Full Circle

Happy Sunday Friends!

If you didn't see in my Instagram stories today, I have a slew of new (and restocked) cards up in my shop now- so you can check them out here and hopefully find some new goodies you will like! There's also a coupon currently running in my shop for all you Instagrammers out there: if you enter INSTA20 at checkout you can save 20% on whatever you want. And I'd love if you shared that with your friends on the Gram too! :)

You may also have seen on Instagram that I'm exploring some new styles of painting and have lately been filling many sketchbook pages with these more organic, free-form, abstract creations. And I am really liking them! They require a different thought process to create: they're less 'planned,' more spontaneous and free; they are more like thoughts and feelings that just flow from me versus images that I draw, plan, or calculate beforehand. So far none are for sale, but I think I will make them so eventually.

It's a style that's happening 'in-the-moment,' if that makes sense. It's opening me up - or it's a response to me opening up myself, more likely. These new paintings actually resemble a lot of the work I was making 3-4 years ago, when I first began painting. Funny how that happens, I guess. Maybe somehow I'm going back home to something familiar, authentic, and good.

In other very exciting news, this year is already off to a great start in the arena of my career outside of art and painting: I got a new job as a Communications Coordinator at the YMCA conference center here in Black Mountain (I moved to North Carolina almost exactly a year ago for another, part-time position at this same place), and a year later have come on board as a full-time employee - in a field I really love. I'll be doing all their in-house writing and social media management (follow us on Instagram please :), I promise to make it beautiful!)

So in this way too, I have come full-circle as a writer, which is what I went to school for. (Yup, never studied art at all!) I went to Indiana University's School of Journalism and studied Comparative Literature as well. And writing is my first love. It comes more easily, naturally, and authentically to me even than painting. I could never tire of it and I am really enjoying having a job that allows me to write, storytell, and craft ideas to innovate and contribute to a larger mission.

The YMCA has been good to me: I came to North Carolina in early 2017 after living and working at the YMCA in Colorado during all of 2016. This organization has allowed me a sounding board for the growth of my faith and values (why I was attracted in the first place);  a place for me to develop a career and leverage my callings (I taught art at the Y in Colorado, and now I'm writing); and has put me in touch with the best people - lifelong friends and companions that mean the most to me in the world. It's really been a beautiful journey.

So that said, I'm excited for these new changes ahead (my first full week was last week). I'm trying to keep my eyes fixed on the goodness that will come from this season of life. As much as it's nice to own my own business (I guess this one's for you, kids in your mid to upper 20s), there's a strange pull now, that I honesty did not foresee coming, in my 30 year old life, towards something that more resembles not stability necessarily, but consistency: a pattern, a routine, a fixed income; and a cause that isn't mine to contribute to, actually, but is something greater. It's nice. It's exciting. 

I like being the head of my own ship, but I also enjoy being part of a team with a more rooted, expanded cause. I can already see how the more self-starting, independent, entrepreneurial parts of my nature are an asset in the place I work and I it's exciting to see how the skills (and parts of myself) that I've had to develop for my own business are allowed to shine through where I am now.

Anyway, what I really mean to say in all this is that so much of the past year as been really unexpected, but I see it coming together as right. The last time I actually had a full-time job (in an office; other than retail management) was in 2013 - and I quit and went to Peru eight months in. That was during a time of great, necessary, personal change in my life: it sounds so terribly cliche but I needed to be as drastic, crazy, impulsive, and 'lost-and-found' as I was back then, to become who I am now. I needed to run away, 'change the world,' change myself, learn what I thought my worldview was, fumble, crash, experiment, fail a lot, be confused a lot. Go out but not really ever 'arrive' anywhere.

It seems like a lifetime ago, but I was looking for something then, that I have since found - though it's not what I thought it was (funny how that happens). I was seeking something inner. I just, at the time, didn't know that. So I went out, to look, and the whole time it was just in the way I was looking out.

I imagine now if I quit my job to go volunteer in an impoverished area of a third world country, it would be for very different (more mature, pure, less... not 'selfish,' but 'about-myself' reasons). It's kind of strange to talk about life this way: like I have some kind of greater wisdom about it now that I didn't have when I was 26 (naturally). You just don't know some things until you live them out, I guess; I am learning this in other areas of life now as well and it's so true. There's only so much you can control, foresee, or plan - the rest just happens to you, and you have to be adaptable.

I'm learning now that real adaptability is only learned when outside forces press upon and make you uncomfortable, not the other way around. It's easy to adapt when things are kind of familiar and 'what you thought they'd be;' it's not as easy when you have to step into places that you perceive might threaten something about you: your identity, your freedom, your beloved little 'plan' or idea for you life. But here is where you learn, if you choose to.

I'm choosing to now. I will admit that one of the things I'm struggling with is not so much structure, but a shift in dedicated time spent in a creative state (and trying to take care of the managerial end of it, more so - promotion, sales, budgeting, etc.) I also don't want to live on Instagram all day, being on it and in front of a computer screen for a job now and not just for managing my own etsy and social media. I'm sure I'll look back in time and have the whole time management thing down to a science, but as I said: I can't know yet until I go through it. Learn. Adapt. Figure out what it looks like to give 100% to several arenas of life. 

I'm just excited and grateful for the opportunity. I tend to be the type that gets initially overwhelmed by things (projects, tasks) adding up, but I luckily have wonderful people in my life to encourage, remind, and support me in not only art but especially in the harder, more inner things that have to do with the way I see the challenges before me.

This year has been a lot of adjusting and innovating on a personal and professional level: I moved my business to a new state (that I'd never even been to); I had a few job moves before now that didn't lead to where I thought they would or didn't evolve into what I thought they would; and I've had some struggles actually procuring a place to make my art (housing opportunities are sparse where I am, for a solitary gal who just needs a simple space, and truth be told I'm actually currently sharing a space with someone until I can find something of my own).

So it hasn't been hard - it's just been a road so winding I don't really have any other choice but to walk it little step by little step. And I think I'm learning that's the best strategy anyway: so far, it's brought me full circle, and to just where I need to be.

It'll only be later that I learn why this is the route I needed to go.

Lauren Younis