Where the heck is the Art Journal Jam?


I have never had any beef with calling myself an artist.  As a young itty bitty I was determined to get started on my career early by asking my grandparents to drive me to every Wendy’s Fast Food joint in a 10 mile radius so I could enter their coloring contest.  I was ready, ripe, and willing to put my stuff out there in hopes to win a Frosty or an extra large order of fries.

In seventh grade I entered and won my school’s talent show.  I played Black Sabbath’s Sweet Leaf on electric guitar, and get this — I went to a Catholic School none the less. Yeah! CRAZY!! But the best part, I felt, is that I drew a life size guitar in pen and ink that stood on an easel as I jammed out this Ozzy Osborne classic.

In high school I was ridiculously focused on creating a killer portfolio that was going to get me into my dream art school (which it did).  I actually cut school all the time to go paint and draw from life.  That’s how devoted I was — and interestingly my art teachers knew about it and covered for me most of the time.

Just last week I was chatting with this sweet college kid cashier while she rung up my groceries.  She was telling me all about her studies in physics  and how she was struggling to balance getting her masters and working part time.  I told her that I think I slept maybe a total of 8 hours during my whole entire twenties.  That during that decade of my life I lived, breathed, worked, and devoted every ounce of my being to art.  Between art school, university, and taking a million different art jobs to keep me stocked in paint, ramen noodles, and cheap merlot I kinda forgot to sleep.

When I turned 30 we moved to Arizona. I spoke about it in the last Art Journal Jam.  To be honest, I was burned out when we decided to move.  I was tired of juggling art jobs and moonlighting at a bar wasn’t helping things. Our main reason behind moving 2000 miles from my hometown was to start a new life. One that looked and felt different then the life I was squeezing the life out of.  I had every intention to let go of old vices and to start new habits.

And for the most part, I did.

Except my thirties were ridiculously hard.  Harder than I usually admit to myself. Right around the time I started Dirty Footprints Studio in 2008 — Hansel got really sick.

Really, really sick.

Then, unexpectedly Phoenix arrived into our lives and I found myself rapidly building a thriving business, while being the sole breadwinner and caretaker to both my ailing husband and newborn.  I did this all with very little help being that both our families live 2000+ miles away.

In June of this year, Hansel finally found a doctor that helped us discover what has been keeping him so sick all these years.  And with one simple operation, our lives completely shifted.  Hansel has gotten his health back!  Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Though you see, this has been  my 40th year around the sun and I began it with the intention of fully devoting myself to taking care of and finally nourishing me — Connie Solera. I even started the year of right by taking a solo art retreat and my dear husband has been reminding me of this intention all year long.

But the truth is, I haven’t been doing a great job at keeping my intention to myself.

And lately I’ve been feeling ridiculously exhausted and I keep getting sick then well, sick then well, sick then well.

And, well, I’ve had enough.  I’ve seriously, had enough.

I’m sharing this with you today not to invoke pity and especially certainly not to invoke advice.  But rather to be honest and transparent. Because I believe there is great value in truthfully telling our stories.

As Tashie and I spoke about in our first Art Journal Jam — the internet is filled with curated and polished realities. And well, I know for a fact that my reality of being exhausted, burned out, and less than luminous at times is not unique but rather quite common among us “thriving”, artists online.

I know many artists like myself who are “successful” at being a business — but are paying for it with slippery health and bouts of exhaustion, depression, and frustration.

And I’m fucking tired of it.  Physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

And I didn’t fully realize how tired I am about all this until I took on the Art Journal Jam project with my dear, sweet Tashie.

Both of us had the purest of intentions and the deepest of commitments to keep this project running and energized each week.  But two episodes in and I was already struggling to not only find the time to make our jams happen — but to also edit the video and write the blog posts.  Which believe it or not takes close to a whole day’s work to do.

I realized pretty quickly that I can’t afford to keep doing this — physically, energetically, and financially.

And I absolutely hate, hate, hate having to do this — but I know I need to break this commitment of showing up each week — I hate breaking a commitment to you my dear readers, but even more so, I was beating myself up because I was worried of what kind of mentor and leadership I would be modeling for the dear, dear women in my IGNITE program who I adore and care about so much.

So last week, at our bi-monthly call, I was simply honest with them.  I told them how I’ve been feeling and how worried I was that I would be setting a bad example if I was to go ahead and quit the Art Journal Jams so early in on my commitment. And just stating my feelings alone made me realize how silly it sounded.

But the best part — the part that expanded my heart a million miles wide — is how warmly my honesty was received.  These amazing women in my IGNITE program gathered around me with their support and love and encouragement to do what was true and right for me.  And what I saw as a flaw in my leadership — they embraced as my strength.

And because of them — I know that I have to do what is right for me — and yes, on the surface it is quitting Art Journal Jam so early on, but deeper, it is about beginning to stop the over consumption of my own, sacred energy.

And that starts today. Here.  With this vulnerability hang over I’m already experiencing.

Because well, I think my art journal page at the top states it best — things are evolving.

And as always, thank you for being witness to this unpredictable force called my artist journey.

With So Much Love,






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