Success means work. The more pounds lost, the more motivated I am to keep going to the gym. The more sales I have in the shop, the more I feel called to keep creating. The more Elliot reads, the more books we check out at the library. I'm doing my best to feed the projects that give the most rewards, and it's paying off!
I cannot tell you how many times I've considered letting my little shop go. The slow progress has been a test of my patience and faith for three years and counting. I'm sure that many people with Etsy shops are casually ambivalent about whether or not they succeed in the sense that a proper business should succeed. For some, it's just another way to fund creative projects and share their talents. From the beginning, I really wanted to make Knees and Paws my job. A real job, so I could stop worrying about never having a career. How blissfully ignorant, how childishly naive! How terribly optimistic and stubbornly hopeful.
My unspoken fear is that it might never happen...the elusive career. Like an infertile woman who longs for a baby to hold, for years I have secretly wished for the day when I can wear dress clothes, fill up a tall, shiny metallic coffee mug, kiss everyone goodbye and walk out the door with jingling keys and a glossy handbag.
In reality, I'm a messy haired, disorganized, creative, homebody momma with constant dog hair floating around the room, scraps of fabric on the shop floor, dishes in the sink and little piles of junk to be sorted. I fool myself regularly by pretending that I'm calm, sweet and introspective about everything, when the truth is I have very cranky moments and speak sharply when I lose my temper. I often feel stressed out just doing the normal, every day household chores and errands...things that seem easy to my husband who has a tedious, technical HIGHLY stressful job. Washing the dishes is no big deal to him, and neither is laundry or shopping or playing Star Wars Legos for the millionth time.
Stress impacts my life when I'm not even aware that I'm stressed. I'm not conscious of it's influence on me, but it's there, working on me, week after week.
So I just decided to start doing the things that I like, practicing activities that feed my soul and my heart. I gravitate to writing, daydreaming, reading, socializing, exercising, sewing, nature, cooking, and teaching our son. I am slowly waking up to the idea that I need to be me without a title. This lifestyle is the most real sense of success I've ever felt. When I am me without striving for a standard, a socially constructed ideal of a professional, I feel happy. Am I happily unsuccessful? Am I content being an anonymous nobody? Surprisingly, yes. A good day is when my ego is defeated and my soul breathes in the gift of life that rolls at my feet without any effort on my part, every single day.
And now, just when I've been considering diving into a big, deep writing project, spring cleaning the house and starting the garden, a gift has arrived...a bumper crop for Knees and Paws the Etsy shop. Another Elementary school needs my help costuming for their spring musical! It's for their production of 101 Dalmatians and I'm thrilled to have a chance to work on this project. Does this mean that I might start going to work in the sense that I will someday need a business suit and an electronic tablet? Absolutely not. But yoga pants are more comfortable anyway.