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Turning 30 and Chasing Dreams

I’m turning 30 this fall.. and since last fall I’ve been wanting to do something BIG with this year. I’ve struggled with just what that thing would be for a many months now. I started with a year-long photo project shooting barns, which was fun, but not something I could work on daily. I guess i started to realize that I was really missing that daily creative project like I had going on last year. It became such a part of my life. So, while I still plan to continue shooting the barn series, I’ve moved it to the back burner for something new. And in the last week of February I found that something… the big thing! Thanks to a chat with a few fellow creative friends who inspired me to be brave, and the Nike-licious advice of my boyfriend to “just go do it!”- I now have a plan!

Operation Art Market!

Since I was a little girl, I have always had a dream of selling my art at a festival or market. For years and years I’ve replayed the same tired pattern. Going to art festivals each summer, flitting from one inspiring booth to the next in total glee… knowing in my heart of hearts that “I should be doing this.” And every year like clockwork, I talk myself out of it. “I don’t really have a cohesive body of work” or “I don’t even have a style” or “No one would probably even buy my stuff” and of course the ever popular “How would I ever have the time to make all this stuff?” Oh the powers of self-persuasion. Within a day of a festival I’d have already managed to cloud my vision and totally squelch the burning fire for this dream. Ah! No more! I will fulfill these dream before I am thirty years old!

Just Do It Anyway!

That’s it. My whole mantra and answer to each of the above self-defeating questions is “Just do it anyway! (dammit!)”. No more of this talking about it and overthinking it. I don’t have a cohesive body of work… that’s still true. But I’m going to do it anyway. How the heck else will I ever GET a cohesive body of work if I never get my stuff out there? (and do i even need one anyway? lol) I don’t have a style (at least not that I’m aware of!) and I really like to dabble in anything and everything from photography to crafts to sculpture to design. Too bad, we’re doing it anyway woman! Not getting out of it this time!

Picking A Date & Deciding with Simplicity

Ok, so now I’m doing this… no way out. Fortunately I’ve already known of (and daydreamed much about) a local art market here in Dallas for over a year now that is small, inexpensive to rent at and a great place for budding artists to start out. AND they have a market day once every month until December! In order to get all the work done, I’ve picked the market on June 16th, 2012 to start. This will be before the Texas summer gets too insanely hot – so I imagine a strong turnout if the weather is nice. This gives me 12 weeks of production time. Now to decide WHAT to make.

Going by the old Keep It Simple Stupid philosophy, I picked the first two things that my gut said to do. And the gut said to go with making needle felted art toys and small wire/metal sculptures. I started needle felting last January for one of my projects and have been in love with it ever since… making small art toys here and there in my spare time. I’ve been doing wire sculpture on and off since early particular small frogs and lizards with found objects like spoons and old screws and bolts incorporated into them. They’re both things I love doing and I think the two could go well together.. I’m even looking to try mixing the two into some wire and felt combinations.

Barry the Cat (needle felted from hand-dyed wool roving, March 2011)

Wire lizard (Dark anodized steel wire, bolts, spoon)

My mind kept whispering on for about another week “are you SURE you don’t want to include some photography? And maybe some other things…” I am standing firm with the gut’s decision. “Nope, two things only. And the two we picked are doable in the time we have and we think very marketable. There will be time for the rest later.” Phew, what a relief it can be to just tell your mind that there will be time for it’s concerns later! Quieted right down. =)

So that’s the big plan! I cannot express how exciting it has been just this past week to be working on something that I have dreamed of doing for so so long… to be truly giving myself permission to chase this dream without worry of how successful I will be or if I make money off of it. It’s made my soul so happy to finally be allowing myself to be deserving of doing this, no matter the outcome.

I’d love to hear from anyone else out there about your dreams. What sort of big things have you accomplished and how did you get up the courage to commit to them? What dreams are you still waiting to give yourself permission to chase? And what is it that always seems to stop you from starting?

