Barb Black is Passionate About Inspiring Through Art!
Barb Black describes herself as a creative soul who dabbles in just about any craft that comes her way. Barb is far more than that. She creates artwork with rubber-stamped images and inspires countless people with her unique and uplifting style. Barb’s story illustrates how anyone can find a hobby they feel passionate about. For some, like Barb, that hobby can turn into a livelihood.
Barb discovered her passion where she least expected — at a neighbor’srubber stamp party. It was similar to those product parties where people watch demonstrations and then can purchase items.
“I didn't want to go because I didn’t feel like spending three hours with a bunch of gabby women, and I knew I’d feel pressured to buy something I didn’t want,” she said. As luck would have it, her life partner John convinced her to go, saying, “C’mon, Honey… it’s the neighborly thing to do.” So she went. Three hours later she came home with five rubber stamp cards, tools of the trade and the eyes of an addict. “I was hooked,” Barb said. “I’d finally found my creative niche.”
That was early in 2005, and Barb has been pursuing her passion ever since, though her ability to stay the course has been tested by many of those “life happens” detours we talked about earlier in the book. One was the loss of John, who died of cancer in 2007.
“Before he died, John made me promise him three things,” Barb said. He made me promise that I would be a woman of honor; that I would not only go on living, but that I would live well; and that I would open myself to love again.
“Once the dust settled and I could breathe again without trying, I began to think about that promise. To me it mostly meant being true to myself and to what inspires me and gives me the greatest pleasure, and being open to possibilities rather than sitting in my rut and wishing for them. I began to create things with a bit more fervor as a way to release some of the overwhelming emotion I was feeling from my loss.”
I asked Barb if there was a moment in her life when she had to decide what to do, which path to take. “Yes, most definitely,” she responded. “Although being a self-employed artist was something I dreamed of, I was afraid to ‘go for it.’ I’d been raised with the mindset that a 40-hour-a-week job meant a good life. I was laid off from such a job in February 2009. I spent a couple of very frustrating months applying for anything and everything and getting nowhere. After a while I started emailing and calling friends and family saying, ‘Hey, I need to pay the electric bill. I don’t want to borrow the money. Any chance you want to order some cards?’ People seemed to love the fact that I wasn’t just begging. Pretty soon I found myself getting a little busier with more and more orders for my artwork.”
Barb believes that life isn’t just what we make it; it’s what we allow ourselves to make it. That is a subtle yet important distinction. For most of her life, Barb didn’t allow herself to be an artist. “I put myself in box, a place that was very secure and snug but also very unfulfilling,” she said. “Once I broke loose from the restraint _I placed on myself, it was as if I became a magnet for people who were looking for me and the artwork I was creating. One enthusiastic customer even asked me, ‘Where have you been hiding?!’”
Barb feels her greatest strength is that she has a passion she acknowledges and nurtures. She also feels that everybody has passions within them, but many are simply not in touch with them or are afraid to pursue them. She encourages everyone to think about their passion possibilities because it can be so freeing, as it has been for her.
“It gets what I call the ‘soul gunk’ out of my head and into a tangible form that feels good,” she said. “Because it helped open me up as a creative person, it’s also led me to other artistic avenues such as writing, something I wasn’t confident enough to explore when I was younger.”
Barb’s comments illustrate the idea I discussed earlier in this book about giving back. When we inspire others through our passions, we are giving back in very real and meaningful ways. This has a snowball effect — it gets others inspired to take positive action in their lives.
Just as Barb Black experienced, life presents us with detours. Remember the “Road to Happiness” and the “life happens” examples earlier in the book? Barb, however, used her passion as a means of coping with life’s detours in a positive way. She invested herself in things that brought her joy and a sense of purpose. She found a way to fulfill the promises she made to here deceased partner, John. She began to live her passion!