Creating Action – Part Three

 

image courtesy of Tara Gentile

Today we’re picking back up with the Creating Action series. For the last week, I’ve been blogging through my experience with Tara Gentile’s 8-part course, Creating Action. If you missed some or all of the earlier posts, catch up here:

Creating Action – Intro

Creating Action – Part One

Creating Action – Part Two

 

Today, we’re on to:

Assignment 3: What can you accomplish today?

“You have big ideas, probably lots of them, but you are overwhelmed or fearful or just distracted and you never act on your ideas. So you get frustrated.”

Once again, Tara seems to be reading my mind. This is an extremely accurate description of the mental roadblocks that so frequently hold me back. In fact, that feeling of being overwhelmed, afraid, and distracted all at once is what led me to seek out this course in the first place. So… what can I do to fix it?

Tara suggests – surprise! – taking action. Get one thing accomplished. Now. Doesn’t matter what, doesn’t matter how large or small, doesn’t even matter if you know where you’re going once you’re done with it. Just get it done.

The point, here, is that action creates momentum – a point also mentioned in the book ReWork from the founders of 37signals. The feeling of accomplishment and success is a highly addictive one, and the best way to motivate yourself to keep working past all roadblocks is to give your mind a little taste of it. Believe me – you’ll want more.

“Today, forget about the big goal. Forget about the rewards of accomplishing the whole task. Forget about your fear or your confusion or your distraction. Focus on one task. Act on it. Accomplish it.”

Today, I chose to push through last week’s struggles and try again with torchworked glass. It felt great to get something done! I got one step closer toward success with the basic technique I’m trying to learn, and it gave me momentum to hit the rest of the day running.

What task will you pick? Leave me a comment and let me know how it goes!

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Creating Action Series | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Torchworked Glass Take Two

 

photo copyright meghan garner

Folks, let me tell ya – torchworking glass is intense.

It’s like slamming 10 espresso shots. It’s like jumping out of an airplane. It’s like rafting over a waterfall. Actually, it’s like slamming 10 espresso shots immediately before jumping out of a plane, landing in a river, and rafting over a waterfall.

Put it this way: when I turned the torch off and stepped away (after what felt like 10 minutes and was actually 2 hours), I went and drank a double shot mocha to calm myself down.

 

I feel exhausted, but I also feel a real sense of accomplishment. I had a few mishaps, and I’m not ready to show the finished product to the world yet. But, on the whole, I learned a lot and could see marked improvement from my first bead to my fifth (and final). Plus, I had a great time.

my awesome husband playing with molten glass. photo copyright meghan garner

I let my hubby try his hand at it after dinner. He had a great time, too. Don’t worry, Mom – we have a fire extinguisher.

Posted in In the Studio | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Sometimes I Do Dumb Things

 

image copyright meghan garner

I was all set to start a new adventure today! A good friend of mine taught me the basics of torchworked glass a few weeks ago, and I’ve been dying to dive in ever since. I ordered an assortment of basic tools, carefully chose my glass colors, and waited impatiently for everything to arrive.

Finally, today, all the pieces of the puzzle came together – my supplies were ready, my studio was clean, I had a whole afternoon of gorgeous free time set aside to spend in the studio. I sat down at my work table with a mixture of nervousness and excitement, wondering how I would ever go about choosing which colors to play with first.

I grabbed my first mandrel, prepared to coat it with bead release, and…

image copyright meghan garner

…discovered that the bead release has to dry overnight before I can use it! Argh! I’m such a dork! Why didn’t I check that last night? Alas, no playing with fire for me today. All I could do was snap a few pretty pictures and try to come up with something else to work on with my studio time this afternoon.

