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Reflections of a Born Maker
#89 - I see myself clearly now. It's either "build" or "destroy".
“I don’t paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality.”
It has taken nearly my entire life for me to accept the fact I was born to make things with my hands. Where I come from, kids were expected to be what they’re told, not what they feel they’re meant to.
I tried office jobs in the past, and felt myself slip into depression. And even after starting my own digital marketing business and going independent, the truth is, nothing has ever satisfied me the way fixing bicycles did.
There was something magical about taking an old, broken down rig, and restoring it back to like new condition. I felt like a king when people would pick up their repairs, knowing they trusted me with their lives.
More than anything, though, I felt useful, and appreciated when those happy customers rode away. Sometimes I’d even see them on the street, and they’d shout from their saddles, “Thank you! It’s been working great!”
My blood flows to create, and I’ve learned the hard way, how once you make this observation about yourself, and you know it to be true, you must act on it, or you will suffer.
And I’m tired of putting myself through the stress that comes from being out of alignment. And I’m done with the old ways which no longer serve.
How do you keep your energy fresh?
Between you and me, I've been writing a novel, and it's been both the most challenging, and most rewarding creative project I've touched so far.
There are days where I feel like Rain Man, and the writing process happens almost automatically.
But there are also days where I bang my head on the desk in frustration. And on those days, I like to switch my energy in order to unlock the next plot point.
So, back in August, I decided I would spend more time adding a new creative skill to my arsenal, rather than allowing myself to overthink the book project.
I have always been drawn to the easel, yet for most of my life I was too scared to fail at painting, so I never spent much time working at it. And since confidence builds on itself in both directions, I made reverse progress for many years.
But each night after completing my client work, my T.H.E. work, miles of dog walks, and book writing, I'd go upstairs to the art studio, to paint for several hours.
And I found myself locked into the creative flow like I haven't felt in quite some time.
Each night I’d sit down to paint, and hours would melt behind like no time had passed, transporting me from an empty void into a new world of my own creation.
When I’d really let myself go, it felt like a greater force was guiding my hand, and I was just the physical conduit for its expression. And at the end of each session I felt clean, like I’d just left a gym in my mind after a great workout.
Practice by doing
Inspired by light—how it's both a wave and particle, and everywhere all at once, I kept painting. And within the first few days, I had completed two pieces I actually enjoyed looking at.
Feeling a surge of inspiration, I thought to myself, what if we create a Maker Faire out front, on an upcoming weekend? We'll invite some other friends who make stuff, and we can all sell it on the lawn at the studio. That'll force me to keep painting, because I’m really loving this.
And the plan drew its first breath of life after a few phone calls.
"Yeah, count me in," they said. "This will be fun."
So we set the date, 9.16.23, and each of us spent the next 30 days creating our offerings for the event.
I used the opportunity to deepen my love for painting, and practiced every single night. I also made more collage book marks than I ever planned to, but they were so fun, I didn’t want to stop.
And each night, I learned a little more about myself, feeling my confidence in my lines growing when I’d come out of the trance to see the work.
Each night I started to believe and accept the inevitable about myself.
How I have to keep doing this forever, because it’s part of who I am. I have to keep working from my heart, or I will suffocate.
You get what you need
I've been involved in event planning at a professional level for close to 10 years now, and the business still fascinates me after all this time.
No matter how much thought and intention you put into creating an experience for yourself and others, it seems each event is birthed with its own life force.
And each one has taught me something I never expected to learn.
I poured my heart and soul into creating last Saturday's event, and my co-creator, Sarah, did the same. She still showed up when all the other vendors serendipitously cancelled the day before, and she made the event far more special than I ever could have alone.
And while there was overall less foot traffic than I expected, we experienced a beautiful day outside together, deepening our connection with each other, and many quality people in our community.
New and familiar faces stopped by, intrigued after having seen our online marketing for the event. And many others were sent by the Queen of Verm, Martha.
(Martha, if you’re reading this, I SO DEEPLY APPRECIATE YOU! Thank you for your support.)
I found each person I spoke with to be friendly and interesting, with clear common ground between us. It was as if I could see my own energetic magnet, tethered with Sarah's, pulling them in so we could all be together to exchange energies on a beautiful day.
One woman asked, “I’m baffled here, how did this event even come about?”
“We made it,” I told her, casually.
“What do you mean?” she questioned.
