Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Answered Prayer

I sat on the runway on Friday, ready to take off for Baltimore. That quiet time right before takeoff and during the first bit of the flight is usually a reflective meditative and often prayerful time.

Sure... I'm praying for safe travels and for my kids to be protected while I'm away, but as of late, there has also been a lot of prayer for guidance clarity and direction.

Ok... Some of you are going to zone out here... That's fine. If you have read this blog longer than a month, you know that I talk about what is important to ME... I'm glad you are here and reading, but this isn't a marketing tool, it is a place where I share my thoughts about my art and career as an artist... So if you bow out of the prayer talk today... No problem. I will "see" you another day.

Back to the plane... I sat there and said one of my "what am I supposed to be doing??!!" prayers that are necessary when door after door have been shut. (and honestly, the last month has been a WHOLE lot of door shutting). I was questioning my direction and even my career as a whole... Feeling WAY over my head.

So my prayer was something like "hey God, you have made it pretty clear to me in the past year that my career is teaching...opening door after door, but in the last month, it seems that door after door is being closed, even slammed shut. I need some help!!! I need a big "this way" sort of sign"

So, I waited for the plane to take off, knowing that I was flying into uncertainty... Classes with not enough students... A fiscal risk on my part... I was definitely not feeling that things were a sure thing... In fact, I was prepared to just go and enjoy meeting some new people, coming home, hopefully not in the hole (and coming off of the hole that was Oakland, I was feeling pretty uneasy). At the same time I felt uncertainty, I felt that it was the right thing to do, going to the class and not canceling. Risk or no risk, I knew that somehow it was something I needed to do.

And then I fell asleep (and probably snored on the plane, which I'm always a little paranoid about)

I got off the plane and had a class scheduled that night... The energy with even this small class was incredible. I had my tiniest class ever on Saturday, but I never felt like it was a crazy thing... I felt sure that i was supposed to be there. By Sunday the class scheduled had grown by an additional 3 students, putting us one spot from full and packing the room with happy. It just felt good to be in my "zone" all weekend, whether I was making "big bucks" or not.

In the end, I knew that I was still on the right path. I hadn't had any big Blues Brothers moment (where the light comes down from the sky and shines on Jake and Elwood and they know they are on a "mission")...but i knew that how i left those classes feeling was my answer.

So I sat and prayed before I took off yesterday, but it was much more a prayer of thankfulness than a prayer of request. I felt that my prayer for clarity had been answered. Maybe not in a giant "woo hoo! We're rich!" sort of way, but in a way that let me know that I'm supposed to be teaching... To be bringing some happy to people through my art and silliness.

Hopefully more doors open that keep me on this path without so much doubt, but at least I know without a doubt that my prayers (even the sort of lame ones) are heard and answered.

Off to make cute stuff...

Starbucks in hand
Christmas music cued up!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

We're gonna party like it's 1999

ok... not really.  This has nothing to do with Prince or partying, but it DOES have to do with 1999.

I don't have the official calendar to give all the details, but 1999 was the year of travel.  I flew so much that by the time May came along I had achieved "Silver Medallion" status on Delta, which meant that I had flown 25,000 miles in less than 5 months (I say less than because I know I probably didn't go anywhere in the month of January... the craziness started in late February, although I had already gone to Tucson by then)

In 1999 my then-husband left his teaching job and I became the full-time bread-winner for our family.  This was something that happened pretty spur of the moment and without a lot of planning and suddenly, I had to make a living... not just part-time income doing art.  This was before the era of online bead sales, so that meant that in order to sell the glass beads... I had to go to where the bead shows were and that meant West Coast a lot of the time... and when not the West Coast, somewhere other than home was where the shows were.  (and when I wasn't on the road, I was teaching from my studio at home... but that's a whole other topic.  This is about "the road")

The spring of 1999 was filled with weeks of me flying out of town on Friday morning, arriving in whatever town (and they quickly became a blur), grabbing a rental car, finding the hotel, crashing for the night after eating cheap drive-thru if possible (sometimes skipping meals and "eating" slim fast that I packed so that I wouldn't have to spend money eating out), setting up for a show Saturday morning, tearing down a show Sunday afternoon, catching a red-eye back to ATL on Sunday night... getting back home, crashing for half a day trying to catch up with sleep, then getting back in the studio on Tuesday to make the stuff that I was going to sell the following weekend.

