Monthly Archives: January 2008

HOT PR TIPS 4 U

Today is one of those days where I can’t type much. So instead, let me point you to a great article on getting the most from your e-mail press releases:

Bill Stoller’s Great Email Publicity Technique

And my second tip for you today is to continue on to check out the resource where Bill posted this great article:

The Switchboards. A large, active, very net-savvy group of new-wave craft entrepeneuers with a snappy, lively forum full of tips and useful information for growing your business. One of my favorite bookmarked forums.

Be glad I’m not writing more today, my typing is getting worse (because my latest ginormous hand bandage is slipping..!!)

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Filed under action steps, art, business, marketing, press release, self promotion, telling your story

NOT GONNA GIVE UP MY MARTIAL ARTS!

Here is today’s “aha!” moment.

I was seriously thinking I should give up my martial arts training.

Who am I kidding?? I’m 55, after all–I know people that old who have grandchildren older than my kids. I’m now, thanks to all my injuries and my seeking to comfort myself in cookies and endless cups of chai, more out of shape than ever. Every time I’ve tried to get back into sparring, I get hurt.

I should get the message, right?

Well….no.

I love the training. It’s hard, and I whine about it constantly. But I love what it does for my body, my mind and my spirit. It has improved my balance immensely, something that’s going to be increasingly important as I age.

And I just don’t want to give that up.

Well then, maybe I shouldn’t spar, right?

Except sparring serves an important function in the sport. It improves your timing. It forces you to “put it all together”, to actually use your kicks and strikes in real-time–not just “practice mode.” And…it’s fun. Nothing gets your heart pumping and your adrenalin rushing like sparring.

And here’s the “aha!” part.

Since I injured my hard, people have come out of the woodwork to share their own hand injury stories. I’ve been inundated with sad stories of broken wrists and damaged hands. Sometimes two broken wrists–ow!! It seems like almost everyone has had a brush with one-handedness or even no-handedness at some point in their life, or knows someone who has.

And how did all these people injure their hands?

Doing nothing. Doing stupid stuff. Doing ordinary stuff.

They slipped and fell down. They fell in the bathtub, down the stairs, and on the sidwalk. They shut their hand in a car door. (One of those at the clinic the other day as I waited to get my bandage changed.) They cut themselves while slicing a bagel. They tripped on their shoelaces, or stumbled over the cat. They dropped something on their hand. A woman today told me she’d decided she needed more exercise. So she’d gone out for a nice long walk, got back to her house, slipped on the sidewalk–and broke her collarbone. “At least you were doing something interesting!”she said. “I feel pretty stupid just falling down in front of my house.”

In other words, they were just living their lives, minding their own business, doing ordinary things–and they got hurt.

In fact, everyone seems kinda thrilled that I injured my hand sparring. I guess it sounds much more dramatic than saying, “I went out to get my newspaper and I slipped on the step.” When I came back for a follow-up doctor visit, the nurses kept coming by and saying, “Are you the lady that got injured doing karate? That’s so cool!”

So I can get hurt doing something stupid. Or I can get hurt doing something I love.

Okay, I’m willing to make a few concessions.

I will take it very easy when I return to sparring. Maybe only practice with black belts (who are supposed to have exquisite control, after all.)

And maybe I will find some sparring gloves that come a little further down over my fingers….

6 Comments

Filed under choices, life, martial arts, mental attitude

PERSPECTIVE

Yesterday I ran into someone I know slightly who had no knowledge of my recent setbacks. One of those bubbly, frantic people who don’t really listen but have several platitudes ready at hand–whether they apply to your situation or not.

The most visible of my injuries is, of course, the giant bandaged right hand. The person Made two comments about my injury that absolutely floored me.

“Oh, you’ll just learn to do everything with your left hand!” she said cheerfully.
“And don’t worry about not ever being able to do your art anymore, you’re so creative, I just know you’ll find something else to do!”

I was so astounded I couldn’t even reply.

I seethed quietly the rest of the day. Oh, just change the dominance of my hands? Yeah, that’s easy–nothing to it. Besides the fact that I simply want the use of two hands, not just one… Oh, just set aside my entire body of work and move on to “something else”? Give up everything that’s brought me tons of joy and fulfillment, prestige and income, and try to figure out a “new craft form” I can do one-handed? Yeah, that’s a snap.

But this morning, I thought, “People (including moi) say silly things all the time. Why did those remarks piss me off so much??”

It took some digging. But I finally I saw the humor–and the lesson–in the whole thing.

I was annoyed because this person was assuming I’m never going to recover from this. They assumed my situation is permanent. (And how even more callous their remarks were if the assumption were true.)

Then I realized that I have been afraid my situation is permanent.

How can I be mad at that person when they were simply giving voice to my own deep-down fears, fears I hadn’t really acknowledged?

For the first time, I think I really, truly realized–this situation isn’t permanent.

