As a child i was always the one in the box of crayons, or asking for art supplies or cutting paper to create something, taking classes in acrylic painting, learned how to make ukranian
As a child one of my first serious art projects was painting Ukranian (well i am Russian, and called them Russian) easter eggs (pysanka) which involved a batik method of applying wax to egg shells, then progressively dying them darker. Through my childhood i dreamed of making my living through making art. But one fateful day an art instructor struck a blow that would send me running in another direction for 30 years. “you have some talent, but your work is sloppy, and your skills are weak… your choice of color is oddly not traditional, and your eye is not refined. if you plan to do something with your life i would say it should not be art.” Those words cut to the quick, resulting in a freshman college student in crisis… now what do i do? In those days i did not have the kahunas to say I will be what I will be. I was impressionable, apt to fear and respectful of authority, and not totally certain of who i was or what i was capable of becoming. So i ran hard after the social sciences, got a degree in sociology… fascinating… for the resume but not so terribly practical. And then the practical skills…. public administration. Yes, loved the masters degree.. and Cleveland State loved me so much that they pushed me to submit an entry for the New York State Public Admin Fellowship. And i was the first from CSU/Levine to make the finalists list for this fellowship… only to be bumped out by prior military service people. Years in banking and health care passed. But inside me has been a suppressed artist longing to emerge from that long dark time of being layed aside and denied the opportunity to become the artist i knew i was.
Now, some 30 years after those sharp and critical comments were said i have emerged to discover a passion for art again. Like turning on a switch my life feels like it has gone from ten thousand shades of gray-scale (not the smut book connotation here) to vibrant colors that radiate life, hope and the very fresh chance to say to the world that I am here.
Everything about life is timing. My passion to reinvigorate my pursuit of artistic endeavors would have not grown as strong had i not been layed off from the hospital. In the desperate moments of realizing the life purpose i was educated for and spent decades at was perhaps not meant to be… kicked to the curb like yesterday’s garbage but it sparked a revolutionary kernel of thought. “What can i do that would never again allow someone to hold that much sway over my life?” “How can i rise from the place of expecting to be employed by someone else, and instead find revenue streams that are not dependent on companies?’ Loss of income, perceived purpose, and for a few moments it felt like i was being rejected from society.
In those quiet moments that seemed like deep depression something was born, a spark igniting a raging wildfire in my soul. Anger transitioned to action and action to plans. What can I really do that would put me in a place to one day never be dependent on traditional employment? Ideas, trials, test marketing, sales… hmm…. our products seem to have a value to others, they are buying them…. business… yes!!!!!! Those creative starts have snowballed into a vibrant business, and a growing network of people and places to visit, customers, resources, shops….. we are going to fulfill that dream to be self sufficient. Yes we are. And noone is going to tell us that we dont have what it takes… they don;t know me. (Honestly, I don;t always know me!!! but i believe that dreams are gifts that are worth fighting for.) We are moving into our eighth year of a small art buisness and while it is still not “self sufficient” to sustain our lives, revenue is paying all our bills, and we are growing. It is a revenue stream that frees us to be able to do fun things, meet neat people, discover how our work connects with others, and learn so much more about what was once so dormant and defeated in my soul.
I have learned that in our life the dreams we have been given are both a blessing and a test. Blessing because when you are able to follow them there is an incredible connectivity, an energy, a deep satisfaction and sense of fulfillment and purpose. (OK, the social scientist in me wants to tell you that sense of purpose is a part of the maslow hierarchy of needs – we all need to know we belong, and understand how we fit into this life.) This is a test to see what we will do with the gift… will we easily lay it aside, as i did for 30 years? or will we fight for it, give no heed to those who will tell us it is impossible and choose instead to surround ourselves with people who are moving forward, dreaming dreams, and acting upon them. Are you willing to be vulnerable and courageous, braving new worlds, breaking down imaginary boundaries?
Only you can answer those questions. And perhaps it is a matter of timing, complex collection of factors, and sheer courage to change things. Dreams are there… waiting to find passion to bring them to the world. Are you with me?