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Posts tagged ‘learning’

Purpose on Purpose

 

In my last post, I talked about intention versus attention. So, let’s further the discussion, and talk about purpose. We’ve all thought about it. Usually, as a young teenager or when going off to college, the question is “What’s my purpose in life?”. Or, if you have been reading self-help books for a while, it’s “Am I living my life on purpose?”.  But what exactly does that mean? According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of purpose is:

          1a: something set up as an object or end to be attained: intention

             b: resolution, determination

          2: a subject under discussion or an action in course of execution

Reading this may make you wonder about the definition of on purpose, which is:

            by intent: intentionally

Which leads to looking up intentional:

            done by intention or design

And then, intention:

          1: a determination to act in a certain way: resolve

          2: import, significance

          3a: what one intends to do or bring about

             b: the object for which a prayer, mass, or pious act is offered

          4: a process or manner of healing of incised wounds

          5: concept; especially: a concept considered as the product of attention directed to  an object of knowledge

We could go on looking up definitions all day, which might or might not lead to greater clarity. Judging from above, it seems purpose as a concept has different meanings to different people.  Questions reflecting this may be:

  •      What is the end result that I want to obtain for my life, either in the short- or long-term?
  •      What is the course of action I must take to execute my goals?
  •      What things and goals are most important or significant in my life?
  •      Where do I want to direct my attention, and what knowledge do I wish to obtain in doing so?
  •      What has God called me to do so I may be of service to others?

All of these questions are perfectly valid. And with self-reflection, any or all of them serve as a sound compass to guide one’s life by. So, why do we find it so difficult to figure out? Why all the angst?

Personally, I think we get so stressed because we only expect there to be one answer – one purpose. In reality, as we change and grow, shouldn’t our purpose change also? Isn’t there always more knowledge to gain, more people to serve, more goals to reach, and more actions to take? If life were totally figured out, and our paths set in stone by the time we reached eighteen, most of us would have many years of boredom and stagnation before reaching the end of our lives.

Figuring out our purpose is not is not a one-and-done. If we can get ourselves to the point of realizing periodic reevaluation is necessary, welcome it, and even relax into the process, most of us would be much better off. In other words, rinse, lather, repeat, then breathe!

Have a great week!

 

 

 

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What Are You Paying Attention To?

This morning, I came across this great blog post – https://whenwomeninspire.com/2018/02/21/intention-vs-attention-laurie-buchanan/. I highly recommend reading it!

The post is fairly short, to the point, and really gets you thinking. In it, guest writer Laurie Buchanan talks about the difference between intention and attention. This is something I am willing to bet most people don’t think about much. And the difference between the two is huge. Simply because if you only have the first, you are merely a dreamer. But if you apply the second, you are a doer, an achiever.

I realized as I was reading Ms. Buchanan’s post that my business progress has been so glacially slow due to lack of attention. I have the best of intentions, but the action I have been putting into making them a reality has been too minimal and scattered.

I do make things, yes. Lots of beautiful things. Making is action towards my goal, but it’s minimal. Why? Because just creating does not get me where I ultimately want to be. Customers are not going to drop out of the sky simply because I have beautiful pottery or quilts stored away. Where I currently need to put my attention is into finding reliable, proven resources to help me learn to run a business properly. Furthermore, I need to put more effort into marketing myself confidently – instead of avoiding it, and selling myself short because of doubts or insecurity.

So, do you have an area of your life that could use some attention? Are doubts and insecurities holding you back? Or are you currently applying your attention to wrong things for your desired effect? Are you an entrepreneur, an author, or a world traveler wannabe? They say a habit can be made or broken within 90 days. Let’s all go out into the world and make achieving our dreams a habit!

Find something that inspires you, and have a fantastic day!

 

 

 

 

What’s Going On?

So if you are an American woman in your forties, like I am, you may have seen a recent article called “The New Midlife Crisis” (http://www.oprah.com/sp/new-midlife-crisis.html). Even if you don’t follow Oprah.com, it has been getting shared through Facebook so quickly you can practically see skid marks.

The author, Ada Calhoun, asserts that women in their forties are going through midlife crises – a term that was previously reserved for middle-aged men. She’s got examples and statistics to back it up, too. Ms. Calhoun states that the reasons for this are multi-fold – environmental, societal, psychological, and even medical. But, because of women’s historical need to “keep it together”, the manifestations of the female midlife crisis can be much quieter than a man’s – almost secretive or insidious. So, people around us have no clue what’s going on, or why we are doing things possibly considered erratic or unusual.  The quote I think best sums up the feelings she describes is the following:

“Midlife is when we need to take care of everyone else while we are our most tired, to trust ourselves when we’re most filled with doubt. What makes it worse is that many of our midlife fears are well founded. We may, in fact, die alone. Our marriages may never improve. We may never get the number of kids we hoped for. We may never save enough money to make the retirement calculators stop screaming. We may never do a fraction of what we thought we would do in our career.

At 4 a.m., this is the loop in my head. Then, I remind myself (again) of how insanely lucky I am. It could be so, so much worse.”

