23 August 2012

Chasing Big Dreams

"The arts are not a way to make a living.  They are a very human way of making life more bearable.  Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake.  Sing in the shower.  Dance to the radio.  Tell stories.  Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem.  Do it as well as you possibly can.  You will get an enormous reward.  You will have created some thing."  
~ Kurt Vonnegut    

I am a stalker of Danielle LaPorte of White Hot Truth fame. Her no-holds-barred-tell-it-like-it-is style is so attractive to me. Whenever I need a dose of kick-in-the-pants, I stampede over to her blog and poke around for awhile. I would love to meet this woman and have her light shine on me. I think that just soaking up her presence would inspire confidence in my own dream making.

I have been thinking a lot about just these things that she posted on her blog today:

3 questions for easier living.

1. Out of what needs to be done in your life — work, household, creativity – what do you do best?
2. What space do you have access to — in your home, work, city — that makes you feel the most peaceful and/or inspired?
3. What are you doing that you resent, and how can you phase out of that?

So here are my off-the-cuff-no-editing-allowed answers:
1 :: Creativity. Without question. My household seems like it is a shambles at all times, literally things are falling down or failing that shouldn't in this home, there are too many piles, and the quote we got to make the tiny changes we want made me choke just a bit. Of course, I never promised that I would be a domestic goddess, but it doesn't help that no one but me sees the mass of crumbs on the counters, or the empty wrappers littering every room and the dirty dishes lying around. It squashes my ability to enjoy being there. And don't even get me started on work. This is the part of the question that is not easy. Being creative makes me feel so very free and alive. Sharing my creativity with the world and even more so bringing out the creativity in others gives me purpose. It is my passion and it is what I want to share with others to find the creative well and tap into it.

2 :: I would like to say that it is being outdoors, but truthfully I don't have a lot of time to actually be outside. More often than not I watch the day pass in all its glory outside the huge picture windows in my office on the Wisconsin River. So pretty and changeable every single day. But yet here I sit. (Back to question one). But I do feel that a lot is clicking in my own studio even with just that little sliver of daylight. But I have also been spending so much time in there, in a subterranean cave, that I know I am missing out on other things.

3 :: My job (again, back to question one). I sit at this desk, this computer for hours every single day, but it is a lot of wasted time as far as I am concerned. I know that I am not the only one that has faced soul crushing futility but sometimes when you are in it you feel very much alone. I have tried to phase out of it... I only work here 4 days a week, but that is not enough for me to do all that I need to do to make my own dreams a reality. So do I try for less time here, pulling back more hours? Do I seek something else that won't pay me nearly as much? Both options are fraught with issues. The truth is that my family depends on the income whether I like it or not. So unless I win the lottery or find a wealthy backer, that resentment continues to fester and suck the life out of me making it hard for me to see there there is a way out.

Whew. That was hard to write...and maybe to read. I would not say that these three questions make for easier living. In fact, the answers to them for me are downright scary. Shocking, really. Maybe if I were to take the steps that are in my heart and on my mind then I would find my life would be easier to live, or maybe harder. But what it comes down to is that it is really hard to jump off that cliff without a net. And I am not sure that there are others around me who would believe in this dream. It highlights for me that there is a big imbalance in my life and that time is ticking that I cannot get back. And also that I am doing things every day that I regret. Something has to give.

But just because I have that resentment at the current state of my affairs, it doesn't mean that I stop dreaming. On my radar and in my {big} dreams is this building...

This building is for sale in downtown Stevens Point {now sold :-( and not to me}. I have been in love with this since they fully renovated it in 2009-ish and opened a specialty bakeshop called A Dash of Delicious. I tried for years - years! - to go to this shop but they were never open during the week and had odd weekend hours. It is so very cute inside when I peek through the windows and aside from getting rid of the bakery equipment and adding a ton more lighting, tables, chairs and displays, it is turn-key. 

