Elle Billing

Elle Billing

Elle Billing

“I didn’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t know what kind of help I needed.

“I didn’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t know what kind of help I needed. So all of these things were really risky for me and very frightening. To be able to find the kind of nourishment and help I needed in a way that was collaborative and not competitive, that’s what nourishing the risk takers is all about.”
– Elle Billing

(0:00:01) – Nourishing the Risk Takers
(0:09:52) – Supporting Artists in the Community
(0:21:36) – Mutual Support and Asking for Help
(0:31:31) – Accessibility vs. Effort
(0:39:27) – The Power of Body Doubling
(0:47:33) – The Gift Is You
(0:56:08) – Generational Relationships in the Home

Chapter Summaries:

(0:00:01) – Nourishing the Risk Takers (10 Minutes)
In this episode, we dive into the challenges faced by artists and caregivers, exploring the concept of “nourishing the risk takers. ” Elle, an artist, caregiver, and podcaster, shares their journey of leaving a stable career in education to care for their parent with a degenerative disease and pursue their passion for art. We discuss the struggle of balancing commercial success with creating art that truly resonates with oneself and the audience, as well as the importance of supporting independent artists and caregivers. By finding a community that fosters collaboration and provides the necessary support, artists and caregivers can thrive and continue to create meaningful work.

(0:09:52) – Supporting Artists in the Community (12 Minutes)
We explore how to nourish and support artists in various ways, from signing up for their mailing lists to recommending their work to friends and acquaintances. Opening and clicking through artists’ emails, nominating them for awards, and sharing opportunities for funding or exposure can all make a significant impact on their careers. Additionally, businesses can support local artists by displaying and selling their work or incorporating it into their establishments. We also discuss the importance of recognizing the costs associated with being an artist and the ways in which caregivers with chronic illnesses and disabilities can be nourished and supported as well’

(0:21:36) – Mutual Support and Asking for Help (10 Minutes)
We delve into the personal experiences of the speaker, who moved back home to care for their ailing parents. They discuss the protestant work ethic and how it has influenced their family’s reluctance to ask for help. The speaker shares the challenges of balancing their own health issues, such as fibromyalgia, with caring for their parents and trying to maintain a career. They also touch on the importance of mutual support within their family and the benefits of having their partner around for assistance. The difficulties of asking for help, both in terms of personal care and professional guidance, are also examined.

(0:31:31) – Accessibility vs. Effort (8 Minutes)
We discuss the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities and their experiences with accessibility, emphasizing the importance of acknowledging and accommodating their needs. Stories are shared about the difficulties encountered in public spaces, such as buildings without wide enough doorways for wheelchairs. Furthermore, we explore the concept of body doubling and how it can be beneficial for those with ADHD. The conversation highlights the need for accessibility and inclusivity in various aspects of life, encouraging a world that is more accommodating and understanding of different needs and experiences’

(0:39:27) – The Power of Body Doubling (8 Minutes)
We examine the concept of “body doubling” and how having someone else in the room, even virtually, can improve focus and productivity. Reflecting on past experiences of using body doubling to get things done, we highlight its effectiveness for completing tasks, especially administrative ones. Additionally, we emphasize the importance of nourishing ourselves as whole people, not just in our roles as business owners or artists, and discuss the significance of receiving help and support. This chapter underscores the value of community and acknowledging the diverse aspects of our lives that impact our work and well-being.

(0:47:33) – The Gift Is You (9 Minutes)
We reflect on the idea of being present in a community and how it impacts others positively. An individual’s presence can bring value through shared stories, art, and conversations, reiterating that community should be about being there for one another rather than a transactional exchange. Elle shares their creative process and artwork, which combines vintage text, paint, and various inspirations. We also discuss the importance of having support and bridges for artists, as well as the need to challenge societal norms and perspectives through art’

(0:56:08) – Generational Relationships in the Home (1 Minutes)
We acknowledge the reality of generational relationships within households and the importance of creating spaces where individuals can interact with others beyond their family members. Join us in this conversation and be a part of our journey through the inaugural episodes of Nourish the Risk Takers. Thank you to Elle for being a part of the discussion, and to all who are tuning in live or on replay, we appreciate your engagement and support’

Hello. We are back for a second live recording of Nourish The Risk Takers. I’m your host, Marissa Loewen. I’m joined today by Elle. I don’t know. I’m it’s Friday. We’re recording this, but we are at Nourish the Risktakers with Elle, and Elle, welcome. How are you? Hi. I’m here. Yeah. It’s a Friday. It’s a Friday. That’s a legit. That’s just a legit. I am here. I am here.

