I have moved and am settled in Brooklyn with boxes everywhere. I love my new apartment and the life that has started to take shape. It is invigorating to see potential everywhere I look while at times daunting as well.
The most interesting thing that has happened from a business perspective, is the complete flip in how I am working and where it looks like this path will take me. If I continue this way I will probably end up doing a combination of teaching, business mentoring, house calls, private practice, and work for organizations (Alzheimer's Association, Hospice) with a contracting job or two on the side. This is a change, although it seems like a natural progression, from my 7-15 jobs a month that I have been doing for the past 6 years now.
The lesson has been to stay flexible and see where the road leads.
I am relearning that self-employment can mean using the momentum created by unexpected twists to keep moving forward.
Just last Tuesday I began teaching, as adjunct faculty, for the graduate art therapy program in the School of Visual Arts located in Manhattan. It's amazing! I love it and am very excited to inspire and support students on their way to becoming art therapists.
This did not happen by chance or in a simple way. Last January I sent every program in the area my cover letter and resume to both share about the upcoming publication of my book and also the idea that I was interested in teaching. I heard nothing back. I let it go, deciding to follow up after I figured out where life was taking me and put it out of my mind.
Then I got a phone call in June asking if I had any interest in interviewing for a position at SVA. I was thrilled! However, after the interview I heard back and didn't get the job. I was reassured over the phone about how impressed they were and asked if maybe next year I would be interested in teaching a section of the thesis class. I was enthusiastic about the opportunity and thanked them for considering me. After the conversation I put it out of my mind and looked forward to trying again next year.
A couple weeks later I received another call. I was asked to come in for another interview and the head of the program said they were considering adding another section to the thesis class thIs year. I was stunned and immediately jumped into action, pulling together a new syllabus and interviewing packet.
Less than an hour after the interview I was offered the job!
There is no way to know what will come out of something. Just stay positive, gracious, and patient while always putting your best foot forward.
Now, back to unpacking and settling in. My next break will be to prepare for class number two on this coming Tuesday. Oh how I wish these boxes would unpack themselves!
Happy new school year everyone!
Transitioning because of a Move
The last move I made was from Washington, DC to Huntington, NY. I spent a few months preparing and turned my ~15 groups over to 2 art therapists. It was quite a process to train others in the business and logistical side of contract work, but also a tremendous relief to know my clients would be taken care of once I left.
Now I am embarking on a new kind of move from Huntington to Brooklyn. Very exciting and different in that I will only be an hour or so away from my current jobs. This has allowed me to transition more slowly. Some of my work will end before I move while a couple jobs will end after and one I will keep until I am more established in Brooklyn and can afford to let it go.
There are many different ways to make transitions like this. I think the most important part is to realize what you're leaving behind and how it might be able to help someone else.
Questions to ask yourself:
Can you hand off your jobs or at least find someone interested in interviewing for the facilities?
This could create jobs for other art therapists and continuity for your clients.
Will everything end at once or can the transition be gradual?
There are benefits and challenges either way.
Are your facilities open to taking on someone new or will the art therapy program end with you?
Sometimes there is no control over what will happen next and it's up to you how hard you push to keep it going or if it's something that will have to sort itself out.
No matter his close or far away the move will take you it is a big change. The last month will include packing, changing addresses, and doing all those crazy little things that get you to your destination. One of the smartest things to do is make the jobs as self sufficient as possible during that time. Projects that don't take a lit of prep or at home work, doing things that are not pivotal on your use of home supplies. If supplies are not already at the site than this might be a good opportunity to broach the matter. The less chaos the better and realizing you packed a key ingredient for a project in progress can be stressful, costly, or just plain frustrating.
So, take your way of working into account, plan ahead, and remain flexible. It's a tiring process to move, but the load can be lightened by a little planning and support from friends. Decide what works best for you and realize there is no right way to do this. A new chapter is about to start, so don't forget to enjoy it!
Self Portrait 2011
How do you start? When I first began I would become overwhelmed by the sheer number of things it seemed like I had to do all at once. As soon as I broke it down and gave myself some time to do the fun things, like create business cards, it became more manageable.
Find Your Niche
Who do you like to work with? Is there a population you are excited to do groups with?
What kinds of projects do you enjoy doing? What materials are interesting and fun to work with?
