On Sundays I reflect.
I had a few beers at the campsite last weekend after the Vail Cup Collectors Club Mug Mania summer show. Aside from that I haven’t been drinking. It’s better that way.
I was chatting with a friend about not drinking recently. He mentioned a lot of the sacrifices we make, like working on a Friday night to be ready for the market Saturday instead of going out. He helped me remember what I’ve accomplished since I gave up drinking. I’m not sure this company would still exist if I were still drinking. In fact, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t.
I’ve hardly been on the torch this week, but last week and at the show I got to blow glass. It was incredible for me to get to create with my friends who visited from around the country. It’s these moments together that fuel why I do what I do.
I am working on learning more about myself, and about other people too. Navigating personal relationships is never easy, and when many of those relationships overlap with work (for me) there is an added level of challenge. One thing I’m focusing on is accepting people where they are instead of comparing them to where I am.
I took some time away from work this week to be with my parents who are visiting from Chicago. I finally made it to Hanging Lake at Glenwood Canyon, where we hiked to one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I wasn’t checking my phone or what time it was. I was able to be present.
My mom took me for my annual shopping trip at the outlet malls in Silverthorne. I don’t really buy myself things for the most part. I put every dollar I have, and lots of dollars I don’t have into my studio and my business. I’m still wearing clothes I got 20 years ago, but in the last year or two I went from size Medium to size Large. The clothes that haven’t shredded apart from decades of wear are too small. So my mom takes me out to get the essentials when she visits during the summer because she knows I would just keep wearing clothes with holes that don’t fit me.
My dad and I are getting brunch after I finish my blog today. He has a way of listening to me and giving advice that always seems to resonate.
I try to be present when I’m with my parents and my family. I try to take that time to remove myself from my work. I’m not usually very successful, but I’m trying and it feels like it’s getting better slowly over time. My relationship to family often feels rooted in tension for me. Black Sheep would probably be a fitting title for me. Despite my taking the path less traveled, they have always supported me and believed in me. This is another reason behind how I made it this far.
It’s been years since I felt like failure was even a possibility. I remember the fear I had surrounding failure, which often froze me and left me unable to do anything at all. The work load hasn’t gotten any easier, but it has changed in other ways.
My team at the studio (and around the country) are the third factor behind my success. Marta recently celebrated three years at Bat Country studios. Nobody else has ever been able to last that long. Many of you know how much Marta does for our community beyond keeping me alive, and we are lucky to have her. In the last year we have added Red Cliff Stan, Grace, and NüBen to the roster and some or all of them are at the studio most days. It really brings Bat Country Studios to life having them there. Eric still handles projects down in Denver and comes up the hill when he can to help around the studio.
Then there are the artists. As a team, we are constantly trying to come up with new and creative ways that we can bring new artists in and expand the community to support even more artists pursuing their visions. When I hear the feedback these artists share with my team and my family and friends I’m reminded why we are doing this.
It is our goal to help artists focus on creating their art, while removing many of the distractions such as marketing and sales that can interfere with the creative process. I can’t do it all by myself, and as the team at Bat Country Studios grows we will be able to continue providing these resources to more and more artists at greater and greater levels.
So despite the financial challenges, lately I’ve been feeling successful. This business is the first time in my life that I have taken on debt. Sometimes that has made it hard for me to feel successful, knowing that the debt was lingering over my head. These days I accept that the cost of building and operating this business is more than the resources that I have. I measure my success by the happiness, fulfillment and growth that my team is experiencing. I measure my success by the number of positive relationships we are able to maintain with artists and collectors. I measure my success when I see objects created that might have never come into existence if not for this project.
I have a lot of work to do to grow this business and to grow as a person. I have to continue to find the balance between Ben the Artist and Broker Ben. I’m grateful to have had so much time already to explore this for myself. I’m beyond grateful to the team of people helping me to continue doing so as we move forward. I wouldn’t be able to do this alone, and if you read my blogs from five years ago that will be very clear.
I’ve got some big things on the horizon and the calendar keeps filling up more and more. I need some time to rest as I can feel how tired my mind and body have gotten lately. I also need to keep moving forward and better prioritizing my time overall.
It may be hard to tell from this blog, but I do feel optimistic and like we’re moving forward. It’s been a long hard road, going against the grain so to speak.
I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
Enjoy your Sunday and make sure to check out the latest additions to the website before they get seen by someone else and scooped. Fresh Sunday Special's just went live too so be sure to check those out as well!
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