Back Story – Fulfilling a Promise. Part Two

Heavens! I am freezing right now.  Did anyone else have another visit of winter this week?  I hope this is the last of it.  Before I could start writing I had to run water out to the chickens.  Theirs keeps freezing overnight and we bring it in to thaw in the morning then take it back out to them.  There may be a water warmer involved next winter!

If you just dropped in this week and need to catch up on my story, check out Part One.

So, here I find myself, 50 something, empty nest, new husband, new home, new community and down to only one job for the first time in at least a decade.  I have truly been a little bit lost for the past nine months with all the extra time on my hands.  You would think it would be an easy transition, but it has been a shock to my system.

Here is the real kicker.  After all these years of yearning for creative time, now that I have it, I feel guilty for indulging in it.  What the heck??  I no longer have kids here to put first for their survival, my husband is fine with my art time especially since he also now has time to enjoy his horses and other interests. I take care of all my design/print clients first every morning and we have adequate income.  Why do I feel guilty for taking the time to do what I have always wanted to do?  If you have answers, please fill me in.  I want this whole guilt thing GONE!

Are there other roadblocks to fulfilling a promise to myself?  Yes, indeedy.  Procrastination, that I’m pretty sure is another word for fear is one.  Right now I am fighting the urge to throw myself into two un-art related projects.  Those two projects did not show up until I committed to a big ‘ole, heavy duty art project (more on this below) this week.  Life in general also pretty regularly stops my artwork with family obligations and home/farm maintenance.  There is a reason that artists and writers and musicians run off to cabins in the woods with no phone or wifi.  Sometimes that is the only way the good work can get out. Constant starting and stopping interrupts necessary concentration and the work gets watered down from the original inspiration.

One more big hurdle to fulfilling my promise to myself is the simple fact that I don’t give myself the priority required.  It feels very selfish to put my own WANT (I would argue NEED) before so many of the other things listed above.  More than once I have said that girls of my generation were raised to be TOO NICE.  There I said it.  We were raised to put everyone and everything above ourselves.  It is ingrained throughout our cells and extremely difficult to erase or even temporarily lock away.  Hummm, I think this is related to that darn guilt thing.

Soooo, what have I been doing and/or going to do to fulfill my promise?  I started this process almost four years ago.  When my son (my youngest) pulled out of the driveway for his first year of college, I literally took over his room.  Yes, it seems cruel.  Yes, he reminds me of it occasionally, but I did it and he doesn’t seem too much the worst for it.  I set up three big tables and had my computer/work stuff on one, art supplies on another and sewing machine on the third.  For the past four years I have let myself play.  Not consistently, not with serious intent, but I have played.  I have tried out all sorts of creative endeavors in my attempt to find what I really like best and my “voice”.  I have made lots of messes, bad art, bad craft, some good art and good craft.

Now I feel like it is time to drill down.  Recently I read or heard (can’t give you the source because I don’t remember it) that it takes about ten years for an artist to find their “voice”, that thing that makes their work unique to them.  My sporadic art making over the last several decades should count as about one year total and add the past four years of playing around, I figure I’m five years in.  Now, I’m not getting any younger here and I have no guarantee that I could pull off a Grandma Moses by making it to 80 years old.  My butt needs to get to work.

I had been playing around with doing an extended daily project when I ran across The 100 Day Project. By now I know myself pretty well and I suspect that just left to my own devices, I would start out pretty strong on a personal project, but without some accountability, I would soon find excuses to skip days here and there and there and here until it fell apart.

Yep, you guessed it.  I have signed up for The 100 Day Project.  This is totally out of my comfort zone.  I have done a thirty day project, but the work was very small and thirty days is NOT 100 DAYS.  The project itself asks you to post on Instagram your daily project.  My plan is to do a daily 8 x 10 painting or drawing and also post on my Facebook page and offer the work for sale.

What do I expect out of this?  First, it takes what? Thirty days to ingrain a habit?  For me, one hundred days would be more likely.  I will have to follow through with this during THE busiest time of the year for us.  It starts April 4th, which is right after I finish Bee School (Did I mention Bee School?  I will come back to that in a later post.) on April 1st.  The garden starts going in mid-April and my bees arrive then as well.  My son graduates the first weekend in May.  Before he graduates and sends all his stuff home, I have to get the bedroom that I use as an office painted and rearranged to fit his furniture.  We will be out of town for his graduation so I have to figure out how to paint or draw while in the midst of family and celebration.  The 100 days does not end until mid-July.  Who knows what else will test my determination in that timeframe.

Second, the whole “voice” thing.  My unique style and interests cannot evolve without consistency.  I have not had consistency.  I have had stops and starts.  I am hoping to hone my skills, discover that uniqueness and what I want my art to say.  Big order!

