I love a good, old-fashioned studio update, detailing out the nitty gritty of what's going on in the creative brain and divulging all the angst... But, it's been practically forever since I actually did one! A few weeks ago I was skimming through one of the many emails I get from various pro-women business coaches, and I saw this one tip:
Write about your week and your feelings. What did you do this week? What are you going to do next week? What's your take on your current situation?
As I'm someone who processes most of my stress and emotion on paper, I often try to come to grips with where I'm at in my business via quick journaling sessions right in my planner. Much though I hate to admit I'm on board with this particular trend, I have a Happy Planner, and what I love most about it is that I can add in sheets of paper or graph paper wherever I like. It's the perfect tool for journaling, list-making, even tucking in inventory-taking sheets, and it's widely available. However, I thought it might be interesting, or dare I say even fun, for me to follow this exercise in the form of a studio update. Well, it might be fun for me, I don't know if it will be for you!
1. What did you do this week?
Well I'm so glad you asked. (Right you didn't). This week has been intense. In the midst of dealing with the increasing health challenges facing our newest addition to the fur family (Margot the 13 year old border collie -- see our adoption announcement here) I have had a couple really great but time-exhaustive projects in the works.
A. My wife and I are renovating the third bedroom in our house and transforming it into my new office space! My office in the new house has been what should be the living room on the main floor. That means both that our actual living room is where the dining room should be, and when I am working in my office I'm also in the thick of whatever else is going on in the house. That has not been the greatest experience.
my office has become increasingly chaotic as things have gotten more & more busy
It basically took a whole year before we could tackle this third bedroom. It was jam-packed full of furniture and stuff left behind by my in-laws when they moved out, and we knew it needed the most work of all the bedrooms (we're talking about holes-in-horsehair-plaster/clapboards type work). We were planning on using the room as a guest room, but one day while I was spinning in circles in my current studio space, distracted by the million dogs & cats circling me in turn, I declared to my wife, "That's it, I'm moving my studio upstairs, and the whole space is going to be planned for me, and I'm buying new office furniture and new inventory storage and that's that!"
She was thrilled. (I'm not kidding, she really was).
So, we have been working on it off and on ever since. First, it had to be emptied of the heavy furniture and stuff. Then, the old and really gross carpet needed to be pulled up, and the million staples and tacks yanked from the subfloor. (Thanks, wife)! Next, several layers of ancient wallpaper had to be removed, and holes in plaster repairs. Finally, and this is the stage we have been slowly working on for weeks, the entire room had to be coated in plaster, and then sanded. In some places we're just talking about a skim coat - in others, there was some intense repair work going on. Luckily we had already done this process in our kitchen this past winter, so we knew what we were doing. Unluckily, the wall space in my future office has significantly more square footage than our kitchen walls. It's taking forever.
still a long way to go
So this week I have been plugging away at sanding, going at it for 30-40 mins at a time, because too much long than that triggers long nights of fibro pain. I'm really hoping I can finish the sanding by the middle of next week and move on to repairing the window frames/sills & moulding. Literally everything in this room needs to be worked on.
I did at least pick up the paint for the new studio space. It's a very, very pale pink. You couldn't even call it dusty. But I think I'm going to really like it.
sweaty AF, but happy because I've just finished plastering
B. Some of the new furniture for my new office arrived this week! I ordered two tall shoe storage cabinets, and 72(!) reclaimed wooden boxes to fit every single compartment. You would not believe the hours of research required to source those boxes. They needed to be the right dimensions, made of a sturdy material, and follow the general look I'm going for in my new space, which is ... um... vintage-earthy-hippy-chic???
My wife and I assembled the cabinets -- ok it was mostly her & I was there for emotional support/critique -- and I got to see the overall look of the box/cabinet combination. So much inventory storage! I'm thrilled that I'll finally be able to put all my pinback buttons, enamel pins, patches and stickers in a single, organized area & stop piecemealing. I may end up lightly painting the boxes with some eco-friendly spray paint I picked up years ago for a project I never ended up doing. And I am definitely going to add a cute bin pull with label to each drawer.
C. With all this construction going on, you might not believe that the primary focus of the week actually had nothing to do with the new office at all! I have been plowing through the final stages of prepping for the Bitchcraft Fair in Pittsburgh next weekend, September 22nd.
