When we first moved to Montreal, I struggled a lot with what I was doing here/what to even do here. I hated it when people asked me what I did; I often just gave a super vague answer and would just talk about my husband, because that was easier than talking about myself. It was a tough season for me - I felt like I was in this funny in between space, in between what I was doing before, but not sure what was coming ahead.
Discovering calligraphy, then, became like waking up one morning and breathing fresh and crisp fall air. To me, the fall season feels like new beginnings. People typically say that about spring, but the fall is like that for me. Maybe it's the constant association with a new school year, which was always exciting for me growing up, rather than the feeling of dread some kids get (!), or it's that crisp cold air that almost makes you wake up a little more, or it's getting to see the landscape change before your eyes and the different colours come out to play - whatever it is, fall to me feels like the exciting start of new beginnings.
Calligraphy felt like a new beginning for me, and in so many ways, it was; I ventured into the world of visual art, when I had never considered myself a visual artist before, and starting Olive Branch and Co also meant my first foray into learning how to do business-y things like deal with money and make invoices and what not. And it was fun! I never would have associated the word "fun" with running a business, but I was having a lot of fun experimenting and trying new things and learning what worked for me.
Even after I started Olive Branch and Co, though, I still really wrestled with whether this was what I was "supposed" to be doing. When people asked me what I did, I still couldn't really give a straight answer: "I'm kind of in school? And I kind of do calligraphy for people? I kind of run an etsy shop/small business?" Really tentative, lots of uptalk and question marks, and yes, I really said "kind of" that much. I think it was tough for me to really own it because it felt like such an unusual thing to be doing - I hadn't studied this stuff, I had a degree in something totally different, and was this even a real job?!
I'll be honest; I still struggle with answering those questions sometimes, and sometimes when people say, but you have another day job too, right?, I'm not really sure what to say. But I do know that somewhere along the way in this first year, lots of things have happened with this calligraphy stuff that came kind of as a whim and as a way to discover another angle of art. I've done styled shoots and been featured on some amazing wedding blogs I read when I was getting married (!); I've done lots of custom and wedding work for people, including wedding vows, invitations, envelope addressing, day of signs; I've gotten to be a part of people's gift-giving and the way that they show love to their people, whether it's part of an engagement or an anniversary or a congratulatory event; I've done four craft shows; I've been hired for live calligraphy events; I taught my first modern calligraphy class yesterday with my own alphabet. I say these things not to brag, but even for me to recognize that yes, this is what has happened, none if it is by mistake, I like all of this stuff I've done, and I want to keep going with this, to keep exploring.
So a year later, I like to think I'm a little more comfortable with this being where I'm at. I think I'm still learning a lot about stepping fully into something even if it is really different and unusual, but even if sometimes I still step in tentatively, I'm still stepping, still going. I'm learning that it's important to choose which voices to listen to; there are lots of voices floating around, some saying, really?! or uhhhh, even if it's said in a certain look or a tone; and there are other voices that are saying, you go girl, and hustle; and then there are other voices that are saying, you are free to fail or succeed because I love you and that's what matters, so why not go for it? That last voice, the voice of love, that's the one I want to listen to.
Last night, someone asked me what I did, and I said, well, I'm a calligrapher. And i stopped myself from adding on anything, like "but I also do x" or "but I used to do x" or "that's kind of what I do". This is where I'm at now, and I'm thankful for that gift, and don't want to make light of it or undermine the Giver.
It's been a good year of discovery, and I'm looking forward to another year of more learning, more discovery, and more ownership of where I'm at and who I'm becoming. (peace sign emoji here)