Success. What is your definition of it?

I love Maya Angelou. She’s such a smart and astute woman. She said it best.
I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life’- Maya Angelou’

Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee

I’ve been pondering this for a long time now. What exactly IS success?

Could it be raising kids we can be proud of? (Or, step-kid and dog in my case.)

Could it be defined as being kind and moral and a good friend to others?

Could it be defined by creating something beautiful, like art, music and the like? Can you consider yourself a success even if you don’t sell a single piece of your art in your lifetime? Vincent Van Gogh sold one (yes, one) painting in his entire life. Would he have been considered a success in his day? Probably not. But now, over 100 years later? You better believe it.

Photo courtesy of Slices of Light
So, that brings me to the question… does making money equal success?
Photo courtesy of Toban Black

I want to say no, but in western culture I think that’s probably most peoples measuring stick as to what success is. Since I returned from my trip just over a year ago I decided that I would give myself the gift of time. I gave myself two years to work part-time (you know, to pay the bills) and work on my art and writing and try and figure out if I can create my own livelihood with the skills I’ve acquired over the past 20 years.

So far, so good. It’s a slow go, but I’m seeing progress. I blog for Cheapoair and get paid for it. That’s pretty cool. I’ve been making art and selling it at craft shows, farmers markets and stores. Bonus! I even got 4 of my designs into a fantastic art prints catalog that is coming out this month. More on that later… there will be an official announcement when I get my copy of it!

My art!

For the past 6 months I’d say I’ve been working 60 hours a week, but only 25-30 of them are PAID hours. The rest of them are the based on the “if-come” rather than “in-come.” Is it still work, even though I don’t get paid for it and enjoy what I’m doing? Hell yeah! But do others consider it important work, if it doesn’t get compensated for? That’s the question. The other question is, do I care?

Photo courtesy of Jeff Hester

So, things are moving along nicely. Am I making oodles of cash? Well, no. But am I successful? By my standards I’d say yes, I am. But I need and want more money, of course. I need money to finish seeing the rest of the world. I need money to buy shiny new art supplies. I need money to pay for my geriatric dogs medical bills. Do I need money for (as Nolan calls it) “The Fancy Life?” Nah. I don’t NEED a lot, I just want some creature comforts and a boat load of experiences. That’s not too much to ask, right?

I’m putting one foot in front of the other. Trying not to get ahead of myself and stress out about being an old lady who has to eat cat food. I’m trying to have faith that my talents and abilities will lead me to something great.

Photo courtesy of Gareth 1953

I’m just not willing to live a life other than EXACTLY the one I want to wake up to every morning. I LIKE feeling excited about the day ahead rather than filled with dread, as I sometimes experienced in the past. Life is too short to not enjoy every day.

Simple as that.

What is YOUR definition of success?

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6 Responses to Success. What is your definition of it?

  1. Anonymous October 15, 2012 at 6:29 am #

    ok, I know that I always comment and that I am your Mother, BUT…… you are the most talented and dedicated artist. You never stop looking for the ultimate ends of what you can do to be engaged. Even what you do with your students – just think what that will create in the future for them. Whatever the end of your journey is, it doesn’t matter. You have already beat the odds – you’ve won girl. You are doing something important.

    • My name is Andrea November 16, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

      Thanks MOM! I just want live a life of inspiration, so maybe I am a success after all, because I do, every day!

  2. Anonymous October 15, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    Wonderful post, Andrea!! You are living life as you choose/create it which is so admirable – it’s a grand experiment. Best wishes, Betsy

    • My name is Andrea November 16, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

      Thanks Betsy! It IS a grand experiment, we shall see what the results are LOL!

  3. Michele October 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    I agree with Phyllis and Betsy, Andrea. You’re living the life you dream of and are excited about the journey—that’s success! This is a really good post and it’s got me thinking a lot… I am feeling “stuck” in my life right now and I don’t want that, as I’m extremely conscious of how brief is our time on this earth. I need to work on visualizing the life I want—I don’t even know what that is!!—and also learn to love myself enough to believe I deserve the life I visualize. Ooooh, so much work to do! I started doing yoga and I hope it helps. In the meantime, Andrea, I can’t thank you enough for being such an inspiration to me. Your blog is a great gift to me these days. xo

    • My name is Andrea November 16, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

      Thanks Michele! I wish we could hang out and have a glass (or four) of wine together!

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