- My path crossed with several people I greatly admire who are working as artists. They've encouraged me to consider doing the same - that I "have what it takes."
- I've been welcomed into a group of self-employed creatives - artists, designers, writers, musicians - who share information, tips, help and support on their work and business at Creative Juice.
- I accidentally came across THIS blog post (note: the blog is pretty amazing to begin with, you might want to bookmark it for future reference).
- And I read THIS article (containing what might be my favorite line ever: "Pressure a creative to finish a piece in a timeframe with which he or she isn't comfortable, and you better be prepared for a nuclear explosion.")
- A former art school mate and friend I've not seen in almost 20 years got in touch with me through this blog. He has his own studio and gallery and is self-employed selling his ceramics.
- I ran into (literally, bumped into during a weekend run) a good friend from the Zoo who reminded me of what it was like to have a job I was really passionate about (at the Zoo) - when I felt I was making a difference in the world.
I had to descend into some serious soul-searching. My current job (web developer at the Cleveland Museum of Art) is awesome for many reasons: the institution is great, the work is steady and oftentimes engaging, and the pay and benefits are generous. But there are no growth opportunities in the near future and my creative side is longing for an outlet. Real development projects at work are few and far between and my job rarely finds me problem solving or utilizing my more-than-fifteen years of web development experience. Boredom has set in - the monotony of the daily grind. There are no perks: I rarely get away from my desk (the unfortunate life of a computer programmer), I spend about two hours a day in the car during rush hours, I only get two weeks of vacation per year, and my hours are, you guessed it: nine to five. I worrying about time for training. Or for art. Or, most importantly, for my family.
Frazzled one night at my drawing desk, I blurted my anxieties out to my husband Jim. My potential solution was simple: to quit Ironman (maybe quit racing altogether). It seemed like the logical solution in this consumer-driven work-yourself-to-the-bone-retire-and-die world. Keep your day job, right? I'll never change the world as a triathlete. In the end, no one cares where, when, and how I raced. And I was tired of only taking vacation time to go to races. No time to relax. Something had to give, and I had to make the "right" choice. Geez, I sound like my parents, don't I?
Jim wasn't thrilled to say the least. He reminded me that triathlon is something I love. (He's right.) And I had just bought a new bike. I spent the rest of the night crying and arguing with him.
We both knew that there was another choice: to quit my job. (Giving up my art wasn't a choice - it's always been something I have to do. Denying it wouldn't solve anything and it would keep me awake at night.)
Thus, we entered many weeks of struggling with what it meant for me to quit a full-time job and income and become a self-employed artist and web consultant. I confided in my closest friends, especially the ones who were working as artists. They listened to me rant: about not yet giving myself a chance as an artist, about my misgivings of not having a steady income and living off my husband, and about my fears of trying to sell myself. (Note: selling myself is the scariest thing in the world because I rarely find reason to even LIKE myself.) And yet, my friends and Jim continued to lend support and advice. One of the things everyone told me was that I could "be thankful [I] have a supportive partner."
Strangely, what this life-changing decision came down to was a bunch of cliches posted by friends on my Facebook wall or muttered during the struggle - things like "Making a big life change is scary. Regret is even scarier." That's what it kept coming back to. I never want to know that I was afraid to take a risk because it was just too risky. And so I took the leap. And I resigned from my (awesome) job. And now I'm nervous - no, terrified. And I keep asking myself that same question over and over - what if I fail?
But there's also one question I keep forgetting to ask: what if I succeed?
Here are my two latest lino prints: