Lady of Leisure.

A lady of leisure. A lady who lunches. Retired. Housewife. Kept. Now that you don’t work… Since you’re at home now…. Now that you don’t have a job… What’s it like to have to not worry about work anymore? Must be nice to be taken care of…

This is how I spend my days now… I LOVE my stories!. πŸ˜‰

I have heard all these things since May 19. The day after I quit my job. And they make me crazy. Insane. And maybe angry. Okay, very, very angry. The truth is, I am sure most mean it lightly, as a joke. But I have an issue. A pretty big one that has made this transition so very, very difficult. And the phrases above cause my ‘issue’ to REALLY flare up.

A little history.

I was raised by my parents to work. To work HARD. They taught me that if you couldn’t make it happen, perhaps you should examine if you were really working hard enough. Most times? I found I could work harder. And I did. I could hardly wait to get my first job at 16 – the legal age in New Jersey. I never stopped working since. Even as a freshman in college I tutored college kids and a 6 year old named Sabastian. I adored that child. I wanted to name my son Sabastian. My sister almost named her newest Sabastian. I BEGGED her to. Alas, no Sabastians. She was over-ruled by her hubbie. I digress…

When I decided to take six months off from college because I had decided physics and math was not my true passion, my parents said I could live at home as long as I had a job within a month. I had a full time job within 2 weeks working as an office assistant in a podiatrist’s office. I actually loved it! I got to inject toes and feet, I assisted in in-office surgeries, got to observe in a hospital surgery and even got to work on cadaver feet at a teaching hospital! I briefly considered a career in this, but I knew it was not truly what I was passionate about. But boy, was that interesting!

When I decided on art school I had to work a 30 hour a week job while going full time school to pay my tuition not covered by student loans or the part my parents STILL graciously paid even though they thought dropping out of a bachelor’s program in PHYSICS to get an ASSOCIATE degree in graphic design was LUDICROUS. At the time, “I” knew it was COMPLETELY the right decision, but as a parent now? Oh my word, are my parents not SAINTS to have still supported me 100%? Wow. What children put their poor parents through.

Even when I got pregnant (yes, not planned – ahem.) 6 months before I graduated, I worked 3 jobs to make sure I could pay my bills and have money. Let me tell you, mounting and framing portfolio pieces at midnight with a giant belly at 7 months preggers when you can hardly breathe and having to wake up at 5:30am to open up a coffeeshop – well, in a way it was a BLESSING I was 22, no WAY do I have that kind of energy now!

I freelanced after my son was born. Taking him to a job when he was 4 months old with a lovely woman that understood my predicament and was AMAZING to me. I held him on one shoulder and designed with my one free hand on the computer. I took him with me to vendors and to press checks and did it unapologeticaly. Guess what? If you don’t apologize for your baby? No one has a problem.

Even when I got pregnant with The Soph I continued to work. I had to work from home. I took any and all freelance jobs. I even once took a job answering calls for a week when I was 9 months pregnant with Sophie for a woman wrestler that had a side business. THAT is a blog entry for another time, but let me tell you, people have some interesting fetishes!

When Soph was 18 months old I went back to work at an office full time. I hated leaving my babies, but we needed the guaranteed income and stability and insurance. And I thrived. I do love to earn my way.

I have never stopped working harder since then. I want my children to know you CAN have ANYTHING you want to if you are WILLING to work REALLY hard. And I am. And I always have been.

And the issue my friends? Right now for the first time in my life, I have no income at the moment. I am not freelancing graphic design jobs so that I can concentrate on my art and writing career. No graphic design jobs means no money at all until books sell, school visits and events begin, or I sell new books. All the prep work for my books coming out in late summer is A LOT of work. I am networking, talking to people, making promotional pieces, applying for grants, checking out vendors, making websites, starting esty and cafepress shops and working on new books and having other books edited. And guess what? NONE of that is making me money NOW.