It was an endless cycle. Some weekends were winners, some were losers.  I just hoped that during the month the winners would outweigh the losers and I'd end up with enough to keep us afloat. ... and I pretty much did.  

It wasn't much of a life.  It was tough on me physically and emotionally.... and tough on my family too, but you do what you do to pay the bills, right??  And that was the way I was able to pay the bills back then.... by being a factory and an on-the-road salesperson for my factory.

This weekend was the first time I've really felt that way in a long time.  The travel REALLY got to me.  The being away from home, not knowing if you're going to make money or not... and this time was a not.  It's hard to make money in art right now and harder when the show is in Oakland a few blocks away from one of the "occupy" sites.   When I have a killer show, I can sort of swallow the tired worn-out, road-weariness by doing a happy dance for the money.  This wasn't one of those weekends, so I'm just tired, worn out and road-weary.... and I do it again on Friday.

Friday is a bit different because it's a class, not a show, but it's still travel and it's still away and it's still a lot of work in a couple of days that I'm at home this week.... and I'm doing it solo (which honestly, is better than doing it as a partner... I only have me to worry about).

My kids are troopers.  Of course, I'm not sure they notice as much as they did when they were little that mom isn't around on weekends.  Most of my gigs are scheduled when they are with their dad and when something hits on one of my weekends, my parents (who are WONDERFULLY SUPPORTIVE) are there to step in and spoil them (which this time included driving to Game Stop across town to pick up a game that H had pre-ordered and paid for so that the boys would have it when they got home from a church retreat.... you rock grandpa!)

SO anyways... I'm home and I'm tired and I'm two trips away from being an "A Plus Rewards Member" on AirTran which is airline-speak for "you really do fly too much"

(I didn't get coffee today)

I'm logging back on because I think it's important for me to end on a high note.  Yes... I'm exhausted.  Yes... it's hard.  But it's NOT the first time I've supported a family doing art and I am totally capable of doing it even in an economic slump.  I have MAD skills... including business savvy and an entrepreneurial streak a mile long.  I'm going to make it.  I just have to take care of myself...which means giving myself a day off to sleep, like I did today....  and treating myself to coffee, even when it's a luxury.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Huey Lewis inspired this post.... and Nancy Reagan

I have that song "Want a New Drug" in my head this morning... not because I need a drug, but because of his whole attitude.... he needs a complete change... but also wants to remember how it feels when he's with the girl(do we know the sex of the person he's singing to?) he digs.

My take on it is this... I don't need a drug or a person, but I want to feel the same way about my beadwork as I used to... I want to feel proud of it and excited and I want others to feel that way too.

Thing is... the projects I've felt that way about in the last year OTHER people haven't been as enthusiastic about.  So, I'm wondering what the "new drug" is going to be that turns things around for me so that I can dig what I'm doing, but can also make something that other people dig as much as I do.

What is that???  No clue.  This morning I started wondering if that "new drug" is swarovski crystal.  Seems like everything that everyone else is being successful with has crystal crystal crystal OUT THE WAZOO!!!!  So... do I need to skip the lampwork and glitz it up???

Would my mom say "just because everyone ELSE is jumping off a bridge, (using swarovski crystals) doesn't mean you should!!"

Should I go the Nancy Reagan route and "Just Say NO!" or should I sell out and become a sparkle-ho just because it would sell better??????????  (and for the record, I'm not calling other designers who use crystals ho's.... seriously!  I'm just saying it's never been my aesthetic, so I would be compromising MY aesthetics if I did that... that's what I mean)

Very frustrated, and it's probably because I just got that dreaded rejection letter from Bead and Button... wondering if I'd sent them a box of crystal-encrusted beadwork if I'd be in the same mood.

Sorry for the debbie-downer posting today.  That's just how I'm seeing things today.

more coffee needed....  drug of choice.
music - switching from Huey to something else!