by Mandy Steward
One day, early last year, I decided to make a list of the business decisions I have made based on advice from others. I started out with just a few, but it seemed as I peeled those back, like a onion, there were more and more reasons to get teary-eyed. Big, major decisions had in fact not been mine at all. So much of my artistic dreams were defaulted to those who “really” knew.
You see, I am not business minded.
At least, this statement is something I came to believe about myself, probably because it had been taped on my back by a few “well-meaning,” advice givers. I got kicked around a lot, bouncing pinball style from one guru to another. Read this book. Work the crowd. Try this best practice. Quit being nice. Promote more. Charge more. Work harder. Make a scene. Leave your heart out of it. Use your head. Zing - zing - zing I bounced, trying it all and catching my breath for short bursts in between by simply doing what I loved.
Nothing really clicked. Nothing felt like I was hitting my stride. Nothing felt short of being forced.
“Try harder, longer, faster,” said the gurus.
“Quit and follow the real money,” said the gurus.
“Do it just like me,” said the gurus.
Eventually the gurus all started to sound an awful lot like the teacher in Charlie Brown and the Peanuts, and I had a hunch that I could sneak away unnoticed while they all kept talking.
Taking a part-time job became a compromise that allowed me to buy some time to try, for the first time, to do my business solely the way I wanted to. Just over a year in, and I can tell you, I am still only scraping the surface, mainly because the surface is riddled with a crusty layer of “you should, you must, you better, you ought to.” I am like that paint splattered man with paint chippings in his hair that came in for coffee at the coffee shop I cook for.
There is a lot of work that has to be done before I can add that fresh coat of the color I really want. (I want rainbow color!) I am undoing what the gurus so willingly gave me. I am pulling a hundred and one taped signs from my back, marveling that there can even be that many or that the tape is still so sticky after all this time. I am a slow and steady tortoise riding my bicycle up a steep incline. I just keep pedaling little by little.
I surprised myself in the coffee shop kitchen the other day, when in a conversation with a co-worker I exclaimed, with my fist in the air, “But I am a business woman!”
I guess, finally, I at least believe that.
One evening, at a poignant time for me, I chose three tarot cards. The first was to represent my commitment to part-time job. The second was to represent my commitment to my personal creative Messy Canvas business. The third was encouragement from a loved one.
Here is the summary from that reading, specifically about the card speaking to my personal Messy Canvas business:
- Stay open to the natural rhythms of your body and emotions to trust what you know.
- Relax and listen to intuition.
- Take your time. Allow extra time to write down secret messages. They are vital for you.
- Imagine (open space in the chest where all wisdom resides.)
- Sit between the opposites.
- You can see thru the dark, so you can attune to everything.
- This new year is still fresh and dew covered. I have risks to take on my behalf. I feel oh so very vulnerable, but this gives me hope that I am headed in the direction of home.
I can still hear the gurus in the distance, their voices like the low drone of a swarm of bees. It serves as the perfect white noise, oddly comforting to me - the one who would really rather prefer to go my own soulful, mad, intuitive, ever-softening way.
Side Note: I thought long and hard about the art I wanted to create to accompany this post. Today, while on a run, I realized the art I had already created would be just fine. It’s on torn paper. It’s written with a rainbow selection of crayons. It is everything short of fancy, but it is exactly as it is displayed on my art table, clothes-pinned to a red toolbox so that it is always in view as I work. This is how I first wrote it down for myself, and I think it is asking to stay exactly in this form. It gives testament to the messy, vulnerable way I am choosing to do business. It is tender, sloppy and pure. It is secret message dictation taken in a moment where I knew that I knew that I knew me and my artful way of doing business are enough. I want to keep that magic intact. In there lies my very own “bless the mess” divine sanction.
Mandy Steward is an artist and author of Thrashing About With God: Finding Faith on the Other Side of Everything. She blogs her messes at MandySteward.com. She also creates custom painted and inked Secret Messages, self-publishes a subscription based ‘Zine of gypsy journalism, and co-creates a way to to keep her faith alive via The Wild Mystics. She finally has a Self and finds that breathtaking.
Find her on Facebook here.