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How do you keep going?

I saw a great quote the other day that said, “if you don’t keep going, you don’t keep going,” and it is so apt for me right now.

Last Monday I woke up feeling resentful and angry. One of the best things about giving up my day job to become a full-time artist is that the Monday morning blues are few and far between these days. But today, despite drinking my early morning coffee and filling in my daily gratitude in my journal, the mood still didn’t lift. I had orders to do, but decided today wasn’t a good day for being creative as I knew I wasn’t at my best, so I took myself off for a walk and tried to work out where the feeling had come from.

I realised that a lot of it was fatigue after a workshop the day before. A 2 hour workshop is never just the 2 hours work that you see on the surface, there was easily 2 hours the day before prepping for it and a good hour and a half packing away afterwards which, when you add it together, it’s an extra day of work spread across the weekend. Coupled with poor food choices, minimal exercise due to general lethargy and a few drinks, what with it being the weekend, just added to the sense of having had enough.

I’m always wary of giving these feelings too much headspace, I try to acknowledge them and move on, but this particular one was stubbornly refusing to budge. By the afternoon, I started to question the seemingly disproportionate amount of time I’ve recently been spending promoting myself and my work and the amount of effort every little gain has cost me in terms of time and energy. Sadly this is the reality of self-employment, and when my energy levels are high, it always feels worth it, but when I’m tired, the opposite is true.

The Importance of Chipping Away

Later on in the day I received a parcel in the post which changed my whole perspective. It was from an address in Poland and I had no idea who it was from as it was totally unexpected. When I opened it, I found this....

I knew instantly who had sent it and here’s a little background to the story. For a few years now I have followed on Instagram a sea glass artist in Ukraine called Kate. She lived in Odessa and I loved seeing her posts, not only of her beautiful work, but the work that she did for others too. Raising money to help stray cats in her area, sharing her ‘street art’ freely in her town. She had decorated her flat in sea glass and I particularly enjoyed seeing pictures of this, it was like a window into another world. When the war started I instantly thought of her and was really moved to think that all of that work in the street, in her home and with the stray cats would all be for nothing if everything was destroyed. I felt devastated and could only imagine the devastation she must equally be feeling. We communicated about it a few times and I bought something from her shop, messaging her to say she didn’t need to send it out to me, just take the money. She told me she was using donations to support other refugees who were worse off than her and she inspired me with her positivity in the face of such adversity.

When the war moved to her town, she was made homeless at short notice and relocated to Poland as a refugee where I saw in her posts that she was starting her work again from scratch. She continued to support others, despite her own predicament until she (I guess) eventually found herself a year on, able to repay the small gesture that I had made to her. She absolutely didn’t need to do this but in doing so demonstrated to me so clearly that she is someone who will chip away and chip away until she gets to where she wants to be, yet she will acknowledge every single person who helped her along the way and she will support as many other people who she sees as worse off while she does it and I have only one word for that…. WOW!

This says a lot to me, and it’s an important reminder of things that I have always tried to model yet on Monday it was the same things that were making me resentful. It’s the little things that are so important, it’s consistently showing up and doing what you do and just being yourself while you do it. It’s about sharing your journey and the importance of the people you inspire along the way. It’s about keeping going and acknowledging the leg ups you have received.

Being in it to win it

In my last blog I talked about the importance of focussing on your own journey and doing what matters to you rather than focussing on prizes because they just take care of themselves. But at the same time, if you see something you want a piece of, have the courage to put yourself forward because you only stand to grow by being part of a process.

And last week I was informed that I had been selected as a finalist for the Chamber of Commerce Business Awards 2023. When I entered this, I completely did not expect to even make the final, but I just took the view that someone might find something inspiring or interesting in my story so I’ll share it with the judges and happy days.

I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that the email arrived on the same day as all of the above, I believe it’s a timely reminder that I’m doing OK in my little world and here’s a few other people who think so too just in case you’ve lost sight of it yourself a little bit. When the gains come in business, they’re usually big and it really can be a cause for huge celebration, but for someone who likes an even keel, it feels really important to look after myself and so I will approach the judging panel with my usual level headedness and just keep going 😊.

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