Learning to Spread My Wings

Over the past month, I’ve been taking an e-course with Kelly Rae Roberts called Flying Lessons. Let me just say wow. The amount of content Kelly Rae has written for this course has been absolutely phenomenal. I imagine the full thing would print out to be a 300-page book. It’s been crazy chock full of great information. Of course, as par for the course for me, I’ve been having a heck of a time keeping up so I’ve been hopping around a bit, but today’s post really struck a chord with me. It talks about embracing the journey of a creative business… “the ebb and flow, overwhelm and burnout, celebration and joy.” I’ve most definitely been experiencing that. (Bracelet above listed in my Etsy shop.)

Kelly Rae said, "After all, in the big scheme of things, it's often not the destination that we can control. The only thing we really can control is staying centered and inside the perspective that the creative biz path really is a journey. If we can give ourselves permission to not always know, to give up the "shoulds," then we allow ourselves and our creative spirits a bit more freedom to roam the mysteries of its possibilities."

Well said, sister! Last year, I postponed the majority of my regular juried show schedule in lieu of participating in the Riverside Arts Market (RAM). I was so excited about RAM. The venue was gorgeous, the idea was fabulous, and I felt like it was something Jacksonville really needed. And if I could stay right here at home and sell my jewelry and photography, awesome! Now, I still think the venue is gorgeous, and the idea is fabulous, and the people running it are truly wonderful; it’s very well organized. It just didn’t work for me. My sales for 13 weeks at RAM barely surpassed what I normally do at a large juried festival in one weekend. Granted my jewelry is on the higher end of what you’d typically find at a market like this, so maybe that was part of it. And maybe I expected too much. Who knows? I’d love to see RAM move to a once-a-month format instead of a weekly format. While RAM is still the top dog and the best run market in the best venue, nearly a dozen little Saturday arts and farmers markets have sprouted up in the area, and I wonder if the market is getting a bit too diluted.

My experience with RAM was a big lesson for me. And it was a big lesson that caused some major burnout. All those Saturdays in a row at the market away from my family, not making many sales, really took a physical and creative toll on me. Because of that, this year I took a big step back. I only did one show this spring, the always fun and profitable Springtime Tallahassee Arts Jubilee. (I wrote about my very first Springtime Tallahassee here; it was quite an experience!) I’ve started worrying less about selling my art and started enjoying more the process itself, creating whatever I’ve wanted to create when I’ve wanted to create it (obviously, since I seem to be all over the board here lately, jewelry above, mixed media postcard below, photography below that). That’s been very freeing. I guess that’s part of the ebb and flow Kelly Rae referred to. And because I’ve let go of the need to sell, every little sale I do make on Etsy or on my website is cause for celebration! And it’s made room for other things, allowing me the time to explore other creative areas, the freedom to experience amazing adventures like Artful Journey, and even the room and opportunity for my first solo gallery showing of my photography (more on that later!).

It’s fitting that I’m writing this post on June 30. Thanks to that letting go this first half of 2010, I’m now starting to feel better about loading Sally up and hitting the road again, so this fall, I’m planning to get back to a scaled-down version of my regular show schedule. Because I’ve been so scatter-brained lately (okay, I’m always scatter-brained, but I’ve been more scatter-brained than usual lately), I missed the application deadline for Market Days in Tallahassee, which has been one of my regulars, but that’s okay; that’ll save me that $375 booth and application fee, and I’ll fill that spot with a less expensive show. I’m looking into the Glynn Arts Association shows for this fall. I could essentially still sleep at home with those since they are just an hour up the road in St. Simon’s! So thank you, Kelly Rae. That post was just what I needed to read today. It was a good reminder that the journey really is so much more enjoyable when we worry less about the destination. That’s a good lesson learned.

Postcards Sent Across the Sea

One of the most enjoyable things about blogging is the wonderful people you “meet” from all over the world. For me, one of those people is Emma. Emma recently celebrated her 50th birthday and in honor of that momentous occasion, she emailed fellow blogging friends and asked if they’d like to join her in a postcard swap commemorating her birthday. I was one of those lucky people she emailed! First, I must tell you that Emma lives in the most glorious place, one I’ve never seen in person but would very much love to visit one day; even the name is magical: an island called Isle of Skye in Scotland. (My two favorite appraisers on Antique’s Roadshow are both from Scotland, simply because I just love to listen them talk. And okay, there you go…yes, I am an Antique’s Roadshow junkie.) Above is the postcard I received from Emma and below are two views of the one I created and sent her in return. On the back I wrote “My wish for you is your wish come true.” Take a peek over at Emma’s blog to see all the amazing postcards she’s been receiving for her birthday!

