I've Been Keeping A Secret....

 
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I put so much of my work and life online that people often tell me they feel like they already know me by the time we've met. Over the last few years, many of you have assumed that I work on my art full-time, and I was happy to let you think that. One thing I haven't really talked about is the reality of being a full-time artist and how difficult it can be to keep a consistent income from your work. I have been lucky enough to create so many special pieces for so, so many amazing clients, but it just wasn't enough on it's own. 

I've almost always had a second job while I created art on the side. At first, they were full-time, 40-hour work weeks and I would spend my evenings and weekends on my own projects. For the last couple of years, I have been lucky enough to only work part-time as my art business grows and grows. As much as I dreamed of having a free-spirited lifestyle where I could paint and create all day, it's hard to relax when you're not sure how you're going to pay for groceries next week.

So, I made coffee.

Every morning, I was up at 4:45am (hmm...okay, it was more like 5:15am) to open up the coffee shop a few blocks down the road from me. I would work hard until the early afternoon, where I would come home and try to get as much of my own work done as I could, all the while fighting off a nap. I would eat an early dinner and try to be in bed before 9 (I know, I missed all the good TV).

I kept quiet about it because I didn't want it to take away from what I was trying to accomplish. I was afraid that if people heard I was an artist who worked in a coffee shop, they would immediately forget about the artist part. That may sound silly, but I wanted my art to be the only thing to define me and to showcase who I was. I thought that that was everything you needed to know about me.

And today, as I officially hung up my apron for the last time, I realized how much of my identity belongs to that job. It's a warm and welcoming place that I've spent the last two years making amazing friends and meeting wonderful people. I've also learned so much about myself, both as an individual and as a leader. That job, and the people who worked alongside me, helped me develop a confidence that I didn't even know I needed. Realizing that I no longer have my "routine", makes me wonder what other little pieces of my life will define my personality. I feel a strange combination of sadness mixed with ease. It's an uneasy feeling to have let go of some part of you, but I am confident I am on the right path. 

I'll never know what's in store for me but that's okay. I wouldn't want to know anyway, because then the journey wouldn't seem as fun. As for what's next, I'll be heading back to school in a couple of weeks, to take part in a program for other big dreamers like me, learning how to run my business more efficiently and effectively. I'm excited for these next steps, but I'm even more excited to be on the other side of the coffee counter come Monday morning.

Thanks to everyone for all of your love and support. I love you all. 

Hayley