So my lovey, amazing husband has to support me. Ugh. I hated writing that. SO MUCH. A man support me? That goes against everything I have been taught, learned and ever thought was okay. It KILLS me to not contribute a paycheck right now. And while I know all this hard work has to pay off, oh my lord, it HAS TO, it currently only COSTS money.

So in between hyperventilating and the nightmares I have had just about every night since I quit – oh DOOSIES, lemme tell you, I am working. Or thinking. Or making sketches or taking notes or writing emails. WORKING. REALLY, REALLY hard with no guarantee this will ever make money. And holy hell that scares the bejeesus out of me!

So when someone ask what it is like to be a lady of leisure…or kept…or…AT HOME AND NOT WORKING ANYMORE?!?! Well, thank you, you just fueled the nightmare I will surely be having tonite. Thanks, tooootally appreciate it.

I have to believe what my parents and every teacher in the history of the world teaches. Hard work pays off. Don’t quit. Persevere. I have to have faith in a work ethic. In MY work ethic.

So next time you see me? Just ask, “So, how’s work?” Because my work? Is AWESOME! I ADORE it! I LOVE it! I am passionate and so filled up to the brim with the knowingness that I am doing what I am SUPPOSED to be doing and I would LOVE to tell you ALLΒ  about it! (Just don’t ask how much money that pays.)

And I better get back to it. I have a cat to paint on wood. So I have to go work. And maybe take a xanax. πŸ˜‰

Happy Friday!

I am off to have a night of fun and laughter with my two awesome sisters and their kids. I had a great work week, got lots done, was super productive and can’t wait to get at starting edits I got back from my editor on one of my books. I have a blog post coming up about that. Hoping to write that tomorrow.

Since I am trying very hard to post regularly again, I wanted to pop in and tell all you lovelies to have a FANTASTICAL weekend!

Noah is leaving on Sunday for 3 weeks at Duke TIP camp at UGA and of course he forgot a million and one things at my house so I am about to run them over to his dad’s house now. Truly. A million and one. Thank goodness that kid’s head is attached. πŸ˜‰

Here are the two pet portrait commissions I just finished and will hopefully be delivering this weekend. Meet Callie and Zoey!

A peek at the things that inspire me

I just got back from an AMAZING beach vacation with my AMAZING family. The older I get, the more I realize how important my family is to me and how I just adore them all. And I never want to take them for granted. Thank you family for another vacation filled with life-long memories. I cannot wait until our Christmas vacation when we are ALL there! Yippee!

It was a vacation that started out at sunrise for me. The sun rose at 6:20am. I was in front of the ocean running for 40 minutes by 6:30am. Heaven on Earth. Or maybe this is heaven.

Sand castles? No. Sand dogs? Yes. Sand art by me and The Soph.

Last day before heading home. I was on the beach all alone. I just couldn’t bring myself to go back inside and end it. My dad came out the last hour I was out there. We had one of those father/daughter conversations that you know you will remember the rest of your life. It was such a wonderful moment. I will cherish it forever.

But anyhoo. A week off two weeks after one decides to quit their J-O-B that offers a steady paycheck means lots of work when one returns. However, one of my things to make sure I am doing once I was working from home is to begin regularly blogging again. Today’s post is to show you a view into my studio. I am someone that surrounds myself with things that inspire me and bring me great joy in life. I am maybe a lil’ ADD, so I need lots of pretties to look at. Here is a glimpse into my wonderland. I am finishing two commissions today and will be happily painting and thinking thoughts of gratitude to the Universe for allowing me this amazing life.

My loyal office mate. He is the loviest and cuddliest of the three dogs. Also the drooliest and the eating sketchbookiest. sigh…. Working on his office gossip and coffee making skills.

I met Loren Long at the LA SCBWI conference last year. It was a HUGE moment for me. I adore his books and aspire to be like him. SUPER nice guy too. Amazing artist and writer. His book, Otis made me cry it touched me so much. Also the “Be Happy” cards I left for all my awesome coworkers at my job when I left.