Before we go and dive into talking about Nourish the Risktakers, would you give us just a short introduction of who you are and what you do in the world? Yes. My name is Elle Billing. I am an artist at l and Wink art studio and a podcaster at Wharf Podcast. I’m also a caregiver of one of my parents and Yeah. That’s what I do. I’m an artist, a caregiver, and a podcaster. Excellent. And and you’re more than that. You’re you’re Oh, I am a lot more than that. I am You’re hurtin’ out in the world. Yes. I’m an auntie. I’m a godmother. I’m an educator. Yeah. I’m a lot of things Here are a lot of things you are. Yep. So I know when I first started talking about nourishing the risk takers, it was you were one of the first that were like, yes. I would like to be on this, and I would like to talk about it.

Just to start off, what did this nourish the risk takers mean to you? To me, nourishing the risk takers is about providing care and support for people who are doing the same for others. As a caregiver myself, I know I need a lot of support and care. I have a parent who lives with a degenerative disease and I actually took a really big risk. I left a career in education. I had a pension. I had full time benefits. I I left that career, sold my home, moved a thousand miles, and moved back home with my parents to help care of my mom. And part of that was because of my own disability and illness. Part of that was due to burnout in the education field and part of that was really because my parents needed assistance.

For many years, I thought that you know, I looked at my life and I thought, I can’t imagine doing anything other than teaching. Like, this is my calling. This is my job. This is where I belong. And then it got to the point where I was like, I can’t do this anymore. And it’s scary, and it is a huge risk to leave stability and move into the unknown. Mhmm.

And for me to find a community that supports for one that to to care for caregivers is really important, but also to find a community that could help me as a very clueless business owner, I’ve said before many times, you know, I’m I do paint I’m an artist. I never wanted to be a small business owner. I just wanted to paint. Right.

But in order to get the paintings from my studio, out to the people who want them on their walls, there are a lot of steps in between those two those two points. And I needed people to show me how to do that. And I didn’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t know what kind of help I needed. And so all of these things were really risky for me and very kind of frightening.

And so to be able to find the kind of nourishment and the kind of help I needed in a way that was collaborative and not competitive. Mhmm. That’s that’s to me what nourishing risk takers and what caring for caregivers and what fostering creative people and creative practices and creative businesses is, like, that’s buffing. Right. And it’s interesting, like, artists, of course, I come that was my background as the artist’s world and and helping artists create that. It it’s we’re living in a really interesting time where artists have to often make the decision to make things that are commercially critical or commercially accepted and making the art that really lives inside them and the messaging that they want to create into the world and there’s often a disconnect and an inability to sell the art they really want to make. And so it’s it I think there’s an interesting aspect that we can talk on nourishing the risk takers, especially when we look at artists, when we look at creatives, when we look at the things that we make them do in order to pay their bills or me said, you know, like, you’re working for yourself. You have a small business, but it’s not like you get to just always you know, make really what’s in your heart or make what you really want to do. Yeah. It’s it’s true.

I had previously taken, like, an independent artist, little work shopping, and the the advice is always niche down, niche down, niche down. Because there’s so many artists, right, out there. There’s so many of us trying to make it as independent artists and you wanna find the thing that you can do that nobody else can do as well as you do. If I niche down, I’m gonna be painting for an audience of one, which is me, which is fine. Like, that’s really who we paint for anyway. Absolutely. I’m really, really weird. Yeah. Like, my my aesthetic sense, my personal experience, and that’s I think true for every artist is we paint what we know. And then the marketing it to a wider audience is really hard or can be. But I’m also multi passionate and so niching down has always been really hard for me and finding that balance between what’s sellable and what is in my heart is That’s where I’ve struggled. Yeah. And it it’s real. It’s very real.

I don’t about this enough. Like, it is I mean, a lot of times people will say, why don’t you just make the thing that people sell? Sure. I guess, you know, Right. But I also don’t want to make the stuff that you find at Target necessarily. Although I do have friends whose stuff has been picked up and sold in Target, and it’s amazing. Yep.

But I don’t think some of the pieces that I may have mass appeal. Like, not everybody wants you know, a a well, some of it couldn’t be because I use licensed books. I tear them up and put them in and nephrologists that can’t be mass produced again for, like, a target or a michaels or whatever. But some of it, like, not everyone’s gonna want a painting that has, you know, pages torn out of, like, a nineteen twenty seven Grace anatomy — Yeah. — you know, anatomical drawings in it. Or medications? You had a line of medications. I did.

