Are you doing what you love?
In this weekly series, we highlight stories of people who are determined to do just that. Some stories talk of triumph, others despair. They all involve bravery, belief, courage and hope. They are real stories about real people chasing their dreams, and making choices and sacrifices which allow them to do what they love, for life. Every Monday this will become a space for sharing those stories. It takes courage to share, and I hope you will read them, relate to them, be inspired by them, and leave a comment about them.
The stories shared here are our shared stories. “Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams…” WB Yeats
TJ is an American artist living in Germany. Even though TJ is married to a German national and settled in the country, she still finds that the feeling of being a ‘foreigner’ still influences her life and art.
Andrea Schroeder is a creative dream coach, healer, artist and all around magic-maker. Her mission is “to help remind you that you are a creative genius and that you can create and do “anything”. For more see her website ABCcreativity.
Doing what I love means exploring my surroundings and then expressing my reaction to it through photography, blogging and artwork.
Studio Mailbox was born on leap year 2008 after I moved to Germany and my attempts to build a website were an epic failure. Blogging was a way that I could have an internet presence and be able to administer it myself.
Over time the site has given me a huge sense of accomplishment. It’s a record of my creative adventures as a foreigner. Now it’s grown into something that needs to be managed and hopefully in time will become a platform for generating income.
The most important thing to me is creating a style that’s original and recognizable. When I started blogging, I only used my own photography and artwork. It never even occurred to me to go find imagery somewhere on the web. It’s been a ton of work but the end result is a site that’s truly mine both in stories and content.
In hindsight, I wish I would have known sooner how important it is to connect with others online. A huge mistake I made in the beginning was to neglect linking and interacting with other artists. I just didn’t understand how the whole blogosphere worked. Not knowing the etiquette made me feel very vulnerable and insecure. Germany is quite a way behind the curve when it comes to blogging. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was actually blazing a trail by German standards!
One of my biggest worries is somehow creating a controversial on-line presence that will hinder my chances at future employment or opportunities. What I’m slowly learning is that surrounding yourself with a tribe of like-minded people is your best defence. That way when you do mess up most people will hopefully display compassion and support you.
I have lots of dreams but the ones I’m currently chasing are avenues to exhibit artwork in Germany as well as investigating publishing and licensing opportunities.
Because I’m creating work in response to German culture, I worry about offending people. Sometimes it’s tricky to know how to speak my truth. Although I’ve experienced a lot of pain as a foreigner, I’ve experienced even more love. I’m nuts for all things alpine. I swoon over traditional clothing. Don’t even mention German hats! It would be so meaningful to me if I could use my foreign eyes to create the kind of designs that Germans could be proud of.
If I could ask one thing of the universe to help me along my way, I’d ask for a creative mentor. I’ve been out here alone in my wacky creative brain long enough.
I am doing what I love. It is the most soul satisfying, glee-inducing thing EVER.
I have been doing what I love for some time. Well, I always have been, in a way, anyway. I mean through being a “starving artist” or juggling a job and my creative life – I’ve always found a way to be doing what I love, in the best way I could at the time.
But seven months ago I came to a point where I needed something different. I knew I needed to quit my part time job and have the thing I love be the way I live. I set a clear intention to leave my job in six months.
And those six months were a bumpy ride.
I started to examine everything about my work. I had been doing my art, as well as leading Creativity Workshops, Healing Meditation Circles and working with clients one on one for years already but everything about it was set up to be part time, to fit around my job. I had to look honestly at what needed to change for me to be able to make the income I wanted to have. I had to look at what I needed to learn and where I needed to grow to be able to create and sustain the kind of business I wanted to have.
The more I learned about business the more exciting it got, seeing how I can fit everything I love into one beautiful sparkling entity.
At the same time, the more I learned and grew my business – the louder my fears became. The parts of me that really like the comfort and safety of income and benefits let me know they were not happy with my choice. Self doubt began to creep in. Sure, I put on great events and make art that inspires people – but can I really produce enough for it to be a full time job? Can I really make enough money to pay the mortgage and insurance and keep the car running and and and and and…
And then, if that wasn’t enough I did have people questioning me “Are you sure you can really make enough money?” “Isn’t this too big a risk?” , “I can’t believe you are quitting your job! You’re so lucky to have it!”
My intuition was always clear. YES. You are ready. This is the time. You can do it. You have everything you need. Oh. But you do have to deal with these pesky fears. There is no other way to get there.
So my time became stretched by learning about business, applying my new learnings to my ever-growing business, doing the work of running a business, interacting with fears – both mine and the fears of the people around me and going to work.
Looking back I’m not really sure how I did all of that. But I had that clear intuitive knowing. I was ready. It was time. And there was a lot of crap to move through in order to get there and the best way to move through, for me, for that time, was to just plow through and not stop no matter what.
And that’s what I did.
I left my job a month ago.
I do the things I love as my full time work. I live my creative dreams and I get to help others do the same. This is the best!
[All photo credits: Andrea Schroeder]
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