to pay a little fee compare to US
they have always had to buy the books themself so they often buy used books and that
cost trubble for many of them since that often there has been printed several new versions of them
since the one they have was printed so many things have been rearanged in the book
and is not on the same page as the one the teacher use
I hope you daughter get her money to strech and get her education with bravour

have a great day


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