Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An INFP Tries to Make a Living

The MN Renaissance Festival is my big show of the year, my only show of the year, the one that pays my bills. Sort of.
My goal every spring is to be so ready for it that I can spend my summer days curled up in the hammock with a stack of comic books until the day arrives when I have to leave for First Weekend. But that's never happened. A more honest scenario goes thusly: Spring and summer both get away from me and I suddenly realize that all is now down to the wire, and 'being ready' will mean working 24/7 until the first Opening Cannon is fired.
Of course, it wouldn't be Fest season without this rush-and-panic. Sometimes I suspect it's even necessary, as the work spent getting ready keeps me from thinking too much.
When I first fantasized about becoming a full-time artist, I imagined myself cocooned in my cozy house, creating whimsical drawings, and -- I don't know what -- telepathically sharing them with people, apparently.... It never occurred to me that most of the work I'd be doing would be non-art-related. Or that a BIG part would involve interacting with people. Why I never thought of this embarrasses me now. Did I really assume those things would take care of themselves?
When it finally dawned on me that being an artist meant selling myself as well as my work, I assumed I'd eventually just get used to it. But I've been doing so now for over 25 years, and if nothing else, interacting with people has gotten more difficult. Even though I haven't a bit of 'actor' in my DNA, I keep telling myself that my game face is a role of sorts, and to wear it I have to get into character. But I have no idea what a confident and extroverted Artist looks or sounds like. However, I do know what it feels like. It feels fake.
I've been told I pull it off -- mostly from folks who only see me once a year standing behind my Festival shop's counter. None of them know me well enough to tell that I'm a quarter cup short of a panic attack.
If you shared a weekend with me at Fest, you'd wonder why I make such a big deal about what it takes to do it, as nothing much happens there than me standing on my feet all day and smiling at people until my face cramps. But I tell you what: Once I'm home again on a Sunday night I have all I can do not to go to bed for the rest of the week. I'm laid up with whole-body inflammation, I swear. Two days of people takes the stance-and-circumpoop right the heck out of me.... 
These days before each weekend now I 'armor up.' I ground and center, I dust off my attitude of gratitude, I thank the Universe for giving me the opportunity to live my life the way I do, as being personally vulnerable and exposing my work to the opinions of others is a small price to pay for this lifestyle and I know it. In comparison, the office job I once endured brought me way more money, certainly, but it also brought more health problems than I knew what to do with. I will never get rich drawing fairies, but it's still a dipped-in-gold improvement. And for that I'm eternally grateful.
I love being a part of Fest. I've always loved it! And I hate that in order to participate I have to gear up for it in spades when I know that, as always, it will prove to be all sorts of rewarding and magickal and amazing.

But for this INFP, it's one of the hardest things I've ever chosen to do.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Moments of Magic

I <3 everything by Julia Cameron!
Yesterday was so amazingly spectacular that there were times that the fullness of my heart brought tears to my eyes. Nothing extraordinary happened, not like winning the lottery or whatever. Just simple things. Like finding a ten-dollar bill in the pocket of my jeans. Stuff like that can make you believe in magic.

There was a quality of light yesterday that was September-tinged; the sun is definitely in its last-moments-of-summer quadrant and clock hands everywhere are pointing to quarter-til-school. As I walked around the neighborhood I could almost smell pencil shavings in the air and the scent of brown paper textbook covers, I swear, and my head was filled with the memories of new school shoes still in their cardboard box, and new watercolors begging for moisture.

Not half a block from home I encountered a 'free' box on the curbside. No, not kittens -- books. There I unearthed a copy of Julia Cameron's 'Walking in this World -- the Practical Art of Creativity'. (FOR FREE!) And then continuing on my way, I saw stands of pink and orange zinnias (oh the childhood memories!) and was greeted by an elderly barefoot woman out watering her lawn with a hose. In her baggy blue housedress and fly-away gray hair, she looked just like my late Auntie Helen, and in a wavery voice she called out, "What a nice day for a walk."

And it was!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's the Little Things

Morning glories make me smile -- :)
Yesterday was about releasing a dozen butterflies.

It was about smelling autumn on the breeze and catching sight of the unfurled trumpets of the morning glories I planted last spring, complete with fat bumblebees buried in them up to their bottoms.

It was about sweet and tender Grandbug hugs, and a mini meltdown when she discovered that her visit with me would be shorter than she'd hoped for. And it was about a goodbye gift of a box of raisins to keep her happy on the car ride home again....

Yesterday was about adding instant coffee to my frozen banana smoothie in an attempt to wake the heck up. It was about pain meds and muscle ointments and long hours spent at the computer in an attempt to figure out how to create a .pdf file.

It was about a late night call from my Eldest out in California, phoning just to chat. It was about soft clothes and Epsom salts, State Fair plans and printer paper, another long night of leg cramps and back spasms. And it was about fat cucumbers, hungry caterpillars, and sweet cherry tomatoes warmed by the sun.

And it was about being monumentally grateful.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fest Season is Here!

Mayfaire (Shop #443)
The Minnesota Renaissance Festival -- of which I'm proud to be a part -- began its season last weekend. This will be my 26th year there. And because I have so much to say about it but little time in which to do so (much must be done in preparation for Weekend Two!), I'll hit you with the highlights of my season thus far, 'k?

