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Hello 2015

Heidi Shenk "business" daily life goals

Hello 2015

While I realize that I'm getting around to this somewhat obligatory post quite a bit later than most of you, I still needed to write it. You see, it's been quite an interesting start to 2015 already in my world, and that's led to a whole lot of that "holy shit I'm getting old and need to get it together" type of thinking. So for me, even though I may be late to the game, I still find value in writing about a new start for the year. And for what it's worth, in my book, it's never too late to start something, so it's quite alright by me if I'm straggling behind in writing down my yearly hopes and goals.

After visiting a whole lot of family both in Cleveland and in Indiana over the holidays, I felt a tad bit overwhelmed by some things that occurred. Two situations arose both three days before I arrived and three days after I left Indiana in which family members essentially escaped death. In addition, nothing was how I remembered it to be from my previous visits. As I told my mom on the phone shortly after our visit, "I spent an afternoon with my 90 year old grandmother, another afternoon with my 83 year old grandparents, one who is dealing with dementia. My 13 year old childhood cat is so old that he's like a boney curmudgeon, yet he refused to leave my lap, and my other cat died a month before I got to see her one last time. And the town is NOTHING like it used to be, and feels like a foreign place. It's as if EVERYTHING is dying!"

While my "everything is dying" freak out moment is probably not the most optimistic way of starting the year, I can say that it left me thinking about what is important to me and how I want to continue building my life. Some things are new items of my list, and others are things that I want to continue working toward. All of them sort of revolve around the idea of being more intentional about how I do things and how my time is being spent throughout the day.

1 // Continue learning new things. Over the past two years, I've taught myself two new printing techniques-- both with my foil press and starting to print at the letterpress studio. I've learned new information, new recipes, new techniques for doing things, new things about my city. Lifelong learning is so important to me, and I want to continue that learning this year. I'm starting to brush up and practice my French, and I hope to be back to a conversational level. I'm learning to play the piano, very slowly, but surely. I put new strings on my guitars and hope to play regularly again. I want to learn something new as part of my paper business as well-- maybe try screenprinting. Most of these things also have to do with turning the tv off, disconnecting, and focusing on something a lot more fulfilling.

2 // Get out of the house a least once a week. Andrew and I have a plan for this. We're getting back to a weekly habit we'd developed after returning from Australia over a year ago. Wednesday night will be our night out. It's nothing fancy. The plan consists of us trying a new bar or restaurant for one drink, and nothing more. We get out of the house for an hour or so, expose ourselves to a new place we've never been, and enjoy doing nothing but having conversation during that time, and all at a reasonable cost that doesn't break the bank. Week one was already a success.

3 // Make more local art connections. In Baltimore, there is a fantastic arts and handmade community. The only problem is that if you're not already part of that community, it's hard to be accepted by it. I've struggled with this for several years now and it really started to bring me down. Being denied by that existing community made me feel as though what I create wasn't good enough. I'm done feeling that way, and I'd rather seek out my own art community instead. I'm already part of the way there. I have a small group of other artists that I'll soon hopefully be meeting with on a monthly basis. And I'm hoping to also connect with another printer to do a local event this summer. Baby steps, but I'll get there.

4 // Find community within my personal life. Along the same lines, we tend to feel a bit out of the loop in most situations. We've lived in Baltimore for eight years, but we don't have a lot of friends. We aren't religious, so we don't go to a church thus there are no instant connections with other people in that regard. We're not always into the events that are put on in our neighborhood as a lot of them revolve around large parties and drinking. Let's face it, we're not trying to act like we're in college anymore or party our faces off. We'd rather have meaningful conversation and community. It was finally decided that if we can't find the kinds of community events we'd like to be a part of, then we can create our own, and if people come, they come. And if they don't come, then they don't, and neither is a bad thing. We're having a successful start with this as well.

5 // Be more organized and follow through. This is a continuation from last year. I'm making small progress here and there. I purchased what I would call the most intense planner I've ever seen in my life. I've continued planning out my days the night before, so that I'm able to unwind from work, and focus on new tasks ahead. We got rid of quite a lot of stuff in our house, and the idea is to continue on that trend. I still need to work on following through on things that I set my mind to, but I'm getting better with that as well, which is why I've already made progress on some of the above goals.

6 // Find affordable studio space of my own. This is more of a hope than a goal, but at the same time I feel very driven to get to this point. While I'm really enjoying sharing a small production studio at the moment, I ultimately would love to have my own space in which I can do all aspects of my work-- the designing, production, and shipping. My home studio is simply too small. It's a daily struggle. I cut card stock while sitting on the floor because it's the only space I have available to do that task. It's extremely cramped quarters and just not practical. It's the kind of space that is so small that as soon as you clean it, you begin a new task and it's instantly cluttered again. When I receive my card stock and envelope orders from my suppliers, my studio becomes nothing but boxes stacked on boxes. So yes, this is a huge hope for me this year.

7 // Send more snail mail. I started doing this last year when I got my my PO box, and I'd like to do even more letter writing this year. It gives me a chance to stop for a few minutes and think about what's happening in my daily life and how I relate to others in this world. I didn't take time out of my busy holiday schedule to write my own Christmas cards, and that really bothered me. If you have a similar goal, or would like to try getting back to letter writing, I'd be happy for another snail mail friend. You can write to:

Heidi Shenk
PO Box 12396
Baltimore, MD 21281

While these goals are big ticket items, I feel good about them this year. They leave room for growth on both a personal and business level, and make me hopeful of new experiences and creative energy.

Did you make goals for the new year? I'd love to hear about your hopes and dreams so that we can encourage each other throughout the year!


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