I've been wanting to talk about how inspiring my recent vacation was, but I've hesitated out of fear of coming off as super elitist or showy because I know not everyone is able to go on vacations. We recently went on a really incredible trip to Barcelona, London, and Paris, but it's one that took a lot of struggle and was more or less 8 years in the making. Ultimately, I think the inspiration that can be gained from travel doesn't require flying to another continent and, also, this my space to talk about my own creative life. So...I'm talking about my trip and creative inspiration I gained from it. Here goes..
Stepping Away to Evaluate
It's not really a revelation that taking a vacation can help get you inspired and recharged. Breaking away from your everyday life and out of your physical routine can really shake up your mental routine. For me, I've been in a weird place with where to go next. Do I want to go back to selling more on Etsy? Do I want to jump headfirst back into craft shows? Do I want to start a completely new business? How soon do I want to have a brick and mortar again? All of these questions have been rattling around in my brain for weeks! While on trips, I take a lot of time to read, listen to PodCasts, and reflect. Things I don't really do in my day to day life and things that can be done regardless of what your destination is. I listened to some really great episodes of Dear Handmade Life while on vacation including episode 34: Awesome Visual Design and episode 35: Perfection & Passion Projects. I can't remember which episode it was, but one of them talked about the concept of Past Lives. Essentially, the things you did in previous passions or hobbies still have value and impact your creativity today even if those passions are over. It was so critical for me to hear that at this point in my journey. Having previously owned other businesses and having moved a bunch, you can't help but feel like maybe you stepped away too soon or that those years were a "waste." Those thoughts can really eat away at me or negatively impact the things I choose to do going forward if I let it. I feel like all of these thoughts culminated during the course of my trip and gave me a better path with which to push forward. Surprisingly, what I ended up with was the decision to do less. I want to keep doing what's fun, enjoy the process of The Morose Bee, increase sales if I can but don't try and force it into a "quit my day job" situation, and just dig back into loving to MAKE. I feel like the shift in my goals is visible on my annual birthday post as far as the things I've decided to prioritize.
I hear a lot of chatter about the downsides of social media and, in general, I try not to be on my phone ALL the time. The truth is, I like social media. It keeps me in touch with my friends in other cities or countries, it's how Lizette and I are able to host such large swaps, and it's how I'm able to manage getting the resources I need for a lot of the crafts I've made. I no longer fall into the trap of needing to mimic other people or things I see on social media. My feed being full of happy people doing cool stuff doesn't make me jealous. It makes me feel excited for them and want to do better in my own life and in my own way. I know that not everyone is wired that way, but I like it. That doesn't mean that I don't get totally overwhelmed! I think the hardest part as a maker is wanting to come up with original work or even just original online content. What's left to make or do? Thirty seconds on Pinterest can send you down a rabbit hole of blog posts and ideas already done by other people. While on this trip, we had terrible cell service and I could only browse on my phone so often. Usually, whenever I want to make something new my first step is a Pinterest board of ideas and inspiration. During my down time on vacation, I doodled quite a few quilt ideas ALL WITHOUT CONSULTING THE INTERNET FIRST. Instead of worrying what's already been done or what tips I can use from other's to make my ideas better or how to avoid things that other people have done, I just came up with ideas. I didn't worry about it and I just sketched and jotted down notes and enjoyed myself. I had this realization that I don't really care if someone else has done something similar or had the same idea as me. I want to make things that feel authentic to my own process and if other awesome makers are making similarly awesome things than that's awesome too. I understand that there's a whole other legal side to this, but I'm not trying to find a niche market to fill. I'm just making things to have fun. When I first start The Morose Bee, my original idea was sculpting mustache necklaces. I didn't look to see if it was a "thing" yet. I just made them and posted it and they sold well. Turns out, at the time, there weren't many (if any) mustache necklaces on Etsy and it wasn't until a few years later than the mustache craze became huge. That was almost 10 years ago and I think I need to lean into those gut feelings a little more often.
So here's the thing, often times when I am feeling on fire, I leap head first into whatever my new amazing idea happens to be. Sometimes I make huge decisions impulsively because I like to be an ALL IN kind of person. I have a tendency to wayyyyy over analyze everything and not always in a way that is productive or constructive. Once a decision is made I am usually ready to go! At one point on my trip, I was having so many ideas I straight up wanted to dissolve my Etsy shops and start and entirely different kind of business. I had this idea in my head for about 3-5 days and I was going to do it when I got home. I'm so glad I didn't do it! The 180 degree spin of my thought process during this trip took me down a lot of different paths, but being away from the internet didn't allow me the ability to act on any of them. I just had to keep reflecting and enjoying the trip. The end result was a completely different plan by the time I got on the plane to come home and I'm so glad I didn't cut The Morose Bee out of my life!
Realizing What You're Excited To Come Home To
Ultimately, it all came down to that plane ride home and all the things I couldn't wait to get home and do. I read the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and was ready to start decluttering our apartment, I sketched 5 quilt ideas and I am really exciting about 2 of them, I evaluated all my goals and ideas, and came home ready to make! I think if I were to come home and think "Well crap. I have to finish this damn quilt" then I'd have a serious problem. My only issue now is I'm too excited! So I came home and started on 4 different projects at the same time. I realize this post is starting to sound like I spent a 2 week trip thinking about all of this. There were shows, museums, friends to visit, good food, and lots and lots and lots and lots of walking. But those are the times where ideas strike me. As a maker and someone who is entrepreneurially oriented, these thoughts are always just below the surface. For example, I suddenly had the most amazing idea for a quilt while in the middle of a tour of La Sagrada Familia! I just won't be able to make it until after Christmas gift making is over. I feel like much of these same ideas could've come from getting a hotel on the beach 2 towns over. The point is stepping away from your life for a short time when at a crossroads. When you come back, the decision that needs to be made will still be there and in clearer focus.