unplain jane studio



Skinny branches

Two thousand fifteen was the year of My Big Step. It’s the year I left an employer to which I was patriotically loyal and a career field that defined my entire adult life.

Now I’m in the midst of redefining my career and my life as a photographer, artist, writer, and small business owner. It’s a process. For the past seven months, I’ve mostly followed my business plan and sometimes followed my nose, which has led to a surprising amount of early success. Well, surprising to me.

That’s not to say I haven’t made mistakes and had disappointments. I have. Still, overall, it seems I’ve picked a hearty seed and fertile ground. I haven’t over-watered the seed or starved it, the sun shines most days, and no crows have swooped in to gobble it up. And I couldn’t ask for a better partner* than Farmer Brian.

In a note to me this Christmas, a friend congratulated me for climbing out on the skinny branches. Since my metaphor and my reality are still in the seedling stages, the thought of having any branch to dangle on gave me a bit of a start. Not to mention that tree climbing has never been my strong suit, even as a kid.

Kid Amy failed to realize that trees provide a gradual progression skyward. She could only see that faraway skinny branch and think, “Yeah, NO.”

Now I know you don’t jump to the top in one leap. First, you let the tree develop a strong, sturdy root structure. Then, as you begin to climb, you follow the trunk as splits naturally into limbs. Those limbs maintain the stability of the structure while also advancing its growth. The branches that emerge from the limbs may sway a little more, and that can be scary, but this gives the tree necessary flexibility. The skinny branches at the top are the greenest, the most flexible and the most adaptive to changing conditions.

If you pay attention while you climb, the tree shows you the sturdiest route. And man, those skinny branches really have an incredible view.

My goal is to write in this blog monthly, reporting the view from the skinny branches. I’ve decided to blog publicly rather than to journal privately because an artist’s life can be isolating as can an entrepreneur’s, so writing out loud (even if it’s mostly into the void) is a way for me to connect. If I learned anything from my previous career, it’s that when people connect in the spirit of creativity and mutual benefit, dreams can take root and blossom.

If you get a chance, I’d love to hear from you.

* because, as John Donne famously said and I not-so-famously embellished, “No man (woman, leader, entrepreneur) is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.”

This story was originally published on January 4, 2016.