No Guarantees

cypress_treesThe end of the year is almost here. There was one last thing I promised to do before the end of the year. I’ve been kind of quiet about it, because you just never know what will happen. Although people cheer me on…after the fact… that they knew I would get this or do that, there is always the realist in me who whispers…”don’t get cocky.” There are never guarantees in life, especially when you put yourself in competition with people. I’m sure some enter a competition and say to themselves, “I got this!” But personally, I think that sets me up for major disappointment when I don’t win.

My personal philosophy is to keep a low profile. I don’t make a big deal about any competition I enter, because I understand that as much as I may want to be accepted…there are no guarantees, no matter how much my friends and family tell me they believe in me.

This year, I submitted entries into 4 different shows. Entering shows is a competition. Everyone who enters is competing for the few slots available in the exhibit space. Each of us believe we are worthy of acceptance, otherwise we wouldn’t be entering. But there again, no guarantees. At year’s end, I’m ranking 2 for 4; a 50% success rate.

Right now, I’m trying to work on a large piece, but my procrastination has been high. I really haven’t been excited about finishing it, life is getting in my way. I wanted to enter it for consideration into a call for entry that opens in January. But, it just has been plunking along with little progress. I’m lacking motivation. I even considered backing out of my exhibit this November. I just wasn’t sure how I could make enough pieces. Sigh…self doubt can strangle you.

And then this past Saturday, I received a plain manilla envelope in the mail…more junk mail? I opened it with curiosity and then, seeing the contents, I immediately lost my breath.

You see, from the start of this year, I had planned to enter another competition. A very selfish competition. I was required to write a proposal and share a dream. I had to pull-together supporting documentation and get letters of recommendations. I attended meetings to learn more about the process and asked questions from people who believed in me. I applied for a grant and have been waiting for the news since October.

This past Saturday, in the plain little envelope where the words which today inspire me to keep going. I received full funding for a Regional Artist Grant. I’ve learned since then the very few people get full funding for this highly competitive “selfish” grant; I was only one of 2 who received full funding this year.

I call it selfish, because it’s all about the recipient. As an artist, we get to dream big and ask for money to fulfill that dream. My dream is to own an industrial-style sewing machine that will allow me to more accurately and proficiently stitch larger quilts. Thanks to the Arts Council and my tenacity to apply for this grant, in 2016 I will own one of these machines. Wow! I’m excited!

My artwork will improve because of this machine. But until then, the large quilt I was procrastinating about will go on hold so I can do it right on this new machine. And, until then, I will place my focus on making smaller pieces on my domestic machine.

Sometimes I think destiny dictates how my art is suppose to happen. When I get upset with my progress, or lack there of, I have to remember to step back and just accept what’s happening. I’ve always believed the pieces I make speak to me; some times I forget to listen. As in this case, I think my swampy quilt knew what was coming.

I like not knowing the outcome, because when things happen that I don’t expect I’m overjoyed. Life’s fun that way. I like having no guarantees.