Let me say it again for those in the back. Life is like a painting.
We all start with a blank canvas and little by little we add to our canvas.
Are you choosing to add all one color? Are you staying just in one area of your canvas? Are you playing it safe? Think of the relationships in your life... Is everyone around you the same? Does everyone in your tribe think, act, dress, and look alike?
Are you ever reaching outside of your comfort zone and choosing a paint tone that may shake things up a little?
This can also work the other way. Did you know if you mix too many colors at once, you will get muddy tones? Are you adding so much to your canvas of life that you aren't able to enjoy anything. Are you doing too much? Have you left any white space to make the other aspects of your life pop? Think of the relationships in your life... Do you have people in your life that are so dark and life sucking that they are dulling your colors?
My friends also tease me because I don't play. Some people I find so life sucking I just don't interact with them. It isn't that I want to be mean. It is just they aren't for me and I have enough self respect for myself and my happiness that I won't put up with it. (Also I don't have a poker face and can't train my WTF face.) I also don't like uncomfortable clothes, shoes, situations. Life is short, friends. And I want to be as happy as I can when I am here.
Or are you choosing a chaos of different tones? Is your canvas vibrant, full, with some white space balanced to allow room for your eye to enjoy it all? Is your painting subject all on the canvas or does it move off canvas to allow breathing room and room for imagination?
Some things I have noticed in my travels and people watching, in my businesses and interacting with so many different types of people over the years, and also learned about myself in therapy. We often add so much to our lives we are miserable instead of living this one life we have to live as we are, who we are, why we are.
So the next time you are unhappy, overwhelmed, miserable think about the root cause. Is it something you can change, is it someone you can edge out of your life, is there a way to approach the situation with a better attitude? Do you need to gesso over a section and start over?
I learned in therapy most of my unhappiness stems from my high expectations. The ones I put on myself and on those around me, so whenever something or someone didn't live up to what I had dreamed, expected, wanted I become sad, depressed, disappointed. I battle with this everyday. I can tell you that once I learned that about myself it was the biggest ah ha moment in my life. Am I still hard on myself? Yep. Do I still get disappointed by those around me when I don't feel like they are giving all of themselves? Yep. But knowing this about myself has helped me with resetting my expectations, live a bit more in the "it is what it is" mindset. And also move on when when something truly makes me unhappy.
What it also makes me aware of is the energy I see sucked out of people who are so busy doing all the things, they aren't enjoying any of the things. Take some time each day to turn off the noise. That may mean waking up earlier (ew) or staying up later (this is me). I read at night when everyone else is in bed to quiet it all out. I paint to quiet it all out.
Are you involved in too many activities? Are your kids? Are you allowing time to be or are you afraid of what you might find out about yourself if you quiet down? Are the things you are involved in filling your cup or are they draining you down.
Do I have it figured all out? Nope. I keep wanting to add businesses, or move to a new town, or change my hair to deal with things when they get stagnant. I recognize it. I am a ennegram seven. I like new shiny things, I like the process of thinking of new things and having new experiences. I have learned I physically need to travel to keep that fresh and new aspect in my life because exploring new things is what lights me up and fills my cup. I also have learned it often a healthier coping mechanism when I get bored.
So take stock of your life canvas. What do you need to add? What do you need to take away? Are the people you are surrounding yourself with helping or hindering your progress? Get in there, get messy, and live life to the fullest on your terms.
Why LOCAL LOVE is important!
I talk often about supporting local business and try to post about it often, calling out my favorites on social media both professionally and personally. I know some people who follow may wonder why I do that since “it has nothing to do with my businesses”. I do it because I know how important it is.
Do you know the difference in locally owned independent business, franchise businesses, and big box corporations?
A brick-and-mortar is a traditional business model where the retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers deal with the customers face-to-face in an office, a shop, or a store that the business owns or rents. My business Escape Artists War Town fits under this model. We have some one on one time with the customers but the experience is booked online and then the room is completed without someone physically in the room with you.
