This blog post is about a personal journey with my art and my business. It breaks all the formulaic blogging rules of making it about my audience etc. But my hope is that you can relate to some of what I write. If you resonate…you may not feel so alone. Perhaps I am the only person who feels this way. If so, then I am just another story to add to the mix of us all being unique individuals.
In 2012, I took the brave option to leave my 19 year career as an NHS physiotherapist to find a new way of working. To find work that fills me with joy and expansiveness. A nourishing new career that can be carved out into old age.
Years of doing the same vocation did not leave me with a plethora of exciting options. However, I did have a sense that there were many transferrable possibilities utilising my developed skills and abilities. It felt exciting and frightening at the same time! I pondered how I could be in service to people (but on my own terms).
During that time, I re-discovered my passion for art.
Where am I now?
Three years into my journey has forced me down a complex path of self discovery and healing. This is often unavoidable when you desire the freedom and flexibility to work to your own rhythms and to be your own boss. This is unavoidable with a difficult childhood, a lifetime of people pleasing and being an expert in self criticism.
Much of what I have found has been enlightening and nourishing. But, self discovery can come at a price too. Let me explain.
The old normal
Gagging on my toothbrush, or emotionally numbing myself down became the normal for me when I was doing work that I endured rather than loved. Twenty years as a physiotherapist taught me to be grateful for what I had, the security of a job for life and the ability to hide who I really was behind a uniform (even to hide from myself).
The new normal
On my journey, I explored my creative side and my deep desire to make art. Options and ideas came flooding in. I dabbled with a few ideas (from website designing to illustrations for digital spaces).
However, I had a sense that I was creating art with a gun to my head. The gun being ‘How can I monetise my art?’ This was even before I had found my signature style (which is still evolving). I was learning and developing whilst attempting to provide professional services to meet the needs of clients who were commissioning me. It’s been a rapid learning curve against a backdrop of inexperience and naivety.
Some of my experiences were amazing… many were not. At first, it was easy for me to take the victim route and to blame a difficult client (there were some difficult clients). However, in recent times, I have come to understand my part in things. I am now the one becoming difficult…
Partly because of the visceral reaction to my past career and partly because of my strengthened connection to my intuition; I have discovered what aspects of my art bring me joy and ease and what aspects leave me cold or anxious.
It is a sobering discovery.
- I am naturally introverted and a highly sensitive person
- My art is mainly intuitive and spontaneous in-the-moment
- My art has to have meaning
- It has to be an expression of self
- I have to feel that I have my own way
- My art is usually completed in one sitting even if its not perfect
- My art evolves from one completed piece to another
- The process of creating art is just as important as the end product
- I work to my own ebb and flow rhythms
- I have a daily struggle with visibility versus hiding
- I now cherish and love my body and my journey. So, it’s time to do things differently.
These discoveries leave me vulnerable (especially number 5). It makes commission work untenable.
There seems very few options left for me to make money with my art. Generating income from services and commissions for clients affects my wellbeing (for all sorts of complex reasons).
I am fortunate in that, currently, my monthly bills and simple needs are met. So, I find it hard to quell the wilder/untamed side of my artistic nature who desires to do her own thing.
I cannot tell you how many commissions I have turned away these last 12 months. I have also started backing out (early on) from a few that I have started but had to stop. My body is so loud these days. My reactions so visceral. I have tried a variety of types of commission work, but they all lead to the ‘toothbrush gagging’ unpleasant feeling within my body. I feel sadness that the part of me (who put up with disharmony in my body for the sake of money), has now completely eroded. I feel vulnerable in that I swing from “Am I losing my mind?” to “This feels right. I am listening to my intuition now…even if it does not yet make sense.”
I am free falling…
I can safely say that commission work, for now, is off the menu. Product creation is the only thing that feels light, joyful, exciting and expansive. It is the only thing I have done that has an organic life of its own. It just works. I am happy. My consumers are happy.
I edge-dance every day with solopreneur comfort zone stretches and look at ways to evolve and expand my horizons. In 2012, I was juggling many possibilities. Now I seem to have one ball to throw around (yieks!). A tiny piece to grow from.
Is that even possible? I have no idea.
