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There is definitely a difference in taking down time when you own your own business. While some may think that being self-employed allows you to take time off more than when you have a 'real job', I am finding that actually the opposite probably carries a bit more truth.
As our business grows, so does our responsibility towards it. The process of filling orders, preparing packages for mailing and the other day-to-day tasks multiply quickly as we obtain more customers. It only makes sense. The more people we deal with on a daily basis, the more time it takes away from designing and creating. It is just part of the process.
Lately I have found a great deal of success by providing wood pieces for my painting followers to paint on. Since the beginning of the new year, I have gone from cutting wood pieces and spending time in the shop from maybe a day or half a day per week to several days. I am really pleased with that, but it does take away from the time I have for and creating new patterns for both the scroll saw and my painting followers. Common sense tells us that we just can't keep producing new patterns at the same rate as before when our time is not split many ways. It would be impossible to do so.
But I am not complaining about this at all. After all, I am reaching one of the many goals I have set for myself in my business. After creating patterns for many years for both the scroll saw and for painting, I think that this way of evolving is very good for our business. The constant changing seems to be part of why we are successful. We are always evolving into something new. That will keep people interested and help us from being stagnant. It also helps keep us fresh and excited about the new things that will come.
For myself, I find that while I am doing the repetitive tasks of cutting wood and sanding, I am always thinking about what is next. My pool of ideas on my 'to do' list grows every day. It is sometimes hard not to feel overwhelmed because I want to do so much and I know that if I lived to be 100 I wouldn't see even half the ideas I have come to life. But I am learning to accept that as part of the process and not let it get to me. I am loosening my grip on my need to complete every idea I have and allowing myself to take a breath every now and then. Not only is it good for me, but I feel necessary so that I don't burn out.
In the past when I was struggling so hard to make a living at creating, I trained myself to work pretty much constantly. After all- how could I complain that I wasn't successful if I wasn't willing to put in one hundred percent of my effort into my business? But as the years passed and we slowly have developed into a viable business, I am realizing that the dedication to the business has not only become a habit, but a lifestyle. While that isn't a bad thing, it sometimes can take its toll on me and I feel somewhat overwhelmed and tired. Working on things to 'better the cause' has not only become a habit, but a daily ritual.
The hours for winding down seem to come later and later. I still get up pretty early and start answering emails and questions from the moment my eyes are open. Where I used to call it a night by dinner time now seems to have bled into 9 or 10 in the evening. Sometimes even later. But after months of doing this, lately I am beginning to feel that it is taking its toll a bit on me and I am tired. So it is time to re-train myself to allow myself for doing some of the things that I have been looking forward to doing (or even do nothing at all) and allow myself some down time to take a breath and relax. I think I need that in order to continue to create my best work.
Yesterday was Tuesday and I was actually caught up with things. All the orders were filled and shipped. Our site was updated last week. Everything was under control. I had just come off another working weekend where I cut a lot of orders and had very little time for myself.
I know that soon I have to do some office work and get my figures ready for my accountant for taxes, and I also have many new ideas that I want to implement, but I felt I needed and wanted a day to just do what I wanted to do. Play and create things for myself.
I spent the morning doing the usual office work and answering emails. I will always do that no matter what. But once that was under control, I decided that I would spend the day to paint my Day 3 of the "12 Days of Christmas" ornaments that I am sending to my family. March would be here next week and it would feel really good to be on top of things. Painting a fun pattern like this (one that I am doing just for the pleasure of painting) is very different from painting my own designs. There is no pressure and it is fun for me. I love to do it.
So I did just that. I painted all afternoon and at dinner time, I got to this point in the ornaments:
I am thrilled with them! The backs of these ornaments are very simple and all I will need to do is the lettering and I will have Day 3 under my belt. I felt very accomplished. (You can join our Facebook support group for those painting these beautiful ornaments here: 12 Days of Christmas Ornaments by Lynne Andrews. It is a fun place to share and be encouraged and meet other painters, or just to watch these lovely ornaments being created in many different variations by many different people.
I could have continued on after dinner, but I decided to switch gears for a bit. I really, really love doing embroidery and I find it to be one of the most relaxing ways to create. It is probably my favorite thing to grab in the evening because there is no set up or preparation. You just pick it up and stitch. If you get tired after five minutes, so be it. If you want to continue for five hours, you can.
I worked on the second panel of my sampler by Di van Niekerk and created this beautiful daisy:
The daisy petals are created using 4mm hand-dyed silk ribbon and the center is created using silk thread to make many little French knots. I found this to be a beautiful and relaxing process and I loved how it came out. I began working on the little snail, but I did start to get drowsy, so I put it away and called it a night. But all in all I felt like I had a 'perfect' day.
Today I have another idea for creating beautiful eggs for Easter. I am going to play around with that I think and create another tutorial for tomorrow's post. Then it is back to drawing, as I am also anxious to work on my next designs for both the scroll saw and for painting. I have ideas for each aspect that I think will make lovely projects for others to create.
It all comes down to 'balance'. While Keith continually tells me that my days 'off' look a lot like my working days, I know there is a difference. (There really IS!) I feel it in my heart and while I do enjoy every single aspect of my own designing job, I love creating things by others. There is no pressure and I don't have to think. I can just follow along.
I hope you all are having a great week. Here it is raining and overcast. But it is days like this that make us appreciate the sunshine even more. Have a happy Wednesday!
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