Standards– Not Expectations

At some point in the last few weeks, as my mind wandered in and out of it’s usual madness – alternately analyzing everything then accepting it all as irrelevant ,i arrived at yet another epiphany regarding my relationships. I have long been a believer in expectations( as i understood it) , asserting that having none leaves you in a constant state of emotional “open season”.

That, in turn resulted in another question. Why have i felt this way? What exactly did i mean when i said i had “certain expectations”?

Well , if you have followed me for awhile you know that my first step when attempting to resolve an issue, is to define what exactly it is. So, i looked up the definition:

expectation:( noun)

1a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.

2.a belief that someone will or should achieve something.

Holy wow!… that didn’t seem right…or fair. Just reading the words, and applying them to a partner made me cringe! Why in the world would i place that burden on someone? i would certainly not enjoy having it placed on me! I had to re-assess. Eventually, it dawned on me that what i really meant, or wanted to mean, was that i had “standards”

standards:( noun, plural)

1.a level of quality or attainment.( much better!) idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in evaluations.

Now THIS i can get behind.

Purely defined, i believe it attests to setting boundaries, rather than attempting to recreate and reform another person. When i have expectations of someone or something, i am frequently stressed, and more often than not- disappointed. But having standards for myself and a partner in a relationship, (and making sure that those standards are agreed upon) is certainly both attainable and fair.

Allow me to explain…

Believing that someone can change their ways ( maybe that an antisocial loner will become a social butterfly, or that a violent , lazy, or irresponsible person will somehow do a 180, for instance) is pretty absurd. Yet, many times i have gone in with blinders on believing that with time and love and patience, whatever red flags i chose to ignore would go away. Yes, i could create the man of my dreams just by wishing it so ( or nagging them to death). These are “expectations”

On the other hand, a standard is something that has to already be in place, or at least a strong component, in any relationship. It is something that is internally set beforehand when meeting or beginning to date someone with intentions to have a future together. A good example here is hygiene. You can usually tell whether a person meets your hygiene standards. A sense of humor, a caring disposition, an overall moral/ethical code, or a noticeable pattern of responsible , mature behavior…any of these i would consider standards. And like anything else, standards will vary for everyone.

But i think more importantly , is the the ability to distinguish between the two. This can be tricky as hell, especially down the road. What you may come to “expect” of someone should always be based more on a standard than personal comfort or habit. Just because someone has always come home, watched TV with you and gone to bed at the same time is NOT a standard . It may be that at some point , they would rather spend more time getting healthy by exercising a after work, or perhaps they may start needing more or less sleep and not wanting to go to bed at the same time they always have.

Things change and with change comes adjustment. Adjustments to expectations are uncomfortable and for some, can lead to tension, frequent arguing or worse. But there is no adjusting when it comes to standards. They are important, and part of a stable and healthy relationship. I , for one, could not tolerate my partner suddenly refusing to shower , or showing a complete lack concern for others, or starting to behave as if they were 15 years old again. So yeah, i have standards.

I guess that’s just my 2 cents for the week. any thoughts?

Dream a Little Dream

Lats night i had a very strange dream. a beautiful fawn was obsessively following me around like a pet. Now, i am a very good dream interpreter.In fact, i used to do this for new age events and shows back in the day. Over the years i have been come to understand my own symbols should they show up in my dreams. Most of them are animals. but i have never dreamt of a deer until now.

Fortunately i was able to easily find an interpretation online. Not all sources are good but i did love this one because it made so much sense.

“A deer symbolizes the awakening of your spiritual desires, but also that you must leave behind your shyness towards others and open your heart. … The deer is, therefore, a strong spiritual symbol. A deer in your dreams means good news and lots of good fortune, especially in your marriage and love life in general.”

She was so pretty i couldn’t help but try to paint her

I have posted a few times about my renewed sense of spirituality this summer, mainly due to my new love interest being so very in tune with his own. It has spilled over onto me and made a huge difference in how i respond to aggravations and anxiety, especially when it comes to repeating old patterns and regurgitating bad emotions, and unfounded suspicions. Even when i do revert to some of them initially, they pass very quickly.

So having this dream and reading the above made me hopeful today. Just thought i’d share.


Artists Life ( part 3) The present

I’m gonna wrap this little series up with how things are going in the present.

first one in this style for me ( a recent technique ) got over 100 likes in the first day or two!