I WILL recover.

I’m already healing. I saw the hand surgeon recently and he said the bone is knitting together nicely. The neck surgeon said my recovery is right on track.

I thank you all for the words of encouragement you’ve sent my way. I am so grateful! The one that got me on today’s train of thought was the reminder that it will not take me another five years to get back into a healthy lifestyle and activity level again–”muscle memory” and all that.

I told you I needed daily “aha!” moments, and this is the one for today.

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Filed under art, inspiration, life, mental attitude

SHARING

I’m cheating today, and posting a reply I made to a forum today. Got to conserve those keystrokes!

A craftsperson had received a request, out of the blue, from someone was writing a business plan for a similar business: “I was hoping to ask you some questions about your business, your target customers, and the available market for such (a product)?

I got to thinking about why requests like this bug me. After all, sometimes I share freely with others, while other times (like this one) I feel hugely annoyed.

I think it’s this:

I don’t mind sharing general knowledge about how I learned stuff, or where I learned it or how I found it. I like to share my experiences so others don’t have to necessarily make all the same mistakes I did! I think if you read my blog, you get that about me.

But I hate being treated like a data mine for people who can’t be bothered to do the simplest research for a business/product they say they are passionate about.

I don’t mind occasionally sharing a really great resource or tip for someone.

But I usually expect something in return–they share a great potential customer or lead, or some marketing opportunity, perhaps. Or they are part of community where I’ve benefited from the generosity of others, and it’s my turn to give back.

It’s not tit-for-tat, exactly. But it there is some kind of reciprocity. And I know it when I see it…or don’t see it.

I guess sharing to me involves some degree of give and take, whereas some folks seem to only see the “taking” end!

P.S. I am not talking about those wonderful random acts of kindness I feel compelled to make from time to time. Those just come from a different place entirely.

Though, when I think about them, I have to admit the recipient never sees it coming! They never even thought of asking…

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Filed under art, business, life

FEELING VS. BEING

I found this intriguing article called 10 Unsolved Mysteries of the Brain by David Eagleman in back issue of DISCOVER magazine this morning.

In it are statements that took my breath away, and some that made me laugh out loud. Much food for thought (no pun intended), and I’ll share one such thought today.

Mystery # 5 (don’t you just love the notion of “mysteries” being quantified and numbered?) asks, “What are emotions?”

Now, I have to admit, I tend to confuse emotions with feelings. Emotion is the actual physical response to a stimuli–the racing heartbeat and perspiration that go with fear, for example.

Feelings, on the other hand, are “…the subjective experiences that sometimes accompany these processes: the sensation of happiness, envy, sadness and so on….”

What took my breath away was the realization that emotions are our innate physical response to a situation or event. Our feelings are our subjective interpretations of those situations or events.

There is no right or wrong interpretation. Only interpretations that help us move forward–or hold us back.

And–to some extent–we can learn to choose how we feel about things. How–and who–we want to be in the world.

Perhaps that’s why some of us quail at even the thought of confrontation, even just arguing on forums, while others thrive on that energy. It explains why some of us never get past our fear of putting our work out there in the world, while others acquire some eagerness to exhibit, to show, to sell our work. Maybe it’s why some of us can never get over the hurts and frustrations and obstacles we encounter in life, while others seem to find some way to work through them.

Why did this affect me so powerfully?

Because I realize I’ve been physically injured–deeply–a lot lately. Multiple surgeries, an air cast, one assault after another in my body. My emotion? Fear. “Run way! Hunker down!” Good responses, considering I need to lie low and heal.

But my feelings have interpreted that emotion as despair, and sadness.

I realized that I could truly choose to see this differently.

I can choose to see “hunker down!” and “run away!” as “Hey, why don’t you take some time off and just read all day–like you used to before you got so busy and successful?” “Why don’t you just goof off and refuse to do the dishes for a change?” “Why don’t you just lie here and daydream for awhile? Not think or problem-solve or obssess about what you can and can’t do–but just look at the moonlight, or watch the squirrels play, or listen to your husband noodle around on his guitar while you watch the fire?”

It’s not, perhaps the “vacation” I would have chosen. But it’s the one I’ve been given. And I’m definitely going to take it.

The practice of mindfulness–simply being aware of our feelings without always feeling the necessity of acting on them or believing them–will help.

I know I’ve had this “aha!” moment before, but I’m just one of those people who has to “aha!” a lot.

So what made me laugh out loud in the article? Further on on Mystery #5, Mr. Eagleman says, “Modern views propose that emotions are brain states that quickly assign value to outcomes and provide a simple plan of action. Thus, emotion can be viewed as a type of computation, a rapid, automatic summary that initiates appropriate actions. When a bear is galloping toward you, the rising fear directs your brain to do the right things (determining an escape route) instead of all the other things it could be doing (rounding out your grocery list).

