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It is Dec 31, 2021, and I can’t help but think about the year behind me - the challenges and triumphs, the many growth opportunities, the abject failures, and the meh, those in between sticky places holding both a little of this and a little of that. In 2021 I started pushing myself in new creative directions. I took my little art show on the road, and I exposed myself in new ways. But the truth is that this process began years before, or I would never have been able to pull it off.

Sevreal years ago I decided to live my life out loud at a New Years intention setting ceremony. At the time, I thought each year I would have a new intention, but for a chronic hider like me living out loud has been more of an all encompassing task than I first realized. That’s when my daughter told me she was going to collect a jar of “No’s.” The object was to put a marble in a jar for every rejection letter she collected. The goal was to collect 250 marbles over the year. What a strange concept, I thought. Shouldn’t she be collecting acceptance letters? Wouldn’t it be better to be positive and to collect yes’s. “Mom you collect no’s, because each no brings you closer to a yes.”

My concept of what to say no to and what to say yes to was upside down. Then my wise friend Mark pointed out that isn’t yes just a no to something else. Equally isn’t yes a no to whatever is in the way of the yes. Okay I was starting to get it, and one thing I was clear on. I very much needed to say no to my crippling perfectionism.

My daughter went on to apply to everything under the sun and has been successfully building her jar of no’s and her career at the same time. I however held a virtual jar in my mind, I thought about applying to things, I made lists, I looked at artist calls, I researched.

Mentally, I made attempts to put myself out and call it a marble. Then this year my virtual jar became more real. On a bit of an impulse at first, I opened an e-business, Designs by Julieann. As I was researching the ins and outs of retail vs wholesale, a friend of mine asked me why I didn’t apply to some craft fairs. Immediately, I answered with a hard No. Years ago when I had a children’s line I had done flea markets, it was a disaster. I hated it. “Craft fairs,” she responded, “are very different than flea markets, and also it matters what craft fairs.” She gave me a list. I imagined it in my mind for a week, similarly to how I imagined the marbles, with a half hearted resemblance at open mindedness. Then with a tremendous amount of anxiety and intention I tentatively opened my computer. By the time the day was done. I had collected my first very polite no. I thought of my virtual jar of no’s and acknowledged that there was more than one fair on my list. So, I applied to my second and third fair as well. This time I got a big yes.

Oh my gosh what had I done. Chaos and focus collided with purpose. I finished my lines, ordered a new printer, struggled with photoshop and threw things at my computer. Fortunately, I was to busy to be stuck in my head with worry, and then all of a sudden I was show ready.

I couldn’t imagine people wanting to buy my prints. So nervously, I printed t-shirts, socks, mugs, etc.. Which although they were really cute is beside the point. I had done a retail line before, I had put my images on apparel and the likes previously. However, I had never printed my art as art and sold it. That seemed so incredibly naked. And let me tell you how weird it was for me to stand there and charge money. I kept feeling like I should be giving people thank you gifts instead for wanting to own my art. Listening to people describe where they would hang my work was a new experience. I actually left both fairs in tears.

It was so incredibly humbling and encouraging to watch people interact with my work. Viva la courage. But also viva Julia Cameron and her beautiful prayers, viva the person who came up with the marble plan, viva all the people everyday who make attempts to be braver, to live louder and more authentically. Viva the movement of vulnerability and the refusal to accept shame. I plan to spend 2022 being braver and helping others to be brave too. I love you! I believe in you and your journey. So tell me how are you going to be braver this year too!

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