Monthly Archives: August 2008

LITTLE LESSONS LEARNED LATELY #1 No More Big Fears About Little Things

I was going to title this “Small Lessons Learned Lately” but didn’t want to miss out on that alliteration.

I had long posts started about my recent trip to England. If you read me regularly, though, you know my mind doesn’t work that way. I never tell anyone where we stopped, what we ate for lunch, who we saw or what we did.

It all comes back as little anecdotes and little lessons learned.

Here’s an example. One of the highlights of our trip was visiting an older couple in Wales, old family friends, on the Isle of Anglesey. This beautiful coastal trail is the northwest corner of the island where we hiked one day, and this view of the Snowdonia mountain range sort of looks like the view from their living room window. (You can see the mountain range on the mainland, from the island.)

Don and Barbara Roscoe are amazing people in many, many ways. But for the point of this “little lesson learned” today, I will share one.

In his 60’s, Don went back to college and received a doctorate’s degree in biology. His thesis (right term?) was on….spiders.

He showed me pictures of them in the Big Book of Very Scary-Looking Spiders, where they looked about a foot tall. But they are actually very very tiny spider, only about 1/4″ big. I can’t even remember the genus name of them (sorry, Don!), but they were beautiful.

Even with all those patterns and colors, Don said there are many, many different species, and they can look very similar. The only way to properly identify them is to carefully measure the length of their leg segments and determine the ratio of those lengths. Each species has its very own, very specific leg segment length ratio!

I was astounded, and entranced. It was as if a tiny world the size of a tack had expanded into another infinite universe. I paged through the book and marveled. The wealth of colors and patterning was astounding. I said, “I respect spiders, and I feel bad that I dislike them so much. In fact, I kinda feel sorry for them, with all the antipathy most people feel towards them.”

Don said, “Yes, it’s a pity, because if you ask people why they are afraid of spiders, they’ll say ‘oh, they bite!’ If you ask them how many times they’ve been bitten by a spider, they’ll say, ‘uh….never’ or ‘once’. Yet they get bitten by midges and mosquitoes thousands of times, and they aren’t afraid of midges and mosquitoes!”

Rats. Good point. I think about Charlotte’s Web, too.

Soon after our return, I went to an outdoor flea market. Sitting on a teacup is a very small, very ugly spider. “Look out for that spider, Mom!”, cries my daughter, and I get ready to smack it.

But I didn’t.

I looked at it, and I swear, it looked up at me. It was very stubby, and its eyes were huge. And it really seemed like it saw me.

My heart melted. I gingerly picked up the teacup, moved outside the tent, and gently blew the little fellow back to the safety of the grass.

I wrote Don about my experiences, and described the spider. “Sounds like a jumping spider”, he wrote back. “Totally harmless. And good for you for your change of heart!”

In fact, I think it might have been a daring jumping spider, a species known for being especially “friendly” towards humans. (I love the line where Valerie says, “Anyone familiar with jumping spiders has probably marveled at their perceptual abilities, which include watching and reacting to us as if a tiny spider and a medium sized mammal are on the same scale…..”)

In the last few days, I’ve found and released several very tiny spiders from my environs into the wild.

I’m not totally comfortable around these savage-looking creatures yet. And I haven’t seen a big one, which will be the ultimate test.

But I think the lesson is sticking: There are things to fear in life, and there are things we fear that are totally undeserving of that fear.

Like little spiders. And making changes. And taking chances.

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Filed under art, business, change, choices, life, taking chances

ABSOLUTELY (NOT) REVISITED

I had a simply beautiful email from a reader who enjoyed my post on making decisions. She even visited me at the show I’m doing this week, and we talked a little more.

She said, “So how do I know I’ve made the right decision??”

I told her she would know, because it would feel right in her heart.

But right after she left, I felt bad. Because that wasn’t a complete answer. Sometimes we’re in such turmoil, even those other options don’t feel like they offer much clarity.

What I should have said was, just do something.

Do one thing different. Take one step toward the goal of your dreams.

I have a friend who can’t decide if she wants to pursue a line of study she abandoned years ago. It’s too late to go back to college, right? What would she use another degree for? What will she do with it?? (See the either/or thing?)

We have several colleges in the area, many with continuing education classes. I suggested she simply take one course.

She could take a class, and see how it goes. Heck, she can take as many classes as she wants! Who says she “has to” continue, or “has to” change careers, or “has to” do anything with it. Maybe it’s okay to just take a class, or continue to study something that gives you joy. “Taking chemistry classes can be another one of your hobbies!” I told her.

I believe what will happen is, as she moves across this “different stream”, she’ll encounter new people, new conversations, and new opportunities.

She may choose to embrace those opportunities–or not. Maybe she’ll simply find everything in her life is just fine, and now she has a new interest that makes her happy. Or maybe she find a new career opportunity, or simply a new friend. Maybe after one chemistry class, she’ll realize it was fun, but she’s simply done with it. It’s all good.

A decision to do something–or even a decision to do nothing, oddly enough–simply puts you on a different path. It may or may not be better, but you can still always decide something else.

I drilled that into my kids (and I’m hoping it sticks): You always have options. You will learn and grow from any of them, very few will be totally wrong, and que sera and all that.

Use your options. It will get you out of the deadlock of either/or, this-or-that, yes-or-no. And once you start moving forward, your way will become more clear.

(If this post is not coherent, please remember I’m on Day 7 of a nine-day show!!)

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Filed under action steps, art, business, career, change, choices, life

HOT TIP 4 PROPANEL OWNERS

I’m all set up for the League of NH Craftsmen’s Annual Fair–our 75th!! (yay!!!) It’s going smoothly so far, which I hope means I’ve finally experienced enough booth emergencies in my life to be ready for anything.

I broke down and invested in MD Propanels a few years ago, and though I’ve managed to have some “emergencies” with them, too, they have still made my show life infinitely easier.

Now they’ve added a cool new add-on called Quick Shelves which I highly recommend.

Why, can’t you already order Propanels with shelves, you may ask? Yes! But you have to specially order which panels you want made with the slots inside for the shelves and shelf brackets. And if you are like me, plan and plan as you might, you can never actually tell exactly where you want the damn shelves to go. So you set up your booth and either a) lose track of which panels have the slotted things in them and get them in the wrong place, or b) keep track of them and get them in the right place, but change your mind.

With the Quick Shelf, you can either mount the shelf as you put up a panel (any panel); or you can set up your booth, decide where you want the shelves, and go back and put the shelf in. (My method, of course!) (Are you surprised??)

I’m not sure how much weight they’re rated for. But when they’re installed, any weight pushes the bracket more firmly into the wall. So I believe they’re pretty sturdy.

I think they’re great, and I think you will, too!

Not affiliated with MD Propanel, just another happy customer.

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Filed under art, booth design, booth walls, business, craft shows, selling