Thursday, April 27, 2017

National Infertility Awareness Week

Having a family doesn't come easy for some people. Here is a video we created 5 months ago in hopes of winning an IVF grant through a very gracious and generous couple. We were not selected as winners, but because it is National Infertility Awareness Week and the 1 year anniversary of our unsuccessful round of in vitro fertilization, I thought I would share a quick story of our long journey to parenthood.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Not Okay

Hi, it's me at 11:00 on a Friday night. I've been marching in my bathroom for the past 1/2 hour trying to get my (Fitbit) steps in before the work week challenge against my co-workers ends in 54 minutes. As I was lamely marching to music in the bathroom, a beautifully sad song came on and I looked at the (pitiful) girl in the mirror and started crying. Why?

Because I'm not okay.

Infertility sucks. Every baby announcement sucks. Working full time and not being able to accomplish everything I want to sucks. Never even coming remotely close to being caught up on laundry or a clean house sucks. Having no time to become the artist that I want to become sucks. No one buying or caring about my artwork sucks. Being self conscious about myself sucks. 

I've always been self conscious, insecure, and slightly ashamed/embarrassed of who I am. I struggled with it as a child, and have carried it almost daily into my adult life. I honestly don't know if I will ever feel like I am going to be good enough for myself. I use social media as a way to try and  prove to myself and to others that I am good enough; that I am attractive, normal, confident, and not at all awkward when really, I don't truly believe any of these things to be true, and don't think anyone else does either. I WANT to be those things though, and this is why I post parts of my life on social media.

Things have gotten so bad lately that I have developed social anxiety. And I don't know if the heartache of infertility is just the last straw, but I find myself wishing I didn't ever have to go to work, church, or any other social events. I have a hard time being around people, and almost always want to be left alone. I'm also so self conscious of who I am, that I instantly hate every word that comes out of my mouth, and over analyze every social situation I am in. I worry about how I looked, how I sounded, and what I said. And I just feel really disconnected to people these days. The LDS community has become more of a place of anxiety for me, rather than a place of refuge. I wouldn't say that I am in an emotionally dark place, but I'm definitely in an emotionally odd place.

I am sure it's not true, but I have reverted to feelings I felt as a young teenager: that I am the laughing stock of everyone's day, or that people only talk to me because they pity me. And thus, I just want to be alone. I would normally classify myself as an extroverted introvert, but these days I would be thrilled to become a full on introvert. 

I just want to be alone so I can find my happy place. I feel safe and comfortable in my home, with  my husband and my dog. I am happy when I am home alone listening to music, singing, ugly dancing, and watching Netflix. I do like to be with family when time permits, and feel most in my element when I am listening to my music and working on the artwork (that I am too tired to be working on).

I also want to be alone so I can focus on my talents and discover any new ones that I might have, or that I might be able to acquire. I've always wanted to sing, despite my self consciousness for the way my voice sounds. I would love to take voice lessons, even though I'm sure it's too late to start at my age. 

I've also been in an excruciating waiting game for adoption and IVF for a long time, and it's really getting to me. I've been losing so much sleep over it. When I'm not obsessing over all the creative ideas I wish I had time to bring to life, I'm obsessing over adoption/IVF, and how motherhood feels more like a fantasy than a reality for me.

I feel like I'm so weighed down and so crushed by my own circumstances that my oxygen levels are low. My two biggest dreams are to have a successful career as the kind of artist I want to be, and to be a mother who is given the opportunity to raise a family and give her children a memorable childhood. I want so desperately to experience pregnancy. However, I am neither of these things (successful artist or a mom), and at 30 years old, feel embarrassed of  myself that I am so far behind in life on so many levels. I find myself avoiding conversations with others because I feel judged and/or pitied for not fitting the mold of where I should be or want to be at this stage in my life.

Lastly, I wish to live a day without worrying about who I am. I wish to live a day without feeling like I am not pretty enough, smart enough, or likeable enough the way that I am. I want to be happy and feel normal. I hate that I'm not okay. 

It's nearly midnight now. I am so exhausted. I'm sure this post makes no sense and is riddled with typos given the fact that I wrote this so late and am not going to proof read it. I am also almost positive I will regret posting this, as I am probably being overly dramatic because it IS so late and I AM so tired. But at least I poured it out there. Goodnight 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Small Business Owners, I Need Help

Question for Etsy shop/small business owners of over 2+ years: Is owning an Etsy shop (or just doing your own small business in general) even worth it?

Etsy takes a portion of your sales, which I am fine with because it is user friendly and beats the alternative of building/buying your own website and paying for an annual domain and website fee. But by the time you file your taxes, have you even made any money at all?

Do you end up OWING money for all the hard work, sweat, and sleepless nights you poured into selling your work?

Oh, and how to do you even keep track of all of your supply expenses vs. what you earned back? 

I'm just an artist who loves to create, and who wants to spread my wings and fly. However, creating the kind of art that I want to create takes a lot of time, patience, practice, rendering, creativity, money, and late nights. That, and I am completely clueless when it comes to business smarts.

Lately, I've had ideas pouring out of my ears, and no time to put them into fruition. Working full time, having daily personal responsibilities, fulfilling church callings, and most importantly, making time for my family usually means that (unfortunately) art is a last priority. I often go weeks or months without working on anything, even though it nags at my mind every day. It has been the most frustrating thing in the world.

In order for me to dedicate the kind of time I want into my passion, it often requires burning the midnight oil, which then results in a very exhausted Annika. It also results in a very messy/neglected house. This in turn, makes me very ornery.

There is also very little reward in terms of appreciation for the art I have created. I could spend hours, days, maybe even weeks on a project, and literally make pennies on it (and that's if I'm lucky, haha).

Here's the thing though. I have wanted to be an artist for sooooooo long. My entire life, in fact. But that's just it. I am an artist. Or at least an aspiring artist. I am an aspiring artist who works full time. I am NOT a business woman. I have studied, practiced, trained for, and loved art since I was a kid. I am creative, but I am not business savvy. I can barely organize my underwear drawer, let alone my business and business finances. Time management, focus, finances, and organization of ANY kind are not and never have been strong suits of mine.

I don't know who to talk to or where to turn to find help on how to do things from a business or financial aspect. And if I'm being honest, I wish I didn't have to worry about any of that stuff. It's too adult, too overwhelming, and too over my head. I want to stick to the creative side of things, but I am realizing that if I want to do what I love, I have to do a whole lot of what I don't love along with it. I need SO much help.

Sadly, lack of time and the "adult" technical part of things holds me back and makes me second guess trying to make a business of my art. And suggestions or encouraging words are appreciated.

Thanks and good day!