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!

(Feeling) Depression – New Work!

New work! I recently completed (Feeling) Depression so today I’m sharing photos of this new textured fiber painting. I’m also sharing a little about my most recent experience with depression and the valuable lesson I learned from this feeling.

(As I always do, I’ve written a poem that goes with this piece. To read it, please visit my poetry website – www.piningforpoetry.com.)

© 2020, Hilary Clark, “Depression”, Fiber, 34-½” x 23-¼”
Photo credit: Rocco Danna

(Feeling) Depression…

I’ve experienced depression my whole life and have been fortunate to be able to manage it without the aid of medication (although I have always remained open to taking an antidepressant if the depression became persistent).

My depressive episodes typically only last a few days. Shifting myself up and out of the grey blue space was managed by focusing my attention on something outside myself. This practice worked for years.

Until recently.

I don’t know if it’s this pandemic year, or relocating across country in the midst of said pandemic, or general loneliness, or something more that produced an extended sink into the depths of depression this past summer. It’s likely some combination of all of these. All I really know is I began to feel blue in late summer and it evolved into feeling grey as summer became fall. The grey space remained until mid-October.

During that time, I kept showing up for my business. I kept showing up for my art. I kept showing up for myself and for those who love me. The one thing that helped me cope with what felt like a lost, lonely broken heart sunk deep within the grey was creating this piece.

I started it in mid-September, when the depression was fierce. As I created this artwork, I immersed myself in what I was feeling. I let tears flow when they came and I sat in the numbness when that’s all I could sense. I chose colors that matched how I felt, surrounding that fuchsia broken heart with all the shades of depression.

I took my time with this fiber painting, stitching when I could, #15minutesatatime, and as I stitched, I found myself rising up from the grey depths into the waves of the blue and eventually into the pure light of delight.

Feelings have so much to teach us, if we just let them. There are lessons to learn even when in the depths of depression. My art practice allows me to examine those feelings and from my study, evolve. Creating Depression out of fiber taught me the true purpose of life: we can choose to live with joy and ease.

And that’s what I’m doing now.

Detail views…

With joy and ease…

Depression is available for purchase for $1800 and would look fantastic on the wall of your home or office (or home office 🙂 ). If you’d like to own this piece, you have two options:

1) Contact me directly and let me know you’d like to buy Depression
2) Visit my Etsy shop and purchase it there.

If you need support around learning how to choose to live a life of joy and ease, let’s set up time to chat.

If you experience depression and it has become unmanageable, please seek professional help. The world needs you in it.


If you’re ready for a private (virtual) showing of my art, you can schedule an appointment here.

To discuss commissioning me to make a textured fiber painting specifically for you or someone you love, please schedule an exploratory commissioning conversation and we’ll see what we can create together.

If you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, please share with the ONE person you know could use it too!

The purpose of life: stop struggling

When everything you do feels like a struggle, it’s hard to believe life is supposed to be filled with joy and ease. And yet, that’s the whole purpose of life.

This may look chaotic, all these colors and bits of fabric struggling together, but really, it’s an expression of joy and ease.

If you’re feeling rudderless…

If you’re drowning in that sea of struggle, convinced you’ll never feel joy again, convinced nothing is ever easy, you need support. Support is critical to reconnecting you to purpose. Support is how I did it for myself and it’s what my business is centered around now.

When I was stuck in a place where work and life felt hard, I was depressed, angry, frustrated, and overwhelmed. I was unwilling to really talk to anyone about I how felt because I didn’t want to bring them down into the depths with me.

But this was the wrong approach. That became clear when my negativity began to leach into my relationship with my guy. Something had to change.

My guy knew I was unhappy. It was impossible not to know it, but while he expressed encouragement and gave me hugs, he also grew really tired of hearing me say “It’s fine” when it clearly wasn’t. Really, how fine could it be when I was cranky, angry, and weepy all at the same time? Dinner isn’t particularly delightful when the person across the table pouts the whole time. It’s a wonder he stood for it as long as he did.

He called me on my shit one day and I started talking, sharing my thoughts and feelings about how conflicted I felt. Deep down, I knew nothing was supposed to be as sad and difficult as everything seemed to be but I couldn’t see a way out.

That conversation led to others. As we talked our way through what I was really seeking, I found hope. Once I found hope, I was able to see my situation more clearly. Once I could see clearly, I discovered all the ways I was blocking my own joy and ease.

With clear vision, I hired a coach and was then able to create the mindset shifts I needed to leave struggle behind, in every situation, in every experience, and in every thought. Now, even when I’m doing something I’ve never done before or my day is long and full of work tasks, I feel joy and ease. Consistently. And that makes life amazing.

Getting support…

Start by talking to someone who has your best interests at heart. This can be your partner, another family member, or friend. Keep in mind this person may be biased towards keeping the status quo (because that might be easier for the other person) so give serious thought to who you choose. I started with my guy, but eventually, I knew I needed greater and unbiased support.

Next, consider working with a coach to receive that unbiased support. This is the work I do with my clients, providing a safe space to work through the struggle, opening the mind to discover the blocks, and then helping them create the mindset shifts they need to live a life of joy and ease.

Finally, do the work you need to do to release the perception that everything is a struggle. It’s easier to do this work when you’re supported and encouraged, when you work with someone who can see what you can’t see. You’ll shift much more quickly and the work will be easier to do.

With joy and ease…

If I can go from literally decades of push and struggle to consistently feeling everything is joyful and easy (even the tough stuff), you can too. The whole point of getting support is so you don’t have to keep doing it alone. Give yourself the gift of working with a coach to expedite your shift from struggle to ease.

Let me help you find your joy.

If you need support around shifting from struggle to joy and ease, let’s set up time to chat.


If you’re ready for a private (virtual) showing of my art, you can schedule an appointment here.

To discuss commissioning me to make a textured fiber painting specifically for you or someone you love, please schedule an exploratory commissioning conversation and we’ll see what we can create together.

If you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, please share with the ONE person you know could use it too!