Monday, October 27, 2014

How to Find Inspiration Standing in a Field

For my 49th, my 3 sisters (Karen, Kathleen and Beth) took me to a food experience by an organization called Outstanding in the Field. It took place at an organic farm, known as, Animal Farm in Cat Springs, Texas.  It's a "roving culinary adventure" and their mission is to
re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it.
Karen on the left and Kathleen on the right

We had to hike to get to the main building.  It wasn't far, but your boots better have been on your feet.  Some got the memo...some ladies did not.  We walked on all types of surfaces.

We arrived at the main building and had our appetizers which were fresh Gulf oysters with fish sauce mignonette, and you ate them right out of the plate, just a napkin.

The next appetizer was grilled Animal Farm shishito peppers, preserved lemon, kimchi emulsion.  They had these grilling on a fire pit in the middle of everything...

We saw all types of flora that not one of us knew.
Edible, poisonous?  Please let me know, someone.

We hiked in low grass,
on dirt roads,

and in taller green stuff.
We saw greenhouses filled with flowers

Horses with no names

My sister Kathleen

Here comes the inspiring part.  And it's a W-H-O-L-E lot better than my set-up. Standing there with the sun shining down on him, Jim Denevan, the founder, had a profound message for all of us creatives.  Although I didn't interview him, I want to share some of the story he told.

He started doing these events in 1999.  His first supper had 12 guests.  12.  He was a starving artist.  He carted the people and the equipment in a bus.  A broken down bus.  Going from state to state partnering with celebrated chefs and serving primarily local foods at these events, he also did the layouts of the tables at each venue to meld with the surroundings of the unique outdoor setting. Sometimes when the event was near the ocean, he would do large scale drawings in the sand.  He sold his first piece of art for six figures after one of these epic sketches caught the attention of Range Rover, who asked him to do one for their upcoming campaign. Since then, his oceanside art has taken him all over the world and received national recognition in museums like the MOMA.

My sister Beth and I
There is so much more I could tell you about this day: More about the food we ate, the bugs everywhere (the caterpillar on my shoulder and the lovebugs in our water), the rain that fell, things we laughed about . . . it was magical.  I felt just like a kid seeing something for the very first time - that sense of awe powered by the excitement in my stomach. I wanted more bugs, more dirt roads, more rain. Wanting to smell every smell, pet every flower with my camera at my side made me realize I don't want more stuff for my next birthday, I just want this all over again. 

My sister Karen
Thanks to all my sisters for showing me how to work hard, how to be creative, and for continuing to be my cheerleaders.  They were the first people to boost me up about starting my business and that is a gift in and of itself.  Oh, and by the way, two of my sisters are single . . . what can I say?  I'm always trying to help others find love.

Friday, October 24, 2014

You Can Have A Guru That Doodles

I want to introduce you to Jenipher Lyn, my Instagram friend, whose doodles have become part of my morning ritual.  I head to Starbucks, grab a green tea, open Instagram and look for her daily doodle that often sets my intention for the day as I sit down and start to journal.  She has become my doodle guru, since I saw her work in my coach and now friend, Michelle Ward's nursery. 

The last three interviews I have written had to do with leaps of faith artists have taken and these themes were not brought up by me or planned ahead.  With Jenipher Lyn, she wasn't afraid or hesitant to express her fears, insecurities, and obstacles as she expands her artistic wings.  The intention of this interview with her is to inspire you, to empathize with other creative entrepreneurs, and to show bravery in action.

When I first started interviewing people, I did lots of research and had a script. Then, one day, I couldn't find all my prepared questions amongst my stacks of notebooks and unfiled papers, so I ad libbed.  In those first panicked moments, I settled down and let the artist speak.  It changed my interview style forever.  When Jenipher Lyn started speaking, her honesty was enthralling, uncensored, ego less and plain adorable.

After her jobs at car auction houses and a call center (which has to be the WORST job for a sensitive soul), she made the joint decision with her husband to do this art thing full-time.  She does a line of unique greeting cards with her doodles, has an Etsy store where prints are also sold, and sells wholesale to stationery stores in NYC. Additionally, she wrote and published a book titled How Being Stubborn, Depressed and Unpopular Saved My Life. Currently, she is working on a revised edition that will have an additional 60 NEW pages that she is on track to finish by December.

Wearing the hats of artist, business manager, promoter and marketer can be overwhelming at times for any artist.  This is why so many give up and get a "real" job.  They struggle with the dreaded "I have tremendous guilt if I'm not working" mindset that this artist so adequately defined for us.  Elaborating further, she pointed out "I work for myself, but I don't let myself enjoy the fruits of working for myself.  I have to be productive." 

As she tries to figure out how to convert her social media presence on Instagram from a great conversation and community to sales, she battles between being the creative and the business person. When someone is so gifted on the right side of the brain, how does she activate the left-side without draining her right-side completely?

She takes a leap.  Jenipher Lyn has signed up for what she described as a big local trade show.  When I said to her, "Is it the National Stationery Show in May?" Her reply was "Um, yes.  You know it?" Having worked in stationery design for 12 years of my life, I want to tell you this is not a local show, but THE SHOW. Every retailer in the United States is there.  She is getting a booth of her own at the show of shows hoping to expose her work to stationery vendors, gift stores, and licensing people.  I can see her work on mugs, notebooks, journals, napkins...I really can.  This is bravery in action.

What I want to convey to you today is that even though some creative types might work out of small, unorganized homes without office space and our jobs may seem unconventional, we still show up every morning to our jobs.  We often stare at a blank page, canvas, or computer with fear and hear this undeniable voice, strong in our head and heart that screams, "You must do this. This is your purpose, your calling.  And you must use every bit of your energy to share it with the world."  Jenipher Lyn, I admire you for your inspiration, hard work and ability to be be real.  Don't stop. Some people have Gurus in India.  I found mine in New York City on Instagram.  What a world we live in.