Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tell us again where you've been...

It's a little funny that, right after starting my series on some people's perception of artists as directionless slackers and on the new wave of business-savvy artists, I would become so slack with maintaining my blog.

I have been staying busy with the transition from the tiny, cramped house (that allowed us to afford to follow my dream of being a working artist) to our new home. I know this house is the space that will allow me to expand the business so that we can get my art out to more people, but I did not anticipate it would take several months to really get settled and get my various Etsy shops back up and running.

Over on the Golden Supply Co. side of things, I have been struggling to get caught up with orders and inventory. I'm pleased to say that I am getting close. The GSC Etsy store, which has been on vacation so I could catch up, is about to re-open. We have had to implement a better inventory control system (many mistakes were made). Hopefully, that system will help us stay better stocked and less likely to sell items we think we have but don't.

Over on, I have stayed busy filling orders from my makeshift office. Our garage, which will be the world headquarters of all things John W. Golden, has been filled to the rafters with the contents of our 2 storage units since we finally cleared those out a few months ago. This weekend, we had the first of several yard sales to start shedding a lot of those contents. I can almost see the space where the desks will go. Maybe in a few weeks.

There are some exciting things brewing concerning my art. A few new opportunities are developing which should mean more exposure for my art. I'll let you know about those as the opportunities are realized.

At home, we are dealing with one loose tooth (not mine), whose owner is reluctant to let anybody get it out, a change from kid-size hangers to grown-up hangers for the kid who sold off all his Pokemon cards at the yard sale, and a little less getting into everything by our youngest. My wife is finally getting to unpack all the art and such that went into boxes during our stay in the little house. I've built a fence, did some minor organization of tools and such in the garage, but mostly I have been shipping packages.

I always try to look for lessons in life's situations, and lately the situations have been pretty pleasant, and I admit that I don't pay as much attention to the lessons when things are going smoothly. The worst problem I have had lately is that my back went out yesterday morning (first time that it has done that). That laid me out for the day (I got off easy I'm told), which happened to be the day of the yard sale. I was carrying (with the help of a friend) my fiberglass darkroom sink out into the yard on the chance that it might catch the eye of someone who still maintains a film darkroom.

We got about halfway to the street when suddenly I felt a sharp pain about 2/3 up my back. I could not hold my arms up, and could only get relief from the pain by bending over with my hands on my knees. Any attempt to straighten up brought the pain back. It felt as if something were pushing down on my shoulders and creating the pain right on my spine. I slouched into the house and spent most of the day laying on icepacks. A couple of times, I was able to stand up straight, and I was able to get myself to the ibuprofen and the bathroom if needed, but it was a quite a struggle.

This morning I did not think I would be able to get out of the bed. Most of last night, I was barely able to to roll on to my side or on to my back due to the pain. I managed to get up though and with a lot of heat packs, was able to get moving and get some work done today. It still hurts, but it's manageable. I don't like to take painkillers or muscle relaxers, so it's grin and bear it.

I have had lower back pain since college. I used to have to lower 300lb. boxes of Arches watercolor paper by hand off the back of a semi when I worked for Cheap Joe's Art Stuff in its first few years of existence. That plus some pretty bad posture while sitting, and a rear-end car collison in 2002 left me with chronic sciatic problems. Many times over the years, I had cursed my lower back pain, and a few times I have been sidelined from it, but the pain yesterday was far worse than any I have felt before. I almost felt like I could not breathe when standing.

Here's the thing though - if not for those years of living with back pain, I think yesterday's pain would have dropped me to my knees. I would probably still be flat on my back, and I would probably be whacked out of my mind on painkillers. And as a working artist, I can't afford that. All those years of pain helped prepare me for the worst physical pain I have felt in my life. And it helped me to get going again.

Oh, wait a minute... there's a lesson in that.


Pattern and Perspective said...

You are better than me. I just recently started getting lower back pain due to referred pain from a disease I have. I have to take the painkillers - otherwise I can't work. Wish I could deal but I can't!

Anonymous said...

The lesson in back pain is support. You don't feel that you have support whether from family, friends, or the community. The 2/3 pain in the middle of the back is being stabbed in the back...maybe spend some time thinking about relationships (work or private). Forgiveness helps. Lower back pain in general is fear or money issues. What was happening in your life when you worked at Cheap Joe's? How did you feel and can you relate to that now? Sciatica is basic root needs in life. Food, water, on.
I hope this helps bring awareness to the emotional content of your pain. Namaste