When life gives you…

Perspective is a wonderful thing isn’t it?

On Friday night, a fellow fibre artist and friend of mine opened a sale album on Facebook. Now I normally try not to be comparative (that way lies misery!) BUT she had 65+ items in this folder and sold MOST of them in 4 hours.

She made HUNDREDS of dollars.

Now lemme give you some background info to be fair:

She is an established personality in spinning/fibre circles.

She’s good – VERY GOOD – at what she does. I would never try to diminish her success – she spins beautifully, dyes amazing stuff, and there is EVERY reason why she is so successful.

And we have a different product and a different niche: She dyes commercial roving with commercial dyes, and I dye locally farmed ethical fleeces with plant-based/organic/fair trade dyes. And I add the spiritual side as well.

And I’m comparatively new to the market.

But despite all this I felt INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATED AND DISHEARTENED.

How can she sell all that in 4 hours, and I don’t even sell one item a week?! I pour my heart and soul into my art: I BELIEVE IN IT. I spin sometimes ’til my eyes hurt at night, lovingly tending each skein to completion, and severely underprice myself (often only paying myself $1 an hour and often end up giving lots of stuff away!). And for what?! Is it worth it?! Maybe I should just give it away and find ‘real job’.

I felt flattened. I felt heart broken.

So I went to a movie with my friend Lou, and we grabbed a hot chocolate afterwards, and we got to talking about our grandparents. My German Oma immigrated to Australia in the 50’s. She had no English, was DESPERATLEY poor, and lived in a converted asbestos chook shed with 7 children. My Opa worked on the Warragamba Dam Project and was away for weeks on end, and my Oma supplemented their income by growing tomatoes to sell and milking the family cow.

Perspective.

This isn’t a PROBLEM. It’s annoying. But it’s not a PROBLEM.

So this morning I picked some daffs before Jerry the Goat ate them, and Tara and I baked a Banana and Raspberry Loaf. We ate it warm from the oven. And the washing machine broke down (Grr. But I bet Oma didn’t have a washing machine; broken or otherwise. And she had SEVEN KIDS), so I made plans to go the laundromat until payday. And the vacuum cleaner broke, and I laughed at the irony and took the broken piece out.

Perspective.

It’s not about being mindlessly, irrationally, ridiculously optimistic. It’s just recognizing what is an actual HARDSHIP, and what is a TEMPORARY INCONVENIENCE.

We have everything we need. I’m lucky to be able to do what I’m passionate about, and if I follow my passion, I cant lose. Success will come. And, you know what? The vacuum cleaner works better without that piece anyway 🙂

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Living your life can be an act of rebellion.

Here’s my big lesson this week: Living life for yourself can be a HUGE act of rebellion.

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In modern day society, hubby and I don’t live a conventional life. We don’t have a huge mortgage. He works, I stay home with the girls, and work my home businesses. We don’t have credit cards – we try to spend only the money we actually have.

Sure, I could go back to full time teaching now. We could buy a new car on credit, take out a mortgage to buy a new McMansion in the suburbs and “have it all’. I could eat dairy and meat. That would make a lot of people around us much more comfortable.

But I value what I do for my family by being at home much more than society could pay me for working full time. My girls wont remember a shiny new marble benchtop, or a new car. But they will remember walking home from school hand-in-hand with Mummy, and having hot pikelets for afternoon tea, and climbing their swingset until its time to run over and hug dad as he pulls into the driveway.

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My husband loves his job. I love mine. We do ok. We’re ok with not having a lot of stuff, because we have SO SO MUCH to be grateful for.

But this week, I’ve been challenged: Do I have the courage to be what I am, and to do what I do, even if it makes some of the people I love uncomfortable?

I read this article by Julia over at SacredFamiliar and it resonated with me a lot.

I spent ALOT of my teens and 20s doing what I thought was ‘best’. I had the voices of my parents in the back of my head at all times, and I always did what I thought would make them happiest. I never made a decision without mentally consulting everyone I knew to check if they’d be ok with it.

