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.

 

 

 

TECH & NEXT ?

I blew my phone up, not literally, just blew off everything that could possibly clog up the memory so I could text again.  Clearing all data from email was a dumb idea, as it required setting it back up again.  It did not like my password.  My attempts to make it take it, along with failed steps to recover/change my password (in case I was trying to enter the wrong one) simply resulted in tripping the security features. 

They locked me out, with the promise that I would have the opportunity to answer a secret question if I wait at least 24 hours.  HA!!!  I am right back where I started… so if I keep trying, odds are that I will be locked out AGAIN.  Errr. 

The problem with the password recovery process is that it is NOT phone friendly… if I were sitting at a PC with multiple windows open, click on this one, click back on that… I could get the code AND enter it into the proper box.  That window auto closes, even if I open a new window on the phone, when I go to the alt email site to GET the code.  Bookmarking it let me reopen the right page… but since it was not left open as you can do on a pc, it refused the code.  INVALID.

Of course, I could set up a new email… but that is my fave email addy… it is on my rubber stamp, on all my handmade biz cards, etc.  I use it for all artsy things, blog things, facebook things, etc.  I don’t want to blow it off… OOOOHHHhhhhhh… easy op change, brb… done. 

I have a new email addy!!!

It is the old one with an N in front… Nbarnbees.  I can sharpie marker the change onto cards (not yet… might just remember the old password, got a clue setting up the new one, capital letter required, lol) but in the meanwhile, I can update email addy here and on facebook, etc so I can get notifications again.

Technology sucks… give me a human to fix problems, the machines drive me nuts.

NEXT ?

I ducked under a window awning to avoid raindrops before noticing the address stenciled on the door. 

“Thursay Afternoon” popped into my head, along with a flash picture of myself living there, an apartment no bigger than a motel room with a kitchenette and bath tucked behind a little storefront.  I heard the soft tinkle of bells as someone entered the door, greeted by the heady scent of hand poured candles and soft music, old tunes, CSNY’s Suite Judy Blue Eyes.

    “Will you come see me, Thursdays and Saturdays, what have you got to lose?” 

What if…

Nah, what would I sell?  Handmade things, old junk? 

Every biz on that strip of storefronts ends up relocating to greener pastures where customers actually shop, just shop keepers trying to make a living.  The last of the real stores is moving this month, leaving only the artsy places that are not open every day, like a photographer’s studio with hours by appointment only.  There is not enough foot traffic to substain a brisk business selling anything there. 

So, what am I doing?  Dreaming out loud?

Dreaming out loud ignores realities.  I am not physically capable of doing much of anything, have mobility issues, nerve games, bad days when I make art, use the pencils to take my mind off the pain.  If I could work again, I could make some serious cash with my skills and experience.  I miss the money, but more than that, I miss the work… there is no way in hell I could do that kind of work again, but could I be a shop keeper? 

No… not 8 hours a day and not everyday.  My life runs in slo-mo now.

Little birdy whispers, “The street address is Thursday Afternoon, it wouldn’t have to be open every day.”

Just Thursday afternoons? Handle that okay, add another day?

“Thursdays and Saturdays, what have you got to lose?”

Nothing… I’ve got nothing to lose, done already lost everything – health, home, relationships, driving, etc.  Oh yeah, life slammed me upside a wall, spun on a dime.  Gotta love when insurance sales reps call trying to sell me a policy for “life’s unexpected events” or however they word it.  I just laugh…  those life’s unexpected events just make you re-evaluate your life, what’s important and what’s not.  Then you have to make a choice… roll with it, be happy regardness of whatever, or spend the rest of your days wallowing in misery.  I didn’t come out unscathed as I am physically disabled and I do have a bit of an attitude about some things… I don’t care about the same things anymore, they don’t matter.  I learned to roll with what comes.

In some ways, I am a better person now… I laugh more, feel more at ease with myself and other people, more open and friendly.  I can live a creative life, slo-mo creative, takes me forever to do some things but that does not matter.  Only strangers flash sympathy in their eyes now, but not as often.  Life is not measured by comparing yourself – what you can and can’t do, how you look, stand, whatever – to other people.  So what if I’m crooked? So what on so many things… yes, life is better in many ways.  I see things differently now.

image

Okay, so my view of life may be a tad distorted now, if my art offers any indication.  This is a landscape, lol.

But what about that stray thought?  A flash image of seeing myself at Thursday Afternoon?

It won’t hurt to check it out, find out if it is do-able.

It all hinges on do-ability:  the only way I could afford the rent is to live there, too.

That is a big IF with serious odds stacked against it. 

But, it does not hurt to ask… to check into the possibility.  I will let you know if it is do-able after I talk to the landlord.  Maybe it is just a stray thought, a flash idea, a dream out loud, but maybe… just maybe, it’s my next thrill on this ride called life.

To prove I’m not crazy, I will snail mail a small piece of art to the first person who figures out the correct answer to the following question here in the comments… do NOT include your snail mail address with your guess!!! The winner can send that to me later via email.  (This is the internet ya know… there are nuts out here.)  Okay, here’s the question:

What number is equivalent to “Thursday Afternoon” in Nancy’s head?