I love childrens’ art. I bought this at a fundraiser at The Soph’s school. I love how you can see “Believe” on top from the Mother’s Day card The Dude bought me.

Just love The Soph’s creations. A monster and a bat. Kid art I bought at a fundraiser hanging in the background. Is there anything better than kid art? No rules. No judgement. Just joy. Love.

What my desk looks like right now. Finishing Whatif Monster orders to be mailed out today. Pet portrait I am finishing today. And of course my trusty computer. Need my Pandora, iTunes and iChat.

I am not a huge list maker, but need it now. Not so much to keep me on track, but because in the last 5 years I can’t seem to remember jack anymore. It is being a mom, just getting older, or maybe all the wine. Maybe all three? Anyway, need reminders now.

I ran out of wall space so I created more by hanging a ribbon an using mini clothes pics (SOOOO cute!!!) to hang the pieces of love I love. Here you see my favorite pic my mom took of me and The Dude, The Soph when she was just 3 years old and in pigtail and the lovely Skyler who is ALWAYS happy. Plus my agents card she sent when she mailed the contract agreeing to me my agent. Good day.

The Soph and I running our first 5K together! Bon Jovi tickets, a Christmas card from the LOVELY Wahlers, a family that I am no longer legally related to, but will forever be in my heart, and my first check stub for a school visit that says “WRITER” on it. πŸ˜€

This is my seagull. My husband got it for me on Tybee Island when I swooned over it and HAD to have it. We got it when we were there for the half marathon we ran in February this year. Rained for the first 8 miles. BUT it was FLAT.

Some of my children’s picture book collection. I collect the once that make my heart feel like they may explode out of my chest from joy when I read them. They are being held up by a doxie REAL McCoy. For reals. I love this dog SO much and it was given to me by the wonderful Tammy and Jason Canterella. I love these two so much. And don’t even get me started on their should-be-illegal-she-is-so-cute daughter, Violet.

Life changing books for me. Selma. It just touches me. I bought it in Athens (with the above-mentioned Tammy) and carry it often with me in my purse. Imagine my shock when I realized AFTER I signed my book deal with Kane/Miller that THEY published Selma. How is THAT for coolness!?!? Also The Giving Tree. I ADORE Shel Silverstein, he is a huge influence on me. The Giving Tree was the first book I was read to the first day of kindergarten.Very clear and vivid memory for me. Ferdinand is somehow just a recent discovery. Loren Long talked about how it was an influence on him and you can see it in his Otis book. Ferdinand made me cry the same way Otis did. I hope to create the same feeling with one of my books one day.

I am SO influenced by my daughter’s creativity. She is by far one of the most imaginative and creative people I know. I love this monster purse she made.

More clothes pin love. I love the art of Stephen Huneck. I felt like I got punched in the stomach when I realized he committed suicide last year. Such a loss for this world. I also love to paint flying pigs. And I love cute babies. Does anyone NOT??

Says it all. It’s how I live my life.

My bestest friend in the world, Melinda. Known her since art school. Not sure I would be me without her. She is part of me and knows every single, teeny, tiny thing about me. Good and bad. And still loves me. Everyone needs a Melinda. A can of Schmidts that my equally lovely friend Tammy got me when I married and became a Schmidt. Come to think of it everyone needs a Tammy too. But you can’t have my Melinda or my Tammy. They are taken. Sorry. Also a card that came with flowers my hunnie gave me for valentines’ one year. It says, “Will you be mine, forever?” I keep it to remind him that HE asked ME. I said yes. No backsies, dude. Sorry.

My first Whatif Monster prototypes. A Naked Mole Rat a la Mo Willems. My hippo teapot which was truly fantastical birthday present from hunnie. And Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster sculptures. They are usually on the mantle in the other room, but I am working on the book and need them in here so I can hear them better.

My flipflop lights from the Awesome Maggie. I loves me some Maggie. And another mantra of mine.

There you have it folks. This was supposed to be quick, but didn’t work that way. Now off to paint!!