Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! We are half way through the dreariest month of the year. I am also officially 2/3 of the way through my Gratefulness Challenge. Lots of reasons to celebrate and be grateful.
1. Local businesses: So I’m not one of those people that hates corporations. I love my ieverything, half my clothes come from H&M, I have an almost unhealthy obsession with Dollarama and the oat fudge bar at Starbucks is my cryptonite. But I also love small local businesses who offer good quality, unique products at a reasonable price and accompany all this with great customer service.
As great as big box stores are, they are all the same. I can walk into Walmart anywhere in the world and know what to expect. My local coffee shop or clothing store is unique. I find things there that I wouldn’t find anywhere else. Local businesses are like the heartbeat of a community. They give a neighbourhood its depth and diversity. They offer something personalized to the area they are in. A lot of my favourite local businesses are places where I am known by name. They are like an extension of my own home.
Walking into a local shop is as much about the atmosphere as it is about what you are buying. Sure, the items may be slightly more expensive, but you are paying for the experience as much as you are paying product. Do you know of any chain restaurant who have belly dancing in the evenings, incorporate pinball machines into their concept or who lists a handshake as an item on the menu (its free by the way)? I don’t, but I know some great local places that do.
I’m not trying to say that larger businesses don’t offer a good atmosphere, great products, or good customer service. Every corporation once was something small, but they have become a norm. You know what you are going to get. Local business offers something different, new and tailored to its location. It is that personal and unique touch that makes me love giving them my business.
2. Deadlines: The best way to get things done! For some deadlines may cause procrastination, but for me they help give me a timeline of what needs to be done when. When I have a specific date that a project needs to be finished by I can start to compartmentalize. I can break that large task into subtasks and then figure out how long each thing will probably take me. That way I know exactly how much time in a week I need to dedicate to a specific activity. Deadlines put projects in perspective and help me stay focused.
It’s hard sometimes as an independent artist to keep actively and productively working when there isn’t a specific event you are preparing for. But it’s important, because without practice you get rusty. When that show does come, you want to be ready for it! I have actually started giving myself personal deadlines on projects when no one else is there to create one for me.
3. The company of strangers: I got up this morning and just felt no inspiration to write. Usually I wake up rearing to go, but today I couldn’t seem to get started. I felt restless. I spent a lot of time yesterday alone at home and I got a lot done, but it left me feeling the need to be around people instead of putting my head down and being productive. But I knew if I called a friend and went for coffee that a one hour coffee would turn into a four hour lunch and I’d get nothing accomplished. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place: stay alone at home and be unproductive or spend time with friends and be unproductive. So I packed up my computer, jumped on the bus and went to one of my favourite coffee places.
Suddenly my drive to work returned. I could focus on my work without fear of interruption but I didn’t feel alone. If anything I’m getting more done because I am surrounded by lots of other people working hard. New environments and new faces always inspire me. Being out an about gives me energy and makes me excited. But I am not getting distracted by having to interact with too much with others. What a great headspace to be in for working.