States of Flux

It is no great secret that many people are living in uncertainty right now. While there are temporary fixes in place, the longevity of “non-essential” businesses is, at best, open to question. My business – most assuredly “non-essential” in the eyes of the government and general population – faces the same question: will I exist in a post-COVID-19 world?

Some days, I despair and think “I’m ruined. I will never recover.” Other days, I am filled with hope and ideas and a sense of purpose. And some days, I feel it all at once.

I wrestle all these emotions while my husband works from home, my children school at home, and we shelter in place away from contagions. Creativity in the kitchen is necessary as some supplies run out. It is hardly a wonder that I am exhausted. (Yet, still cannnot sleep adequately.)

There is little doubt that I am NOT the only one experiencing these visceral emotional responses. I wonder what sort of need for mental health professionals will be once this is over. Our children are living in a strange time. Mine are just old enough that this will leave a mark on their developing personalities.

I have spent the past seven years building a sustainable business. The majority of my business income is gig-based (portrait sessions). A very small portion comes from passive streams (purchase of templates, prints, and patrons). Typically, I’m really busy in February, March, and April with high school senior portraits. This covers my cost of doing business through the spring and summer while I focus on more creative endeavors before the fall, when my high school senior sessions come back around to see me through the winter.

So, you can imagine the frustration I am experiencing with the loss of this income. While I can borrow from our personal savings to cover my costs, it is painful to do that. It hurts my pride. But I would sooner do that than get a bank loan.

Well. What am I going to do then?

I’m going to create. I’m going to make art. I’m going to try to open up more income streams for my business. (Last year, I had already decided to move to fewer portrait sessions and focus more on art and other income streams; this virus is forcing my plans to move quicker – I have less time to build and implement.)

I am going to continue to be an artist. I’m using this darkness to find my light, and shine it to others.

Original image taken in 2017. Re-edited and reimagined for creativity’s sake in March 2020. Model: Olivia Varden

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