I started writing this blog exactly 2 years ago. I'm just now finding it in a saved file. I love how things like this happen - a blog I began 2 years ago to the day, appears out of the blue for me to read and complete. Here's how it started:
Stop making yourself an afterthought. And that goes for not only yourself, but for your business, your craft, your family, your finances - all of who you are, and all of what is important to you. I say this with love for you, because I'm writing this as a reminder to myself too.
Think about it, a lot of us don't feel that we deserve too much out of life. Talking about ourselves was considered rude. How dare we feel we deserve anything. Be happy with the crumbs, you don't really deserve the banquet - that's reserved for those accomplished people over there. I don't know about you, but that was certainly the way I felt. Looking back on my life now, I see clearly how much damage this way of thinking interrupted my life. And it's actually very sad.
Does it matter to anyone on this planet that I enjoy getting my hair done? I only do it once a year, but I do go all out, and I only go to the best hairdresser in the state. Is it anyone's business how much money I spend on my hair? No. Yet, you know those people - the ones who see your new hairdo and without saying much at all, become passive aggressive AF: "Your hair looks nice" (with a twinge of sarcasm); "Someone must be feeling special" (insert disapproval and judgement here); "You must have gotten a raise" (because how else could you afford to spend a ton of money on your hair?) The list goes on and on.
Now, I know not everyone experiences this, and not everyone does this. In my life at the moment, no one treats me like this, and I have no problem doing whatever I want (to my hair, or otherwise.) But that's only because I made the decision not to downgrade many years ago.
Whatever my priorities are, they are mine, not yours. I work hard for what I have, I juggle a lot of things to support myself. I take good care of my health - physically, mentally and emotionally. I live a balanced life. And I deserve the best that life has to offer.
"Guilty pleasures" is a horrible term. Stop using it. Whatever those things are that you love and bring you pleasure, get them, do them, be them. Get rid of the guilt, there is no room in your life for that. Stop making everything you love in life an afterthought, please.
"Be aggressively you."
I heard this quote and decided to make a meme out of it with one of my favorite photos of myself. (I am not vane, people. The photo is of me sitting at my studio window, nude, in black & white, with messy hair.) The photo is simply me, nothing fancy. But it represents me to a tee. It is an unapologetic image: nudity, messy, in my studio, staring out the window.
"Dream big, manifest big."
I read something recently about how to support friends with "small businesses." I remember a few years ago liking things like that. Now, it bothers me. "Small business?" Is that what I really want? No! I am no longer calling my business "small." Who's standards are we judging our businesses by? Is a business with under 10 employees small? A business that grosses $300,000 annually, small? What does "small business" mean?
My business is not small, and I'll tell you why. If I keep calling my business "small", guess what it's going to be? SMALL. I am not manifesting a small business. My business is big, large, huge. It doesn't matter how many employees I have, or what my business grosses in a year. Those are just numbers. I have a "large" business.
When I first started my business a few years ago, it was just something I sort of fell into. I didn't even consider it to be a real business. It was just something I did on the side. Funny how our thoughts can damage what we really want, because what I really wanted was to be a fully-functioning, successful self-employed person.
The thing is, I didn't even realize what I was doing. Manifesting can absolutely be deliberate, but what I forget a lot of the time is, every single thought I have IS manifesting something. During the time when I thought my business was a side-gig, I read something by a successful entrepreneur that was based on "work smart, not hard." I liked that philosophy, because I felt like I was working hard, spinning my wheels and going nowhere. Why would anyone do that to themselves? Life is too short, and I did not want to die without experiencing the type of life I wanted.
Working smart made more sense to me than working hard. I had put in the hard work, now it was time to adopt a new thought. But it didn't happen the way I thought it was going to.
I fell behind in my rent. I was facing a dilemma, big time. I had two options: 1. pay several months worth of rent, plus late fees. 2. pack up and leave.
I sat in my car, parked in the parking lot in front of my building, and had a meltdown.
Today, picking up where I left off:
Meltdowns are necessary. For me, it's a cleansing - crying, purging, discarding, letting go. I remember clearly the meltdown of January 31st, 2019. What I didn't mention earlier was that I was sitting in a car that I was 2 or 3 months behind in the monthly payments, and I was dressed in basically pajamas. I had fallen asleep in my studio the night before after working long hours. My life was pretty much a mess.
As I sat there, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw someone I didn't even recognize. I looked just as bad as I felt. Immediately I said to myself "get a grip. You can do this. Make it happen. Don't wait, do it now." I had to say it out loud so I could hear it clearly. We are the only ones who can change our lives.
I'm glad I had the opportunity to read my own words from a period of time a couple years ago that was terrifying for me to live through. And yet, here I am today, still in the studio, car is paid off, I don't walk around in pajamas anymore, and my life is thriving. But what did it take to get here?
I put a plan of action in place that very day. I cleaned up my studio, got rid of a bunch of clutter, and took it seriously. My studio represented my business, and it had to look the part. I created a camera club, designed monthly photography events, and immediately gained momentum as I reached out to models, artists, photographers, and others in the industry. Designing events revolving around life drawing and photography were what I was most passionate about.
I cleaned up myself, and made it a point to look appropriate each day. Once that became a habit, I started feeling better about myself. "Fake it till you make it" is another quote I remember from years ago. Faking it doesn't really mean a whole lot to me. How about "create it and it will happen."
I will be moving into a larger studio in a couple of months, with my focus on creating more art. What 2020 gave me was the time and space to be alone in my studio with endless art supplies and the encouragement of those who love me. I'm ready to take the leap up to the next level.
I'm moving into a new home, the perfect place that I know came from manifesting it, because it is exactly what I wanted.
I'm obsessed with my life. It if were any other way, I wouldn't be where I am, and I probably wouldn't get out of bed in the morning. Be obsessed with your life, with what you do, with whom you spend your time with. Be unapologetically YOU. Watch the changes that happen when you live your life out in the open. I love the liberating times in my life because I get to know a new version of Zushka that wasn't there before. She keeps appearing, more alive and vibrant than ever.
My point is this: When life gets really hard and seems hopeless, never ever ever give up. You will want to, trust me. But hang on for another day. Whatever your dreams are, keep them alive in your heart. Take some type of action in the direction of your goals. It won't always feel good, sometimes it will get scary and you'll question everything. You might even feel like you're making a mistake, or losing your mind. But that's okay, you will survive, and you'll have lots of mind-blowing moments when you reach those new levels that further you along your path. Remember to celebrate those moments, because you deserve it.
Don't look back, you're not going that way. DON'T DOWNGRADE.
Thanks for reading.