Awhile back I read Bill O’Hanlon’s book Do One Thing Different. I tried the technique a few times and wrote about it here.

It’s a nice technique, and an easy way to shake up your world in a tiny way that can get you surprisingly big results.

But sometimes I do too much of a good thing.

Now, lately my friends and associates have heard me frantically planning for my upcoming retail craft show in Westport Connecticut, the prestigious Westport Creative Arts Festival.

It’s going to be the first time I do an out-of-state retail craft show I have to drive to; the first time I can take only one carload’s worth of my work and booth; and (the scariest thing) the first time I have only a few hours of set-up time.

It’s that last one that’s the worst. Every single show I’ve done for the past 8 years, I’ve had a full two days of set-up.

This time I will have three hours.

It’s really thrown me for a loop. Man, to hear me fuss and whine about it, you’d think I was dealing with some life-or-death situation.

It’s not, of course, and I know that. But my brain does not seem to know that.

I wake up at 3 a.m., thinking, “I can’t get all my Propanels in the car! What will I do for walls?!” The next night I wake up at 4 a.m., thinking, “How will I get set up in only THREE HOURS?!” The third night, I wake up at 5 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep. I worry about how to improve the layout of my booth, and how to update my jewelry display.

The next night I can’t sleep at all, worrying that no one will buy my work.

I agonize about how to simplify my set-up. I run new booth configurations through my head. I make mental lists of new things I could try display-wise. I worry about getting lost in Connecticut. (It looks so much bigger than New Hampshire on the map….) I worry about falling asleep while driving down (I do that a lot.)

What fun!

Anyway, for some reason, the mental clouds parted and the sun broke through yesterday. I had a brainstorm. An inspiration.

It’s just another show.

Another huge revelation: I’m trying to change too many things at once.

I only have to do ONE thing different: Simplify the booth.

This is not the time for working out a new booth configuration. This is not the time for working out new displays (except the simplest kind.)

As difficult as it seems at 3 a.m., I’m sure I can find Connecticut. Just head south! Mapquest will help me find Westport. Other people have found it. I can, too.

My daughter is going with me. Although she is still an exciting and entertaining driver to ride with (she’s only had her license about six months), she does not get drowsy while driving. As long as I can stay awake long enough to navigate for her, she will do fine.

So if you find yourself in a frenzy about something in your art or your biz this season, learn from my mistake.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Don’t reinvent your booth, your business, your life in one fell swoop.

Work on ONE THING.

And put a good map in the car.

Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.


  1. I think the most important thing you remembered is “other people have done this.” All the time in fact. And they manage quite nicely, and perhaps come back the next year to do it again. That is my mantra whenever I face a new situation that is sending me into panic. Best of luck!


  2. And don’t forget… there are lots of good folks who want you to succeed, and have perfect faith in you!

    Rest easy on their confidence if you need to… To everyone else, you are the seasoned pro, and faking it over the rough spots is a legitimate way to proceed, it seems to me.

    Looking forward to seeing you soon…


  3. Hi Luann,
    I appreciate your writing so much and am always learning something new from you. Thanks. Today I clicked on your link to Bill O’Hanlon’s book and it sounded so good at Amazon that I bought it! So, thanks again for some good information. =)


  4. I can so relate to your agonizing over short set up times at shows. I do mostly ornaments and some pins, earrings, etc. I’m always the first one at a show to set up and the last one to finish. I’ve racked my brain to try to find faster ways to set up but haven’t had much luck. I’ll pass up shows that have a short set up time just cos I know it’s impossible for me to do it. Let us know how you made out & if you found any short cuts.


  5. I was happy to read about your daughter’s company on the drive. In my eyes the danger of falling asleep while driving was the main challenge. For me that is absolutely solution orientated!

    Good luck 🙂 and more good results.


  6. Whoa! When did everybody post? I’m behind in my comments!!

    Okay, thank you to all who offer your encouragement. I appreciate it! Sandra, thank you for your concern–I’m happy to be in the passenger seat on this trip, too.

    Cathy, someday you will look up during a show breakdown–and I will be still breaking down MY booth, too! (I hate it when the forklift trucks are taking the pipe and drape down, and I’m still packing…!)


  7. I absolutely love them.

    The regular one-piece ones are quicker to set up and easier to level, I think–you only do it once–but they are harder to ship if you do big, out-of-region shows.

    I have the 7′ KD (knockdown) versions that come in two sections. This height meets the restrictions of the one big retail show I do, and expands (with the jack-up legs, an option I recommend) up to 8′-8 1/2′. You can get soft panels to cover the space that then opens at the bottom, or buy extra rigid panels to extend height at the top.

    The other reason to get the jack-up legs is if you use these at outdoor shows. It is so much easier to level them on uneven ground–no need for shims! Once you get the TOP of the panels leveled, you can simply drop the legs down to meet the ground. (This always reminds me of that joke about daschunds, how long their legs should be, and the answer is, “long enough to reach the ground…”)

    The panels provide a flat, rigid wall (which is critical in displaying 2D work. They insulate against noise, creating a quieter environment at shows. Their ability to work with Velcro makes display a snap! Using c-clamp lighting fixtures is a breeze on these panels. I could never get anything to work on pipe-and-drape….

    I’m doing a show in a week where my booth has to be under 6 feet tall. How do I do that?? I finally realized the bottom half of my panels, used alone, with the jack-up legs all the way out, is about 5’5″. Voila! Enough wall space to display my work and cut out the visual distraction of other booths, and short enough to meet those odd requirements.


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