β€œTo embark on the journey towards your goals and dreams requires bravery. To remain on that path requires courage. The bridge that merges the two is commitment.”

Steve Maraboli

As we work our way through the month of February, many see the goals that they set for themselves as we turned the calendar page from December to January as something left behind. The ‘newness’ of the new year has begun to wean and the apathy of the cold winter days seems to settle in for some. Instead of embracing the present and appreciating every day for what it is, many choose to look forward (perhaps a little too much) to the future; when the air is warmer and the grass is green.

I do try to understand that for some, the cold weather brings hardship. There are those that are uncomfortable when things get cold and the snow can also offer additional challenges that add to their unhappiness. But I feel that by focusing on things that can’t be changed or helped, people rob themselves of their ability to appreciate the present day for what it is. They fail to find the joy that for some may be hidden. They lose sight of the positive things that they wanted to accomplish and it tends to suck the life out of them. Soon, self-commitments are forgotten and it is easy to find ourselves back in a place where we are wondering why aren’t accomplishing as many things as we wanted and it tends to bring our own moral and self-esteem down to an even lower level. We can feel as if we ‘failed’ at trying to improve our lives and give up on our goals altogether. It is not a great place to be.

It isn’t always easy, but it is at times such as this that we need to take some time to reevaluate our goals and our thought process. Many times, the goals remain the same from January to February, but only our mindset is different. Sometimes, taking the time to step away and think and remind ourselves why we made those goals in the first place will help us to bring them back into focus and perhaps renew our commitment to them. We need to regain sight of the result of those goals and what reaching them could mean to us.

Sometimes this is something a bit more abstract and not an absolute result. It seems to me that the long-term goals tend to be like that. There is not a definite finish line, as it is far down the path of our lives and still cloaked with fog. It is a bit harder to keep striving for something when you aren’t really sure you are ‘there’. But that doesn’t diminish its importance or its impact on your life.

The above is part of the reason that I don’t really do what people label as “New Year Resolutions.” I have learned from my past that I get caught up in the experience of ‘fresh starts’ and ‘new beginnings’ and I tend to over-commit myself to some pretty hefty goals that are not only unrealistic but also demoralizing when I fail to achieve them. (And fail them I would.) I found that for myself my greatest improvements have been achieved when I did things incrementally and took ‘baby steps’. By taking on bite-sized improvements and changes to my routine, I was not only more likely to accomplish them but sustain them and hopefully make new habits.

I realize that we are all different and react differently to changes in our life. But this is what works for me. I like the thought of improving things like my business, my skills, and the way I spend my time. I think the biggest goal I set for myself in 2022 was to evaluate how I was spending my time and make sure that I was doing so in a way that would benefit me in several ways: business-wise, personally, and emotionally.

So why all this talk of goal-setting?

The past couple of weeks have been – let’s say – ‘odd’ for me. I can’t say they have been bad, but I did take notice that I hadn’t been accomplishing all I wanted to either.

January is typically a slower month for me in cutting wood pieces, and after I caught up with the backorders from December and did my wholesale orders, I found things pretty much following tradition. In previous years I would have panicked. I would have been worrying that my business was finished and that it was time to start looking for another vocation. But recognizing this trend as part of a cycle that happens just about every year, I have been able to relax a little more and know that eventually, I will be back to filling lots of orders and trying to find the time to do everything. It will all work out.

But this year, I was starting to see that even though I perceived myself as ‘working’, I was getting easily distracted by things like Facebook scrolling and YouTube videos. And by these, I don’t mean the kind of posts and videos that are beneficial to my education or business. I was spending my time with the gossipy kind or the nonsense things that can be quite amusing at times, but not something that should occupy my time when I am working. They were truly a waste of time.

This went on until I saw the month changing and realized how quickly January has passed. I had hoped to have a couple of additional things checked off my list that was work-related and didn’t come close to doing them. I hadn’t even made time to do many leisure activities, like begin a new embroidery piece to do in the evenings. And (I am sorry to report) that my ‘smalls’ – the smaller sketches and drawings that I wanted to do in my little sketchbooks I created for myself – just didn’t happen. Something needed to be adjusted.

So I have come to the conclusion that it was time to buckle down just a bit and run a tighter ship for myself. When I began my business, I read somewhere that in order to be self-employed and run your own business, you need to treat it like a ‘full-time job and put in full-time effort in order to have full-time pay.’ That phrase has stuck with me for all these many years and I find that little has impacted me stronger regarding my business and work ethic.

After all – would it be good for me to be employed by someone else and read funny cat stories while on the clock? I don’t think my employer would appreciate it. And while some of the socializing that I do online is not only required, but very acceptable, I find that it is sometimes easy to get caught up in the ‘social’ part of social media and forget about ‘work’ altogether. There is a time for that, but it isn’t all day, every day. Not if I want to accomplish anything.

So I have been very quietly setting boundaries for myself and easing myself onto the ‘work’ side of things just a little bit more. A little more business. A little less ‘schmoozing’. This was one of the above-mentioned goals that I had set for myself at the turn of the year that I saw slipping away. And I was fortunate enough to recognize that and have begun to again reign it back in. I am back on track.

After the previous weeks’ mishap and re-painting of my raven, I realized that while working on my own personal art is important, I had totally neglected my professional design work in the process. I am not saying that can’t happen, but the goal is to make it happen less and try to maintain a balance. That isn’t always easy when your recreation resembles your work so closely. Add into that the recreational art is beneficial to my professional art and you can see that the line is very blurry. It is a hard path to follow sometimes.

