The Sound of Silence

Despite my resolution to do so at the beginning of the year, I have not been posting more regularly here. I have not been churning out creative work at the pace I had hoped. I have been having to work through a lot of internal stuff again.

I feel ready to begin the next chapter of my life, and I feel trapped in a cycle of mere existence. Like a snake midway through shedding it’s skin but unable to break out entirely, I feel awkward and stuck. Things are shifting, but not fast enough, and I feel like I’m missing out on the time with the kids that I so desperately crave. I also feel like the universe is mocking me and piling more on top of me lately.

Then all the pain in those around me weighs down. The separation of the family at the borders, knowing the irreparable damage being done to those kids. Knowing the damage being done to so many kids around our country in general. And knowing that all of humanity could be living in abundance and have the freedom to pursue their passions right now, if we used technology to work with nature, if we set aside our hatred and our greed, if we stopped viewing others as “less than”… we could accomplish so much good. What we are and what we could be are so vastly far apart right now, I grieve.

But I have been grieving fairly silently. I have gone deep inside myself, to the very depths of my being, and such a journey is always traveled alone, out of necessity. I’m only just now struggling to the surface.

I don’t know what the future holds, either for myself personally or for us as a nation or a species. What I do know is that we have to make the choice to stand up for ourselves and others, for what is right, even if the cost feels too high. Maybe my personal struggles right now are a reflection of the larger struggle of humanity, as we work to evolve. It’s a thought.

Advertisements

The Fires Burning Within

I have been feeling this increasing need to create for several months now. I’ve laid a lot of groundwork, have my pieces all laid out on the game board, but things keep getting in the way, not least of which is my refusal to ever work myself sick again. Not excuses, just frustration at the delay.

My goal is for all my creative endeavors to be fueling each other, for the art and writing to flow back and forth, to use them as inspiration for both my music and my costuming. My husband and I are talking about starting to sell homemade bath and beauty products which we did as an offshoot of our Fairy Magik label years ago but at the tail end, so we didn’t give it a very good go. To do all of that while taking in freelance sewing work and spending more time with the children. But to do more than chip away at that requires me first and foremost getting out of this stressful and physically exhausting job I’m currently in, which we’re working on.

I’ve been posting older work on Instagram to inspire me to continue chipping away, but honestly, by the time I sit down and have a few minutes to work, it’s so late at night that I’m spent and can’t tap the space I need to be in.¬†Everything comes in it’s own time, and I feel the “soon, the time isn’t right just yet, but soon”, but patience has never been one of my strongest points. So the fires within continue to burn, to grow, threatening to overwhelm me.

When I finally unleash the fire, it will be a sight to behold.

Processing the Bad in Life So I Can Enjoy the Good

I successfully opened my first show since the fiasco of working myself sick and getting fired late 2016. It felt good to design again, and to work with new people. But leading up to the week before opening, I was having a lot of trouble internally. My brain was constantly switching into “fight or flight” mode, and I was experiencing intense moments of anxiety that nearly crippled me. In fact, there was a day or two in the beginning when there was a delay in our being able to sign the contract that I almost decided to back out of doing the show all together.

It took until the week before the show opened for me to realize that I was experiencing all of these feelings because I was flashing back to my bad experience at my last job. At first I was angry and annoyed that it still was having such an affect on me, but realizing that it was from that past experience made all the difference in the world because I was able to finally work through a lot of crap that I had been repressing for over a year. It was a huge weight off of my shoulders, I was able to fully enjoy the final stage of the process, and the patch of psoriasis I had on my back since getting fired has since completely cleared up (though my hands are still horrible… we shall see if they improve as the cold weather wanes). And I feel ready to go down either direction in the fork that life has for me coming up because I know my own strength and fortitude.

Our bodies and minds are truly remarkable. They take a trauma and will hold it until we are strong enough to cope with it. The problem is that many of us never actually feel strong enough to cope with it. We get that first “danger danger” signal from our brain and rather than access whether we actually are in danger or not, we bury those feelings deeper and find outside means of hiding those feelings. And then we start experiencing the mental anguish in physical form and we do what we have to in order to ignore that too. But if we trust in the process, and we are willing to engage our dark sides, we have truly remarkable self-healing powers. It has to be done in stages and it is intensely difficult work, but it is so worth it.