Lest you think that I have abandoned my usual creative pursuits and decided to add baking to my list (although I do make a mean Chocolate Chunk Banana Nut Crunch bread), let me assure you that I have grander plans than making cupcakes in this building.

I have been very influenced by the art experiences that I have had the past few years. I didn't realize until just now that all those experiences have been adding up to this moment.

Attending classes at the Bead & Button show opened my eyes to the myriad of opportunities there are to learn new things. And I know that people travel to far flung destinations like Art & Soul and Squam . I traveled by myself to DC for ArtBliss last year. Cindy and Jeanette saw a need and filled it in a grand style. It is a premiere destination now. It is incredible to me how far they have come with it.

Just last month down in the southern part of the state for the Valley Ridge Art Studio class with Richard Salley. Katherine Engen of Valley Ridge told me that this is her last season of running the studio. That made me so very sad because I had finally found my place and my people. I remember that I looked around at all the people who had been there multiple times and who kept coming back for more, the ones with multiple button name tags pinned to their messy aprons, and I wondered where they would go now. Katherine has built this amazing community, in part because of the special place and the wonderful instructors, but also because she herself is so encouraging and engaging. Katherine Engen is my hero. The space she had was not much bigger than this one with tables and chairs set up and stations for working on things like drills and torches and even a bit of display for retail sales. 

I am influenced by the few times I have been to the quaint shops in downtown Galena, IL and the way the classes were run by the ladies of Vintaj made me long for that sort of creativity to be more homegrown. In October I am making South Haven, MI my destination for the second Inspired by Nature retreat and this time I even get to help by teaching a bit. That harkens back to my roots as a teacher and gives me even more fuel to my entrepreneurial yearnings. And it makes me wonder if I have what it takes to do this.

So what does this building mean to me? It is a concrete embodiment of the fulfillment of a dream.

I envision this place to be a destination for creativity. All sorts of creativity... from fiber arts and bookbinding, to journaling and scrapbooking, mosaics and painting, and yes, {of course}, jewelry. A place where where creative sojourners could come to take in-depth classes with artists and teachers {national or local} who are tops in their fields in a warm and inviting setting. A space that would be filled with light and laughter and some really yummy lunches catered by the local cafes. Selling art beads as well as other harder to find art supplies that would make it very special like my favorite shop, Anthology, on State Street in Madison. With a fully updated and equipped apartment upstairs to host the lunches and even house the instructor (bonus!). A place that fits in with the three art galleries in the downtown area, supports the renowned children's museum and even complements the local paint-your-own-pottery art studio. I would encourage participation by the very talented art department from the local university, perhaps offering scholarships to students there or at the local h.s. to take classes with these masters. The location is ideal. The new technical college is moving in down the block and the Portage County Arts Alliance is just around the corner down Main Street. It overlooks the newly revamped square with a great farmer's market and a beautiful fountain. And it is just one block from the beauty of the Wisconsin River and the walking trails and parks.

It has become so real in my head that I can't seem to think about anything else. 

I actually drove by it again yesterday. And there was a parking spot right outside on the street. A sign that I took to mean that I needed to get out and look closer.

I walked up and down the street and looked at it from all angles. I spent time with the online tour of the realtor. I envisioned it filled with people getting creatively messy, sharing laughter and lunches. I pictured hosting events for each new instructor. I even wrote up a faux description of what I would do there, what it would be called, how it would work with existing art opportunities in the downtown area. I made a short list of instructors that I have taken or that I know that I would love to invite as well as local artists who could teach here. There is also a list of people who might be good resources to turn to for advice or help or hand-holding. I have this whole place fully fleshed out in my mind. The only thing I can't seem to do is get out of this dream state and into a real plan. My feet are planted in the right direction, but I can't will my legs to move me forward. I feel a bit paralyzed, unsure of what to do. I know that eventually (probably sooner rather than later) someone else will see the potential of this space and it will open as something else entirely. Who knows? It might already be claimed. Then I will taste the bitter pill of even more regret. Hopefully it won't be another tattoo parlor. We have enough of those in the downtown area.

