{between two sides (#reverb10 - 1)}

I'm participating in #Reverb10 as a way to reflect and figure out where to go next. This is for yesterday's prompt; I'll post for today's tonight!

At the beginning of this year, I used Christine Kane’s one word workbook to discover what word would best encapsulate what I hoped to achieve in 2010. I chose:

I decided to mark 2010 as the “beginning” of my professional career in art and writing, to officially make the transition from hobbiest/crafter to professional artist. I remember going to Dick Blick in downtown Chicago with Dawn and, when I renewed my discount membership, answering the following question:

“Are you a hobbiest or professional?”


I may have said it off-hand while chatting with Dawn, but I felt so much power coming from that simple word. Professional. I felt I had made such a giant leap by not only saying it to myself, but declaring it to the world.

What does it mean, exactly? That I am working towards something larger than myself. I am creating more and more, making a commitment to myself and my dreams in big, bold letters.

It was in January that I lost my job, and aside from a few tough months during my move across the country, I have been able to make ends meet with the income generated through Etsy sales, online workshops, and the generosity of my blog readers. I’ve tried to stop being such a horrible procrastinator, to work regular hours (as in, I sit down at 10am and work until 4), to take weekends off, and to invest in myself.

But looking back on this year, I think my word really was this:

Faith in the universe to provide for me as long as I was being true to my heart (but not provide if I wasn’t doing something). Faith in myself and my art and my voice in being one that people are interested to see and hear. Faith in my family to get through a year and a half of difficulty. Faith in myself to drive across the US to a new home. Faith that I’d end up where I was supposed to be. Faith in friends.

It is a hard thing to cultivate. I feel, though, that in the last month and a half, meeting up with three wonderfully artistic and different women, that I may just be getting there. Knowing I need support and a good ass-kicking every once and awhile is one thing - being truthful and humble enough to ask others to help you out is another. I thought I’d be seen as weak or unmotivated or silly and childish (I’m younger than everyone!), but had to have faith in myself as a worthy creative soul and in my friends as true friends to open up and be myself.

This is still an area I need to work on, and hope to continue doing so in the coming year. I gave myself a year to try this professional artist gig, and I may, just may, give myself a lifetime.

As for next year, I pondered for awhile. What did I want to achieve in 2011? How did I want to achieve it?

I use my words for comfort. When I felt jealous over the success of others, I reminded myself I was just beginning. When things turned difficult, I remembered faith. What, if anything, can comfort me now that I’ve felt the small flickering fire of empowerment?

I considered Perseverance, a reminder that hard work will bring me closer to my goals, but that work doesn’t need to be hard or despised. Or Hope, that bird singing in the soul that can hug when I feel alone? How about Poetic, a reminder to nurture the side of me that loves colorful (but not purple!) prose?

And then a concept came to mind that I’ve been learning without even trying:

There are many definitions of this concept, rooted in Taoism (also written as Daoism; try combining the sounds of T and D to get the proper Chinese pronunciation). I learned this my sophomore year of college in my Asian Philosophy class but never could really grasp it. Here’s a definition I personally like:

"No action," "no strain"; doing only what comes spontaneously and naturally; effortlessness.

I learned recently how to create art without putting too much strain on my body; before, I’d spend hours in the studio, struggling to create in the traditional way, only to be hurting come morning. And when creating workshops last year, I’d film and edit in a two-day period, then slip into a flare-up.

So this year, I am practicing Wu Wei. Which is to say I’m not practicing, because it’s kinda weird to explain. Let me try this example:

When I was working and in a lot of pain, I used to go to many doctors and take a lot of pills in order to force myself to feel and get better. Except I didn’t, or didn’t to the level I wanted.

Later, I started working and stopped taking so many pills. And through working, through not trying, my health improved.

Does this make sense?

I “hibernated” artistically (something I’ll be discussing in my next newsletter) and tapped into a wealth of creativity and energy I didn’t know was there. By creating without a clear destination, I discovered pieces of myself I can teach...a much easier process than focusing on finding something to form a class around.

So let’s see how this goes.