Wanted: Juggling Teacher

I’m looking for help and advice. I didn’t start this blog to gain followers. I began the blog as a way to publicly blackmail myself into moving ahead with my art. (Don’t get me wrong, it is nice when you learn that someone cares to read your ramblings. In my case way too personal ramblings, but there’s no looking back, only moving forward) It worked for a year, and then I fell back into old habits and worse yet the land of self-doubt.  So here I sit getting older by the second (I think I can actually feel a wrinkle forming), and still trying to gain the confidence to succeed. Here’s where you come in, the person who has decided to take five minutes to read my thoughts. I’ve been a stay at home mom for a good portion of my life. Now the kids are gone, but I’ve spent twenty plus years living by their schedule. From school to after school activities, vacations, and bowing to (almost) their every need and whim, I think I’ve forgotten how to schedule myself. I need to structure my day, which when you work at home can be difficult. There is always a bathroom to clean, laundry to do, meals to prepare, etc. I make lists of things I want to accomplish artistically in a date book. A date book that I purchased last December that quite frankly has very little written in it. Does anyone out there work at home? How do you manage your time? How do you ignore the dirty socks and paint instead? How do you fit in time for friends, grocery shopping, and doctor’s appointments? Despite my best intentions I can’t seem to walk though my house back to my studio without stopping to clean. It isn’t that there’s a lot to do, and there are only two of us here, (well, five if you count the three cats, needless to say cat hair tumbleweeds abound). With no clock to punch, or school bell to answer I’m at a loss. I’d appreciate any advice.FullSizeRender(13)

 

Now that I’m done with my plea for advice, I’d like a little help. The help is with social media. I’m not so old that I’m computer brain dead. I have of course my blog here on WordPress, but I also have two Facebook accounts, a Twitter account, an Instagram account, a Pinterest account, and an Etsy shop. Everyone tells me that I need social media to move my art business ahead. I am a one woman glitter factory making fairies to sell, I am also a fine artist working on three pieces at the moment, and I just don’t know how to get to all of the posting, descriptive tagging, tweeting, and hash tagging required. I currently have three thousand one hundred and fifty five emails, and that’s in only two of my four email accounts. Clever me, I thought having one for business, one for personal, one for the house, and one Hotmail account (that’s from the dawn of the internet, I can’t seem to shut it down!) was a good idea. It’s not, it’s a nightmare. Facebook sends me “You haven’t posted this week and your followers want to hear from you” emails. Not to mention (but I will) all my friends and loved ones who post on Facebook that I feel obligated to “like”, and then those same people who post the same photos on Instagram. I feel a surge of Catholic guilt wash over me and must “like” again. Daily notifications from Instagram on who is now following me, and the new posts from the people I “follow”. From Etsy Success and Etsy there’s the “Here’s what you need to do in order to succeed in your shop”, or “remember you looked at this” emails, and Twitter notifications. New posts from the people here on WordPress whose work I enjoy reading, but again don’t know where to find the time. (Insert screams here) It’s never ending. I have no staff, or management, it’s me doing everything. I currently have only sixty pieces listed on Etsy. I have more than two hundred and fifty created. Why aren’t they in my shop yet? It’s because I have to write a description for each piece to try to help buyers understand my vision, and I have to tag each fairy or print with the recommended and allotted thirteen tags. I have more than two hundred pieces to list, that’s more than twenty six hundred descriptive words to come up with. Yes, I could use the same tags again and again, but I must vary them so that when potential customers search with certain key words I might be “found”. It has in fact become a dreaded chore, like the homework I once hated. To say I’m feeling overwhelmed is an understatement. HELP! How do you manage all of this? Are you scheduling time for each? I would really love to hear from anyone who can help me in this juggling act. And now the tags for this post….sigh….

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Has Anyone Seen My…?

Maybe it has to do with all the balls I’m juggling in the air these days, but I seem to be losing my mind just a wee bit. For example, twice in the last week I have gone in search of my glasses only to find them attached to my body. I hang them on the front of my shirt, I’ve done so for years, yet somehow these days that little fact seems to be slipping my mind. I do have a very long history of losing my car, and I mean losing it everywhere. Church, the grocery store, the mall, so much in fact that I now have particular spots that I use just so I know where to look. A while back I wandered aimlessly through a store lot searching for my pickup. I was just about convinced it had been stolen. I had been looking for a good ten minutes. I finally called Dan, who after he stopped laughing, reminded me that I had driven his car. Which by the way I had walked past at least three times in the search for my own vehicle. I’m obviously not a stupid woman. Look what I can do. I also solve the New York Times crossword puzzle every morning. I’d say I have about a seventy-five percent average on finishing it alone, seventy-six to one hundred if I bug the crap out of Dan. So obviously I remember some things. He was making fun of my latest glasses mishap today, referring to me as the absent-minded professor. I am of course getting older, and I have a lot on my mind, but I’m beginning to wonder if some glitter hasn’t made its way into my brain. Or maybe it has to do that as an older woman I have learned to prioritize what matters to me, pushing little details to the side. (That sounds good doesn’t it?) I can still tell the men in my life, Dan and Brian, where every single thing they can’t find in this house is at. It seems that my bad memory only has to do with myself. That would make sense since I usually put myself last. So to sum it all up, I’m forgetting things because:

A.  I am trying to do too much

B.  I am absentminded

C. I have glitter on my brain

D. I’m older

E. I put myself last

F. All of the above?

Actually I have decided that it because for the first time in my life I am devoting every waking moment to creativity. My house is falling down around me, and right now I don’t really care. I am motivated and determined, and have had in recent weeks some new-found confidence in my work. The things that are important to me are always on my mind. My family, my kids, and most of all Dan, but for the first time in my life I’m beginning to see the glimmer of a dream for myself, and if that means I lose a few things along the way…well, except I really do need those glasses.

For tonight a little “upcycling”. A vintage box that I found in OK shape. I’m giving it a touch of nostalgia. One of my photos from Paris changed to black and white and then computer colorized, decoupaged to the top. Inside copies of some of my collection of vintage French postcards, and a small mirror. I have a few finishing touches to complete, but the glue on the mirror needs to dry so those will wait until tomorrow.  I’m pretty happy with the finished product.IMG_2729

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We Are All Artists

OK, I know last night I said I would be entertaining all of you (and me) with my writing, and had intended on telling you all the reason behind the “Natalie” nickname, (which really is worth the wait…stay tuned until tomorrow) but then I received a comment from someone who reads this blog. ( This is where I’ll be getting all philosophical again) The person who sent me a comment (and I publicly thank you again) said that they wished they were talented like me. What he failed to realize, and I told him so in my reply, is that he is an artist. I read his blog, a place where spirituality is the subject. Beautiful words, beautifully written, as I said in reply, he paints pictures with his words and prayers. In my family we all have our assigned roles. My older sister is the smart, educated one, I am next, the weirdo, the artist, the quiet one, then there is the funny one, and finally the baby. We all have so much more to offer than those labels would imply. (To respect their privacy I will only use initials) M is the oldest, and yes, very smart and the most educated, but she is also very gifted with her hands, just in a different way than me. Sewing, knitting, needlework, beautiful, beautiful work. I am next, obviously artistic, but also very smart, and on occasion quite funny. C is next. Funniest woman I know. I can’t spend an evening with her without crying from laughter. G, “The Baby”, is anything but a baby. Strong, smart, and I think the most athletic of us (we know it’s not me). Unfortunately, despite how much our parents love us, sometimes they just don’t think. M’s creativity is overlooked, it isn’t her place, it’s mine. C was complaining once to my dad (not sure about what), his response? “Look at Jackie, sure she can paint but she has no personality”.  (And one wonders why I have issues) C is a very intelligent woman, who can multi task with no match, and an artist in the garden. (Note to the powers that be at Wrigley Field, this woman will give you a playing field to die for, and she’s a fan) She has no appreciation of how smart she is. She had two concussions as a child within weeks of each other. The story of how smart she was before “the accident” is family legend. The implication might make you think she was brain-damaged, not so much, very smart lady, and no one can be that quick-witted and dumb.  Finally G, as I said nobody’s baby. She ends up in management where ever she works. Also a beautiful baker, makes gorgeous pastries, creative right? The mere fact that anyone is writing a blog is creative. Putting a beautiful meal on the table is creative. Composing a speech, writing a song, raising a child, each is creative. We all have it within us to be an artist. My point is that we all have something to offer, it doesn’t have to be with a brush or a pencil, those are just my tools of choice.

And by the way, I have been told that I actually do have a personality.

For tonight, my handsome son Brian. I saw a photo in the LA Times many years ago that I loved. This afternoon Brian was kind enough to sit for a portrait for me, posed in a similar way to the photo as I remembered it. Watercolor on paper.IMG_0341

Creating Dreams

I wasn’t feeling great tonight, residual issues from taking the wrong medication last week. (Let that be a lesson to all of us, don’t just pop the pill out of the foil, turn it over first to see what it is!) I started to paint something architectural, but I didn’t even make it half way through the preliminary sketch, I just wasn’t up to the task. It was going to be in watercolor, and since I had the materials out I decided that watercolor would again be my medium for this evening. One of the best parts about being an artist is the ability to create your own world. We have a creative license to draw, paint, sculpt, or carve, etc., the world we want to be in. In some cases we can even have a little fun. When I was about seventeen I drew a sketch of my dad, bald. He wasn’t, and at eighty still isn’t. I thought it was funny, needless to say he didn’t. So tonight while I wasn’t feeling good I decide to paint someplace quiet, relaxing, and peaceful, someplace I’d like to be in the moment. I had glanced at a photo, but then I put it away and let my mind take over. That too seems to be coming easier these days. So tonight’s project is a place I want to be, somewhere to lay in the soft grass, look at the clouds, and relax. Now if I could only find a way to make that a reality…Image