Friday, August 21, 2009

what I learned this summer

The summer is over. School's begun. Summer was great and easy and fast and hard and awful and frustrating and sad and joyful and I learned so so much. Some things I learned:
1. I just cannot make pottery during the summer when my child is at home. Can. Not. Do. It. Next summer, I'll need some sort of work-around. And I'll need to have a lot of inventory built up in preparation for summer (see why I quit my job).
2. If I focus on trying to work when I just can't, not only do I frustrate myself, but I frustrate EVERYONE.
3. I can't pre-sell/do custom orders anymore. I'm talking to you, Berry Bowls*. Making a customer wait 6-8 weeks for their pottery that they've already paid for is just not something I can live with. I'm thrilled for people who can do that, but I'm so task-oriented that the weight (real or imagined) of other peoples' expectations is almost enough to drown me. And this process doesn't take into account crazy things that happen like tendinitis in both arms, losing power for a week, unseasonably hot temperatures which mean I can't run the kiln.
4. I don't like making excuses, so I will not promise what I can't easily deliver. Is this the same as #3?
5. I am NOT going to please everyone. Some people are unreasonable in their complaints. Some people are justified in their complaints. I need to figure out which is which and deal with them appropriately. A measly $15 or $25 or even $100 isn't worth throwing myself into despair because someone didn't like their vase.
6. My friends really help me to see things more clearly. See the last sentence in #5.
7. My work doesn't have to be perfect, just my best. I am very hard on myself and my standards for my work are nearly unattainable. But at the same time, I'm not Target or a factory in China.
8. I need to take breaks more often. This last break from pottery to enjoy the end of summer with my boy was filled with productivity in other areas. I kicked home canning's tail feathers and have a nicely stocked pantry as a result. I read some books. I knit some sweaters. I was (mostly) a nicer person to deal with (see #2).
9. I'm online a little too much sometimes. Life is for living in real time and real place. The internet is a great tool and can provide a great community and information (and sales, support, inspiration, you name it). But do I really need more than about an hour of screen time a day? If too much screen time is bad for my child, shouldn't it be bad for me, too?
10. Y'ALL. I finished my first year as a really registered business. I paid my business taxes to the city and county. I keep up (and have been for 7 years) with my sales taxes. It didn't kill me or make me crazy, and I don't have to pay an accountant to do it for me. This was a big thing. I'm more than a little proud of myself to have it all finished and paid weeks before it was due.

So. I'm back to work, waiting for my kiln to cool so that I can unload it. I've just trimmed about 20 ladybug pieces for a an order and to rebuild my inventory. I'm looking at heading back to the farmers market in October. I'm planning to have my first home sale after a year and a half (pre-Thanksgiving). I'm testing a new red glaze and a new green glaze. I'm making new forms and thinking about pottery and food and sustainability and creativity. Life is good. I'm so glad fall is just around the corner.

Have a happy weekend. I'm enjoying the cooler temps this weekend. I hope they find you, too.

*This is not to say that I'm not making berry bowls anymore. I just can't let them take over my production time OR my life. I'm grateful that they're popular, I just need to moderate their production a little better than I have for the past two summers.


Katie Jean said...

I bought one of your berry bowels a few months ago and I am so enjoying it. I didn't mind at all waiting for it, but I can see how it can be stressful on your end. Just wanted to let you know that I adore you work and even if you don't please everyone, there's many more that you will! Keep up the good work!

Sarah-potterknitter said...

I can totally agree with number 1. I was almost out of pots when the summer began! I'm looking forward to preschool starting back on September 2. Those 4 mornings are going to be the most productive of my career now that I really understand that they have to be.

house on hill road said...

you are so smart.

as for the berry bowls, you could have a waiting list. i was on one for something that i really wanted and was thrilled when i finally (after about 6 months!) got the email to say i was next. and if i hadn't wanted it anymore, then that was ok with the seller, too. just a thought...

Mama Urchin said...

I think it's a good idea to write this stuff down. I can't wait to see what you come up with now that you have some more time with your boy in school.

pve design said...

I love this post. I feel a wee, no make that a huge connection from which you speak. As a mom, to 3, not in pre-school anymore, the summers are welcomed with one part smile and 2 parts fear that the work that I promise, suddenly becomes like an anchor and my ship that is being rowed out to sea, suffers having to drag this huge awkward anchor.

I am getting better, and people so do not mind waiting. I feel that having a waiting list, gives me hope, and reason to wake, and of course my family will always be there telling me - I can do it.

Wishing you a wonderful day and I am here to congratulate you on your winnings from house on hill road.

AlwaysCreatingSomething said...

Good for you. And don't for one minute think that you're alone. We're from a generation that promised us we could have it all - and they weren't incorrect, just not all at the same time as we thought...Sigh. Kids and life experiences are the day's focus. The rest is icing on the cake or not necessary. Sara

caroline said...

For the record, ALL the pieces I have from you are absolutely adored. They are fantastic.

I CAN'T WAIT to see the red glaze. And I won't mind waiting.


Molly said...

yay! a red glaze. you know i'm anxious to see those samples.