Perhaps this is the universe’s way of gently reminding me that the base metal clay formulas I promised to actually work on this week are still sitting there waiting…

Posted in In the Studio | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Creating Action – Part Two

image courtesy of tara gentile

As many of you know, I’m blogging through my experience with Tara Gentile’s 8-part course, Creating Action. If you missed some or all of the earlier posts, catch up here:

Creating Action – Intro

Creating Action – Part One

Today, we’re on to:

Assignment 2: Action is Dirty

The focus of today’s lesson is, as the title suggests, action, and it begins with the following anecdote:

“On Saturday, I was listening to my local NPR station and caught a piece of the weekly organic gardening program. A caller said to the host, “I just have no idea how you know all the things you know.”

The host explained that he was self-taught and also did a stint as the editor of an organic gardening magazine.

He said the best way to learn about organic gardening is to “to get some dirt under your nails.”

If you ask me, this is the best way to achieve just about anything.”

The trouble with action is that it’s vague. Think about it – when’s the last time your house got really clean, or the laundry got completely done, or you finally got around to trying that new recipe? Probably the same time that some large task was staring you in the face and you didn’t want to deal with it.

We are masters at creating the wrong kind of action.

We procrastinate, and more often than not it’s because of fear. For me, it’s the fear that I won’t be able to complete a challenging project, or translate a specific artistic vision into reality. For you it may be something different, but I bet the root cause is the same:

I’m afraid of failure, so I put off trying.

So what is my response to today’s lesson? I need to quit letting myself get away with using “preparation” as an excuse not to act. Oddly, it’s a lesson I’ve learned before, but one for which I need constant reminders: Don’t be the lady who couldn’t purl. In other words, dive in. Refuse to listen to the fear. Welcome the challenge. Tara hammers this point home in today’s lesson:

“Want to learn how to paint? Paint. Want to make jewelry? Make jewelry. Want to write? Write. Want to climb a mountain? Climb. Consider what you’ve been putting off because you don’t know “how.” Then just do it. Give it a try. Worst case scenario: you learn something because you failed. Score.”

So, friends, what have you been putting off out of fear? What have you been preparing for but never actually doing?

My list is absurdly huge – approaching galleries with my work, soliciting home parties, trying several specific techniques – so I’m choosing to focus on one at a time. First up is working with a new formula of base metal clays. I’ve got a pile of materials sitting in my studio that have been there for months, and I’m finally going to use them. This week. I’ll blog about it, too, so if you don’t see it show up feel free to call me out on it!

What task will you tackle this week?


Posted in Being an Artist, Creating Action Series, Running a Small Business | 4 Comments

Creating Action – Part One

 

image courtesy of Tara Gentile

A few days ago, I mentioned that I had signed up for Tara Gentile‘s Creating Action course, as part of my ongoing effort to get myself and my business wrestled into some sort of manageable order. It’s a 3 week course involving 8 “assignments”, and today we begin the journey:

Assignment 1: What’s your Goal

Having a destination makes all the difference,” says Tara. “Determining what you want to achieve is the first and foremost action in creating accomplishment.”

 

My first thought on reading this assignment was that I had no idea what my goal was. Honestly. I’m so scattered and all over the place – was my goal to continue to improve in metal clay, or to branch out into glass, or to get a BFA, or to become an instructor? Augh!

Good thing Tara had already read my mind:

“Of course, you might say to me that you’re unsure of what you want to achieve. I say you’re wrong. I talk to a lot of people about what they want out of life – out of their businesses – out of their creativity. By in large, people know what they want and they’re afraid to say it. Their “destination” is too grand, too unachievable, too uncomfortable.”

Hmm. Maybe she’s right. OK – lets give this a whirl:

I want to make a living wage working with my art, whether that be through selling my finished work, teaching workshops, as an artist-in-residence, or some combination of the three. I want the amount I make as an artist to be enough to support me were I to be living on my own. I want to bring that level of self-confidence into my life, my business and my marriage.

As a secondary set of goals, I have the following list:

  1. Establish a regular working schedule
  2. See my work for sale in multiple galleries/shops/boutiques
  3. Set up a teaching studio
  4. Define and refine my vision and voice as an artist

Phew. That feels good! Somehow, defining the larger goal helps me see the smaller day-to-day decisions as just stepping stones, and that makes them much less intimidating. There really is a sense of empowerment that comes from simply stating your goals!