Money is by far the biggest obstacle. And time. That and the fact that I have little to no business acumen. But I am sure that there are people out there that can do all the things I can't, right? And I have yet to even share the seed of this idea with my own husband and family. I am not sure if they will roll their eyes and not believe or just shut me down completely as a flake. Maybe that is what I dread the most...I would hate to disappoint them or have them feel that I am just on to my next crazy idea. But I am feeling very strongly pulled by this quaint little building. And even though it is bordered by a tatoo parlor on the left and bars on the right, it just feels like me and I am loving the dreaming aspect of this. The stepping-off-the-ledge-and-flying part is a whole different matter. That scares the crap out of me.

I am my own worst critic when it comes to {big} dreams. My PersonalDNA profile says that I am an 'encouraging visionary.' I have always been a loud and strong cheerleader for encouraging others to spread their wings and fly (just tell me your dream and I will be there with my sparkly pom-poms and megaphone). So why is it so hard for me to be my own ra-ra kick-in-the-pants cheerleader? 

I ask myself, would anyone come to a place like this? Would you? We are smack dab in the middle of one of the prettiest states around. Four hours from Minneapolis and Chicago. Three hours from Milwaukee. Two hours from Madison. Would there be instructors who would want to travel here? I have taken classes with some of the best, but I wonder if I could convince them to take their show on the road here. Would it be looked on as a crazy notion by the locals? I know that my friend who ran an art studio in downtown Stevens Point never felt like her vision clicked with the locals, so what makes this one different? Am I prepared for the hard work, long hours and sacrifices that would come with owning my own business? I like hard work, if it is something I believe in. And it is not about the money to me as much as the fulfillment of what is in my soul. (My family may beg to differ on that one.) And the best question of all...Am I nuts? 

But then again, I was willing to fly to the other side of the country just to take a class. I have made a lot of connections and acquaintances through each new experience that could be that wind beneath my wings. We have an Arts Alliance and a group of focused artists in this area and there is a big push to make this city an arts destination. I want to put in the hard work and the long hours for something that I believe in, that I know can make a difference.

If only I could breath in the air of inspiration every day and embrace the warmth of camaraderie of like-minded souls bringing them out of their creative caves and into the light that their own God-given talents, I would feel fulfilled, at peace. I have had those fleeting moments in all these experiences that has led to this point, but I want a way to sustain that, to make it an everyday thing, instead of just a few times a year. I feel that it is a calling. But am I prepared to answer that?

I believe that the first step to realizing the {big} dreams is to put it out to the Universe. So that is what I am doing right now...you, gentle reader, are part of my Universe. This blog is my journal of creative discovery, but I am unlocking this diary and putting this crazy notion out to the Universe so that its seed may somehow take root perhaps in hearts other than my own. It has been eating me up inside for the past few days, and I just have to get it out there or I might burst. Perhaps nothing will come of it, maybe it is already being sold as we speak, but just verbalizing what is on my heart and mind helps a tiny bit. 

I can almost taste it. And I am not talking about the baked goods. Or the bitter.

Now if I would just win the lottery......


Mary Welsh Hubbard said...

What an awesome building! There is a small shop like that for sale on Main Street in my town as well - Oh how I would love to buy it. The first floor is retail and the second floor is an apartment that would be great for classes and an office but sadly it costs more than my house! lol If you can do it...DO IT! You only live once and you don't want to be 80 years old one day and saying "if only". Good luck!

KristiBowmanDesign said...

OMG how awesome is that, I'm just giddy for you thinking about it. Working my boring brain dead day job is what I'd like to phase out of, that isn't likely to happen until retirement. I'll probably make it to the 20 year mark easily before that happens. I've been here 13 years so I've got a ways to go. I hope it works out for you and I agree with Mary, no regrets!!

