Saturday, October 25, 2014

Reasonable Goal Setting Pt. 1

A couple of years ago, I invested a pretty penny in having cards made featuring images of my artwork...

I was very excited when I sold some to be displayed in an Atlanta shop, and here and there I sold a few to friends and family. I vended fairs and festivals and gave many cards away as gift sets. I even had some listed in my etsy store (now closed.) For the the last year, however, they have mostly lived in a box in my closet.

This weekend, I changed that. I donated the lot of them to a friend who vends similar items at fairs and festivals. It was a real act of letting go, not only of the cards but of the dream that inspired their creation. I was able to release both because it was never really a clear goal for me...just a vague idea that creativity might be the path for me to take professionally. For the past few years, however, things regarding this dream had felt at a standstill, always on the verge of becoming, but never being, real.

One day, I realized why...I am already doing it. The job I currently have is directly related to  creativity. Therefore, I am making a living via my creative talents.

I have realized a few other things as well...

...I'm not a salesperson.
...I have a deep personal conflict with creating for the sole purpose of selling what I create.
...I don't like to vend at fairs and festivals.
...I don't want to feel pressured to create to maintain a 'stock' for showing/selling.
...I don't want to be confined creatively to one medium.

All of these things are fine and good things if they suit one's personality and desires; they just don't suit mine. This of course would make it pretty difficult to support myself as a professional visual artist, a career that involves and can even depend on the above things.

And that's perfectly okay. It has taken me some time, but I know myself now, and I know what I am striving both towards and for.

Like most people, my entire life changed when I became a parent. No matter the goals and dreams I'd had before, when my son was born, there was one thing and one thing only that I wanted to do... with my baby. I wanted to be a full-time, stay-at-home mother. However, that's not really possible when one is a single (solo) mother (or at least if it is, I could not find the way to do it!) My desire to combine finding a way to be at home full-time with my son with making a living from my creativity clouded the reality that I had already accomplished my long-time primary goal - to make a living through creativity. I failed to appreciate my professional successes and instead ran on empty, striving in the wee hours of the night towards vague, unrealistic goals that did not suit my situation.

Fast forward to almost ten years, and so much is different! Would I still like to be a full-time, stay-at-home mom? You bet! However, I accepted years ago that was not my path. Since then, I have learned to be clear and precise with goal setting to accomplish the things I want to achieve while balancing work with being the best mother I can be. I have also learned there is great authenticity in what I was most passionate about in my youth: writing and nature.


Becoming a mother only intensified my love of nature and the joy I found in writing. As my son grows (at what seems like the speed of light,) I learn more and more the importance of being fully present and focusing on the moment. I also understand the importance of acknowledging my current situation and how it relates to setting clear, realistic goals whose demands don't take away from the present or my most important role as a parent. When our goals are authentic and our pacing is appropriate for our situation, doors open. We see change, and growth, and opportunity. And we know we're on the right path.

As Mari of SaimaaLife writes in her series 365 Ways to Wellbeing, the 312th Way, "Remember to acknowledge the situation you’re in with your parenting. Think about how many children you have, what age your children are, what kind of personalities they are and what is the general situation where your family is living in each season. Acknowledge the differences and demands that they set for you as a parentAnd AFTER THAT  set realistic goals for your own work or for your free time plans!"

I am thrilled to have Mari's contribution in this set of posts, which I will continue soon in a part 2! Her blog has long inspired me and I am sure it will inspire my readers as well! So I will be back in a few days with more information on setting reasonable goals for personal and professional success, but a first step is finding clarity in what we truly want to accomplish, whether a goal is personal or professional. This can involve really looking closely at what drives us as persons, and what we are most passionate about. 

Once we become parents, achieving both personal and professional goals can involve a little more balance and juggling but it is possible. And this is what this series of posts will be about! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mothers Connect - A New App in the Making!

I'm very excited about this new app idea from The Mother Magazine!

Hi Starr!!!!

What a great idea! Linking and connecting like-minded mothers in the same area with just a few simple touches on the phone!

You can help support this app becoming a reality, and receive all kinds of goodies in the process, by visiting Mothers Connect - A Social App. And even if you can't contribute at the moment, you can help make this happen by sharing this blog and/or the above link to your friends and on your social networking sites!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Feeling Spread too Thin...and a Peek at My Article in Issue 66 of The Mother Magazine

 I love the weekends. I don't dare say I live for weekends, because weekdays have their own joy and sense of routine, but the working full-time does lend a sense of preciousness to the weekends when they roll around. Unplanned, wide-open days...

This weekend, however, I just wasn't feeling it. Saturday had begun before dawn, like this...

...looking into a computer screen. I had a freelance article to finish, a test to take and a research paper to complete. This is what predispositioned me to be grumpy - not having those things to do, but having to spend considerable hours on the computer first thing.  I'm not a hugely technical person, nor is ours a tech-centered household. I use the computer primarily as a tool for work, so I view using it, in my mind,  as work. And I wasn't so keen on beginning my relaxing weekend day with work.

I wrapped it all up around lunchtime, but I still felt my energy was heavy. My son, who had entertained himself most of the morning so I could complete my schoolwork, asked for a cousin to come sleep over and I readily agreed. I wanted to reward him somehow for his patience on these days when I needed space to complete schoolwork. I felt a little drained and wanted him to have some company and fun times, so we hopped in the car.

After driving over to pick up my nephew, I returned home to find Issue 66 of The Mother Magazine  waiting in my mailbox. And there, on page 62, was my article, accompanied by my own photos.

