Here’s my latest article from the August issue of The Crafts Report.
Please send rum.
If you want to read it without a picture of my knee, here it is:
WHY IS THE RUM ALWAYS GONE? Life Lessons Learned from Knee Surgery
By the time you read this, I will may be
dancing inching gingerly down the streets of Keene to a Zumba band, double-time the wheeze of a small kazoo. But in my timeline, I’m one week out from knee replacement surgery. I know, that’s just not funny. I’ll try to make it up to you.
My daughter phoned me while was at the hospital. I told her about a run-in I’d had with a
very grumpy ok, a tired and probably underpaid grumpy night employee. (Sorry, I fought the lizard brain and the lizard brain won.)
Robin stopped me, exclaiming, “MOM!! Never complain about the hospital staff while you’re still in the hospital!!”
Wow, right! Never complain about the people you depend on to help you to the bathroom. Wait until you’re out of striking distance, then make fun of them. Um. Okay, so what else did I learn from my stay?
The next lesson, learned painfully from an over-zealous physical therapist, was, if what you’re doing hurts enough to make you cry, stop doing it. Yes, good results are worth the effort, and it takes diligence to do the things that are good for you. But if it hurts way way WAY too much, seek a second opinion.
Think of all the strategies for success we try, to build our own craft biz. Hard work, dedication, persistence. Sometimes our challenges are rewarded. But some are harsh, destructive, unnecessary or downright mortifying. (Sometimes jury processes and art critiques turn into free-for-alls and get scary.) There is no one-size-fits-all recipe for success. Know your limits, and respect them.
On the other hand, don’t sell yourself short. The encounter with said grumpy person started with an argument about a mysterious cut on my lip, which she insisted was a disgusting cold sore, and I insisted was a mysterious little cut on my lip. (Later another attendant reassured me it was probably from the breathing tube inserted during surgery.)
Determined to win the grump over with good will (my defense? I was on drugs, remember?) I asked her about her work. She told me, then she asked about mine. I told her I was a craftsperson. She asked what my work was like, so gave her my elevator speech (fabric/collage/ prehistoric artifacts/etc.). Instead of the interest that usually sparks, she turned to me and exclaimed incredulously, “Who in New Hampshire would ever buying anything like that??!”
She caught me so off-guard, I laughed out loud. Did she think I used plastic red and green dinosaurs? I dunno.
So the little lesson was, never argue with a grump, especially if you can’t get away fast.
But I also remembered, just in time, my big lesson: Believe in yourself.
When I first started out years ago, I asked myself that very question every single day: Who will ever buy this?? Am I crazy??
It was a guaranteed work-stopping, creativity-stunting, happiness-busting question to ask myself. It never failed to bring me down.
The best thing I ever did?
I learned to stop asking it.
Believe in your vision. Let your work find its own audience. Make the best work you can do, and then make it better—so when success does find you, it will find you at your very shiny best.
Let the nay-sayers find someone else to pick on. Try, try to refrain from tripping them as they pass you by.
So why is the rum always gone? Because a) you can’t have rum while you’re on pain-killers (drat!) and b) knowing you were sofa-ridden and couldn’t run after them, everyone else drank it already.
But again, by the time you read this, pain killers will be history. So send me your rum!