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Dream Big

What would make me feel successful as an artist? To start, having the ability to be creative on a daily (or at least near daily) basis in my work. Right now I work for an e-commerce website, and the closest thing I can come to defining as the ability to be creative is the random occasion when I get to design a banner for the homepage movie for an upcoming popular set of party supplies. It’s my favorite part of the day, week, month… when I get to create something, to make something incredible.  The rest of my time I just sit there staring at spreadsheets all day.  Sure, I can get creative with the writing aspect of descriptions and whatnot, but seriously, how many times can you describe plates and napkins before you go stark raving mad?  I’ve been at this for almost 6 years now.  I’m done. 

Back to the topic, success as an artist would be me in a position where creativity is an ACTIVE part of the job, not just a sub-topic. On the first day of class, we were told to choose between two ultimate goals: art gallery displays or grad school.  Neither of those is where I want to be.  Sure it would be cool to have my art on display and have people fawning over my work.  Who wouldn’t love that? But in my mind it would get very boring, very quickly.  I don’t even like sitting on a booth for 8 hours at an art fair, where I’m surrounded on all sides by creativity.  It’s literally like saying, “hey, I need your approval, you masses of strangers.  LOVE ME!” and then being disappointed when they don’t buy something.  As a frequent attendee at these fairs, I see that on almost every face of every vendor.  It’s boring.  Sales just isn’t my thing. 

The other option is grad school.  That at least is a slightly more appealing idea for me, largely because I am the eternal learner.  I love to learn new things.  Right now grad school isn’t even an option for me financially.  I have no clue how I would even begin to pay for it.  The only reason my BA is an option for me is because of my GI bill, which I squandered half of at JCC, and now I wish to god I’d known about Siena Heights before then, and I’d be getting my BFA right now instead of my BA. Sigh.

But of those two choices, like I said, neither is where I want to be.  In 10 years… I want to be an art director.  I want to have the knowledge and charisma and fortitude to run an entire art department, encouraging recent graduates, helping people improve their designs, and producing designs and plans myself that help the company I work for to grow and expand.

I have no idea what company I want to work for, to be perfectly honest.  I see myself in a sort of Devil Wears Prada ideal, but without the snobbery. Basically, the woman in charge of the art direction of a major publication or company.

In this ideal, I also have a loving husband and children.  I still have no idea how we’re going to have children and not have one of us end up as a stay at home parent.  In fact, I’d be surprised if that’s not how we end up, but with him in that role. Growing up I always sort of saw myself in that role, but nowadays, it’s weird, I don’t.  I of course want to come home and have a full relationship with my kids, and that is incredibly important to me, that they know I love them and will do everything I can to give them an incredible childhood and all the opportunities possible as adults.

So I guess my ultimate goal is to have an amazing job that I love, where I can be creative every day (or at least nearly so), but that I can still come home every night and on weekends and play with my kids. 

I would feel successful if I could achieve that.

Success in my personal relationships… I want Noah to know I love him, no matter what. I want us to have personal time together on a daily basis, with at least one or two family vacations thrown in during the year. Noah is my rock, and I really can’t see life without him.  So it’s very important to me that he knows how much I love and appreciate him and everything he does for me.  I would like to really sincerely learn how to cook someday, and to get over my personal laziness which is really the only thing stopping me.  I’m a true go-getter when it comes to getting the job done in my employment, but by the time I get home, for some reason my go-getter attitude gets up and goes elsewhere. It’s like I get home, and all motivation to do anything takes a flying leap, which is why dishes tend to pile up and laundry waits until I’m almost out of underwear. This is also why I rarely get myself into my art pursuits on my own time.  If I’m not doing something for school, I’m likely to choose TV over artistic accomplishments.

You know, I can write for hours on end when I just have a specific topic that I’ve researched and have ideas for.  This is like pulling teeth for some reason, and I’m only 20 minutes in. Random thought.

So I’m re-reading the page, and it asks me, “What do you see?” when you envision these things?

I see myself in a corporate office, with my own corner office and windows with a view, very MAD MEN-like, but you know, updated.  I see myself with deadlines to meet, and the confidence that I can meet them not only on time, but with materials that will blow the CO away. I see myself making at least 60 to 70 thousand a year, if not six figures, and I see power suits. I want to look beautiful and powerful and be in charge over an amazing crew of designers, photographers, writers, publishers, and everything to make our end results look spectacular.

