Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Solopreneur Wednesday: Who Said I Have To Be Passionate About My Work?

The topic of “follow your passion” or “being passionate” about what you do pops up every once in a while in the blogosphere. And in the past couple of weeks the topic has reared its head again.

I start to get a little, um, anxious, when this topic is discussed.

Near as I can tell this latest go-round started some time after the World Domination Summit was held in Oregon. Alyson Stanfield asked if this was good advice on the Deep Thought Thursday segment of her blog. The comments were entertaining to read.

Alyson attended WDS. Cal Newport was a speaker at WDS and he “debunked” the directive to “follow your passion.”  When Alyson said “yay” to Cal’s directive, that too generated many responses.

I did not attend WDS and did not hear Cal Newport’s presentation.

But when I read Alyson’s Deep Thought Thursday post and the accompanying comments, I couldn’t help but feel like there was something “wrong” with me. And I realized it has to do with the word “passion.”

Passion versus Making Meaning

This may be more about semantics than anything but when people talk about getting all “passionate” about what they do, I feel like an odd-ball. I start to doubt myself and ask “Am I really passionate about what I do?”

Something about that word conjures up images of people dedicating themselves to one thing for their entire lives, 24/7. They live, breathe, and eat whatever it is they are passionate about. I look at them and say “Wow. Wish I was like that.”

But I don’t think I am. At least not compared to the image that is in my head.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. But I also like to do other things. I love making my art. I love looking at art. I also love to travel, cook, spend quiet time with my hubby, play with the cats, take long walks, and so on and so forth.

I have many interests and some may rank higher than others at any given time. And I think that is where the whole “passion” thing bothers me.

It seems to conjure up this idea that to be passionate about something means that is the only thing you could be passionate about. That just doesn’t feel right to me. When I’m making my art, I’m focused and enjoying that moment. When I’m traveling, I’m enjoying that moment. When I’m eating a great meal, I’m enjoying that moment.

Instead of being passionate about something, I think I prefer to feel that what I’m doing is meaningful or that I’m at least getting something out of the experience.

And in terms of making art, this has been a biggie for me.

I’ve always had a strong desire to make meaning with my art. This is part of the reason why I got bored with production work. I couldn’t find much meaning in repetitively making wine bottle stoppers, perfume pens, or business card cases.

So I made my Spirit Messengers. These pieces held meaning through symbolism and stories. And I saw how people reacted to them when I brought them to art shows.

Darwin Explores
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Over time I decided to focus on animal inspired art. It made sense as animals are of great interest to me. I care about their welfare. I donate a portion of sales from my art to a local no-kill animal shelter. But, as I said, it took some time to make this subject matter the focus of my art.

I think the other aspect that makes the “follow your passion” mantra difficult for me is that this art making gig is also my business. Somewhere along the way, when art becomes a business, you learn there are many more things that must be considered if you hope to have some amount of success. It becomes a balancing act to make art and run a business as an artist.

Maybe that’s why some people say “Beware of your hobby turning into business” (or something like that.)

This morning I read Alyson’s most recent blog post on why she doesn’t advise people to follow their passion. She wrote this as a follow-up to her Deep Thought Thursday post, as many people wanted to know her opinion on the discussion.

I really agree with Alyson’s opinion. What do you think?

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Solopreneur Wednesday: You Gotta Spend Money to Make Money and Fighting Limiting Beliefs

Do you have limiting beliefs about money?

You know what I did with mine today? I ripped them up , set them on fire, and then drowned them.

Fighting Limiting Beliefs About Money

Last week I revisited the moola making chapter in Jennifer Lee’s book, The Right Brain Business Plan. Though we’re already half way through the year, it’s never a bad time to reassess money making opportunities in your business. Of course, if you’re reassessing where you’re making money, you must give equal time to where you’re spending money.

Ick.

Money is, for many solopreneurs, a double-edged sword. You have to spend money to make money. But sometimes it is hard to spend that money if you don’t know when you’ll make back the money that you just spent.

This was the limiting belief that hit me square in the head last week. It has been following me around for quite a while too.

Limiting beliefs. Quirky little buggers. Especially when it comes to money.

Where do these beliefs come from? Some of them most likely form when we’re kids. We pick up on these beliefs from our parents or other adults in our little kid life. We observe how our parents handle money-both the saving and the spending aspects. We take a little from that time period, form our own ideas as we get older, have a good experience or a bad experience and then the whole mess gets mixed up in a great big cauldron called our mind.

Groovy.

Until it starts to bubble and froth and spews forth at any time while trying to run our small business.

Make a List. Check it Twice. Then chuck it.

I’ve been in business for several years. And my beliefs about money aren’t nearly as overbearing as they were at one time. But there are still some that rest in those dark recesses. And when it comes to looking hard at “the numbers,” guess who pops up?

Right.

Before being able to move forward with setting new money making goals, you need to understand what is holding you back. You may not know why, but at least giving those limiting beliefs a name can help.

Set aside some time to do this task. Get a pad of paper and a pen. I like to put on some instrumental music. But maybe you’d prefer something a bit more head-bangy metallic? Take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself what your limiting beliefs are about money. Ask yourself why the thought of spending money in your business gives you the heebie-jeebies. Ask why the thought of accepting money for your product or service makes you feel light-headed.

And then let ‘er rip. Write it all down. Don’t worry about good grammar or spelling. Just go with the flow. Keep writing until those negative thoughts stop or slow down to a trickle.

(If the thought of writing this down causes your brain to freeze or you draw a complete blank when you look at your sheet of paper, try doodling or making little symbols on the paper. Perhaps single words will start to trickle out and then an avalanche of words and phrases. There is no “right” or “wrong” here. I believe the act of writing can be cathartic. Something about getting your hand moving across the page. But if you prefer to type this out on your computer, that is okay too. Do what works best for you.)

When you’re done with your list, look it over. Read it. Then set it aside.

The Turn Around

Now you don’t want those limiting beliefs to sit there and stare at you. No way. Now you need to turn them around.

Yes, this can be a little tricky because you want to make a negative into a positive. (Don’t worry, no funny math or physics formulas required.) Take another deep breath, look those limiting beliefs in their beady little eyes and flip the words into a positive affirmation.

I mentioned that one of my limiting beliefs is “I’m afraid to spend money because I don’t know when I’ll make back the money that I just spent.”

My turn around for this: “I make more money than I can spend.”

Now, on a clean piece of paper, write down a positive statement for every negative, limiting belief you wrote on that other piece of paper. When you’ve written all your positive affirmations, set that piece of paper aside.

And that sheet of paper with the limiting beliefs? Get rid of it! Shred it, burn it, flush it down the toilet, or put it in the compost bin. Make a fun ritual out of it. Just don’t keep it around for long because you don’t want the negative energy from those limiting beliefs to sit and fester.

A Brand New Day

After you get rid of that negative, limiting belief sheet of paper, make sure you keep your positive affirmations in a spot where you can read them every day. Maybe you read them two or three times a day. Whatever works.

How do you feel?

Will this bring money flowing through your door immediately? Probably not. However, I do believe that great things happen unexpectedly. Putting that positive energy out into the Universe can be a good thing.

You still need to do your work, make your connections, sell your product or service.

But understanding your limiting beliefs and how to turn them around can make this solopreneur gig a lot easier.

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Leave a comment below and share how you confront limiting beliefs.


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Solopreneur Wednesday: An Introduction-How Did I Get Here?

The 5th anniversary of this blog is fast approaching. And there are a number of new subscribers to this blog. So it seemed like a good time to slow down, take a step back and introduce myself to my new readers and re-introduce myself to those who have been following my journey since this blog started.

Who Am I?

If you look over to that column on the right, you can see my picture. That’s me, Amy —->

Nice to meet you.

What do you do for a living & how did you end up doing it?

I’m in my third iteration career-wise. I am a polymer clay mixed media artist. Before working with polymer, I tried paper arts, wood stuff, painting, fabric. None of those really stuck. In 1998, I learned about polymer clay, bought a crafty book and some clay at Michaels and gave it a go. My first piece was a pair of earrings, a bunny & a carrot. I still have those earrings too.

First polymer earrings (scanned image).

But as I said, I’m in my third career. Amy 3.0? Before discovering polymer clay I had always played around with artsy-crafty stuff. I took art classes all through high school but never gave it a thought to make art a career. Let me rephrase that. I had no intention of pursuing art as a career.

Instead I got a degree in Speech-Language Pathology and a minor in Communications from Michigan State University. Then I got my Masters in Speech-Pathology. I worked in the healthcare field for almost nine years. Got laid-off. Went back to school. Got my certificate in Technical Writing. Got laid-off again and began to think about what else I wanted to do with my life.

At that time, in 2002, I thought about the things I might want to do if I wasn’t going to work in cubicle-land. The three things I liked most were gardening, cooking, and making art.

Gardening & landscaping are very physical careers. So I scratched that from the list.