First Weekend was all SORTS of magickal. I saw familiar faces and new faces, met an honest-to-goodness Horse Whisperer(!) and a concerned father who conspired with me to make some fairy magic for his not-so-little-anymore girl. I got hugs and compliments and well-wishes. I got to dandle new babies. And I even made a sale!

There was a little rain, there was a lot of sunshine. The weather was such that I could wear my fave chemise, the handmade one I constructed from a curtain and a petticoat, the one with voluminous sleeves that tie at the elbow and catch on the pointy costume bits of friends when I hug them. And I chose the comfiest overdress -- the one that doesn't require all the flotsam that I usually buckle around my body when in costume -- and a beautiful Fest friend gifted me a straw hat that tied it all together with perfection.

Some of my favorite customers (I have awesome customers!) arrived to share pics of their grandchildren and catch me up on their lives. One brought me REAL coffee! And during a gentle rainshower my shop hosted a magickal little music jam that I felt blessed to witness. And did I mention that there was a hummingbird? And a dragonfly that circled my shop's interior, stopping briefly to check out its reflection in the art before going on its way.

All in all, a wonder-full first weekend. And very soon I'll get to do it all again. :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Fragile-ish Day....

Today's a wear-my-clothes-inside-out kind of day. And a day with Soft Foods on the menu, so all the spiny bits inside me can slumber and not have to snap and stab at stuff going down....

It's the kind of day where I hope the sun goes behind a raincloud and thunder makes me turn off the computer. And the phone doesn't ring and no one comes to the door, not even the Schwann's man. Because I won't answer it. Not even for a free trial pint of butter brickle.

It's a day for big plushy headphones large and silly looking as coffee cans. And a hairstyle with no stuff in it, just 'down' with nary a barrette or a scrunchee or a comb in sight. And soft pale colors that don't shout. And only good smells: coffee, warm cinnamon, and the scent of cool rain on cedar chips wafting into an open window.... And only clouds to sit on, so all the parts of me that feel like they're made of coat hangers held together with barbed wire can relax without biting.

I need it to be that kind of a day. But it's not. It's just a regular one, with all the neighborhood noise and clothes like sandpaper, and poky things to sit on, and slippers that pinch.

And here's me with so much to do....

Friday, August 5, 2011

The End-of-Summer Crazies

I'm so overwhelmed!! Can a season be any busier for me?

I can't begin to tell you all that's on my plate right now. The days that are all about finishing and finalizing drawings, about working out the logistics of printing and framing them, about questioning and second-guessing them as product designs (this always comes at a time when I'm over-frippin'-whelmed about my art). The hours spent feeding hungry, hungry caterpillars or releasing butterflies. The stolen moments spent babysitting the grandbug. The money worries and time constraints and sleepless nights. The lawn that needs cutting (still!), the areas of it that need mulching (again!), and the garden that's absorbing its harvest because I've yet to pick it. Chaos! Just know that I'm walking around in circles, wringing my hands.

Which just adds to all the panic, of course.

So out of desperation I've been sticking an occasional foot across my path and tripping my own self up with some small comfort rituals. Like tea with milk and sugar (not sweetener!). And stolen moments reading picture books (Mercer Mayer!). And the writing of lists.

I never realized how important lists are to me. Not for informational purposes so much as for their comfort value. I'm not organized enough to use them properly: I make them and lose them and accidentally throw them away or find them again ages later and realize then that I have no idea what they're even lists of....

And now that I'm aware of their importance, I try not to be without paper and pencil at all times, or at least have my smartphone handy so I can record stuff until I can transcribe it. Making lists clears my head. Or perhaps it just tricks me into thinking that all may be filling up with clutter and chaos around me but at least I can organize my thoughts....

Lately I've been busily making lists on everything from paper towels to kitchen counters to the backs of bills and even the back of my hand. Lists are everywhere here! On walls at eye level. On my drawing table, amidst the pencils scattered like pick-up-sticks. On art that is waiting to be scanned. There are even lists on top of lists, and lists that I've attempted to recreate because I can't find their originals. Solid proof of my frazzlement and my need to self-comfort!....

So because I don't want to bore you even more with all that's going on at the moment for which I'm frantically making lists, here's a -- list! (:->) A list of ten magical things about my yesterday:
  1. A morning spent reading picture books to my grandbug.
  2. The discovery of a perfectly preserved dragonfly the size of my open palm. (It's now on the shelf over my sink....)
  3. A phone call from my dad. It's usually my mother who calls me, so hearing his voice on the phone was a pleasant surprise. (And I made him laugh. Priceless!)
  4. Reading a spectacular book -- Shirley Jackson's 'We've Always Lived In the Castle' -- all in one sitting.
  5. A lunch of stale theatre popcorn. (Love it, can't help it, don't judge.)
  6. Receiving an email from a special friend from whom I haven't heard in months.
  7. Finding a ten-dollar bill in a pocket that I'd thought was empty. 
  8. Treating James to supper with my found money, and then being given a free dessert by the restaurant manager. (Awesome!)
  9. Coming home to an episode of Project Runway queued up on the DVR.
  10. A few moments before bedtime spent working on a knitting project. There's just something so meditative about clicking needles and yarn passing through one's fingers. (It's like petting a cat.)
There.... I feel better now.... You see how much help you are to me? Stop what you're doing right now and give yourself a big hug for being such a good listener. Because sometimes I don't know what I'd do without you, my friend.

Enjoy the rest of this Friday and have a great Weekend.