Monday, April 10, 2017

And the Envelope Goes to....

Me and my Avery rocked the Crawl. (Thanks for your help, Avery!)
In my last post I wrote about my preparations for the North Artists Studio Crawl. And in this post I'll tell you how it went. (Spoiler: it was magickal.)

As prepared as I was for it, I got very little sleep the night before, as until nearly 5 a.m. the morning of the Crawl my head was a big old mess.

I'd decided earlier that day to try something unusual, something I first tried at Fest last season wherein I let people take Leaflings home with them for an exchange of whatever they personally thought was fair. Because I didn't want them to feel judged for their donation, I offered them a plain envelope at the time of the exchange and asked that they put in it whatever they wished and I wouldn't open the envelope until after the weekend. Also, I assured them that I wouldn't know which envelope they were responsible for because all the envelopes look the same and would get mixed together in my take-home bag so I wouldn't know whose was whose....

As you can imagine, the Fest 'experiment' was eye-opening. The Leaflings folks could choose from at that time weren't framed or anything; they were loose leaves that I'd individually embellished and carefully protected with a sealant. Each weekend after Fest I'd go home with about a dozen envelopes, and James would open them for me, mostly because of my rule to not personally take money for magick, but also because I was afraid to be disappointed.

Many of the envelopes contained single dollar bills. And many contained much more. As promised, I didn't know who was responsible for which particular envelope, except for the time a well-dressed woman chose four Leaflings and paid me in pocket change, and I only know that because I could hear it jingle as the coins were dropped in the envelope. At least two others refused to follow my rules and instead forced me to take their money (which happened to be a significant amount). And the only reason I could think of was that they didn't want their generous donation to be anonymous; they wanted me to know exactly who was responsible....

These delightful folks made my socks go up and down!
At the end of the Fest season, I was surprised at the amount my Leaflings brought in. What would have been just another ordinary year for me was significantly up for a change, and it was all due to the Leaflings and their magick.

It was then that I began to wonder what a whole year of similar exchanges would be like. Which is how I decided to make this year The Year of the Experiment.

The Art Crawl would be my first opportunity to try it out. But with only a few hours before the Crawl began, my head was all over the place about it. I wondered: what if no one 'got' what I was doing and why I was doing it?, what if I try to describe to people why it is that I make my Leaflings and my words don't make sense?, what if the Crawl goes by and no one takes a Leafling home?, or what if they're popular and afterward I discover that all the envelopes are empty??....

Friends visited. (Love you, Sue and Aina!)
I knew what I needed to make monetarily from that Art Crawl to break even, and I was confident that the Universe did, too. That morning as I hung the framed Leaflings on their display grid and fanned the individual ones out in their antique display case before the Crawl began, I made eye contact with each one. We had an understanding. And they had jobs to do. I trusted that each would make a connection with THE person meant to take it home, and in so doing that person would make a fair exchange.

I wasn't sure what to expect from an Art Crawl as I've never been part of one before.... I assumed a Crawl was meant to be more of a 'meet-and-greet-the-artist' and less of an opportunity to make a sale. Yet sales were made. A number of people understood how much my Leaflings meant to me and why I was creating them. And by the end of the day I had a dozen envelopes and some very rewarding memories of some very magickal interactions....

And more friends. (Love you, Suzanne!)
The next day was the same. Once again, friends visited to help me celebrate my first ever Art Crawl. I confused them with the whole envelope thing, but in most cases they obliged and indulged me.... My eldest grandbug, Avery, was there to help me that day and I was more focused on entertaining her than I was on selling my work. Still, at the end of the day I was surprised to discover that there were as many (or more) envelopes in my bag as there'd been the day before.

I crashed on Monday, as usual. And it wasn't until sometime that afternoon that I felt human enough to begin sorting through things from the weekend. And there was the stack of plain brown envelopes, waiting to be opened....

Just like after Fest, I planned to have James do the dirty work when he arrived home that evening. But then it occurred to me that I was separating myself from a very important step in my experiment, the part where I personally accept the exchange. If this was something I was going to do in future, I'd have to learn to carry the whole thing out from start to finish.

This classy lady made my day! (And this sassy kid did, too.)
So I poured myself another cup of coffee and sat down to that stack and prayed aloud over it. I promised the Universe that I'd be grateful for whatever came out of those envelopes. And the first envelope I opened made me cry. Not because it was so bad, but because it was so generous.

Opening the envelopes was humbling. There were a LOT of tears. And, not surprisingly, there was the Empty Envelope. I seem to recall an Empty Envelope last season at Fest, too. It was like a physical reminder to me to accept the bad and the good without judgment.

When I'd opened them all and tallied everything, it took my breath away. I was stunned. And so dang grateful that I cried. Because of those leaves and the effect they had on my visitors, I did more than just break even.

I also learned a LOT. And I was filled with hope.

Now as I look back on my experience, I can't help but read the signs and determine that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be right now, and doing exactly what I'm supposed to do. I couldn't have imagined this a year ago.

And it stuns me to think that this all began with one leaf.

And one wish.