Time Lapse Tutorial on Needle Felting – by Laurie Sharp
Needle Felting: Basic Shapes Tutorial – by FeltAlive
22 Secrets to Discovering Your Dream and Living It – by Leo Babauta on

18 Comments Post a comment
  1. marianne #

    oh wow! i am so impressed. i watched a TEDx video recently about failing to have a great career because you fail to follow your passion and/or make excuses for not following your passion and dreams. you should be so proud that you won’t be able to be accused of either. I wish you luck ( and if you decide to sell outside of markets, i would love a felted panda for my little bubba)!

    Monday, March 12, 2012
    • Hi Marianne, thanks so much for the kinds words and for reading!
      I would be happy to do a little felted panda for you! Shall email you on it! =)

      Monday, March 19, 2012
  2. Congrats! This is an awesome idea. I love the way you are able to navigate self doubt and just commit and take the leap. Totally inspiring. Your toys are so charming and full of personality!
    One of my dear friends makes felt toys– maybe check out some inspiration here:
    She recently told me that her best source of sales right now are craft markets! Go for it!

    I think it’s a great idea to mark an important birthday with a project that moves you forward into the next phase of life. I turned 40 last year and re-committed to ramping up my creative work. I started my blog in December chronicling my collage-a-week project. After just 10 weeks it has become an incredible tool for me to explore who I am as an artist, through both writing and the artwork. On top of that, I am also trying to break into the surface/pattern design and illustration world. For years I would look at fabrics and secretly think, “Wow, I would love to do this!” Last Spring I was able to take a short course at the community college on pattern design, then taught myself Illustrator over the summer using tutorials. I discovered I was able to learn so much on my own with a lot of experimentation and just constantly looking at design out in the world. I found a mentor in the industry a few months ago and am now in serious portfolio-building mode. (This is all on top of being a mom, spending time with a super supportive husband, and working 30 hours a week at my day job which is a good situation for now but not my passion.) My dream is to be able to leave the day job behind, and generate an income with my creative work– surface design, illustration, fine art. One of the hardest things is getting over the excuse that there is never enough time. I finally learned to get around that by realizing how much can be accomplished in baby steps over time. It’s not about making sweeping life changes, but committing to small consistent actions each week. Another big obstacle was this: When I turned 40, part of me said, “it’s too late.” But then I realized it is never too late to create the life you really want. I am ready NOW!

    Monday, March 12, 2012
    • Hey Laura, oh thank you for the wonderfully long comment! I just love when people share huge juicy bits of their life!
      What good news that your friend is doing well in the craft market! I hope that means there is some room for me =)

      Just getting back to replying to a bunch of people tonight, so I saw your other comment before this one… but again will say, love the idea of what you’re doing with your life right now. So many exciting things… surface/pattern design sounds like a ton of fun. It’s so inspiring to hear of others who are dreaming of and working towards leaving that full-time steady job for their true passion. Yup that is definitely me. Since I was a little girl I’ve wanted that, but then listened to the rest of the world that said I should get a regular job. I’m definitely glad to have the reg job of course for now, but I dream of one day NEEDING to leave it because my creative business has become so successful that I need more time to keep it going! Hehe its fun to dream of such big things – keeps me goin. ;) Wishing you the best with your adventures! Going to add a link to your blog on mine in hopes of sending a few more folks your way too!

      All my best!

      Monday, March 19, 2012
      • Thanks SO much for adding a link to my blog! I am totally honored!
        I really appreciate you taking the time to see what I’m up to. Great to connect with you!
        I’ll be cheering you on as you go for your dreams!

        Tuesday, March 20, 2012
  3. Wow, Sarah, way to go! I love your creations (very unique) and your determination to “just do it”. That’s one of the secrets of going from dreams to reality. You’ve also discovered how fears (and your mind-chatter) can get in the way. By keeping it simple, following your instincts, setting a reasonable deadine and taking steps each day, you’re well on your way to making your dreams happen.
    I set myself a similar challenge last year when I celebrated a significant birthday. I’m aiming to achieve 55 fun things in this birthday year. Some are a reach for me, some are things I’ve always wanted to try but haven’t had the time or money, and others are just plain fun (
    Thanks for inspiring all of us to “just do it”, whatever the dream may be!

