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Sunday, April 5, 2009

MY EMPLOYER: A Message of Hope for Tough Times

It's during tough economic times like these that I find I really have to remember who my 'employer' really is. I am an aspiring author, but I am also a painter. I've made a living off of my art work for years. Believe me, it is not a career path for the faint of heart. I spent many years never knowing when or where my next paycheck would come from. As means of supplementing my income from sales of fine art, I took to painting murals, as well.

I remember one day I was looking at my check book and the stack of bills sitting on the counter. All in all I needed $1500 to cover that month's expenses, but I only had $40 in my checking account and I had not sold a painting in over three weeks. Now, I had been living off of my art for a little under a year, at that point, and the pressure of not having a 'steady' income was starting to wear on me. I was newly divorced with a three-year-old child, and had frequent nightmares about ending up 'homeless.'

Still, I loved what I did for a living, and for a new, unknown artist, my work WAS selling. I was given heaps of encouragement from everyone around me that I was 'doing the right thing.' But of course, praise doesn't pay the mortgage.

Looking at that stack of bills, I just sat down on the floor and had a huge boo-hoo. "Why, why, why does this have to be so hard?" I asked my God. "Am I not doing enough? Am I completely off base here? Should I pack it in and get a 'desk' job somewhere? I just want to do your work well."

The phone rang. It was a friend who was dealing with some very serious issues-- they far surpassed anything I was dealing with at that moment. I left the house and went to spend some time with her... to listen, to give a shoulder.

After I left my friend's house, I felt so much better. My 'money' problem did not seem such a big deal. I got a call on my cell phone as I drove back home. It was a woman who wanted a mural painted in her living room. She asked if I could come that evening to show her my portfolio. Of course, I went!

When I arrived at her house she showed me the living room and explained the project she wanted done. Impressed by my portfolio, she then took me to her bedroom, the kitchen, the down stairs powder room, and her eldest son's room. She had a mural project for each room. All in all, the work would total about $3000. She paid me half down to get started: $1500.

I will NEVER EVER forget that moment. I walked out of that woman's house, got into my car with the $1500 check and bawled all the way home--in complete awe. It was exactly the amount I needed.

My God had answered, "Just stick close to me, kid--and do your work well." My getting 'paid' had little to do with my artwork-- and everything do with helping the 'friend-in-need.' Listening to her problems instead of focusing on my own had pulled me off my pity-pot, and cleared my perception. It had opened my heart to love rather than plunging it into fear. When I'm in fear, I close myself off to possiblities--to miracles.

Ever since, I have never doubted who MY EMPLOYER is. It's not the gallery manager, literary agent, publishing editor, or the Dean of Arts and Sciences. In reality, they have as much power over outcomes as I do--which is precious little. I just take life one day at a time. I do simple footwork--painting, writing, connecting with others--and I let the Boss take care of everything else.

True Story.