A Little Bit of Rust

I recently ordered a few different macro lenses that screw directly onto my current lenses. They take a bit getting used to, but I think I’ll have fun with them. I love the rusty detail in this nail, my Best Shot Monday for today. What’s the nail for, you ask? Well, as some of you know, we live on the river, close to beach, and have a glutton of sea gulls. Normally, the dogs keep the gulls away from the back deck, but we had about a six-month span between dogs and had to find a way to keep the sea gulls from landing on (and doing their business on) the back deck rails. Thus this nail and its brothers were installed with fishing line running between them. Worked like a charm! Now all the gulls gather on the roof of the boat house. Love rust? Check out these shots.

We had a wonderful, fairly lazy weekend. The girls and I went to the beach for the birthday party of one of my students. He held the gathering in one of the pavilions at Little Talbot Island, on the south end of the island, perfect spot for tide pools during low tide, so the girls had a blast playing around in the tide pools searching for baby hermit crabs. I think that just may become a late afternoon summer ritual. Postcards coming this week! Enjoyed the weekend too much to spend too much time on the computer! :-)

Sweet Little Surprise from Leah

Several weeks ago, I received a surprise package in the mail from Leah, the sweet friend I made at Artful Journey. It was decorated on the outside and included a little tag that read “Let people bask in your radiance and sunshine.” Before I even opened the package, that made me giggle because I have a friend who refers to me as a “ray of eternal sunshine.” Sometimes the reference is heartfelt; sometimes it is dripping with sarcasm. :-) Anywho, when I opened the package, inside I found this absolutely delightful little book Leah made. Leah makes all sorts of delightful books, and she is such an inspiration to me. Shortly after I received Leah’s book, I ordered some bookmaking supplies…papers, book board, linen thread, that awesome Japanese screw punch, all kinds of fun bookmaking goodies...and between studying Leah’s work and taking online bookmaking and art journaling classes from Roben-Marie Smith, Julie Pritchard, Connie Hozvicka and Kelly Kilmer, I’m definitely catching the bookmaking bug (and finally starting to accept the fact that I’m easily seduced by fun online classes and need to learn to control myself). I don’t have any completed books to share with you just yet, but I’m working on it!

Leah also makes wonderful mixed media postcards, and that is the inspiration I’ve been putting to good use lately. Leah’s currently working on creating a large postcard installation, and I’m so excited for her. I think it will be so cool to see all her postcards hanging up together. I wish I could travel to California to see them in person! I’ve actually made quite a few postcards lately and I’ll start sharing them with you this weekend! And Leah, just so you know, I have completely bogged down my sewing machine like we did yours in DJ’s class. Must figure out how to adjust that tension!

A Beautiful Book for A Place to Bark

Back in this post, I shared with you my contribution to the book artist Renee Troy was creating to benefit Bernie Berlin’s A Place to Park. As an advocate of adopting rather than purchasing pets (all my furry babies are adoptees or strays), I love Bernie’s mission. Well, the book is complete and Renee has done an amazing job with it! I’m so incredibly honored to be included with so many incredibly talented and well-known artists. Renee’s put together a beautiful slide show of the book on her blog here. And the book is up for auction on eBay here. Please help spread the word!

First Shot at Best Shot Monday

We had a nice, quiet Father’s Day yesterday, still catching our breath from our Boca Grande vacation. Hope all the dads in your life enjoyed their day! One of the things I did last week was get caught up on some reading. I am addicted to magazines and subscribe to far too many, and quite a few of them are Stampington & Company publications, including Artful Blogging. On this most recent catch up, I read about Best Shot Monday, hosted by Tracey Clark, founder of Shutter Sisters. I can’t believe I haven’t stumbled across BSM before! So I decided to start playing along this week. Only problem was I couldn’t pick just one shot! I had to share two from last week. Click on the images to enlarge, but as with all my pictures, please don’t right click to snatch. Karma will get you. :-)

It’s actually a bit backwards that Sarah is the comic in front of the camera. In all other venues, she’s very much the diva while Olivia tends to be the jokester. Once I have a chance to edit down all my shots from last week, I’ll try to set up a slide show.