The article explains why so many 40-something women I know are making changes in their lives, with varying degrees of risk. Starting new hobbies, traveling to exotic locales, changing careers, starting businesses, freelancing, writing blogs, and so on. It may also explain why people I know who have been together for twenty years or more are splitting up. We are looking for fulfillment on a deeper level, sometimes without even knowing what that means for us, or the far-reaching repercussions it may have.

Now, while it is a relief to know that I am not alone when feeling this way, I wonder… is this a purely American thing? Or is it going on in other countries where economies and lifestyles are similar? Could it be that the freedoms and choices we have really made things worse, and more pressure-filled, instead of better? Are women in cultures with less choices and freedom experiencing midlife crises as well? Furthermore, what can we do about it? Identification and discussion may be the first steps, but without follow-up, it’s hollow and ineffectual.

On the up side, the author does state that these feelings of unhappiness and dissatisfaction eventually change with age. But do you really want to wait until your 60s or 70s to feel better about your life? That’s an awfully long time to wait it out!

I thought “The New Midlife Crisis” was a fascinating read, and personally it resonated pretty strongly. But do you agree with Ms. Calhoun, or do you think she’s making a mountain out of a molehill? Is this something that women around the world are dealing with today? If you suspect you are going through a midlife crisis, how are you handling it? Let me know what you think.

Catching Up and Internet Creep

It has been blisteringly hot here in the state of North Carolina for the past few weeks. I love summer, but the heat index has been hovering around 105° F recently. With accompanying humidity, it’s beginning to wear even me down. However, the sun is shining, hummingbirds are coming to my feeders regularly, tomatoes are in season (yum!), and we have a swimming pool available to splash in, so I really don’t have many complaints.

I am still sewing, and making quilts, and will post photos of some of my finished sewing projects soon. Hubby took a few photos for me last week, since mine were pretty pathetic! Who knew what a pain it is to photograph a quilt? It’s become an enjoyable hobby for me. I just need to curb my fabric shopping! 😉

Pottery is still on hold. Although I miss it terribly. So I think I’ll reconstitute a bit of clay tonight and do some hand building over the weekend.

Things have been fairly uneventful this summer, which is not always a bad thing. But the “lazy days of summer” can sometimes become too lazy, if you know what I mean. We took a wonderful family vacation to the beach recently, which is my happy place. And now that we are back, I have been using my refreshed perspective to decide what needs to be tweaked in my life. Figuring out what has been slipping through the cracks, so to speak. Which is something I believe everyone needs to take inventory of periodically.

Turns out, there is not much I need, or want to change. However, the first thing that immediately came to mind was that I had basically stopped reading books. What? How did that happen? I love to read! I’ve realized that Internet Creep has slowly taken over my life. And it must be beaten back! Most of what I was reading were articles on websites, or items attached to Facebook posts. Have you experienced this? Instead of picking up a good book at the end of the day, I was checking my news feed. Not good! So the library and I got reacquainted, and I am rediscovering the joys of a good story.

I think Internet Creep has become a big problem in our society. Technology is a wonderful thing, but it’s been absolutely invading every aspect of our lives. We are not really present anymore. Subtle things get missed because we have forgotten how to pay attention. We don’t learn or memorize facts, because we can always Google the answer. Friends text instead of talk to each other. People walk on the street with their heads down, surfing the web. Families are not even interacting at the dinner table anymore… A few weeks back I went to a Gwen Stefani concert. She was awesome! But it amazed me how as soon as she came on stage, everyone’s cell phones came out. Everyone was recording videos and taking selfies, instead of enjoying the experience and actually listening to her. A young couple in the row in front of me spent the entire time taking selfies with their backs to the stage. They never actually watched any of the performance! Why do we seem to need to see everything through a viewfinder now, instead of firsthand with our own eyes?

Just some food for thought.

Happy August, Everyone!

Here We Go Again

So, it’s been AGES since I have been able to throw pots. It makes me sad, but I know it is not forever. It can’t be, because I love it too much. I still dream of clay often, and wake up smiling when I do.

Although the elbow is fine now, we just don’t have the space in our current home for me to pull out my wheel. Also, said apartment is covered in wall-to-wall carpeting. So, I may just have to pony up the funds to pay for local arts council classes and get my clay fix once or twice a week. Of course, this reason gets added to my TOTALLY LOGICAL (ahem) list of why we need to buy a house rather than living in apartments.

My path to a professional pottery career is once again on hold. Makes me wonder if this is the Universe’s way of telling me I’m not meant to do this professionally. Or maybe I am not as dedicated as I thought I was? It’s something to think about. Maybe I have the love, and possibly even the talent, but not the discipline and focus needed to work for myself?

Even though I have not been throwing, I am still keeping the creative juices flowing, so to speak. Let me just tell you, in case you were wondering, it really is possible to learn nearly anything on YouTube. Last Spring I taught myself to sew, using the “Watch YouTube and Replicate on My Sewing Machine in Real Life While Swearing” method, and am now enjoying it quite a bit. Our dining room has been covered with my sewing machine, fabric, thread, and all sorts of associated paraphernalia. I began with tote bags, moved on to purses and baby dresses, and within the past couple of months progressed to quilts.