But actually, it’s not my responsibility to make everyone else comfortable and happy.

What if I had the courage to live my truth? With no apologies. And no explanations.

What if I called myself a witch.

What if I said, “I choose not to work fulltime.”

What if I said, “I don’t want a big new house.”

What if I said, “I actually don’t support the dairy farmers’.

These statements are all potential time-bombs. They all have the potential to be misunderstood. To be criticized. To make people – including the people I love – VERY uncomfortable.

But here they are. In writing, for all to see. My truth. Here’s me having the courage to speak it. Here’s me being FUCKING BRAVE. My act of rebellion.

Here’s me living my life for ME, not for what others will think.

Because – hand on heart – “This is what’s important.”


 

 

When it all feels like a ‘job’.

Lately, I’ve been finding it hard to slow down. There always seems to be another task in the back of my head that needs to be done, and not nearly enough time to do it all. Im working on a number of projects at the moment, all of which demand my attention, my work environment has been tense and stressful, and the girls have all their end-of-year activities on and:swimming lessons, dance recitals, christmas parties.

And the news is full of violence. And the pollen is itching my eyes. And we’ve had restless broken sleep each night for various reasons. And it’s all just a bit loud, a bit bright, a bit much.

I’m trying – REALLY TRYING – to keep slowing down. To breathe. To remember the really important things.

Im trying to carefully and deliberately to compartmentalise my work hours to keep work from bleeding into my day. When I plan to work for an hour, at the end of the hour, I close the program, get up and walk away from the computer.

Easier said than done.

Part of the stress is planning for a big market coming up. I’ve been spinning wool and dyeing roving late into the evening (aften way past when I planned to go the bed!) spinning wool until my eyes ache and my fingers are stiff. I want to have tonnes of beautiful things for the stall. Often I work myself to the bone like this, only to sell NOTHING on the day, and come home not even having my stall-money re-couped. That can be so disheartening.

But then I had a bit of an epiphany at a friend’s house the other day. She made a comment about trying to find a craft that would be lucrative. She was going to try pottery, commentting on how she felt she’d be able to make more volume in less time. (Can I add as an aside here, that I do not mean to suggest in any way that this friend is materialistic or intends to sell-out and go into mass production! Merely that she was talking about the need to help supplement her family income! I hear that!) But it made me think about handcrafting vs mass-production. Would I sell-out if I could find some way to make this stuff pay?

And I realised I wouldn’t. I really enjoy the spinning and knitting. I love the slowness and meditation of feeding out the fibre, and the suprise results of dyeing, and making bits and bobs for people I love who appreciate my pieces. When I feel like Im working to a deadline, or trying to make it profitable, I dont enjoy it. It becomes mundane, and becomes just another ‘job’.

I have a job. I do this because its fun. Even when I get up in the dark, load the car, drive to a market, set up sit in the sun/wind/rain all day, and come home having not sold a single thing; I’ve still had a fun day.

So I’m not going to find another more lucrative thing to sell. Cos I love doing this. And someday I may have to buy a warehouse to store all my unsold bits and pieces, and then move in to it because wool wont pay my rent. Oh well.

But I AM going to remember to stop stressing about finishing items in time for the markets. I can never predict what’s going to sell or not anyway! This is NOT MY JOB. (I should stop making it like one!)

And as for my actual job… :/ Weeellll. It pays the bills. Mostly. And the people are nice. Mostly. And I can turn off my computer, and not open my email, until I decide to be in “work mode” tomorrow.

Its been getting warmer too. We had friends over for our yearly “hazard reduction burn” (aka Bonfire Night) and the kids had a ball! I wanna plant more food in my garden. And take the girls to the beach more. And start doing some running again. Not for weightloss this time. Not for punishment. I dont do that anymore. Just for a bit of fun, and to get the dog out for some exercise. Thats another thing I have conciously decided not to make into a “job”. It started to become one a while back, so I stopped, cold turkey. I realised I was using running to punish my body for being “too big”. I was using it as a weapon to beat myself with, when I really needed to be my own friend.

