At the beginning of the stay-at-home orders this year, I got on TikTok to see what the deal was and got sucked in. From what I gather this is the story of every millennial on TikTok, am I right?
I shamelessly love TikTok, though I am a little concerned about the data security aspect of the app. I have learned how to do more making techniques for soldering, screen-printing, sublimation printing, and more than I ever learned after years spent on Pinterest and Youtube. 60 seconds is actually a wonderful length of time to showcase an artists work or share a technique and I am so grateful for how much I have been learning on that app. I’ve even learned some kick-ass small business tips that can set your online store apart from the masses, and I feel more confident about setting off and creating a strong side hustle with the tips I’ve learned on TikTok.
I have also stumbled into a great support network of makers on Twitter. One of the first friends I made on “art Twitter” is Jacqueline O’Hara, also known as Art By Jac. She is an unwavering supporter of fellow artists and sells some amazing stones, cabochons, jewelry, and other art herself, but she also asks us on Twitter what we’re working on every now and then. This call to action has made me far more productive on my own projects, because I truly want to have something new to show. It forces me to keep going and keep trying even when I’m tired or otherwise unmotivated.
Fun story about Jac of Art by Jac - my late stepmom’s name was also Jacqueline, also ending in Hara (Nakakihara). Crazy right? My Jacqueline taught me to make jewelry with traditional wire wrapping techniques, and it feels amazing to be continuing my journey and expanding my skills with stones I have purchased from Art by Jac. I feel like my Jac helped foster this connection for me from heaven, and everyday when I either shop for supplies or mess with my tools I think of my stepmom and know she’d be really proud. (love and miss you Mom2)
I regularly refer to my “Internet Art Community” out loud in conversation because to me, every single person I’ve learned from or actually connected with has helped me in my journey in some way and they are just as real of friends as the people I’ve met in person. Though a lot of these people are artists, they are also incredible small business owners. I’m currently in the process of starting my own accessories business and at times it’s not just hard - it’s scary. Running an independent business takes an incredible amount of emotional fortitude, good old fashioned hard work, and attention to how you’re investing your time in different areas in your life.
The Art Internet was also an unexpectedly safe space to be in during this year’s long-brewing racial and social chaos. I do not personally identify as a Black business owner (partly because I don’t have my LLC yet, and also because I am biracial and I don’t think it’s right), but it is incredible to see the support and kindness that is continually being shown towards Black business owners. If you’re reading this and haven’t signed the 15% Pledge yet, or worse don’t even know what it is, please click that link right there to change that. (15percentpledge.org)
Consider this post a “thank you” note to every artist that I follow.
Thank you for continuing your craft throughout your life’s hardships and setbacks.
Thank you for sharing what it means to make what you love what you do for a living.
Thank you for being kind when the rest of the world can’t manage this basic act of humanity.
Thank you for all of the late nights spent making something beautiful out of raw materials.
And most of all - thank you for welcoming me to your community with open arms, no matter the platform.
One of these years, I am not going to let my life get in the way of my blog. This has not started out as one of those years.
Last October, I tripped and tore my labrum in my hip, which was only possible because I have/had(?) femoroacetabular impingement. Thats an extremely long and difficult phrase to basically say, the ball and socket of my hip ain’t quite right. This February I had surgery at Mayo Clinic to repair the torn cartilage of the labrum and correct some of the bone and structural irregularities that made my ball and socket low quality. This was my first true surgery of any kind and it threw me for a loop - the recovery, the general handicap of not being able to do things I wanted to do unassisted, the myriad confusing emotions that came with the entire process. It was weird - for a second time in my life, I felt the frustration of feeling like my “youth” was being stolen from me in a similar way to when celiac disease knocked me for 6 in 2013 and made it hard to manage daily chores. Here I am just 26 years old and having hip surgery, walking with a cane or walker.
It was especially difficult because unlike my experience with celiac disease, I had a difficult time turning my hip into a power crystal to motivate me to a better life. When I got the celiac news I jumped into learning about what this new life meant and started my first blog, started going to events, and immersed myself in the community. This hip injury and recovery experience was a lot less inspiring and I felt a lot of shame for that. I withdrew from a lot of areas of my life and feel like I slept through much of the first quarter of this year. I was in no mood to share anything with people around me let alone the internet.
Then COVID-19 hit - right when I was planning to go back to work. Going back to work felt like a life preserver that I needed to pull myself out of the recovery funk I’d become accustomed to, and then all of a sudden my work which is a college campus is entirely closed for safety and we are all relegated to working from home. On top of having to immediately adjust to working from home after being out for 2 months on disability, I also adjusted to being in an entirely new position on an entirely new team with a new manager - remotely. I am no longer an Executive Assistant after a few months of realizing the position took too much of me, and that I wanted a different kind of responsibility and perhaps less personal connection at work. Initially this felt like failure because I had worked so hard to be able to even qualify to be an Executive Assistant, and boy do I feel like I let down my last exec, but when the dust settled and I returned to work as a Content Developer instead I immediately felt less constantly anxious and on edge.
Oh, did I forget to mention that my boyfriend and I still have some pretty rough growing pains after I moved in last summer? And that I was really looking forward to being back at work so that I could have my days back and we could have some space from each other? Yeah, all of that. It was starting to feel like we’d made a big mistake when I moved in and it didn’t feel like it would get better after months of the same old bad days. Getting the news that I was to work from home (after already being home for two months) sucked big time.
This takes us to about a month ago. My hip was hitting the home stretch of healing, and I had gained some comfort in my new role and working from home. I had some realizations about my mental health and organized the help I think I need. I’d spent the past almost 6 full months so angry and shortsighted that I truly felt like May brought a dawning of a new perspective and I’m truly grateful for whatever energies or planetary bodies shifted to give me a little bit of my light back.
I have spent the past month and a half embracing my creativity to the fullest and for the first time in my life actually see how I can build a side hustle instead of merely wanting one. My boyfriend and I don’t want to choke each other everyday anymore and are starting to find our household culture. We laugh again and make a noticeable effort to show appreciation and respect like we should have all along. I’m connected with amazing people who inspire me to create and learn things I never thought existed, like green witchcraft. I have had the joy of creating a real, first prototype of a product and holding it in my hands. I do something creative almost unconsciously every day about it because I accept that I need that feeling in my day.
I have always felt that both blogging and maintaining my presence on social media are directly tied to how full of a life I am living. If I am doing things, creating, exercising my mind or body, going places, any combination of the above and more - posts come easily because all I have to do is take 2.5 seconds to snap a photo or remember the details of an awesome day when I sit down to write it later. If I am stagnant, overwhelmed by depression or anxiety, and not exercising the blessing of being alive every single post or photo takes so much and feels so fake. January to June of 2020 taught me that lesson again, a little more sharply this time around. I’m grateful for the struggle and to be able to recognize lessons that the Universe decided I needed to learn again.
Here’s to a more active, more powerful rest of 2020 - there’s a lot of work to be done.