Sunday, April 23, 2017

All Things New: an update from North Carolina

My new, sweet little Carolina cabin!
Well, a lot has changed since my last post about life in North Carolina. Just a month ago it felt like not a lot was going as planned or expected (not that it ever does...), but more than that, I was just experiencing a season of feeling a little 'off:' wondering what God was doing in my life, wondering if I'd find a sense of peace, place, or community, wondering if the right people and relationships would come into my life after choosing to move to a place where I didn't know a soul.

Slowly but surely, I'm learning. 

I spent 2016 traveling a lot: I got to live and work in Colorado, a decision I'll always cherish because it brought me in touch with not only the best parts of my creative and spiritual self, but also in touch with some of the most amazing people I've ever met. Last year was really beautiful in so many ways, a sacred span of time in my life I know I'll always look back on so fondly. 

But I'd also always had it- contentedly and knowing it would happen in time- in the back of my mind that I wanted a space, both a home and a studio, of my own. It's funny how there are some seasons in which freedom looks like a life of leaving home- exploring new places and caravaning the open road- and some in which it looks like staying, like putting roots down somewhere, and building up.

My heart has by no means lost the desire to expand and explore, but I've been craving the happy responsibility of cultivating a place of my own, and with that, my business and development as an artist. There is something about having one's own place that gives life a centeredness and grounding, and I've been desiring that for a while. 
And of course that's where my new home comes in. I moved to North Carolina in February with the idea that I wanted very specific things in the space where I lived. I made a list of wants and desires that I'd been adding to for months prior: a small, quaint, secluded cabin in the woods; near a creek, somewhere I could wake up to birds singing and trees blooming; somewhere close to nature that could inspire me.

On this list, I wrote everything I wanted: from the essentials (a bedroom, lots of windows, a small kitchen) to the dreamy and unlikely (a claw foot tub, a loft space, something charming and quirky that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg). When I arrived here about ten weeks ago, I wandered into a funky little shop and got to talking to the owner- I told her about my cards, my art, and that I moved to Appalachia to expand my business and sell my work in a new place. Eventually I brought her some card samples, and she wound up becoming my first North Carolina client.

In my frequent travels to her shop we found we were kindered spirits, and I told her I was looking for a place to live. I told her what I had in mind, that I knew it would be easier to find a generic, cookie-cutter apartment in the city, but that I was really holding out for something that truly felt like home to me. Within a few days she put me in contact with a woman who has become my now-landlord, and I arranged to come visit the cabin. 

It hadn't been used in awhile, and it was unclean and full of old stored furniture, but I knew at first sight that it was exactly what I was looking for. It felt like home, and I could see myself living and creating there; it was the manifestation of everything I imagined I wanted in my home and studio, and I knew it was meant to be.
My sketchbook, with a personal list of what I've wanted in a home. I had been adding to it for months.
I just didn't know how. I left the property that day with a smile on my face and said a prayer in my car: 'God, I don't know how, but I know this is it. If it's meant to be, please let it be.' I knew then, back in March, that on the salary I was making at the job I moved down here for, I couldn't (wisely) afford it. I wanted to be mindful not to pour all my money into housing. Although a space of my own had been on my mind for some time and I did have money saved, I wanted to keep it that way. After my first visit I was excited, but a little discouraged because I just didn't know how I could make it work. 

Bearing in mind that hours (and therefore paychecks) at my first job were inconsistent, I had earlier that week applied at Anthropologie. If you know me, you know it's the company I've worked my whole adult life for in various roles, starting as a Display Intern in Chicago six years ago. I always find my way back somehow; no job I've ever had (not surprisingly) has ever fulfilled or satisfied my creative side like working at Anthro, and it's also the place that has brought into my life so many of my best friends and women who inspire me in so many ways. 

So I applied looking for not just another job, but also for that sense of community, motivation, positivity, and place that a healthy, happy, creative work environment affords you. I felt good about the fact that Anthro feels familiar, like home. I knew I was needing a place to go to work everyday that was consistent, inspiring, positive, and full of encouraging people and good attitudes. The store in Asheville opened just over a year ago, and I was rehired. It was looking like maybe I was getting some positive footing here, and my little dream cabin, with two jobs and my business, could become a reality. 
Move-in day: lots still a mess, but she's coming along... 
And slowly but surely, things got even unexpectedly better.

When I started at Anthropologie, after college, I was a Display Intern in Chicago. Each Anthropologie has a Display Coordinator, basically a visual artist that brings the Anthro aesthetic to life. They build, paint, and install all the beautiful things you see in any Anthropologie store, that make the brand so unique. My younger, career-oriented, post-grad self had always imagined that being a Display Coordinator would be my dream job. 

But in the years that followed after my internship, it never worked out. For one reason or another, God was always directing me elsewhere. Either I applied for positions in my early twenties and didn't get them, or the timing to apply to smaller-volume stores where it would have been more realistic to begin was never right. In hindsight, I know I would never have thrown so much into my own personal creative endeavors if I got a full-time creative job when I was younger. A Quartzy Life probably would never have been.

But over the years, in every Anthro I worked at, I've always been vocal about loving the creative work of the company in addition to sales and management, and I've frequently helped out doing our displays on days when I'm not on the sales floor. It was no different when I came to Asheville, except for one little factor: I happened to arrive three weeks before their current Display Coordinator was set to go on maternity leave.
 After some discussion and a call back to my old store, Anthropologie in Asheville offered me, at least temporarily, my dream job: acting Display Coordinator- about five years later than I thought I would have liked, but exactly when I needed it most. For the next three months, when I'm not busy decorating my sweet new home and studio, I'll be working there and making art and displays full-time.

I'm learning that it's funny how things work out- and how they don't. God's timing is never our timing, and if there's one lesson I've learned in the past two months, it's that sometimes when it seems things aren't working out, they're falling apart for something else- something better- to come together. I have to say, I'm honestly not used to learning this lesson with as much clarity has I have the past few months, but it's been a great season of learning and deepening faith.

I generally feel that life is smooth and kind and sweet, and though there are bumps in the road there is a general sense of peace and groundedness I am used to feeling despite circumstance. I know I'm very lucky: I do work hard and diligently for what I have, but sometimes fitting all the pieces in place to get to where you really want to be- living a creative life, following a passion and a purpose- takes time, patience, and commitment that can't be rushed.

So, in time, it's all worked (or, is working) out down here in North Carolina. There's no magical formula for creative success, only the real act of commitment to both working and waiting when things seem uachievable or unforeseeable. For now, I'm just learning to enjoy what I have and cherishing it all the more.

So thanks for following along and supporting always. More creative goodness and inspiration to come :).

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