This morning I went for a run. I let the sunshine warm my face and the breeze cool the sweat from my skin. I asked nothing more from myself then to feel my feet hit the Earth, one in front of the other. My mind submitted to the task at hand and I let go of all extraneous thoughts about what I should be working on, how to pursue my dreams, or how to find more fulfillment. It was glorious.
I’ve been running the last two weeks, something I haven’t done in over a year due to an injury and other various reasons like lack of time. Beyond the obvious benefits of better cardiovascular health and strength that come with running, my mind and spirit have reaped the greatest reward… letting go.
You see, behind the scenes of my life and artwork, I’ve been working really hard. I’ve been prepping for art festivals and participating in them, editing videos for online learning classes I plan to launch, making social media posts and other communications, and working on commissions and other new creations. It’s mostly really fun work, but it’s still work, and a lot of it. In addition, I work full-time in another job that requires my time and energy for 40 hours a week. My full-time job is essential for very practical reasons, such as paying my bills. Needless to say, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends. So is the life of most self-made entrepreneurs.
So after participating in an art festival a few weekends back, something that took 20 plus hours of prep time, and not making the money back that I spent in order to be a vendor, I’ve been reassessing a few things. Sure, I am still feeling out what shows make the most sense to participate in for my particular aesthetic. I am very new to the festival arena and it takes time to to feel out the different scenes. But I had to ask myself this question, “Am I really happy with being a business owner?” Sadly the answer is, “Not lately.”
I love making artwork, I love working with customers and doing commission work and I love teaching others the joy of creating. I would continue doing all of these things even if I wasn’t attempting to make a living or business out of them. So step one to finding more happiness again is letting go of this idea that I have to make this business thrive in order to really live out my dreams. That’s kind of a bunch of crap. I could paint and donate my work, or put up free tutorials, and do commission work as a hobby for friends and family, and have painting gatherings every once in a while. None of these activities require a business license.
Step two is recognizing what actually makes me happiest is when I have extra time in my schedule to spend with family, friends, and loved ones. And this time must be quality, which means I don’t want to be concerned with thoughts of everything I should be doing for my business while I am having a conversation. Being in the moment rather than planning out every moment of your day in order to optimize your production… what a novelty.
Step three is taking the pressure off of myself to create more purpose in my life through my career. I mean, come on now, no matter how you package it, work is work. And as a business owner, am I really going to find more purpose when all I am doing is working all of the time? Heck no. After taking a break last week, I realized I find purpose in the small details of everyday life. The holding of the door for a stranger, the giving of my full attention to a person I am communicating with, the recognizing the miracle of running water as I wash the dishes, the noticing of fine details of a person’s eyes, the appreciation for the Earthy smell of the woods on my morning run, and the gratitude for this life-giving breath. These things fill me up, and when I am so caught up pursuing an external goal of success as an artist in order to find more purpose, I am totally missing the point.
The final step to being happier is taking the pressure off of my creativity so that I can actually be, wait for it… CREATIVE! I’ve come to realize I am an extremely creative person. It took me a long while to really tap into that creative energy, and that was after years of learning how to relax and still myself enough through yoga and meditation so that stress, anxiety and all those other killers of the creative process, did not hold me back. By placing pressure on myself to have a successful art business, I’ve inadvertently induced a subtle stress response in my creative activities, and I’ve been struggling to produce artwork with abandon like I used to.
So after taking a week off, I feel ready to just completely release this whole construct I made to be able to work as a full-time artist. I am letting that one go and handing it over to that which is greater than myself. Don’t get me wrong, this is not me just giving up. I want to continue to share my art, launch a few online art classes, and teach people the joy of the creative process. This is all in the works. But I plan to do so with a much stronger grasp of balance for my health and wellbeing as well as for the health of my relationships.
All of this release and letting go has had an interesting effect. I am more creatively inspired than I have been in months. It turns out the old adage is very true, A Relaxed Mind is a Creative Mind.