Maker’s Monday- Defining Success

Makers Monday by Holey Socks Art

Well, it has been a busy, busy holiday season for Holey Socks Art!  These past few weekends I had the honor of showing with a number of wonderfully talented artisans at the 10th Annual No Coast Craft-O-Rama hosted by Crafty Planet & the CO Exhibitions World (craft) Fair hosted by Burlesque of North America.  Both were was tons of fun and super amazing.  I absolutely LOVE the chance to really interact with people, gain feedback, and just enjoy how much my work makes people laugh and smile.

That said, getting ready for these shows, keeping up with holiday shoppers through Etsy, keeping up an inventory for my retailer, manage the business portion (social media and such) all while attempting to juggle my home and family was really more than I could gracefully handle. I mean, my apartment looked like a bunch of squatters lived here, the kids were dropped off at school wrinkly with hair half combed while I was still in my PJs more days than I care to share.

Don’t get me wrong. I am NOT complaining. 2014 has been an amazing year and has brought me far more than I would have ever expected. I am so very blessed. But as I said it was very difficult to do it gracefully, to do it all without sacrifice- sacrificing my sleep, my sanity, my joy of creating, time with my kids, and time with my husband.

For those of you who don’t know, I have been seeing a counselor for some time now helping me drop some of my baggage and better manage my anxiety. Her name is Gayle and she is the best! Well, she said something the other week that has really stuck with me.  We were having a conversation about work, Brian’s vs. Mine, the “standard job” vs. the creative endeavor, and the topic turned to measuring success and finding purpose.  She started me thinking about some really tough questions:

What does success look like for me?

How do I measure it?

What is my goal?

Why is success tied to money?

Why is success tied to self worth?

Seems like the standard old stuff, right? But when I really started think about it I found myself falling down the rabbit hole.  Naturally, I assumed that success=money.  That is our culture after all. Which meant that in my head I believed that to justify the time I was putting into my endeavors I needed to show a fast profit to make it worthwhile. It’s not worth doing if it isn’t successful profitable.

Well, in order to do just that I found that I was having to take on jobs I didn’t enjoy doing (making custom buttons for businesses, etc), feeling compelled to promote items on numerous social media outlets in an effort to create sales, spend vast amounts of time on learning SEO and a bunch of other gobbledygook that all took time away from the parts I actually enjoyed doing- making things!

Now, I want to take a second to clarify that this is all of my crap- not my husband’s. Never once has he ever put this upon me or said anything of the like.  In fact, this started a really great conversation between us. We talked about why we started this adventure of ours in the first place- so that I, by my own strong desires, could be a more present mother for our girls.  With things getting busy, that easily got swept to the wayside when I had to spend evenings working on creating items just to keep up.  We talked a lot about my guilt regarding “not contributing”.  My husband actually laughed at this and reminded me that I contribute in so many ways it’s actually ridiculous to say otherwise.  Bless his heart. I told him of the guilt I had with the idea that some days are easy around here and that while he’s working a 10 hr day, I might have 2 hours of house work and then get to read for 2 hrs before I pick up the kids. Again, he laughed and reminded me of all the days that that WON’T be the scenario, of the days the kids are having tantrums and making life hell, of the days running all over town running errands, etc, etc. He told me how he works hard so that I CAN have those days, that I CAN be home with the kids and still work on what I love and that my happiness (and ultimately his and the kids’) is the only reward he needs. My happiness is what keeps him going.

This brought me back full circle to the question of defining success. I think that in the past I have tied much of my self-esteem to work.  “I’m a good nurse, therefore I am a good person” type of thing.  Taking that out of the equation has left me feeling a bit lost.  I hope that I’m a good mother, but for all you mothers out there I’m sure you understand when I say that some days I worry, hell I truly believe, I’m not.  That I’m royally fucking up my kids, that I could do better but I’m not.  I feel the same about my role as a wife and as a friend.  Essentially I have a really mean person living in my brain kicking the shit out of me daily.  Making money to “contribute” has been a way of giving her a measurable way of saying “I matter”. Fucked up, yeah, I know but it’s the facts, folks.

So, I’m taking it back. Here on out, I will define my success. I will measure it in happiness, time spent with those I love, time with friends, making only what I love and doing it because I yearn to. Don’t worry- the shop isn’t closing! But, if you haven’t noticed, the Etsy shop is on vacation until early January.  I hope to reopen with new hoop art that I’ve made (because I LOVE making it), I will continue to offer the embroidery portraits but will only be taking 10 orders for 2015 (because I LOVE doing those), I will only take on other custom items when I see fit and if it sounds fun!  I will make time for pieces for my house. I will make time for coffee with friends. I will make time for good books & yoga. I will make time for laundry and combing my kids’ hair.  I will make time for them. I will make time for you. I will make time for me.

I would love to hear how you define success in your life.  Please share!