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  • Shawn Dell Joyce artist

Spirit of the Season

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

Its the holidays and there is consumerism everywhere-we are inundated with increasingly more targeted ads. It won't be long before retailers beam a desire to buy right into our brain then auto-deduct payment when we walk by. How do we, those of us who make a living selling handmade art, compete with all that?

We don't.

There's a psychology behind retail.

Instead, we sell heart-to-heart. People purchase art for different reasons than they purchase household goods. Usually two different reasons; either as an investment (you probably wont meet these buyers, they only trust a handful of galleries), or because the art touches their heart. These are our people.

They are not hard to find. Many of them are around you right now. Reading and commenting on your posts and feed. Many of you are buyers of my work and I appreciate you! We support each other.

So this year, I'm thinking differently.

In years passed, I often urged people to buy small (support small, local businesses) which is good, or to make things handmade for gift giving (better), or even give nothing but your time (Best). This year, I want to go deeper.

Instead of gifting, make a difference in someone's life.

Ideally, this would be an anonymous thing. For example, someone in your neighborhood or circle of friends may have suffered the loss of a job or a prolonged illness and be behind on their bills. You and your circle all pitch in together and anonymously pay their bills.

Or, someone in your development is clearly struggling, maybe a shut-in or an elderly person on a fixed income. A group can pitch in to pay their rent or fees for a month. Imagine how that would help out if you are having to choose between rent and food?

Giving is something that builds community. Both the giver and the receiver benefit. This time of year, church sermons are about giving of the holy spirit, sharing your spiritual awakening with others, witnessing, and bringing others into the fold. When we give a gift from the spirit, it isn't about taking credit for it, it's about doing God's work (whatever you call God) and therefore restoring other people's faith, in each other, and in a higher power.

It also isn't about just people.

There is a planet full of things that need attention and change.

My partner and I decided that this year we would make a difference by adopting an older dog from the Pinellas Humane Society who may have been there for awhile.

This isn't exactly anonymous, but its also not the only thing we are doing for others, it's just the only one I'm willing to divulge.

We petted & played with every dog in the shelter, and watched as the small, cute and young ones were quickly snatched up by others. One sweet dog was watching us the whole time, waiting patiently for her turn. She never barked, jumped, or demanded. She was clearly pit bull mixed with many things. We fell in love and she came home with us.

This is a long term gift, not just from us but to us. Spiritual gifts change both the giver and receiver. She immediately changed our lives, like having a new baby will.

Our first 24 hours together resulted in the death & disembowlment of my beloved teddy bear, ruining my studio carpet, and teethmarks on multiple frames and canvases. Not to mention having to wake up at 3am to walk her, regulate her food (she apparently will eat everything you put in a bowl and not ever be full) and outsmart her with medications (not as easy as it sounds!).

I learned to potty train an older dog, build a dog bed, and set up a safe area for her for when I teach classes. She has taught me not to be too attached to material things, they are fleeting and will soon have teeth marks on them. She also taught me that walking 3-4 times a day is a great way to meditate and connect with the higher power, not to mention all the other dogs and neighbors.

I'm also learning that she loves me unconditionally. She looks up to me and depends on me to keep her safe. She adores me as much as I adore her. I wasn't expecting this gift. I was expecting love, but instead I gave and received unconditional love. She has taught me how to do that in a few short days.

Some gifts we give will be forgotten in a few days, some will touch our hearts and souls forever.

Whatever you do this holiday season, don't worry about selling art. Don't worry about buying the perfect gift. Worry instead about making a difference in someone's life, even in some small way. That act will eventually result in art sales some day but not in ways that you think. Do it because you can, and it's the right thing to do. Let everything else fall into place, as it will, and be grateful we live in a world populated with wonderful, thoughtful people like you!


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