One of the things that happened when Jon was in the hospital and even after he came home was that I wasn’t working. And before he went into the hospital I hadn’t been in my studio because I was preparing for the Open House. So all totaled, I didn’t work in my studio for about four weeks. This is the longest amount of time I’ve ever spent not working in my studio. I’ve taken vacations of 4 or 5 days, but would never have imagined not being in my studio for so long.
I remember last year, when Jon had Lyme Disease and was so sick he couldn’t get out of bed, wondering what would happen if I couldn’t get into my studio to do my work. I worried about it not so much creatively as financially. Because I had gotten in the habit of making something in a day or two (or longer for a quilt) and selling it right away. I got good at making things people wanted to buy. Which, of course, is a good thing because it allows me to do what I love and make a living at it.
But lately, the pressure was starting to get to me. I felt that if I made something and it didn’t sell right away (meaning within a few hours or a day at the latest) that I was over. People had gotten tired of my work and didn’t want it anymore. Knowing if my work was good was becoming dependent on whether or not someone wanted to buy it or how many comments I got about it on facebook or my blog. I was looking too much outside of myself for validation.
But then it happened. Jon was in the hospital and I wasn’t making art to sell for four whole weeks. And suddenly my great fear of not making art and selling it every day vanished. I realized that I could survive without spending every Monday through Friday doing my work. And with this realization came a sense of freedom. Freedom in knowing that I could spend time in my studio and make something without knowing if it will sell or not. Freedom to be creative in a new way, to explore what I might do if I didn’t have to think about selling it.
The anxiety of having to sell everything I make, that I’ve had for the past six years since I started my business, has dissipated. That’s why I was able to make my Linen Napkin Notebook pieces and “Boot” which I made yesterday. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to sell my art anymore, or that I don’t need to. I do. It just takes some of the pressure off and allows me to be more creative and try different things.
I would never have imagined that Jon having open heart surgery could relieve stress for me in some way. I would have imagined it could only do the opposite. I hope not to squander this gift, to be able to remember it and incorporate it into my life permanently. It was too hard to come by to just give away.