Sometimes we all need a little reminder of what really matters in life.
I let people get to me at times. Listening to someone brag about how much money they make, what they have in their IRAs or what big vacation they are going on can leave me feeling a little beat down.
I'm not good being around superficial people and try to avoid them at all costs, but that's not always possible. I get lost in conversations about designer purses and expensive perfume, day dream while people chatter on about trendy labels and martini bars and find ways to escape when the talk turns to savings accounts and W2s. I'll use self deprecating humour to get off of a subject that I can't relate too; how can a conversation about yearly income go any further when I mention that my income is considered below poverty level? (I try really hard to not insult myself, but the shock of hearing my situation usually shuts the braggers up.)
I chose my life style and so I try not to complain. I don't like working nine to five; I abhor it actually. It's not that I'm lazy. I don't mind if I'm working on my art 12 hours a day. it's just that I haven't found a job that I love so much I'd like to be there 8 hours a day. So I work part time and I plug away at my art, and like many "starving artists" I have bouts of suffering. There are highs and lows when one is trying to make it with their art.
But sometimes I question my sanity and my purpose. When I hear those around me talk about $100 hair cuts, $30 manicures and $1500 house payments, I start to doubt myself and my choices. I know I'm skilled enough and smart enough to get a better job and work more hours. I start to wonder..."what am I doing wrong?"
Just when I'm about to completely beat myself up though, something happens. Like a sign from God, I'll receive a compliment or an extra hug and then I know I'm doing exactly what it is I should be doing.
Two things happened to me this week that made me realize that I know what really matters.
Firstly, I asked for my instructor to critique my graphic design ability. Here is part of her wonderful advice....
I think you have great ideas, and I think learning the other graphics programs is a very smart thing to do. Photoshop is great, but it really benefits a designer to know Illustrator, InDesign and web applications. I think you have an excellent attitude, although you could try to be more self confident. (Fake it until you feel it.) I have had several students approach me with wonderful compliments on projects you presented over the semester, that you yourself seemed to think were terrible. I don’t think you are messy at all. I think you can practice your mounting skills, but I don’t think you are a messy person. (If you want messy-step into my office!) I think if you could practice your computer skills in other programs, practice your mounting skills, and try to practice speaking of yourself and your ideas in more confident terms, you would be amazed at how much better you will do and feel.
So here in a nutshell;
-Good attitude and ideas
-Good at giving your personal spin on a project
-Good at meeting deadlines
-Good at Photoshop
-Good entrepreneurial spirit (very brave and sense of adventure!)
-Good work ethic...you never blow things off
Can get stronger
-Can practice other programs to widen the services you will offer as a designer
-Can practice cleaner mounting (straight edge, sharp blade, flat surface, a full 2” or so of evenly spaced black matt around image on all 4 sides)
-Can practice speaking in public with more confidence (Your mother can’t get you here. This is Debbie territory...so own it!)
You better believe that I printed this out and hung it close by, to remind me of the things that I am good at and the things I need to improve on. (Boy, that self confidence issue is a biggie!)
Secondly, I received a letter in the mail the other day from a former customer. She purchased something from me two years ago.
Here is part of the letter....
Dear Debbie, This note is long over due and I'm not even sure if you remember me or my family, but I came across your address over the weekend and saw it as a "sign" that I should still write you a note!
Two years ago you made a cake topper for my mom and stepdad's wedding that was a wolf and a rabbit holding pansies. It was incredibly beautiful!!! Both my mom and I had intended on writing to you after their wedding but time got away from us and so sadly, my mom passed away last year. I just wanted you to know though that your cake topper art meant so much to my parents! And thank you for putting it together and sending it out so quickly. Your kindness has never been forgotten. The cake topper remains in a place of honor in my parent's house and has the ability to put a smile on our face, even through the sadness. So thank you....
This note brought tears to my eyes and made me realize, amidst all of the self doubt, self ridicule and, sometimes even envy that I carry around, that it's not about how much money I make, or what kind of a house that I live in that matters, it's about leaving a positive mark in this world.
It's about nurturing and inspiring those around me. It's about being happy and spreading happiness. It's about being grateful for what I have.
Tomorrow, when I'm sitting in my little back yard, drinking tea and listening to nature, I'll think of this quote...Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy -- because we will always want to have something else or something more. Brother David Steindl-Rast