So I do my best. Trial and error. (Yes. There WILL be errors.) And I get back on that pony and just give it another go. That is the best I can do.

The past week showed some success using this strategy. One of the goals that I really want to accomplish this year was to “design more.” I know that sounds silly because that is part of the mainstay that I do, but when I realized that last year I only was able to create a handful of new designs, I really wanted to change that. I will not be able to cut wood forever, and while it is a nice thing to fill in a lot of time and brings me a decent income, I have hundreds, if not thousands of ideas living in my head that I want to bring to life. The only way I am going to do that is one design at a time and by making time to just draw, paint, and write patterns. Not as a sideline.

So I did my cutting on Monday, as I have been doing, and had the orders all completed and packed up and shipped by Wednesday. I used to cut whenever orders came in, and that left my life in chaos. I have for the past year done only one ‘batch’ of cutting per week. If something were to be ordered after that first batch was done and shipped and it wasn’t in stock, it would just have to wait for the following Monday. After all, I am only one person and as I say to myself: “We aren’t delivering kidneys. They are crafts supplies and not life-sustaining pieces.” My customers all seemed fine with that. It isn’t as if they had nothing else to paint, and if something were a ‘crafting emergency’, I tell them to let me know and I do make exceptions. It has all worked out great.

So Wednesday, I decided to start my new North Star Village building for my series. The North Star Village is a series of Christmas buildings that is an ongoing series. Each building is available in two sizes and is highly detailed. Each building also has a corresponding set of ornaments (everything is available individually) so if they don’t have room for a town, they can paint the ornaments. It has been wildly successful and everyone seems to eagerly await the new additions.

So far, I have three buildings in the series:

It seems that each one has more to it than the next. (You can see the entire series on my site here: https://tolepaintingdesigns.com/north-star-village-series/ )

My goal last year was to do two buildings, but I only got to do the bakery, as the end of the year was extremely busy for me. I would love to create at least two buildings every year, if not more. I just have to find the time.

So I spend the remainder of the week working on the next building: The Tree Farm

The above photo is a work in progress, and I should be finishing it up today. There are several more elements that I want to add to finish it off, as well as paint the stand. But I won’t be ‘done’ with it yet. I will still need to re-paint it in the larger version (this is the small version) so I can take my step-by-step photos for the pattern. I also need to make the ornament set to go along with it. So I figure that it won’t be released for about two weeks.

The patterns for these projects are usually over 30 pages long. Not because they are that difficult, but because I really try to break things down step-by-step so that any level of painter can paint it.

And they can.

They are painted with DecoArt acrylic paint, which is widely available, and I also give a swatch sheet in each pattern so that they can use any brand they have and substitute with colors that are even ‘close’ to what I used. There is nothing difficult, as it entails the usual base-coating, shading, and highlighting along with some final details to complete. It really goes pretty easily.

So that is where I am at today. I hope to finish my painting today by suppertime and then maybe tonight do something ‘small’ for me to paint or even start a needlework project. I have thoroughly enjoyed painting this, and I am excited about finishing it up. So it really doesn’t seem like ‘work’. I wanted to write about it here to you all today because another one of my goals this year was to blog at least every week.

Thank you for following me here on my artistic and business journey. I always appreciate your comments, thoughts, and feedback about my work AND my ideas. Especially with many of us being somewhat isolated, it helps to have friends and an online community where we can share our thoughts.

I hope you are all doing well with your own goals and are for the most part achieving them. Be kind to yourself, as these are difficult times.

Until next time . . .

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks for the information! I think I will take a page from your book! ps…lovin’ the village!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Amy. it was quite the ramble. πŸ™‚


  3. Your village buildings are wonderful Sheila. This one is definitely very Christmassy! Love it!
    I don’t believe I have ever made a New Years resolution – daily goals are about all I can plan! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you, Anna. πŸ™‚ This one isn’t quite done yet (I finished it yesterday, but I will show it again here when I am ready to distribute the pattern and wood – probably two more weeks. πŸ™‚ ) I am not big on resolutions, as I said. I like daily goals. They are far more attainable than grandiose plans for change. Have a great week! ❀


  5. patricia19491 says:

    I just can’t imagine an end to your woodcutting? Who is going to cut all those Beautiful new designs you are going to be doing?
    Enjoy all your blog posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, Patricia! I am not abandoning woodcutting! I am just trying to do a bit less of it and more designing and painting. I turned 60 in August and even though I am wonderfully healthy and physically fit, I find those 12-hour days in the shop take their toll. There are weeks when I put out as many pieces as three fit cutters could do, and while I love it and can do that in spurts, doing it on a regular basis would be hard.

    Fear not – all I am trying to do is put things in balance a little better. My customers (most of whom have become friends) are wonderful and patient and I love cutting for them. I don’t see hanging up my dust apron anytime soon. But I love the “one batch a week” approach. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a BIG batch! LOL πŸ™‚ I will certainly give lots of notice when I plan my retirement. ❀


  7. Goals are important and yes, social media can be such a waste of time and I know I can waste a lot of my writing time doing, er, “research.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you, my friend. Tonight I am “researching” as well. I finished too late in the shop to start anything tonight. So I am ‘browsing’ my usual haunts – Pinterest, Etsy, and photo sites. πŸ˜€ It is a double-edged sword.

      Liked by 1 person

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