The Real Work

What if the work you’re paid to do isn’t the real work? What if, instead, the real work is the work you do to grow and evolve, and all the rest is lesson?

That was the response I received during a recent meditation session. This essay shares my thoughts on that response.

Tree of Life…the stitching continues

Before I get into what I discovered, I want to touch on the fact that, these days, I’m artist who is rarely making art, a writer rarely writing, and a poet rarely waxing lyrical. I am still a joy and ease believer, though. That’s not ever going to change again.

After two years of self-employment, which included one year of pandemic-enforced isolation, I’m learning I don’t have as much energy at the end of the work day as I did pre-entrepreneurship. I come home from work to cook dinner. By the time we’re done with our evening meal, I’m spent. I sit to relax for a bit and find myself promptly falling asleep on the couch. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for art or word crafting. So I released my expectations for weekdays and instead, focus my attention on my art and my words on the weekends. It’s taking me much longer to create my art or revise my novel than it would if I spent a tiny bit of time on them each day. This was making me feel guilty, like I was cheating myself, because I had this image in my mind that my art and my words are what I’m meant to do.

Which is why I asked the question I asked in my meditation.

As I sit in stillness and breath to center myself for my daily meditation practice, I always ask a question, sent silently up the line to my Higher Self and my Spirit Crew. In the session I’m talking about today, my question was: What is my real work?

I asked this because of my art and word crafting expectation for myself I mentioned above. I also asked this because, while I am enjoying my return to corporate life in construction management, it has a lot of challenges. There’s a toxicity to this project I haven’t experienced in quite a while, which can make it difficult to connect to the work. I’m also missing the time when I worked for myself. These conflicts can create resentment if I allow it. As a result, I’m always consciously seeking a balance between the freedom of my dream of entrepreneurship so I can spend time with my art and my words and the freedom of a steady paycheck.

So I asked “What is my real work?” The answer I received came as a statement, not as the questions I posed at the beginning of this essay (those questions are for you to ask yourself). The download went something like this:

Your real work is the work you do ON yourself, not something you do outside yourself. The work is growth, evolution, personal expansion. It is not paycheck work, or hobby-turned-income work. Every experience you’ve had has been an opportunity for growth, to navigate challenge, to overcome hurdle, to create solution. Every experience, from childhood to adulthood presented lessons to learn so you could grow. Your job is necessary because it presents challenges that allow you to connect to yourself. Working for yourself, and releasing it, was necessary to discover you do not thrive in isolation, even as an introvert. Making your art, writing your novel, the experience of your youth – all present lessons for your growth regardless of how much time you spend with them. The real work is your work. The real work is you and the choices you make while in your human form. The real work is love and light and joy, discovering this higher energy in all things. Your real work is not the definition of work. Your real work is to evolve. Embrace every experience, the easy but especially the hard, as part of your work. Use your rest time and quiet time to process these experiences. This is where you grow. This is your work.

This message fills me with gratitude. It helps me to find balance in my feelings when they veer from one extreme to another. It helps me to better understand why my art practice has slowed down. It helps me to navigate my way through low energy environments while maintaining my own high energy view. This message helps.

Prior to returning to corporate work, my art was the way and the place I processed and learned. Over the last 5 years, I’ve created feelings out of fiber, which allowed me to better understand emotion as I turned a feeling into a tangible work of art. That work will continue but at a slower pace because I’ve entered a different learning phase. Now, I’m learning from my job how best I’m meant to grow.

That doesn’t mean I’ll quit making my art or writing my words. I’ll just do it on weekends, releasing all expectations for anything other than the joy of creating. I’m still working on my Tree of Life piece, slowly stitching to add texture to the piece. Once I’ve finished it, I’ll move on to the next textured fiber painting. Maybe, like the Tree of Life, I’ll play with paint on fabric. Maybe I’ll create another feeling. Maybe I’ll create something totally different. I’ll know what I want to create when the time comes.

Because everything I experience, from working a job to making dinner to creating art carries lessons that lead to growth. That is my real work.

What is yours?

