Monday, January 1, 2018

Dear 2018

Speaking of reflections, check out this Sun Dog! It's a reflection of sunlight on ice crystals in the air. 
Longtime readers know that the week between Christmas and New Years' is my favorite of the year. (Well. Except possibly the Wigwam Weekend! and all the other days that the air outside doesn't hurt my face.) I love that all the holiday hulabaloo is done, but it doesn't yet feel like we've returned to routine. I use these days to reflect on the past year and think about the next. I am a big fan of New Year's resolutions, on the grounds that even a partially kept resolution typically has a more salubrious effect than none at all, but I don't make them lightly. This week gives me time to think about what I could do better or more or differently, to being my life - and, increasingly, my world - closer to ideal.

This year's Week of Reflection opened with a Sun Dog: bright spots of light flanking the sun as the light bounces off ice crystals in the atmosphere. (No, I didn't take the photo; that's a sun dog that appeared over Chicago a few years ago.) It seemed fitting.

I learned a lot in 2017, actually, but the big takeaway is to focus my energy. Boiling it down, in the personal realm:
  • I  can only do what I can do, and I can't do more than that. I also learned that what I can do - what all of us can do - is more than we think!  
  • I hate this one but...I learned to walk away from some people - even if I feel that at heart they are good people. I hate it because it feels like giving up, but people have to make their own choices. It's arrogant of me to think I can change a mind that's determined not to change. 
  • As a direct result, I grew closer to the people who nourish my joy, and I hope that I do the same for them. I want to use my emotional energy lifting people up. 
Professionally, I had the same big takeaway: FOCUS. I make pots. I make & sell soap. I teach classes. I do workshops. I sell wholesale, at shows, and consignment. This is a lot of spreading my energy around! It's time to pare down a bit.

I 💓 teaching my classes. Some days I honestly can't believe my luck that someone would pay me to hang out with fun people and do fun creative projects and talk about my favorite subject. It also lends some stability to our household income; with Doug & I both being self employed, it can get a little chaotic because payday is just "whenever the checks arrive." So teaching stays.

Obviously I'll be making pots! and also selling pots. I am finding that shows fit my work style very well: I work better (or at least more!) when I am aiming for a specific event. I'll keep my existing wholesale accounts, and maybe pick a couple more, but I think I will be ending my consignment relationships. They are a lot of work for a small trickle of money, and more than the work, they keep a bunch of inventory tied up collecting dust while waiting to sell. Better to have the pots on hand to fill an art fair display or provide work when a wholesale account needs it.

Soap. Ah, soap. For sure I will keep making soap, and for sure I will sell what I make, but I've decided that soap will remain a hobby. I have a daydream of a line - Sweet Life Bath & Body - and maybe even a store in downtown Augusta. But there are only so many hours in a day and a week and a year, and I can't do both this and be a potter. Upside: this frees me to make whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like it, and not try to design a line or produce consistently, or market the line, or mess around with the perfect packaging. Just lye and fat, doin' their thing.

I'll be cutting back on workshops, offering only the two I am already committed to in 2018. Because I dread the very thought of failing or being unprepared in front of an audience, I spend so much time on preparation for workshops that the otherwise-reasonable amount I am paid for the ends up not covering my time.

Happy New Year, dear readers! Here's hoping in 2018 you spend time with the people you love and doing things that bring you joy.

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