An Artist’s Life


I’ve been noticing a shift in the homeless lately.  I have been seeing more and more often women who look clean with signs that that are mothers out of work.  Young people, middle aged, not unkempt.  I see them with cardboard signs and it jolts me, because the line between us is thin.  What places me in a warm home with my children and her outside?  It is not always mental illness or even lack of education, I don’t think.  

I chose to be a stay at home mom.  I have my masters degree.  I gave up my job.  I did not think; however, that I would not “work” a job for this long.  Thirteen years.  Now my licenses have expired.  I’m older and a whole new crop of younger people are in those positions.  

I actually consider myself a feminist.  A feminist who wanted to be home with her kids; who felt it was best for them while they were young, who slipped into homeschooling them, because it seemed to be what was needed for them at this cross section of time in their lives.  I always wanted this for as long as I can remember. Truly.  I did not expect, however that in 13 years, I have only experienced 6 months of half days where both were in school (Sequoia’s half day kindergarten year)  when I was pregnant with my third child.  I have done this full time for 13 years.  Literally.

That being said, it is impossible to always put others first.  As much as you want to quiet the voice of selfishness, as much as you want to tread lightly your footprints in life and not be a burden for others, etc, the need to “exist” is strong especially if you have an artist inside crying to create.  Dying if you do not create each and every day.  As much as I have tried to tread lightly, a part of me is forcefully pushing outward.  It is both a good thing and not.  It is my saving grace and my dark side.

So, I have this idea.  I can work as a photographer.  I can be with my kids and meet their needs also.  I will provide an income for my family.  College is around the corner.  I am future thinking and a part of me needs to be practical too.

I have had high hopes.  I work really hard to master the craft thinking people will call me to photograph their families.  Want to pay me.

And that has happened a little bit.

But it hasn’t happened either, not yet, not enough.  Not enough to even re-coop a fraction of the costs of the investment in this.  This will not pay for college. Not even close if it does not pick up.

Ok, it has only been a little over a year. Patience. I need to learn business skills.

Still, when I was 12 and started babysitting, people called me all the time to work.  I made more money as a 12 year old than I do now.  Now, that is discouraging.  It pains me a little bit, that after all this time, I may no longer have skills that could support me, us, if I found myself stranded. I am a dependent again.

So, I see this woman on the corner asking for handouts, as people drive by, and I feel it.  I feel that..  I feel the people passing her by and her desperation.  I feel this everyday I do not get asked to photograph.  I need to do this.  On so many levels.

And it feels like the world does not care or need me or my art.  And I feel like giving up, but I truly love doing this, not just for the hope of providing for my family with it, but because it is also my therapy.  It helps fulfill a need to create that I have every day.  A need to exist and have a footprint in life.  A driving force for me.  It helps me battle boredom.  Not that life is boring with 3 kids. There is plenty of drama, but there is a quality of mundane to it.  Dishes again.  Dinner again.  It gives me reward.  I hate having to do the dishes and make meals every single day.  Laundry every day.  That part gets boring and feels meaningless at times.  Thankless.  Discouraged.

Yet, art, also often can feel unappreciated too.  It’s just hard, I guess.  All of it.  Still, I love it, so I keep doing it, even if it is just for myself.  And  maybe that is key.  Just do it for myself and see what happens.   Yet, right now, it is all mixed up with what is for me and what I hope to accomplish too, so doing if just for myself isn’t quite enough of a motivator. It is service, art, autonomy, adventure, industry vs inferiority, my soul, a hope..

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