Topic: Making it

we all fail sometimes

Misery Loves Company –Ha! How true that can sometimes be. I can remember my mom saying this to me on more than one occasion.  But how do you get past that type of negativity? How do you not sink but instead rise above your despair?  

I’ve been seeing this famous failures image being passed around the webosphere and find it quite inspiring, though I do wish they had included a few more women.

We all fail but the thing that make these folks different is that they didn’t let that stop them. They got up dusted themselves off and tried again. Maybe it should be retitled to say:

Failure is just one moment in time, isn’t it? May we all be so lucky to fail famous!!

Here are a few of my favorite stories about determined and resilient women:

Vera Wang

Failed to make the US Olympic figure-skating team. She was an editor at Vogue and was passed up for the editor-in-chief job. And thank goodness she was! She then decided to start designing wedding gowns when she was 40. And now there isn’t a new bride that wouldn’t die to be walking down the aisle in a Vera Wang gown.

Lucille Ball  

  She was sent home from drama school because she was “too shy” and for years was regarded as failed “B list” movie star. She was told by her agent to pursue a new career! Well, that is until her big break staring in I Love Lucy.

Barbra Streisand

Her mother tried to persuade her NOT to pursue singing since she wasn’t pretty enough. She had her first stage debut in a show that opened and closed in the same night. She battled debilitating stage fright after forgetting the words to a song during a 1967 free performance in New York’s Central Park. After that she  avoided live performance for nearly 3 decades! But some how despite all of that she’s still one of the most successful female singer in the history of recorded music. 

“Fall down seven times, get up eight.” – Japanese proverb

Giving and Taking your own Advice

I received a very lovely and inspiring email from a soon to be college grad. She asked if I had any recommendations or advice on how a Fine Arts graduate could find a job in this challenging economy. I wrote her back, but I’m not sure I told her what she wanted to hear. I could of spurted out all of the usual places to post her portfolio and resume and listed out all the creative job sites, but instead I simply asked her:

“Are you sure a job is really what you want? Or is it opportunities to learn and grow and make some money while learning?”

There’s a BIG difference :-)

It’s a question that I wish someone would of asked me. Thought now that I think about it, I’m not sure I  would’ve been ready to hear it either. Duh, of course I wanted a job. There were student loans to payback and there was no way I was going to move back in with my folks.

I told her how I’ve had a “day job” for the last 13 years and have worked at some pretty big companies that may look great on my resume, but what good is that if deep down I knew they were never really the right fit. In the end, I wish I would not have been swayed so easily. I wish that I would’ve stuck to my guns and followed my heart when I graduated college. I’ve always know that I wanted to freelance and run my own business. But shortly after graduating, the panic set in and I got caught up in the idea that I had to have a “real” job. I bought The Ann Taylor Blue Interview Suit and coordinating high heal penny loafers (Ugh! So not me). At first it was exciting to work in an office, but let me tell you, that wears off really quickly! And then I got stuck in the cycle. I got use to having a steady paycheck and the money’s good. I simply got too use to the lifestyle.

If I was lusting after a pair of shoes or the latest handbag, my internal reasoning went something like this ” I work hard so why shouldn’t I buy _______ (fill in the blank with latest fashion trend or tech gadget) for myself? I deserve it!” And then things really started to get complicated when I bought a house and had a kid. Having that paycheck became more and MORE important, a necessity even, OR at least seemly so.

In those first few years, I never stopped to evaluate what collecting that paycheck was actually costing me? And once I did, it became apparently clear that the personal expense actually outweighed the benefit of a steady income and that false sense of security. It was at the expense of my life, my creativity, and my happiness. Nothing is worth that. And it’s taken me a long time to come to this realization. Now I’m not saying I haven’t learned anything from working in corporate America, I have, but I’m sure I also could have acquired those skills on my own too.

So I left her with these final words of advice:  

“Follow your heart and make your own opportunities, somehow the money will find a way to follow and flow into your life.”

It’s advice I need to remind myself to take too!!

Rolling Up My Sleeves Painting Some Backgrounds

I have recently been playing around with adding more textured backgrounds to my illustrations. So I spent a day just creating some backgrounds the old fashion way. I used the covers of old books as the canvas and adding some paint and paper to create texture. It felt really good to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. I need to take the time to do this more often.

Exit Strategy

Everyone needs one. The problem is figuring out what mine is. Folks seem to recommend you save anywhere from 3-6 months of living expenses before making the switch.

Time to start crunching the numbers. It’s really unfortunate that I live in such an expensive part of the country. For 3 months worth of savings I would need 20K and would need 40K for 6 months. I’ve never been really good at saving and it seems like sooooo much money and a little unreachable. Though I’m sure it’s the smart and prudent thing to do.

If I’m able to put away and save $400 a month (a reasonable number that I think I can achieve) by the end of the year I will have only saved $4800. So at that rate it will take me 8 1/2 years to save 40K and a little over 4yrs to save 20K.

I’m not sure I can wait 4 years never mind 8. So how much more time do I wait until I take the leap? I’m leaning toward just setting a “launch” date, and asking my employer if I can reduce my hours to a 3day work week . Hopefully this will be an option. Of course, that would also mean a salary reduction. Having a steady gig while trying to continuing to build up my illustration and licensing business is a compromise I think I’m willing to make.

