Saturday, June 8, 2013

Success or Failure

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth. You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.

—Bill Watterson

I think about this a lot, for all accounts and by most people's standards I am an utter failure. I took a few art classes, but never went to college because I knew I wanted to devote my life to making art, I have known that since I was 8 years old and have never wavered. I have worked low paying labor and sales jobs because I did not go to college, now I work for myself taking care of other people's houses, it pays well enough that I can work 20 hours a week and live, no extras, no traveling,  but it pays the bills and I have more time to paint, I paint from my heart and never have painted what was popular. I make very little money off my art, I am not in a gallery, though I have been in many, but never in a very successful gallery. Now on ETSY I may sell one painting or drawing every 2 to three months.
I have never owned a new car or my own home. Never been married or had children. I just never met the right man or if I did it did not work out, I kind of have sucky taste in men and for the last 5 years I have had no interest. I live in a small house with a tiny yard and next to most of you I live in a hovel.
I am not a success story, but I will tell you what I do have: I have joy, I have spiritual practices that sustain me, I have nature and furbabies, I have more GOOD friends than anyone I know, and family I love with all my heart, and I have integrity, not to mention my talent and my art which creates for me more joy than anything else in my life. So yes, I am a failure at money and romantic love and career, but a huge success at happiness :-).
I would love to hear your thoughts. XOXO


lynne h said...


i'm a 'failure' too, and oh my, how persistent i've had to be to reach this lofty spot...


me (who lives in a 8' x 40' trailer : )

Mim said...

If you feel successful, then you are successful. The heck with what the world thinks. If you live in a small house and yearn for a big one, then you will never feel successful.

I am slowing down in the rat race and some people think I am crazy! not me!

Annie said...

Lynne, darling, you made me smile wide. So honored to be in such good company :-). xoxo

Mim, Well truth be told I would like a bigger house and a new car and a trip to Paris, but I would not trade them for giving up my art. Good for you slowing down! There are so many more important things than money.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts are... who makes the rules??
We do... and success or failure is a man made concept.. we decide ourselves what is success ect... so therefore if for some mad reason we are feeling we are failing... we simply need to change the way we think to become successful.
It's only within our own heart true decisions are made.. if we are unhappy then we need to change something within ourselves.. not externally.

We can't do the same thing all the time and expect change.. we have to change.
So success or failure is really up to the individual to decide.. not the media.
I too can be viewed as a failure.. depending on the measuring cup.

Love to you Annie
and remember the world is overflowing with many different lifestyles... to help us navigate our way through life.
I believe essentially we are all the same, but each of us on a different karmic path... no one better or worse than the other x x

Jos said...

By any measure I value you are HUGELY successful. You have a rare gift of seeing things with true clarity ... you saw what you wanted really early on in life and you've achieved that ... are achieving that still. Your art moves me. What can I tell you? And we will make that Paris trip one of these days. My fund is growing (albeit slowly). I love you Annie. Loads. xoxo Jos

sukipoet said...

well said. i admire your dedication. i have never done well in the realm of male/female relationships either because i choose poorly. I too once determined to dedicate myself to art however I had to support a son and so had a # of conventional jobs through the years and also streams of part timers so to provide time and space to create. good luck as you continue on your path

Annie said...

You are right. However, it seems no matter what I do or change these facts remain the same, someone told me it was because I did not really care about money and success, I would rather walk in the woods or paint then market my work and I would have to agree. I choose to see myself as successful, but I know others don't and sometimes it bothers me because I am human, but I let it go. Love to you too. xoxo

Your words are always just what I need to hear. I love you.xoxo

I decided early in my life to not have children, even if I had found a good partner for one, for that very reason. I choose art over kids, not sure it was the right choice, but it was my choice and I have made peace with it.

kj said...

Paris? You and jos? Be still my heart!

I think success is one of those words that confuse more than clarify. How could your art not be successful
Annie: it is so pleasing and creative. I suppose you are talking about money more than freedom

Once at an ashram I was told that money is also a spiritual experience: that it must be respectful and responsible. So in this I think of the word 'comfort' more than 'success'. Any success I have in life is based on being comfortable and proud of myself. I don't want to over emphasize money but I don't want the lack if it to stress me out either.

To me you are a huge success because you are kind and authentic and wise. You show up every day and you share and create from your heart.

I want you to have some big hullabaloo gallery show because you deserve it


Judy Shreve said...

Annie - I can so relate to this post. Success should only be measured by our hearts!

Annie said...

Kj, Oh I so hope Paris with Jos, I have no money in my fund, had to raid it to go home for my mom's memorial, but I live in hope.
Thank you for your kind words. Money is spiritual and I always have enough for what I need, it is the extras I lack. xoxo
Amen! I count you as very successful,
great marriage, great kid, wonderful house and your beautiful paintings, not to mention the new cooper! xoxo

angela recada said...

You are one of the richest people I know, because you know what matters. I don't live a conventionally "successful" life either, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Love you,

Annie said...

Angela, Yes, I agree, I am a millionaire if you don't count money :-). So are you. Love you too. xoxo

Joanie Hoffman said...

Hi Annie,
Sometimes I think I am trying to convince myself that I am happy with my life, and sometimes I feel like I really am happy with my life. Overall, the things that are "wrong" are my own doing, so I can't complain. I know I am grateful for a lot of things in my life, so that gets me through some not-so-graet days. I just found your blog via lynne hoppe, so I will happily visit for a while. Thanks for an interesting posting. Happy Thursday, Joanie Hoffman.

Cathy Mckean said...

Your honesty is refreshing! I am in a similar situation. I work in laundry at a local resort. Sell my paintings (cheaply) at my local farmer's market. So many blogs focus on 'succes' ie romance, money, stuff. I am very happy living in my little house in the woods, alone but for the fur babies. I try to decorate but, often it is more shabby than chic. The joy is in the journey. Thank you for sharing.

Unknown said...

Even though I did go to college, I have always avoided taking jobs that would prevent me from being able to do art. It is interesting to me how little the modern world seems to think of artists and people who can be happy "on their own path." Especially when so many people want to be artists!
Keep on keepin' on!!!