Honey from the Bee said...

You've put it out there... you've been dreaming it and gotten closer to seeing it in reality... I've got this feeling that someone or someones are going to hear your voice and deliver perhaps a way or another step towards making this a reality!

Libellula Jewelry said...

I believe it is time to pull together the list of the right people and write a plan for Kickstarter!

It sounds like it *will* be wonderful. I wish you tons of success!

Monique (A Half-Baked Notion) said...

Any chance of creating a living space for your family in the building while developing the business? So you could live and work there... I've heard of folks renting out their primary residence on a short-term lease, in order to finance their live-in business/apartment. Might sound a little extreme, but this unique location may indeed be your proverbial once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Erin.

Make sure you let EVERYONE know that you're looking for options: you never know who might be in the right position!

And you could always get yourself a DONATE Paypal button, so your many fans can choose to help finance "the cause"! You could even offer discounts on future classes in exchange (sort of like shares LOL).

You are an inspiration to so many, Erin... you might be surprised at the willingness of folks to dream the dream with you!

*TeeHee* As disclaimer: I am not a realtor nor in any way connected to this venture!

lunedreams said...

"It highlights for me that there is a big imbalance in my life and that time is ticking that I cannot get back. And also that I am doing things every day that I regret. Something has to give." Hear DAT!!! Every day I think, "something has got to give, because this isn't working." I just never have enough time to get any traction with what I REALLY want to do. Mapping it out, fleshing it out, doing your own "feasibility studies", exploring partnerships or business models is virtually impossible while being simultaneously employed, even if you just STOPPED doing your art (not a good option) in order to figure it out. It's sort of a conundrum. You almost have to leap first before you figure it out, b/c otherwise you won't have the time to figure it out. That seriously takes a lot of non-pressured time. My own doubts revolve around me not having the ability to keep the plates spinning, and not having the vision to develop the companion parts of such a business (anything other than the actual jewelry). YOU, on the other hand, are someone who immediately springs to mind when I think of people who DO have that vision and the ability to keep the plates spinning. I am AMAZED at what you do and how innovative it is, knowing how limited your time is.

Laura Twiford said...

My husband always wanted to have a restaurant of his own, just to cook for people like we did at home, entertaining. 27 years ago, a little neighborhood dive came available and we bought it. Neither one of us had ever even worked in a restaurant, I was an R.N. he was a commercial fisherman. Everyone told us we'd never make it, no one would travel "off the island" to come and eat, it was in a bad area no one will go there. Well for us it was a labor of love, took us a year to renovate and we opened quite frankly when we ran out of money and had to start turning some. Here we are this many years later and we have people who drive hours just to eat there. When you feel it,believe in it, and it is your passion, and you do the hard work, it will work out. Ironically, it is my full time job now that keeps me from my studio! How's that for a conundrum? I still say go for it!

Unknown said...

Love Danielle LaPorte! I enjoyed reading all about your questions and your BIG dream. Why is it the people closest to you are sometimes the hardest to convince? I get the "oh, is this your new thing" eye roll a lot.

Passion is a good thing! Esp when it takes us places them seem a bit scary. My favorite line was "If only I could breath in the air of inspiration every day and embrace the warmth of camaraderie of like-minded souls bringing them out of their creative caves and into the light that their own God-given talents, I would feel fulfilled, at peace."

So divine. I have yet to take a retreat just for me and my art and would love a place bear my to gather with artists and create. It is a lovely dream and my hope for you is that putting it out into the Universe gets things rolling in unexpected ways!

cw whitedogjewelry said...

This building has already captured your heart and soul.

Your creative spirit and artistic talent need to grow, and there will never be a better time to do it.

I wish you peace with your decision, and great hope for your future.

Raida said...