A great way to start is to answer these questions and then look at Google maps and type in key words. (retirement homes, mental health, women's center, etc.) Find out what organizations are in your area and if there are any therapists already doing work with specific groups of people. If there are, great! You have contacts you can make and resources to tap into. If there are not, great! You have an untapped niche to start working in. Both require hard work just in different ways.
Compile a list of all the facilities, community resources, and people that have to do with your interests. If you can find them make sure to include the name of a contact or head of department, so when you send them a letter later on you will be able to be specific about who should read it. Also, note what the titles of the people or departments are and any specific information you can use to individualize the letter or include key words that will trigger the reader's interest. This list will be ongoing and a place you can make notes or record observations.
- Create a business card with your own art as a logo.
-Write down your dream job. Don't be too realistic and just let yourself daydream on the paper!
-Create two art pieces. The first explores any anxiety, fear, uncertainty, etc. The second explores your excitement, joy, confidence, etc. Use various art materials and let it be abstract or representative. Add words if it feels right. When you have finished look at the art side by side and notice similarities and differences. This is a great way to gain a new perspective and I would suggest looking at these every couple months or doing this exercise again later on in the process.
The important part of the creative break is to give yourself a chance to see things differently and to just have fun! Just because it's enjoyable doesn't mean it's not important and it is still working towards your goals and ambitions.
Next post will be about sending information out to perspective places/people and preparing to offer a free group as an interview tool.
Enjoy the process!!
Where to start...
Starting today I am going to be doing a three month series of posts that touch on the beginnings, middle, and endings that come with contract work. While I hope this is informative and inspiring I also would love to hear what questions come up for you. In May I will spend the month answering reader's questions, so please comment on the posts or email me!
Create the work you love!
Take a Break
Taking a break brings energy and perspective back to your life and work. It is so important to get away now and then. It doesn't matter if it is a walk to a nearby park, a lunch with friends, or a week long vacation. Get out there and revitalize yourself!
I just spent a few days over Thanksgiving with my family in upstate New York. It was beautiful and relaxing. I still worked on the final rewrites for my book, but the time I spent away from my computer was rejuvenating. Board games, knife throwing, walks in the woods, frisbee with my brother, and the daily work on a 1,500 piece jigsaw puzzle are a completely different routine then I'm use to and it woke my mind up. I also took the train up and back. My car dying may have been a blessing in disguise because I was able to work, nap, read, and just stare out the window listening to music for hours.
After this week I have new perspective on my life and my book. Looking forward to jumping in and seeing what happens next! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!
Do you Have to be an Expert?
Do you have to be an expert to teach, run a workshop, or share your knowledge?
I have met people that say yes, but then I wonder what is an expert? There are some people out there who know a lot about a topic and are certainly impressive to listen to or inspiring to learn from. Do we all have to be at a certain level before sharing?
I was recently mentoring someone who mentioned how challenging it was to run a workshop and she questioned if she had any right to be doing this. Meaning, should she really be sharing her thoughts and beliefs to paying customers when she still feels she has a lot to learn on the subject. I can tell you that she is not lacking in education or knowledge on the topic and I would love to participate in one of her workshops sometime. So why is this successful and knowledgeable woman questioning herself?
Part of the answer lies in the idea that there is always more to learn. We can't know it all. With all the information out there that is accessible to everyone how can we possibly read let alone comprehend everything. Part of learning is sharing the knowledge we have and hearing the responses. The questions we can't answer give us our next jumping off point into a subject. If we are honest about our scope of knowledge there is no reason not to share with others. Remaining open to not knowing will allow your students to both trust in what you have to share and learn how to respond and react when entering into the unknown.
One way I have always approached learning is to enter into a class open to whatever that specific teacher can share with me in that specific moment. It is a chance to gain another perspective. If it is an unfamiliar topic then it is all exciting and new information. If it is a topic I love, then there is bound to be some information I already know, but this person will bring a different understanding or excitement to it then I would.
Of course there needs to be some knowledge on the topic about to be explored. If the teacher brings nothing new or no solid base of understanding to the subject then why teach it? At some point though you have to trust you know enough to share that information with others. Start with novices and see what kind of feedback you get. As you teach you learn how to gauge when you are ready to move to another level, what information is too challenging, and what helps others learn from you. If you remain open to changing and being challenged your students will learn a lot.
Emery is excited that Water & Stone is becoming a reality and hopes this blog will inspire others and be a place to share challenges, success, and exciting moments.