With joy and ease…

xo


Interested in my art, my writing, my poetry, or learning more about bringing consistent joy and ease into your life? Then let’s talk!

Contact me to schedule:
* A virtual coffee
* A private (virtual) art show of my art
* A commissioning conversation to discuss hiring me to create a textured fiber painting uniquely yours

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!

Protecting Energy When Things Don’t Go According to Plan

Art making is not going according to plan. And I’m working on being okay with that.

Me, working on being okay with things not going according to plan. It’s a process.

When I last wrote an essay here, it was mid-June and I finally had my studio put together. I was excited to get back into art making, to dive into the stitching phase on my Tree of Life piece I’d begun before we relocated from Florida.

I’m still excited, however, I’ve found myself having to temper that excitement so I don’t beat myself up over not meeting my own expectations for myself and my art practice.

I’d forgotten how much energy it takes to work outside the home for someone else. I’d forgotten how much energy I absorb from others after a year of pandemic-induced isolation. I’d forgotten how much stress it’s possible to feel when you’re an empath and everyone around you is stressed.

I come home each night from work, worn out, exhausted. Prepping dinner takes what little energy I have left over, leaving none for weeknight studio time.

This disappoints me. When I worked outside the home before my two years of self-employment, I always had energy when the day ended. I always took at least 15 minutes to work in my studio – because it’s amazing how much art one can make #15minutesatatime. And I was satisfied. I met my own expectations for what I wanted my art practice to look like.

Now, I’m having to redefine those expectations. We have space constraints at work. I’m in a cubicle for the first time in 20 years because of those space constraints — almost no one has an office to themselves. There’s so much noise and constant activity, I find myself frequently distracted and not nearly as productive as I’m accustomed to being. This environmental impact to my energy is fierce.

But I’m not complaining. Instead, I’m focused on ways to protect my energy while still being engaged in my work. The more I can protect my energy, the more I can conserve it, the more I’ll have left over to play with my art each evening.

One way I’m doing this is through noise cancelling ear buds. These will help to create boundaries for myself in the office. I used them over the holiday weekend at home, while stitching on my Tree of Life. When I finally removed them, I was almost startled to hear music coming from the stereo the Big Guy had turned on while he did projects around the house.

Stitching on “Tree of Life” — slow and steady with metallic thread in whatever time I have available

Another way I protect my energy is through meditation. I already meditate each morning before leaving the house for work. I’m looking into meditations suitable for driving for my commute home, something to bring me back to myself, back to my heart, so I can release whatever energy I’ve absorbed during the day, and return to my innate joy and ease. And if I can’t find a guided meditation that suits, then I’ll crank up the music and let it flow over me.

I’ve also plugged studio time into my calendar, a 15 minute appointment with myself and my art each evening after work, which allows me to reserve energy for that time. I may not make every appointment, but scheduling time into my day reminds me of the importance of engaging with my creativity. Because I keep my expectation small — #15minutesatatime — it’s easier to meet and it allows me to stick to my plan. (If you haven’t figured it out by now, the right and left sides of my brain are constantly working together. Within the structure of a plan, I have space to experiment and freely create.)

Finally, I’m reminding myself I’m made of magic, as are we all. We are magic and Spirit, choosing to live in human form to experience and learn and grow, to evolve. This current situation, where I find myself looking for ways to better protect my energy when things don’t go according to plan, is just one more lesson to learn. And maybe, as I share my own learning, you’ll find ways to evolve too.

With joy and ease…

If you’re someone like me, who finds themselves needing to protect their energy when things don’t go according to plan, what do you do to bring yourself back to yourself?

I’d love to know. Please drop a comment below or send me a DM and let’s have a conversation – together, we may find just the solution you need.

xo


Interested in my art, my writing, my poetry, or learning more about bringing consistent joy and ease into your life? Then let’s talk!

Contact me to schedule:
* A virtual coffee
* A private (virtual) art show of my art
* A commissioning conversation to discuss hiring me to create a textured fiber painting uniquely yours

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!

Back to the Studio…Barely

I have a studio again!

