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2018: A Year of Lessons

At the end of a year I like to take a look back at the year and see what I accomplished, what changed in my life, what lessons I learned. I usually do this in a journal. This year I decided to share some of it with you. I’d love to hear what your lessons were.

Don’t be afraid to stop a successful event

In 2010 I stepped out on a limb and decided to create the Creative Arts Business Summit.

I had been to events, knew what supported me, knew what didn’t, and I wanted to create something that would serve creatives to build a successful, sustainable business.

And by successful, I meant what was successful to you. I’d been to events where someone else decided what my success looked like. I didn’t want that.

That first event, known to those who come as CABS, was held in March of 2011. In the ensuing years, 100s of creatives have joined our tribe, shared their stories, and left transformed. They have found a home where they could share from the heart and not be judged. They felt supported, and changed their business and lives.

People who came to CABS left motivated. More importantly, they left with a plan to follow and a support team to back them up.

And, they kept coming back.

I absolutely LOVE CABS. Why would I want to stop doing it?

Like other creatives, I started to feel restless. I wanted to “spread my wings” a bit further. And for me, I needed to let something go to do this.

And, yes, it was scary to give up a successful, profitable event.

When I announced at our 2018 event that 2019 would be our last CABS, you could hear a pin drop. Since that time — despite some pleas — I haven’t changed my mind. Our last Creative Arts Business Summit will be March 21-23, 2019.

What’s next for me? Focus more of my own art. And, I’ve got some ideas for helping artists, and you’ll have to wait to see what they are!

Read More

I’ve always been a voracious reader. Books are all over my house, in stacks and shelves. It’s wonderful that I’m married to a reader who has his own stacks.

I love to read with paper in my hand, but I do have a Kindle and read on my iPad. I also listen to books when I drive.

Because I’m always learning from books, I enjoy sharing books with others. I run a book club through our Members’ Studio of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals. I’m a member of a book club that I started on my street. (The story with that one is I always wanted to be in a book club and no one invited me. I started my own.)

I don’t usually track the books I read. I decided to go back and look. Last year I probably read more than 30 books. Here’s the list of most of what books I read. I didn’t track the ones I read on vacation. The first 12 were from our ICAP Members’ Studio Book Club. The others are a mixed list of business and personal books. I like a variety of books, some good, some not so good. And, I enjoy a good mystery.

The 12-Week Year
Braving the Wilderness
Creativity Rules
Profit First
The Emyth Revisited
Joy (the movie)
Your Best Year Ever
The Awakened Woman
The Miracle Morning
The Art of Gathering
Girl, Wash Your Face
Get Rich, Lucky Bitch
Mary Coin
Born a Crime
The Vengeance of Mothers
Behold the Dreamers
Rabbit Cake
Lilac Girls
Y is for Yesterday
One Perfect Lie
After Anna
I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool

In addition to books, I read parts of my local paper, The Washington Post, on a daily basis. Online, I read bits ranging from the Wall Street Journal to Entrepreneur Magazine to whatever my sisters, friends, and husband email me to whatever engages me on my Facebook feed. I also read a lot of design and art magazines.

Connection + Relationship

Connection and relationship are a circle in my mind. They continue to feed on each other.

You start with a simple connection, and if you are lucky, it grows into a relationship. At the same time the connection and the relationship deepen.

It takes work, but the results are one of the joys of my life.

One of the things I love most about running the ICAP Members’ Studio and hosting CABS is the opportunity to get to know the members and build relationships with them. This enhances my life so much.

This connection is something I value in our arts industry. It shows up in the quilt world for me through a visit to International Quilt Market and Festival each year.

Connecting in 2019 also included attending a live event called Tribe Live in Toronto in June. It was geared for people who completed a course on running memberships.

At the conference I made some valuable connections that have led to relationships. And those relationships have allowed me to share the connections with others, particularly our ICAP Members’ Studio.

On a personal level, I also looked for more connecting and enhancing relationships. I’m close to my four sisters and we always find ways to connect. We are not all based in the same location, and we did manage one get-together in 2018 to celebrate a nephew’s high school gradation. My husband and I went to mini-family reunion with some cousins. And, of import, we also did more prioritizing of our own relationship.

Put your health first and goodness follows

Sure, everyone says to put your health first. And, many of us try with some success.

That’s what I decided to do in the fall of 2018.

The impetus was really to lose some of the weight I had gained over the past few years. I cringed looking at pictures of the extra fluff in my middle.

I lost the weight and shared that in a blog post.

What I didn’t expect was the impact that this would have on me otherwise, personally and professionally.

I started to have more energy and I didn’t have joint pain any longer.

The confidence I got from this program spilled over into other areas of my life.

What I also didn’t expect was the additional clarity and growth around my business. I could see what I needed to stop and what I need to enhance.

Despite the fact that my focus was on my health, I was able to put additional focus into my business. I guess I thought I’d “use up” my focus. I could see the difference in how much focus I put into my business every day, and it showed up in my results.

Continue to find inspiration everywhere

As creatives we don’t lack for inspiration in our own realm. For example, quilters are inspired by other quilts. Photographers are inspired by photos.

This year, I made a point of seeking out inspiration in new places. We took vacations to Aruba, West Palm Beach and to Montreal. In Florida my inspiration was found in color and nature. In Canada, I found inspiration in nature, a renowned art museum, and a Barbie museum.

I live in a more rural area of a metropolitan city (DC) so I look for inspiration in area museums and the farms I pass every day.

I spend many of my weekends on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I’m inspired by the water, the birds, and the quiet beauty.

I also looked for some more unusual places to be inspired. I paid more attention to the architecture in my space. I looked for good design in home decor and lighting. I looked at more landscaping. I even paid more attention in restaurants.

When I traveled, I often looked for a new magazine to read. Again, inspiration outside my given field.

The idea for me was to be more present in all my surroundings and I think that has paid off.

Watching the numbers is key

Since I’m a creative business coach, my clients hear me talk about watching their numbers. After all you can’t make any corrections if you don’t know where you are.

This past year I probably focused on a more regular basis on the growth in my business. Part of that is due to the fact that our ICAP Members’ Studio has a month planning session. If I was leading a discussion, I spent more time ahead looking at my own results.

I had a mixed year here. My social media numbers were up from previous years. My expenses were down (a good thing). I increased the number of private coaching clients. My revenue was up from the previous year, but it had dropped that year, so it wasn’t as good as I would expect.

Going forward, I know that the income could drop in 2019. Remember I am not doing CABS so I won’t have income from that event. I have two goals here. One would be to look at look at how I can replace the income. Another would be to go back and evaluate what that income should be. If one of my goals is to make more art, my income goal may be different.

Make more art

This is one other area where I think I fell short.

I always say I want to spend more time creating. I have good intentions, put times in my calendar, and then things come up.

I did some sketching and watercolor while I was on vacation during the year, only I didn’t continue it when I got back.

I completed a long twin quilt for my nephew who started to college in the fall of 2018.

In the end I did more dreaming about making art than actually making art.

That has to change in 2019. If I want to get good at making art, I have to practice and make bad art.

How do I do that? I need to go back to my calendar, set aside the time again, and honor the commitment like I would honor other commitments.

That’s what I tell my clients; so I should do it myself.

It’s your turn!

What lessons did you learn last year and what will you take into this year?

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