A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Space To Dance & Paint In

This is the building that I am leasing very inexpensively for six months starting today.  I am leasing two rooms, plus a loft space and attic.  The front room is large, large enough to dance and paint in.  It used to be a bicycle store for over thirty years.  The owner moved the store to a better location nearby and has been trying to rent out this space for several years as an art studio.  One of the reasons he is leasing it so inexpensively is that there is absolutely no plumbing in the building, so no toilet and no sink.  I have bought a cheap camper toilet to use when I'm there and will have to bring in my own water and basins to use when I paint.  I have paid the owner to cover the front windows with strong white plastic that blocks anyone from looking in while I work and helps to preserve some of the heat during the Fall and Winter and early Spring.

I have a bunch of plans on how to use this space beyond dancing and painting in it.  One of my ideas is to have an open sketch class once a week.  I've already gotten eight folding chairs and eight cheap easels are on the way.  There is an art school nearby where I can find models to pose.  I'll ask for donations to pay the model for modeling for two hours or so.  I know one local artist superficially.  She is the local veterinarian's wife and she also works at the animal hospital.  I plan on talking with her about it because I believe she has organized sketch groups before with her friends and she may be able to give me some guidance as well as joining the group and having her friends come, too.  There are also art students nearby who might be tempted to come, or even painting teachers.

I decided to commit to spending the money to get the chairs and easels as a way to push myself to do this.  It would force me to get involved with people, especially the local artists which would also motivate me to draw and paint.  I will need to also get a small stage platform for the model to stand or sit on in a chair and that will cost at least $240.  Luckily, I inherited some money and can do this right now.  But the money will run out in a few years and I need to find a way to earn some income.  So my other idea is to take these six months to write up a business plan and do a bunch of research and if starting a store at this location seems feasible, doing so in six to nine months time.

Right now my idea is to open a home made tie dye shop which would also offer jewelry and ceramics and paintings by local artists.  If the shop holds its own I should break even the first couple of years and then hopefully begin to make a profit.  My brother says the shop is not in a good location, but I think he is wrong.  It's on the main street of a very small town and the road is the main road that leads directly to a college/university town only a few minutes drive away.  There is no local competition in the area.  There are three other businesses there: a beautiful, old country store, a knitting studio and and antiques shop.  There is one church and a post office.

I think if I have a tie dye shop and advertise it well throughout the area, it might bring business to the other businesses there and that would be good to support them as well.  I would put up on an easy access wall a business card holder and get business cards from different interesting businesses.  I would also like to have a community board telling what's going on in the area.  I would put my displays and clothing on display cases with wheels so that I could push the displays to the sides of the room and open up the space for a sketch class, a dance space for me and possibly an Al-Anon meeting.

I'll have about five months before the lease can be renewed to make up a supply of tie dyes out of my garage and even if I don't decide to open a shop there, I can still sell my tie dyes to local businesses and give them as gifts to friends.  Right now I'm all for committing to this business idea, but I know there is so much work I have to do first and I am grateful that I have these six months to do that.  In the meantime, I will dance and practice yoga and paint.  I plan to paint portraits of animals and children because I have some talent for that and I might be able to promote a joint business painting portraits of people's children and their pets or even both in the same picture.  A photo studio is possible, too because there's enough space for it.

This is all big stuff for me, but I feel ready to give it a try while I have some funds to work with.  I grew up in Brooklyn, but I've lived here for twenty six years and I feel comfortable here.  I look forward to getting to know the other business owners in the area.  Another great thing is that a friend of mine from Brooklyn might come to live with me for anywhere from six months to a couple of years depending on whether she likes it here.  She will be a great support.  She is already a true friend to me and I love her.  She will help to end my self imposed isolation.  So developing my true friendship with her and working towards opening a business will extend my responsibilities out into the world.  May I find success!

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