A High Touch locally owned independent business, such as my business Lush Art, is a model which requires lots of human interaction. The relationship between the brand and the customer has a huge impact on the overall revenues of the company. The companies with this business model operate on trust and credibility. While the initial booking is done online, we are there very hands on during the event and a lot goes in to prepping the event before you arrive.
For both businesses I create my own marketing materials, ads, posts, rooms, paintings with help of my staff.
A franchise can be a manufacturer, distributor or retailer. Instead of creating a new product, the franchisee uses the parent business’s model and brand while paying royalties to it. They are spoon fed what to do for marketing and have less say over creation of the product or service.
A retailer sells directly to the public after purchasing the products from a distributor or wholesaler. This could be locally owned (such as Abreanne’s or Southern Crush boutique) or franchise (such as Dress Barn).
A big box retailer is a retail store that occupies an enormous amount of physical space and offers a variety of products to its customers. These stores achieve economies of scale by focusing on large sales volumes. I think we all know who they are.
I recently talked at a local middle school for Career Day. Since my businesses are so niche I focused mainly on telling the classes about the importance of shopping and supporting locally owned businesses whenever possible. One of my examples is if it is Taco Tuesday and you want tacos instead of rolling through Taco Bell, go to Tacos and More or Taco Shed. Both of those are local, independent businesses. They have created their own menus, marketing, branding.
After one of the classes a sweet boy came up to me and thanked me for what I was teaching. “My parents own Tacos and More and it does make such a difference to our family when people choose us over fast food tacos.” I got chills. It is so true. Does the owner of Taco Bell know you when you come in? Does the owner of Taco Bell know your order, ask about your kids, wonder how your mom is doing? NOPE.
In the same vein, at Lush Art we create a new and exciting calendar each and every month for our customers. Each of those paintings we have painted with our own hands. We curate the designs in such a way each month to provide a variance of options created directly for our audience based on their preferences. We put literal blood, sweat, and tears into building the businesses from the ground up. We created our ideas and through A LOT of trial and error are finally to a point we feel pretty comfortable with what we are providing and doing. Do we still make mistakes? Sure. Do we still create ideas that fail and bomb? Yep.
I still happy dance for every order. I still celebrate every good review. I still despair and get upset over every failure and every bad review. I take things personally when I shouldn’t but it is because I have put SO much of myself into this entrepreneur lifestyle.
Independent, locally-owned businesses recirculate a far greater percentage of revenue locally compared to absentee-owned businesses or locally-owned franchises. In other words, going local creates more local wealth and jobs.
I hire local artists to create paintings. I pay them better than any other studio that I have come across, in the entire world. I am on multiple groups and each time pay comes up I am giving back more to my employees than anyone else. It creates a longer lasting relationship between my staff and how they take care of our customers. We have lower turn over and can create a more home-like atmosphere because someone new is not always at the helm. We love getting to know our customers, finding out what they like and why they come to us.
I love seeing what our staff can bring to their families with the supplement income from the businesses. Aside from Heather (the manager) and myself each of our employees work other full time jobs or are going to school. We get to be the passion project that also brings extra income to all of these households. Each are there because they WANT to be, and love our mission of making art accessible to everyone.
So here are some other examples of ways I try to choose LOCAL LOVE over chains and franchises.
I use a local accountant and bookkeeping service, Works Bookkeeping and Payroll where the owner does my taxes, payroll, and answers my questions instead of some big company exec that I don’t know.
I use a local cleaning company, Robins Commercial Cleaning, where the owner cleans for me instead of some chain who sends different people every week.
What is important about these two businesses? I am doing business with people I know, like, and trust. They are owned by women, who live here locally in our community. It is empowering women to provide for their families on a schedule that works for them and they in turn put it back into the community. $68 for every $100 stays in the community when spent at a local business. When spending the same at a non-local business like a national chain, only $43 stays in your community. This is important!!
It is America, free will is always there for you when you make choices. Next time you think about buying, shopping, eating please think what choice you can make that will make the most impact on your community.