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Learning to Juggle

- - in the middle of a mess- -

In the middle of a mess, feeling quite off balance, is absolutely NOT my favourite place to be even if it’s in my favourite space.

Wednesday, my contractor came to repair the damage I caused over a year ago when I removed the center post from between the two closet doors and opened up that space. The hole in the floor wasn’t as bad; I could cover it up with a carpet. The one at the top was a gaping wound that I - alternatingly - could and couldn’t ignore. It festered. And now it’s fixed. This week was supposed to be slower. I’d hoped to finish my first on-demand workshop - Filling The Form - and it is almost, but not quite, done. Hopefully, it will be finished next week even though the schedule is already quite busy. I feel like I’ve said that before more than once. Apparently, things take far longer than I think they should. This detail is from one of three pieces I develop in a step-by-step manner while teaching that process. I’m planning a show and tell video for the channel when both the workshop and the studio are complete. A double celebration.

Along with juggling the mess, I am learning how to juggle multiple projects in multiple mediums. It’s a huge shift. My preference has always been to do one thing at a time. That works well if I am only working in textiles but not so well when I am working with more than one medium, or when I’m creating business textile work and personal textile work, and machine stitched textile work and hand stitched textile work.

I want to be able to successfully manage multiple mediums without talking myself out of them, without justifying why I can’t do this, because the clutter is sitting on my nerves. If you’ve followed for a while, you already know I’ve picked jewelry and polymer up and put them down several times. It’s not working. They aren’t quieting down and going away. There’s something there for me to explore and I want to figure it out so I’m in that uncomfortable stage of learning how to manage multiples after a lifetime of being singular. It can make me cranky.

This piece is the third of a who-knows-how-long series around simplicity and contrast that I’ve started while working with Paula, my mentor. We have two more sessions left and it has been fabulous. I am grateful for the confirmation and sense of direction I’ve already achieved in our time together. Mentoring is a wonderful gift.

An unofficial mentor is Donna Kato who started a YouTube channel about a year ago. She is a REALLY BIG NAME in the world of polymer clay and is not just good at clay, but a master of it. I am learning SO MUCH watching her videos. The level of instruction is such that I would normally pay hundreds to attend a workshop for. Another gift and an inspiration for my own channel.

This past weekend, I planned to sort out my guest room and find places in the studio for everything that had migrated across the hall. Permanent places. For too long, I put them somewhere and then I carry them back across the hall when that somewhere doesn’t work out as planned. And repeat. I thought I was cleaning only I ended up restructuring when I dismantled the workbench and brought it up to the studio from the garage. Now, all of the supplies to do with jewelry making, wire weaving, and polymer clay are in that 20” x 72” space. This is good because another thing I know about myself is that juggling multiple mediums has the greatest possibility of success if each has its own space. Unfortunately, there are still things in the guest room - less things than there were but still some things. Ideally, as I put the studio back together, those things do indeed find their permanent space. Life has been an emotional roller coaster for the past few months. This first year of significant changes has been tough to navigate, figuring out the new normal, especially when some people do not want to accept the changes or suddenly feel free to “bless” me with their opinions. If you’ve been here before, you’ll understand the devastation of a betrayal you didn’t see coming from a source you expected would support you and those feelings of being abandoned on multiple fronts. You know how much more important the things that nurture you - like creativity - become. My studio has always been a place of nurturing and calm and I want to maintain that. Along with clutter, I am also not good with too much of anything. Doing different work in multiple mediums means I am producing WAY MORE pieces and - LOL - I can’t recycle everything. I’m attempting to come to terms with having more pieces around the house otherwise, as it piles up, it will affect doing the work. I’ll start to question what’s the point? What do I do with that? Why bother? The need to bother is emotional, not physical. I’m exploring two new storage spaces outside of the studio, which is new in itself. I prefer to keep everything in one space, but it’s not possible if I want to continue doing what I’m doing. The first is one that I have absolutely refused to consider in the past, under the bed, and the second one is the closet downstairs where I previously had my computer. It was too small for a jewelry workbench but could be just right for storing things that are for sale with enough surface space for packaging and shipping. It could be win-win if I can think and act differently.

It helps that many of the items I’m creating will be for sale and hopefully they do sell so that they go somewhere else. I am entering an art exhibit in September which should be fun, and hopefully profitable, only September is too far away. I’d like more sales and less stuff sooner than that so I’ll be setting up an online store once the workshop is finished. It’s next on my to do list.

The word hopeful is scattered endlessly throughout this newsletter. Apparently, I am very hopeful and I also know that while I can put things up for sell, actually selling them is beyond my control. It requires a buyer to buy. I may be back in this emotional space again. I hope not.

I’m gathering as much selling inspiration and advice as possible wherever I can. Another unofficial mentor is Brooke Henry. She is unbelievably prolific, incredibly organized, a master at utilizing every little bit, and an inspiration. I visited her site so often that I placed an order to support her in return. The pieces are not only gorgeous, but how they came packaged was a gift in itself. Just beautiful. When I sat down to write this newsletter, I didn’t know exactly what I was going to write about but I know it wasn’t this. Have you all become my therapist as I’ve rambled on about my literal and emotional messes? Sigh. It is what it is.

I believe things happen for a reason and so I hope what I’m working through is of use to someone else. I’m going to go paint a wall, put up some shelves, move my desk back into its space, and clear the physical clutter, which I know from experience helps to clear the emotional clutter.

Have a comment to share? Email me at Talk soon-

Edit: This post was originally published on Substack on February 10, 2023 and has been republished here.

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