Breathless with gratitude.

As I approach my fourth year of papercutting, I look back over the wild ride of the past three years since I first picked up a scalpel and “had a go”.

Gosh, it’s been a while since my last post, and a lot has been going on!! But as we approach Christmas and I take a quick breather from the commissions I’m working on which will be gifted on the 25th, I want to take a brief look back over this year.

From having the privilege of completing lots of beautiful personalised commissions to creating a number of new print designs, to launching my own website and online shop and taking part in the Small Business Saturday national bus tour, 2014 has really been a busy year for me!!

15795905416_2cfca29b81_o

Me with a local councillor and local small business owners in York City Centre as part of Small Business Saturday celebrations. Image courtesy of York City Council. https://www.flickr.com/photos/yorkcouncil/15795905416/in/set-72157649344248052/

In a few days’ time it’ll be exactly three years since I first picked up a scalpel to create a papercut. It was something that would change my life completely. I could never have imagined that within a few of months of starting I would have enough work to keep me going for three years!! The enquiries have continued, the gratitude-filled feedback from my customers just gets more and more heartwarming, and I’m forging links with clients and other businesses which are so supportive and beneficial to both me and my little company… And to others I hope!!

MAKE TODAY MARVELLOUS

A key element of what I do is about spreading joy. It’s one of my main reasons for doing what I do. Whether it’s a personalised family tree cut, a colourful print with a motivational quote or a charitable action (such as contributing a raffle prize to a DEC appeal fundraiser, or helping to raise £750 for Cancer Research UK), I want to use my skill and my reach to help create change. From my clients’ wonderful feedback, I know I am doing that. And it means so much – *so much* – that I am able to do that. I’ve made people I’ve never even met cry with the happy memories that feature in their bespoke commissions. I’ve helped others celebrate birthdays, marriages, civil partnerships, christenings, anniversaries and retirements through my work. My work has been used by my clients to mark a turning point in their lives, a new start, a chance to “Make Today Marvellous” and begin every day with a fresh start and a positive mindset as they glance at my work on their walls.

Do you know how amazing that feels? Can you possibly comprehend the feeling I get when a valued customer (who really doesn’t know me from Adam) opens their heart to me, spills out their soul and explains their motivation for buying an original, ordering a print or commissioning a piece? And so many of them do it – it’s something I could never have anticipated when I first started out three years ago.

And I am so grateful for it. So grateful.

You really are.

NOT ALL PLAIN SAILING

It sounds like 2014 has been a great year for me, and it has in so many respects. But, after a rocky start, I had a breakdown in March and hit rock bottom with my depression. Bad things were going on, work fell to the wayside and life felt incredibly tough. I didn’t open up about it on my blog, on my Facebook page or anywhere really. A tight-knit circle of online friends became my life raft; people to cling to when I felt I was drowning in my emotions, unable to function on the most basic of levels and really struggling to maintain the facade of the happy, joy-making artist. Simply getting by as a mummy, making it to preschool drop-offs or doing the weekly shop, was like dragging myself through wet cement.

This was my third or fourth bout of severe depression. It wasn’t until I posted a pic on my Instagram (a crumpled up tissue with a caption about anxiety and how it had such a control over my life) that I realised I was ok to talk about it. That by opening up a little, I was helping heal myself and also – amazingly – helping others. The tragic loss of Robin Williams saw many more people open up. I began to see a counsellor, I went to group sessions to discuss self-esteem and valuing yourself… Two proper breaks away, with sunshine, beaches and facing my fears and anxieties head on (I can’t tell you the terror I felt at the most basic everyday activities) have helped a lot. The support of friends and loved ones has helped a lot. Opening up about it (a little) to my social media followers helped a lot.

Feeling the love (and the fun!) with some of my online support network in real life in November 2014; an activity that I couldn't have even contemplated earlier in the year. Pictured with fellow small business owners and party types SoFire Creations, Emma Boyes Papercutting Artist, Sarah Travis Artist and Illustrator, Dolly Dearlove and halfpinthome

Feeling the love (and the fun!) with some of my online support network in real life in November 2014; an activity that I couldn’t have even contemplated earlier in the year. Pictured with fellow small business owners and arty types SoFire Creations, Emma Boyes Papercutting Artist, Sarah Travis Artist and Illustrator, Dolly Dearlove and halfpinthome

But mostly, it was down to me. I have had some serious revelations this year about my almost-lifelong struggle with depression and anxiety, and I am so proud of myself for turning it around. It’s taken a huge shift in thinking, in behaviour and in me, but I’m starting to find myself again, feel comfortable in my own skin and – quite simply – to love myself again. Cripes… Don’t I sound mega-cheesy?? But it’s how I feel.

PICK A PART THAT LOOKS GOOD

All of that is for another blog post really, but I wanted to share a little of it with you because it’s true we all have our struggles, our battles and our demons; and in this highly edited, Instagram-filtered, rose-tinted online life, it can be very easy to take things at face value and think everyone has it better than you; that everyone else’s life is more fun-filled, vibrant, picture-perfect and just ruddy perfect than your own. It’s not.

A real-life moment of pure joy; walking the dog with my daughter in Summer... No filters required.

A real-life moment of pure joy; walking the dog with my daughter in Summer… No filters required.

And it’s this that inspires me. Creating my art (although it can cause me a lot of headaches at times) makes other people happy, and it makes me happy too. I want to live my life authentically, to be true to myself and to create a life I love and that my family loves. These are my goals. I am so privileged to do what I do, and I certainly don’t take it for granted.

FULL STEAM AHEAD

2015 will be an exciting year for me. I’m already setting goals and making plans – something I’ve never really done before (being an expert at bumbling along!!). I have some interesting events coming up which will require a lot of work but could lead to great things, I’m going to be introducing new products and spreading my wings a little, and I’m going to focus more on taking care of myself and my family, as well as keeping my wonderful clients happy.

And although I guess I’ll always live with depression and anxiety, I’m now better equipped with the tools to cope with the bad patches and knockbacks. As a thank you for your support this year, I’m running a little giveaway over on my Facebook page, and will continue to run offers and reward customer loyalty with discount codes in 2015.

Here’s to a wonderful Christmas and New Year for all of my friends, family, customers and supporters. Let’s make 2015 marvellous.

Make Today Marvellous

Inspired by this post?? Want to share your own goals for 2015, or your own milestones of 2014? Feel free to leave a comment!!

Don’t forget I have commission slots available from May 2015 onwards, so if you’d like to commission a special piece, please drop me a line.

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