Beth Meadows

self-improvement

Streamlining

Beth MeadowsComment

Last year, I began to let go. I managed a small gallery at Magpies Bakery, I was participating in First Friday shows in Knoxville at least every other month, and I was the Director 17th Street Studios.

I let go of all of these things.

It's August, eight months since, and I've been thinking about all of the other things I'd like to stop.

  • Twitter
  • Etsy
  • Showing in Knoxville every month
  • Pinterest
  • Possibly- multiple Instagram accounts
  • Snapchat

Oh yeah, I let go of Facebook last year, too.

I don't miss any of the things of which I've let go. However, there are little voices telling me I need to manage content on all social media platforms, especially if I want to represent myself as an artist. But I don't love social media. And I don't even use most of the outlets I listed above, except for Instagram.

I've thought about getting off of Instagram many times. When things get really dark, which happens on a consistent basis. But I inevitably feel better and my interest in Instagram is renewed. I'm grateful for how it gives me the ability to share.

I want to let go of all the superfluous stuff so that I can focus on a few things and do them well. So this project of streamlining continues.

There's so much clutter in our world digitally.  There's so much clutter physically. I am constantly getting rid of things. 

By the end of 2018, I'd like to be done with this process. I'm trying to get to the point where I can tackle organizing my computer files and photos, and to finally create inventory lists of all my artwork. There's a website called ArtworkArchive I want to check out. 

I'm sorting through my childhood boxes, brought up from my parent's home. This is hard. This little box of erasers that I've spent my whole life looking at, that meant something to me when I was little- how do I let go of that? (I have a way- in case you're curious.)

If I'm overwhelmed, I am paralyzed. I multitask a lot, but there's too much piling up right now. Not only the digital and the physical, but ideas, and things I want to do. Goals. 

So I've created spreadsheets to organize my ideas. There are three: One for my personal life, one for art, and one for my Home Organizing business. I have tabs where I put everything I can wait for, so that I know I've written it down, but I don't have to think about it right now. 

There's a lot of organizing that I'm doing, to cope with the influx of stuff. I get motivated often these days, to sort through the clutter. I get rid of as much as I can. I try to let go of ideas, too. Life it too short for this constant organizing of stuff that's just in the way.

There is all the piles of emotional stuff I'm working through, too. The lifetime of journals, the notes on scraps of paper, the books, the podcasts, the things I want to process, the phone calls I need to make.

With art, I'm not certain what I'm supposed to focus on. I think that a lot of times, I make certain artwork that is a distraction from the work I'm really supposed to make. I make work that feels easy to me and worry that it's keeping me form making the work that could be damaging if it was not accepted. The work that has been sitting in my brain, waiting for me to sit down and make it. 

I have to get rid of all the piles- the physical, the digital, the emotional- so I can get to the ideas. So I can make the most of my time. I am 34, and I hope to paint for the next 50 years at least. And there are at least ten bodies of work I'd like to start making right now. What if I only have 20 years. What if I only have 5, or 1. 

It's vital to me to find space, order, focus, and discipline, so that I can make the work I was made to make, for however long I'm granted life on this wonderful and cluttery earth.

Fearing Good

Beth MeadowsComment

I'm trying to get to the good stuff, but why's it being so elusive?

I guess we are always in varying degrees of transition often, but last year felt especially like that. So 2018 is about putting my feet on solid ground. And putting my money where my mouth is. 

I am working to let go of a few things and tie up loose ends because I feel like I can't move forward until those things are off my plate. I do see progress, it's just really damn slow.

One current thing that is sticking for longer than I planned is leaving my position as Director of 17th Street Studios. The plan was to be done at the end of 2017, but there are still things to do, so the new deadline is the end of this month. 

There is actually a LOT to do, so while I am ready to start some new projects, I can't get to them, and it's been frustrating. 

My work schedule is about to get a whole lot more structured beginning this next week, and I am really looking forward to that. Did you know I have four-ish jobs? And I am leaving one today to start a new one this week. I'd like to write about that, too: Leaving places and people on a good note as opposed to hanging on out of... fill in the blank all the reasons anyone sticks with anything too long. I have a lot of experience in the latter.

So I'm trying to be patient right now, and still, slowly like a snail, chip away at some projects that I'm hoping to dive into as soon as possible. 

I worry that my life will always be like this, though. Having too much going on to get to the good stuff. There are so many things out of our control, we could never know what we have to take on from day to day. I don't know how people do it with kids and their unpredictability. How?

Maybe part of it is accepting that this is all a part of life, and to make sure we are taking care of ourselves as much as possible (eat well, sleep well) so that in all the tiny moments I have, I can chip away at the ideas that are nagging at me.

This requires so much discipline, planning, and forethought. I like the idea of this, but I also like spontaneity. And I'm the person that sticks around at the party til everyone is leaving- no matter how much I told myself I'd only stay for an hour or two. I think living this way is also important, because people are the most important. It's such a struggle to find that balance of a solitary creative life and one that is enriched by engagement with others, not just superficial encounters. 

I do feel like this is more so how it will go for a bit... until I have three jobs or less maybe. What would my life be like if I could spend the better part of the day making art? I'm not sure I'd know what to do with myself. The thought it terrifying... which is maybe the cause of all this slow moving of letting go. 

Fear. There you are, you ole Grizzly Bear.  