The little voice in my head became a drill sargent. screaming out internet “fitspo” slogans: “You’ll make time, or you’ll make excuses!”, “you just dont want it bad enough!. I imagined laying my boot into myself, curled in defense on the ground, kicking and flogging it to get up and get my ‘fat ass’ to do one more rep, when what I really shouldve been saying to myself is “…honey, you’re tired. You’ve been caring for 2 little kids, a farm, and a sick partner all day on your own. It’s ok to go to bed.” I was my own worst enemy. In fact if i had heard anyone absuing someone the way I abused myself inside my head, I would’ve bodily thrown myself inbetween, screaming “STOP! STOP!!! WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?! SHE DOESN’T DESERVE IT! LEAVE HER ALONE”.

But I wasn’t my friend.

I choose to be my friend now. I wont punish myself anymore.

So I choose to slow down. To log off. To stop making the things I love a ‘job’. Even if I only have a few beautiful, hand made things on my market stall, they will be made with integrity and love. Even if I didn’t push through to get that last email sent, at least I wont be stressed and yelling distractedly at my kids. Even if the house is dusty, and the garden’s going a bit to seed and weed, Im not a size 12, and I havent worn my Garmin in months, it’s ok. I can cut myself some slack and do something nice for me. It’s what friends do.

Another Day in Melbourne

I took a strange journey to get here, where I am now. Not in the physical sense – although it was a day’s travel, but in the mental and almost spiritual.
At my previous job I was, in my mind at least, on a path to career progression. I was given a lot of opportunities (ones I felt I earned) and it seemed that things were going well. A good job with a career path – I knew it would not be forever, in my mind I had always known that if I really wanted to reach heights in my industry I would have to at least try a different work environment and were I was that meant moving (relocating). I was surrounded by family and friends, with interests outside of work and a huge network to call on.
Then it happened.
I am not sure if I didn’t try hard enough, or if I didn’t impress the right people or even if it had nothing to do with me at all, but I missed out on a promotion.
I had been working that position in an “acting” role for nearly 12 months – getting some good results and making positive changes. Even winning an award – which I attribute to the changes I had made.
That really set me back, and with a new baby on the way I had to make a choice about my life and my family.
Now I’m not going to get into the whole debate over who should or should not provide for the family – hell if things were different and I needed to I would stay at home with the kids. However, our situation was that I need to be the one providing at this stage and my wife supports that and I support her. As far as I am concerned we are both working full time – I just get a pay cheque for mine!
So I needed to decide if I was going to stay in the position I had (my substantive role) and wait around for another opportunity with no guarantee or look for something else.
I will admit that I was pissed off – I was angry (and so was my wife) and I did really start looking for alternatives.
An opportunity came up, 800 kms away, in a different state far away from any family or friends, with no support network in a very different (although similar) work environment.
I applied for it. Thinking if nothing more this was a chance to get my resume into order and hopefully practice some interview techniques.
Not only did I get an interview (phone followed up by in person) I landed the job a few short weeks before my second child was born.
The decision to take this job came not from the anger and disappointment I had felt but from several moments of serendipity.
Call it fate or whatever but ever since saying yes and exposing myself and my family to this big upheaval the choice has been vindicated in more ways than I can recount.
Today was filled with such moments.
We had learnt about a kids event at Art Play that was on today, it’s a short train ride to the City so off we went, all four of us for a day out.
It was a little rainy as we came into Flinders Street station and we stopped for coffee and some morning tea. Then crossing the road to Federation Square we sat and drank and ate while a street performer (from Circus Oz) did a 30 minute show – brilliant, funny and I even partook with some assistant work holding his unicycle.

