Wednesday, September 30, 2009

we did it!

We got our huge order finished, on time, and every single piece is exquisite. We are so proud!
The order was for 70 large centerpiece vases for the annual PONCHO auction. It was an honor to be chosen, and a challenge to accomplish it while not making our "regular" galleries wait an undue amount of time for their own orders to be shipped. AND we did it with a greatly reduced crew of "worker-bees." Kudos to T., who did a fabulous job of painting her little heart out while I was off lazing about in Oregon for 3 days last week!

Now this week is all about getting caught up on other orders, packing and shipping, and congratulating ourselves further for "making it work." We seem to be doing it...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

not ready

I was out on a glorious walk yesterday morning: warm golden sun with that lovely crisp edge. By the time I returned home from the lake a big wind was pouring into the alley and leading fall into my world. Colder this morning, dimmer. Dark! I'm not ready this year. I've found myself counting on my fingers how long it will be before the light returns. Too long.

But since I have no say in the matter, I'd best get busy with planning some ways to celebrate the season we are in. Firewood stacked, I should buy some new candles, lay in the ingredients for making soups, get the flannel sheets out, tuck away out my summer clothes and get out the snuggy fall/winter clothes, but mostly I need to adjust my attitude and expectations. If I don't do that, it will be a long, dark winter!

I have a warm, purring kitten on my lap. I think that will be winter's key coping ingredient. That, and staying busy with work I love.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

a little trip to heaven

I took nearly 3 days off and went on a little trip to visit my friends who recently moved to a farm in central Oregon. It was heavenly. We went for a couple little hikes, played with the dog, sat in the sun and looked over the valley, celebrated my not-son's birthday, watched him run with fierce intensity (and making excellent time in spite of getting run over!) in his second cross-country meet.

I cried when it was time to leave, I want to move there so much! It felt like "me." Alas, my circumstances won't allow it for now. But something to add to my dream-book.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

my favorite season

Every day this week I have noticed actual fall leaves on my path as I am out jogging. Last week there were only leaves that had fallen because of the extreme heat and lack of rain the northwest had endured this summer. Now they are the gorgeous colorful leaves that make me look forward to kicking through piles of them on my daily huffing and puffing excursions. The sun is golden and warm, with just that little freshness to remind us of what is coming and why we need to appreciate every last moment of this time. Though 80 degrees is forecast, it will be full of the slight waiting cool, a bitter-sweet reminder to us: take it in!

Friday, September 18, 2009

the plan... (only slightly tongue-in-cheek)

Well, now that I've finished all the painting I can do at one time I will take a little break to tell you about a piece of my anxiety management. Most single income self-employed artists (read: no retirement plan) have this sort of anxiety once they reach "a certain age." So I've been scheming.

When/If I can no longer pay my bills doing what I do (or something else) I can sell my house, take the equity, and buy a nice little (little!) RV and travel the country. Doing some kind of art/craft that doesn't require a big studio, etc.

When my money is used up or I become to old or infirm to keep going I could commit a crime. Not such a bad crime that would have horrible karmic consequences or make me miserable for acting in a way that conflicts with my values, but bad enough to land me in prison. Think about it: free health care, a room and bed of my own, as much mac and cheese as I can eat (and it wouldn't matter if I got fat). I could teach craft classes, maybe even participate in one of those programs that let prisoners have animals to help them learn love & compassion! I could have a TV in my room, plenty of books, and even a CD player with my favorite music...

The credit for this idea comes from a week or two ago when my "not son" and his mother were here visiting. N. wanted a last full-on slothful weekend, and so plopped himself on the couch to watch an entire day's worth of "Prison Life" or some such title. I was working at the table, so I watched the full day of his programing as well. There were HORRIBLE prisoners featured, the worst of the worst. And they had everything I just described, minus the animals and craft classes.

And if other artists in my situation did the same thing just think what fun we could have all together?

Now I just have to think of the right crime that would send me to one of those nice white-collar prisons...

Any ideas?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

taking a running jump...

..to get back on the horse! I've been "gone" from this blog. Why? Well, stuff and stuff and other things too. I was SO disappointed and yes, actually in shock about how poorly the Bellevue show went. I sold 1/6 of what I sold at the same show last year, and my work was even much better! I had counted on that money for basic bills and expenses, and I was really thrown for a loop (where does that expression come from?) when I barely covered the costs of the show. I cancelled the second show in Sun Valley because I couldn't afford to take the financial risk of doing it if the economy dictated low sales there as well. After that, I paced around my house in stunned stupor for a while, wondering if I could or should even keep pushing forward with this endeavor. I considered going out and getting a "real job" but I know how difficult that is these days... So I decided to soldier on, and cut expenses to a bare minimum. I had to lay off 3 of my helpers, and looked for all the other places I could plug up the financial leaks. Fortunately gallery orders have been pouring in, so I WILL make it, and it looks like we (me, my primary assistant, and my newest assistant who can do the sandblasting) can actually get the same amount of work done. Good!

I also started going to yoga classes 7 days a week, walking an hour a day, and meditating daily. All that is helping manage the tsunami of stress that threatened to drown me. It's working!

As I go out and about my neighborhood on my daily walk/jogs, I see homes that are being well maintained: new paint, new roofs, landscaping, steps repaired, etc. I noticed I was feeling sorry for myself that I can't afford to maintain my own house. But I decided that that perspective was a door into a rather dark and dismal place, and that instead I could be grateful that I HAVE a home, that I have work I enjoy, that I have the good sense to figure out where to cut expenses, and, especially these days, that my little business IS surviving! AND we are getting more orders every week. I know the reason for my financial struggles is that my work is very under-priced, given the amount of time each piece requires, but at least it is offering survival in a time when many other artists are not so fortunate. I'm grateful.

Stay tuned for my next post that outlines some, ahem, creative plans for retirement for someone like me (and many, many others in my shoes) who have no retirement funds. At first glance a joke, but maybe???

I'll be back again soon!