I’m so relieved to think that, upon seeing a bear rush at me, probably even my poor beleaguered brain would not consider “shopping” on equal par with “fleeing”–at least, not for very long. Although I still suspect the inner conversation might go something like this:

“Dang! If I don’t start running away NOW, I will never be able to shop again!!”

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Filed under art, choices, mindfulness

MAKING DO…OR MAKING THE BEST

It’s been a long, hard week. My right hand looks like a large wrapped club. My pinkie and ring finger have been wrapped together for stability and comfort, making it look like like I’ve devolved from five digits to four.

I’m currently overwhelmed with what I can’t do. The list grows daily.

My main meal consists of toast with peanut butter. It only takes me about 15 minute to make, if the bread isn’t too deeply buried in the fridge and if the peanut butter isn’t too stiff. (It’s “natural-style” peanut butter, so you know what I’m talking about.

Typing is extremely difficult. Let me qualify that. Typing accurately is difficult. For every letter you see, about five wrong keystrokes gave up their little lives. In fact, halfway through this post I accidentally erased the whole thing.

Three surgeries and two foot injuries in seven months are taking their toll. I’ve gained back half the weight I lost five years ago. And now my back is going out from lack of activity. I saw a physical therapist yesterday to begin treatment for my shoulder. (The muscles are “asleep”–they go into deep “protection mode” in response to the extensive surgery. It actually feels like I’ve had a stroke.)

The therapist gently lectured me about the importance of exercise and healthy diet. I was indignant at first–”Hey, you’re preaching to the choir here!” Then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Oh. Yeah. I don’t look like that choir anymore.

It took years to turn my somnambulant lifestyle around, to go from bitter shadow artist to creative force, to transform from a total couch potato to an athlete.

It took five months for it all to dribble away.

So I’ve been sad, and tired, and gently weepy. Not a pretty sight.

Two days ago, I reread the book series His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman. The first book is now a movie, The Golden Compass.

It’s the perfect book for me to read right now.

The themes are complicated yet simple.

Stories matter. Love, kindness and courage matter. Truth matters.

Life matters.

The final book brings these themes home with a bang. Simply being alive–able to partake of this world through our senses–is such pure joy, even angels weep with envy.

“Dust”–the mysterious “dark matter” that is the mysterious heart of these novels–is more than simply “life essence”, more than simply consciousness. It is self-awareness–living beings being aware of their own existence, and rejoicing in that awareness.

It is from this self-awareness that all human art and industry springs.

Our purpose in life is to enjoy and love life itself. To respect other living things. To love the world we are in, and do our best work in it. To be kind, to be patient, to be creative.

I’m telling this badly, and I’m sure I’ve skipped over the deeper issues at hand. I’m in pain even as I write this, and can’t wait to finish typing so I can go lie down for a minute.

And I can’t pretend for a minute I can hold on to this concept for very long–that even this pain and emotional discomfort is to be marveled at, because it means I exist.

I’m not that spiritually evolved, I’m afraid.

But this book has given me an emotional respite, a place to rest.

I marvel at what I can do right now.

I can still write. I can still move about, however awkwardly. Even as I think, the list grows by leaps and bounds.

There is still so much I can do, to much to be grateful for, so much to rejoice in.

My body can heal, and I will get better.

That alone is a miracle. A gift.

Tonight I head to a friend’s house for an informal yoga session. I won’t be able to do much, I know.

But I know, too, that whatever I can do will be enough, for now.

Breathe. Breathe.

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Filed under art, courage, inspiration, life, mental attitude, mindfulness

GOOD BOOTHS GONE BAD #25: Booth Evolution

Folks, there will be typos…

But I can’t resist sharing this great article by Bruce Baker in the latest issue of THE CRAFTS REPORT.

In the February 2008 issue, Bruce shows the actual evolution of a typical craft show booth, from those typical craft table displays and blank walls to a sleek booth that really highlights the work.

I’ve sat through a lot of BB seminars, and I’ve seen a lot of his examples of “beautiful booths” and “creative display” in his presentation. I thought I was breaking form by being a “plain vanilla” girl when it comes to booth display.

So I’m delighted to see the points I made in my GOOD BOOTHS GONE BAD series echoed and put so succinctly…

“Beautiful” and creative” should NOT apply to your booth at the expense of your WORK. (sorry for all the drama bold & such, but this is a message I want to keep driving home.)

Now, there are still a few things I’d change in the booth. But it’s still a much stronger presentation than the earlier versions, and this article shows that clearly.

I think you can buy single issues from TCR if you don’t already subscribe.

p.s. Hey, if you look on that table of contents page again, you’ll see my latest artcile for TCR, too. (Not a blatant plug, but geez, a girl’s gotta earn a living…)

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Filed under art, booth design, booth floor, booth signs, business, Good booths gone bad, marketing