If only we had hooked up when we were young, what would our life together be like today? I could only imagine that it would have been filled with joy and bliss, and a lot of growing-pains as we tried to discover who we were. We would have decades behind us now, but at what cost? Would it have been all that great? I'd like to say yes. Yes, we would have fallen madly in love with each other and faced whatever obstacles life would have thrown at us, because we would have had each other. Yes, we would have grown a future together, and slid gently into our latter years gracefully. The truth is, I don't know what it would have been like.
What we do have is now, this moment. It is the best time of our lives. We were able to be whomever we needed to be when we were young, to prepare for who we are now. We made the necessary mistakes and failures then, so that we could grow from those experiences, and be the best for each other now. I'm glad that we didn't have to go through those younger, inexperienced years together. I'm glad that we waited for each other.
"Before I'm done with this life, I want 50 years with you, at the very least."
I want to be who you choose every day of your life, because you are who I choose every day of mine. I want to be the one you talk to about anything and everything, the one you vent to, complain to, talk about your dreams and your goals to. I want to tell you about all the beauty I see in you, and in our world together. I want to cry and scream and laugh, while I tell you all the things I hide from myself.
I want you to hold me in your arms as I rest my head on your shoulder, and hold onto your long hair like a safety blanket, and melt into your body as our hearts beat to the same rhythm. I want to breath in your calmness and be swept away into an intoxicating slumber. I want to feel your warm body next to mine as I open my eyes to a new day.
Before I'm done with this life, I want 50 years with you, at the very least. The happiness I feel is amplified by the presence of you in my life. I want to be the one who is there with you, through it all, the good and the bad. I want you to be by my side as I face the rest of my life, and know with all of your heart that I will never leave you.
I want to wake up at sunrise and make love with you before we start our day, every day. I want to get sweet little messages from you, just to know that you're thinking of me while we're busy with our lives. I want to cook dinners for you, or at least learn how to. I want to relax in the evenings in a bubble bath with candles burning all around us, with wine and soft music. I want to massage your feet while you massage mine.
I want to travel with you, get a dog and a Toyota FJ Cruiser, and get out on the land with our cameras and explore places that we've never seen before. I want to write stories and drink coffee, and be quiet and still for a moment. I want to be present for you, and for myself. I want to tell you every day of your life that I love you, and I want to show you that you are all I've ever wanted.
I want to do great things with you, like build a little house and grow a garden, expand whatever horizons we want to. I want to bake cookies with you when it gets cold outside, and binge-watch Netflix series. I want to walk beside you up mountains and down through valleys and across rivers. I want to sit with you at sunset and hold your hand. I want you to gaze into my eyes and see the universe that's revealing itself to you.
I want to touch you, and memorize every nuance of your being. I want to be drawn deeply into you, and live there for a while. I want to recognize you in every way, and wash over you like a gentle rain. I want all of this and so much more.
Be with me, here and now, and forever. I can promise you the world, and good food, and warm nights. Give me all of your love and affection, and your humor and child-like nature. Take me for all that I am, and I guarantee that you'll never need another.
(For my Beloved on the anniversary of our 10th month.)
Being an artist and running a business at the same time can be tricky. It takes balance and consistency, setting priorities and keeping on track.
My schedule gets a little crazy at times, between the volunteer community service I love to do (giving back to the community is a big deal to me); weekly modeling gigs; running art sessions and monthly photo workshops; photo shoots, (where I am the photographer); and creating all the marketing materials, press releases and social media promos for all of the above. It’s a full-time+ gig, where I’m busy at odd hours of the day and night.
Morning meetings are held at the kitchen counter via laptop Messenger Chat, while I’m drinking coffee and eating oatmeal.
Having a solid core team is crucial. We are all spread out geographically, making typical conference room meetings a thing of the past. With wonderful digital-age devices, the tools of the trade are now wireless and tele-communicative.
Dress Code consists of leggings and a thermal shirt, fluffy socks, messy hair and no makeup. Comfort is essential and helps me be more productive.
Follow-ups are done through group email. Updates are taken care of by text messages and phone calls. And all of this is done before lunch.
While all of that is taking place, I am busy designing flyers, updating my online store, adding info to my website and responding to people who send messages to my Facebook Events.
After lunch, more coffee and more work. But that’s the best thing - it never feels like work. It’s fun, all of it, because I only do what I love. And I love running my own business, and I love being an artist. It helps a whole lot too, being a natural-born Multi-Tasker.
I’ve learned a boat-load of skills during my life, all of which serves me well, now. It’s like second nature for me to whip up an Excel Spreadsheet to track progress, log receivables and payables, and review statistics.
I’m all for taking breaks during the day. I go from crazy-busy to calm and relaxed in just a few seconds. It’s the best practice I’ve put into action that benefits everything in my life.
I have designed the best possible solution for my busy work day. Here’s a brief snapshot:
#1. Music. I listen to music while I’m working, when I’m driving, pretty much all the time except when I am sleeping. The Ambient Station on Pandora Radio is on nonstop all day.
#2. Naps. Sleeping when you’re tired is not being lazy. It’s the brain’s way of recovering and creating. When I wake up, my subconscious mind shows me what I need to know next, and I’m able to follow through because I am rested.
