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Reaching for the moon & stars

April 10, 2011

Graphic designer writer photographer jewelry designer farmer mom of four….no wonder I’m non compos mentis…

Several years ago, I was warned that trying to do a number of things under the umbrella of one career would result in being a jack of all trades and a master of none. I was deflated in the moment, but that quickly passed and was replaced by a stubborn resolve. That warning became my challenge, and I plowed into the future.

I would do it all and I would do it all well.

Overall, I’m delighted with my chosen path. I am a freelance graphic designer with a regular publication that I love creating every quarter. I get to work from home or a coffee shop or a park or where ever I choose to pull out my laptop. Building a home-based career was a major goal, and I’ve achieved it. In addition, I continue to gain photography clients and have enjoyed success with my work. One of my photos was featured on a billboard in Ireland, I’ve had several published in books and a calendar, have had two books covers, and even seen my work in national publications like Mothering and Outside.

I am a happy, mostly fulfilled photographer.

I’ve always been a writer, and am now writing regularly for a local lifestyle magazine and am also actively working on a book (with at least 3 others in the idea hopper). In the past I’ve been a copywriter and an editor, both of which I enjoy, though not as much as writing my own stuff!

Then there’s jewelry. I adore working with PMC and have sold some of my jewelry through Etsy. I have lofty plans and goals for my jewelry business. I love nothing more than playing with the clay and designing new necklaces and earrings!

Last, but absolutely not least, I’ve always wanted to be a farm girl. Right now, this year’s crop of seedlings are getting tall and growing a second set of leaves. My lovely husband finished building the raised beds yesterday and soon we’ll level off the ground, set them in place, and fill them with soil. The chicken coop will be next, as The Girls are getting bigger every second! Someday, I’d like to have angora rabbits, and become some sort of fiber artist (need to learn how to knit). Then there’s my lifelong dream of a horse. How I miss riding.

But lately, I kind of miss my sanity too. I’ve been struggling with some sort of identity crisis, as I try to fashion a more organized professional life, brand my businesses, and try to remember all the important pieces of what I’m doing and what I need to do.

It’s hard setting and reaching goals for so many disparate things.

I don’t have all the answers, just yet, but I know that I need to figure this stuff out. Part of me envies people out there who call themselves one thing. So and so graphic designer, or so and so wedding photographer or so and so jewelry designer…yadda yadda. And I’ve tried, believe me. I sometimes run ads in local publications labeling myself as a “creative family photographer,” which I am….but families aren’t the only people I like to shoot. 😉 I’m doing a wedding this summer, but don’t consider myself a wedding photographer…and I’ve spent tons of time shooting food, but don’t consider myself a food photographer.

This is not a new dilemma for me. 21 years ago I was a freshman at Prescott College where the very first thing new students do is go out on a two+week orientation hiking trip. We carried full packs and lived as lightly as possible on the trail. Over the course of our trip we hiked more than 60 miles, and along the way we each participated in a three-day solo. I was completely alone in the wilderness for three days with no food and plenty of time to muse in my journal about…well, mostly food, but also me. Who I am. I made a list of everything I was. All the labels and ideas which, considering I was only 18 at the time, didn’t amount to much and was not nearly as complex as it is now. But still, I felt fragmented. In desperate need of definition. I rambled about it in the journal I turned in to my trip leader at the end of our journey. When I got it back, I noticed that she had taken particular interest in that entry. In response, she wrote “you are all those things, and many more besides.”

What I learned from that was that it was okay to be many things. Have many attributes under the one umbrella of me.

But it never ceases to be a challenge. And so, in the interest of being more effective and a little less non compos mentis, I’ve decided that it’s time to get myself organized. Time to figure all these pieces out. I’ve already toyed with and rejected the idea of giving something up. I love everything I do, and each thing informs my life and fulfills me in some way.

So I decided to try something. I have a little notebook I keep in my purse, and starting this past Friday I began a new organizational system I call The Power of Three. Each evening, I plot out the next day on a new page of the notebook. I date the page and then list three “must-dos.” These are the top three important things I have to accomplish in any given area, complete with pertinent details. Below that numbered list, I write a short list of errands that need to be run or other reminders. Breaking things up like this has already proven incredibly helpful, as I am very easily overwhelmed by the big picture. I want to accomplish everything now, and often end up floundering so badly I get absolutely nothing done because I don’t know where to start!

Hopefully, this system will help me not only reach for the moon and stars with everything I do, but actually reach them as well.

Creative readers: how do you stay organized? Share your thoughts, ideas, and techniques!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Michelle Odom permalink
    April 10, 2011 12:24 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Ana! You and I have a lot in common, and your article just inspired me to not give up on the idea of letting all my seemingly different yet exciting passions continue to become my reality! In fact, I was just remembering a teacher of mine yesterday who fed me the same “master of nothing” line after I told her what all I have been doing (after running in to her several years post school). I was so upset about her impersonal summary of my life at the time that I, too, became determined to prove to her ~and myself~ that I could be a master of everything I tried.

    But as I have told many a mother in LLL, we can have everything in life ~ just not all at the same time… a mantra I have to tell myself a lot, especially when I am trying to put all my energy into too many things at once. I like your idea of using the Power of Three concept (something I just learned in my graphic design studies… ;0) to guide your day. It’s funny… through being a student again, I have been kind of forced into doing the same thing without consciously thinking about it, so it is exciting to think of getting more organized with conscious hierarchy in my days.

    It sounds like you have culminated all your passions to a point of great accomplishment and are the master of your own destiny… something many people desire but very few manage to achieve in life. You are an awesome and inspiring woman! Keep living those dreams and know that multiple titles is part of being a creative individual… anything less wouldn’t be as fulfilling! And that horse will manifest itself one day if you really desire it…you will see!

    Love,
    Michelle Odom

    • ana june permalink
      April 11, 2011 3:51 pm

      Hi Michelle! I love your point about having everything, just not all at the same time. Ah, priorities! Yes, so true. I struggle with wanting to do it all RIGHT. NOW. 🙂
      I hope and trust you’re right about a horse manifesting. We’re so much closer now that we live on a piece of land that is zoned for horses! Just need to rebuild the barn and start budgeting.
      Thanks for stopping by! xo

  2. hallie permalink
    April 10, 2011 5:00 pm

    I use iCal and set alarms to remind me about all the non-routine things I’m supposed to do on any given week, so that I get nagged by emails and boxed popping up on my computer. LOL Not very creative-friendly. I at least have to remember to write everything down in my iCal – if it’s not there, it doesn’t get done.

    • ana june permalink
      April 11, 2011 3:52 pm

      Yeah, I use my Droid calendar, which connects to my computer….but have gotten so very good at IGNORING my reminders. Then wondering why I can’t remember anything. 🙂

  3. April 10, 2011 9:31 pm

    I love the power of three idea. I also believe we can do everything, but not perhaps at the same time. I’ve done the career, just finished 10 years of intense pregnancy-early baby time and now am looking forward…which project to begin first. Hmmmmmm.

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