Perhaps there are some of you out there who have wondered what becomes of most artists. Or perhaps you never knew any or still do not.Perhaps you have seen a movie or two about some famous ones and how they ended up.

For instance, one popular movie is called “Pollack”. It is very well done and i have watched it myself multiple times often wondering where my own journey was headed at various times along the way. Would i, as an alcoholic too, end up like Jackson? i used to think so( without the fame or money of course). Then watching some others-Freda, Basquiat, and various renditions about Van Gogh and Picasso- i saw so many aspects of myself , it was disquieting. Even they had gotten sober at certain points but never maintained the sobriety, which ultimately lead to their demise. Whatever could someone as insignificant as me hope for?

After deciding to get sober and get my life together their were many moments i considered giving up doing art period. It was like peas & carrots- if i wanted to paint, i thought i needed to drink while i did it. But after desperately fighting with that deeply ingrained belief i started painting sober. It was forced. I had to push really hard. And the initial results were atrocious. I actually dreaded it. In hindsight, if i hadn’t heard similar stories about other creatives giving up their triggers (playing guitar, writing, and painting as well for a while) and then being able to come back and do even better, i would probably have just quit.

But i didn’t .

And eventually started seeing the rewards of focus and actual practice. Wheresas before, 99% of my work was done strictly on alcohol fueled emotion, freestyle and wrought with mistakes- often culminating in me ending up totally ruining a piece in my drunkenness, i started being able to sense when i should stop and/or wait until another time. I started branching out into more precise endeavors…not just acrylics on canvas, but pencil drawings, portraits, archival ink drawings, plein air painting and even water color ( my passion for over a year now) . And looking back, i can easily see improvement . In fact, i have had more sales in the last 3 months than i had over the last several years. Sure, it will likely slow down- things go in waves like that- but i am not complaining!

the most recent sale ( today)

Admittedly – one or two that sold in the past 2 months were done while i was drinking . during the few times i have indulged and let myself give in. But 90% of my sales have come from stuff i have done sober.Stuff i have seriously been putting time and energy into for the past year and a half.

So, the present…

I am in a new home, and my roommate and i have been diligently remodeling the studio area- first renovating the living room area by tearing up carpet, laying a sub floor and vinyl tile ( clean up is easier). I finally invested in some really nice storage cabinets. And i have ordered paints to replace stuff that was over 6 years old and drying out. I have ( because of the sales) been able to up my game with packaging products as well as enhancements ( like matting). The organization will seriously help with efficiency and focus. Next we plan to re paint and streamline everything so that we can both take our art endeavors to the next level .

At the moment, our previous venue and events have been put on hold and we sell mainly online. But are working towards having a new space where we can open up for regular sales and shows. More parking, handicapped access, and a space to grow in. It’s a lot of work and a LOT of money. Baby steps. To be honest there are many days when i look around and just feel overwhelmed. I have to force myself to keep my eye on the prize and be patient. I am ever grateful though for all the help and support i/we have gotten.From the one roommate doing much of the labor, to the new one helping with sale connections to the new boyfriend helping and supporting in any way he can- it’s been pretty awesome over all.

Mentally, i still struggle in many areas- but most are new areas. i no longer worry about having to tear apart old dressers or use old sheets to have something to paint on. i don’t use old house paint. I don’t buy supplies from the dollar store. And i am not painting on my knees in a moldy old basement or a 6′ x 6′ area of a kitchen . I also no longer stress about every show i enter, and in fact have become much more choosy. I charge what i believe is fair( not over or under priced) instead of caving to the age old situation of believing something is better than nothing. I would rather hold onto my pieces or give them as gifts, than sell for way less than what i spent making them- just to gain good will or have money for groceries. Sure, storage is still an issue, but i am getting better at dealing with it by sticking to rules and setting boundaries.I get paid upfront so i am not left sitting with something someone didn’t pay for. Switching to water color for the most part enables me to use less space storing paper rather than canvasses. And i don’t accept requests to do paint & sip nights for just anyone at any price( i out source to others who may need the money way more than i do, and take on only those with regular, well compensating groups i have worked with before.)

So yes, things have changed – for the better. It still isn’t glamorous or financially life sustaining. But i feel more at peace with it, more confident and less stressed.I have leaned to place limits so that i can continue to enjoy my passion rather than seeing it as “work” or a business.I enjoy my colleagues work more because i have cut out the toxic ones and interact on a more level playing field. We discuss more constructive things because we aren’t pissy drunk and wasting our time( not saying no one drinks or indulges at times but it is rare and not usually in a public place).

