The Starving Artist: Chapter 52: Learning To Say No

As an artist I have found myself being asked to provide my craft for free. To perform for exposure. Without thought to effort, time or cost. And in the past I have taken all those gigs; anything just to share my talent with an audience. Gaga says it best: ‘I live for the applause.’ Now, as an artist I know it’s difficult to quantify what my craft is worth. But I know for dang sure it’s not free. And I cannot live on the applause.

So, lately I’ve found myself expanding my vocabulary. And I’ve found comfort in one tiny word: NO. So small but so mighty. Oh yeah. It feels good. Like taking back the power position in my art. And making a choice to make art instead of flinging as much as possible at the wall; hoping for something to stick. If I choose what I do, when, for what and why, I can hold myself to a higher standard. I become a creator with passion instead of pressure. Cuz if all I’m doing creatively is taking on more so I can take on more, then all those important and paying gigs are devalued. And if I devalue my art, how could I expect anyone else to see it’s worth?

Since I’ve started using no, I’ve noticed the yeses increasing. Now, I know that the universe is about balance. So, turning something off, turns something else on. When you start rewarding yourself the universe congratulates you and gives you a, wait for it, reward. By saying no, you can decide who you want to be as an artist- and better focus on that. You can start creating better art for a better world. But seriously now, don’t get me wrong, I love freebies. I can’t say no to a promo gift bag;)

The Starving Artist: Chapter 52: Learning To Say No

13 Things That Help Me Feel Great

Sometimes life can be not so great. That sinking feeling when you just wish things would be as easy as they were when you were teeny weeny. So, for those times, I wanted to help you out. Hopefully these things make you feel as great as you can be.

1. That special song. The way I can’t stop smiling when those special songs come on shuffle. Those toe tapping, memory sparking melodies that have a way of reminding me to be soothed; that the sun will always come out tomorrow. That my Love’s on top. That I’ve got the music in me.

2. The new shoes that put a bounce into your step. Even if they’re second hand, they’re still new to me and make me feel like dancing.

3. Water. Clean fresh water, the most delicious beverage after dancing your socks off and singing you heart out. It’s important to stay hydrated. It encourages clean living; flushing out the toxins and renewing cells. Great for outsides and insides alike!

4. Snuggling with my pets. The feeling of an animal relaxing on you. It’s a pressure unlike any other, I think it’s the weight of their trust. It works for most animals, except of course fish, don’t let a fish relax on top of you. Eww slimey.

5. Coincidences. Like running into a long lost friend on the street. It’s like the universe reminding you how lucky you are, and if you’re gonna miss the opportunity to do it yourself, it’s still gonna happen. Also, hey buddy! Feels great to hear you’re great too.

6. Restaurants with board games. I love games. I am competitive and nothing makes me hungrier than a rousing game of Sorry, Battleship or even Solitaire.

7. Free! It’s great. I like giving and getting gifts, but I love getting anything free- samples of gum? Awesome. Shampoo? Even better. If it’s free, you can pass it this way.

8. Doubling down! By this I mean getting something for spending what I was going to spend anyway. Like Airmiles or HBC points, even multi-purchase cards where my 11th insert product is free. I like a reward system. I like them very much.

9. Sunny days spent outside with the wind whipping through my hair as I glide on my bike. The warmth of the golden light and the soft breeze keeping me cool. The way my shadow looks like she’s dancing with me, not trudging away from me.

10. When people laugh at my joke. That’s great, especially if I didn’t plan it.

11. Anything that glimmers and glints. It’s so fabulously great. Glitter can make a million statements, but the loudest is: Ain’t it Great?!? And yes. Yes, it is.

12. Videos of animals doing funny things. I love it when they do unexpected things. Cats barking like dogs. Birds imitating camera lenses. Dogs wearing glasses. It’s super, and I feel great just thinking about those furry and feathered friends.

13. This blog is great for me. It exercises all my demons. Getting them out and helping me breathe easier. I feel great.

Greatness comes in many forms. I know how hard it can be to feel great all the time, but if you look close enough at all those bits and pieces that make up your daily life, you’ll find great relief in the fact that it can all be great. And if you’re still having trouble finding it, just make a list…or read this one again.

13 Things That Help Me Feel Great

The Cost of Free

Free: Is there a more misleading word in the English language? Free no longer means without cost. It has come to be attached to gift with purchase or buy one, get one. Hey! Sign up for your free copy of a newspaper you could read online; then receive endless newspaper, credit card and not so special offers for the rest of your life. There is something not-so-free about free. But that doesn’t diminish our addiction to it and its implied value.

We live in a free society. With freedom to choose freely. Though the cost of trying, buying or using free is higher than we estimate. Receiving a free coupon for our favourite items: that’s rare. But would be great. Using free services; but there is nothing you can do about the quality. Complain all you want. And I can’t remember the last time I really enjoyed a free sample; be it gum or shampoo. Rushing out to clear the shelves. Obsessing over the next time I would be lucky enough to find it available. Most often it’s the exact opposite. In recent memory, I’ve received free passes to classes where the disinterested teacher disregarded my questions and taunted my interest. Well, now I can understand why they had to give these passes away. If I had paid to be treated like that I would’ve been PO’d. Oh and let’s not forget about online; it’s a haven for all things free trial, free one time use and free membership. But truly what is the cost? My personal information passed around to the highest bidder. The only list I agreed to be on was the do not call list.

Over the past 30 years I have received totes, water bottles, pens, note pads, buttons and t-shirts. These gifts are never actually for me. They are advertising my tastes in products and my affection for special events. These items come from a catalogue with a title like: your name here or branding for dummies. And even though I know each of these gadgets and do-dads are going to break, spill or split at the most in-opportune time, I still wear, use and damn them for it. I’ve been given free concert and event passes. Though that was typically because I knew an organizer and asked for them, so I might consider those gifts more than free giveaways. My Papa Bru is a fan of saying nothing is free. I agree though I might even go as far as saying that nothing worth having, keeping and loving is free, except love, and even that costs something.

The Cost of Free