You Need a Well-Stocked I Can Do It Toolbox

Life can be difficult, fickle, and downright cruel. During those minutes, hours, days, and (heaven-forbid) months our self-confidence can take a beating. Learning how to bolster your self-confidence isn’t something you can do when you’re in a low spot. You need to be prepared. You need a well-stocked I Can Do It toolbox. So prepare now for those days that plague us all.

You Need a Well-Stocked I Can Do It Toolbox like the on in this image: a white background a pink toolbox with the words I can do it on it represents


Just like Thomas Edison, you didn’t fail—you learned a way that didn’t work. You LEARNED. A positive statement. A positive thing out of something that didn’t go as planned. List what you learned. Put it in that I can do it toolbox. And remember, every failure, every gosh-darn-that-didn’t-go-as-planned is one more step toward success. Kind of the turn that frown upside down idea. Look at what you’re feeling down about and deliberately find something good to say about it.

Fake It

The adage, fake it till you make it, can work. Put an optimistic spin on your day even if you have to pretend. Faking it tricks your brain into changing gears. Eventually your brain will catch on. That’s the power of positive thinking.

Don’t Give Up

Quitting can feel good. But it doesn’t keep on feeling good. Hang in there and finish. Even if it isn’t perfect, finishing a tough project is satisfying. It’s also an opportunity for learning. Make note of what you’ve learned and what you might try if you had a re-do.

Build with the Small Successes

Kind of like counting your blessings, you need to give yourself credit for the small successes you have. (This is the step I often ignore—to my detriment.) Keep a list handy. When you’re feeling low isn’t the time to count on your memory. Say it aloud: I am amazing. Read your list out loud. Look at what you’ve accomplished so far! You are amazing. 

Change Clothes

You Need a Well-Stocked I Can Do It Toolbox one that can include dressing in your best clothes like the confident young African American pictured here.

That’s right. Change into clothes that make you feel good. Dress up or dress down. Do your hair in that sexy style you favor. Put on makeup, your best jewelry, and that fancy watch. Straighten your posture, hold that tummy in, and strut your stuff. It’s amazing how a change of clothes can re-set your frame of mind.

Try Different Tools

Sometimes a tool that has worked in the past won’t work in a particular situation. So you need to have a variety of tools handy. Zen Habits has a list of twenty-five ways to boost your self-confidence.

Your Well-Stocked I Can Do It Toolbox

Besides the tools mentioned above, you will want to stock your I can do it toolbox with sensory tools that will lift your brain and emotions out of the low self-esteem valley. The five senses are important to our sense of well-being.


For sight, it would be ideal to visit the place that makes you feel alive and able to do anything. That’s not always possible, so keep a photograph or two handy. For me photos of mountains soaring or the ocean roaring work.


You want to have the music that electrifies you. Choose songs that lift you up. Songs such as Fight Song, Respect, My Way, Rise Up, Only the Strong Survive, even a Phillip Sousa march, can work. It can be the sound of a baby laughing, a babbling brook, or your cat’s purr.


You Need a Well-Stocked I Can Do It Toolbox equipped with invigorating scents like this slice of fresh lemon on a blue background

Some aromas calm you. That’s not what you want. You want the aromas that invigorate. Citrus, cinnamon, ginger, and peppermint are scents that may work for you.


A small square of silk, a cool river-smoothed stone (thanks Terry!), worry beads, a finely sanded piece of wood or a brass sculpture. An object you touch and it lifts your spirits, reminds you of your successes or a positive experience.


Strong flavors, old favorite flavors, the tastes that energize you. Not comfort food, but the flavors that make you feel strong and alive. Bold flavors, unusual flavors, even new flavors will give you a boost.


Wait? Visceral isn’t one of the five senses we’re taught in school. What is a Visceral? It’s that feeling you have inside—that glow or that I’m-about-to-bust-a-gut feeling. You pay attention to those feelings, don’t you? If not, start today. Journal about what you feel inside when you’re happy and confident. Remember, a journal doesn’t have to be words on paper, it can be sketches, or collages, or a collection of clippings. The visceral reactions you put in your toolbox are the ones from that day when something you worked hard to finish gets an internal atta-girl. Praise from other folk will work, too, but not as well as the atta-girl (or atta-boy) you gave yourself for a job well done.

You Need a Well-stocked I Can Do It Toolbox

A photograph of a black caligraphy pen on top of a journal with "you're capable of amazing things" written in script across its cover.

Why focus on self-help toolboxes? There are so many things that pull us apart these days. Jobs, school, hobbies, creative work, home improvements, distance… The list is endless. 