Experts also suggest that you also create a way to have a passive income. I haven’t quite landed on what that is yet. However, I know that I want to try to set up a Etsy and ArtFire shop, and I think that once I start getting a few more art licensing contracts with royalty agreements this will also help.

So what’s my Exit Strategy?

  1. Start Saving, starting now.

  2. In a year reduce my work week down to 3day.

  3. Continue to build my business in the evenings and weekend.

  4. Start to create a passive income by getting a Etsy and ArtFire shop up and running.

It feels good to have at least an outline of a plan!

I wrote this post last night and got in a fight about my plans to reduce my hours. (Not quite the support I was hoping for, but pretty much the reaction I was expecting.) Hubby asked ” So, your just going to ask them to cut your hours?” — Well yes! I think that’s at least that’s going to be the first step and if they can’t agree to that then I think I will look for something that’s part-time. Financially we will HAVE TO make it work. I’m not sure yet how, but I need to have more time to spend on my own work and desperately need to make a CHANGE! (this shouldn’t of been a surprise to him.)

2005 Goals

My director from my day job is coming out to SF in two weeks and I have been asked to write out my professional goals for the year. This happens every time and I always have trouble with this because my job is just that, a job. It’s a means to an end. I don’t think of it as a career and I certainly don’t think I’m on a “career path” at least not the one that they think I ought to be on and I’m certainly not a “TimeInc Life’er”. This is just a job for me. So how do I create professional sounding goals that don’t increase my workload but still seem like I’m aiming for something? I can say stuff like “I will improve upon X” but then that can get translated into “Why do you need to improve? Were you not doing a good job to begin with?”

Man I hate my day job. I have been saying that for the entire 5yrs that I have been working here. Mind you I have made some steps to get out of my current situation. I have updated my resume and written multiple cover letters for different scenarios but haven’t sent anything out yet. Why you might ask? Because I feel like I need to update my website with more design work before anyone will consider me for a design position since pretty much all my “professional experience” is in production. Have I mentioned how much I hate production? It’s the most uncreative environment anyone can ever work in. So why did I ever take a production job to begin with? Well I graduated college and needed a job. It sounded like it was kind of creative besides it was the only job that was offered to me. So I took it and now I’m making really good money at it. This should make me happy right? But what it really does is back me up in a corner.

If I apply and take an entry/mid-level design job I will certainly be taking a pay cut. This is a very hard pill for me to swallow since my husband is working on getting his photography career off the ground and my current salary is a majority of what we use to pay the mortgage and live on. Jay has been very supportive and wants me to look for another job but if I am making less money it will most definitely strain us financially and put more pressure on him to make his photography business more profitable to balance out our finances. I want to give him the time he needs to grow his business but at the same time I feel like a piece of me dies everyday I have to step foot in the office.

Some days I work so late, especially if we are printing that I don’t get home until 9-10 at night and then I eat and pretty much go to bed in order to get up and do it all over again. It is a vicious cycle. I am always tired when I get home from work even if I get home at a reasonable time. I have trouble motivating myself to do my own work. What usually winds up happening is that I plop down in front of the TV and fall asleep for a few hours then Jay wakes me up and I brush my teeth and go to bed.

OK OK enough of my complaining. So what am I going to do about all of this?

Here are my Personal Non-Corporate Related Goals for 2005:

(In order of priority)

1) Finish the children’s book that I have been working on and submit to Publishers.

a) Finish the second color Illustration for my Children’s Book.

b) Make revision to some of my sketch and make the suggested changes from the

editor at Chronicle Books.

c) Create 6 new dummies with corrections and color illustrations for my

Children’s Book.

d) Submit my book to 6 different publishing houses including Chronicle.

e) Start on my 2nd idea for a children’s book.

2) Find a new job- But not just any job, a job doing design work that is preferably in the children’s market that isn’t so demanding so that I will have time to work on my own stuff. (So this also means updating my website so that I can land a new job. – This is a very tall order but if I can at least accomplish most of it I will be happier.)

3) Contact Eric Maisel the author of “Fearless Creating” about signing up for Creative Coaching.(it just so happens that he is local.)

4) Reread my business plan- Make changes and actually use it as it was intended.

5) Participate in Illustration Friday every week- Even if it’s not a finished piece and just a sketch or a doodle.

6) Start sending out promotional mailings again.- Perhaps not every month but at least every Quarter.(I was overly ambitious with my goals in my business plan the first time around and wasn’t really realistic.)

7) Dress more like myself.- None of this corporate hoity-toity $h*t.

8) Re-join Toastmasters- And stick with it.

9) Spend quality time with my doggie and take her out for walks. (I use to walk all the time in college and that was always the time that I did my best thinking)

10) Cut out all of the wasted hours I spend watching TV. (I hope I can stick to this since I use TV to relax and unwind. Does anyone have any suggestions on what I can do to relax and unwind instead of watching TV)

11) Eat better – I have a really bad sweet tooth and consume mass quantities of sugar. I want to start a garden in our backyard and start eating more vegetables and fruits.