I am encouraged, i am inspired, and i am in a good space with it all. and i believe it will only get better.


Part 2: Artist Life Upsides

Painting Plein Air ( outdoors) today with some freinds

I don’t know what happened with my last post but it looks like only 2 people even saw it. Maybe there was no interest -but it is a huge part of my life and i haven’t written much about it over the past year on this blog so i will persevere. Hopefully if you see this one, you can go back to the first part and catch up. This is the 2nd part of a 3 part thing…anyway…

So i spoke a lot about the tough road and hardships of becoming/being an artist.When i use the word “artist” i do not mean someone who just dabbles. I do not mean someone who does a few crafts, of has “a little hobby” that they do maybe every few months. I do not mean someone who attends a few paint & sip nights with their friends. I know it is common to hear the phrase “Everyone is an artist” and such and such. But, while i believe there is a creative side in almost all of us, i do not believe EVERYONE is an artist. There is a huge gap between doing something for occasional pleasure, and actually investing your mind , body , soul, money, time & energy in something. Ok , enough about that…i digress.

So, in spite of the hardships, there are indeed some upsides to being an artist. For one, when i first plopped my little pink toe into the artist world, i very quickly accumulated un-countable new and unique friends from all backgrounds, beliefs and walks of life in general. People i never would have crossed paths with if i had never ventured forth. These people have enriched my life in ways i cannot begin to count.

Prior to moving into these circles, i pretty much have a total of maybe 5 friends- one of which lived about 2 hours away ,whom i saw only a few times a year. Two were from church and we really weren’t that close, and another friend who was always so busy with advancing their nursing career and education, we were also barely able to connect. Then , i also had what i call my “Desperate Housewives” neighborhood acquaintances nice people but- i think you can imagine how life enhancing that was( not). Mainly, i spent my time working 2-3 jobs, attending school myself, going to church, the gym and yoga classes, along with bible study and monthly Bunco get togethers in the development. I was super busy, but not very fulfilled or balanced.

Getting into the creative life enabled me to mingle with people of various cultures, watch other artists grow and develop and thereby enhance my own skills. I also met poets, musicians, writers, photographers, theatricals, dancers and all types of other artists such as sculptors, jewelry makers, woodworkers , leather crafters and so on. I became extremely adaptable to almost any circle instead of being the shrinking violet in social situations. I thrived in a more diverse and populated environment.I had never had these opportunities before- or rather, never any real reason to leave my comfort zone.

As i mentioned, the first time you are referred to as an artist is probably one of the biggest “highs” you will have along the way. My first time came about a year into it. Even though i had been painting , and even co hosted , curated, and sponsored a monthly gallery event, people didn’t really “know” me or see me as anything but “another new kid on the block”. There are so many that show up, party for awhile then disappear, it’s understandable. But any true artist will tell you, you work hard for that title.

Another great thing is the number of connections you make in every sense…not simply other artists, but people who can benefit you as far as networking- for business,life necessities, purchasing and acquiring materials, getting involved in the community, and so many other areas. Most artists have other jobs , like myself, so this can be invaluable. Need a plumber? so and so does that. Need to find the best 24 hr places to eat ? Someone is an expert. Catering, carpentry, tailors, restaurant owners, farmers, caretakers, mechanics and all types of other people can be artists as well. And even better, as you get more established you can connect others with those you have met.Win-win.

Which brings me to a third upside- the reward of helping others learn and grow. Having new artists ask for your advice may be the second biggest compliment along the way. It is so flattering to feel that someone considers your skills valuable enough to enhance their own. Over the years, i have gotten an increasing amount of messages asking my advice on tools of the trade, how to sell or network, where to get supplies at a better cost, how to save money, and so on. I remember being the one doing the asking, and having that come full circle is “cloud nine”. Not to say i no longer ask others for advice. In fact, i still consider myself a novice compared to many i have had the pleasure of meeting. There are numerous artists i admire deeply- even to the point of jealousy( but in a good way!Those people have enhanced my skills and made me a better artist in every way and i do not see that ever coming to an end. There will always be better artists, and they are your best teachers!

So, hopefully this gives a more positive light on the subject.I encourage anyone, at any age or in any circumstance , who has the passion , not to bury it inside or not take a chance.You never know how much something will change your life and fulfill your soul until you try!