Even if we have terrific friends and family who love us unconditionally, they can’t always be there to pick us up when we’re down. Besides, if we rely on someone else to do the work, we won’t have the skills to do the work.

Creating your self-help toolboxes makes you better able to handle the difficulties that come with being a caring human being. If you have a mental health first aid kit and a joy toolbox, you need a well-stocked I can do it toolbox too. With your toolboxes, you have to skills to be a strong person in your own skin. Chances are, you already have many of those tools already but haven’t put them together in a helpful way. And there’s a bonus for thinking about these things. It gives you the skills to help your loved ones when they need a little boost. Adding a tool to this list in the comments means you’ve helped strangers and acquaintances on the web, and you’ve helped me too. Thank you.

Art Glass Lessons for Writing

The earliest known manmade glass is in the form of Egyptian beads from between 2750 and 2625 BC. My interest in art glass (more commonly known as stained glass) doesn’t go back that far, but it goes back more than a few years. I have always loved the way sunlight brings a stained glass piece of art to life. About a decade ago, I decided I would take a couple of classes on how to create with stained glass. I found, to my amazement, that I could do it and do it well. Recently I was surprised to realize there were art glass lessons for writing.

I can’t teach you how to do stained glass in this blog post, but I’ll show you part of my process and at the end of this blog, you’ll find links to places where you can learn a lot more.


Working with stained glass you need a few tools and a flat surface.  (It helps if you don’t mind glass splinters littering the area you’re working in!)

This is my wonderful glass studio built for me by my DH. (I know he’s a keeper!)
art glass cutting table in my glass studio

Subject Matter

One of fun parts of doing a stained glass window, is picking the pattern. (If you’re really talented, you can design your own pattern – my talent covers construction, sadly, not design.)

pattern titled Wild Rose Pattern


Once you have the pattern, then you must choose which style of construction you’ll do: leading, foiling, mosaic.  Then you must decide which glass to use. This is not as easy as it sounds. Do you want Full Antique Glass (made using antique methods), Semi-Antique, Machine-made Antique, Cathedral, Opalescent, or Glue-Chip. The machine-made glass comes in different textures. And don’t even get me started on the colors that are available.

This is the glass storage area in my studio.
glass storage shelves in my studio

With the pattern and glass chosen, then you choose how large you want this project to be. You have a couple of copies of your pattern made to size.

Crafting the Pieces

There are several ways to transfer the pattern to the glass. If you are using Cathedral (transparent) glass you can put the pattern under the glass and cut to the pattern. You can cut the pattern out and trace it. Or you can cut the pattern out and glue it to the window. Each of the methods of transfering the pattern requires that you cut the glass a little differently to ensure that you keep everything to the correct size. Additionally, the type of construction (the type of cane, copper foil, or grout) requires that the glass is cut to leave a specific amount of space between each piece.

pattern pieces glued onto blue glass, ready to cut

I learned to cut the border pieces of the window first, so that you maintain the size and shape you desire. Note that I have a second copy of the pattern beneath the glass so I can continually check size and be certain of placement.
image of the pieces of cut glass on the pattern

Putting the Pieces Together

Once you’ve cut out all the pieces then you must use either lead cane (relatively soft extruded lengths of lead with channels that hold the glass) or adhesive-backed copper foil so you can solder the pieces together. I prefer the more fluid look of foiling for a pattern with lots of detail like this one.
piece of glass, cut and edges wrapped with copper foil

Once each piece of glass is wrapped with foil, you use flux and solder to solder the pieces together. (Sorry, I don’t have a picture of me soldering). To give the piece a finished edge you can use a lead cane or a metal cane.

Final Preparations

After soldering comes cleaning and polishing. Then it’s ready to frame or place in the window.
finished stained glass project on tablestained glass project being mounted in the window, viewed from the outside


Then, just step back and admire it.  This picture is from inside the kitchen with full sunlight hitting the window. (between the sun and my cheap camera, the green hill she’s sitting on looks orange :p)

From inside, the stained glass window glows with sunlight

There are a number of reasons that I love constructing with stained glass. Putting together a stained glass window is very similar to working a jigsaw puzzle, a favorite pastime of mine. And for a long while, I thought that was all there was to it. Of course, it wasn’t. Because while creating suncatchers and nightlights are quick and fun, what I love doing is constructing windows. Why? Because windows tell a story.

Do you see other parallels to writing or storytelling?

Links to learn more:

Your visit is much appreciated. If you have a moment, I’d love to hear what you think!