Third, income.  Here is the honest truth to this art thing.  I HAVE to make stuff.  It is in my genes.  Unfortunately, I cannot pay for endless supplies or store all the stuff I make.  To support my habit/addiction I have to make some money to buy more supplies AND I would really like people to enjoy what I create.  I have given away many, many pieces of my work over the years and I like to do that, but it is not a self-sustaining process.  Art supplies are expensive and we are not wealthy people.  Animals have to eat around here as well as ourselves.  So, what I make on this project will be for sale and I am going to ramp it up a little with some advertising investment to see what happens.  My goal this year is to replace my income from my last PART-TIME position.  You got that, right?  Not outrageous expectations, but bigger than anything I have ever asked of myself before.

I think I have given you enough to read this week.  You have the link above if you would like to join The 100 Day Project.  I am not going to bombard this blog with my work every week during the project, but will let you know how it’s going.  I will post links to my Instagram and Facebook pages for you to check out.

If you want to go ahead and start following those here are the links.  I will be updating information on them in the next couple of weeks as I prepare for all this.

Instagram  and Facebook

I am off to prime canvas.  Have an awesome week!

 

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Hello 2017!

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to 2017. Did you send 2016 out with a bang, or like me, with a whimper?  Sorry for the delay getting this posted on time.  I wrote it way back on Tuesday, but things came up…like a big snow storm…that required attention to little details like getting deliveries to customers before the roads were slick, fighting the crowds in the grocery store before we ran out of food at our house. img_3800

I did, however, start out my 2017 pretty darn well. Historically, I spend my New Year’s Day in my pj’s, curled up on my sofa, under a blanket with a good book.  Admittedly, this is not a bad way to start a new year, but this year it is not in line with my pursuit of Hygge. I am trying my darnedest to foster a better relationship with Old Man Winter.  You will find throughout this blog, my whining and complaining about winter, the cold, the grayness of it all.

In the U.S., our state parks have First Day Hikes lead by Forest Service rangers. I now live very near Hanging Rock State Park that includes a couple of nice mountains and good hiking.   Yes indeedy, yours truly, managed to drag herself out of her nice, warm, cozy house and out into the chilly morning air of January 1, 2017 to go hiking 4.7 miles with approximately 20 people she did not know.   Uphill, no less!

It honestly took extreme will power to overcome my aversion to cold AND my introvert personality. Guess what! It was awesome!!   Perfect not-too-cold weather, considering the number of layers of clothes I was wearing.  The views were magnificent even with some cloud cover.  The company was friendly and the rangers had lots of information and a good sense of humor.

Any Andy Griffith Show fans out there?  Notice the mountain in the distance with the big rock formation on the top?  That, my friends, is Pilot Mountain.  Below it is the town of the same name except in the show it is Mt. Pilot.  Yep, there really is a Mt. Pilot and I have known a few folks, who move to North Carolina from other parts of the country/world, call the town by its fictional name.  There is also a thriving little tourist business there thanks to the show.

So, yes, I felt like I rocked January 1st this year and gave myself a big ‘ole pat on the back.  The hike was over by noon and I quickly got home, changed back into my pj’s, settled in on the sofa with the dogs and a good book and all was well with the world.  For the record, D. had to work and probably was not convinced that his winter hating wife would actually go hiking until he saw photographic evidence.  

This year my goal is to add meat to the pitiful bones of have existed on this blog for a while now as I got through some big life changes. More creating, more thinking, more exploring.  MORE than what I have been giving you.  Thank you for hanging in here with me if you have been here a while.  Welcome if you are just landing here and wondering what goes on.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about a book I found and promised to write about it. I’m going to try and not make this too long or you will never come back.  So here is my book story…

From the time I read my first Dick and Jane book (for younger readers, these were our first grade reading books) I have been a voracious reader.   For years and years I normally had three to five books going at once and would panic if I started getting low.   Up until my mid-twenties I generally read novels and then somewhere after that started reading primarily non-fiction.  I noticed a phenomenon happening.  It seemed like I often had just the book I needed to work through a work or life problem virtually fall into my hands.  It could be fiction or non-fiction.

Now I know that I am not the only one to have this experience. Yours may be a podcast, radio show or a person who shows up. God, the universe, spirit, whatever your word for the mysteries of life, shows up just when you need it.  If this has not happened to you, then you need to slow down a little and pay attention.  You are not being ignored.  You are doing the ignoring of what is around you.

This happened so often to me that I got in the habit of wandering around the library saying a little prayer of “God, which one do I need to read today.” Not every trip to the library was life changing, but it made the search much more interesting.

I had strangely gotten away from reading books all the time for some reason (uh, ipad maybe), but I stopped into the local library to find reading material while I am stuck at our shop without wifi. Now, I’m not going to tell you the name of the book that I picked up.  In all likelihood it wouldn’t do a thing for you because you aren’t dealing with the same stuff I am.  But, I picked up a book by an author I had read before.  I thought it was about organizing and downsizing into a smaller home.  Yeah, we still have lots to minimize yet at our house.

What I discovered it was about was clearing out your mental and emotional stuff! Nah, I wouldn’t need that.  Cue the belly laughs from off stage here.

For a couple of months I had been getting crankier and shorter tempered by the day and for the life of me couldn’t figure out why.   Life is good!  What the heck?  As I started reading the book it started talking about how to change old patterns.  Old emotional patterns set up when life held different circumstances and people.  Old coping skills that are no longer working.  Well smack me in the head!  It began to dawn on me that I was trying to use old coping skills for entirely new situations.  I no longer needed the defenses and walls that served me well a decade ago.  I no longer had to pretend to be tough and completely in control like I did when I was a single parent with teenagers.  Thank you Lord!

We get so stuck in our thinking and reactions. The brain gray matter makes these patterned grooves that seem permanent, but they aren’t.  We just have to pay attention to what we are thinking and doing and dissect it down to the roots.  It’s not necessarily easy, but it makes all the difference.  I’m pretty sure D. would tell you that I have been much easier to live with the past couple of weeks.  I haven’t completely broken old habits and patterns, but when I feel a strong reaction coming on I take the time to figure out why instead of just blowing a gasket.  Breathe, breathe, breathe.

So now you have my book story. I would love to hear yours.  Seriously, I think they are some of the coolest human stories when solutions present themselves in mysterious ways.

Have an awesome week!!

Photo credits…all taken by yours truly.

Shifting

Hi Everyone,

I hope all is well in your world. We are only 8 days from Christmas and my week is centered on wrapping, cleaning, cooking, etc. while juggling the normal chores.

D. and I celebrated six months of married life this week. Six months ago I made huge life changes when I married him. The married part is great. Adjusting to the changes in everything else is beginning to be a struggle I think. Maybe it’s just winter. If you have read any of my previous posts you know I suffer through winter. I’m beginning to suspect there is more to it than just winter aversion though.

I have moved many times now and generally look at a move as a new adventure. I did the same this time. I jumped into country living with both feet. What I am discovering now is a need to adjust to a completely different stage of life not just a change in location. Quite frankly, I’m finding it difficult.

“What the heck is she talking about?” you ask. Well, first, my entire career and most of my life has been time oriented. Deadlines are the second most important part of my work, creativity being first.  Then I spent years and years hauling kids to sports practice, youth church meetings, chorus and choir practice, tournaments near and far. In between all that I squeezed in the practical chores of laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, ect. always with a eye on the clock to get everything done on time. In the middle of all this I was usually also working a second job.  Downtime was a rare, rare thing and when I got it, sleep was involved.

Suddenly I find myself living in an area where I’m not sure they use clocks! There are no deadlines. Estimated time at best. A fifteen to thirty minute visit seems to be the norm before getting down to business.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it has caused me some very frustrating moments in my time oriented brain. Time is so ingrained in my system that I physically cannot sit still when my internal alarm starts blaring.

Have you ever thought about your conditioned responses? Time is just one of my issues. Having been on my own as a single parent for thirteen years, I evidently developed some coping mechanisms that are no longer serving me very well. I’m used to making decisions without having to consult anyone else. I’m used to doing things my way and my way only. I’m used to things getting done on my schedule. All these I’m having to change if I want to stay married!  Massive, sudden changes are tough!

If all this wouldn’t push a girl over the edge, we have a LONG list of remodeling and farm projects in various stages going on at once.  My strong preference is to take on one project and complete it then start the next one.  D. is more flexible than I am in that regard, and due to time and/or money constraints and season/weather our projects switch back and forth. So virtually nothing has been finished in the six months I have been here except the floors getting tiled. If I can hold it together until mid-February we will have a dishwasher again! I AM finishing the baseboards in the guest room and the painting of the bathroom in January!

Internal, long held habits and responses are extremely difficult to work through and change. I happened upon a book (will discuss next week) that actually made me realize what was going on.  I was clueless about why I suddenly turned very cranky and I’m sure, difficult to live with. Now I am trying my best to be aware of what is going on, my response to it and why. Hopefully I can start chipping away at these habits and replace them with more appropriate ones for my new life.  I could hardly stand myself so I’m sure D. will be happy for me to have an attitude adjustment.

I am planning on getting in a post next week, but kids start coming home this weekend, deer season is still going strong around here and there is still a list of things to do before Christmas.

Just in case a post doesn’t happen.  Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it and Happy Holidays to all.

 

Photo credit