Focus is not a strength that comes naturally to me, but it is one I am learning. My journey to focus began as a bumpy ride but transitioned into an intentional drive. The fact that I can overwrite the blue print of my past scattered living is still somewhat of an astonishment to me.
I am a passionate person and emerge myself into situations…to the extreme. We have moved 19 times in 30 years, mainly because of my short attention span. Once because of our dog, but that is a different story. [I am trying to focus here!?]
My complete emergence type of life has benefited my family in so many ways, but in combination with my short attention span, has also often prevented us from having a feeling of stability. My journey to focus has helped find that stability as well.
Prior to this second time living in Lakeland, I had been an artist, store manager, artist, national marketing director, artist, executive learning lab facilitator, artist, elementary school teacher, artist, store owner, adjunct college professor, and, yes, artist. As a wife and mother of 4, even when I stayed home with my children, I was still working as an artist in some capacity. Obviously, being an artist is where my passion is. I may have not always been able to make a living at it, but I never doubted it was who I am.
In retrospect though, the artist I was lacked focus. One of my good friends and mentors, Peggy Karpick, once told me that I make my parachute on the way down. That, my friends, is completely me. As I got older, I felt like I was also mixing the paint to color the parachute I was making on the way down.
That way of living worked for us for a couple of decades, then we settled down a bit on a hobby farm in NC. Horses, chickens, guinea fowl, vegetable gardens, and forests of tree energy surrounded us. Life was grand, until a health event my husband endured threw us for a loop. Within ten days of each other, he had a major heart event and lost his job of 15 years. In a literal heartbeat, our lives changed. It was devastating, emotionally, and financially.
Chaos Led to Ruin
Things just got chaotic. The chaos effected everything; my business and my family included. I owned a retail art studio at the time and, overnight, it was thrust into the position of being the only income for our family. Up until then, it was a side income. Only two years old, it was still emerging as a teaching and entertainment venue, and still not showing a profit.
In a few weeks time, I was forced to find a way to make that business double its gross revenue. I abandoned my original business plan for organic growth and started grasping at whatever quick fixes came along. The constant pressure of trying to make something work without taking the time to get to completion took a toll on my emotional and mental health. I was spiraling down a hole and I was failing to support my family.
After two years of that, I…we, had to make a change and fast. Within two weeks, we closed the store, packed up everything in NC that would fit on one truck and returned to Lakeland, Florida; no jobs, no direction, just a promise of something new in a place we found joy before. That’s when I discovered the amazing power of focus.
If Not Now Then When
After three weeks of sleeping a lot, I emerged from our unpacked boxes and broken spirits to realize that if I was ever going to succeed as an independent artist, this was the time to go for it. We were already broke financially and emotionally, but our family was in tact and we were together. My husband has always been a huge support of my dreams and my mother has always been the physical being of the wind beneath my wings. With the trust and support from both of them, I started carving the path to being able to focus on one medium and take it toward unlimited heights.
Of course, it doesn’t happen over night. Even while focusing and developing my eco-staining, I have had to count on other revenue streams to carry me through, sometimes I still do. There’s a difference between doing what you have to do to get to where you want to go, and grasping at everything thing to just be doing something. That difference is an important life lesson that my children are learning a lot earlier than I did. I saw a glimpse of that with my son yesterday. It is always such a nice feeling when those little magical moments happen.
There are no intro classes or study skills that I have found to teach me how to focus. My journey to focus has been more of a smorgasbord of research…blogs, readings, reflections, and, of course, journaling.
It has definitely been a journey in mindfulness. I have taught myself, or better yet, trained myself to practice being more aware of what I am doing and why I am doing those things. The old adage “think before you speak” came into play with “think before you do”…anything. If you have tried that before, you know how hard it is.
But I did it! In my blog post, “In Focus and How I Got Here” I share the challenges I faced while transforming into a focused artist. I also share tips on how you can use those same techniques to find focus in your life.
I am only human, though…
The funny thing is that when I set out to write a post about my journey to focus and how much I am working to achieve that, after the first paragraph I went into writing about my art journey…for two pages! Now I have another blog post started and waiting for completion.
I am trying, I really am!