I did for migraine awareness month last year, I did the series that had each painting had a gold pill on it to talk about the cost of drug prices. That’s an important conversation, but not when another corporation’s gonna pick up and wanna sell. Right. Because I’m critiquing the exact system. Right? Or that you have enough the other, you know, side of it is that you have enough, like, clout or collectors or, you know, a significant audience that will pay for that one off piece of art. I mean, because I talk about this all the time with clients is, like, you know, license what, you know, license what you don’t love. And then the ones that you do really love, put a put a high price tag on because of one of a kind. Right? But that’s not realistic when don’t have the collectors with the cash lined up and ready to buy your next painting. Right.

And that that collection of migraine paintings every single person who bought one, it resonated really strongly with them because they also live with neurological disease like I do. Right. And one, you know, one of my collectors bought three of them. They wanted to Three o’s. They have three of these brain pieces in their home. Fantastic. And it really resonated with them because they also live with migraine disease. Yeah. And that that’s why I do what I do. You know, I want it to resonate with people. I don’t wanna just sell something pretty, although I like I have an aesthetic sense. I like it when my things, like, look good, but I also want it to connect with people. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s risky. It’s it’s especially when I especially when I’m disabled and I have a restrictive diet that costs a lot of money. Right. And I need to eat and go to the doctor and provide all these things for myself. Yeah.

So how do you think we can nourish artists? How what are some of the things that you I mean, other than buy art buy, like, buy art. I guess it’s like it’s a good easy one to do. You should buy art from independent artists and not from yas big stores. Yeah. Like, walk away from the Marshalls art section because I’ll the funniest thing I ever saw was in, like, our HomeSense, which is, like, Marshalls or TJ Maxx.

And there was, like, this this mass produce canvas that said by hand made. And I if I took a picture of it, because I was, like, this hurts. Oh my gosh. So It does. It does. It stays. But it’s just like it also made me laugh. And another, like, as I was taking a picture of this other lady comes up and she’s like, She’s like, isn’t that a statement? I’m like, it is a statement. It’s a sad statement, but this is where we’re at.

So, yes, by art, but then how else do you think we can nourish artists? That’s a really good question. We can nourish artists by I mean, if art isn’t in your budget because I know it isn’t for everybody, there are ways to to support their businesses and other ways by asking artists. What do you need? Mhmm.

And a lot of the time, we’re very frustrated with with social media because the algorithms are changing or because rules change or because our reach gets limited by certain things. And I think a really basic way to support an artist is find somebody you like and sign up for their for their mailing list. Because that’s really helpful because we know those get out even if we don’t know our social media post make it to being who we’re hoping to. And actually, open the emails that you get from — Pardon? — or from any if you sign up for an email list, please open the emails. Yeah. And click through from in and click through. Because we actually track those things, and those actually help emails get through the next time to the people that have signed up. For our email. Yeah. It’s just such a simple step. I have friends whose emails that I I read and click through even though I know I’m not in the in the market for their collection right now because I know that it helps the emails reach the clients who do want their art right now. Absolutely. And I know that’s just playing a numbers game, but that’s what we depend on right now. That’s that’s just how we have to play the game right now.

And tell your friends, like, if you know if you have a friend who’s moving into a new home or to a new apartment or who’s painting or redecorating, Like, tell them about artists, you know? I just had a friend text me on Saturday and say, I moved into my new apartment. Do you have anything big? Yeah. And I said, I do actually. I have several big paintings that I’ve been trying to sell for a year. Here’s the link. And within fifteen minutes, he had he had purchased one of my favorite paintings.

And I dance I do a happy dance every time I sell a painting, and it’s sort of like this little involuntary, like very similar to my happy pizza dance for sure. Which is also an involuntary thing that happened when I discovered a restaurant had vegan cheese. Yeah. Looks like all these little happy joys that accumulated my day It’s like, oh, yay. Something worked. Yeah. And I I was doing my little happy dance and I started crying. I was so excited because I loved this painting and it was going to somebody I know And, like, the whole transaction didn’t feel like a transaction. Right. Because it was personal. I knew they wanted it. They specifically sought me out. The whole thing felt like a conversation rather than just a simple sales transaction. Right.

And so knowing who in your life is making those kinds of changes as far as like home in their homes and trying to hook them up with artists that you follow or appreciate or enjoy is actually a good way to support people both ways. It’s like a mutual thing. Yeah. And I always like to, like, recommend people, like, nominate artists for projects, nominate artists for awards. You know, if you happen to be signed up to newsletters from your municipalities, your states, your province, your federal government. There’s a lot of art competitions that artists don’t know that they can be a part of. And — Yeah. — it’s an awesome opportunity where you can say, hey, I don’t know if you have time for this or you’re interested, but here’s like a link. Same with Graham, and funding like be be on the lookout for the artist in your lives for those opportunities because they’re busy in front of a canvas or they’re drawing or they’re listening or they’re editing or they’re doing whatever their art looks like and can’t always be on the lookout for funding sources or, you know, cool projects they get to be a part of.

