This last couple of weeks I have had surgery and been on the mend.   One of the things that I did with my spare time besides sleep a lot I also got caught up on some videos that go with a class I am taking.   One of the videos was a round table of women who were economically successful in creative fields talking about their successes and failures.    When I say economically successful I mean they are able to support themselves or make significant contribution to their household’s bottom line in their creative pursuit. I clarify this success  because I think it is what we all want to make a living and what we love doing.    We want to explore and do something we love, but most of us if we are lucky never get much beyond the break even point if we are lucky.  These women  were writers, painters, stampers and mixed media artists.

One of the things they talked about is other women often ask them how do they break into their field.  It was so interesting in that they said you don’t have a “aha moment” and suddenly you are successful.   They all said over and over, that innate talent is always helpful, but more important is persistence.

On my desk and in my planner I have this quote by Calvin Coolidge. It has been a driving philosophy in my life. It hasn’t always made my life easy but it has allowed more success and opportunities that one can imagine.

imag2744_1.jpgA divider I made that is in my daily planner.

Long ago, in an almost different lifetime, I was in a session  at the Fortune 500 company I worked for at the time.   It was for managers they were  grooming and developing for the next level of management.   During the session it came out that I was the only person  who had not graduated from college in the group of managers and directors.   One of the gentlemen in the session pointed out to the group that I was an  oxymoron being a manager without a degree.  I on the other hand thought, I don’t think his college degree helped him in his word choice when selecting oxymoron to describe me, though everyone knew what he meant. It took me a few more years to get to achieve my position, because I had started at the bottom and had persisted in proving that I had the ability to learn and the talent to do the job I wanted.

Persistence has served me well since I have become self-employed.   People always say to me it must be nice to have the flexibility you have.   It is nice, but it is also somewhat scary.   If you don’t work, you don’t get paid.   It is not like when I was an employee and if I was having an off day, I could show up to work and get paid, even if I wasn’t hugely productive.    Now I am always on the hustle, looking for my next gig.   If you don’t ask you won’t get  job, so I find myself telling folks I am looking for work, and I might help them.    It isn’t like you hang your shingle out there and suddenly there are six people out there begging to hire you at a livable wage.   Self-employment isn’t that easy.   You have to be persistence in your flexibility to try new things and take risks that sometimes don’t quite make sense or aren’t easy.

That all said, like thousands of you I am not making a living at things I love doing.   I’d love to be a writer.   I have a small box of reject letters from the days before self-publishing for the e-read.   I have a finished book, that needs to be re-worked, polished and edited. I spend several lunch hours each week with a sandwich in my truck reading and marking up changes.    I love to be on a design team where I was mailed supplies for my artistic endeavors to try out and make things that inspired others.    I have studio space full of paper, pens, ink, canvas, fabric and sewing machines.  I have tried lots of things and these are the mediums I enjoy working with, and they make me feel most creative. Here is is where my persistence comes back into play.   I spend time in my studio every day.   I don’t skip.   Some days after work,   it may only be 20 minutes.   Other days like today, I have carved out hours working  on a gift journal I am making and  writing my blog post.   People say they don’t have time to do….you fill in the blank…..   You do.   It may not be a lot of time, but you have time.   You choose where and how you spend your free time.   You have to be persistent because only you can make it happen.  More than that persistence of your passion, those things you enjoy, even if it is only 20 minutes, will make the day feel better for you and that is not bad.   Not bad at all.



Enjoying My Time Here

I have always been a type “A” personality with a little bit of Lutheran guilt thrown in.   That has always made an outstanding employee, devoted, hardworking and driven.   Unfortunately those traits also make it hard for me to balance work and home life.

Lately I have been reading a collection of spiritual books. They have been really challenging me to realign my way of thinking more importantly the way I live.   I read a book published by Pope Francis, when he was still a Cardinal, another by the Dalai Lama on happiness, a book on  wisdom and compassion with a Buddhism bent, and couple on woman’s empowerment.   They have given me so much to think about.   It has been lots of fun, challenging my point of view,  and full of many of moments of reflection.  I am not sure where this will all end up but   I have created lists of ideas I want to revisit.  Quotes that really hit home and provided inspiration.

I have been looking at my lists everyday;  reorganizing them, deleting some of the items, and  moving others to the top with a high priority.   Some days I move an idea from one list to another.   I don’t know what all this means with these lists, but I am starting to see some changes.   I am starting to recognize some of my short comings and what I might want to move toward.

All this reading  exploring different points of view and ways of looking at life and the world has  reminded me that I want to enjoy my time here on earth.    Enjoyment comes from so many sources, but most of all it comes from being true to yourself, and being a giving member of the human race.  Being  comfortable in your skin is not easy to achieve but letting going of things that you can not change or control and embracing those you can move you toward that inner peace.      Setting limits, so that you don’t get lost in that desire to satisfy others at your expense will give you the time and energy to work on those things you have never found time for before .    These books were full of things  I have heard and read so many times before, but like so many of you I said yeah, yeah tell me something I don’t already know.    What is difference this time is I am actually trying some of this out now….today… not waiting for tomorrow.  Hold on to your hats as I actually try to embrace life find my true self more often.

Surround Yourself with Positive Energy

An office set up with elements of Feng Shui

Positive energy can be so many things.  Recently a friend attended an introductory workshop on Feng Shui.   She has used it as a jumping off spot to “clean” up and surround herself with positive chi.

Often times folks dismiss things like this as so much hocus pocus.    Others embrace it as almost a religion where it becomes obsessive and drives their life.    I think the truth lies somewhere in between there.

Feng Shui is a proponent of decluttering your life and surround yourself with good things/funneling positive energy.   No matter what book you read, new age or very traditional,  about being more productive and happier, all of them advocate getting rid of your life’s clutter, be it things physical or mental.   They generally suggest that you surround yourself with your family, friends and things that calm, bring a smile to your face, and give you a good sense of well being.     If that is what Feng Shui is I think we are all for it, no matter the name you call it.

On the other hand if we let a philosophy drive our lives to the exclusion of other things then it can be destructive.   If a life that does not match the perfect Feng Shui model and causes us stress or distress then we have defeated the purpose of it all.   Things that make us unhappy no matter what we call them are not good.

Though I have read books and attend classes on this before, my friend inspired me to revisit this.   In doing so I realized some things.

Light – I have always had desk lights.   When the last one broke, I had not replace it.   I am on the look for a new one that gives me the glow I crave.  I want something to soften up the room.

Clutter – I had lots of piles.  Some were piles related to tasks and others were just piles of piles.    I took a look at all the piles.   I  pitch some and prioritize the the rest setting up a system to allow them to be accessible but off my desk.  Neat and tidy.

Plant – I have one window in my office.   It is on the southwest side of my house and it is under a deck, so is constantly in the shade.     Call it a dark office that I spend my days in.  I have had plants before and often buy myself fresh flowers.   I decided to revisit this after I find my lamp.

What can you do to your office or work space to make it more welcoming? After all you spend at least eight hours there most days.   Maybe you have lots of control and can make some changes like I can.   Maybe you work in an assembly line where you can change nothing, but you can buy a new tube of lipstick and know you  look might fine in those company overalls.   You might work in a restaurant with a clothing requirement/uniform that limits on your creativity, but a five-minute self manicure can let you have some of the hottest hands.  Maybe someone will notice the change, but the only one that counts is you.   Feel better when you go to work tomorrow.