Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ack, say it isn't so

I'm reading Amanda Palmer's THE ART of ASKING and it's taking me down memory lane. Parallels of her life's experience collide with my earlier life as a struggling cartoonist/yoga teacher/artists' model/house-sitter living in Victoria in the early '80's.

What resonates most for me right now is her struggle to accept help offered in monetary form. I suspect that if you have never been an artist you might have difficulty understanding this particular challenge especially when the whole point of being a "professional" artist is to make your living at it.

The thing is, I (like Amanda) needed help along the way and often it was given. I couldn't afford rent above the $50 that I was paying for my studio space at Xchanges Gallery so I became a house sitter. Many people provided a haven for me between house-sits letting me stay on in a spare room, or couch surf, after they'd returned from their trips. My great friend, confidante and fellow aspiring artist, Bud even house-sat for friends in the country (despite the fact that they really didn't have need of his services) so that I could house-sit for him as I was about to become homeless.

One day I would be a paid cartoonist; able to "pay my own way" using my artistic skills which to me meant having that money go into "my" bank account. When I was in my early twenties I vowed that I'd never get into a committed relationship until I could pay my own way…but fate had other plans.

My father, when he realized that his 34 year old daughter was, seriously, getting married, overturning her heretofore repeated protestations that she'd never get married because she didn't want her "wings clipped", took my intended aside with this advice for matrimonial harmony… "Don't try and make a nine to fiver out of her, it'll never happen." He took Dad's advice and we're still together.

I eventually packed in my aspirations as a cartoonist, and all the associated jobs that I required to support my chosen "profession", and took up what I thought would be a much more profitable profession and still give me the freedom that I required. I became s a Shiatsu Therapist…and I still couldn't pay my own way. Like many alternative health practitioners, I was able to practice only because my work was supported… by my husband.

A fellow therapist said that though she didn't make much money she and her husband felt that she was gaining them financial karmic points. As a result of her services, his business was thriving. Their businesses were intimately linked, not through word of mouth, but rather, her good vibes were drawing clients to him.

I tried that concept on for size as my husband's business did thrive…but I couldn't make it stick.

I tried different venues for my work, added Certified Hypnotist to the mix and threw up a shingle offering hypnosis and Shiatsu in a medical aesthetics clinic in East Oakville, on the "other side" of the creek in my hometown.

This was surreal! If ever there was a fish out of water, it was me.

The women were welcoming and lovely…beautiful, actually…and well turned out, confident and successful. All the things that I was not. I was, as Palmer often judged herself…a fraud. But, I could and would, make this work.

I won't say that things went swimmingly. I spent more time hanging out in a cubicle near the receptionists desk, setting up this blog, than in my own treatment room. I  heard prospective clients interviewed over the phone, shying away from the perfectly effective Shiatsu and hypnosis, opting instead for the insurance coverage of massage therapy and psychotherapy.

Some days no one came into my treatment room but they flocked in for medical aesthetics procedures, massage, psychotherapy - ca ching, ca ching.

My soul was slowly bleeding. I swore I wouldn't supplement my work here with the meagre profits from the home based practice that I still maintained. This vow I kept. The next rent increase was beyond my limit and I was out before a year had gone by. But, let's go back to the early days…

Once the "team" got established the owner/operator put on a pot luck celebration to kick off our venture. I couldn't go. How could I go to the other side of the creek? I didn't fit in…but you can fake it. Haven't you been doing that all the time you've lived in Oakville? 

So, I psyched myself up and went. Surely you can do it for just one night!

"Guess what everyone, I'm treating us all to a psychic! Isn't that great?" our host excitedly announced as we sat down to share our culinary delights.

Everyone was thrilled…but me. I'm going to be busted, I know it.

What were people going to ask about? Money, business ventures, relationships, children; the usual stuff. Each came away from their 15 minutes glowing with reports of success, success, success, success.

And then it was my turn…

I walked in; my spirit trudged in. She asked for my hand and I put my hand in hers. "What do you want to know?"

"Will my business be financially successful?"

And, this is what she said…

© Nance Thacker 2015
"You will always have enough. You know from past experience that you've been supported. You REALLY aren't striving for the same things the others are, are you? You never have. You have always been supported as payment for what you do for others."


When asked how it went, I said with a nod, "Great!" And, I think once I got over the initial shock, I meant it. She was right…but I still struggle to accept this from time to time.

NOTE: This is my first strip cartoon in 24 years - WOW
Something I read in Palmer's book yesterday triggered the bit and it wouldn't leave me alone.
"All right, already"
I dug out my old boards and erased an uninked, unfinished rough (found a stash of drawn but unlinked strips that I'd forgotten about) and drew this new one today. 
Amazing! I can draw, ink, take a photo, upload it onto the computer AND get it out into cyberspace all in one day; incredible!
So, it's going on for 2 a.m. (Don't believe the time stamp, still can't figure out how to adjust it to PST. If anybody knows how to do this let me know.)
Can I go to bed now?
Nothing, I think that's a yes.

Sat Jan 17th 4:00 - Just had to pop in again and thank all those who have supported me, and continue to do so, all those years. I truly am deeply grateful.

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