Hugs and Pigs and Giggles and Goats

I have so many gazillion pictures I’d love to share with you that I don’t even know where to begin, so we’ll start here. Our week in Boca Grande was full of treasures, just like this sea urchin and her sea shell adornments. It was full of smiles and laughter and golf cart rides and boat rides and shell hunting and sharks’ teeth collecting and glow sticks and Oreos and sunrises and sunsets and green flashes and hugs and snuggles and giggles and even a few pigs and goats and ducks (those of you familiar with Whiddon’s Marina know exactly what I’m talking about there). I’ll share more as the week goes on, but I just wanted to pop in and say hello!

Boca Grande Bound!

This is one of my all-time favorite pictures of my girls. I captured this shot in Boca Grande the summer before last (notice the every present Bunny in Sarah’s right hand), and I have a large version of it framed and hanging in our house. And Boca Grande is where we are headed today! Yay! We so look forward to this trip. I started going down there with my dad and his second wife when I was 13 and have missed very few summers since. DH and I got married there Memorial Day weekend in 1995. While our family dynamic has changed and we can’t go Memorial Day week anymore since the girls started school, the island itself has not changed much at all. It’s still just as quaint and peaceful and beautiful as it was more than 30 years ago. That’s rare these days. Have a wonderful week!

Saying Goodbye to 1st Grade with Art

Tomorrow is the girls’ last day of 1st grade. Last day of 1st grade! Where does the time go? Over the past couple of days, we made some keepsake postcards for their teacher as an end-of-the-year thank you. I finally got around to mine last night. I’m having fun with these little postcards. They’re a fun way to do something quick, but still play with a little art (see, I’m listening to your 15 minutes advice, Leah!). Of course, my studio is back in a shambles after making one because the girls and I have paper and glue sticks flying everywhere for these short little sessions. That’s mine up there. On the back, I glued a big green and white gingham heart and wrote, “Thank you for helping Sarah and Olivia blossom and grow this year.” The substrate is a cut up cereal box. I’m becoming the queen of the cut up cereal box. And yes, we like bright colors around here. Probably doesn’t help that I took these pictures in direct sunlight on the back deck before we lost the sun last night.

Here’s Sarah’s. She really fell in love with the paper flowers during Mermaids and Mamas and now glues paper flowers to everything she can. Anyone have a source for bulk wholesale paper or fabric flowers?

And here’s Olivia’s. I’ll tell you a secret about this one. This is actually not the one she gave Ms. Nolan this morning. She made that one over the weekend. This one she made while I was making mine last night, so you may see some similarities. She was so proud of it, she wanted to keep it for herself but she asked me to share this one with you instead of her other one. I love how she put her name in there.

I made a fun envelope to put them all in and included a $40 gift card to Outback as an extra special thank you from me and DH. Ms. Nolan really has been wonderful this year. Do all moms get as attached to great teachers as their kids do, or is that just me? ;-)

When I Grow Up, I Want To...

I was doing some major studio cleaning and reorganizing this Sunday when I came back across the cards the girls made me for Mother’s Day. I keep a box in my studio of cards they make me since, more often than not, they make them sitting right there next to me…their little fingers covered with oil pastels and markers while they say “No peeking, Mama!” But these particular cards were made at school. They were those “My Mom…..” fill-in-the-blank kinds of things, like “My Mom has blonde hair and green eyes.” I mentioned my eye-opening moment those cards brought me back in this post. What was the eye opening moment?

On Sarah’s card, one particular line read, “My Mom does not like to fish.” Sure enough, I hate to fish. I have no patience for fishing. If I don’t get a nibble within the first two minutes, I’m done. On that same line, Olivia’s read, “My Mom does not like to have fun so much.” Ouch. Big ouch. Given all the special fun stuff I try to do with them, that one really hurt. When I asked Livvie what she meant, she said, “Well, you’re always working, Mama, so you don’t get to play with us as much as Daddy does.” Amazing the clarity of children. When I looked at it from her perspective, she was exactly right. I don’t get to “play” with them as much as Daddy does, at least not during the week. DH leaves the house at 6:30am every morning, before the girls are even up, so I have the morning duty of getting everyone fed, dressed and to school and work. Guess there’s not a whole lot of “fun” in that. DH picks them up from school about 4pm every afternoon, so when they get home, they spend about 15 minutes on homework before they get to play, take a swim in the alien pod pool, ride their bikes around the backyard, etc. I don’t get home until at least 6pm or 6:30pm on the nights I’m not teaching. Teaching nights, it’s closer to bedtime. But even at 6pm or 6:30pm, that’s just in time to get dinner on the table, review a little homework, take a bath, and then read a book before bed. That’s one thing I’m diligent about: Mama gets to read the bedtime book and put them to bed every night, and we have our little bedtime lullaby that only Mama sings.

