Nothing gets left undone

Last week I wrote about large projects. I wanted to write about keeping the faith when working on these large projects. Instead, it turned into more of a “how-to.”

I still wanted to mention “keeping the faith” for your large projects. I read not to long ago that the universe does nothing while leaving nothing undone. I’ve really been thinking about this lately. Let me share with you some of my thoughts.

Nature is. The season warms; plants grow, trees grow leaves. The season cools, plants die, trees pull their sap back to their roots. There is no definitive line other than a pseudo-arbitrary date we humans set that marks the “1st day of summer” or the “1st day of fall. I’ve seen an inch of snow fall in July in northern Nevada. But no one has to walk out to the maple tree and say, “Okay, it’s fall now. Time to lose your leaves. Go to sleep for the winter.” We expect “nature” to take care of that. It does, and the cycle continues.

The sun comes up every morning and makes its trek across the sky to set in the evening. No one has to set an alarm clock for the sun. We know now that the sun is the center of the universe and our rotation just makes it look like it’s rising and setting, but that hasn’t always been a “truth” in the minds of humans. There are countless myths about the sun’s journey and its meaning. But the universe doesn’t care what we think. The sun will rise tomorrow. It’ll set tomorrow. The cycle will continue for exactly as long as it is supposed to (for I won’t presume that our solo star will burn forever). When it is time for the sun to die, it will do so just as the universe intended and in the same cycle as every other star.

Believe that we are in a larger system and this balance cycle not only works above us, but in us as well. We don’t have to think about our heart beating or the process of digestion. These systems just work within our bodies without our conscious thought. Only do they get out of balance when we are out of sync.

So, when I say that you have to have faith in your large projects, know that I’m talking about trusting the process of creation as a system that will work automatically for you. Notice in last week’s post that I didn’t say you have to put your nose to the grindstone and keep working at your project no matter what. No, I said that you can’t let fear let you get stuck in the mud. I even acknowledged that you would get stuck but that you needed to wash off. There was no force there. No mention of how to get unstuck either. Having faith in the process and allowing yourself to be will assure that if this project is truly yours to manage, you will go through the dip and come out the other side. I did say that you had to “lean into” your project and carry forward. But again, that isn’t a forced action or even a hamster on the wheel image. Have you ever gone out and shaken a tree to get the leaves to fall. Okay, I have — I wanted to rake my yard before it got cold and the leaves just weren’t letting go! Needless to say, I wasn’t very successful. I couldn’t force the process. I had to let be and let nature.

Now, with it being Memorial Day, I do want to add an extra thought here. What about the fear that you will die before your project is completed? Very real fear. I know that I have too many stories that I want to tell, both with words and with pictures, that I will never be able to tell them all. I personally trust that I will be compelled to tell the stories I need to and nothing will stop me. The ones that aren’t something I have to tell will fall away. I doubt that only one person gets a story, so I know others will receive the same story I did and they will tell it. It might be that which they are compelled to tell whereas it wasn’t my story — I was just the backup gal in case the real artist couldn’t complete his/her mission, kind of like the Miss America runner-up.

I do wonder what painting was the last that Thomas Kinkade finished. Was there one sitting on his easel? Is it still there? I believe he is a man who let his demons get him. He got out of sync at least with his life if not with his art too. At some point, he stepped back and saw that what he was creating was larger than himself — too large to handle and the fear entered. But within the larger whole, nothing of his life or his art was left truly undone. It was exactly as it needed to be.

Have faith that your projects are on track. Be grateful for each day you are given to lean into the process of adding your artistic talents to them. And, above all, trust the system that you are creating exactly as you should.

Let’s Talk Bookkeeping! Part 4 – Expenses

Let me ask you a couple questions and be honest with your answers: Do you like expenses? Do you like paying bills? Do you like spending money? Do you like going shopping? Do you like buying things?

Your answers may vary: yes to some, no to others. In the end, every question equals one thing: money coming out of your pocket and going into someone else’s.

Now, let’s just stop here for a moment. In the last bookkeeping blog, we talked about income being a validation that someone enjoyed your art enough to want to buy it. Realistically, this is an expense for them. It’s money out of their pocket that came into yours.

Realize and become comfortable with the fact that your expenses are another person’s income. It’s the flow of abundance. When I make a sale, I know that someone is spending their money with me in good faith. Faith that I will pay my bills and stay in operation as an artist (which increases the value of their art as I build my successes). I’ve heard people grumble about paying their bills, paying their taxes, buying gas, buying groceries, and everything is getting more expensive. I’m sure you have too.

Now take a moment to flip it and think about who’s getting the income. The electric company gets paid so they can keep giving me power — without which I have no light from my natural light bulb or electricity for my computer. I pay my taxes so the firefighters can come to my house when something tries to catch on fire or so the road department can maintain the roads I need to use to get to and from my shows safely (not to mention the gas that goes in my car for these shows). I eat the groceries I buy from the store and they use the money to get more product in and pay their employees (who then have money to buy my art) and this keeps me from having to grow my all own food which would take time away from my art. And yes, if nothing else this last recession should have proven to you that the economy seeks balance and when it doesn’t do it naturally then bottoms fall out of markets until an equilibrium is reached.

Do you see what all these have in common? In some way, I as a person also benefit from paying my bills, usually both before and after paying the expense. It is the nature of income and expenses. So, I say it again: your income is someone else’s expense and your expense is someone else’s income. Love the flow.

Website costs, eBay/Paypal/Etsy/etc. fees, supplies, postage, envelopes, reference material and books, education costs, jury fees, booth costs, lodging, meals, travel — these are all examples of expenses.

Now the trick it to make sure that your income is always more than your expenses. It may take careful budgeting to do this since artists don’t usually have an even flow of income. But then again, a lot of businesses don’t have equal months. That’s why we have “Black Friday” – the day when retail businesses usually get out of the red because everyone does holiday shopping. Can you imagine having to support your business for ten and a half months before having one and a half where you actually make money? But, if your business is heavy in expenses in months where you don’t have the income to cover it, you may have to personally invest in your business. Let’s face it, every artist starting out will have to make a personal investment. It’s the nature of the business. Unless you can get “love money” — money from friends and family — you’re “hobby” isn’t going to get a business loan. If you do art shows, jury fees and booth fees aren’t going to be collected after they see how you do at the show. Nope, those are collected before the show. Brushes, printer paper, cleaning supplies, chisels, knives, pencils, pens, etc. are all expenses that need to be purchased so you can create your art.

Even after all your initial investment costs, you’ll have regular costs that will be maintained – websites to renew, brushes to replace, etc. These make it easy to budget. But they are still expenses. Hopefully, now that you understand the true nature of expenses, you won’t see expenses as a pure evil, but rather to see the cycle and have more understanding of the quote, “It takes money to make money.”