Today is December 21st. Had my life continued down the path of a custom picture framer, I'd have gone to work at dawn after a couple hours of sleep. I'd be secretly counting the hours, hoping to make it to Saturday. Sure, we would be raking in the money, so to speak---if I had lived through this, year after year!
I was reminded of the past holiday rush of framing yesterday. A Christmas card arrived from a former employee who now lives in Colorado. She sent a card last year too. I taped it to the window behind my mat cutter and meant to write. It was still taped there yesterday. I compared the return addresses. They were the same. So, I stopped delaying and wrote a seven page letter last night. I was forced to recall all the things that have happened during the past six years. Early in the letter I wrote:
I have figured out how to tell the story of the past few years……….
Once upon a time there was a custom framer, Susan, she ran a business called Mouse House. She has lots of clients, lots of employees, lots of work, two neglected children, an overworked husband that she kept in the garage, and a business that was increasing steadily. She kept working until she no longer slept. She nearly died of exhaustion. She finally learned that there was more to life than framing. She fired her mat cutter, found jobs for the rest of the staff, downsized the business over the next two years and became a professional artist. The story isn't over but continues with regular posts on her blog: http://artbysusanlenz.blogspot.com.
Of course, I went on with some details about the people she had worked with and about Alex and Mathias and about the house fire two years ago. It really has been a roller-coaster sort of journey. Yet, the thing that has changed the most is ME. I look back and see a transformation from frustrated businesswoman living with the security of paying work to the insecurity of a happy artist exploring a new, creative world. Everything has changed really. My lifestyle has gone from one that was totally regulated to a more bohemian existence. My mind wanders now into the history of art, to influential artists, to creative ideas. It seldom worries about any of the things that filled my head while framing full time.
If the next five years bring as much change as the last five, there is no telling where I'll be! As for today, we are leaving between 3 and 4 PM. I haven't really thought about what I'll pack. I haven't done any Christmas shopping. I won't be cooking or baking anything. There is no holiday stress! I have my sketchbook, the biography of de Kooning that I'm reading, and my embroidery. What else do I really need except the supporting family that is going with me? Nothing!