It’s winter where I live. The really interesting thing about winter in the Tri-Cities, is that it always comes after fall, any of you experience that phenomenon? What? It’s not interesting? We actually had summer prior to that, and before that was spring. Ahhh spring, Spring was really lovely. I’m actually kind of afraid that next year winter will come again. At this point I think I will curl up, under the covers and hide. Does that seem ridiculous? “Of course winter is coming!” you might say, “it is here now and it will return next year.” Here’s the thing though, Sometimes I spend my whole summer dreading fall, yep that’s right, because after fall is winter, and so on and on it goes right? Do you ever do this?
The funny thing is that everything in our lives including business, replicates this exact same Rule, Winter will come again, just like the night, it happens over and over like clock work. It doesn’t matter who you are. You cant change it. In my life I have endured some mighty big storms, and like some of you, I have also had times that those storms made me duck and cover scared for the next one.
We really can’t change winter right? We can only change us. We can’t just wish the snow away, but we can change how we feel about it. Some winters are nearly impossible to be grateful for, But some are just a bother… woah is me.
We can choose to learn from them if we let ourselves. We can grow, we can become better people, unfortunately in life one of our best teachers, is struggle. In fact, If I am being honest, in the last four and a half years, I have dreaded half of every year. That’s 2.25 years of my life, in fear and heart brake waiting for more fear and heartbreak, let’s face it, that is no way to live.
If your are like me it’s ok, if you have also had seasons like this, lets hug it out and remind ourselves that our not being ok, has lead us to now, and now, we are ready for change.
The first big storm came on our honeymoon. This was literally a big a$$ storm. With wind, rain and floods. This is not a metaphorical storm, this is a “You are happily on your honeymoon, but also you are seeing the roof of your hotel fly by in pieces outside the window.” Kind of storm. Ironically, this experience was pretty much prophetic for how the rest of my life would continue from this point on. Storm followed by storm. Here’s the thing… I actually have really great memories looking back on this storm. Also I am still married to my wonderful storm enduring partner.
- Sometimes storms leave you in the dark. The storm really hit the second day of our honeymoon. The electricity blew in our hotel so even though we actually couldn’t physically go back home and our trip was extended, Everything we did had to be by candle light. This turned into a wonderfully romantic time. Jon and I played cards together and really got to know each other. (We had only met 6 months earlier which is a story for another time.
- Sometimes storms leave you without choices. The hotel only had access to a generator so our only option for food were hamburgers, so we fine dined on hamburgers by candle lights playing cards. Sometimes I feel backed into a corner by my storms, in fact there’s only one choice to be had. Well guess what when life gives you hamburgers you should learn to love hamburgers. Moving forward with only one option is actually a huge gift at times, trust me, spring will come and there will be plenty to choose from. Learning how to love your limitations is a huge skill, and here’s the thing, Today’s limitations are tomorrow’s blessings, these are the things you can share with all of the future people you come into contact with.
- Sometimes when you think you are in trouble, its only a smokescreen. The first day of our honeymoon when we still had electricity seemed so amazing. A jacuzzi in the room and a beautiful view. What could go wrong right? As we sat sipping wine enjoying the whole scene, things seemed pretty steamy, and I don’t mean fireworks, I mean, our lovely jacuzzi was filling our entire room room with steam. At least that’s what we thought Until we started coughing. We then realized that this was not steam but smoke, filling our room rapidly. Somehow, we hadn’t opened the trap to the fireplace and smoke was billowing into our tiny piece of heaven. Of course Jon the hero that he is broke into quick action, he put the fire out pouring water from the tub with the ice bucket. Our beautiful room now smelled like smoke, Jon and I thought, judging from the black on the ceiling we were in really big trouble, this would cost us. Waking up the next mourning, Jon went to work scrubbing the ceiling, this only made a really white spot, the rest of the ceiling was grey. As we confessed our sin to the hotel lobby, we came to find out that the wind shut the trap, this was actually a common occurrence. In fact when they moved us to another room the exact same black spot was on the ceiling. Sometime what feels like trouble, isn’t trouble at all, it’s just a great opportunity to open the window. There are times that we just aren’t seeing what’s out there, just outside the scope, waiting for us to walk through.
- Sometimes your path is blocked because the opportunities are right where you are. Because we were young and poor, our honeymoon was just a half an hour away from our apartment at the Oregon coast. Our path back home was only 30 minutes, but as our honeymoon progressed, our path became blocked, with trees, giant, humongous, wind blown, trees. The hotel that we stayed at was kind enough to give us free nights until the path was opened. This was only the beginning of the crazy life Jon and I have had together, I am so grateful for those down trees in our path, because this was an opportunity to be patient, to just sit in our storm and watch the birds fly by (backwards , the birds were flying backwards.) We were given the opportunity to really grow as a couple, and to pause, because bigger storms were yet to come shortly.
So how can I apply these lessons I learned from my first storm to my art business
- Being left in the dark. Do you ever find yourself questioning what to paint, or make, that will be popular and make you sales? This sometimes makes us feel like we are left in the dark. When you are dealing with this problem, Paint what you want. When you feel left in the dark, trust your other senses. Trust your own personal taste. Would you love something on your wall? Paint that. Side note, if it doesn’t sell it looks great on your wall.
- Being left without choices. When I started doing art I was a “starving artist” I had very few choices for art supplies. I learned in those early days how to be frugal and limited the amount of colors I could buy. This was such a valuable lesson for me. I now have very few needs when it comes to supplies, I learned how to mix new colors with very few choices. If you find yourself in this situation, embrace it see it as a challenge. See how many colors you can produce with just the three primaries. Also so much can be done with cheap paint. Don’t let your limitations stop you from creating.
- I have found myself in trouble in my business multiple times. One area that stands out in my mind when it comes to trouble is over committing . so many times I have found myself totally overwhelmed with commissions. In these overwhelming moments I have to stop myself from complaining and just be grateful that I am a working artist. The other lesson I’ve learned from over committing is that, no amount of money is worth my peace of mind.
- When your path is blocked. After my 100 portraits I found my path frozen. Sitting in the same place for hours on end created for me some major back issues. I was stuck, literally. I could have let this totally derail me. Let me be honest, I felt myself a little derailed. I needed to stop for a minute, my family needed me and my body needed me. Stopping in August made me really look at how I was treating my body. I made a choice at that point to stop drinking alcohol and change my diet. Having to stop, forced me into taking care of myself, this has been a really great choice for my life.
To sum it up, winter is here to teach us many lessons. For those who have followed me for long, know I have been in way worse storms than this little one. We can all look back and see our growth from these seasons. What lessons has winter been teaching you?