I would describe 2013 as a year for charging ahead, deciding what I really wanted, and adjusting to it all. It was a hard year, but also a really rewarding one. As I move into the New Year, my priorities are different. I intend for this year to be gentler and more slowly paced; to spend my time doing things I really love instead of putting a half-hearted effort into too many different things. Blogging is something that I just don’t love. I never seemed to be able to find my groove. I really love writing, but am finding that I would rather journal than share my thoughts online. Back in the Fall, I thought that this year would be full of more charging ahead. I began to feel though, as the New Year approached, that I need to step back. To rest, relax, and just be. A quote I read said “That which is right for you, will come to you. Be patient.” I’ve been spending too much energy trying to plan, predict, and control the details of my life. It has sucked the joy and passion out of me. This year I am Surrendering (my Word I chose for 2014). Surrendering to joy, love, trust, patience, and faith. So with that, thank you to everyone who has stopped by over the past couple years to read this little blog. Wishing everyone all the love, health, and joy in the New Year!
The weekend never feels long enough, am I right? It was a good one though. Date night at our favorite tap room followed by dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant. A night all to myself to paint. Getting my nails done with my sisters. Family pizza night. Laundry.
I am making progress on a few paintings. I’m working on four different ones right now. When one painting is drying, I work on another. I usually only paint on the weekends for a few hours each night so I try to make the most of the time I have. It’s hard not to think about how much I would get done if I had all week to create. I am so looking forward to taking some time off between Christmas and New Years. Not only to rest from working long hours during the holiday season, but also so I can get some real progress made on the shop. I might not have very much time to create up until Christmas so my only goal is to do what I can when I have time. I will have two weeks off to finish up some paintings, organize everything, and officially open! It is my light at the end of the tunnel of these next four weeks.
I can honestly say that this is the most content I’ve been in a long time. I don’t dread going to work everyday anymore and I feel more present in all areas of my life. I know this is because I started painting again. I look forward to the time I get to paint on the weekends. I don’t dread work because I know that my job not only pays for necessities, but also the costs that come with opening a business (art supplies aren’t cheap!). I also know that every time I spend working (although it doesn’t feel like work) on my shop, I am getting closer to my dream and one day closer to being able to quit my job. So I guess what I am saying is I am really thankful for the passion I feel (and have always felt) for art and creativity. Even though it feels easier and less scary to watch Netflix all night (which I admittedly spent the early part of the year doing), taking tiny steps towards my dream of being an artist, has changed me. Now, ask me in a week when I’ve worked overtime and am exhausted and we’ll see how I feel. But right now in my cozy bed, Christmas candle burning, twinkly lights on, I feel thankful.
For the past few days I’ve been up in my room playing Christmas music, hanging twinkly lights, and painting!
I conquered my Photoshop fears last weekend and figured out how to scan my paintings into pieces and then stich them together to get ready to print. It took a couple hours, since I know nothing about Photoshop, but I was so proud of myself. Well, John came over the next day and showed me a way that literally takes less than 1 minute. Typical. At least now I know a much easier way.
Things are coming along with my shop. I had a bad week at work two weeks ago (feeling frustrated, unappreciated, blah blah blah…) that gave me a nice kick in the butt to get things going. I realized the longer I put off my dream the longer I would be there and that idea was the exact motivation I needed. I ordered all my shipping supplies, mats for my prints, and even a new desk so I could move my huge printer into my sister’s old room. Now my desk is clear and I have a designated place to work on my computer.
This weekend I’ve been doing the most important component of my Etsy shop- creating! I completed once piece last night and should have at least one more done by the time I go to bed this morning (as I’m writing this at 3am). I am feeling really inspired by scrapbooking paper, bright colors, and lettering lately. I guess my style is evolving to mixed-media. I love the variety and freedom which I never found with watercolors. Last year the few paintings I did create were watercolors and now I am finding myself re-creating some of them as mixed-media pieces. I have so much fun doing it.
(A little peak of what I’ve been working on.)
I also have plans to change up my blog in the coming weeks. I am keeping the same name and my Etsy shop will also be “My Crafted Life”. I will be creating a new page with a link to my shop, an “About Me” page, and also a page to highlight old posts that are still relevant. I will be going through all the old archives and keeping only the few post that I feel are valuable. When I started this blog I had no focus or vision. I know now that I want my focus to be about my art journey with tidbits of life thrown in. I cringe when I go back and read some of the things I wrote. I’ve struggled with this little blog of mine, and I just want a fresh start. So if things look weird for a little while, that’s why.