I know this isn’t unusual for working moms, but that doesn’t make it any less painful. I’ve mentioned here before that I’ve been keeping an eye out for full-time faculty openings for a while now. A full-time faculty position (as opposed to a full-time administrative position combined with part-time teaching) would definitely give me a lot more time. There are a few positions opening up in the fall, and I submitted my application last week. Even though I know a change is needed (no news to my supervisors as I’ve already shared this news with them), I have to admit I submitted that application with mixed emotions. I enjoy teaching, I truly do. Yet I also truly enjoy my current role in Student Life and Leadership Development. I think what I’d miss most if I am able to move into a faculty position is “leading” something. I’ve been in a leadership role for so long that that would be a difficult transition for me. Interesting thing about that, though, is that I’d have no hesitation leaving the formal work force all together, with my only “leadership role” being that of full-time Mom and artist, but that’s not an option for us financially.

These particular positions are also new to the college. With our change to a four-year state college, we’re now approaching college-prep classes a little differently, and that will be the focus of these positions. Whereas our “normal” faculty positions require 15 classroom hours and 15 office hours per week each Fall and Spring term, these positions require 16 classroom hours (since prep classes are four credit hours each) and 16 lab tutoring hours. The 30 vs. 32 hours isn’t the issue as much as the fact that with the new positions, those 16 non-classroom hours are dedicated to tutoring instead of office hours, leaving class prep and grading to whenever you can fit it in. The carrot to balance that? Summers off. My other concern is the flexibility I might lose. Currently, as an administrator, I have ample annual leave and sick leave, so when I need to take a day off to go on a field trip with the girls, visit their school for an awards program, or take a couple days off for an arts festival or retreat, that’s easily done. That’s not so easily done in a faculty position. There is no annual leave or sick leave because you have summers off. These are all things I need to figure out and all questions I’ll have to ask should I be granted an interview. While summers off would definitely be a wonderful thing, are they worth the pay cut and very little flexibility the rest of the year? All things I need to work through.

All I know for sure is that Mama definitely does like to have fun and having more time to do that would be nice. I’ve been trying to look at things objectively. Now, I work some long hours but I have a lot of flexibility. Should I make a switch, I’d have fewer work nights and work weekends away from home coupled with summers off, but less flexibility during the school year and a pay cut. I can think of a lot of things I’d like to do with summers off, like have much more time to make art and expand my Purple Cottage ideas and retreats, which could potentially make up for or even surpass filling in for the pay cut I’d be taking, yet would I then be limited to doing those types of things during the summer, particularly the retreats, because I’d lose flexibility during the Fall and Spring? You see my conundrum? I realize I’m putting the cart before the horse here, but for my sanity, I need to work through these things before the horse gets rigged up. So, oh wise ones out there, what’s your take? If you were in my shoes facing a decision like this, what would you want to be when you grew up, since I guess that is what I'm talking about here. :-)

June Free Bling

Random.org picked number 24 out of 25 entries for May’s Free Bling winner, so congrats to Linda from Winchester, California!

For June’s giveaway, here’s one of my photographs titled “Nobody Home.” I captured this shot on Little Talbot Island not too far from my house. You get your choice between a 5 x 5 or a 6 x 6 inch print. Can't wait? You can purchase the print in my Etsy shop here. To be eligible to win, simply visit either of my Etsy shops (here for jewelry and here for photography) and leave a comment in the comment box below with the link to your favorite piece along with a way to reach you and where you are from. Or email me with the subject line FREE BLING and let me know what your favorite piece is and include where you're from by midnight Thursday, July 1, 2010. Want two entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave a second comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via random.org Friday, July 2, 2010. Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email reminders or subscribe in the reader of your choice in the right column over there. Be sure to join my Facebook Fan page over there in the right column for Fan specials! Thanks for stopping in!