It’s easy to look back at all the mistakes I’ve made, where I fell short, or let myself down. I am always hesitant to let myself get excited about the good parts, or to share my personal celebrations with others for fear that it will somehow be jinxed or that I’m getting ahead of myself and will then later have to explain my defeat. But today I am going to look at the positive that came from the last year.
I decided to take control of my life. I came to the conclusion that I can’t sit around waiting for life to happen, and that doing what I truly wanted to be doing wasn’t going to magically appear. I realized that I didn’t have to jump through the hoops of what I believed was always expected of me first– degree and a “real” career– before I was allowed to chase my dreams. I remember sitting through a class at city hall the summer after high school to get my child care license to work in a daycare and the woman leading the class gave an introductory speech and (I have no idea how this ties in to working part-time at a daycare) she said, “Do what you love, and the money will follow.” That stuck with me, but I never quite believed it. I tried plenty of jobs, ventures, even studied towards a specialized degrees where I had the potential to be making money, and tried and tried to love it enough to really make the money come in, but it never did. I resigned myself to the idea that maybe it was only something for the lucky few.
A few years ago I went back to school after having my second son to pursue a degree in the field I had been working entry-level in. Despite near-perfect grades, I dropped out of college… for the second time in 3 years. I fell into a deep depression and was drawn toward my art room where I subsequently spent any waking hour that I didn’t otherwise feel obligated to be taking care of my family or going to work. That first piece I painted was small– barely a square foot– but probably packed with more emotion and more catharsis than I have put into anything else in my life. That piece spun off an idea for another painting, and another, and another still. Over the next year, the act slowly turned from purgation, to process, to pleasure. I was reconnected with my missing piece.
That was my epiphany, not in the sudden and astonishing sense of the word, but in the arduous and painful way that life presents most of its important lessons. Art has always been where I have felt happiest. It is challenging, it is rewarding, it allows me to be myself. Isn’t that what everyone wants out of their career?
But then there’s the money part.
Like I have mentioned before, my husband and I have been working diligently toward financial security and because of his overall kickassedness he got a promotion that made up the difference of my part-time income, allowing me to feel a little less stretched between the demands of parenthood and everyday life and the calling of my art studio. I got prints made of some of my existing work, was able to pick up a few commissioned pieces here and there, but even riding the enthusiastic wave of new-venture, things waned. It wasn’t until last September when someone in my group of mom-friends had mentioned hearing of a place where you could go out for an evening and paint, that I had the idea to try a similar idea. Applying the same concepts I had learned in my dismal stint in direct sales of the Mary Kay nature, I convinced a group of gals to let me walk them through a painting over the course of a couple hours and as many bottles of wine. The ease with which it came caught be off guard, it was something I never felt peddling my wares in another person’s home, not even my mother’s living room. Another request for a party came along, and before I knew it, I am doing what I love and the money is following.
I still have a lot to learn, much growing to do both personally and as a businesswoman, but for the first time in my life I feel like everything is right. There may not be any footprints ahead of me, but the path feels familiar and the further down it I travel, the more amazed I am with the distances I am covering.
With that, I am going to leave you with a bit of perspective. The painting below is the first-ever acrylic painting I made. It is from one of my high school art classes with Ms. Younger (who will forever hold a place in the credit-roll). It’s 12″x 18″ on illustration board, recreated from a photograph from Antarctica. Oh, how far I’ve come.