I wish I had a date for when I plan on opening my shop, but I don’t. I am trying to take it one day at a time and do what I can when I have time. I am very close, so it won’t be too long.
Now, back to painting…
My mind still thinks it is August, but then I look at the calendar and realize that it is October! I’m happy about it because it’s one of my favorite months. I’ve been enjoying the fall season so far. I went to the apple orchard a couple of weeks ago with John, which has been a tradition since the second year we started dating. Yesterday we got back from Bloomington where we went for a beer festival, and the drive was beautiful. There is nothing like fall colors.
Earlier this week when I forgot it was already October, I was thinking that this year really isn’t close to being over, but obviously we only have two months of it left. It’s hard to believe. So far, this year has taught me patience. With myself, others, my dreams, everything. I hate this lesson. I’ve struggled with it many times before, but it never seems to get easier. In retrospect, everything I have ever really wanted and waited for has been worth it. Things seemed to happen the way they were supposed to all along. Yet, sometimes it’s hard for me to relax, you know?
I started the year thinking that I would have my Etsy shop open, quit my job, and be a successful artist, or at least on my way. None of those things are my reality, but I am proud of myself for the steps I have taken, and am still taking to get there. I think the lesson is is that there is time. I don’t have to rush or put so much pressure on myself. I have the same dreams I had on January 1st. Some things I have accomplished, changed my mind about, or it just hasn’t been time yet. And it’s okay. I am learning the art of being grateful for where I am, yet still putting work, positive thoughts, and intention towards my dreams. Some days it feels really easy and some days I struggle. But that is life and I know that not every day is going to be easy or fun. (That is also something I struggle with). Anyway, today I am grateful for time with friends and family, finishing a painting, painting my nails, ice cream and where I am at right now.
“What in your life is calling you?
When all the noise is silenced,
the meetings adjourned,
the lists laid aside,
and the wild iris blooms by itself
in the dark forest,
what still pulls at your soul?
In the silence between your heartbeats
hides a summons.
Do you hear it?
Name it, if you must,
or leave it forever nameless,
but why pretend it is not there?”
-The Terma Collective, “The Box: Remembering the Gift”
I first came across this quote last year when I was in the throes of “figuring out what I want to do with my life”. Over the past couple months I’ve come to realize it’s remarkably simple. Listen. Quiet the voices around you. Honor what is calling you. Your heart always knows the way.
Surrender. I finished this painting last night. This is only a part of it because I had to scan it in pieces and haven’t figured out how to seam them together in Photoshop yet. I had the best time making it. I started it over a month ago, and eventually it evolved into this. The following quote served as part of the inspiration for it.
“Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is? What could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? Surrender to what is. Say yes to life-and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.”- Eckhart Tolle
Isn’t that beautiful? (And so true.) I think we are all exactly where we are meant to be. By accepting that truth for myself, I am finding beauty in things that I used to fight. The past two nights I have spent in my bedroom/art studio with fall candles burning, good music playing, and art supplies scattered everywhere. It makes my heart so happy and at peace. I love the quiet house and night sky outside my window. I feel most inspired in the middle of the night. The funny thing is that I have been fighting my crazy nightshift schedule for the past two years, but now I am cherishing this time at night to paint. Even five years ago when I worked just a few hours during the day I would stay up late into the night and paint, write, or listen to music because that is when I felt most inspired. Surrendering is humbling and hard sometimes, but also beautiful.
This is what I love. Drawing. Watercolors. Micron Pens. I love the process. Getting a seed of inspiration, sketching it, adding details, and using a little tiny paintbrush to complete it. As I worked on this painting last night, I was smiling to myself the whole time. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true.
I finished installing all my equipment last night and started to think about why I want to sell my artwork in the first place. Sure I have a dream of making enough money from my art so I can quit my job that I sort of hate but sometimes tolerate, yet it’s more than that. I want to spend my days doing something I love. I want to wake up in the morning (not night for the nightshift, thank you very much) and be excited for the day. To feel the possibility and purpose. This is my dream day: wake up, drink coffee(obviously), draw, paint, blog, fill orders, cook dinner, kiss (someday) husband at the door, go to bed excited to do it all over again. My days now are nothing like that: wake up, oh look its 3:00 in the afternoon, drink coffee (lots), paint if I am not too tired, make lunches for the day, kiss boyfriend at the door, spend ten hours standing, lifting things that are too heavy for me, dealing with difficult people, jamming earplugs in my ears to block out the noise, go to bed exhausted and wait for the weekend.
