working

“I’m not interested in my legacy. I made up a word: ‘live-acy’.
I’m more interested in living.”
~ John Glenn, age 90 (in February 20 issue of People Magazine)

When I first started researching the artistic life, I would scrutinize the background of artists, and sift through their blog to see if they had won the lottery, inherited wealth, or through some other way been handed an art career on a silver platter.

I’m finding out that both present and past artists merely have a strong dedication to their passion, and cannot live without giving it expression. Many of them do have other jobs.

Even the women I met at The Creative Connection Event, who (to me) have become celebrities, whose work is recognized and truly branded, those who have been published and are generating numerous followers through inspirational workshops don’t seem to have gazillions of dollars.

When I decided to remodel my life instead of my kitchen, it startled people, too. I don’t have a (wealthy) husband to “take care of me” which tends to be the presumption of many people about female entrepreneurs. A few books that nudged me toward my decision emphasized that it’s not the $1 million mark that allows you to live your dream. It’s not about the money. It’s about choosing a lifestyle.

“If you do something just because you love to do it, then
you’ll find that you will never have to compete with another.”
~ Jiddu Krishnamurti in Philosophers Notes Podcast #77

Being an artist is hard work! Creativity takes dedication. It requires a schedule and deadlines and organization. Lauren Levato describes it as “endurance.

When I began my sabbatical I had visions of just being in the studio all day long and creating. Instead I spent weeks just organizing my supplies.

My collage projects take prep work of perusing my photo archives, calibrating the printer so the quality is right, sorting through wax and paper colors and combining themes, patterns and words.

Then there are a few hours of bliss, being in the zone of creating, seeing where my materials and colors lead me, exploring new techniques.

The moment a project is complete the business aspect kicks in again. Where is this going to show or sell? What calls for art are out there that I might submit to? Where do I want to go with my art?

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse
than the suffering itself.
And that no heart has ever suffered
when it goes in search of its dreams,
because every second of the search is
a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”

~ Paulo Coehlo, The Alchemist

Crafting a new career takes some strategizing when savings won’t last forever (and that rescue fantasy of the millionaire husband/winning the lottery is thoroughly debunked).

It is a process. Like everything else in life, it doesn’t come easily. Right now I am replenishing my funds with a freelance project in my old field. It is frying my brain. I am re-learning what was a routine just over a year ago. That job was, and is, incredibly hard work, too.

We watch people achieve success and think it comes so easy to them. We don’t see all the behind-the-scenes work they’ve done. The honing of skills, the prioritizing, the sacrificing of time, money, or interpersonal activities. Overnight success is a myth. It is often preceded by years of pursuing that dream, that innate need to do what they are doing because they cannot be anyone else.

“Whatever hard surface layer of reality may present itself,
it is only a single facet of the whole.
And when we are able to look around or below or beyond it,
possibilities shimmer, and
worlds within worlds reveal themselves.”

~ Noelle Oxenhandler in The Wishing Year

I am aware now that one year is not enough for a career change. You have to allow for shifts, for development, for truly crystallizing that goal. My initial goal was to get out of the grind I was in and follow my passion. I did rest, I did get to travel, and I am pursuing my dreams, while honing my skills.

However, succeeding in living my dream will take time. It could be years. The people I follow are at least 7 years into their careers. I cannot use where they are now as my milestone for January 2013. 2018 might be more feasible to be where they are at.

“I live very very very well. I have my creature comforts and
I know I have to work for it.

I could stop and live carefully but that’s ridiculous.
I don’t want to live carefully.

So I would rather work and live the way I live
and work the whole time.”

~ Joan Rivers in A Piece of Work (at age 77)

I am fortunate to be in this place of soul-searching and exploring the creative life. It was preceded by years of hard work, strict financial discipline, and lifestyle trade-offs. I still have bouts of inertia, fear, and discouragement. I judge myself as much as the naysayers out there.

No one’s life is simple. We all make choices every day that influence the next day. It is nice to pretend that those who “made it” lead the simple life, but they are juggling as much as you.

The key is to enjoy where you are at. Appreciate your journey, savor each moment. The only way to know bliss is by comparing it to non-bliss. It’s your path, and you’re the one meant to walk it.

“Your unique talent is built into the miracle of your own unique being
and it emerges with practice, life experience, and time.
It is your talent, unique and precious, and
only you can mine it and discover its depths.”

~ Carolyn Blakeslee, Making a Living as an Artist

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