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March Misogi. Should creativity pay for my bills?

Kia Ora e te whānau,

New month, new blog.

Before I jump into it, an existential crisis, my current headspace and what thoughts did March bring?

March proved to be a challenging month for me; I've had doubts and uncertainties about the hustle I started, wondering if it was the right decision, and I've actually gone full circle in my thinking, which I'll do my best to explain in some detail below. It took walking in a certain direction to find the path again, and while it was a deviation, I gained valuable insights I can take with me moving forwards. This experience reminds me to remain vulnerable, keep an open mind, and continue being courageous as I move forwards, following my calling (even though it's not always easy). Experimenting with new things is part of the process. March has been about taking action and starting something new.

Some emerging thoughts and themes this month have been related to self-worth, and what the fuck do I do with my life. This led me to have an existential crisis about, well, pretty much everything, and, like most of us do at some point (or multiple points) in our lives, I began wondering if I should move houses, move cities, and completely dive into something else. I began seriously considering the idea of becoming a business broker in Auckland; I even went up and spent some time with a team of brokers. I have to give a massive shout out to my man Cam Proctor and James Ashwin from Kakapo Business Sales for their time, kindness, wisdom and inspiring words. A big takeaway for me was INVEST IN YOURSELF.

I've tried many things in my life, some potential careers, others part-time odd jobs ranging from knife-making to a building apprenticeship. From lecturer and S&C coach to banking. I'm a big believer in trying stuff and continuing to try stuff until something sticks. As I went through this process, I had to really strip things back. If you're struggling with a similar big decision on what direction to take your life, I found that asking myself these questions really helped.

What do I value MOST in life?

What do I want my life to look like next year, in 3 years and in 10?

How do my days look?

Has there been anything that I've repeatedly come back to?

If you took money out of the picture, what would I be doing?

In fact what helped me regain some clarity, was re-reading my first blog around courage and vulnerability which you can read here if you haven't already.

When I peeled the layers back, I realised that I really value and cherish time and freedom. I value spending quality time with my favourite people and being able to say yes to things. Whether it's a Monday morning coffee on the beach or a mid-week adventure, I love being the master of my own schedule and being my own boss in my own creative speciality. With that answered, I can confidently say that photography is still the path I enjoy. Now I just need to give myself a chance to nurture it into something that will form the next few years of my life.

March allowed me to continue learning about myself, and I recognised a familiar pattern emerging yet again. As soon as things feel perhaps a little too uncomfortable or uncertain financially, I begin searching for a way out. Rather than recognising that I'm worthy of making this career work, that I'm a confident and skilled photographer, I start searching for stability, which of course would come at the expense of pursuing my dream.

Give it time, this is only the beginning.

Before I continue, I just want to unpack a thought that emerged in March: "feelings of loneliness." Coming off the high of hiking Mt. Taranaki solo and a busy first week, I found myself spiralling into what I thought was another depressive episode; perhaps it was the dopamine crash, or perhaps it was something else. Orrrrr maybe it wasn't related to depression at all...I was at the gym listening to a podcast with Mel Robbins, and she said something along the lines of: It's easy to confuse sadness, melancholy, and depression with simply feeling lonely. It was like a lightbulb went off. Maybe I'm not actually sad; maybe I'm simply experiencing some feelings of loneliness. Something so simple but profound. Upon realising this, I started attempting to alter my perception of loneliness and view it as solitude instead. Solitude is the state of being alone or isolated by choice, often for personal reasons like self-reflection or creativity.


Diving in and Creative Options

As some of you would know, I used to co-own a small fitness studio in Tauranga. After moving to the Bay of Plenty after a brief stint in Melbourne in 2017, we opened our pride and joy on December 9th, 2017. In late 2021, we sold the business and ever since then, I've been working (trying to lol) as a freelance photographer.

When it comes to pursuing your own freelance business, such as in photography, art, design, or any other creative field, there are two schools of thought. One approach (Option 1) is to say "yes" to every opportunity that comes your way, and then gradually start narrowing down your focus. The other approach (Option 2) suggests that you should double down on creating work that you're most passionate about, and eventually you will be recognised for your talents. This is definitely a scary option as there is no guarantees you'll figure it out. I'm not sure what the right answer is as they both have their merits and the right answer will be different for everyone.