I’m sharing this because I think many people feel this way. We are living inside lives that don’t even feel like they belong to us. I really believe, and learned the hard way many times, that we create our lives with our thoughts, actions, and beliefs. For a long time I felt really trapped by my own thoughts. I felt stuck not only creatively and in my job, but every area of my life. Not to say that I have it all figured out now, but something clicked in me a few months ago and I had I guess what you could call a breakthrough (or as Oprah would say and “Ah ha” moment). I realized I am not stuck. I have the choice everyday how I want to live my life. I am not where I want to be right in this moment, but I am getting there. Each step I take gets me a little bit closer.
Since I really committed to the idea of opening an Etsy shop, which has been my dream for a long time, everything else in my life has gotten better. I feel happier and more like myself. So even though I still wake up and most things look the same, I know they aren’t. I know I am walking, no matter how slowly, towards my dream life. And you better believe there will come a day when I am living inside of it.
As I am preparing to open my Etsy shop, I sometimes wonder about this blog. Should I keep writing here and call my shop by the same name, or start something new? When I thought of the name for my blog it seemed to fit. At first in an obvious way because I started this blog with the intention of showing craft projects. It didn’t really turn into that kind of a blog; mostly because I never blog consistently. I also liked the name because I thought of “crafting” as creating my life. Not just my life, but in the way that all of us are “crafting” our lives everyday with the thoughts we think, the actions we take, and the things we create. So I kind of loved it. Now I’m looking at it and wondering if it is even grammatically correct. Does it make any sense? I’m still pondering it. I like the idea of starting a new website and changing my focus to just art and creative things.
Anyway, I finally set up my printer and scanner! It was pretty exciting setting everything up and feeling the possibility of it all. Now I am trying to rearrange my room so I have space for it all. My collection of markers, paper and paint has finally caught up with me. It kind of looks like a tornado went of right now. My next task is to teach myself Photoshop. I need it not only to resize and edit my artwork, but I also want to learn how to create a header and buttons for my blog. I think my plan for today is to finish rearranging my room and install Photoshop. Baby steps.
I have felt especially quiet these past few months. I can’t really explain it, but I’ve felt more introspective- like I needed to gather my thoughts and give my ideas and dreams a little breathing room before taking any action. For me this is a welcome change as I’ve always been one to jump before looking.
I guess something shifted a few months ago in the middle of winter. I was juggling working full-time and taking two college classes. I knew deep down that I had (once again) followed my fears instead of my heart and landed myself into a (to put it dramatically to make a point) world of pain. I have walked this road so many other times. Not only in regards to college, but just in general following my fears. Something about this time was different though. Maybe it was finally tiring of a five year up and down struggle with my college/career journey, or maybe it was just finally learning, but I knew I could not keep following my fears. So on a cold, dark February night, I finally surrendered to my heart. With guidance from above and a knot of anxiety in my stomach, I knew what I had to do. The next day I dropped my classes.
It was one of the most scary and liberating things I’ve ever done. For one, to finally, after years of struggling stand up and say, “This is not for me and I’m going to own it” has opened my heart in countless ways. Even though I always knew deep down that college wasn’t my path I tried (really hard) to do what I thought I “should”. I’ve learned how life, and all the people who truly love me, unconditionally support me no matter what but especially when I am being true to myself. I’ve learned that it is my life and sometimes that means doing the hard thing and taking a less traveled path. That no one is going to come down from the sky and wave their magic wand and “fix” it, it is my job.
My dream for a couple of years now has been to open an Etsy shop and sell my artwork; to be an Artist. So even though I don’t know what I’m doing yet and I can only manage baby steps right now, it is happening.
Instead of making a list of resolutions this year, I decided to do something different; to pick one word. I was inspired by ideas I saw on other blogs last year. I loved the idea of choosing one word that encompasses everything I wish to accomplish and focus on in the coming year. I started thinking about what my word would be for 2013 back in early December. It came to me one night when I was writing in my journal. True. It felt right. To me, it means following my heart. Living my life true to my own unique vision and purpose. Listening to my heart.
In everything I do this coming year, I am asking myself, “Am I being true to myself, to my heart”? I ordered this ring, with my word on it, to wear as a visual reminder.
I am excited for all that this year will bring. I feel like each year gets better and better. I keep reminding myself how thankful I am to be where I am now. I look back on the past and can see how much I’ve grown and learned, especially in the past couple of years.
This year, I do.