Culinary school required many early hours as you work through the coursework. I’m not a real early-morning person. And I realized I mainly like cooking for family & friends. Scratch culinary school from the list.

That left art.

What are you influences or sources of inspiration?

My art is inspired by nature, animals, the spirit of ancient cultures, and my travels around the world. I’m drawn to texture, movement, color, and faces.

I’ve created work that draws from the Celtic, Egyptian, African, and Asian cultures. Symbolism plays a big part in my art when I create my Spirit Messengers.

Anam Cara (Trio)

More recently I’ve focused the subject of my art on animals, such as my Ornimals: Sculpted Animal Ornaments.

Cat Ornimals 2012 Group Shot (Amy Crawley)

Those who have influenced my art include Laura Balombini, Dayle Doroshow, Gustav Klimt, Joseph Cornell, Alexander McQueen, El Anatsui, Dale Chihuly, Tim Burton, and Cirque du Soleil.

How did your art become a business?

It didn’t become a business by blatant choice. After being laid-off, and thinking I’d like to work more with my art, I started playing around with polymer clay even more. I was at a local hardware store looking at cabinets and wearing a piece of jewelry I made. I was talking to a woman who worked in this department and she asked if I made the jewelry I was wearing. When I told her “yes,” she asked if I sold my jewelry. One thing led to another and my business began. That woman became my first customer.

When I say it wasn’t by blatant choice, I mean that I had thought, someday, it might be fun to sell my art. But it wasn’t my intention when I started making jewelry. I didn’t say “I’m making this to sell it.” Apparently the Universe had other plans for me. Maybe the best way to put it is that my art became a business through the back door. Add a little ego into the process and there you go. I really had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting into.

Next: My intent with Solopreneur Wednesday posts is to share what I’ve learned about running a small art business. If you have questions about working as an artist and/or running a small business, please leave your question(s) in the comment section below. We’ll be enjoying the 4th of July holiday next Wednesday so our next post will be in two weeks on Wednesday, July 11.


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2012 Word of the Year: Reflect

In my last post, I wrote a review of my 2011 word of the year.  I had a hard time deciding on the “right” word in 2011. This time, my word for the year came to me before 2011 ended. I sat down for a little meditation and poof, there it was. I literally saw it written in front of me.

And that word is….

Reflect

Reflect? Huh? Could this really be the correct word? Where did that even come from?

When I finished meditating I had to look up the word reflect in the dictionary because the only definitions that came to mind were something shiny that reflects, like a mirror, or to look back (in reflection).

Reflect: (verb)- to throw or bend back (light, for example) from a surface. to form an image of (an object); mirror. to manifest as a result of one’s actions.

There it was, the third statement in the definition:

To manifest as a result of one’s actions.

Oh yes, this seemed like a very good word.  A verb. A doing word. Now I understood why this word came to me.

I immediately pulled out an index card, wrote the word reflect on one side and the definition on the other side of the index card and put the card on my desk where I’ll see it every day. I want to make sure I see the word all the time.

The more I think about this word, the more I realize that it serves as a reminder that I need to take action in order to get things done. Writing down goals is all fine and dandy, but if I don’t act on those goals by taking the small steps or big leaps, the only thing I’m going to manifest is good ideas with nothing to show for it.

It also reminds me to get clear about what I want to do. That part about “manifesting as a result of one’s actions” is a little intimidating. The flip side of that could be “be careful what you ask for.” However, this word may help me get over some of my fears in tackling new projects.

Manifesting Begins

Much like last year at this time, an action I took late in 2011 manifested itself this week. Last month I submitted some pictures of my art for possible inclusion in a newsletter. This week, I received word that my Fire Spirit Messenger was the featured artwork in Jennifer Hofman’s Inspired Home Office newsletter. (The newsletter is only available to subscribers. However Jen’s site & blog are great so give it a visit and maybe you’ll sign up for her newsletter too.)

Fire Spirit Messenger, Amy A. Crawley

What a great way to start off the New Year!

Moving Forward

This month I’m focusing on the business side of being an artist. I’m taking an online web design class, I need to order business cards, and I’m creating a video for marketing my Polymer Clay Bootcamp 1 Workshop. I also have some ideas bouncing around in my head for future artwork. It is also time to look at those goals I put together in the last quarter, reflect on where I’m going, and start taking action.

What word did you choose to guide you though the year?


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2011 Word of the Year Review: Thoughts on Being Big

Last year I chose the word “Big” to guide me through 2011. You can read how I chose that particular word here.