So what option did I choose?

Welllll, that's a funny story, but if you know me, you'll know it's also very typical of me (I'm a little embarrassed about it haha). At the beginning of the month, I had this brilliant idea that starting a new side business would provide financial stability and allow me to focus on work that truly excites me. Maybe I was being a bit stubborn, as usual. Anyway, I went for option two, hoping to protect my creative mojo. My concern was that taking on jobs that didn't ignite my creative spark might eventually lead to a loss of passion and enjoyment for photography. I've seen this happen before, and the thought of it happening to me frightened me. This is where my great idea to start a lawn business began.

During my flight back from Bali, while reading the book "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert, I stumbled upon the expression, "I don't want my creativity to pay for my bills." This was the first time I'd heard this, and despite how simple the statement was, it struck me as extremely profound. It was a new way of approaching the situation that I hadn't actually come across before, and I was keen to explore the idea further.

Gilbert argues that we should not put pressure on our creativity to pay our bills. She also suggests that we find other ways to support ourselves financially and make time for our creative pursuits on the side. In her words,

"I believe that you should pursue whatever fascinates you, and that you should do it for love, not money. Because if you do it for love, the money comes anyway."

This all sounds well and good, but we can't deny that there will be a period of time where the money hasn't arrived yet and man's still gotta eat (and woman's of course).

I decided to start a small lawn mowing side business while I continue trying to grow my photography niche. It was also a small personal challenge. Can I take action, start a small business and everything that goes with it i.e. website, social media, marketing and get a client, all in the space of a month? And then moving forward, can this business bring me a small amount of extra income to help service my bills and protect my creativity?

Fomow Lawns

Overall, this was quite a fun challenge. Coming up with a name, a brand and catchy captions was a creative exercise all in itself. It was a cool test to see what I could come up with on short notice and so far I've had 5-6 enquires come through my website, I've quoted 5+ jobs, and I've mowed a couple of lawns. I find it so crazy (in a bloody good way!) that anyone with a good attitude and some hustle can go out, buy some tools and launch a business.

For the name, FOMOW, I wanted to be a little cheesy and somehow include the word MOW, but I also wanted some sort of relevant catch phrase, hence; FOMOW - [Fear of missing out] on that short lawn swag?

I'd probably get more business if I just went with Papamoa Lawn Co, which would most likely rank better on google ad words, but where's the fun in that?! if you're interested in seeing what I came up with.

I would actually love to hear your thoughts 🤣

Summary and what thoughts emerged as the month progressed

As I mentioned at the start of the blog, I started with option 2, but I've quickly realised that that may not be the best path for me. The intention was there, and based on my thoughts and feelings, it made sense; however, now that I've gone through the process (to a certain degree), I've realised that A) it's not as easy as I thought. People are quite fickle when it comes to lawns. I had a solid few booked in, but there were cancellations and constant schedule movements. Rather than being a simple gig I did one day a week, it was becoming more of a distraction for photography. B) I realised that my time was probably still better spent honing my craft and growing one business. I've come full circle, and I'm going to continue throwing everything into photography. Despite the outcome not being as I'd expected, taking rapid action allowed me to fail forwards and re-confirm that I was on the right path.

So often our decision to try something is dependent on whether or not we think the outcome will be a success but I say (I am wholeheartedly giving myself a pep-talk here!) that we fail forward and we try. We try simply because it’s been on our heart or mind. We try simply because we want to explore a new option or have a new experience. We try because it’s part of living and that alone should be a good enough reason.

Reading that entry from my first blog, I'm encouraged. I tried a new option regardless of outcome and that in itself is a change in mindset and proof that i'm on the path.

Moving forward, I think I'll continue mowing a couple of the small lawns I've picked up but I'll see how I get on.

Quote from my man CP - "In the end, things will be okay, and if things aren't okay right now, it's not the end."

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