Slowly she emerges through the other side

Finding my way artistically, creatively, and professionally has, so far, been an experience worthy of self reflection. When I quit my job, I knew that I wanted to work with my hands. I knew that I needed to create space in my head that would allow me to feel creative again, after years of a stressful job-induced drought.

I’d like to mention a couple of things, one being that I realize that a lot of jobs are harder and more stressful than what mine was. People have horrible jobs, with horrible managers, horrible commutes, long hours, dangerous and filthy jobs, jobs that involve dealing with death, violence, and certain horrors of the world, and by comparison, I had a very cushy job. My job was full of laughter. My manager was and is wonderful, and my colleagues were and are wonderful. (most of them, anyway). For me, the decision was of course difficult for many reasons, however, at the time in my life I felt that I was not capable of being the person I wanted to be at work or at home and then regardless of all of the above, the choice seemed like one without much of an argument.

But quitting my job didn’t really change my life overnight. I didn’t wake up the next day and make a painting. In fact I spent the weekend crying and lamenting my pending lack of income and (financial) independence. I promptly managed to break my foot the following week, and then I spent a few weeks largely immobile and feeling sorry for myself.

Quitting my job uncovered other things about my personality that I could no longer blame on being too busy, or in other words, blame on my job.

The new year came and went, and I was flopping around like a wet fish, doing bits and pieces of various projects, yet completing none of them… and again I could not point my finger anywhere but in the mirror. It’s sobering; owning your self-induced personal failures. But it’s also important, you know, to man-up and decide what to do next, instead of jumping into the self-loathing downward spiral that I have grown very familiar with.

If I go back and look at the things that I’ve started and not finished, I’d have to ask myself why. Why don’t I finish? Why do I start the race only to frighten myself at some point and run in the opposite direction? I have to believe it’s a fear of failure. It’s fear that says something like, “I can’t do this. I’m not good enough. I’m not unique. I’m not offering anything more valuable than anyone else.” All of those self-battering notions are definitely enough to stall any motor and as long as I allow them to circulate in my head space, I’m allowing them to hold me back. I can’t say I’m going to change overnight but I can say that I am stronger today than I was 2 months ago.

Initially I began doing sketches of various earring ideas. I saw a few that looked like they had potential, and I kept sketching and further developing them until I felt confident enough to put them on stock paper and cut them out. I purchased cheap metal to work with, and started sawing until the designs I’d made were laying in a pile in front of me. I allowed my curiosity to bloom, and experimented with the pieces using different hammers and shapes, and I exposed the metals to chemicals. After a handful of pairs, I started to see something happening, a theme, a style that was recognizable from one earring to the next.

Around the same time, I started posting about what I was doing on Facebook. It was really difficult for me to share my personal life with people online but I knew that I’d need to do that if I wanted people to see my work and to support me, perhaps even buy something from me and ever importantly, to share my work with others. I started blogging more, and sharing the blog links online as well and that was really hard. But it was good at the same time to take that leap and put myself out there.

I created an Esty page for my earrings and I met with Tara Lutman Agacayak to discuss my goals. Working together with her really opened my eyes and helped me align my priorities. I felt more focused and decisive and as a result, empowered to move forward and with a greater momentum. The result of that was finishing several pairs of earrings and putting them in my webshop. So on that note I can definitely recommend her as a coach or coaching in general.

Ironically at the same time, I received an email from Holly, a talented young stylist who runs Avenue Lifestyle. She’d seen some of the weaving I was doing (via a friend on Facebook!) and inquired if I’d be interested in a paid job. YES PLEASE! So in parallel to my jewelry I met this woman, and ended up being hired to do a handful of extremely interesting and rewarding projects for her. And she’s lovely and inspirational to be around, something I’m seeing as a huge value in my life right now – people who inspire and who have drive! Seeing the work I’m producing for her has raised my self-confidence and spurred me onwards to pursue a certification in upholstery this coming fall.

Another very talented friend of mine is a brand expert/graphic designer, and she’s agreed to work with me on creating my brand identity. Initially, I’d felt that all of these creative things that I do should fall into separate categories. I’d have a different business name for each thing, because, wouldn’t I have different clients and wouldn’t I have to approach each one from a personal perspective to that? At the same time, I felt, and feel, that I don’t want to do that. I want to be myself and I want to be inspirational for other people. I want to share who I am, and what inspires me with people and I hope that eventually – that creates my identity. What is truly exciting is that my friend surprised me with exactly this sentiment when we met recently. It was such a breath of fresh air to hear her say it and to know that was the direction she wanted to head into. I left the meeting feeling invigorated and ready for the next thing… what’s next? Isn’t that a fantastic question to ask yourself?

I’ve sold 2 pairs of earrings (and one was to a customer I don’t know at all) since I posted them online 3.5 weeks ago. I’ve completed 2 projects for my new colleague and I’m mid-way into the 3rd. When I come back from my holiday, I’ll likely have my brand identity well underway and I’d like to hit the ground running.

I have ideas churning in my head, for new jewelry, and I have upholstery projects in my queue… and that damned painting that I’ve been looking at every day that really wants to be finished. And I want to do it all. And I’m so happy to think that I can do it all, and that there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s something that I can do, and I can celebrate the quality in myself that allows me to be a creative. I paint, draw, sew, I’m a decent writer and photographer, I make nice jewelry,  I’m an upholsterer, a weaver, an idea maker, a color lover, a curator of inspiration, and I am becoming a stronger person and business owner. Hopefully with these new challenges in my life I’m also becoming a better person for it, a stronger woman, and all the other things I aspire towards: to be a better partner, friend, daughter, neighbor, etc… they all count!

Watch this space.