I had to re-read the post as a reminder of what lead me to choose the word. Ironically, I didn’t mention the one thing that I thought was the driving force behind this word choice. That would’ve been developing my business plan in 2010 and diving into teaching polymer clay mixed media workshops. I remember having grand thoughts of teaching several workshops in 2011.

The Year Begins

January 2011 was a BIG month in terms of events that marketed my art. I get where my head was at back then. I was also embarking on a new series of artwork that was manifested by my health issues. I did have BIG ideas.

So did Mother Nature. Winter in Massachusetts was BIG in 2011. So big that it took a toll on our roof which led to ice dams, leaking, and water damage. That meant moving in and out of my studio several times throughout the year because of damage and then repairs. These were BIG challenges I had not envisioned. I had to cancel my spring workshop given the state of the studio.

I progressed on my new series of artwork, Glimmer of Hope for a little while (here, here, and here.) Then I think I got too close to the work. Using a health issue to create art is nothing new. However, it can also bring up lots of dirt and emotions. The deeper I went, the less I wanted to see. So I stopped creating these sculptural pieces.

At the end of March I had surgery. Another BIG event that corrected the BIG problem. I left behind the sculptural pieces and started experimenting with encaustic medium and creating abstract pieces like this. Two BIG changes here for me to work with a new medium and play with shapes.

The next couple of months I flopped around. Not a lot of blogging. Still experimenting with art.

A Mid-Year Wake Up

With June fast approaching and a trip to La Cascade in France on the horizon, I decided, with some encouragement, to commit to a new series of artwork that would be inspired by our trip.

Before we even left the country I notified my customers and collectors of my plans to create this new series. I had no idea how many pieces would be made or what exactly the pieces would look like. I only knew I was going to make a new series using ATC encaustic boards as my substrate.

Now this was being BIG. When we returned I chose the date for my open studio where I would debut the new series. Then I worked backwards determining how many pieces I would make and how many pieces I could create per week, when I had to send out postcards and e-newsletters with updates on my progress. This was an entirely new experience for me.

On September 25, I debuted Snapshots & Memories from Languedoc-Roussillon. The series had 15 pieces in it; 3 of which have since sold. You can see the entire series in this video on my YouTube Channel.

I finally felt like I was having the BIG year I originally envisioned.

More Big-ness

Coming off the success of the Languedoc-Roussillon series, I decided to return to sculpting and created my next series of artwork called Ornimals: Animal sculpted ornaments that capture the humor & joy of life expressed by our pets.

With this series I made an active decision to focus only on animals. This was a BIG challenge for me because my artwork has been a bit scattershot over the past couple of years. However the focus on one topic, animals, has paid off. The Ornimals made their debut at a holiday art/craft show in October. By the end of the holiday show season, I had sold 23 Ornimals.

When I decided to create the Ornimals, I also decided to donate a portion of my total sales to Baypath Humane Society of Hopkinton. At the end of December I made that donation in the amount of $65.00. It was a great feeling.

In writing these words, I see the year was, indeed, a BIG year on many fronts. Perhaps it wasn’t the BIG I intended, however, it still turned out fine. I survived challenges that were out of my control. And I survived the challenges that I gave myself. I’ve also realized that although I choose a word to guide me each year, I don’t always stop to think about the word throughout the year. After the way 2011 started, I’d pretty much given up on having a BIG year. What I didn’t really consider is that the intention of the word can change. So I didn’t have a trumpets blaring and confetti falling BIG kind of year. But I did have a glittery, hand clapping BIG kind of year.

And I’m fine with that.


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Blog Anniversary Week 4: The Final Winner

At the beginning of this month I invited my readers to join me in celebrating my blog’s four year anniversary with weekly giveaways. Each week on Friday, I announced the giveaway items: books, jewelry, artwork. The response to these giveaways has been great and I am deeply touched by your participation.

Today we come to the final drawing for the last giveaway of the month: one of my Fortune Pyramids. And it only seemed appropriate that this final drawing take place with a larger pyramid.

The Dream Pyramid is made from blue pearl clay. Three hand carved words are featured on each side of the pyramid: Dream, Create, Self. This pyramid is 4″ all around and stands on three scrolling legs. It is part of my personal collection.

The names of the participants were written on paper, folded and poured into the Dream Pyramid

I shook the pyramid to mix up the names.

I reached in and pulled out one name.

And the winner of my silver and black Fortune Pyramid is…..

Jean Webb!!!!!

Congratulations Jean.

Thank you again to everyone who has participated in the giveaways this month. May you all have good fortune. And have an excellent Labor Day weekend.