What a wonderful building and such a great idea. You'll know when it's time to pursue your dream. In 2002 we visited an artist community by the ocean and I told my husband one day I would have my studio among these artist. In January of 2012 I moved into the exact studio right where I told my husband I would work back in 2002. Kids are grown, time was just right. Keep the dream!

Lori Bowring Michaud said...

Well Miss Erin, you are not nuts! I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face as I read your post. A dream fulfilled began as a dream. You have a vision, don't be afraid (as I sit here daily afraid to move forward with a vision).

As I was reading I kept thinking about Jessica Swift and her Kickstarter campaign to build enough capital to start her rainboot business. It worked! I think what you have verbalized is what so, so many of us who are creative envision for ourselves yet we hold ourselves back for many of the same reasons. I'll be you'd find there are a great many of us who would love to live vicariously through you to see this dream fulfilled AND that we'd be happy to help fulfill the dream. You never know until you ask!

I just turned 50 Erin and I'm going to my very first art retreat this fall as a gift to myself. I can't wait! It's only in CT and a 5 hour drive away, but I'm finally going. Like you, I hope to get to Bead & Button or ArtBliss, Art Unraveled, Inspired by Nature - the point is, your tribe isn't always immediately surrounding you, but they might well be willing to travel to you.

Keep working on it and move that dream into reality!

Off the Beadin' Path said...

Incredibly interesting, Erin! First, you're not nuts, you're gifted, just remember that! As I read through, I knew that you would strike a chord with many who feel the same way, are stuck in a job, have a dream, face obstacles, worry about their family. Life is complicated, to state the obvious! Your idea is beyond awesome. I think instructors would come, just for the chance to stay in the adorable little apartment! How cool would that be? Those are good questions and that's why they're scary! We're forced to shine a light on what's going on inside our heart! Ending with my great advice, "Baby steps"!

Laura said...

Oh Erin.....I knew this day would come. You are just to talented to be wasting your days away sitting at desk that you have no desire to be behind. You do have a beautiful view out of your window at work, but it is not just a window...it is a barrier holding you back from your dreams. I think you can go as far as you are willing to take yourself. You have the heart and the dream..now all you have to do is follow it. The hard part is done...you put it all out there..a plea for support and backing of your vision. You have all my support and anything else I can give you to make your dreams come true! If you need me to talk to Paul, I will. Just kidding...that's where I draw the line. I've always envied you because I know some day you will be rich and famous and I am going to say "You know, I use to work with Erin when she was just starting out.....now look where she is". You go girl....Laura:)

thegirlwiththejadegown said...


You've already got someone ready to fly out and visit your latest endeavor, if it does become reality. Just as I was super excited to finally buy some of your beads this weekend, I would totally make a trip from California to spend some time in any art space that is yours.

You are beyond talented. You will find someone who can deal with the business end, or you will learn how to deal with it yourself.

When I first found your blog, I thought to myself, "where is her book so that I can buy it..." You can do anything, and I am sure it will be a glowing success.

Unknown said...

Erin! This is a big dream that you are meant to catch! I love this idea of creating a beautiful, inspiring meeting place for literary, visual and jewelry artists alike to create, share, teach, exhibit and perform their talents. I can visualize you doing this! There is good energy in your words and surrounding this idea! So excited for you. Dream big, keep going! If you need someone to teach poetry for elementary through high school level, I have experience teaching workshops and would be willing to drive the two hours for a one day workshop some week-end. We will all support you!

Unknown said...

P.S. Your talents are abundant. You inspire so many people. Your bright light shines for so many. Keep us updated on your plans. The universe hears your dreams!

Zeniswoman said...

Erin, There are so many of us that feel exactly as you do... You are definitely not alone! So many days I feel like a hamster on her wheel... spinning like hades and not getting anywhere :) And, you certainly know my stance on being a "domestic goddess!" What you need to hear is that: "We really believe in you and your creativity!" I really believe that you are on the right path.
Love and light always,

Shel said...