    Monday, March 12, 2012
    • Hi Julie!

      Thanks for stopping by to read. I love your 55 fun things idea! Very inspiring! Flamenco, speed skating and circus school!!! Oh yeah I’m definitely going to be following along on your blog. You will LOVE hot air ballooning – I did it 2 years ago for myself as a bday present… it was so extraordinary! Looking forward to all your adventures! =)

      Tuesday, March 13, 2012
  4. Claudia #

    Go for it, Sarah! I used to sell at art fairs around San Antonio, when Andrew was a baby. It was a lot of work, hauling all the pottery and shelving around, but it was always fun! And, so gratifying to see that other people admire and will even pay money for your work!

    Monday, March 12, 2012
    • Thank you Claudia! I didn’t realize you used to sell your pottery – how COOL! I may have to hit you up for some tips soon ;)

      Tuesday, March 13, 2012
  5. Hi. That’s some really creative work you do. I was really impressed.
    I still dream of a day when I could own a place where creativity and authenticity could blend in – like a gallery with a restaurant. Your words are really inspiring and just made those dreams alive again. Thanks for sharing it. :)

    Monday, March 12, 2012
    • Hey girl, I dream of that too! Just a few weeks ago I was getting myself all excited by the idea of one day owning a tiny gallery with a studio space in the back for myself and other artists to work in… in the corner would be a little bar area to have a coffee shop. Ahhh – someday!! ;)

      Tuesday, March 13, 2012
  6. Reblogged this on fromsonika.

    Monday, March 12, 2012
  7. So exciting! I might try to come out and see you if you do this, I really am quite taken with that blue cat… ;)

    Monday, March 12, 2012
    • Thanks Rachel! Would love if you stopped by – be great to meet you! =)

      Tuesday, March 13, 2012
  8. Shirley Kelley #

    How bouts a cute feltie for your (2nd) Mom here??? huh? huh? *giggles*

    Thursday, March 15, 2012
    • Haha oh I THINK I can make that happen… ;) teehee!

      Monday, March 19, 2012
  9. kathrinaha #

    I love seeing how you’re getting on with your work. The cats are great, love it!

    It’s a bit of a cliché but I recently re-read an article in the Guardian about the top five regrets of the dying (, #1 being “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” This is definitely the biggest barrier I have in my head: the expectations that I have and that I think that others have of me. Very so often when I think about starting something creative I have this thought in my head: “Well, fair enough, but I should better first send off this job application/ get the housework done/ make that phone call, and then I can focus on this little cute project.” It’s probably also a question of taking yourself seriously in what you enjoy doing, which you are doing, and which I find great!

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012
    • Wow… that was a great article. That reminds me of a time someone once asking me what it was I wanted people to remember about me when I died. It sure as hell was NOT “wow she was an amazing graphic designer!” lol – yup so thats a sign. I want to be remembered for living my life fully and going for my dreams… and for being kind and compassionate and supportive of those in my life.

      I totally feel you about those expectations – I think that’s been one of my biggest hurdles too all my life. Never thinking I am creative or smart or clever or talented enough. What is enough really anyway? ha. I’m starting to believe more in the idea that we are ALL creative and smart and clever and talented in different but equally amazing ways. I mean, You and I would come up with completely different creative solutions for a specific project – but they would be equally awesome because they’re totally individual and unique. Oh man, I basically just said “we are all uniquely little snowflakes..” didnt I? haha! well we ARE dammit! Which takes a load off – cuz that means there’s no freakin point to compare ourselves to others and what they expect of us! bah! ;)

      Thanks for sharing that article – and the awesome comment! =)

      Wednesday, March 21, 2012

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