My heart leapt and the heaviness that had been surrounding me began to slowly lift. I watched my son's eyes as he scanned the images and responded simply with, "Cool." Later that evening, sitting outside in the Carolina dusk, sipping coffee with neighbors as the children played tag in the fading light, I had the thought that maybe when we push ourselves to do many things, and do them well, there are going to be days like today when we just aren't feeling it. That is why allowing ourselves a bit of space and finding a balance between work (and work related responsibilities) and home life are just so important.

The next day, visiting my parents, I took a solo nature walk in the same places I used to explore as a child. There was all the magic I remembered, hanging out in the same places it's always been...

I've never been a mother who craved time away from her child, but there was something about doing this walk alone - my son had opted not to come - that seemed to rejuvenate me.

I gathered many things along the way. Even the ash bucket was found along the walk, cast aside in an overgrown area.

As I was preparing to go back inside, I heard my son calling. He'd opted to join me after all. I showed him the yellow mushroom, the tiny mushroom villages, the grasshopper on the trumpet vine, and even the old stone fence I played along as a child. Then my father buzzed my cellphone to let us know dinner was ready.

My energy, which had felt so heavy the day before, was fully restored. We headed inside to a great dinner with family. And back at home, we set up the week's bouquet, gatherings from my solo walk in nature!

Have a wonderful week, dear readers. If you find yourself feeling spread too thin or looking too long at technology, escape outside. We'll be there!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

And the Winner Is...


Nienna wins this scarf, handmade by me! Nienna, I will need your address for shipping!

I am thoroughly humbled by a near record number of hits on my most recent post about Farm Fresh Fair. I would like to thank everyone who participated in the Autumn Equinox and Birthday Giveaway by sharing my blog!

I look forward to sharing with you, in a coming post, some ideas about keeping ambition and life goals realistic when working and raising children (especially full-time, and as a solo-parent!) in order to stay inspired and prevent burnout. I am excited about the possibility of interviewing someone I admire and respect for more helpful insights for this post! Crossing fingers!

Now, I am off to do homework and then maybe a bit of knitting and an episode (or two) of House of Cards.

Until next time,

Sunday, October 5, 2014

On Wandering, Farm Fresh Fair, and More!

I once read that the happier one is at home, the less they desire to travel.

I'm torn with this phrase, because I do enjoy traveling, but I've come to find I do it less and less as I get older. And when I do, it is to some familiar place, like our beloved Isle of Palms or the mountains. The same beach, the same mountains, but not even as often as I might have done just two years ago. So I do believe there is some truth in the idea that being happy where you are makes you less inclined to roam, though I still do occasionally get the urge to wander...

...just maybe not as far and wide as I once did.

Sometimes no farther than my own patio...
Nowadays, I'm more likely to be found enjoying events and activities a little closer to home, such as The Farm at Rabon Creek's annual Fresh Farm Fair a couple of weekends ago.

Inspired Community...yes it is!!
I'm so grateful to my hometown friend Steve (thanks again!!) for making me aware of this wonderful, local event. I grew up in a small Southern town, lived right on Main Street until I left home (to wander), but I'm an 'adopted country girl' through and through. And this event was right up my alley!

Of course, getting there was half the fun! Traveling country roads, remembering why I love my GPS so much...

Old cabins are such a common sight here in rural SC...

Once we arrived, it was so much fun to just look around and enjoy the country sights!

I want one!

Still my heart...I want one of these, too!

And I'll take a few of these as well!
Farm Fresh Fair is, and I quote their website here as they say it best, "an inspired community sharing their passion, a curated event for artisans who make handmade goods. It’s a gathering of vintage lovers and a home for makers of rescued, restored, and re-purposed delights. It is healthy, scratch-made, Farm Fresh food from local farmers. It is a farm bustling with entrepreneurs."

This reminds me of the house I grew up in, with parents who appreciated the worn and well-loved item!
Something for everyone, even those whose taste run to the more 'eclectic'!
And yummy foods...not only was there an amazing array of local honeys, but fresh homemade breads, ice cream, and lots of choices for lunch!

This came home with us!
Fine dining, country style!
And if a sign like this doesn't catch my eye, nothing could!

Yes, please!!
Lunch on a haybale!
I just fell in love with the sight of this little girl in her handmade dress! 

And so many other beautiful things to see!

Community art installation!

Mums and the bread, our souvenirs!

It was a pretty warm day, but cool in the shade!
After a couple of hours, we were ready to head out and explore a few other sights. I grew up with 'country drives' being a favorite family activity, so I decided we'd take one of our own and see where we ended up!

What is a more Southern roadside sight than this?...
...The Boiled P-nut man, that's what!!!
We ended up at Yo Cup Coffee House in Clinton! 
Right on East Main!

I love trying out new coffee houses, and this one has hit the nail on the marketing head offering frozen yogurt as well as java! Something for everyone! It was a great spot for some much needed coffee for me and a sweet treat for the boy! Then we headed towards Laurens and discovered Little River Park

A fun-filled day, and all less than an hour's drive from home! Please visit links to the sites through this blog to find out more information and/or to follow them on Facebook! I leave you with this South Carolina image and saying...

Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina!
( If you pronounce 'finer' the way we do, I promise the phrase will rhyme!)
And now, it's time for me to get ready and head over to the Big House (my family home) for the celebration of my birthday! Can't wait! Happy Sunday, dear readers! May you have a blessed week!