Relationship Status with Facebook: On Very Thin Ice

Beth MeadowsComment

So how are we feeling about Facebook these days? I'd like to know.

Not too long ago, I was scrolling through Instagram and stopped on a friend's photo of mostly blue sky and the top of a tree. The caption proclaimed that after checking Facebook everyday for over a decade, she had decided to Deactivate. She was free!

I'm pretty jealous of her. 

I check Facebook less and less these days, but I still check it multiple times a day. I know it's an obsessive compulsion, so about six months ago, I took the app off my phone. It's helped, I guess, but now I just view it in my web browser, which now keeps me logged in. I don't know the exact numbers, but I probably have gone from checking it 100 times a day to 10 times a day. Big difference, still sad for how unfulfilling it is. 

So why don't I break up with Facebook? 

Ultimately, I've stuck with it for two main reasons: to keep in touch with old friends, some I may never see again, and because I have a Business Page. 

The distant friends are from my hometown or ones I met while traveling, mostly from studying abroad ten years ago. It's sort of fun to lazily re-connect every now and then with them. A "Memory" pops up. A foreign friend shares it, and everyone "Likes" it and we say, "Let's have a reunion!" (Like! Like! Like!) but that never happens. 

(Sidebar- I just opened Facebook and quickly closed it. A post for another day, but why do I do this while I'm doing things I want to be doing? Out with friends, in my studio, while I'm writing. No matter what good Facebook offers, this should be enough to make me quit.)

I also have a wildly unsuccessful Facebook Business Page. I decided to keep it so that when that one person every eight months searches for me on there, they will find me. And maybe the 50th person who does that will buy a lot of my artwork. You can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket, fool!

But I'm really half-assing playing this game. Most of the time, I'm not really assing it at all, so ultimately, it just makes me feel bad, especially when I post something and get three likes. From two of my friends and my sister. (Y'all are so sweet, by the way. Love you!)

Over the past few years, I've placed myself under the tutelage of a couple of nerdy older men who have helped me tremendously. David Allen of Getting Things Done (changed my life) and now Michael Hyatt of the podcast This is Your Life (are you who you waaannnaaaa beeeeee!!!??? hahahha). I love them both dearly for what they have taught me. 

So Michael recently told me (I'm going to pretend we are BFF's) that he decided to limit his personal friends on Facebook and grow his Business Page. 

At first I thought, "Now this is a great idea, and I'm down. I want 250 personal friends (which means de-friending over 750) and I want to focus on growing my Business Page."

Just looked. He has 13,533 Followers. I have 382. I'm SO close! (lies down. sleeps for days.)

So I started the great De-Friending of 2016. But then I began to worry about who I might offend by doing this. A larger part of me doesn't care (because it's for the greater good), but the ever-conflicted part of me tells me I should. How can I de-friend a bunch of people and expect them to still support me as an Artist?

But here's the kicker, and I've thought about this for many, many years. When you have a business, your audience should be so much bigger and broader than your close community. Of course, the support from friends and family is so precious and appreciated, but it can also be misleading. I admit that at times, I've ignorantly based my confidence as an Artist on how supportive these people have been to me, but I can't survive as a business off of sweet and loving pats on the back. I need to exceed these bounds. I need to reach the millions of people I don't know (... that have money).

Artists put so much into what they make. The thought process, the research, the gathering of tools and materials, the hours of labor, the hours of installing. A lot of it is methodical process, but it also can be deeply emotional as well.

Then they must choose the five most effective ways (out of 500) to promote this thing that has taken them so long to develop. It's too hard and we're tired! (lies down. cries. goes to sleep.)

Back to Facebook...

Recently I heard two entrepreneurs say how ineffective Facebook has been for their businesses. I wonder how many other businesses feel this way.

I'll tell you who Facebook is good for. It is a wonderful place to be if you're a mom with kids, or you're pregnant, or you just got engaged, or you just had a baby. This is what the people want and these few are making bank with the Likes. 

But if we've learned anything, it is that a unique Like is the shallowest form of human connection and not all that satisfying at the end of the day. There doesn't have to be any Real Life Interaction, a thing we all are desperate for, to back it up. And for businesses, Likes don't necessarily mean monetary investment from the Likers, and I don't know if y'all know this, but money is pretty integral to running a business. I'll go so far to say, it won't work without it.

I don't have a clear conclusion about all of this yet, just a feeling of dissatisfaction. Facebook and I are growing apart, and I know it's not going to pull the trigger. It's behaving like a passive boyfriend who wants to break up with me but wants me to do it. Why are you such a jerk, Facebook?

I'd love to know how you're feeling about FB these day.

Maybe we can take the leap off and away from it together. We can hold real life hands while we do it. 

What could this breakup mean for us? I'm not sure, but I think it might look like tops of trees and limitless blue skies.

 

This album couldn't have come at a better time

Beth MeadowsComment

I got to learn things, learn them the hard way
To see what it feels like, no matter what they say

Sometimes it's hard to do the right thing
When the pressure's coming down like lightning
It's like they want me to be perfect
When they don't even know that I'm hurting

This life's not easy, I'm not made out of steel
Don't forget that I'm human, don't forget that I'm real
You act like you know me, but you never will
But that's one thing that I know for sure

I'll show you
I'll show you
I'll show you
I'll show you

- J.B.