Thursday, August 5, 2010

Escaping the Shopping Mall for a Walk in the Park

Due to economic necessity, I have embraced frugality for many years. I have met my needs for material objects through thrift stores and garage sales and have learned to love this way of life. Lately, I have wondered if I should take frugality to the next level and conscientiously practice anti-consumerism.

Last Sunday I went to a couple of shopping malls in Spokane, Washington with my boyfriend. As we drifted in and out of retail shops full of name-brand clothing, home décor and lists of other material things, a wave of nausea swept over my soul. There was no sense of consumerism glee within me. Instead, I rejected all these useless things, never once wanting to whip out my debit card.

In an upscale mall downtown, I noticed how every retail worker dressed to match their respective store and wondered how they could afford their clothes with their low wages. As we ate our meal of hamburgers and fries in the food court, several televisions simultaneously played an episode of Hannah Montana interspersed with commercials for more useless things.

What frightens me about our economy is that it is completely depended on consumer spending. Articles abound on how consumer spending is down therefore employers don’t hire new people. If we don’t continually spend our hard-earned dollars on things we don’t need the economy halts to a slow, miserable sputter. I can’t help but think that while we, as a nation, are spending less, we still are gluttons compared to people who lived 50 years ago.

Yet, on that Sunday afternoon we also visited Riverfront Park. We watched the ducks and geese glide along the river. Flowers were full bloom bursting with a kaleidoscope of color and fragrance. Children played in the giant Red Wagon in the park, clustered in laughter and the simple joy of being alive. We did not spend a single cent on amusement rides or food, but the sheer act of walking and observing all the beauty around us soothed my soul. After a wretched week of work, I needed a walk in the park more than ever.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Handmade Journals

I am so excited! I have just finished a trio of handmade journals, each one unique and full off decorative detail.

For my experiment in book arts, I decided to use binder rings. What I love about binder rings is that they can be embellished with pretty ribbons and new pages can easily be added.

For the covers, I collaged heavy cardstock with vintage ephemera, digitally altered photographs, scrapbook papers and stamping. I then went to Staples and had them laminate my artwork.

Each journal is divided into sections. I scanned vintage advertisements, magazine pages and sheet music and printed them on different colors of cardstock. I also embellished some card envelopes, to create little places to store mementos.

The journals each have 125 unlined manila pages to write or sketch on. Overall, I am pleased with the outcome and look forward to designing additional books. As an avid journalist myself, I know the creativity of the journal structure itself can inspire the writing process.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

One Way to Save on Vintage Ephemera

I adore sifting through thrift store bins and flea market stands for lovely paper remnants from the past. How thrilling it is to find a 1940's women's magazine stockpiled with fashion sketches, skin cream ads and glimpses of Old Hollywood glamour.

One vintage magazine alone holds a myriad of creative sparks. I love to delicately cut along images that complement my personal style, then arrange them with decorative paper and found objects in a one of a kind collage.

One thing I don't love is to waste valuable resources. Vintage emphemera can be expensive. Lately, I am using my scanner and photo editing programs to preserve and reuse vintage ephemera. This saves me both time and money, as I can re-size images to fit particular projects and can make one new again with a little digital manipulation.

Having a computer file full of scanned and re-purposed vintage ephemera can help when money is scarce. And some pictures are just too beautiful to only use once!

Monday, June 28, 2010

In Pursuit of Many Passions

I have struggled my entire working adulthood with the dilemma of choosing a career. The traditional model for employment is to follow one pre-carved vocation and dedicate a massive chunk of your waking hours to it.

Recently, I read The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One by Margaret Lobenstine. This book was a revelation for me. She points out that some people become bored and restless when they are cut off from variety. Renaissance Souls are gravitated to multiple careers and hobbies and are invigorated by new challenges.

If I could live my ideal life, this is what it would look like:

I would be self-employed, and have multiple streams of income. Those streams of income would include creating and selling crafts, writing, selling vintage items and teaching via workshops or personal interest classes. To maintain my freedom to pursue these interests, I will live a life of voluntary simplicity. The less financial obligations I have, the better. When I am not busy pursuing all these passions, I’ll learn how to garden, speak French, sew, read, volunteer or whatever strikes my fancy at the time.

Currently, the biggest obstacle I have for obtaining that ideal is the need for a steady paycheck. I need the stability of a full-time job to help pay off credit card and student loan debt. I also want my savings to bulk up before I take the plunge into financial self-sufficiency.

Now that I have a dream in place, I'll draw a plan to obtain my goals. The first step is to develop my craft business, Lovely Fever, and sell my mixed media journals and altered décor boxes online on Etsy. Meanwhile, I will work my day job and keep on paying down that debt until it’s gone. Earnings from my side business will help slowly eradicate my debt load and also be reinvested into the business.

I am excited with the possibilities for a Renaissance Soul life design, but it will definitely take time! It might take several years to rid myself from bosses! But as my time frees up more and more, I know I will pursue the things I love intensely and find a way to make ends meet. For all I know, we get one crack at this thing called life, and I intend to fill it with passion and not as a corporate zombie.

Does anyone out there make a living from multiple interests? Or does anyone long for the freedom of self-employment? If so, please feel free to comment! I would love to hear what you have to say!

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Creative Life: Forging My Own Path

For years I have tinkered with words, paper and glue, filling journals and crafting decorations for my home. I have pleasured over the details of a poem, stringing lovely sounds of syllables like beads in a necklace. I have scoured thrift stores for wooden jewelry boxes and re-imagined them with vintage ephemera and paint. Although I have submitted and published poems and gave my art away as gifts to friends and families, my creativity has largely remained in the private sphere.

I remember myself as a highly sensitive adolescent full of romanticism and hope for a future dedicated to art. Literature was my first true love. I would take the bus from the suburbs to Capitol Hill in Seattle to go to Twice Sold Tales in search of used paperback books by Anais Nin, Tennessee Williams, Herman Hesse and John Steinbeck. After- school afternoons were spent beneath maple trees reading and writing poetry.

During my college years, I studied art and literature, never thinking too far off in the future. I enjoyed my life at The Evergreen State College, a small liberal arts school full of creative bohemians like myself. I did not realize this would be the last place where the ideas of Camus and Thoreau would be relevant in everyday discussions. I did not realize that long afternoons spent writing poems on the beach would later become a rare and hard-earned luxury.

Growing up, I never wanted anything else but to be an artist and writer. But when I reached the age of financial responsibility and had to struggle to make a living, my truest passions were reprioritized. Unfortunately, the classifieds are not stockpiled for requests for artists and writers. So, I waited tables, tended to small children at daycares, organized clothing at retail shops, brewed lattes and handled screaming customers at call centers to make ends meet.

I have just turned 28 years old and am ready to return to those original dreams that elated my young soul. I realized a while ago that traditional employment is not for me, that I must forge new skills in entrepreneurship. I am planning to sell handmade journals and altered décor boxes at Etsy, infused with my own poetry and mixed media art.

Now that I have lived in the real world, I do realize that the creative life is hard work to obtain. Balancing the necessary need for money and the equally necessary need for the spiritual fulfillment of making art is a challenge. In order to succeed as a writer and artist, I will need to keep trucking away at the day job, and spend my free-time dedicated to my passions. Little by little, I plan to sustain myself with the fruits of my creative talents and choose to live simply.

I am excited by the idea of self-made opportunities, of not waiting for the world to fabricate a vocation for me—because it won’t. Here is a quote by Irene C. Kassorla that fuels my soul as I carve this new, wondrous path:

“You must have control and authorship of your own destiny. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand.”