“Well, we wanted to have an experience that didn’t currently exist here in town, so we made it exist, and now we’re all here. So, thank you for being here with us!” I responded.
“This is great. I hope you’ll do another, and I’ll bring my friends next time. I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said, with a smile on her face. “We need more of this type of thing here!”
Inspired by authenticity
My friend and co-creator, Sarah, is a wizard at many things. Especially when it comes to propagating plants.
She showed up to last week's event with a variety tray of plants, and my jaw dropped when I saw what she had grown.
"You have baobab trees in here? Wait, what? Is this for real?" I asked her?
"Yes! They are from Sudan," she told me, matter of factly.
"How ever did you come into possession of these?" I begged her to share her secret. I was baffled, and inspired by the foreign tree babies, and I had to know more about them.
"Its actually a fun story. Years ago, we had neighbors from Sudan. They were lovely people.
"One day, as they recounted stories from back home, they told me about a special regional drink from Sudan, made with seed pods from the baobab tree.
"So they prepared the drink for us to try, and I kept the extra seeds from mine. Then I grew them, and here they are!” she told me.
At the end of our event, there were a few baobab’s left over, and Sarah gave me two of them. I had no words, I was honored and intrigued.
She treated me to some tacos, and we recapped how we felt about the day we had created together, deciding we’ll do another in the future.
After parting ways, I had only one thing on my mind, and it was making sure those two tree babies were potted as quickly as possible, because I wanted to watch them begin growing immediately.
Something about them fascinates me. Some cultures refer to the baobab as, “The Tree of Life”, and I had no idea such a sweet unique gift could bring so much joy to my heart.
Now there’s two in my living room, until I find the right person to appreciate one of them.
And I thank you for that unexpected surprise, Sarah. I’m honored you trusted me to care for these, and I’m blown away by your magic, sister!
Lately I've been reflecting. Aside from a few people, I hardly receive much feedback on all the work I share online. So it sometimes feels like I am in this weird vacuum with a bunch of silent watchers, yet I'm the only one talking.
But I’ve learned this doesn’t matter at all. The only thing which matters is how you feel about what you have to say.
Part of me expected to sell all 10 of my canvas paintings, because I liked them, and priced them aggressively. My shadow didn't expect anyone to care about them, but I asked him to quietly wait in the corner, and did the event anyway.
But I never anticipated how it would feel for another Hue-Man Being to connect with my art, wanting to give me money for it.
And then I met Bruce. A neighbor from around the block, and a guitarist in a local band I've seen play a couple times, he keyed in on my favorite painting of the lot, and decided he had to have it.
"I love this, man. Derby Flow… you made this?" He asked me.
"Yes sir. It's a wood panel with spray paint, and acrylic paint. That's my favorite one of the whole lot, too," I replied.
"I'm gonna go grab some money, and another friend, but I promise I'll be back for this."
And sure enough, less than 30 minutes later, Bruce came back with his buddy, and bought my painting.
"Thank you so much for this. I absolutely love it, and can't wait to put it up at home," he told me.
And, like that scene in "The Grinch" where his heart swells 10 sizes, I felt mine do the same.
To Be Hue-Man
I am a Hue-Man Being. And I used to think I had it all figured out. But I don't. And I'm ok with that now.
2023 has been a pivotal year in my life, so far. And as I've learned to embrace my nature as a Maker, and an Artist, I'm also learning to embrace my nature as a Hue-Man.
In my feedback vacuum, I used to struggle. And my work suffered, because I was creating it in an effort to be what I thought people wanted, rather than who I am. But that’s over and done.
These paintings were my first, and they came from my heart. I made them for me, and hoped people would connect with me on that level.
So when Bruce bought that painting, I felt seen, and appreciated for my art for the first time in a long time, whether that feeling was truly founded or not.
I felt useful again, almost as if I’d fixed his bicycle, and he was thrilled to pick it up, to go for a ride. But this was an evolution of that feeling—new territory.
And, you know what? It felt good to receive some validation, though I tell myself I should never need it. It felt good to sell something which came from my heart.
Before the event, I told Sarah I was pricing Derby Flow higher than the rest, even though it was smaller, because I secretly wanted to keep it for myself. And funny enough, that was the one which sold first.
To a man who apparently loved it more than I did.
So I suppose the event was a lesson in authenticity, and the power of community. And, my friends, I am grateful for you.
See you next week,
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