Honest Reflections On Progress And Personal Goals

Creatively Sustained: defining personal success through creative self-expression

This month marks two years since I left my full time job to pursue my creative career.

As I type this, I think back to the plan I originally set for myself in the Fall of 2016 - it included launching my career in surface pattern design by debuting a collection of fabric for the quilting industry.

Over the course of 2017 I signed up for online classes to improve my digital skills. I hired a life coach, and then joined an online business mentorship community to help me stay clear and focused.

I set many specific goals, and I achieved some notable ones: I built a small portfolio of designs, I taught many block printing workshops in person, and I filmed & launched my block printing course online as well.

New unexpected opportunities also appeared: I participated in two art exhibitions, then accepted a management position at an art gallery for a few months. I was also asked to submit my work for publication in an upcoming art encyclopedia.

Now two years out from my milestone/start date, I feel like many of my original creative motivations have evolved beyond recognition.

I am standing in a different place now than I was then.

It feels difficult to share about the place I now find myself, because despite reflecting on these very positive highlights just now, I have spent the last six or nine months in a state of mild identity crisis or creative limbo.

There have been weeks where I felt like no visible progress was made towards my evolving goals, despite the many hours of thinking, planning and plotting this new path. (Working from my home on my own is not ideal for me, but I remind myself it is a temporary transition.)

I debated switching course and dropping the more creative parts of my work for something more concrete or viable (I was developing a plan to freelance my marketing and social media management services to passive house architects and builders.)

After thinking over and over about this, I worried it might alienate the people who currently follow and support me and my art. I thought traveling in this new direction seemed so different from my original intentions. I was also scared to try something new that I might not be capable of. It seems silly, but it was a true feeling.

It wasn’t until I experienced a really great job interview (for an interesting, and different position - that I thankfully wasn’t offered) that I realized I am not yet ready to leave my print and art making behind.

It took an uncomfortable amount of time, but I have re-framed my original idea of how to help others ‘market’ their passive house projects while continuing to make my own textile art too.

I am starting to see that I might actually be strong enough now to go deeper, I am evolving naturally.

This year I have also been wading through the mucky mud of grief following the loss of my father, and only now is the silt settling out and the water becoming more clear.

I have been too terrified to write much about it. So I spent a lot of time not writing at all. That’s not to say I haven’t been working at all - this summer I re-designed my website template 2 or 3 times.

I haven’t shared it publicly, because it didn’t feel ‘just right’ until recently. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s so much closer to where I want it to be now. This is the new direction I am going, and I will only have more content to add as I move forward with this project…

Passive House Print is a new project where I share stories about the buildings that inspire me*

*through the medium of print and pattern making.

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If you have followed me and my work for a while you will know that I lived in a demonstration passive house, and that my partner and I would like to build one again soon.

Passive houses (or buildings built to the passivhaus standard) positively impact the environment by consuming much less energy and offering the most comfortable dwelling spaces to their occupants.

It feels natural for me to continue talking about them, and I want to share how they continue to influence my creative process and inspire my print and pattern making, even though I currently don’t live in one.

My partner and I have spent the better part of this year in search of property suitable for us to design and build our next home, likely a passive house.

We are getting closer to making this a reality, and I am feeling far less impatient or anxious about it now, than I have in the past. We have spent so much of our time and energy these past few months looking at land for sale, or houses to retrofit - all while renting a perfectly adequate furnished apartment.

I have felt anxious waiting/seeking for our ‘forever home’ these past months. And while our needs are met in our rental apartment, it does feel temporary and lacks the comfort of ‘our’ home. I have been feeling a sort of house/home grief, as well as the creative discomfort.

I haven’t been creating much, as I only brought a few supplies with me, and also because I have not felt so driven in a particular direction as I do now.

I have been trying to exercise more self-compassion recently too (with the help of my grief counselor - who challenges that I am not in fact lazy, but maybe a human being who is coping with loss. We are so hard on ourselves sometimes, aren’t we?)

This changing fall season feels like a natural starting point or milestone on my journey

“The trees are about to show us how beautiful it is to let go…”

My connection to passive house and the search for our next home has propelled me forward into my creative work again with renewed enthusiasm. Exploring the idea of home with a focused source of inspiration, in an exciting new direction.

For this, and many other people, places and things, I am thankful.