Tuesday, April 23, 2013

To Follow Your Heart & Intuition

As promised, the blog surrounding this magnificent piece of art, which lovingly showed up in my mailbox today courtesy of my fantastic best friend:
by Mae Chevrette
So last summer, as we were getting settled in our new home in beautiful England, I was having a simultaneous reality check as to the future and potential of my career in relation to my new status as a wife of a military member.  My six years of undergraduate and graduate education in the fields of human services and nonprofit leadership did not translate well into the military installation environment.  Stateside, it is a different scenario, as the opportunities are not limited to the base area.  Even then, with a relocation pending every 2-4 years, a steady career is difficult to establish.  I was lucky to find a position open upon our arrival in England that at least somewhat aligned with my experience, though the corporate version.  While I had no interest in the mission or goals of the position, it was something, and the co-workers are fabulous.  It quickly became clear however, that this position was not going to lead in any direction that I was interested in going, and that I was going to be bored to tears very soon.  I began to explore opportunties in the surrounding villages (nil) and contemplated the idea of making the daily 2 hour commute into London (quickly abandoned).  I even briefly considered joining the Air Force as an Officer - I mean at least then I would be utilizing my education, be able to climb, and be making what I was worth, right?  Fortunately, the AF recruiters I was talking to were horrendous communicators, and I quickly decided against that idea as well. 
In my desperate search for clarity and answers as to what I was supposed to be doing with my life, I became obsessed with reading the "Quit Your Day Job" interviews with artists and makers on Etsy's blog.  The first one I read and that really made me see things differently was that of Mae Chevrette, who created the beautiful mixed media paintings at the beginning as well as at the end of this blog.  My entire life, I had viewed my desire to live and exist as an Artist as a mere fantasy that would never be financially or practically feasible.  My many attempts to attend art school always failed in the end due to costs despite acceptance, which always made it that much more crushing.  I eventually succumbed and decided that the art was only meant to be a side hobby for me, and that the human services/nonprofit world was where I was supposed to be.  But none of that work, no matter how fufilling and rewarding, ever made me feel complete and content in the way that creating does. So I continued to read story after story of artists who were now able to create the life they dreamed of as a result of this global creative platform called Etsy, and it gave me an adrenaline rush like no other.  I started to believe that this life that I have dreamed of since childhood - and always shoved to the back corner of my mind - was an actual possibility. 
Please don't mistake this desire as a lack of love for all the work I have done in the HS/nonprofit field up until this point.  I loved every single minute of it - even the ones I didn't love so much were immensely valuable in countless ways.  I would not be at this point without each of those moments, and I would not have the skills, experience, insight and the beautiful relationships that I do that are making this dream possible now. 
Last September, I opened my Etsy shop with the hope of it becoming sustainable and successful enough to allow me to transition to full-time creating by the time we leave England in 2016.  Sales started coming a bit faster than I expected, and the Christmas rush blew my mind.  I was painting and processing scarves and prints in the morning before work, on my lunch break, and every night until nearly midnight.  I don't sacrifice sleep for many things, but the adrenaline of having that many orders backed up kept me fully fueled for those holiday months.  After the rush, I thought that transitioning to full time may be on the horizon sooner than I had hoped.  As with everything in life, you get out what you put in, and I was pouring every ounce of myself into my little creative business - developing materials, packaging, branding, planning, strategizing, you name it - I have pages of notes on it, organized in an incredibly nerdy fashion. 
By January's end, I was 100% bored with my job and wanted nothing but to be at home in my studio for all hours of the day - with of course the luxury of being able to take my dogs for a little frolic in the sunshine at a moment's notice.  So after much discussion with myself and my husband as well as a strict budget plan, we decided that I would leave my 'day job' and dive into LoveArtWillTravel full time on June 18th, just in time for my birthday on the 19th.  What better way to spend the last year of my 20s than forging my life long dream? 
Am I nervous? Of course. Am I excited out of my effing mind? Absolutely.  And I know this is all up to me.  The energy and amount of hard work I put into this is directly proportionate to the rewards I will reap from it.  If it is to be successful, it is on me to make it so.  I was once told that I didn't seem like the type that would be working for someone else.  It took me a really long time to realize he was right.  I just never thought I truly had the option. 
Just coming to this decision alone and making the declaration that I'm taking this leap has been life changing in itself.  With no constraints, the possibilities are endless.  I am in control of my business, and can take it wherever I see fit.  The creative freedom that I have experienced just in the past couple of months, knowing that I am on the path to being able to create all day, every day come June has been incredible.  I have lists of ideas, sticky notes effing everywhere, silk hanging everywhere, paint streaks on random parts of my body that I am unaware of, paint on my dogs, and if my brain exploded with all of the madness, I am hopeful that it would leave one fabulously colorful piece of work.
As always, it is deliciously interesting to reflect on things and be able to map all the components that led you to a place in life.  What I have ended up with in LoveArtWillTravel is a beautiful mish-mash of my ever-present obsession with nature, art, soft and luxurious fabrics, design, traveling - and of course my belief that we should listen to our souls and do what it is that we were meant to do in this life.  For me, it is clear now that it is the art.  Regardless of everything else, it has always come back to the art.  The creating, the connecting with others through it, the making vs. the maintaining.  Nothing else will ever fill that space in my psyche, and I am now committed to feeding it for the rest of my days. 
by Mae Chevrette

I could not be more full of joy and gratitude :) 
p.s. A special thank you to Mae Chevrette for your inspiring and beautiful work - www.maechevrette.com - check it out ladies and gents!

Emily Magone, Artist & Owner

Joyful adornments for your body and home.