Open.

I still wonder what I’m going to be when I grow up, what is going to define me? Of course, once I sit with this question and unpack it I realize that there is never one destination. I’m never going to arrive at just one thing and say, YES, this is it! I’m an astronaut!

I think this idea of moving and changing and being open to the change is especially true for moms. Moms, I have so much empathy for us. We get pregnant, some of us working for years at being so, we go through the battle of labor, we claw through the monotony and utter exhaustion of toddlerhood, we arrive at elementary school and meet new mommy friends. We then realize we have a bit more time to ourselves. Some of us go back to work. Others volunteer like they are on a mission to Mars. We all continue to pour our hearts and attention into our family. We start to think about our kids getting into college. We remember our husbands are still walking in the door after dinner and lying next to us in bed when we are too tired to have a conversation. Who is that man over there? And during all this time, we have been growing older and moving on this electric, horizontal tram like in an airport. Where are we going? No one spot. Many of us gave up careers and forget the dusty resume. What are we today?

I have thought these things, shouted these things in retaliation to my husband and his thriving career and keep coming back to sitting and just being. Reminds me of my favorite Cat Stevens song that I used to listen to on repeat my senior year in college.

“Oh I’m on my way, I know I am
Somewhere not so far from here
All I know is all I feel right now
I feel the power growing in my hair. 

Oh life is like a maze of doors 
And they all open from the side you’re on” 

-Cat Stevens

I try to meditate every day. I pray and the answer I keep getting is just be. What does that even look like? I think it’s getting comfortable with not having a definition or an answer to “What do you do?” I think, for me, it’s being open. OPEN. Ahhhh, no really. I’ve been more open the more my body and mind have aged and I feel strongly that this is also what is meant to happen. I am open to sitting down and doing a puzzle in a quiet room. I am open to doing a girls’ weekend or having a hard conversation. I am open to traveling and being in a larger-sized jean. I am open to politics and injustice and new recipes and fostering cats and drinking aloe juice and not pestering my body with meat. And painting.

Cat fostering definitely is happening.

(Sailor is a refugee from PR and is currently available for adoption. Email me if interested cbensten@gmail.com I have 4 others as well that can be found on the Homeward Trails website.)

I always told myself that when I really made it in the world I’d shop at Whole Foods and I’d take a watercolor class. A few years ago, I did it. Crazy. I then started an oil painting class and what makes this a huge feat for me is that I was always told I was not a painter. I could be an artist and appreciate art, but the painters were another, more elete group of people that I would never belong. Psht!

Open.

I love my painting classes. My teacher tells me I’m really good at skies. I want to paint one of everything I see and have a whole room of blank canvas. I opened myself up to selling a few months and ago and now my sheep painting is in someone’s home! What?!

Yes, I know this is a cow and not a sheep. “Curious Cow” is available for sale.

Open.

Recently, I was asked to teach a Mommy & Me class at my art studio. Uh. Me? Ok. Moving through this new experience and being open to it makes me feel….like a grown up. The idea that I can say and do what I really, really like to do is real freedom. I’m in this lane for now and next year I may move to another lane, but I feel like more of myself all the time.

View my class and profile at https://arthouseseven.com/
I’m teaching Art Together Thursdays at 10. Just look for my name. xo

…building a business: boundaries

Life is so interesting when one is paying attention, isn’t it? Sometimes the same lessons in one’s personal life is parallel to what is happening in one’s business. Maybe Someone is taping us on the shoulder asking us to flex a certain muscle in order to be, well, happier & more productive.

Boundaries.

My therapist tells me that this is a developmental lesson and something that children must go through in order to be effective adults and create their own lives and perspectives. It is important for us all to learn to set boundaries and to learn to respect other’s boundaries.

IMG_0508

If you work from home or have a business where you ship from home, you need to set healthy boundaries for clients & potential clients. This lesson is usually learned the hard way. When I first started out and got my first bit of press, I decided to do Open Houses 2xs a week! What was I thinking? I was thinking I could do it all and then some. Guess what, I couldn’t. I needed time to finish my coffee, write on my site, chat with my kids, cook, read….shower.

IMG_6880

I had to keep the toys picked up and everything spotless – not to mention bringing in loads of furniture to display & sell in my own, personal space. Things went wrong quickly. I love meeting new people, talking design & painting, but the lines between my work & my home life were becoming too intertwined. Worlds were colliding and that was not good for anyone!

I became tired & cranky. I needed to set boundaries and feel good about them. It took me a while to realize that I could see be seen & have my business while keeping a piece of my life separate. I could set drop off hours and make set appointments. I could say no to jobs with visions that did not align with mine. I didn’t have to have my door open to the world at all times. Wow!

Peace comes with boundaries because you are parenting yourself and making room for your needs.

Why are we not good at setting boundaries? Maybe we are not good at paying attention to our own needs before it’s too late. As I parent my own child I can see their needs – when it’s nap time, when they’ve had enough at the park, when they are hungry. It’s easy to see a child’s needs, but to see our own can be difficult. Maybe it feels selfish or we can push through it or we think we are tough as nails and people/things cannot push us down. We are human – not people of steal.

This lesson also goes for those of us that have a business where we are the only ones on the payroll. When we are overworked and just feel plain tired. Guess what – that is OK! It’s normal and we all need to take a break, especially creative people. We need to recharge to make space in our brains for ideas.

Boundaries keep us safe and sane. It is not meanness, it’s knowing our own limits. Feeling pushed? Pulled? Take a pause, take a breath and set some appropriate boundaries that you can live with. Take a lesson from a cat – they are pretty good at doing what they need to do at all times.

IMG_0718