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Starting For Real This Time

In 2019 I was a person who signed up for shows to set up my booth and offer my art to all of you. In 2020, all plans ended before they started and my world as I knew it fell apart. As it did for many others.

I'm not that person anymore. As I'm sure many of you can say.

I'm fighting my way back and aiming to be more "me." Not worried about failures, or perfection or upsetting anyone by just my existing.

It's been hard. Anxiety has always been a thing for me, one I could manage though it still kept me tied to my booth chair more than out to meet folks. No one noticed, or they would think I was anti social, conceited, or some such thing. I enjoyed my time out and meeting others. No one ever noticed the storm happening on the inside.

In 2020 that internal storm shredded me. My heart doesn't bounce back so well anymore. I can't get my words from my head to my mouth right half the time. I slide deep in my thoughts and "space out" like I never did before.

The crippling anxiety is why my social worker daughter suggested I look into a service dog. It's why I have my tiny little partner now. Still training but fast learning. His biggest task is keeping me grounded, present, and reminding me to breathe.

I want to enjoy shows. I do enjoy meeting others who create and seeing all their wondrous works. I sincerely appreciate everyone who stops to notice my work more than they could ever know. It helps keep me going on my projects. It helps me believe I'm not wasting my time on nonsense.

I started this year with a show I know well. Sci-Fi Valley con. It's like home, I understand how it works, where it's at, how to easily get there and exist there. I've been a part of it since it started in 2012. I know the people. I have made friends there.

Spinning right off of that comfort zone I'm diving into the complete unknown. To be honest, this new show distracted me even during Sci-Fi.

It's a juried show that accepted me, my work.

It's a larger show than I have ever gotten near before. I only sent in my application because my coworkers at my day job in 2017-2019 encouraged me and, in one case, demanded I do it despite my doubt in my art quality. (Thank you Chris, Vera, Courtney, and Flo)

It's a four day giant outdoor show that requires my full heavy booth set up that my vehicle can't easily transport. Back in 2019, I started preparing for this. I bought a tiny motorhome to refurbish and make my traveling art home. It can carry the weight of my booth and product and provide a living space where my little fur-helper, I, and my daughter-helper can rest. When things fell apart, it didn't just get pushed to a back burner. It got shoved into the deep dark cupboard.

A week ago it wasn't running. I've neglected it, strangely feeling like I need to work on it, but at the same time what I need it for won't happen. But it is happening. In only a week, I leave.

My mom, before she died, worried about me driving it. The thing is only two feet longer than my main vehicle. I admit the bulkiness, age (it causes a lot of nostalgia going back to 1984), and lumbering-giant-slug syndrome (it can't move fast) gives me pause, causes stress, but I know I can manage it. And I'm truly sorry for anyone who might be inconvenienced by it during the trip. I'll do my best. My dad was a truck driver. He taught me to drive, how to use mirrors, listen to the engine, understand the machine, and I have his sense of direction for the most part. I can do this. And I can unearth all the pieces of my booth that have been packed away for 2.5 years.

In one week. Because my brain doubted it was actually happening this time.

As I pull things out of storage, I'm amazed at what past me created for my booth. Everything still works, though my daughter and I pause to figure out how sometimes. We're relearning the set up.

My little buddy is confused. He's working a lot and wondering why I'm doing this craziness, but he's a champ and coming along willingly with me. He's making it tolerable and I'm trying my absolute best to exist competently.

I thought, maybe if I share this, it will help others. We need to be fully us. The part of the world we live in will benefit from us all participating in it again. And if I can do this, as messy as it might be sometimes, others can too.

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