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Out of character

Tragically, my previous posts about Big Bertha merely foreshadow events to come. Before I continue my salvo on the life experiences levied by a 25-year old vehicle, let’s take a moment to address why we’re on the road in the first place.

My new business is built, in part, on selling my art photography at festivals, particularly in my home state of Texas. But when I first began applying to festivals in the summer of 2015, getting in to the Art Fair at Queeny Park in Missouri was my number one priority. It was an actual, written goal in my business plan to “be in St. Louis when I sell my art photography for the first time.”

Early in our marriage, Brian and I lived a few miles from Queeny Park. We walked our puppy there every day. Not far from the park, I took art and design classes at St. Louis Community College by night while by day, my career in university communications began to take shape. Friends made during those four short years are friends to this day.

Sentimentality, however, wasn’t the driving force behind the goal.

After we moved to Texas, my communications career really took off and art got squeezed into the corners of my life. For twelve years, people saw me do other things – challenging, valuable and rewarding things – but rarely artistic things. So when I decided to pursue my new creative venture, it was a shock to nearly all of my Texas friends and colleagues.

That was my bad.

But to my St. Louis friends – and my family and friends from childhood – my actions were somewhere between possible and inevitable. Therefore, being in Missouri for my first art festival allowed me to practice the new me which was really the old me in a place where the old me flourished.

A soft opening.

As it happens, the good folks of the Greater St. Louis Art Association invited me to participate in their Queeny Park show. I set up my booth for real for the first time and did it wrong and took too long doing it. I watched people walk by my booth. Lots and lots of people. Others paused while some stopped to really look, and then I learned what it’s like to be admired and criticized and compared. I practiced my elevator speech and used Square for the first time. I listened intently to what the more experienced artists talked about and gossiped about and complained about and figured out how to sort the half-full glasses from the half-empty ones. I laughed about these experiences with my husband and my friends as I honed my spiel on them.

Texas, here I come.

If you ever decide to do something that’s “out of character” for you, think about your soft opening. How will you launch before you launch? Because when you do something out of character, it’s really a hidden part of you that’s finally going public. That’s a story worth telling, but it takes a little practice.

This story was originally published on July 16, 2016.