#3. Food. Healthy, unprocessed foods. I snack all day. My go-to is bell peppers - red, yellow and orange. Cucumber slices with hummus, apples, cashews, and lots of water. My metabolism is sped up, my mind is clear and I am focused.
With my daily routine, productivity is a snap. At the end of the day, I am always amazed at everything I’m able to accomplish.
Spending quality time with my boyfriend helps me unwind at the end of the day, either in person or on the phone. We offer each other a lot of support, encouragement and nurturing. I love the way we motivate one another. We bounce ideas off each other, create projects and launch them together. We have mutual interests and a great passion for the art that we make. This part of my day is just as important as all the work I do in the course of a day.
What does all of this mean? It means when I tell people I’m busy all the time, it actually means *I’m busy all the time.* I’m up at the crack of dawn and fall asleep somewhere around midnight. This is the way my life is at the moment, and I love every second of it.
So, for those of you who follow me on social media, don't be fooled - photographs are nice, and they are stunning for sure, but it's important to understand that being a kickass girl boss is anything but all that. The every-day me in the dress-code I mentioned earlier does not look like all that. Entrepreneurship is a workout, physically, emotionally, financially, you name it! I'm sure the private planes and designer clothes, and trips to Europe are wonderful. But for me, at this moment in my life, I am working my ass off day and night to create something that I love, something to share with all of you. When those nice things come my way, I will appreciate them, but that is not my motivation.
As I finish writing this blog, it is a Saturday morning. I woke up early, fell back to sleep and woke up two hours later, feeling like only five minutes went by. I didn't even know what day it was. I dragged my butt out of bed to the kitchen where I discovered I was out of coffee. I got dressed, put on my dreaded Michigan Coat and hopped into my freezing cold car. It started snowing while I drove to the grocery store. Barely alert, I grabbed a bag of coffee beans and made my way to the ONLY cashier that was open, and of course the person in front of me had a fully loaded cart. She looked at me and waved me ahead of her. It must have been obvious, I needed the coffee!
Now, with my freshly-brewed cup next to my laptop, Mumford & Sons, Eddie Vedder and Dave Matthews playing on Pandora Radio, I am reviewing my up-coming week and what needs to be done.
Building an empire and being a badass entrepreneur isn’t for the weak of heart. It takes making tough decisions, facing yourself fearlessly, and learning to have courage you never thought was possible.
Here’s what I know today: the rewards, the abundance, the love of what I do, is worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears, because it takes a lot to get through it all. Take this advice from me: work smart, not hard; push yourself; never give up on your dreams; and always have plenty of coffee nearby.
Thanks for reading.
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So, this just happened! Tim McLellan, of HGTV's "Boomtown Builders", showed up with his film crew to do a Design Consultation with me. I entered a contest and won, but what was really cool was meeting Tim, and his lovely wife and assistant, Ericka. They have ties to the Old Jerome High School Art Center, where my studio is located. Once owners of Western Heritage Furniture in the building right next door, Tim was here in Jerome for over 20 years. With a passion for restoring old historic buildings, and being a Jerome-local, who else better to help me figure out what to do with my studio?
As soon as he walked through the doorway, I knew this was the guy for the job. It always makes me smile when I watch someone walk into my space for the first time, and see the expression on their face, much like the one that was on mine when I first entered this old classroom. High ceiling, old hardwood floor and a wall of tall windows - what's not to love?
After a brief tour of the room we got down to basics: #1 storage, and #2 sprucing up the place. Some of it was easy, like a fresh coat of paint, a light cleaning of the hardwood floor and some track lighting for the ceiling. Some of it, not so easy, like where to put everything. I spent weeks clearing out most of the clutter, but there was still stuff that needed a proper place in the room. Tim surprised me with an idea, floor-to-ceiling cabinets and shelves similar to an old library, with a rolling ladder to get up to the higher shelves (I am kinda short.) The storage structure would be removable, which gave me another idea - painting it a deep teal green - a great contrast color against the freshly painted white walls.
The old classroom is an actual "classroom" for art sessions and photography workshops, making the bright white walls necessary for creating without distractions. But a splash of color on the cabinets and shelves on the one large wall will make me happy.
The surprise of the day was Tim's suggestion for the windows. I hadn't planned on doing anything with the windows, since I love the North-facing natural light. But his two-cents worth made a lot of sense to me. Blocking out the natural light to control lighting in the studio is brilliant, especially with photography. Not every photographer likes natural light. But here's the awesome part - each huge window will have its own tapestry of art, created by yours truly. Each panel will hang from a hinged rod at the top of each window, like sails. Each one will swing open, or shut. This is the kicker - when they are all shut, it will be one huge wall of a piece of my artwork. That deserves a celebration!
I love the idea of controlling the light in my studio with the large banners, opening the ones I want and keeping a few shut, or opening all of them. They can even be easily removed and changed out, as I continue to create more pieces of art for the windowed-wall. Thank you, Tim, for stirring up all kinds of artistic ideas in my brain.
Watch the video and stay tuned for the progress of my studio transformation. Oh, and "Happy Valentine's Day!"
Thanks for reading,
I am living the dream, one day at a time, and sharing my experiences with you.
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