Anyway, it’s been a couple of weeks since that has happened, and I’ve been playing catch up on life and my regular work (it’s our busy time), ironically my entire fee for the design went toward a car repair instead of getting us ahead like I wanted to (but thank goodness that fee was on hand for that) and the last of my daughter’s 1 year molars are finally almost through, but I want to be doing more here and with my creative work so I’m working towards that. All part of the healing process, right?

My Spinning Head

I have a lot going on in my head right now. The currents are threatening to thrash me about and pull me under if I let them.

  • At the suggestion of a friend of mine who already works there, I applied for a job in my former field at a big university in a state my husband and I have never considered living in before. I had a phone interview a couple of weeks ago and have been invited for an in-person interview next month. I always have the tendency to worry about things ahead of time, and while I’m shoving the actual logistics of being offered and accepting such a job and selling the house and uprooting my family to the furthest dusty corners of my mind, they are still making their presence known. I have been having all kinds of feelings about this prospect bubble up, sometimes simultaneously – excitement, dread, panic, happiness, flattered, a positive outlook toward a new adventure, the irony of having applied to many university positions years ago with nary a bite and now to have it happen when I don’t know if I really even want such a position anymore, the irony of having decided to make this the year I go freelance and get more time with my kids. It’s a lot. I’m excited to interview, to see the situation that’s available. The idea of a stable job with real benefits and a pension and paid time off is appealing. But it’s not what I wanted. On the other hand, a lot of people don’t get what they want, and providing a secure environment to raise my children may be worth the sacrifice of my wants. Again what I’ve talked about before – others’ needs coming before my wants.¬† The position though is interesting, a mix of creativity and organizational work, and the situation seems posh. But this may be yet another year of BIG DECISIONS AND CHANGE for us, when I thought we were fairly settled. So there’s that.
  • I have two freelance projects I’m doing – one for an individual client and one for an entity – and both have been fraught with delays from other people. So now, on top of my full-time job and sneaking out of state for an interview next month, I’m going to be working incredibly hard to pull off these two contracts. Other people holding me up is frustrating. Having to chase after people for contracts and money and answers to questions to start working… it’s a pain.
  • I’m finishing the last part of Schopenhauer’s World as Will and Idea, and it has been challenging me in really great ways. But now I’m contemplating the workings of life and humanity deeply while all this other stuff is going on.
  • I’m letting myself carry more than my share of the outside world lately, allowing myself to get sucked down by it all.

So, in the midst of all of this, I have to keep myself centered. I have to take care of myself in the ways I know how and shut my mind up enough to be able to listen to the intuitive inner self. I need to keep stepping forward in the creative process. It’s going to be really difficult, but I am up for this challenge.

Art Supplies

I received the gift of some amazing new art supplies this past weekend at a belated Christmas celebration. I feel incredibly spoiled. The Dr. Ph. Martin’s watercolors are my preferred medium because I love the pigmentation, and I use the white Dr. Martin ink for highlights sometimes. I’ve never played with metallic watercolor before, so that will be fun to do.

IMG_20180117_130219_485

Since I have gotten them, I have also begun the process of going through our old art supplies, testing them to see if they are still good and discarding items which are no longer functional. Also, reminding myself of what we have. Because that will help determine what pieces I tackle first. I was surprised that a cheapo marker set I bought way back in 2006 only needed a few thrown away, though I suspect many that are left may be a one-time-use-only before they completely dry out too.

What I will need to purchase most likely are the papers and canvasses to put the work on. And that can get pricey, but not quite as pricey as paints can. But maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised by our supplies.

Anyway, I’m still having a difficult time carving out time for creative work, and usually it is my art time that seems hardest to squeeze in because I’ve made music more of a priority at this point, but I’m sneaking in bits wherever I can. It feels really good to get any creative time, even if it’s only 10 minutes here, 30 minutes here, time I should spend doing chores or going to bed earlier. It feels good.

The Music Writing has Begun!

I spent time tonight with blank ledger lines for the first time in eons, wrestled with lyrics to a second verse, and made significant progress (for me). It feels good. Now I must stop because I need to tackle a commission before completely losing steam, but I am giddy enough to share that progress has been made!

This is especially good because last night when I had set aside time to delve into my novel for the first time in ages as well, my teething daughter made that an impossibility. So getting to touch my piano tonight and tap into creativity in a way I haven’t in a long time soothed my wounded creative from last night.

My hope is to do a little time five days a week working on my own compositions, then have one day to sing from my collection to help build my voice back up again, and one day to play the flute a week. I know life will get in the way of that, but with set days to work on certain things, I’ll at least get a couple of hours in each week, which is loads more than I’ve been getting.

