Tag: commitment

starting over again

It seems surreal that i am back here again: being an artist who sells her work.  A week ago yesterday, we had an event here at the studio, after which i  committed to keeping the studio open every Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm for the rest of the year. Last night, i was so excited at the prospect that i barely slept.  Just being out here, making art, opening the door to sales, this is a big deal for me.

Truly, i believe that this is only happening because of the intervention of other artists.  Several provided me with amazing support when i face tasks that were impossible while this body languished in such a diminished state.  They have proven themselves willing to help me out when i have been overwhelmed.  In an act of belief that still boggles my mind, i have been blessed to share my studio space with creatives willing to partner their art with mine at these events.  You can see their work at these etsy shops, if you cannot travel to the coast of Maine:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/nekojindesign
https://www.etsy.com/shop/thecommonshaman
https://www.etsy.com/shop/theperfectcup

i cannot quite process the generosity of spirit that they are displaying.  Between these two and those who unflinchingly had my back over the past few  years, it has helped me create a new perspective when other people comment on my return to the world of art.  Things that would have crushed me when i was still alone, now give testimony to my good fortune.

At the first event we hosted, just over a month ago, people were surprised to see me.  They laughed, “We thought you were dead.”  Scores more told me that they heard i was having problems financially and physically, and that they were shocked i had made it through. i wondered why they talked like this, so comfortable at articulating their surprise at my continued existence, until i remembered that i am an introvert without family and have a learned to suffer alone rather than spill it out onto the shoes of random strangers.  Not to say people haven’t had to clean off the slime of woe after talking to me, but when i am on the edge of survival, i crawl into my hole and to heal.

Thus, when things got really bad for me, i retreated into art and the work that needed to be done to move from one minute to the next. It was all i could do. Overloaded as i was, i could not reach out; rejection would have been that one thing too much to bear.  No one else is responsible for those tendencies in myself, but realizing that they created the environment for those comments to appear was incredibly helpful.

By in large, i found i could eventually laugh at those statements and reassure people: i am alive, i never stopped making art, and here i am back to running a business, albeit part time.  However, it shook me to my core as a reminder that i am truly starting over.  The work i have been doing was invisible to the rest of the world, unless a manuscript wandered into your email’s inbox.   No one else saw that i had never fully surrendered; now, many can witness how reopening with hope and a support network is the greatest blessing possible for one that has been so alone.

Last week, a couple pulled me aside to discuss with great satisfaction what had been the hardest time in my life – when i had to start going backwards, cannibalizing the studio instead of investing in it, when i could not move my arm, when tumors had taken over to the point i could barely bend over without howling in pain, when i first found out that my hips would have to be replaced.  All this time later, they were still so pleased with the buy they got on the equipment i sold them so that i could keep living.  They let me know they had only come by to see if i was still selling off my tools at bargain prices.

While they gushed about the memory, i could not help but hear the echos of my the howling cries that night, realizing that with that sale of a wheel and kiln, i had admitted to myself that i was too broken to work. 

Exchanges like that would have made me feel excruciatingly isolated before, but my situation has changed.  i had people sitting beside me, ready to tell me things would not get that bad again.

My heart started to sing with gratitude over the miracle of human beings willing to roll up their sleeves and help me out, who stayed in touch and kept supporting my compulsive vocation to create.  Having people in your corner is always a blessing, but in this moment, when i realize that i am not hobbling forward by myself any longer, it feels like the sun has come out to shine on my life.

However, there is no room for denial: i am starting over as a business woman. People, quite literally, thought i was dead.  There is no greater indication that i am starting from scratxh than rising from a perceptual grave.  This voyage into business has to be different, too.  i am undertaking this journey hyperaware that my body’s needs cannot be pushed aside. Still, opening myself up be here in the studio, ready to make sales, feeds the best part of me.  This feels like a miracle.  i want to dance with gratitude; if only it didn’t hurt so much to stand.

And that sound you hear?  That is me shouting thanksgivings for the people who love me and are willing to help.

poem: shut up

“SHUT UP!”
i can still see her face,
“NO ONE CARES!
YOU ARE A SHITTY ARTIST!
A FOOL IN YOUR SUFFERING!”

The words echo
in the empty room
and i realize:
i don’t care.

Even if they are true,
these brackish, foul waters
taste sweet to me.

They sustain my life.

They give me what i need
to move forward.

Indeed,
the realization
that i can no longer
live for this art alone
fills me with more passion –
more driving, whipping need
to get these words onto paper
and fortify my soul.

So say what you want.

It can’t hurt me more
than losing art.

21 april 2016

exercising hope

flyingTonight, My eyes won’t even contemplate closing. As always, the stress stems from my wallet. I spent money, in furtherance of the business’ goals – like any relationship, mine to my business requires constant commitment. 

And, yet, this is part of the process of believing in myself. Sometimes I have to risk. Knowing this is part of the work I have to do to be successful barely comforts me. I wish I felt more fierce right now. Then, perhaps, the guilt would let me sleep, even though betting on my future feels like an uncomfortable risk.

painting

studio_starti am filled with gratitude.  Some friends have been helping me with my studio – doing a job i can’t: paint the outside of it.  For four years, it has looked more like a scary garage than a Studio and Showroom because i cannot manage to paint it myself.  A latex allergy keeps me away from most forms of house paint, which frustrates me because before the allergy became crippling, i enjoyed painting quite a lot.  While life as an artist has kept me in food, clothes, clay and art supplies, it has not left me with thousands of extra dollars to pay professional painters.

Now the edifice has transformed!  The front side of the studio has now been painted!  The side facing the road is scheduled to be be done the first week of November (weather permitting)!  i sing and dance with joy!

As they worked, part of me felt a wave of sorrow that i couldn’t be out there helping them help me, but then i realized – this was a fantastic moment for me to allow two lessons to settle into my awareness.

First, no matter how much i attempt to coax myself into believing that i’m totally independent and fierce, i actually depend upon the kindness of others quite a lot.  When i fall into the most lonely places, all i can see is solitude enveloping me and remain blind to the great oceans of friendship in which i swim.  The fact that the kindness of other finds its way to me absolutely thrills me and leaves me ridiculously grateful.studio1

Second, this proved to me that i am still committed to my work no matter how many spasms of anxiety and fear i have been enduring the past two weeks.  Thankfully, the thought “Oh, my God! No one is ever going to buy my art again!  This life of joy and bliss is over!” doesn’t charge through my mind as often as it did in the beginning, but when it does it leaves me limping for a few moments.  The realization that i am just a beginner as far as running a small business goes can also leave me shaken.  Leaps like this prove to my doubts that i am continuing to learn and move forward despite them.

Seeing (from a safe distance) the studio transform into this beautiful bright yellow and blue, looking more like a business than it ever has before, leaves me grinning ear to ear.  One side down, two more to go.