As Tara says,

“Dreams are left unsaid. Left unrealized. Goals are verbalized, realized, understood. Goals have road maps, turns, directions, and even rest stops. Putting your goal into words makes it real.”

So, what are your goals? Leave a comment and let us know what you’re aiming to accomplish in your home or business. We can cheer each other on!

Posted in Being an Artist, Creating Action Series, Running a Small Business | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Creating Action

Today, I signed up for a 3-week course offered (for free!) by Tara Gentile, editor of Scoutie Girl. Scoutie Girl has become one of my favorite and most-relied on blogs, thanks in large part to Tara’s generous and accessible wisdom, so I’m excited to see where the next 3 weeks take me!

The course is called Creating Action, and to my understanding it’s basically just what it sounds like – a series of exercises and challenges designed to help me put my goals down on paper and start making them happen.

Of course, the first step to any of that is actually creating some goals, which I suspect will be the topic of the first lesson. It can’t come soon enough! My dreams for my art and business have been vague and undefined for far too long – I’m never going to get anywhere that way.

Anywho, the point to all of this is to inform you that I’ll be blogging my way through the experience. Hopefully this will allow you to take something away from it as well, as I expect most of the exercises will be just as applicable to personal goals as they are to my business-related ones.

So, here’s to turning our dreams into goals and finally making them happen! We begin on Monday. I’ll see you there.

If you intend to join me on this journey, whether wholeheartedly or just in part, leave a note in the comments section – we can cheer each other on.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Where Am I?

photo copyright meghan garner

First, allow me to apologize for my lengthy absence. Some of you may have noticed that I’ve gradually withdrawn from blogging  and posting items for sale, and may be wondering why. Let me explain. No… there is too much. Let me sum up:

In part, this was due to my taking on a new responsibility in curating Handmade Gazette – it’s taken a lot of time to get sorted out, and I still have a few things I need to get settled, but I’m beginning to get it down to a routine that doesn’t dominate so much of my time.

 

Secondly, my time was taken up by a series of (beloved!) house guests followed by extensive holiday travel. That’s enough to knock anyone on their ass.

However, those factors aside, the real reason for my absence has been a deeper struggle with purpose and organization.

I create in metal clay. I work with traditional silversmithing bench techniques. I wire wrap and hand stamp and etch. I’ve recently picked up torchwork and beadmaking, and my mind continues to wander against my will into the field of kiln fused glass. I also knit and dabble in photography, and somewhere in the back of my mind are a poet and a watercolor artist that are constantly picking at the lock of the door I’ve shoved them behind.

Running parallel (and often in competition with) these creative impulses are my managerial responsibilities – tracking orders, marketing, listing items, you know, trying to make money? And in the background I’m constantly thinking about how I really need to be doing the laundry or vacuuming or hitting the grocery store. Plus, it’s good for my sanity (what’s left of it) to get out and see friends now and then.

To put it simply, my mind is busy. Too busy. Overwhelmed, in fact, and there it is in a nutshell: I can’t keep up.

So I quit trying.

I’ve withdrawn completely from blogging and selling and marketing and am trying to get myself in some sort of order. I’m a chaotic person by nature, but by some cruel trick of the universe I actually need order and organization to function well. So I’m making a real effort to create some.

My husband and I are moving somewhere (who knows!) in just over 4 months, so there is very little point in continuing to try and build business relationships here in Mishawaka. Online is not now and probably never will be a hugely profitable venue for me. The best option right now, oddly enough, is to quit trying to make money now so that I can be ready to make money in our new home. I need to be organized and prepared in order to hit the ground running, so that’s what I’m trying to do.

That isn’t to say I’m going to be silent for 4 months. In fact, I suspect I’ll be blogging more regularly as my time and brain-space are freed up to be more creative. I’m just removing the pressure.

So, here’s to an organized and creative new year! And thanks for your patience!

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments