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a little bit art. a little bit me.

A little bit art.  A little bit me.

Momma Said There'd be Days Like This

Jennifer Calkins

I was originally going to do a post about budgeting but I’m going to save that for next week.  This weekend I had a goal that at one point was threatened by my own self-doubt.  So let’s chat about that.  I can’t be the only one out there, right?

(WARNING: my sense of humor in this post is lacking.  I'm not feeling all that funny at the moment.  Maybe because I got about two hours of sleep last night?  And YES, that is how I spell "momma", I feel like it looks funny as "Mama" even though "Papa" makes sense to me...  There, there's the weirdness factor for you)

Do you ever have those days where it seems like nothing is going right?  Or maybe you’re tripping over your own two feet all day, bumping into things, screaming “WTF!” at the top of your lungs?  I had one of those days over the weekend.

You see, my standards were set fairly high because my goal was to have at least one kiln load of glazed pottery finished before the weekend was over.  So you’d think the OCD side of me would have planned well enough throughout the week in order to get it done in time.  Except that didn’t happen so it was down to Sunday.  I planned to work all day while my boys did boy stuff.  It started out ok but I couldn’t get in the right state of mind.

(Photo: Designs by JJK) let's get to work yo!

(Photo: Designs by JJK) let's get to work yo!

I have a love-hate relationship with the glaze step in ceramics.  I always have.  Glaze makes or breaks a piece.  I have quite a few options in my glaze stash; there are SO many possibilities.  Throw in the fact that I haven’t found my “signature” glazes for my work yet (I’ll get to that in a minute) and I always feel a little lost.  So I sat down and started small by deciding what glazes to use on the mugs I had made then did the same with the bowls.  Somewhere in the middle of actually glazing, it all fell apart.  My brain started questioning what glazes and combinations I was using.  So I started to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. 

(Photo: Designs by JJK) Holy glaze batman!

(Photo: Designs by JJK) Holy glaze batman!

Which brings me to my next point that overlaps with all of the above.  Most of my work is practice still.  It may seem like I have my shit together and am cranking out work but that’s actually not the case.  Everything I make right now is still in what I think of as the "practice" stage.  Sure I feel it’s good enough for people to buy, but I haven’t found my signature “place” yet.  So let’s say I make four mugs.  Two have one kind of handle and texture, two have another kind of handle and texture because I’m trying to figure out which I like the best.  Then I need to glaze it.  Now let’s say there’s two glaze options I want to try.  I now use one glaze on two of the mugs and another glaze on the other two.  Now multiply that by about 30 more pieces of pottery!  See how that can get to be overwhelming quite quickly?  If I were to the point where I had my signature style then I’d know exactly what kind of mugs I would make with exactly what type of handle and exactly which glaze.  Don’t get me wrong, I love variety and change and learning new techniques.  But I want to get to the point with my work where when someone looks at it they can say “yep, that’s hers!”  Even when I try something new.

(Photo: Designs by JJK) glazing tiny vases.

(Photo: Designs by JJK) glazing tiny vases.

Getting back to Sunday glaze day.  My kiln was finally 2/3 full of glazed pieces and I really hit a wall.  I am testing out some lantern ideas so I have some pieces with a bajillion holes in them.  How the eff do I glaze those without the glaze getting everywhere?  At that point I lost my ever-loving-mind!  I had tears in my eyes (seriously…) and I literally thought to myself (maybe I said it out loud?) “I can’t do this!”  WHAT?!  I needed a break.  I went inside to see my boys.  The small one was sleeping and my better half was watching some car race.  I shoved some food on a plate and put FRIENDS on the tv.  I watched two…ok, maybe three…episodes and went back to work.    I also had an Oreo cookie.  Ok two.  OK FOUR, I confess already, jeez!  It wasn’t a complete refresher but it was enough to help me finish filling the kiln.  Job done, task crossed off the list, take a scalding hot shower and sleep!  Well sleep for about two hours Sunday night because my small child decided to go ahead and catch another cold...  Poor baby was up a lot during the night.

Enter Monday morning when I usually make my Motivational Monday photo to share.  I wasn’t feeling the motivation, honestly.  And I didn’t want to be a fraud so instead of doing that first thing in the morning, I delayed it.  Go through the motions of the day and BAM! it hits me.  My son’s book!  DUH!  He has a book called Rosie Revere Engineer and the message is so very important for all young people.  We read it a lot last week so maybe that's why I thought about it.  This quote…

(Photo: Designs by JJK)

(Photo: Designs by JJK)

(Seriously, get the book!  And it’s partner in crime Iggy Peck Architect!)

I'm glad I didn't give into my head and quit on Sunday.  I am proud of myself for not quitting.    Then imagine my surprise when the studio I get my supplies from in Williamsville, Artyard Studio (seriously, check this place out, they even offer small classes including date night wheel throwing!) posted a link to this video yesterday (it's only a minute-ish long don't worry, I wouldn't bore you!)…

Yes!  This is EXACTLY how I feel right now and it's EXACTLY what I needed to hear!  How perfect is the timing on them posting this and me seeing it?  I want my work to be as good as my ambitions and I am not there yet.  Not quite anyway.

But it WILL be!  And I will find my niche.  I really am a novice potter but I will keep working and making stuff.  It won’t happen overnight but I will get to that place, I know I will!  I've already started to organize my ideas in my head and have a good direction on where I want to go as a potter.  So now it's a matter of refining those ideas in my head further and making each piece better and better.

These kinds of days really depress me.  I end up doubting myself, and even worse, comparing myself to others.  "I love that potter's work, why can't mine be that good?" or "wow they had one idea and sales are through the roof a week into it, why can't my work take off like that?" and so on and so on.  I'm sure we all have days like that.  I have a really hard time getting that out of my head and reminding myself that my work will be unique in it's own way and I'll be successful in my own way.  This type of success doesn't happen overnight.

So for now I concentrate on the positives.  I focus on the fact that I have a couple repeat customers who love my work and that means so much to me.  Sure, I don't have a thousand Etsy sales and a thousand 5 star feedbacks yet.  But I WILL.

If you are having a day like this, take a step back from your work and think about why you're doing it in the first place.  Think about your original "why" and focus on that for a little bit.  Get your head out of your ass and get back to work!  Don't ever quit!  Need a little more motivation?  First, follow me on Instagram and Facebook for Motivational Mondays.  Duh!  Then find an inspirational quote app for your phone.  Get that shit daily and pretty soon you'll start to think more positively.  I just started doing that and it is really helping me.  Need more?  Follow a health coach I know on Instagram or Facebook, Tatiana Amico.  She's quite the inspirational lady, she's pushed herself past the self doubt straight into bad-ass awesomeness! 

Funnily enough, here is the quote I received on my phone today:

"Everything you've ever wanted is on the other side of fear" (George Addair)

Do you have days like these?  What do you do to get yourself back to a positive place?