A Minute in the City – April 20: Redefining yourself

Several years ago, my husband bought a really nice bike and started training for his first trans-state, multi-day ride. The only previous training he’d done was in his childhood, popping wheelies in the driveway with his friends. But he’d read a blog or two about distance cycling, and he seemed to think he was up to the challenge. Turns out, he was right. Over the course of the next several years, he would complete five state rides.

In this time of quarantine, you hear a lot about people taking up new hobbies, tackling new challenges, discovering gifts they never knew they had. In short, redefining themselves.

I prefer to think of the practice as un-defining. Whatever titles I may have listed on my resume, they have nothing to do with the hapless gardener, the reawakened musician, the late-night walker I am becoming. The boundaries imposed by my past titles are immaterial. Today I am like a child eating ice cream for the first time, without any idea of what it’s going to taste like.

The practice of un-defining is nothing new to me. I’ve broken my own boundaries many times to augment whatever was going on in my professional life. In 1994, I started swimming. In 2001, I wrote a novel. In 2014, I began learning Spanish. I was driven by all of these things, but I had no goals or metrics to gauge my success. It was enough to engage in a new activity. It was enough to take the plunge and allow myself to fail.

My avocations have taught me a lot. First, they’ve given me an appreciation for the real swimmers and authors out there – and those who have mastered multiple languages. These people are my heroes. But my hobbies have also given me the courage to pursue things that I am not cut out for. Because, for once, it’s not about succeeding. It’s about living a fulfilled life.

Most of us have been hunkered down for a good month now, which is a challenge in itself. But, if 30 days makes a habit, it stands to reason that our stay at home orders may give us a long-awaited chance to redefine – or un-define – ourselves, removing those deeply-rutted barriers that keep us from exploring new things. Our new hobbies will not pad our resumes, but they will redirect our energy and bring unimaginable joy. That is my wish for our world.

 

 

A Minute in the City – April 6: A Year in the City Like No Other


It was already going to be a different year for me. I had been accepted into juried shows for the first time, signaling a slight shift in my business toward the fine arts. I had begun taking on commissions. And I had invited shop owners to weigh in on images for my calendars and cards.

And then came COVID-19. Within a month, the juried shows were cancelled or postponed. The brick-and-mortar shops that carried my products were closing temporarily. And just like that, my two main revenue streams were interrupted.

Yes, interrupted. Not lost, not abandoned, not gone-for-good. Just interrupted.

A good part of what keeps me going right now is the belief that our world will return to normal – albeit a new one – in the not-too-distant future. I’m preparing for that day in the following ways:

  • I’ve completed the 2021 calendar and have had it printed. I am already binding and hope to have 100 copies on the shelf in a matter of weeks, so YES – 2021 will happen!
  • I have kept my online store open at ayearinthecity.com/shop and am continuing to take orders for those items already in stock: 2020 calendars, unframed prints, bookmarks, and cards. New products will be added when the time is right, that is, when life gets back to normal. I’ll be posting previews of my new products on social media as soon as that happens.
  • My production area has been cleaned and readied for the 2021 calendar and cards. This is actually nothing new, since I have always kept a clean, dedicated space for print, binding, and packaging materials. Now, however, I will wear mask and gloves when packing orders!

Of course, all of this is contingent on my own health, and I never take that for granted. But my calendar has always been an exercise in forward thinking and an investment in hope. So I look to the future with optimism.

On that note, I am beginning to work on the 2022 calendar. Yes, you read that right… 2022! Like many of you, I am finding that absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder, and that my love of our city only grows as the weeks go by. I will continue to shelter in (my happy) place and share my illustrations on social media for as long as we’re in this. Please share them, if you think they will bring joy to others. And please stay well, STL!