For as long as I can remember, I have loved to read. When I was a kid and would spend weekends at my grandmothers, my cousins would give me a hard time for having my nose stuck in a book.
“You’re such a bookworm,” they would razz.
It’s true. I can’t stay awake long enough to read an ACTUAL book these days, though. Instead I listen to audio books I borrow from the library. I have listened to hundreds of them. Audio books are an even better choice for me since they feed my need to multi-task. I can listen and drive, listen and fold laundry, listen and paint…It is so satisfying to do something you love while you do something you hate–listen and clean, for example.
I also really like quotes. Inspirational quotes or funny quotes, sports quotes…it doesn’t matter. There is always a quote out there that communicates whatever message I want to send. I used quotes to send messages of inspiration when I worked with students in my old job. I had a student who was in jail at one point and that was our thing; I sent him a special quote, one I thought he would identify with and encourage him to hang in there.
Also at my old job, I would get a quote a day from this website called Values.com. If I got a quote I particularly liked, I sent it out to the rest of the colleagues in our department. You know, I thought it was a nice thing to share. One day my supervisor was like, “So what’s up with the quotes anyway? Who do you think we are, Hallmark?”
I stopped forwarding them after that. Clearly, he didn’t appreciate my inspiration. Ha!
When my goal of being a teacher crashed and burned–that was during my senior year of college (a story for a later blog) I got to experience a fifth year of college. I’m sure many of you can relate to the 5 year plan, right?
For me, a 5th year of school was one of the best things that ever happened. I played another year of basketball, I met my husband, and I enrolled in a bunch of writing classes.
I wasn’t interested in writing, but my life had just blown up. The only career choice I had ever known was off the table. And I was an English major! The only classes left in my major were writing or communications classes. So writing it was.
I also spent extra time in class with my basketball teammate and now world-famous, Andrea Gibson. If you don’t know who she is, you should google her. She was awesome in college and I am glad the world knows her now, too. Granted, we had no idea she was such a talented writer and performer, but we were not surprised to learn of it. She is pretty awesome.
The discovery that I actually enjoyed writing wasn’t a HUGE surprise either. College was the gift that kept on giving. I was finding out more and more about myself and I just added writing to the list.
So far, I discovered that on the court I could, in fact, play defense in addition to shooting a helluva 3-point shot. I sucked at teaching. Not really, but you know, long story. I was really an extrovert (who knew?!). Boys kinda dug me, in fact there was even this one boy who really, REALLY dug me (except he was shorter than me), I was going to have student loans for the rest of my life, and I STILL had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.
But hey, at least I could write. *sigh*
Well, flash forward 20 years later and here I am, married to that short boy with 2 kids, both of whom, at 12 and 18 are taller than he, a topic which is also a fun discussion in our home.
That short boy (he will love reading about himself being called this) also led me to something else I love: My Etsy Shop.
My Etsy shop is something I have grown to love more than I could ever begin to write about. Maybe that’s because Andrea and I skipped the class that focused on emotional descriptors. Or, more likely it’s because the description has become way more than words can describe. Andrea and I only skipped one class and we got in trouble for it. The nuns at my college did not appreciate skippers. Especially skippers who were on the basketball team. Welp.
I have told this story before, but pre-Etsy life, Corey (that’s my husband’s actual NAME), was working at the one casino we have in our community. He worked there for a number of years. He had been promoted several times, was making decent money, and earned himself decent bonus checks each year.
The money was nice, but the bonus checks, ROCKED. We used those for our extras. Paid off a car, went on vacation, remodeled our house… But Corey hated the job. It was really stressful. He worked long days. He was on-call when he wasn’t working. He worked weekends and holidays–holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. He put on a lot of weight because he would stress eat. He wasn’t healthy. He wasn’t happy.
I encouraged him to look for another job, but he was reluctant because the pay and the benefits were so good. He was the provider, after all.
Finally push came to shove and Corey had a choice. The casino was downsizing. He could take another position or he could be laid off.
He chose to be done. It was the best choice. But that left us a little out of control. And that’s not good for me. I like to fix, remember? I’m a fixer. I am the Olivia Pope of the Smith family.
Side note: Except I am not this season’s Olivia Pope. I am not Command. I wear and will always wear the white hat.
My fixing brought me to Etsy. I had done a little research. Quotes and words on signs was just becoming big; there wasn’t much of it being done by hand. I had done a little painting here and there. I had nice hand writing. I figured, what the hell?
And I launched WorDSMITHstudios.
The first paintings I did were horrible. I look back at them now and I can’t even believe it. I think Corey was thinking I was a little crazy, too. Crazy like, whothehellisgoingtobuythatshit, crazy. Even still, I sold my first painting the very first day I went live. And I have been painting ever since.
The biggest surprise, and I continue to be surprised, is that I expected Etsy sales to be a transaction on a website, a sale between 2 people who never meet, talk, or interact. However, it has been so much more than that.
Etsy is about relationships. It has been about sharing stories about loved ones or about love lost. It has been about connecting over children and the challenges we have in raising them, about being moms and feeling guilty when we work, or when we don’t.
Etsy has been about supporting each other in our craft, looking out for each other and the work we do to create a community of talent and sharing it with others across the world.
I am not going to get rich off my art. That’s ok. But I will be rich in my soul from the tremendous amount of fulfillment the love of this craft brings me.
It’s the same kind of fulfillment writing this blog brings me. I won’t be a famous writer. Thousands of people won’t read my thoughts. I certainly won’t be going on tour with Andrea any time soon, sharing her stage with my spoken word. But I do hope there are a few who find inspiration in my authenticity, connection in my vulnerability, and value in my narrative, for this is how we, as humans, understand each other.
This is how we, as humans, recognize that we are not alone.
This is how we create relationships and relationships are where we find meaning in our lives. It’s where we find love, happiness,and hope.
Because life is about relationships.