I know, I’ve been absent. And while I could say that I’ve been super busy with orders or on vacation, that hasn’t been the case at all. In fact, I’ve stepped away for a while because I was feeling like I needed to unplug and do some thinking, some evaluating and make some decisions. And I’ve been melancholy and when I’m sad, I just don’t feel like blogging.
Truth is, I’ve really been struggling. Things in the early part of the year were booming, opportunities were flowing, things were abundant. Then it all came to a screeching halt. My $2K in monthly sales dried up to $200 (that’s sales not even profit, so I was feeling like I’ll never make a living on this path). As mentioned before, my art licensing fell through (still feels too raw to talk about it, but the whole experience has really messed with my head), I haven’t painted a piece in over 2 months and have little interest in creating art; I even stopped taking my art journaling workshops. Then sales at my booth at The Barn are really slow and barely covering my expenses; a lot of work for no profit.
I was feeling so awful as it was, my self-esteem falling off a cliff and it seemed that every time I went on Facebook, I would read of other artist’s booming success, everyone’s beaming happiness and every blog I followed had great news of all these great opportunities landed. To be honest, I was feeling awfully envious (and awful about feeling envy – I wanted to be happy for everyone else, but it’s hard when you are personally struggling). So I decided to take a summer long sabbatical from Facebook and I stopped reading others blogs until I could mend my wounded ego and rebuild my self-confidence (and I must say, while I miss some aspects, it is quite refreshing to be away from it all).
So with all that’s been going on, I’d been wondering if my artwork has run its course…if I made the right decision to leave my job back in 2009 to pursue my own business (which while sounds like a lucky break, has been grueling work, LONG hours and very little financial reward). And often you get by with the emotional rewards – the lovely emails, the connection to meaningful work that helps and inspires people, the connection to the people – those things really carry you when the financial incentives aren’t there. But when those things dry up, it’s really tough on the psyche.
David suggested I take a break from art, perhaps until the Fall which is my favorite season and naturally an inspiring time of year for me. I still have my supplies shop which keeps me busy with daily orders; I sell eco-friendly paper and brides will always be needing supplies for their DIY invites. Not entirely gratifying work, but I’m grateful to have it and it helps to keep my mind off of what feels like all my “failures” and helps me to pay off purchases and business expenses. I’ve been refinishing furniture and other odds and ends because transforming something from thrift store find to something new and exciting is thrilling. And I’ve been trying to grasp onto anything exciting as I’ve been feeling so low.
Making art is so vulnerable; you put your work out there and when no one bites, it’s really difficult not to take it personal. Artwork is personal. And though my logical brain knows it’s a tough time with the economy, it’s the time of year when people travel and that my items are gift-y and high season is in the fall, my irrational/emotional brain was interpreting it as no one really likes my work anymore and that it’s time to hang up the brushes.
And so last week, when I was feeling really gloomy, I decided not to make my weekly visit to my booth nor go to the monthly meeting for vendors (not required but something I was planning on so I could meet the other vendors and get involved). I thought, “what’s the point?” and started thinking about my exit plan (I have to sell more than $500 per month just to break even with rent/commission/fees/cost of goods/gas for the 120 mile weekly round trip). And I’m shy of that. I was feeling hopeless.
But I kept working on things for my booth…I visited antique fairs and thrift stores, painted/distressed more items and made more stickers (the top selling item in my booth as of late); I felt I needed to keep busy to not let my mind go crazy. And today, we made the trek down with a car full of furniture and goods that I had been working on.
Within the first 30 minutes of creating chaos in my booth (it’s a tight space and we were swapping out a piece of furniture) two women came by and started studying my booth hard. One had barely any hair and I suspected she might be dealing with cancer. They poured over my goods, engaged me about my work with FORCE and the one woman confirmed my suspicions and began telling me her story. She once was a COO of a corporation but then learned of her cancer, left work and began treatment. She had been through chemo but is now doing exceedingly well. The other woman, her best friend, who also worked a high level corporate position was now unemployed. The best friend went to every doctor’s visit with her and was so impacted by the experience that she decided to turn her unemployed status into an opportunity to start nursing school in the fall to pursue the field of oncology.
Wow. Talk about taking a step back and getting out of my own head. They were so complimentary of my work, told me how much my pieces spoke to them, we arranged for a large bulk order including original artwork, and they commended me for leaving the corporate world to pursue my passion while still young and healthy. We talked for over a half hour. We ended with an embrace. I told them how much it meant to me to talk with them as I’ve been struggling and wondering if I should keep working on my art. They emphatically encouraged me to keep plugging along and reminded me that everything happens for a reason and it was a sign that I need to keep at it.
They left my booth and I breathed a heavy sigh (in a good way) and held my hand over my heart. They kept saying how happy they were to discover my work; I’ve been telling myself all day how lucky I was to discover them. Funny how angels appear in all different forms and so lovely that chance meetings can change everything. But I know in my heart that there are no coincidences.
I need to stop questioning and just start believing in the path I’ve chosen.
I was waiting for a sign…and now I got it. The universe never ceases to amaze me. ♥