Moving On

This is a difficult blog post to write, as a part of me feels like I am giving up. But actually, this is about moving on, and there is a big difference. We are often told that if we can find a job doing what we love, we will never have to “work.” The idea being of course, that your work will be fun and won’t seem like work. This is a wonderful concept that works very well for some people, but not for all of us. Sometimes, the thing that we love needs to be our escape, sometimes it truly needs to remain the thing we do for fun–only for fun. Even if you are successful, as many are, in making a living at the thing you love, there is a change the minute you begin to monetize that thing–maybe it’s cooking, writing, music. For me, it’s photography.

I have been involved with photography since I was a child who took horrible photos with my little Brownie camera (yes, I’m that old). I took photography classes in high school and majored in photojournalism. For years, I wanted to be a horse show photographer. I finally made the plunge about ten years ago. For a few years it worked. I enjoyed it and made a little money, though never a profit. I had to stop for some health reasons, among other things, and spent the next several years trying different aspects of the photo business. Nothing really worked, as far as making it a go as a business. There are many reasons (most of them my own fault), and I won’t go into that (I have friends who know exactly what I am feeling) because that’s not the point of this post.

When I was younger, I always felt that I had to finish a book, even if it wasn’t good. As I got older, I realized that it wasn’t worth the time. I have reached that point with my photography. It is no longer worth the time, and more importantly, the money needed to make a business work. Regardless of any other aspects (such as marketing, which I am remarkably awful at managing), photography is a spendy business, with technology constantly changing. It’s not just the cameras, but the software, the computer needed to run everything, the website, taxes, etc. I simply can’t afford it anymore–as a business.

For all my friends who are saying “no, don’t do it!”, I am not giving up photography, just the business. It’s been an albatross around my neck and it’s time to let go. I will be selling my Canon DSLR equipment (anyone interested??), and going mirrorless, which means lighter, which means I will take my camera out more, which means more fun. Life is too short to keep at something that isn’t working. Let go and move on.

Jim Finds His Artistic Side

I’ve always been the artistic one in our relationship. But with all the extra time on our hands from our unplanned retirement, Jim is exploring his creative side as well. He’s always been good with woodworking and made quite a few shelving units for our last house. He recently made a spice rack for me, and that has launched what may become a new little business. At the very least, it keeps him busy in a productive way.

His latest projects are making use of what’s growing on our own property, mainly in the form of small Douglas Firs that were never thinned properly when the property was owned by one of the local timber companies. Thinning out the smaller trees helps our forest environment and provides lots of wood that is just right for wooden coasters, spice racks, a shot glass display, and shelves for the liquor bottles. His next project is a display railing for my decorative plates that have been in their boxes for years. We’ll also be using some of the timber for our garden planter boxes (and some more hugelkultur piles). The rustic look of the fir looks just right in our little country home.

In addition to being a practical and thrifty way to added needed things to the house, the focus that comes with creative projects can really help in dealing with stress and depression. Regardless of what you plan to do with the final project, there is a sense of accomplishment. Even if it doesn’t come out quite the way you planned, there is always something learned in the process. If others compliment you on the work, there is that little boost to your ego. That might sound conceited, but there is a feeling of loss and damage to self-esteem when you find yourself retired without planning to be, and when you are at an age when it can be difficult to find a decent job to replace the one you lost.     

We are looking into the possibility of attending some local craft fairs to sell my photos and Jim’s woodwork. We’ll let you know when our first fair comes along! In the meantime, drop us a line if you are interested in the coasters or racks.

Explore Your Creative Side

I am a photographer. I enjoy most types of photography but am especially drawn to abstracts. I love the idea of capturing moods and the fluidity of time rather than freezing moments. If you are a creative type, you know how much your work can nurture your soul. But creativity can ebb and flow, and nothing puts a screeching halt to it quite like an unexpected disaster and the depression that can come with it.

My husband lost his job over a year ago. It wasn’t the only major setback we had at the time and all things together took quite a toll. I didn’t pick up my camera for months. I finally went to a counselor and I can tell you, it made all the difference in the world. She encouraged me to start shooting again–slowly, just for myself. I think that’s the key. Do it just for you. We tend to be our own worst critics, so don’t try too hard. Just do it. You can delete, rip it up, throw it away, but don’t give up.

Keep a journal of your feelings. You don’t have to show it to anyone, but if you are going through problems with someone else, it might be a good way to show how you feel when spoken words don’t always come out the way you want. A friend of mine is also having a very difficult time. She gave me some great advice. She draws in her journal, as she is an artist, but she was getting caught up with the whole perfection thing. The solution–use crayons!! You can’t be perfect with crayons, plus they are fun and might just put a smile on your face (get the big box!). If you are a photographer like me, you can sketch out ideas for shoots. A writer can use them too. Filling a whole page with pen or pencil can be daunting, but write big with those crayons and that page will fill up quickly. Let your inner child out and begin to feel joy in your art again.