Well, I shouldn't say "mistake." That implies that I've actually messed something up permanently, and as I'm learning every day, nothing is ever totally broken. Maybe I should title this post "learning this business...one experiment at a time"
The fact of the matter is, and I'm being totally honest here, I really didn't know what I was doing when I started this project.
While I thought it might be popular and interesting for some quilters, I never anticipated so much interest or response so quickly. And I never expected anyone to want books or DVDs because all the designs are posted for free.
So it's no exaggeration to say that I've been clinging to the back of this freight train as it took off way too fast for me to find my seat. I've been struggling to keep up and stay focused, and that has been very difficult in the midst of so much family and personal turmoil.
I've been thinking back to the start of the project, where Josh and I were then, how old James was, and what was going on in my head at the time.
I know that so many of my decisions then were governed by just the sheer stupid joy of being liked. People like me??? Really??? I must do everything they want!
It's only now, after two years of intensely working through my low self esteem that I can see why I felt this way. I'd been raised to think I was so worthless, I should be paying YOU to be interested in me. The fact that someone liked me and wanted me enough to pay me to do something, how dare I turn that offer down?
Had I had the ability to say "no" then, I might have made better choices, but I think that is something you can learn only when you really need to, when you feel confident enough to take a stand for yourself. I just couldn't do that then.
So if you want an explanation for why I created two DVDs and two books (volume 1 and volume 2) at the beginning of this project, only to discontinue them in less than a year, you have your answer. It was a great idea on paper, to have every single design from the project available on DVD, but practically, it was never going to work. It would have been 18 DVDs and books! That's just excessive.
It took nearly a full year for me to come to my senses and stop agreeing to do everything, every idea that was emailed to me, every offer for travel, every teaching or lecturing gig.
I can remember the first time I turned someone down, I agonized over the decision. It made me feel awful to say "no" and for a few weeks after, I lived in terror of my business collapsing because of it.
I truly believed at the time that if I turned down anything, it was tantamount to shutting down my site for a day. It was the same as turning my back on the project, even if that thing being offered had nothing to do with the site or project directly.
Eventually I came to realize that I could, and had to say "no." For the sake of my sanity and my health, I had to slow down, and I had to stop beating myself up for not being able to do everything.
But even this year I struggled with too many projects, too many focuses, and an overwhelming feeling that I couldn't finish anything.
Recently I've realized my problem is still agreeing to do too much, only now it's not someone else asking me to do something, it's all the ideas in my brain I've got to say "no" to!
Basically every time I think of a good idea, I drop everything and run to go start working on it. I don't stop and think. I don't give myself time to cool down. The urge to start something new is so electric, so wonderful feeling, it's very hard to turn down.
But starting so many different projects eventually wears me out. I get tired and stretched too thin and then feel terrible. My self worth plummets and I end up falling into a deep hole that takes weeks to dig out of.
The last time this happened just a few weeks ago, I finally put my foot down with myself. No more new projects!
And then I found myself in my studio cutting out a new quilt that evening! What is wrong with me!? Don't I know better!?
Case in point of this cycle of starting projects is the "How Do I Quilt This?!" series which I started last August, but never finished. I've been so extremely embarrassed by this failure, I haven't wanted to talk about it at all.
But looking at it now, I know it's nothing to be ashamed of. It was a good idea, but executed at the wrong time, right as I was launching a new book and DVD. I also didn't plan that project well and didn't account for just how much time and energy it would take.
Going back to this project today, I'm working through all these emotions. I'm going to get these videos set up permanently on the website with better links so you can easily find them. I might never finish the videos on making a show quilt because, well, I never finished the show quilt.
But that doesn't mean the whole project should be scrapped just because I never finished the final set of videos. It's still a very good series on using the designs in real quilts, and it should be better linked so you can actually find it!
As embarrassing as it is to admit all this, I'd rather just be honest. I'm not Superwoman!
To help me balance my work load, maintain mental sanity, and stop starting projects I can't finish, Josh has been stepping up to the plate. We've started having a business lunch every Friday. I type up a page (or pages) of all the stuff running through my head, and we go through it line by line.
It's so nice to see everything clearly typed out, to go through it all line by line, and then make a plan for the next week that won't end with me feeling worthless and ineffective because I couldn't muscle my way through three months worth of work in one week.
It's amazing how much this has helped in the four weeks since we started doing them, and already Fridays are my favorite day of the week. Written out and clearly listed, it's easier to see and account for ALL the projects that are in progress and how long they will take to finish.
I'm not saying that I'm not starting anything new anymore, but I am being a lot more careful about what I take on. One thing is for sure - I'll never want for a new project or idea to try!
Now speaking of projects, I happen to have 5 quilts in progress downstairs, and two could easily be finished today. It's time to go quilt!