I seem to have a particular talent for finding hobbies that are NOT inexpensive. However as my skills have improved (and swearing has decreased dramatically), I’ve sold several of my projects among friends and coworkers, which allows me to keep feeding my growing fabric store habit (SO MANY PRETTY COLORS!). Also, my husband has been extremely tolerant of the constant clutter. Mainly because I made the goal to finish every project I start, and have (so far, mostly) stuck to it.

I am still an optimist, and I have a nearly pathological need to be creative. Which means that in addition to pottery photos, you may start seeing photos of finished sewing projects popping up here. And as always, comments and constructive criticism are always welcome.

Furthermore, since I now FINISH things I start (ahem), I WILL be posting more often! 🙂

Have a fantastic day!

 

Inching Closer to the Goal

Happy November, Everyone!

I know it’s been awhile since I have posted, and it’s well past the projected deadline for getting my pieces done, but that’s okay. I can honestly say that although there have been delays, they have been mostly positive.

The rain and associated humidity eventually cleared up here in North Carolina, so my greenware is finally dry. YAY! I will be transporting everything to the local studio for firing on Friday or Saturday. I have about 35 pieces ready to go, so I am not going to estimate how long it will take me to finish glazing. One of the many things I have learned over the past few months is that my estimations are almost never correct. Too much optimism in the calculations just yet, and not enough realism. Sigh!

I also started a new day job in the beginning of October, so that put a crimp in my productivity. Creativity temporarily came to a screeching halt! No more late nights throwing for me! But now that I have gotten used to working 9 to 5 again, I will be scheduling pockets of time to get good and muddy! Another YAY! It seems strange to have to schedule something I once considered a hobby; that’s one characteristic separating the professional from the amateur, I guess. And a passionate professional is what I aim to be. Someday, pottery WILL be my day job.

Having a non-artistic day job is a bit unpleasant, no matter how much I like the job and my co-workers (and I do!). Most evenings it feels like my poor, neglected pottery wheel is standing in the corner throwing me dirty looks. I feel guilty when I go to bed at night not having to wash clay off my hands first. But in reality, the second paycheck sure is nice. Finances were way tighter than we liked with me staying at home, and it was sort of depressing. Now the bills are being paid on time, and I can set aside a little bit for firing costs. Bills paid, and quicker pottery completion equals a double bonus in my book!

The past several months have been a huge learning experience for me. I’ve gained perspective; learned which of my goals are realistic as they are, and what others need to be reworked. I’ve come to terms with what I am physically capable of completing, and in what time frame. And I am re-learning to prioritize, so my personal life does not fall apart as my professional one grows. Tunnel vision is an unfortunate weakness of mine, and life cannot proceed smoothly if the pots are beautiful, but the clothes are unwashed and cupboard bare. Not that it’s gone that far, but you catch my drift. Balance… I am striving for balance in equal measure with progress.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, balanced, and blessed Thanksgiving! 😉

Some Glazing Mistakes

Okay, so a week or so ago, I was telling you all about how disappointed I was with my first glaze firing. Since I am trying to learn from my mistakes, I would welcome any input from you knowledgeable potters out there. Currently, I do not have my own kiln, so I am paying a neighborhood studio for use of their glazes and kiln. Therefore, I cannot do much altering of their glazes, except for application methods and mixing together of colors in small enough batches to use up on my own pots. I will outline the issues I had, then follow with the photographs below.

1- Saki set. Glaze is Scott’s Red. I generally like this glaze, although it tends to lean more towards pink/cranberry. I did have some issues with pinholing (not much, though), and ended up with a large bare spot inside one of the cups. Never had that happen before! Someone suggested that an air bubble during firing could cause this, pushing the glaze up, and making it “fold” over itself. Could this be correct? I am intending to refire these.

2- Creamer. Glazes are Licorice and Panama Red. Since I fired in oxidation, the Panama turns turquoise, which I love. But the Licorice pinholed badly on ALL the pieces I used it on! Is there a way around this, other than maybe adding a layer of clear glaze? I love how the glazes look on the area where they overlap, and would like to do this over an entire pot, but not if it’s going to be totally pockmarked!

3- Goblet. Glazes are Bottle Glass Green, Warm Jade Green (drips), and Nutmeg. My problem with this one was the Nutmeg. It is supposed to be a warm, toasty brown. Instead, I got something that looks underfired, and also looks and feels like sandpaper. I was going for a rough look, but not that rough! I had another piece in the same batch that the Nutmeg did this on, and the studio very graciously refired it for me. But there was no change. The studio assistant was just as perplexed as I am about it.

4- Teabowl. Glass Bottle Green, with Panama Red interior. The interior of this bowl is great! There is a big area where I dripped the Green over the Panama, and the effect is wonderful, although I couldn’t get a good picture of it. But on the outside… sigh! The Green is supposed to be a semi-transparent glaze, but I wasn’t expecting it to leave me bare clay in places! If anyone has any tips for working with this glaze, I sure would appreciate it.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today. Have a fantastic remainder of the week!

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