This past month my public work has gone fairly quiet and I’ve turned inward – assessing whether I’m working on the right things, adjusting my goals, recovering from a topsy-turvy first half of the year.
Unsurprisingly, I’m having to do a lot of course correction. And that’s ok, awareness is the key to tracking and adjusting.
It’s not what you do, it’s what you learn in the doing.
Nothing about this year was in play on January 1, 2021. Not both of my parents having cancer. Not my grandmother, aunt, and uncle dying. Not my abusive ex-husband dying. Not my sudden understanding of how the depth of my trauma has shaped the way I relate to the world and the people in it.
The past seven months have been challenging beyond anything I could have planned for, yet there’s also been a lot of joy. I’ve connected with a thriving creative community and finally – after years of fighting it – accepted that I just might be…an artist. (I KNOW, RIGHT, one of these days I’ll start listening to people)
I’ve dug into learning new things – blockchain, digital art, animation, paper doll making, papier mache…and unearthed ten times as many things I’d like to learn. The opportunities to do new creative work are limitless.
I’m trying to learn how to say no unless my answer is an enthusiastic yes…but so many of my yesses these days are enthusiastic. I crave balance, the ever-elusive ability to align my creative energy with my physical and emotional energy.
Above all else, I’ve learned how to try new things and not worry about the outcome. And to cultivate the courage to ask for things I’d like.
So I did something absolutely wild (for me, anyway) and applied for the VeeFriends Sorceror’s Scholarship. I told myself not to bother because so many more talented, more deserving people would apply – who was I to think I was worthy? In the end I squeaked out this application at the last minute:
I’m Jen and I’ve been doing the wrong things most of my life.
I’m a writer who was afraid to shine on her own…so I settled for working as a paralegal and writing for lawyers. I bootstrapped my way through full-time college as a single mother and full-time paralegal…but dropped out ¾ of the way through because I ran out of money and hated my career. I built a thriving blog…about everything except the things I really wanted to create (because they came from my imagination and I didn’t believe they had value).
I’ve always been more comfortable in the cheerleader role – at work, at home, and creatively. I love seeing others shine and celebrating their successes, and more often than not that’s what you’ll find me doing in my free time.
I need to learn to be able to do that for myself, too.
Instead, I’ve invested a lot of time in wrapping my dreams in increasingly elaborate gift boxes and helping everyone around me. It was easy to pretend the process of cutting paper and tying ribbons was moving me closer to building the world I wanted to create for Hugamonsters – after all, doing something while I was attending to the things that make life chug along was better than doing nothing. I’d convinced myself that I would have time to work on Hugamonsters later, when the kids were older, when things were calmer at work, when I had time to think.
Halfway through the pandemic I realized three things: I was the gift; I’d spent most of my time trying to hide; and time was short.
I started writing again, and drawing, and crocheting, and digging into the act of creating while I listened to Hugamonsters tell me their stories. I allowed myself to be seen and to connect with a creative community. I started investing in friendships which have blossomed into collaborations and opportunities I couldn’t have ever imagined or planned for.
I’m finally, after an embarrassing number of fallow years, reconnected with my inner Hugamonster and working on purpose.
I’m applying for this scholarship because I’m terrified I’m going to fuck it all up. That’s what I do – I get *this close* and then get stuck on next steps – whether it’s pulling together a cohesive marketing/brand strategy, connecting with people who could help me move forward, working through a technology hurdle, or teasing out the right thing is to work on and when.
Hugamonsters have brought so much joy to everyone who has met them. I’m on a mission to expand their world and their reach so I can – through them – share my passion for lifting others up and helping them feel seen, loved, and supported.
Whether I get the scholarship is beside the point. Having navigated the sludge of the first half of this year, the pandemic, my life story of wrong thing wrong people wrong time wrong path…having navigated all those things and still being able to stumble forward – submitting the application and asking for what I want is The Thing.
Where I came from: Everywhere but where I need to be. Down wrong paths. Deep in holes. Failing upward.
What I’m doing: Making art. Writing. Connecting. Breathing. Living.
Where I’m going: The map ends directly beneath my feet, but I’ll leave a breadcrumb trail through the weeds for you.