Quit your day job.

kitties and the tree

On every book I’ve read about how to build a creative business, it was suggested how important it is to have a day job to support yourself while you ‘build your dream’. I’ve read stories of authors and illustrators working as bartenders, carpenters, secretaries, waitresses and waiters and every other kind of odd jobs, possibly at very odd and very long hours. 

The ‘rags to riches’ story, the Cinderella who works crazy hours and then comes home in her super shallow mini apartment and still have the strength and inspiration to work on her thing and eventually succeeding in making it come true, it’s a plot good for a movie.

Real life? Nah. Maybe one in a million.

In real life, you keep that level of skyrocketing drive and will up for maybe a week or two: then you become sleep deprived, too tired to focus not to mention inspired, and you tell yourself ‘okay, I’ll take a couple of days off to catch up on sleep’. But then sleeping is good and you dread feeling like a zombie again and you go ‘okay, I’ll wait until I’ll have a few days off’. But when those days off come you have a pile of errands to do, stuff you never have the time for when you are working the odd jobs at crazy hours to support you dream, and so…you dream stays a dream.

If this has happened to you, it doesn’t mean that you have not enough passion or determination, or will. It just means that you are human, not a character in a movie, not that one in a million lucky person who makes it because he doesn’t need much time to experiment, learn, get better and fail a dozen times before actually starting to make something right.

This has happened to me a few times in the last 20 years, before reading all those best-sellers about how to make your dreams come true. I had a good day job. Then the company I worked for got sold, and I was forced to quit. I had to find a new job quickly and I found a good one. But ten years later the company got sold again and went bankrupt. The owners ran away with all the money, including my severance. I was almost forty, I had had a day job forever but I had a different dream, and I thought ‘it’s now or never’.

I made a choice that wasn’t a hundred % mine, but this is a story for another post. When that experience ended, I was lost. It looked like nothing worked for me.

But I had the time to draw. Only that it’s very difficult to draw when you have money issues and you are worried all the time. So last September I decided to look for another job. Let’s call it ‘an official job’ since drawing feels more like playing to me.

And so I became a cleaning lady.

I clean the public library and the City Hall. And what looked like ideal – just a few hours per week, not a job I would think about once at home, no problems to solve, etc. – revealed itself for what it is. A fu**ing waste of my time.

Guess what? I work crazy hours. I never have time to draw. I haven’t touched a pencil in three weeks! All the plans I had have been set aside.

This day job thing maybe works for some, it surely doesn’t work for me.

The illustration on top of this post is something I have made in NOVEMBER. Did I have the time to upload it and promote it? No. And Christmas deliveries are already officially closed, so it’s an entire Christmas of sales lost…for what?

Ha. Quit your day job, kid.

Christmas illustrations and moving forward.

The Christmeows kitties illustration | Cat Cottage Design

Christmas is just around the corner, and as always, I am late. Every year I plan in making a good amount of Christmas merchandise, and every year I fail.

Hopefully, this year is going to be a little better. My ideas are clearer, I am more organized, and I have a few projects in mind for the future of my small business, that I am already putting into practice. I feel creative and inspired.

This is the main reason why I moved the blog here, on this new domain. I can’t tell you much about my project because I have no idea if I’ll be able to put it together, but I’m trying, I’m confident, and it feels good.

In the meantime, I have re-opened my store. It’s been off on vacation for a longer time than I had planned, but now it’s back and I’m getting it ready for Christmas.

Actually, I’m getting it ready for CHRISTMEOWS, as it’s the only kind of Christmas I celebrate.

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen the Christmeows illustrations. The first one, up here on this post, is already available on a couple of items, and I am editing the other two as we speak. They all will be up and ready to be purchased soon, so keep an eye on the shop.

On another note, I am sad to announce that cold weather has arrived. It’s not really winter yet, but I had to turn on the heating inside at Cat Cottage and it’s always a very sad moment for me. Shorter days, no garden time, hibernation. I know summer will be here in no time, though. Winter feels infinite and never-ending, but it’s actually the shortest season! And if I can keep up this level of inspiration, it’s probably going to be a very productive and fun winter.

In order to make peace with this season and make the most of it outside my projects, I’m enjoying a lot of couch time. I have never been much in front of the tv, but I don’t know, maybe it’s age, but I find it relaxing lately. It’s probably also because watching tv is not as passive as it was before. With all the streaming apps available, tv time is actually a nice thing to look forward to.

I’m probably going to binge a lot of Christmas movies and cartoons soon!

What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

This roller coaster called life.

Ever since I came to live here at the cottage I have rescued a great number of cats. I actually lost count of how many. While I found good families for most of them, a little number had to stay here at the cottage. Some became strictly indoor cats due to health reasons, others were fit for a life with a bit more freedom, and went to live in my garden, sleeping in their little cat houses under my patio or in the barn, at their own pleasure. Lately, I had six cats living under my patio, five girls and one big boy.

Last week I lost, in the space of 24 hours, two of the girls. Penelope, called Penny, and Pippi.

This just after losing my dog Pammy, last month.

I was particularly fond of Penny and Pippi, so this loss is hurting me deeply. They were abandoned here as kittens along with their six brothers and sisters, all severely ill. I lost two of them in the space of a month, no matter how many emergency vet visits I made, while the others slowly became stronger and stronger. To make the story short, they couldn’t be vaccinated due to their still low immune system and when they were eight months old they all got Parvo. All of them died, but Penny and Pippi, who fought the disease for a week before getting through it. Losing all those kitties, after all I had done to save them, was one of the hardest things I had to go through, in my entire life. And when the vet told me that Penny and Pippi had made it, I clung to them. And they clung to me.

They would follow me everywhere. They didn’t like living strictly indoor, and after all that they had gone through I thought they deserved to choose the life they wanted. So when they wanted to come inside I let them, and when they wanted to sleep on the grass, especially during summer, that’s where they slept.

All was great until last week when Penny seemed to have come down with a bad cold. It was the second time in a few months, and the temperature was still warm, so I thought her low immune system was making its tricks again. I kept her inside and gave her antibiotics. The vet told me to take her to the clinic if she didn’t improve in three days. By the third day, after she was stable but had not improved, I took her to the vet where we found out she had lung cancer. There was nothing else to do but to put her to sleep, as cancer had already spread widely.

I came home heartbroken. I took Pippi in my arms and kissed her. I thought she looked strange, but I decided I was being anxious because of what had just happened. I gave everyone dinner and saw Pippi eating with appetite.

But the next morning Pippi was dead. Naturally, in her sleep. I don’t know what happened to her. I just know that Pippi and Penny were inseparable. So inseparable that they died together.

When you decide to help animals you are perfectly aware of the fact that you are going to face so many heartbreaks. You do it because not helping them makes you suffer even more. Everyone’s life is a roller coaster, but the life of a rescuer is even more so. One minute you fly high because one pet fought successfully a disease or have found a wonderful adoption, the next you’re in hell because another one died suddenly.

This time hell burns big time for me.

I know they had a great life, I know they don’t care about how short it was: that’s my judgment, and it’s a very short-sighted one. Time doesn’t exist for pets. They measure time only in good or bad, not in length, and Penny and Pippi’s time was freakingly good.

And I know death doesn’t really exist. Nothing really dies, ever.

But I miss them.