Saturday, February 4, 2017

Old and Renewed

I mentioned before that I want to share with you some of my dreams and goals for 2017, but I think splitting them into several posts will help me best paint a picture of where I've been and where I'd like to go. So up this week, something brand new.

Last week I described feeling constrained when I thought of the future, like to move forward in a career, I had to narrow and narrow my options, but everything in me braced against this notion. Multiple voices helped dismantle my sense that this narrowing was inevitable, but perhaps the clearest articulation of this came from a recent lecture by Elizabeth Gilbert. In this video, Gilbert deconstructs the concept that everyone has a singular passion to chase. All my life I've heard some variation of "just find what you're good at, and go for it," or, as Gilbert says, "follow your passion." She admits that she's one of those people who has known her passion and has therefore had a pretty clear path toward it, but she compassionately reflects the experiences of others around her who have not shared this clarity, and she offers words of encouragement for those who seem to be, in her words, hummingbirds rather than jackhammers when it comes to finding their purpose.

I'll save the rest of her lecture for your viewing pleasure, but this hummingbird idea helped give words to a long-time struggle of mine: I'm decent at a number of things, but I don't have this one gift that stands out from the rest that drives me; I move around a lot. What I'm realizing is that our society tends to more vocally praise and highlight jackhammers but doesn't offer much guidance or encouragement for hummingbirds. Instead, it's easy to think of them as either aimless or indecisive and therefore frustrating. I internalized this frustration, but I also felt paralyzed because I was asking myself to become a jackhammer when no one direction felt right or freeing. But Gilbert's words gave me overwhelming relief and assurance that my desire to expand my learning and my desire to be successful didn't have to be at odds.

With this new understanding, I gave myself permission to consider how I naturally operate and how this might flourish in a work environment. And I found myself returning to the notion that creative work would enable this; it would lend variety, allow me to explore and learn and practice new skills, and help me bring all of the (what I formerly saw as) disparate parts of my life and myself together.

I researched a few artists and crafters and businesspeople I admire, and I found an abundance of successful individuals who create in a variety of mediums (Howard Pierce, Dana Tanamachi, Emily Bixler, Lilly Stockman) or engage in diverse arenas (Martha Stewart, Joanna Gaines, Julia Cameron). For some this discovery might seem obvious, but for me it was revolutionary.

So rather than limiting myself, I'm working toward doing the work I feel inspired to do in all its many forms. So far I've started my STORYhandmade shop, and I've built an online portfolio, but I feel drawn in another direction, too.

To be honest, I've written and re-written this section so much that I'm not sure what to share with you. It's a long story, so maybe this summary is enough: I've always loved to make my own spaces warmer and more inspiring, and I'd like to do that for others, too. So as a first step in this direction, my parents have decided to partner with me to open a vintage shop.

To offer a bit of context for this decision, when I lived in Rocklin, my friend Elisabeth introduced me to what I'll call strategic garage sale-ing, and I continued this activity with my mom and dad when I lived in San Diego. In Ohio the weather made garage sales a seasonal activity, so I found myself at Farley & Moore Antiques (R.I.P.) quite often. Here in Washington, Goodwill has become my go-to. I haven't fully processed what it is I love about this type of shopping, but it inspires and energizes me. Maybe it's the hunt, or seeing potential in something unwanted, or creating less demand for new production; or maybe it's imagining possibility when for so long I have limited myself. Whatever it is, I want to move toward that goodness.

I shared previously that this past year has been a dark one for me, and in one of my more difficult times, a brightness emerged. I visited my parents in early September, and we took a day trip to antique malls in Temecula. While there, I caught myself humming and walking with a bounce in my step, and it occurred to me that I felt happy and relaxed, emotions I hadn't experienced in months (I have to note here that a huge part of my joy in this time was getting to spend time with them). I shared this with my parents, and the more they talked and helped me process some of my struggle with direction, the more this idea of opening an antique shop took shape.

I see this shop as connected to my love of interior design. I really haven't asked around to see if I'm the exception, but I think of the items in my home in connection to the stories surrounding them, and I wonder if this contributes to the joy this activity brings me. I feel comforted when I look around our living room and see that almost everything (except our couch and pillows) was gifted to us, purchased second-hand, or made by me or someone I know.

I like that many of the things we own hold stories - of when we received them into our lives, and of their use for others before coming into our care. This helps me remember these things weren't made for me alone; they carry a history (and a future) beyond myself. And when I let things go, I love to think they bring joy to someone else who values and appreciates them (I am determined in my optimism about this).

I chose the name STORY for my shop in part because I wanted to share the process behind my craft, to be transparent. But I also chose this name because it captures this idea that stories are in all things. When I surround myself with stories, I remember my connectedness to all things created.

Maybe this is extreme or out there, but it's how my mind works, and it's part of why I love arranging inspiring spaces with second-hand items. Last year I helped Rick spruce up his office, and now I'm redesigning my mom's office (which I'll share more about here in the coming months), and I hope to continue similar projects after that (if you're in the market for a re-design, let me know!).

For now, I'm teaming up with my parents, my favorite treasure-hunting accomplices, to build a vintage shop: Old and Renewed. We're still working out the details of what this will look like, but it's one of my big goals in 2017 to get this off the ground. I've already started sketching logo ideas and building inventory (above, my haul from yesterday alone), so we're getting close! My very loose goal is to open shop online by late spring, and I'm keeping my eyes peeled for potential retail openings that could work as a storefront. It's a huge dream, but I'm learning not to limit myself, so I'm writing it down as a goal. I will keep you posted as plans progress, but for now, I've got work to do.

- shelley

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