I see myself coming home at the end of every day tired, but feeling accomplished. I want to be able to shut off the work world at 4 or 5, and be able to play with my kids, enjoy dinner with them, go to their games and their plays and concerts, and to be there to put them to bed at night, and kiss them goodnight, and I love you.

I see myself coming home and kissing my husband hello, and talking about our day together. I want to be able to share the ups and downs of my day, and to listen to his, and to be able to be there emotionally for him and have him be there emotionally for me.

 I also see myself with at least one family pet, likely a dog.  We have two cats right now and would love a dog, but we know between our work schedules that we can’t properly take care of a dog right now. Cats are surprisingly self sufficient, and it’s not that we don’t love them, we do, very much. It’s just that cats can also be overly self-sufficient, to the point of ignoring their owners. Dogs are always thrilled to see you. J

A life that would make me truly happy is a life that includes a satisfying career, one where my work makes an obvious difference in the company, where my contributions are not only noticed, but occasionally appreciated. I want to be able to mentor others toward success, on a person by person basis.  The only reason I don’t see teaching as an option for me is because when I get a whole classroom of students staring at me, it’s like I suddenly have no brain, and all my good advice goes right out the window. One on one, however, I can articulate and have common sense reign true.

A truly happy life would also encompass time at home, on vacation, wherever, so long as it is with my husband and children, and my extended family. I currently live within an hour’s drive of both my mother and my mother-in-law, both of whom I love dearly, and can’t imagine not being so close to.  My job will have to be at least in Michigan or one of the neighboring states, preferably within an hour’s drive of Brooklyn, MI, so that I can stay in my beautiful house that I just bought on Lake Columbia. It’s not huge, and if we have more than two children, it’ll be too small, but right now it’s perfect. J  It’s right across the street from beach access, so not only can we see the lake from our house, but we have no fear of flooding should it rise. We have a wonderful deck and back yard, and more storage in our kitchen than we know what to do with. As our family of two stands right now, we have enough room for a master, an office, and a guest room, and we have two bathrooms.  It’s a cute and altogether perfect house for us right now, and hopefully will stay so in the future.

I could see myself picking up some charcoal or paint on my off time to create some original works of art, but it’s not my driving force to be able to do that. My driving force is to be able to be employed as a designer, to be able to use my job as my outlet for creativity. I don’t necessarily see myself as the breadwinner for the family, but I wouldn’t’ object to that roll. But right now between the two of us we make about 50K a year, so if I’m the breadwinner alone, I’d best be making at least six figures if I’m going to support him and two children!

Ok, fifteen minutes to go on this ramble. Other things that bring me pleasure are the ability to get spa treatments once in a while.  Manicures and pedicures, massages, facials, even having my hair cut and styled is something that I find incredibly relaxing.  Right now I simply can’t afford to do that on any kind of regular basis, let alone frequently. I’m lucky if I get my hair done twice a year at this point, nevermind my nails or a massage.

Another thing that I truly enjoy is to sing, particularly with my family and friends at a karaoke bar.  That is also a rare occasion these days, once a year lately, twice if I’m incredibly lucky.  The last time I got to go and do that was at the end of March this year (2014). It’s a night of complete release and fun with close friends and family, of being able to sing my heart out in public (something I rarely do), and just have an absolute blast doing. It’s the only thing in my life I can honestly say is complete and utter FUN.  I have a lot of fun playing Wii games or going putt putt golfing or going to movies, but nothing compares to the amount of fun I have on karaoke nights.  Maybe I should make that a higher priority in my life.

There’s also the time I get to spend with my really-extended family, my cousins and aunt out in New York. I haven’t seen them in two years, and I miss them a lot. Next summer for sure, we’ll be going out there, because I just can’t see going another year without catching up!

So those are my values, and how I see success ten years down the road. It quite frankly seems utterly impossible to achieve a corner office in that time, along with two kids and amazing relationships with them. I really think it all sounds a bit selfish and silly to dream so big. But isn’t that the whole point of this exercise? To dream?  I want my corner office.  I want to be the leader of an incredibly successful team.  I want to mentor others, and I want my family, my husband and 2.5 kids, to know I love them with everything I do. I want my extended family, my parents, inlaws, cousins, aunts, etc. all to know how much I enjoy being with them. And I want to enjoy little things like spa treatments and karaoke nights.  It seems like a huge hill to climb. Here’s step one.