labor day woes and lessons learned from the wasp

Yellow Jacket by Gwyn Michael
Labor Day, a federal holiday representing “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations”.

Hmm, what does that mean in a time and place where the “labor” force is disappearing, many are out of work, and many are creating their own work, which feels more like esprit de me, myself and I. Excuse me if  I am a bit cranky today. It has been an interesting summer of wild weather, falling trees, mystical messages, and wasps. Oh, and, redesigning my website and searching for new direction in my work. Work that pays in particular would be nice.

So I sit writing this while many of my fellow Americans are having a last weekend at the beach, camping, or just hanging out and overindulging in beer and barbecue. Not to mention sales. Of course, any federal holiday brings on the sales. Don’t get me wrong, I am not begrudging that I am home writing. We had the beer and barbecue thing last night, I have had my time at the beach, and I don’t want to go camping. Rather, I am upset with myself because I spent most of the summer futzing with my website and I am not done. No Labor Day sales for me. What happened?

I have shared with you in previous posts my many iterations of artist, and my summer spent finding my voice, and branding myself. This was both easier and more difficult than I anticipated, thus being not quite there by the Labor Day finish I scheduled.

If I had payed closer attention to the wasps I may not be writing this cranky admission.

In June my husband discovered a small hole in a window casing outside my studio where yellow jackets were eagerly entering. Solution: plug the hole, trap the wasps, they die. NOT! It turns out that if they can’t get out the way they came in they find another way. Often in the house. The next day I had a steady flow of winged fury with stingers in my studio.

Now anyone that knows me knows I am a pacifist, particularly where animals are concerned, but after the first sting I took to the fly swatter. The traffic increased to the point I could not work so I decided it would be good to try unplugging the hole. This was a good idea except for the fact that there were many irate wasps right on the other side of that plug.  I only got it part way out before fleeing and eight more stings. I called Steve and he came home to finish the job, which in the end worked, but I was quite flustered by the experience.

I thought to myself, what can I learn from this? My thoughts were that these are extremely determined, industrious, and organized insects. They work to the death to get the job done. I could use some of that mojo sans the death part.

I made lists, and giant wall calendars to post my daily tasks, and things were going great. I was as industrious and organized as any wasp until the cicada killers arrived.

Cicada Killers by Gwyn michael

Major distraction, as if the buzz of the cicadas were not enough. When you see numerous 1 1/2 inch wasps congregating in your garden just after the yellow jacket scenario, you become concerned. Long story short, they are fairly harmless if you are not a cicada, and as hard working as the yellow jackets. I got back to work and spent a month working with Laura Simms at Create as Folk. We defined  my brand, target customer, and design strategy for the web site. Three weeks to go and just the technical stuff to do.

I was golden. Plenty of time. NOT. At least not when you drag your feet and put off the stuff that is hard. The stuff that does not come naturally. The stuff you maybe need help with, but don’t ask. The stuff that requires extra wasp power. On Friday, when I realized I was not going to be anywhere near done by Monday, I told myself it was OK. I have most of the design work done, and new about pages, and work to post, and new services (gasp) to offer. I am ready to start blogging again with a four-day-a-week topic series. I can write about my experience as I move on with the new shopping software and have a big sale to open shop! It’s all good right? Perhaps, but the wasps were not done with me yet.

Last night we were at a friend’s for an annual pool party that had been twice postponed due to weather anomalies and consequent fallen trees. I was interested in the remains of the tree and began taking pictures when I saw this:

Pigeon Horntail by Gwyn Michael

I kid you not, it was as big as what you see here. I am not superstitious, but a sign is a sign. I love symbolism, metaphors, and archetypal imagery, so I decided to find out if the wasp carries any lore. It turns out that the wasp is a symbolic of:

  • order
  • construction
  • communication
  • involvement
  • development
  • progress
  • team-work
  • productivity

Hmph, I knew it. Still, I let fear and uncertainty stifle me and did not do the work. I see that I have some reading to do (check the links) along with getting my wasp back on.

This is an admittedly odd post but I have a decent ending. Sometimes solutions, or at least good prompts, come in surprising ways. My wasp teachers have some wise questions to ask.

Because the wasp is symbolic of communication, order, and productivity, those who encounter the wasp may ask themselves:

  • “Are all my affairs in order?”
  • “Am I aligning myself with my goals?”
  • “Am I procrastinating about something?”
  • “Am I keeping myself from reaching my highest potential?”
  • “Am I allowing my progress to be held back by others?”

I regret to admit my answers are not what I’d like to a few of these, poor communication and fear of potential topping the list.

So I wonder: What is your experience of not finishing and justifying it? Do you hold yourself back from your best work for any  reason? Why?

BTW I will posting my first blog on the new website tomorrow at 1pm EST. Feedback encouraged!

P.S. In my next life I may be an Entomologist.

12 thoughts on “labor day woes and lessons learned from the wasp

  1. goodness. what a thought provoking and timely post. my artwork is admired by others and i’m encouraged on a daily basis. yet i’m not reaching my potential & find myself constantly holding back. what am i so afraid of?

  2. FEAR!!! My biggest roadblock….fear of success, fear of not being perfect, fear of not becoming successful as an artist… Each day gets a bit better now that I finally acknowledged it…Fear wil NOT rule me.

  3. Each time I read one of your posts, I say to myself — yes, yes, yes! Your analogy comparing wasp productivity with people productivity hits so close to home. Coincidently this summer, I had my own reminder as to how much a wasp sting hurts!. But then, I got to wondering, why I allow obstacles to distract me, while wasps just attack (sting) the obstacle and move on to complete their tasks. I am guilty on just lowering my defenses and letting the procrastination roll on in. I understand the question I should be asking myself is ” Why am I procrastinating? What is the real issue? And, how do I go about getting my focus aligned with my goals?” I good reminder that nature holds the answers. Thanks for sharing, I’m looking forward to reading your new blog.

  4. Oh Gwyn, What a rich and exciting experience. Yeah, yeah, not so much fun getting stung (I have my own story from this summer too) but that you have taken the time to examine it, wonder, call in other resources and reasoning, the reasons why will come to you in some AHA moments or maybe in a more subtle way. And as much as I am sad to see summer go, I am not sad to see these stinging cousins go. Of course where I live they are now all out in numbers and acting drunk, looking for a good place to hibernate (hair is a popular place) and so it goes.

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