Two words: BITCH, FOCUS!
[Photos from Apartment Therapy]
I tried on too many hats at once: indie business marketer/product designer/photographer, wedding photographer's assistant, freelancer writer, online shop curator/owner, reseller, antique mall booth owner, blogger, college student, herbalism student, maker...like a porn-filled 1998 Windows operating system, I crashed.
Lesson 1: You get one life, so do all the things with it... But go slow. Focus!
I ended a two-year relationship with a guy I learned was hiding a drug problem. I was used to him, mood swings and all. It was hard to cut his presence from my life.
I ended my five-year relationship with buying vintage merchandise every weekend. I was used to it, even though it overwhelmed me to tears to take in more than I could handle. It was hard to cut its presence from my life.
Lesson 2: Whether it's a project or relationship, don't drag it on, don't wait. Stop. Find new solutions. Return to it refreshed.
I had a mental picture for "future boyfriend": older, organized, creative professional. We'd design an office worthy of Apartment Therapy, happily arting the day away on our matching desks.
HAAAAAA HAHAHA. Nope, not my pad. Yet. But working on mine. We'll watch my pad transform for 2015's planned before/after room projects.
Instead I met AJ; three years younger, messy, sporty, man's man, football team captain. I once showed him photos from my favorite figure drawing class. He paused and thoughtfully eyed the tasteful, near-nude subject. His pretty amber eyes were earnest when he said, "Do they show p*ssy?"
AJ does not know the fundamentals of art and design. He dislikes cats (!), he's never seen an episode of Transformers (!!!). Of course, we fell madly in love. On paper we're a mess but our chemistry is perfect. I wouldn't want him any other way.
Lesson 3: We all have pre-set ideas of what we absolutely WILL and WILL NOT do. Stop. Let go of expectations. Never be unwilling to do something outside of preconceived notions of what's "for you". AJ wanted to fulfill his creative/hippie side and I wanted to become physically active and we're coaching each other. Try something you've always thought you hated- you never know what will happen.
I've earned less than I have in years, having spent the year exploring, not earning. Along the way I've gained everything money can't buy: applicable wisdom and knowledge, true love, extreme resourcefulness (stretching my already-formidable cheapskate powers!), long-thought-impossible goals accomplished and/or started on, and much-improved physical fitness.
Lesson 4: The world won't end if you make less money, lose money, or go broke. Do what you love at all costs. Take risks. You'll learn, you'll survive, it will make you stronger.
2014 had ample stress. I battled hopeless feelings. Thoughts like: I've tried so many things and have never excelled so I'll never excel at anything, haunted. Yet looking back, I feel accomplished. It's exhilarating to strain yourself to the limits mentally and physically.
Lesson 5: Life's not about some mythical "end goal". Just like in fiction, once you conclude the conflict, story over. I'm not in a rush to get to my inevitable "end." I've finally learned to instead, enjoy the journey in all its imperfections and count my blessings.
For years I've been stuck in a routine, something that stuck from my office days. Time tends to fly by unsettlingly when you let yourself do this. Remember when you were a kid and the days stretched forever? It's because you were learning something new daily and novel experiences fire up your brain's neurons and make time seem to last longer rather than fly by. This happened for me, especially during the last six months of 2014. Despite the flops, it's been a good year. I'm nervous about my new direction as I train to become a master herbalist and launch a skin care line. I know it's going to alienate and isolate me from a lot of readers. But I have to do what produces the best, from-the-soul content: follow my heart and produce the best quality work I possibly can.
I'm invigorated and motivated to keep learning, training, refining and growing big time into 2015! And fit in a little thrifting again for upcycled projects when I feel ready again too. The willpower to resist smalls/mugs needs training, she is weak!
What were the biggest lessons you learned in 2015? What were some failures you've learned and grown from? I'm ready for you, 2015!