In the month since I last wrote, we’ve unpacked the house and put everything away, with the exception of hanging art and photos on the walls. This includes getting my studio space organized and ready for art making.

But have I made any art?

Just barely.

Walk in closet studio storage! Every artist’s dream!

My art making intentions have been solid. However, the last time we moved – in March 2020 – I was working for myself so I was able to set aside my work to spend a week focused on unpacking and settling in. This go around, I’m back to work full time outside the home. That schedule really impacts the amount of time available to unpack AND make art.

I’d forgotten that bit about working for someone else. My schedule is no longer my own and this particular project requires long days. I’m not complaining – I’m truly enjoying the job. But I do miss my studio time.

Which is why I’m so pleased to have the space organized and ready to go.

Everything in its place.

Before we relocated from the East Coast to the Southwest, I’d begun work on a Tree of Life textured fiber painting, a departure from my Feelings work. I’d created the canvas, a landscape suitable for an arching tree. And that’s where I’d paused to get ready to move.

Now that all our things are put away and we’re settled into our new home, I’ve finally been able to create the time in my weekend schedule to design the tree to sweep across that canvas.

This piece took an interested twist with the tree. Following my usual design method, I laid curving strips of fabric on the canvas to create the trunk, the branches. And it didn’t look right. So I tried other strips of fabric. Then I tried ribbon and pipe cleaners and felted wool. Nothing produced the vision of the tree I had in my head.

Then I remembered I had paint, acrylic and fabric. So I took a deep breath and embraced the opportunity to experiment with painting on fabric to create my tree.

Thankfully, my experiment worked. I love how the design came out. There’s a tiny hint of it in the photo below. I’m saving the rest for when I’ve completed this art piece, so be patient please!

Hinting at the tree

The other exciting thing about being back in my studio, besides the success of my experiment, is the amount of space I have in the room. For the first time ever, I’m able to open my cutting table to it’s full length. It’s a drop leaf construction and in the almost 20 years I’ve owned this sewing furniture, I’ve only ever been able to raise one leaf. Now I can raise both and have the full 75-80” to work on! I’m ridiculously pleased. The ability to spread out all on the same surface is delightful. As shown in the photos above, I also have a walk-in closet to store my supplies.

It’s a wonderful studio and I’m grateful to have it.

Sewing cabinet, closed until I’m ready to stitch.
Ok, so I hung one thing. My studio always feels complete when my kite is hung.

With joy and ease…

I’m excited to begin stitching on my Tree of Life piece, slowly and as I create the time. I’ve accepted making 8-10 pieces a year may no longer be possible (each takes quite a while due to the dense stitching I use in my designs) so I’m embracing this opportunity to slow down my making.

If I only make a few pieces this year, I’m still creating, I’m still making art, I’m still an artist. And I believe that is what’s most important — experiencing the joy and ease that comes from being a creator.

In next month’s update, I’ll share a progress update and photos of some of the stitching. Until then, keep creating with joy and ease!

xo


Interested in my art, my writing, my poetry, or learning more about bringing consistent joy and ease into your life? Then let’s talk!

Contact me to schedule:
* A virtual coffee
* A private (virtual) art show of my art
* A commissioning conversation to discuss hiring me to create a textured fiber painting uniquely yours

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!

Move In Day! Can Art Making Be Far Behind?

If you’re reading this on Monday, May 10th, it’s move in day! Can art making be far behind?

This was move OUT day. Move IN pictures may appear some other time.

For the past two months, we’ve lived in spare rooms and a hotel. While there’s certainly joy to be found in a temporary living situation, as well as remarkable ease (you quickly discover how little stuff you really need), we are so ready to sleep in our own bed!

During this transitional stage, we’ve been out exploring the surrounding area. We’ve found several craft breweries with delicious offerings, a great food scene, and friendly people. But the thing we’re finding most enjoyable is the sunset.

AZ sunsets are gorgeous, even through a dirty windshield

While beer and food and people and sunsets are wonderful, I’ve missed my art making. With the delivery of our household goods, I’m looking forward to a return to my art practice. I can’t wait to pick up where I left off with my Tree of Life textured fiber painting because making art feeds my soul in a way even Arizona sunsets can’t do.

Tree of Life progress shot

With joy and ease…

Keeping this short and sweet to focus on move-in. Stay tuned for next month’s essay – I’m determined it will be a progress update on my latest art piece!

xo


Interested in my art, my writing, my poetry, or learning more about bringing consistent joy and ease into your life? Then let’s talk!

Contact me to schedule:
* A virtual coffee
* A private (virtual) art show of my art
* A commissioning conversation to discuss hiring me to create a textured fiber painting uniquely yours

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!

Joy & Ease in the Midst of Chaos

The last few weeks have been NUTS! When I last wrote, I’d arrived in Phoenix and started my new job. Since then, there’s barely been a moment to breathe. Until now. Until today. Which is why I’m back with an essay to share the joy and ease I found in the chaos.

Cross country relocation sometimes involves air travel, even in a pandemic

With gratitude…

Moving is always a crazy and hectic experience. When it’s a cross country relocation, there’s an added layer of stress. When we moved a year ago, from Chicago to Florida, I didn’t notice the madness because I was working for myself and, because it was the early days of the pandemic, my business was slow.

This time, the move included going back to work so time to settle in was limited to evenings. For the first few weeks, I stayed with cousins who were generous enough to open their home to a relative they hadn’t seen in at least 20 years.

I am so grateful to them both for making me feel welcome and cared for. I think, if I’d gone straight into a hotel, I might have felt a little lost in the new locale. Instead, I was greeted with open arms and lots of love. They were overjoyed to have me stay with them and I was filled with joy to get re-acquainted.

With trust…

During that same time, as I began settling into the routine of a “regular” job again, I also began the search for our new home. While the Big Guy and I have very similar tastes in houses, there was an underlying anxiety that followed me around as I toured homes he could only see via photos in the MLS listings or via FaceTime videos as I walked through a house. What if I fell in love with a house he hated?

Fortunately, he agreed with me when I found a house that felt ideal. We put in our offer, went through a round or two of countering, and finally entered into a contract. House #6 was the winner. We’ll close in early May and are looking forward to sleeping in our own bed in about a month.

With faith…

The day after our contract was accepted, I flew back to Florida to oversee the movers who were packing up our house. It was the first time on a plane since early March of 2020 and I was grateful for all the protocols the airlines and airports have put in place to protect the passengers.

The movers were awesome. Over the course of three days, they packed all our belongings and loaded the truck. They were personable, friendly, and we all had fun during the process. The truck arrived in Phoenix a few days ago and our stuff was transferred into storage until we can take possession of our house.

Packed and ready to load, the place looked like a bomb went off

The Big Guy joined me here about a week ago. He too has started work and is settling in well. We’re living in an extended stay type hotel and are looking forward to exploring Phoenix and the surrounding area now that the stressors of finding a home are behind us.

With joy and ease…

Moving is a crazy time, yet when you’re open to it, there’s so much joy and ease to be found in the process. Yes, I’ve been stressed. Yes, I’ve been anxious. Yes, I haven’t always slept as well as I’d like. But I haven’t allowed any of that to get in the way of enjoying the adventure that is moving across country, starting a new job, meeting new people, renewing old relationships, and living life to its fullest.

Joy and ease are our birthright. They are present even when our world feels chaotic and overwhelming. In fact, I’d say joy and ease are MORE present when the world feels chaotic and overwhelming. Those are the times when we need joy and ease the most.

All you need to do is stay open to the beauty, fun, and little things that make you happy and grateful when life feels nuttier than usual.

What is currently stressing you out? How could you find your own joy and ease in the midst of your chaos? If you’re willing to share, drop a note in the comments.

xo


Interested in my art, my writing, my poetry, or learning more about bringing consistent joy and ease into your life? Then let’s talk!

Contact me to schedule:
* A virtual coffee
* A private (virtual) art show of my art
* A commissioning conversation to discuss hiring me to create a textured fiber painting uniquely yours

If you enjoyed this essay, and it feels aligned, please share on social media or via email. If you liked it, someone you know will probably like it too!