I am a creative person through and through. When I was little, I divided my time between writing play scripts, writing songs, extensive make-believe games including various forts, roles, and "storefronts" around our cul-de-sac, drawing, designing clothes, and writing poems. If I could create something, I was in my happy place. I was in a constant state of inspired, taking in the world around me and making things I like, for fun.
As I sit on my porch now, watching the 5 o'clock traffic flow by and thinking about this last season with LULA, I am so thankful. Thankful that I could take a skill I enjoy and make it into a helpful service and ministry to real, everyday women. Thankful that I could have flexibility with my schedule. Thankful that I could make money for my family. Thankful for all the amazing creative people that I got to work with, and the beautiful souls I have gotten to meet. Thankful for the way my skills were sharpened.
I am also really thankful for this shifting time and entering into a new season, taking a step back from LULA. I spent all this time and money investing into growing, and I had to check myself so many times along the way, asking myself the hard why and re-checking my purposes and long-term goals, over and over again. Every step has been like learning a new dance in the middle of having just learned a different one - always changing it up when I think I had just gotten it down. Through it all, one main goal remained clear to me: to be able to serve women genuinely from the heart with a gift I enjoy. That seems clear, but you would be surprised how muddy it can get when you're deep into a potluck of industries who are all a little unclear on what you do and why, and ask you for all different sorts of things, or make you feel like you should be exactly what they need/want/how and when they want it.
Last year I read Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic (she is well known as the author of Eat. Pray. Love.) Big Magic is about living the creative life, and one of my biggest takeaways was the caution one could take in making a creative love your one source to pay the bills. I mean, that life sounds like a dream - do what you love, pay bills with it. What we all want! But something about this admonition struck a chord with me.
“To yell at your creativity, saying, “You must earn money for me!” is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about, and all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that... I have watched so many other people murder their creativity by demanding that their art pay the bills.”
To clarify, her point wasn't to suggest that these things should never be married, but simply to use caution and remember the freedom to make things just to make things. Just cause we like it. No end goal, no paycheck, no well designed brand, pursuit of followers, A+ grades, impressive connections, or praises from others necessary. Make just to make, for the joy of it. To take our art both very seriously and very lightly at the same time.
Hair and makeup styling has allowed John and I to buy plane tickets, give to causes we love, pay rent, and invest well. I am so thankful to Jesus for the gift of allowing me to do something I like for a job, as a funnel of provision. I also have many wonderful friends who have combined a creative passion with the ability to help put food on the table, send their kids to dance class, or pay off their homes. THAT IS AMAZING.
The business (aka not-so-much-creative) aspect of this whole thing has been pretty amazing, too. I have learned what owning and running a business requires from someone, and I have gained a deep respect for anyone who identifies as a business owner. The time spent thinking, planning, putting into motion, verbalizing, emotions, processing, correcting, editing, growing, more planning, more dreaming, more editing, more time - so many nooks and crannies of brain and heart space filled all the time. I have even enjoyed the numbers, margins, and financial aspects of growing a business (which is kind of a shocker because of my free-spirited ways!) It has been a fun adventure marrying one of my creative joys and the endeavor of owning a small business!
In the pursuit of building a great business and steady income, with the flag of "I'M DOING WHAT I LOVE!" flying wildly above me, I spent a little too long saying yes and working on things that didn't really line up all the way with my one clear vision. When you do enough of that, you start to lose touch with your identity as a unique artist and creator. It is nice to run a great, versatile business and deposit money (woohoo, profit!) but it is not nice to start feeling like you've lost your love, your magic sauce, your happy place, or that you're running a race you can never keep up with.
One of my favorite ways of staying inspired in my creative endeavors is to take a step back. Each industry or creative sphere can be crowded and loud with voices of how to do things the best or right way. I have enjoyed less social media, less Pinterest browsing, less tutorials/.pdf guides/e-books and 10-steps-to-your-best-business blogs. I have enjoyed more face-to-face relationships, books for fun, magazines, coffee table books, walks in nature, and perusing inspirations I've saved from the past. It's been like following a little trail of breadcrumbs back to a point of inspirational origin.
Taking a step back from LULA has practically meant drawing hard boundaries and saying a lot of no's. My last wedding for 2017 is August 5th, and then - I don't know what! But the point is, saving that future time as sacred has freed up SO much time now. I don't have any more contracts to draft (and change, and change again), no ongoing email threads with brides-to-be to figure out details, no extraneous events - just the commitments I have, to do VERY well and with so much joy. Saying a big, scary no has allowed me to say a HUGE RESOUNDING YES to so many other important things in my life! It's allowing me breathing room to live my life well, heal, retreat, spend time with Jesus, my family, and dear friends, make good meals, be discipled and to disciple, get outside, dream, sing, dance, and get inspired just to be inspired and make stuff out of an overflow.
Does that mean I'm stopping LULA for good? I don't know, and honestly, I don't really think so! My hands are so open right now. The main point has been to reign it in, back to a place of not being the most important thing, to rest (really rest, not just margin-time-rest), and regain true creative identity and authentic inspiration (not replication). We will see!
“I don’t want to be afraid of bright colors, or new sounds, or big love, or risky decisions, or strange experiences, or weird endeavors, or sudden changes, or even failure.” - Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
Have there been any risky decisions, sudden changes, or perceived failure you have experienced recently? Any life-curveballs, or situations I like to call THE LIFE BLENDER? How have you managed them and walked through them?
With love and grace,