Sometimes when I miss a day or so blogging, it is because I need a little break and some time off. Other times it is because I am in the midst of a project and there is really nothing interesting to report. Some projects are like that and the progress can be slow – like watching a pot of water boil! And still other times, I miss because there is simply too much to do and I need to catch up on things in the quiet hours of the morning.
The third example is where I seem to have been lately.
Things have been just crazier than usual around here for me. I know that much of it is brought on myself, as occasionally my ambitions far exceed my time frames. But I don’t think that necessarily is a bad thing.
You all may have figured out already that I am a ‘goal orientated’ person. I have learned to live my life from goal to goal and project to project. Without clear goals in front of me, I find that I accomplish very little. I tend to muddle around with this and that and don’t move forward very quickly.
But that doesn’t seem to be the problem lately. Recently, I have had an explosion of ideas in so many different aspects of art and creating that I am finding my biggest ‘problem’ (if you could even call it that!) is deciding which one to do first and where to invest my time. This is a constantly changing balancing act for me and I need to stay on top of things or I may be in danger of overwhelming myself.
But also lately (and fortunately for me) I have felt up to the task. I find myself being able to sort through things pretty well and keep things moving in a good direction, and not feeling anxious or over-burdened. I wasn’t always like that, but part of what has kept me sane and functioning is that I have developed the ability to say “no” sometimes and not only do so, but do so without guilt or regret. That is a HUGE step in my own contentment.
It wasn’t always that way. I enjoy making others happy, as most of us do. My problem was that I would make others happy at the sacrifice of my own happiness or comfort. I know many others like that, too. We want to do well and want to help when we can, but it gets to be such a habit that we sometimes sacrifice our own families and our own selves for the sake of others. In the end, we wind up feeling exhausted and overwhelmed and yes – sometimes bitter – because we short changed the things that were really important to us for others that at times, didn’t even appreciate it. It has taken me many years and many instances to recognize this process. But once I did, it was as if the light went on and I was able to look at things in a whole new way. It was very empowering.
I think most artists and crafts people are ‘pleasers’ by nature. They love to create and look for acceptance through their art. While some of them may feel a bit guilty for enjoying themselves so much doing what they love to do, the acceptance and praise from others helps to alleviate that guilt and encourages them to continue. I think that is a great thing, as support from others really makes us feel as if our time is well-spent. But all too often I have seen many of my creative friends being taken advantage of by others in seeking that acceptance. I have done it myself many, many times.
Either we take on projects that we charge way too little (or nothing at all!) or we take on much more than we can handle. We do this in part because we are longing for that acceptance and we want to make others happy, which is a fine and noble cause, but we fail to see how detrimental it is for our own self esteem to have to work so hard for low wages and little in return. To me, instead of raising our self-esteem by doing this, we are in fact training ourselves to accept the fact that we aren’t worth our true value and that our time and talent is unworthy of fair compensation. A pat on the back or verbal praise is wonderful, but it does little to put a roof over our heads or food on the table. Without actual compensation for our efforts, we find ourselves sliding backwards instead of forward and our self-esteem usually goes along with it.
Now you can probably guess that I am mainly referring to those who want to use their art as part of their income for their living. Those who are fortunate enough to create for pleasure or simply as a hobby are not what I am talking about. Those individuals are really creating for different reasons altogether.
But did you notice . . . ?
Those who create purely for pleasure are so much more relaxed. And rightfully so. There is nothing for them to prove, and they don’t feel they have to justify either their time or their investment in their creating. They do it only for the joy of making something wonderful and it often shows in both their attitude and their work. If you ask a crafter who is crafting purely for his own pleasure to make – say 50 items at a low cost – and he doesn’t feel that he wants to do them, he will not hesitate to tell you so. The words come out easily and in most cases, I don’t think the person asking would be cross or upset with them.
Conversely, if you put the same question to someone who is beginning a business, or trying to make a living or supplement their own living with their crafting, and there is a myriad of thoughts that they struggle with.
Do they want to do that many?
Are they really making enough money for their time?
Do they want to refuse a “job” and risk the customer not coming back?
These are all serious considerations if you are trying to establish a business. Unfortunately, many times people will take on these low-paying projects just because they don’t want to say “no.” They don’t want to put off possible future sales, and as a result, they agree to sub standard wages and get themselves in a pickle because now they feel stuck with the job. As a result, their self-esteem plummets and besides feeling like crap the whole time they are working on the project, they are setting precedent for future sales and developing their own reputation as one who undersells themselves. Thus begins the spiral.
In any case, I realize that I am getting quite lengthy here. I suppose even though I miss a day or so posting doesn’t mean I am not thinking about things! I have recently seen some friends that are very talented and creative struggle with some of these issues and I thought they were worth mentioning.
One thing that I found that was great to help keep myself on the right track is networking with other fellow artists and designers and craftspeople. Whether it is on social media sites, in clubs, or among friends, it is a great way to keep yourself on track. Your friends and peers will always help you be more objective about yourself and your art, and sometimes all we need is to hear someone we look up to and admire confirm our decisions to make us feel that we are doing the right thing. Soon we are able to break away from that low self-esteem spiral and think in a more productive and positive way about our crafts and ourselves.
I recently came across a page on Facebook called Queen of Your Own Life. I love this page and I can honestly say that whether you are a “Queen” or a “King” the daily thoughts could apply to you. I enjoy reading the daily “Queenisms” and I am surprised how well they can apply to my life. My favorite so far is this one:
The “practiced saying “no” as often as saying “yes”” was the part that really hooked me in. It got me thinking about things and how GOOD it felt to say “no” sometimes. And how often I had been afraid to do so in the past. It doesn’t mean you need to be unkind or cruel, but it helps you establish your own self-worth and importance. And if we don’t view ourselves as important, how can we expect others to as well?
So with all that said, I wish you all a great weekend. I am truly excited today because I am working on finishing up a wonderfully fun project for the magazine! I got all the pieces cut out yesterday and today I get to play with colors and my new metallic waxes and I am going to have a blast! Here is a quick peek for you of the project -
This time it is peeking back at you!
What fun today will be! (Did I tell you lately that I LOVE my job?!)
I hope you take some time to check out the “Queenisms” page. Remember it is for “Kings” too. We all need to take care of ourselves both physically and emotionally in order to be truly happy. Sometimes it means saying “no” and not feeling guilty about it.
I wish you all a wonderful day. It is already bright and sunny here in Nova Scotia. The clouds moved out a couple of days ago and it promises to be another beautiful day. Enjoy it to the fullest!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"