Yay progress!

Stepping Fully Into My Life

So my New Year’s began with more of a whimper than a bang. My baby has a horrible head cold, so my husband and I were all set to spend New Year’s Eve together at home, snacks and drinks on hand, to begin getting giddy about our future projects, the things that have been put on hold because of the chaos of living, and New Year’s Day was supposed to be spent having a glorious planning session on how to implement the creation of those projects. However, my daughter kept waking up because she couldn’t breathe, and I could feel myself starting to succumb as well, so I would wander back and forth between cuddling her and trying to get excited amidst filling sinuses, and last night I wound up going to bed at 8PM.

My plan for 2018 is to begin living the life that I have always wanted for me and my family. One where my husband and I share both income-making and raising the children duties, one that gives me time to actually take care of myself the way that I know I need to so I can take care of others in the ways I want to. One that gives me more flexibility – for parenting, for travel, for fun, for personal and creative growth.

I had hoped to be freelancing full-time by the end of 2017, but that didn’t happen. We need to have a firmer financial base for me to make the leap (either more in savings and/or my husband bringing in new income streams, which both are being worked on). So new goal is by the end of June, by the time my son is out of school for the summer. I horribly hated having to work this past week when he was out on holiday break. It was the first time since he started preschool that I didn’t have the time off with him. Last summer was super hard too. So no more.

But getting this cold is a reminder that I’m STILL not as physically healthy as I need to be, so taking care of myself physically is important this year, as I begin implementing my plans. Self-care, self-love, and mostly more sleep need to happen. I need to have both patience and persistence as I begin to implement my plans. I need to accept that I can’t have it all at once.

So the online shop is on hold until I leave my current position. I can’t sew for 8 hours a day and then continue to sew late into the night. I have, at most, another hour worth of sewing in me, plus some extra on my days off. I have a costume commission for this month, and potentially 2 designs for the spring plus a paid workshop that I’m in talks to do, and I may have to bring shop work home with me once we get into prom alterations this spring. Any extra sewing time will be spent alternating between some personal sewing (want to make some things for the house) and coming up with the samples/patterns for my first offerings in the shop, so that hopefully once I leave my current position, I can be opening the shop within a matter of weeks.

That leaves me with 1 to 1.5 hrs a night to split up between music, writing, and art, on top of sneaking in a little bit of writing during the day when it gets slow. I want to start promoting myself more again, and I have some lofty goals for getting work out this year. We’ll have to see what happens. When I am able to be freelancing, I hope to double to three hours a day spent toward those things, setting things up so I can be painting while my kids are doing arts and crafts again, like I used to, having fun creating together.

Again, this is going to be about patience and persistence. About applying my will toward the creation process. About making sure I’m not burning out and then having to recuperate, rinse and repeat. About creating a sustainable and nurturing life for everyone in my home, myself included.

I do not regret my time working at the theater for a few years, even though I was so overworked. It gave me amazing health insurance to have my second child, and it gave me the financial stability to get a mortgage and a decent home for my family. I do regret this past year working the bridal alterations because of how much time I’ve missed with the kids, but it gave me the flexibility to work from home for the first six months for part of the time, which was huge for my relationship with my daughter, and I’ve learned so much working on these gowns that I can apply to my own designs. It means a lot to be able to support my family, so there is that too. But I’m ready now to step into the life that I’ve been saying I’ve wanted for almost 10 years now. Our time on this earth is too short to try for less than what we truly desire, no matter how “safe” other paths may be.

And if the world completely falls apart around me, if my dreams don’t come true, if we end up losing our civilization, at least I’ll have tried. At the end of the day, that’s the most important thing of all.

May your 2018 give you the strength and courage to follow your own deepest, truest selves as I will be.

Business Decision Making Time

I’m going to spend a little time today writing out my options and thoughts on the sewing line I want to start in the coming year as an income stream once I am able to move into freelancing full-time again, which will be on top of the freelance design and build work I currently do and will continue to build doing and the alterations I’ll take out of the home, and this will be the bulk of my income while I build up the creative work I do here with writing, art, and maybe someday music without stressing about the income the work here brings in as of yet.