After the show (we deposited some $’s into his hat because he truly was worth it) we turned to head down to Art Play and walked into the Greek Festival. We also found a Fine Design Market full of wonderful hand and locally made items. Deciding that we had come to see Art Play but wanting to come back, we moved on.
At Art Play my 3 year old played on the equipment while the baby was fed. We met a Chilean family who are over here for 6 years while the husband studies his Masters and Phd (on a scholarship). That put our lives into perspective – our move while a long way was nothing compared to coming to another country with a new language with three children (one born here) and no easy way to get to family. 

After all this play and looking at wonderful things we headed off for some lunch and a rest, and it was here that I realised that all we did that morning was within a few hundred meters of Flinders Station – a mere 30 minutes from our front door.
We planned one event, a trip to Art Play and instead saw, experienced and took part in so much more.
This day is typical of any day out in Melbourne.
We took a trip to Warrandyte last week (when my parents where visiting) and found not only some great shops, a kids play ground, access to the Yarra River and walks but a community theater group with a play that started that night. With grandparental babysitting we got to go and met some theater people – we plan on joining or at least trying to attend more shows into the future.
I took a big risk, and I won’t lie there have been moments that we have regretted it, the fear, the isolation, the unknown has contributed to us doubting our choice. We put ourselves out there and asked the universe to give us a break, a break we felt we earned and one that we worked for (and still do).
A friend once told me, “put our good vibes and you shall have them come back at you” – all I can say is that whatever happens and whatever the future holds this choice this step we took has been for the better and can only get better.
Looking to the future.

My Day

So I have had a different sort of day – overslept and was a little late for an appointment only to sit there for 15 minutes before the secretary remember to tell the person we where there! So not late after all! Found out we can save money on our loans – but not the home loan (it would cost us $10K to break the fixed contract) but at least we will save something if they approve it. Spent most of the afternoon then doing stuff at home and getting the supplies for my Birthday tomorrow – Asia themed food YUM! (we hit the new Asian grocer and asked him many a question on the weird and tasty foods!

Then after getting Horse feed spent a good 20 minutes picking ticks of poor old Donna – she is getting them bad this year and they where big ones! Like the size of my little finger nail! But she was a good girl and just stood there – in fact I think she really liked the scratching and attention! I don’t really like the squish of crushing full ticks but it is better to have them dead then on Donna.

Then we cleanup the house for the party preparations and generally had a nice time inside away from the Heat (30 C today) I got to play guitar tonight and I also saw my friend Zles today we talked music and life and writing – one day he will find his muse and write that epic novel that I know is inside him… I love his sort pieces that he has written over the years… one day!

Oh and now I have been listening to The Cure and just having a pleasant evening in front of the computer and doing a few changes to the Blog and catching up on friends around the world!

Simple day yet it has been very productive and good!

Hope yours was too

Ending and Begining

Hmmm!!!
I am a little sad at the moment – the show I was in “Old Time Music Hall” has finished so the rush of a live audience every Friday and Saturday has vanished from my life… It was a fun show to do and although it is not all my ‘Cup of Tea’ I did enjoy doing it – I did not thing that I would…
Oh well off to other adventures I guess – I am producing the next production at the Theatre “The Witches” adapted by David Wood from Roald Dahl’s book of the same name – a very nice little play with some lovely parts and a good deal of Puppetry work… So I am busy designing some kind of puppets and how we will adapt the set and them to work with what we have etc. We start to build the set this week as we have got the stage model off the set designer. It is a big job but fun all the same, and at least something I can get to do while I am not working…
I only work 3 days a week at the moment with a few extra days here and there, at least my sig other is working 5 days and we are not on the bread line – but a few more days would put my mind at ease!
So that is really all for the moment – no rants I’ll that to you Jeff!!
Oh we are off to the City tomorrow Anjel has a meeting up there so as I am not working I am going along as the token other half! hehehe Caio!