But, whilst my basic needs are met, whilst my days are flexible; I choose to move towards what feels right in my body…(even when on the outside it looks kinda daft and not fitting with the economic view of making money).
I have artists who inspire me. One of my absolute favourites is the story of the tree change dolls. If you do not know the story, then I suggest you check out her website. I desire to tell a similar story. I am open to possibilities whilst nervously biting my lip and allowing myself to trust the process.
Who knows where I go from here.Thank you for reading.
I utterly resonate with your journey and the visceral rejection of “old ways” even of doing the new work. Each old layer that is sloughed off leaves a clearer expression of who I am but can feel really exposing… But there is no going back!
Onwards and upwards 🙂
So reassuring to know I am not alone… it certainly feels like an edge dance between going back to old ways…trusting the new or assuming I am just damaged goods…. I mainly side with trusting the process. xxx
Wonderful, honest words Lisa, thank you. How many of us do things that we don’t like or don’t want to do but feel we ‘should’? Most of us I suspect. So congratulations on forging your own path.
It’s been wonderful to see your art evolve over the past 2-3yrs and it is truly beautiful & intuitive, I am excited to see where it & you go next.
You said that you’re free falling but how about this instead?
‘I know this transformation is painful, but you’re not falling apart,
you’re just falling into something different,
with a new capacity to be beautiful.’
This I believe with all my heart, much love, Lesley x
Oh Lesley… what you write here is beautiful. I will keep it close by and drink it in daily 😉 Thank you xxxx
In my own way, I can very much relate. I’ve been very silent publicly in my business over the last year as I’ve toyed with different directions and ways of structuring the business. So while it looks different, probably for many of us, I am certainly there with you in the struggle to find what works. Thanks so much for your post – and for continuing to shape your art – I’m always so pleased to see your talent realized in images.
Molly thank you for sharing your story here. I have followed your journey over the past couple of years. It’s all about craving out that sweetspot. Unfortunately, it can require oodles amount of courage and trust when things seem to be playing out against common reason. Thank you for stopping by 😉 xxx
Such a wonderful post, Lisa, thank you so much for sharing. It has been truly inspiring to watch you explore your creativity over the past few years and to keep moving, never giving up, trusting the process even when a change of direction seems to go against the conditioned grain.
I especially like that you say ‘The process of creating art is just as important as the end product’ and I believe this is true for all of us in all areas of life, but none more so than in the process of creating a business and life we love. There is no final destination, just a constant becoming, and that’s what you’ve been modelling for us so beautifully.
I watched the ‘Tree dolls’ video last week and immediately thought of you 🙂
Keep trusting your intuition and your beautiful Soul.
‘There is no final destination, just a constant becoming ‘…gorgeous words thank you. I am honoured that you thought of me with the tree change dolls. Makes me smile. Thank you lovely xxx
such honest words, thank you.
I would love to say it gets easier as an entrepreneur, but it just doesn’t. I am a creative freelancer (different website to the one this links to) and I have clients. I really want to get to the point where I am creating my own work and not being dependent on my clients.
thank you for your honesty and your work is beautiful
Thank you for your lovely comments about my work. I do hope you get to the point where you can go your own way. Thank you so much for popping by… xx
I found this a lovely read.
Our lives are our own and I love to hear/see those who are dancing to their own tune, even though it can be awkward or painful at times, it is always beautiful.
I adore your art and your products, they always bring a smile to my face.
I hope I will find something that nourishes my body and soul too one day.
…and I hope that you find that ‘thing’ that will nourish your body and soul…It turns up in the most unlikely of circumstances and timing…but when it comes…you will know it in your bones. Actually later it was in my bones…initially it was a mild excited stirring within…reminiscent of being a child waiting for Christmas day…follow the crumbs of what lights you up ;)) thank you for popping by xxx
It seems we’ve had a very similar journey. The visceral responses and eroding are profoundly true and intense. It’s so important to talk about what we really want even when it doesn’t match up with the norm.
I’m hoping to establish my art & movement the way you have with your art. It’s taking me much longer though 😉 , so I’ll keep working on trusting the process. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope your journey continues to unfold joyfully.
Thank you. I wish you heaps of abundance on your journey. I am so pleased you can resonate with my story 😉