A Trip Around the Sun, Or Maybe the Astoria Magic is at Work
The first anniversary party is over. The trash has been taken out, and the balloons are starting to lose their helium. Normalcy (whatever that is!) is returning to the studio/gallery. It's time for a little reflection, I think.
What have I gained in the past year? Several things.
I've learned that I'm stronger and more tenacious than I thought. The first year in a business is tough. Everyone says that. What they don't say is "Really. It's really tough. Like, tougher than anything you've ever encountered in your life tough. Like, fighting off an angry, starving bear when you're slathered in honey tough."
There were days when I sat by myself, hour after hour, trying to remember why I ever thought this was a good idea. Lots of tears. And a lot of prayers, too. But this was my dream for so long, I knew I had to hold out a little longer. Quitting was more than I could handle. And then someone would come through the door, and by the time they left, my 'fake it til I make it' smile had been replaced with a genuine one. The space really does hold a magic quality about it. It's bright and airy, even when the skies are cloudy and drippy outside. I don't know if it's the huge expanse of windows or the pretty green wall, or all of the art, or all the color from the glass. It's probably a combination of all of that. But I think more than that, it's the air of hope that is pervasive in these 1000 square feet. The hope we had the day we opened the doors. The hope that local artists who entrusted me with their art to show had that just the right person would see their creative endeavors and want one for their own. The hope that shoppers feel walking in, maybe to find that perfect something. Or the hope of budding creatives looking for a new, exciting outlet for that creativity.
A lot of therapeutic art has happened around the tables. There's something about taking something broken and creating a new beautiful thing from those broken pieces that speaks to people who have been broken in some way in their lives. I'm not a trained therapist, by any means. I just know what mosaic did for me during a very low point in my life. And how I've continued to share that lesson with others over the years. It's an honor to be able to do that.
Friendships have been forged over the past year as well. Not just my own - although I have made some amazing friends over that past year - but others coming in, bonding over the process with each other, laughing, talking, sharing life stories and jokes. It's so much fun to watch that unfolding.
Yes, the past year has been a hard one. But my life has been enriched in ways I didn't know were possible a mere 365 days ago. Blessings abound!
A friend who has known me for more than 20 years visited me last month. She was amazed at the amount of people I've met and how I've become a part of the community in such a short amount of time. It's true, I know more people here in tiny little Astoria than I did after 20 years in my previous home spot. I feel connected, rooted, a part of something here. It's the 'Astoria Magic' doing its thing, I think.
A young woman visited the studio yesterday from Denver. She had that look in her eye. "It feels so.... like home," she said. I know the feeling. "Don't try to fight it," I said. "If you're supposed to be here, Astoria will pull you to itself. It's the Magic." She nodded. "I feel it."