I'm a true believer in visualization becoming realization. You have visualized and literally felt the feelings of being there, running it the way you want and having people come to teach and take classes and fueling your creative spirit. You've also spoken it to the Universe (and the world wide web!) so I belive your dream will be here sooner than you think - and quite possibly even better than you've dreamed! So, here's to "This or something better" (What my girls and I say at the end of our master mind meetings!!) It will be amazing, so I'm just gonna congratulate you now, K?! ;-)

A Polymer Penchant said...

As soon as I saw the picture of the building I immediately scrolled to the end of the post - so sure I would see an openning date or some such. "And it makes me wonder if I have what it takes to do this." - YES! In spades! I was so convinced. I had to think a bit about what to say, and reading all the comments so far - wow, what inspiration! I google mapped as soon as I finished reading - 18 hours or so no matter which way around those big old lakes. That may be too long a drive for a single day but I'm sure there is a place or two to break it up when I come. It sounds perfect - I believe.

Anonymous said...

Erin, I haven't know you very long, but I do believe that you could make this happen. First, ask around amongst your contacts and find out if there is anyone who knows how to write grants. Go to your local library. There should be someone at the Resource Desk who could refer you to the book of available grants and find out what grants are available in your area and nationally to "support the arts" or for small business people. Do not look online or you will end up with a whole bunch of "quack" sites. The book is the best.
Then, contact your local Chamber of Commerce and find out if there is a local organization that helps small business people. Here in Dayton, there is the Downtown Dayton Partnership, for example. They are concerned with improving the downtown area and not adding businesses like more bars and tattoo parlors. They may have some ideas to help you. It might be worth the effort to have someone professional help you draw up a "business plan". You will need it to present to these people. Explain to them how you want to start and how you want to grow, that you are concerned with promoting artistic endeavors in your area. Put your vision on paper as a plan. I have some other ideas but don't want to take up all your space.

Cat said...

What a great idea! And as you described it, I could actually visualize it in my mind. You've put a lot of thought into this. If there is a 'big push to make your city an arts destination', perhaps you could get some kind of a grant from the city to help you out. And then there is always Kickstarter...

Good luck!!!

Tracy Statler said...

Oh Erin. It has been so long since I have had time to jump around and visit blogs this summer and you have so many exciting things going on.

1) Love your new clean look on your website and blog.

2) I can totally see you having a creative space like this this. I do hope you are able to make this happen. I would totally come visit next time I am in WI!

3) Congrats on being a part of the Halcraft team. It sounds like fun!

4) Love the paisley simple truths! Gorgeous colors!

Keep it up - you are rocking and rolling!


Kathleen Lange Klik said...

What a great building...I could see you and your creative aspirations there!

Now with that said, the first thing to consider is what type of foot traffic this street gets. Are their people strolling along this street daily? If yes, then it sounds like a wonderful location with a possibility for success. One of the ways people discover great shops is by walking past them! What type of neighborhood is it in? You mentioned the tattoo parlor and bars, are their any restaurants or boutique shops? A variety of good businesses in one area will draw people to the street/neighborhood.

You are only nuts if you don't follow/explore your dreams! Look into this venture, if it doesn't pan out all you will have lost is time!

Kathleen Lange Klik said...

p.s. I am so excited for you and can't wait to see where this adventure takes you. Which ever way you decide to go, take comfort in knowing that there are many people in the blogosphere cheering you on!!!

Shai Williams said...

You have envisioned it now to just start taking some concrete steps. Talk the the Small Business Administration to get a concrete idea of what it would take. And then put it up on Jumpstart. You could offer jewelry for various contributions.

Marie Cramp said...

All I can say is that we have similar dreams. I think you need to take a leap of faith and just do it!!

JeannieK said...

If it's meant to be, it will happen. I opened two businesses with no money, no job and 10 banks turned me away for a loan before the last one said yes. It will happen if you make it happen.


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