Never forget the love you have for what you do. Remember the blessing of being able to make what you make.
Here’s something to consider the next time you feel a sharp retort rising to your lips when someone in your booth asks a “stupid question”. (Which, in case you don’t already know, isn’t so stupid after all.
The times I find it hardest to deal with problem customers, is when I am not in a good space myself.
There will be times in your life when things get hard. When nothing seems to go right. When you body simply can’t do what you ask of it, not the simplest task. When worries about money seem to overwhelm everything else. When your spirit is exhausted.
There will be people in your life who make things difficult. People who are impossible to please. People who are threatened by what you do. People who are envious of what you have.
There will be stages in your life when you question everything about your work. Is it good enough? Is it still my best work? Does the world even want it? Do I still believe in it?
And just like the times when a difficult child needs your love all the more, this is the time to remember the love you have for your art.
Here’s how that happens for me:
I’ve been head-high in frenzied preparations for my upcoming League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Annual Fair. On one hand, it’s my tenth year at the Fair, and I pretty much know what to do. On the other hand, every year there’s something major I forget/mess up/leave to the last minute. Every year there’s a big scramble to deal with it, with frantic phone calls, late nights and the inevitable last-minute make-do. (Which almost always seems to work out better than my original intention.)
This year is no exception. But I have some secret weapons.
The first is modern medicine. After waiting years for the brain buzz of menopause to wear off, I realized it wasn’t going away and it wasn’t even getting better. I realized I’ve always had it–it was just getting worse with age. I sought professional help. I’m now seeing an excellent therapist who specializes in working with creative people. And I’m on a very low dosage of anti-anxiety medication. (Don’t worry, not the addictive stuff!)
For the first time in years, I am sometimes sleeping through the night. I don’t wake up in a panic with my heart racing. Get this–my blood pressure (which used to be low normal but has inched upwards for five years) dropped almost 25 points–in a month! My doc isn’t sure why, but she says we’ll take it. (She thinks it may be the relief from constant worrying.)
I feel more at peace with myself. All the issues I knew intellectually how to manage, but couldn’t emotionally let go of, are softening. I know enlightenment can’t be found in a pill bottle, but it sure makes it easier to actually listen to my heart.
The second secret weapon is my work. The Fair is a concrete “deadline” which helps generate creative energy. Simply immersing myself in making new artifacts always centers me. Okay, partly I bury myself in making bears and otters and horses because it’s much more fun than figuring out how to make new covers for my jewelry case pedestals. Procrastination is a powerful tool in my life for getting something else done.
The third secret weapon is the Fair itself. Despite all the hard work getting ready for, and just being at the Fair (3 days of set-up, 9 days of show), there is a lot of good energy at the Fair.
My daughter, to date, has always found time to come and work with me again, even if only for that first, very busy opening weekend. She’s worked in my booth at both retail and wholesale shows for over eight years now. She’s not only very good at it, she’s simply a joy to be with.
There are old friends to catch up with, new exhibitors to meet, wonderful work to see (and buy!), music, wine and the incredible beauty of Mount Sunapee itself.
And my customers are a big secret weapon, too.
Opening day at the Fair is tough. It takes me awhile to get my “sea legs”. (Would that be “Fair legs”??) To get into the rhythm of being “on stage” instead of “in my studio”.
But when I catch the rhythm, I can dance all day. All week!
People who have bought from me for years, come to see what’s new. People who bought something for the first time last year, come back to tell me how much they love it. People bring their friends to introduce them the artist. (Moi. Maybe in my normal hours I look like a dumpy middle-aged woman, but at a show I am an artiste.) People who lost an earring or broke a necklace rush in to see if I can make their favorite piece wonderful and wearable again. People who I encouraged to pursue their own creative destiny stop by to share their own lovely work.
Even years when the Fair is slow, the energy from seeing my old collectors and meeting new ones, is a spiritual high.
In the midst of all this wonderful, powerful energy, I would be a small person to let an off comment or odd interaction here and there, to bring me down.
But I would be human, too. Because that’s what we do–we hang on to the one hurtful comment or ignorant act.
Remember–as artists, we can choose:
We can wallow in indignation and anger.
Or we can remember that the work we do is blessed work. Not only for us, but for the world.