So firstly, I have to pick a direction. I thought that I had, but I’m second-guessing myself now on whether I need to narrow my options more. After a lot of research, it seems like other shops are most successful having one niche thing they do very well, for example, a creator only makes tutus, or waist cinchers and corsets, or capes, or fairy wings, or hair accessories, or purses, etc. Or they focus on a very particular niche market, like horse blankets with a handful of horse accessories, or ice skating costumes, or ballet costumes, or burlesque costumes. Sometimes even more narrowed, like a shop only sells pasties for burlesque, with nothing else. The upsides to having a shop like this are:

  1. You get really really good at something so you can market yourself as an expert and build a reputation
  2. Being really good at something means you learn all the shortcuts you can possibly take and still make a really good product
  3. If it’s a “rinse and repeat” kind of pattern adjustment to create different looks, you aren’t starting from scratch every season to mix up your selection
  4. It’s a lot easier to train potential future employees/family members/friends to help you if the orders start piling up, which is again a time saver
  5. If for some reason you ever want to start mass-producing anything via hiring out a factory (not something I think I’m really interested in), having easily repeatable patterns makes the process much easier

The downside for me though is that the thought of limiting myself in this way bores me. Because my background is in costume design, my initial thought (and what I find much more interesting) was to design an entire look and then offer up the pieces of the look in a shop, and to also include interesting patterns of other things I’ve developed over the years. To have vintage and costume inspired pieces that could be worn in a wide variety of settings, maybe include some men and children’s pieces as well as accessories, and to tie in the designs with some of the work I am producing here eventually as far as inspiration goes. But if I go this route, I may potentially be running into problems down the road.

Part of my concern is that my husband and I already had an online shop, both on Etsy and via our own site, where we sold fairy-related art, costume pieces, and even bath products under our label, and we made it all. And we never were able to really get a good month of sales, in part because we were spread all over the place instead of having a particular focus, and also because we were frequently going for quantity over quality (a mistake I will not be making this time around). So is it narrowed enough to simply stick to sewing/wearable creations under my unique vision, or do I force myself to start very narrowed and see how it goes? Also as an aside, I made up a big batch of a face scrub/mask to give as Christmas gifts, and I had forgotten how much I love to make the bath/beauty products and it would be fun to eventually try selling those again. The recipes I had come up with were really good, but it is such a saturated market. So for the meantime, I will just allow myself to create more of those for myself and for gifts as I can carve out the time to.

Anyway, any of you have any thoughts on this that could help me reach a decision? Do I do what “feels” best to me despite it possibly being more complicated and time-consuming? Or do I follow good examples of other successful businesses and stop being so freaking stubborn in life? It would be nice if something could be easy for a change.

Uncertainty

I am moving forward in my hope to be home with the children and freelancing as soon as possible, but the economic uncertainty in the United States and globally right now is making me nervous. I am trying not to let it freeze me up in my planning, but I am now trying to plan smarter as far as the planning my online shop for my sewing business goes. I won’t want to invest huge amounts into bolts of fabric to begin aside from some basic silks, which means going with the slightly higher cost and lower quality fabric available from the handful of local stores in the area. And I am rethinking my plan of only having truly high-end products and trying to come up with a few lower ticket items that will still be well-made to entice people. And I’ll probably take on as many alterations as I can reasonably do this prom season to invest back into the business, which means of course less time to get samples sewn up. All of that really is dependent on whether or not we get to the place of financial security to get out of the current situation I’m in. We’re working on it, but nothing is certain in this world right now.

It also means I won’t be able to afford oodles of new art or music supplies and equipment, so I’m going to have to make careful stock of what I have and be very careful in my use of things going forward. Writing thankfully can be done anywhere on any machine.

It’s really difficult to stay positive right now with everything going on, isn’t it? It’s hard to make plans for the future when everything could be easily cast aside at a moment’s notice. Part of me wants to go be a survivalist somewhere instead, and hide away from society. But I want to do what I can with what I have to help. So I refuse to succumb to fear.

A Couple Sketches

I found a couple of old sketches that I never shared here, probably because when I drew them, I was less than happy with how they came out. But I like them now, so I’m sharing them! I had to brighten the pics and darken the pencil lines to get them clear because I was lazy and didn’t want to hook up my scanner.

There is still a disconnect between my sketches and my finished works. My pencils are loose, almost aggressive at times, and I’m able to get that feeling still in my pastels and charcoal drawings as well, but when I switch to paints, I get a little tense and try to be “perfect” still. It was something I struggled with in my costume renderings. So it will be a balance I will continue striving toward as I move forward in my art.

I’ve started working on a couple new songs and that theatrical piece in odd moments, so new work is coming, and I’m still happily making future plans for projects. We’ll see what I manage to accomplish.