Side Gigs, We Don’t All Work For Amazon

Bartender, Tutor, Coffee Shop, Theater Usher, Gallery Work, Substitute Teaching, Mary Kay,….are all jobs I have thought about doing or done as a side gig. And when I’m feeling confident, I find my Artist Self!

Why? I carry that guilty messaging. I should not be retired this young….. we are supposed to work hard. You are not supposed to enjoy life. I carry that nervous messaging…. But my work isn’t as good as …. fill in the name of any other artist I love. But you can’t make a living at being an artist. But if I was really successful I’d have as much stuff and money as other people and I’d fly around the world vacationing and have no worries in life.

On the contrary….in retirement, I love the quiet moment. I love getting so present I notice the timid little coyote hiding down in the blackberry bushes scrounging for some snacks. I love meeting all of the new people along the way. And I love exploring coffee shops and art galleries. I love taking on an attitude of abundance, celebrating all of the artists around me as well as myself. I love throwing out the word should and finally learning to let go of comparing myself to others. I love the levels of self acceptance that I layer on myself with each painting.

It turns out that side gigs are kind of fun too. I enjoy the puzzle of figuring out each new city I travel to… how to get around. Working for the theater, I got good at finding the best parking. I find it fun disovering fantastic restaurants to go back to, understanding the difference between the Max, the Street Cars, the Tri Met, and which roads I can drive on, and when to stay clear of the tracks here in Portland, how to short cut through town and dart across the river and home without hopping on a freeway. Picking up a side gig forces me to do a little more of that kind of exploration and get to know an area a little more intimately.

In working for the theater I also learned how humbling it can be to experience the world from different points of view. There is something to taking on service jobs where you are low on the totem pole and you are all wearing the same polyester uniform, with the goal of making people happy, and making sure they have a wonderful magical experience. It made me notice all of the invisible people I see everyday, who stretch pennies to feed their families while making my life something special. There is no “executive” in their title, they don’t make six figures and drive a BMW. They likely take public transport and don’t have the luxury of avoiding the homeless and the mentally ill who tend to stay warm on public transit. And they don’t complain about their lot in life. Working here, I’m surrounded by happy people.

I also love the fredom of putting in some time with an arts organization, around other arts lovers but knowing if I get too freaked out by wherever we are in the cycle of mask/no mask mandates, I have the option to go back to very simple, very safe living in my trailer and outdoor spaces.

When bartending I’m not going to lie, I loved having a tip job, because I’m good at getting tips. I loved being there for people. Bar folk come and want to share their stories, connect, be heard, be seen. I thought I went there to mix drinks and realized I was really handing out some love and a listening ear. Plus others were just plain fun, laughing, joking, getting me out from behind the bar to do kareokee with them. And I realized that mixing drinks is quite the art form in itself. Yes… always an artist in everything I do.

With Mary Kay I learned a ton about business and marketing and I also learned what not to do. Knowing I could jump back in and substitute, give back, help out the Portland teachers on the one hand, felt good, and on the other hand when I really thought about it, it validated my journey that has taken me away from that. There is so much that needs to change in the way we treat our education professionals. It would take more than a blog to get into all of that. Helping out at the camp store made me appreciate that I had had the opportunity in my union job to find ways to continue standing up for the smaller voices in our world.

Taking on a variety of jobs has given me a sense of security, and reassurance. I knew I had that thing to fall back on just in case nobody liked my art. It also taught me to open my eyes and be inspired by others around me, really see people and their beauty and save it for future paintings. It taught me to let go and do a leap of faith and that my efforts in my art will pay off. Every action payoffs somewhere down the road. We can’t always see it in the moment. It’s like a well planned trip, or a journey downa a quiet river in the woods…. things never go the way we plan, but they end up just they way they were supposed to and it is better than anything in our wildest imaginations.

Living tiny isn’t just about the space and the amount of things I have. It’s about the space I let my ego take up, the amount of importance I put on myself allowing others to be less important and become invisible. It’s about trusting in something bigger than self, something that tells us to live with the rule of abundance. There is enough of everything for everyone on this planet. Nobody needs to go without. As soon as I think I might not make it as an artist, I am thinking from a place that forgets abundance exists. If everyone went tiny, there’d be a lot of room and resources for everyone, and maybe, just maybe we wouldn’t end up fighting about things anymore.

While writing this blog, my father passed. In rereading what I wrote, a lot of the lessons are lessons I alswo learned from the way he lived his life. It feels a bit disingenus when writing a blog if I didn’t mention major life events like his passing, but it’s still hard to even let myself think about it. So I’ll just say that for now. Maybe one day I’ll write a blog about him and how he fits into this journey I’m on. If you hop on over to my portfolio page, you will see I have dedicated my paintings this year to processing the grief I am going through. I love you daddy and miss you terribly!

Thank you again for following my sporatic, inconsistant ramblings and writings. I appreciate you more than you know. Feel free to share this with your friends and check out my art too!

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