I did my first ever fair last winter. It was in December, when I was INCREDIBLY busy and stressed, and had absolutely no time on my hands. I ordered tabling merch a few days in advance, and prepped everything to bring the night before. We showed up mostly unprepared, having forgotten to go to the bank to get change, exhausted, stressed and I was hella fuckin' anxious. It was also the day before my birthday. BUT it was perhaps the best experience ever, because this wasn't any old craft market -- it was the Queer Craft Market, hosted by Assemble, a really awesome creative space in Pittsburgh, working to make creative expression and exploration accessible to as many people as possible. The community of people both working and attending the event totally soothed my nerves and composed a welcoming atmosphere of support. That positive experience has given me the push to go for more markets, and I am endlessly grateful for that.
I applied for and got into Bitchcraft Fair back in March and it's been in the back of my mind ever since. I was gonna do this one different. I was gonna be prepared! Earlier on in the month I finished my last witchy illustrations for the 2019 series, thoughtfully timed in order to be ready for this fair. I started prowling Pinterest for craft booth and tablescape ideas and added a bajillion pins to my Display Ideas board. I read blog posts about merchandising and prepping for craft fairs. I started half a dozen lists of things I needed/wanted to do to be ready for this event. I committed and ordered my inventory, hectically messaging my printer back and forth to make sure I'd get the massive t-shirt order in time. (Yeah, ok, that's one thing I should have planned a little bit more in advance).
tablescape work in progress
I came up with a tabling plan, researched what stores had what I needed, and headed out with coupons in hand, coming home with everything stuffed into my trunk, and a heady sense of accomplishment in my brain.
And I even found an awesome dog sitter to come take care of our senior fur babies while we are away. Talk about a weight being taken off my shoulders!
It turns out, being this level of prepared has totally soothed my anxiety! I know that the day of the event I am going to be so full of butterflies and shaky it won't even be funny. But having everything I need, including cash & change (cringe) is going to make that all so much better.
2. What Are You Going To Do Next Week?
Next week is all about those final preparations for Bitchcraft, and trying very much to work some self-care into the mix. I seem to have established this status quo of having multiple spinning plates in my life at any given time. Generally I'm pretty happy this way, or maybe I have just trained my brain to think I'm happy this way.
I'm prepping for the craft fair, finishing up assembling these really cool feminist witch gift sets (CAN'T WAIT to reveal those soon!), trying to finish my new studio space and attempting to wrap my head around the oncoming winter holiday shopping season. It's a lot, especially in combination with a very sick senior dog, who has surgery in a week and a half, and my own health challenges.
Next week is about checking items off the list to ensure I'm making progress on all the goals. It's also about getting enough sleep, eating the right foods (I have recently been forced to switch to a gluten-free diet, and abstain from coffee UGH) and taking mini breaks during the day to stretch, check in with myself and do something pleasant.
In addition to that, though, the house needs to be seriously cleaned. -- How does anyone cope with a stranger coming to spend an entire day watching their animals?? I have so much cleaning to do - I don't want anyone to be stuck in what might feel like a cluttered or goddess forbid dirty space while they're also (hopefully not, but realistically) cleaning up after my incontinent senior dog. I'm starting to feel like I should hire someone to clean my house so the person I've hired to watch my dogs will feel comfortable.
3. What's Your Take On Your Current Situation?
Well, this morning I feel mostly prepared for what's ahead of me. I wish I was roaring into the week with all the gluten and all the coffee on my side, but you can't always get what you want, can you?? I've given up coffee before, and I can do it again. I'll hate the whole process, but I can do it. (UGH UGH UGH). I go back and forth between being very excited for Bitchcraft Fair, and other fairs like it, and being emotional/angsty about the whole thing. I expect my serious hormone fluctuations and intermittent severe cramps (thanks endometriosis) have something to do with that.
I feel glad that I am at least making some kind of progress towards each of my goals each day, and also wondering if I need to really re-think my multi-goal-at-a-time approach to life? Maybe I'd feel happier if I stopped trying to multi-task so much and let myself focus on one thing at a time. Or at least just two things instead of 5 or 6.
My office will get done eventually, even if it's not this week, or next week, or next month (shudder). I have the tendency to want to rush through the process, to get onto the next thing, to move onwards & upwards. But, realistically this process is pretty intense and it's happening in bits and spurts when I can find the time and energy to do it. Maybe this is about me learning to make space for the process, the mess and time in transition. But who likes transitions???
I'm curious if you think this process of reviewing your week, looking at your week ahead, and taking a moment to assess your current situation might be helpful in your life. It can be nice to have structure to help you process all the things spinning in your brain. I might try this one again and see if it's a structure that works for me.
Callie Garp has a Masters of Fine Arts degree from Tufts University. Keep up with Callie here.