Defining My NEXT

It has been awhile since I’ve posted on this blog. Or read a lot of blogs.

My focus went internal, into that closed off little world inside my head where major decisions are made in silence after much contemplation and analysis. In other words, I was thinking.

What about, pray tell?

Everything.  Past, present, and future.  About the fact that there IS a future, a NEXT yet to be determined.  Or to be precise, determining what that NEXT shall be.

Disability changed my life in 2007.  Beyond the physical, there are psychological ramifications.  We define who we are by what we do.  When you meet someone new, one of the first things asked is, “What do you do?”  And the answer is usually given in terms of occupation.   Our identity is so wrapped up in our jobs that when you lose the ability to work, you lose a sense of who you are.   So for seven years,  I have been trying to redefine who I am without an occupation while learning to cope within the limitations of my disability.  Art has been a godsend, not only as something I still can do, but it has proven to be the best diversion.  When I hurt, I can zone into making art and take my mind to imaginary places so I don’t dwell on the pain.   When mobility issues have me stuck for awhile, art gives me something to do.  Still, I feel like I am in limbo.  This is my life, it is not going to change, and I’m just passing time waiting to die.  That is how I feel without a NEXT, as if I am living a life without a future.   Everything – reading, blogging, whatever – is just something to do to pass the time.

That’s why I need a NEXT.

Earlier this month, I attended an “Art is Business” workshop on writing business plans.   I have a hard time thinking of art as a business venture because I don’t think of art as a product to sell.   Beyond the reasons stated above, I make art because there is something deep inside of me that says I have to, it is not a choice.  Well, everything is a choice.  But, it does not feel like a choice.  Ignoring it does not make it go away.  Choosing other occupations does not make it stop.  It does not matter if my art sucks, if no one in their right mind would ever want to buy it, I still have to make it.  That might not make a lot of sense, but that’s just how it is.

Am I being down on myself or just being realistic?

I am never going to be an exceptional artist capable of netting $75,000 a year (the five year goal of the fictional fresh out of college visual artist who paints unique abstracts in acrylics used as the example in the business plan workshop), but I could tailor a business plan in line with my own artistic potential and physical limitations.  In other words, I need something else going on.

That’s what I’ve been doing… researching that something else.

Tell you how my mind works:  first question I asked myself was, “What could you do if you lost your disability check and ended up homeless living in a handicap accessible cardboard box?”   Answer:  become an itinerant retailer.  Yes, a street vendor.  So, I researched the city ordinances pertaining to itinerant retailers, which is how I know that they are called itinerant retailers.  (I also learned how to spell itinerant.)  But, that was my launch point.  Next question?  What would I sell?  Art, trinkets, handmade things… but would I earn enough to move out of that hypothetical cardboard box?   No, need something else… a money maker, something that people actually want or will buy on impulse.  I have been racking my brain and researching options trying to decide what that will be.

Not should be.  Will be.  I picked a something.

If I let myself dream out loud, I would open a store… sell art and trinkets and handmade things, hire people to do what I can’t do (one way to wiggle around physical limitations), and this “something” would be the bread and butter money maker that keeps it all afloat.   Of course, I would have to hit the lottery first as it requires a serious investment.  Well, as they say, there is more than one way to get somewhere once you have set your sights on NEXT.

OH… couple FYI’s.

1.   The mosaic guitar is finally DONE.  (I will give it it’s own post, with photos, as this is getting awfully long.)

2.  BeesATC (my other blog) is participating in the “Blogging from A to Z April Challenge” this year.  It is proving to be exactly what I needed to get back into drawing daily.

3.  If you live near Youngstown, Ohio, stop by the Mocha House in Boardman sometime within the next month or so.  They have good coffee, a full menu that never disappoints, and cheesecake to die for.  And right now,  you can see my art there.  Below is a sneak peek, a cell phone photo shot on hanging day.  Arrangement was limited to existing nails within my assigned section.  If you go see in person, please let me know what you think!  Thanks!

My art on wall at Mocha House in Boardman, Ohio.

My art on wall at Mocha House in Boardman, Ohio.

 

 

 

Eight Days, Not Weeks

Texting with a friend about the commercialization of the Holiday Season, I said something about it’s supposed to be 8 days of Christmas, not 8 weeks.

He corrected me:  “Hanukah as 8, Christmas has 12.”

Oh.  Eight or twelve, toe-may-toe, toe-matt-o (spelling out two pronunciations of tomato), the  store shelves start loading up with the Christmas crap around about Halloween in anticipation for the shopping frenzy that swings into full gear on Black Friday.  We are bombarded with “buy this, buy that” for weeks on end.  It is ridiculous!   So, I decided to loosely limit myself to eight days this year, considering that I had already done a little decorating and I’m not going to be a Scrooge and avoid Christmas parades and other activities, just loosely limit my holiday prep until after the 18th.

Oh my gosh… I am NOT doing that again!

If I could do ALL of my Christmas shopping by walking from store to store here in downtown Youngstown just like in an old black and white movie, I would much more enjoy the experience.  As far as fantasy goes, I may as well throw in just enough snow flakes to make it pretty without making the sidewalks too slippery and have costumed Carolers singing on street corners.   Downtown Youngstown needs more small shops, places that sell toys and trinkets and candles, hobby supplies, and all sorts of things. The jewelry store in the 20 Federal has some gift items and Youngstown Nation has Youngstown themed T-shirts and such, but I cannot find everything I want right here.  Perhaps in time, as it takes years to revitalize a city.

What I am NOT doing again is shopping around the holidays in Boardman.   Stores are packed with people and the traffic is crazy.  Even taking the WRTA bus was a bit nuts.

Next year, I’m doing most of my shopping in July.

Not exactly a Christmas Tree

Not exactly a Christmas Tree