When I began the portfolio project, my intention was to focus on both my writing and a new concept for my jewelry, and to try to be mindful about carving out some space for creativity in my life each and every day. Going, in, I knew that I wouldn't be able to work on my jewelry each day, or even be able to complete some of the writing I wanted to do in one sitting. Such is life with an infant on the verge of toddlerhood, and with a husband who is busy, busy, busy launching his new business. Large (or even medium) blocks of uninterrupted time simply do not exist. I anticipated that I would try to write for this space a bit each day, with the intention of posting two or three more substantial essays in addition to my grateful monday and photo friday posts. I hoped to just let the words flow and to push through despite my battles with self-doubt, which often hold me back or cause me to over-think. In the end, it usually takes me a ridiculously long time to hit the "publish" button. These two outlets are things my heart has been holding onto for a long time, and this project seemed like just the nudge I needed to get me moving.
In one of her amazing podcasts, Jen Lee talks about the reasons that many of us are playing the portfolio project game. She talks about the three categories that most of us fall into - to get to a place where our art is financially sustainable, those of us who need the skill or mastery of our art gained through doing the portfolio project, and those of us who simply need the portoflio project as a gift to ourselves. For my project, I hoped to become practiced in a new technique - enameling - for my jewelry. My writing and my other daily creative pursits were simply a gift to myself, something my heart desperately needs.
I had my first chance to work on my jewelry last weekend, and it quickly became clear that this piece of my project was not going to play out how I had envisioned it. I had planned to work on experimenting with enameling at least one to two days per week - a few hours on the weekend when John could be with Thea, and on Thursdays when my mom comes over to see her granddaughter. So, on Sunday, I fired up my kiln and got to work. And I worked for a couple of hours, firing several color samples, most with great success. And in the process, the entire house ended up smelling like I had the oven on self-clean. This arrangement simply was not going to work. Sigh. If I want to continue to take my jewelry in this direction, I'm going to have to find childcare for several hours a week. And I'm probably going to have to find a studio. Pronto.
These realizations have brought up some heavy emotions, and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with it all. I'm guessing that it won't be too challenging to find childcare, it's just not something I had planned on thinking about right now. But even bigger than figuring out the logistics are the emotions of having someone that I don't know take care of my baby girl. Since she came home from the NICU, I've only spent a few hours away from her at a time, and when I've been away, she's always been in the care of family. I feel a tremendous amount of anxiety just thinking about it. I'm wondering if this is really the right time to be learning more complicated new techniques and incorporating them into my jewelry line - if I should just wait until she is a tad older. It makes me feel guilty to think of having someone else take care of her so that I can pursue my creative work. I'm trying to sort through all of these emotions and determine what is best for Thea and if I'm projecting the anxiety and fear I feel about learning a new medium and focusing on my business again onto my worries about childcare. I know that it's normal to feel some big emotions when contemplating this type of transition, but I feel rather stuck with it. I didn't expect to have to be thinking about this right now.
I also feel hijacked by the money aspect of this transition. It feels like one thing for me to squeeze in time for myself or for my creative work when we can make it work, but I really struggle with paying someone to take care of our daughter while I take this time. It makes me feel so much pressure to master this new technique and start selling my work instead of just enjoying the learning process and the experimentation that comes with teaching myself something new. And I am aware that this pressure is entirely self-imposed, as my sweet husband has been encouraging me to do this for months, with no expectation of us gaining any income from my work, or even that I would make enough money to cover the cost of Thea's care.
Thinking about this really brings up my ongoing struggles in feeling confident in the ways that I contribute to our family. This is something that I really struggled with when I left my full-time job in December of 2006, not having any idea of what the future would bring. This is a deep and dark well for me, working through for quite some time. I hate how it seems to completely stall my creative process at times, and it makes me feel really insecure about the what I do produce. I hate how easily it is for me to disvalue my work if it is not created with the intention to sell, or if it doesn't sell once I put it out into the world. I hate the shameful feelings that arise when I write about the effect money has on my work.
This post did not at all turn out the way it thought it would when I started writing. There is much more to say - so many other emotions that have surfaced and insights gained, but for now, I feel like I need to pause. If you're still reading, thank you. Thank you so much for reading my words, for witnessing my journey.