March 24, 2011

anxious and excited and nervous, oh my!

i'm pretty sure all three of those words could be used interchangeably so hi, i'm being redundant.

there is so much happening all at once and i feel like it's all leading me to where i need to go, where i need to be. i mean, of course it is, but to feel it as it's happening and to know that i am resting on faith in the universe all at the same time, rather than taking a leap of faith and then reflecting on whether or not it was a good idea, well, it's just sort of surreal.

because i don't update my blog as often as i'd like and things have been happening pretty rapidly around here, i feel like i'd have to write a novel to catch up, so instead i'll just sort of dive right in and summarize.

i have been driven to create my entire life but i have also denied that calling many, many times. i wasn't good enough. it wasn't practical. i need to pay the bills. i find that more and more of us have similar stories but many have turned theirs into  a self-made success story. these are things that give me the greatest hope because some of these stories are what helped me take a look at what i really want to do when i grow up, and i've decided once and for all, it's not really a disgruntled postal employee that i want to aim for. in fact, it's not a disgruntled anything.

but disgruntled i've been lately because i made some poor choices and sent out some intentions that were not very well thought-out. i intended to start a preschool and only work part-time but make full-time income. for whatever reason i also jumped on the first solid opportunity to sell myself short. instead of waiting for some preschool clients to be ready in the new year, i took on full time daycare kids just four weeks after our move, right before the holidays. i was eager to start contributing to our household (read: handling my own expenses) but i also heavily discounted my rates, despite having done plenty of "market research" prior to taking on these clients. i know that child care providers get paid next to nothing but when i calculated it out and realized that i am making about $2.60 an hour watching two children, it made it even more difficult to swallow. there are other frustrations that are inherent with running an in home daycare, least of which are the actual children. i've found that the parents need just as much coaxing and coaching only their actions have much greater consequences, like not getting paid on time, being asked on short notice to rearrange your entire life with little to no compensation, having near-constant sick children because busy, working parents might not always know when it's best to keep their kids at home.

i hate that it sounds like i'm complaining about having a job and i have asked myself why i can't just be humble and grateful. but the truth is: i know full well that i can do better, i can do more, and i am certainly worth more. my desire to be an artist and my need to make money quicker than making art all day will allow has created this crisis but it boils down to the same fundamental thing: self-worth.

rewind twenty years. i was making stuff like this...

i have a lot of self-doubt, even now, but those native american watercolors are on actual watercolor paper so i know they weren't traced. lol! they're all circa 1992, give or a take a few years. to be safe, i'll say this is the stuff i was doing between the ages of 12 and 15. after my mom (whom i completely forgive at this point) would repeatedly fail to praise any of my artful efforts and made constant comments about how crooked or weird the faces i'd draw were, i stopped trying. then i had a baby at 16. then i started college. i doodled. i collaged. i read crafty publications, i still had dreams, but never thought i would ever actually realize them.

in 2003 i went back to college. i took art classes. i started painting again in my free time. in 2004 i told my future husband on one of our first dates that i dreamt of having my own studio someday, but i followed that with, "i doubt it'll happen." he was the first person to say that i shouldn't doubt it. that it could happen if that's what i really wanted. i actually got tears in my eyes because i had never been told anything so simple before and i really didn't believe in myself at that point. i was going to school to get my bachelor's in psychology and one of the possibilities i had in mind was to become an art therapist at some point, but to just be an artist, well, that wasn't anything i could seriously consider.
anyhow. a few years back my mom was all into suzi blu. she'd send me links to her youtube videos and this was before suzi was doing e-courses and had really perfected her technique. i'd look at her stuff and while i loved her message and thought she was balls-out badass, i had this little seed of hurt inside my heart because this was my mom's hero. i could have been living my dream all along but was ridiculed by the same woman that was praising suzi's efforts to make weird and crooked faces. i got over it, obviously, and i embraced the fact that i am not and will never be a master of the craft like renaissance-era artists. instead, i'm like goddamned picasso and if picasso had listened when someone told him his paintings were weird and crooked, well, then, he'd have probably lived a miserable life. i choose not to be miserable. i choose not to blame anyone for the road i've traveled or the road i am currently one. so bit by bit, i've taken a proactive approach to my art. it's all fitting together, finally. i did my very first indie craft fair last weekend and i went into it with realistic expectations to network, not sell everything on my table, and my expectations were exceeded. i managed a sale which paid for a little more than the booth rental and i met with four very helpful and friendly artisans that were so eager and willing to treat me with respect and dignity and share with me what they knew. i was blown away by the sense of connection and community. truly.

i have also decided that awesomuffin will mainly be the place for "new media" or digital art and my goal is to eventually offer eco-friendly prints made with soy-based inks on recycled paper. i am so so so excited about this. i can't offer these products yet because i have to place such large minimum orders but it will happen and the possibilities are endless. two people in the last week have mentioned wall murals when looking at this image and at some point i can see vinyl wall decals being a component of my business, as well. these are exciting things!

am i making money yet? no. do i still want to do original paintings and mixed media work? yes. i want to do it all, actually, and while i've always thought that to be problematic, i also feel more focused lately and i need focus in order to intend the best life possible. my scatter-brained tendencies have created a scattered feeling, overall, and i'm done with that. i'd like to trade it in for a more purposeful life now.

however, i cannot deny the fact that i do still need to make money. this is where the nervousness comes in.
i am not happy with what i'm currently doing and a few weeks ago, awesome papa, was like, hey, why not be a personal shopper? and i was like, duh. why hadn't i thought of that sooner? i enjoy shopping WAY more than i enjoy other people's kids. i also have tons of marketable skills so instead of just running errands for people, i can offer personal and virtual assistance and also market myself as a personal organizer. it all ties in. other people are doing it. it's an industry with lots of growth but also something that can be managed part-time. i have no doubt that i will someday be able to create and sell my art without the need for supplemental income but until then, i also have be realistic about what i can do to maximize my creative time and time spent with my family.

you can imagine how starting a personal shopper/assistant business while also caring for children full-time can pose a conflict. i started small. i ran one ad in the local paper, put up a few fliers, and posted my services on craigslist. yesterday i got a call from the CL ad i placed two weeks ago. it was my first one but it sounds promising. it's a very temporary position with the possibility for more work in a month or so. it's not a decision i can make lightly because in order to accept the gig, i cannot be watching kids full-time. if i'm not watching kids full-time i may not be able to pay my bills in a few weeks. the good thing is, right now, i feel an immense amount of support. even though i doubted it for a time, i know that my friends and family are supporting me and as silly as it is to say this, i really do feel that the universe is guiding me in the right direction. i have a decision to make this weekend, i have work to do and i'm not afraid to do it. my goal is to one day be one of those success stories that "quit her day job" but for now i need a job and i have to believe in myself enough to create a job that i enjoy.

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