We have a local artist here that, you know, does a does murals on walls. Right? So, like, the last thing is your friends opening up wrong. You’re like, you know, it looked really cool. Mural. You know? And being able to recommend, like you said, recommend those sometimes it it’s different audiences. Public art is a huge opportunity. There’s so many new buildings. I don’t know how it is in the state but we have so much percentage of a new project that is allocated to having art built either into it or inside of it or outside of it. In order to bring, you know, better just a better experience to people.

So those competitions often, you know, don’t have that many people applying for them because who didn’t know they they existed. Yeah. I had a friend send me the information, the submission guidelines for an art fair in her community. She said, hey, I think you should do this. And what was great is that the for all the emerging artists, first first time participants, that art fair provides the tent. Mhmm. So which is a huge cost for people who have never done an outdoor event before — Yeah. — which can be really cost prohibitive, but they if you’re a first time participant, they will, like, let you use their equipment. And that’s huge. And so if you know if you have a favorite art fair or art show or event or you see one out there, tell your friends and who are artists or artisans. And it’s the same ideas as the as the contests or the competitions or — Right. — submissions for public art.

Like, I’m doing so much during the day in a very limited amount of time that I have when I’m alert and in less pain because I only have a few good hours where I can really be productive during the day, that most of the time I’m not looking for those opportunities. I’m painting, I’m catching up on paperwork, I’m eating, I’m napping, and I’m helping my mom, or I’m taking care of my dog. There is no time in any of that. For me to be looking for alternative avenues of revenue or alternative places to show my art. I get a little I get a little tunnel vision. It’s like I have my three things that I do and I do those And then I forget there’s all of this other world out there.

Absolutely. And I think that happens to a lot of us because we get in our routines and we just do what we’ve all what what we’ve been doing. And then we’re like, ah, oh, there’s this museum and that museum and the mall does public art now and I don’t get out much, so I didn’t know the mall did that. Yeah. And then there’s this cool art art fair. Well, I I could go, but where would I say, oh, my friend sent me the The link, maybe she’d let me stay at her house. Well, even that is a way of nourishing artists. Everything’s expensive. So let your friends stay there if you if you show them the art fair, maybe open your house to them. That’d be cool. Yeah.

I mean, there’s so many things that we can say, like, if you do own a brick and mortar store, you know, consider selling a local made art or if you have a business and you want art on your wall, you know, buy locally or rent or have like a buy program. A lot of our stores here or our businesses here will have art in their public you know, lobbies and there’s like a little QR code and you can just go over and you can buy that art, take it off the wall and and you’ve just come for an appointment. And then you’d go home with some art. And there’s some really great opportunities where, you know, you can start to nourish the artists in your communities that doesn’t really impact you, like, in a in a like, it doesn’t make it more difficult for you. Those those companies that it’s it’s kind of a neat system, like, you you scan your QR code, and it’s like it unlocks it’s just like unlocks it’s basically like an art, you know, unlocks the art from the wall. Wow. Once you pay for it, you just take it off and you go and then, like, you know, the security guard walks over, puts her pizza hard up. And those kind of things are possible now.

As a business owner, like, I think that’s an incredible thing that you can do in your community that doesn’t really it puts beautiful art in your lobby. It also supports art being sold. We see restaurants all the time. We’ll have art hung. My hairdresser had art hanging that you could buy. Right there, you just paid them and then, you know, took a home with you and I think those opportunities where we do a lot of those cross marketing opportunities is essential to that’s part of nourishing our community and nourishing our economy — Yes. — while merging the artists.

Their when I lived in Twin Falls, Idaho, they have a they have an event there every spring called art and soul of the magic valet. And it’s like a huge art contest where artists and businesses pair up So the business will sponsor an artist. And then — Yeah. — you display their piece for, like, the duration of the contest, and then community members, you have to go to, like, the main hub and get a ballot. Yeah. And then you have to go all over town and visit all of these art exhibits, and then you vote on your favorite. Right. And then at the end, there’s, like, cash prizes for the artist, like, best in each category, and it lasts, like, a month, month and a half. And it’s a big deal. They’ve been doing it for years and years. And it is a a great way to get artists and art into all the entire community because its business is all over town. It’s a great way to get people into those businesses. Yes. And it’s a great way for artists.

To, like, get I mean, you can win, like, a significant amount of money. I think any amount of money is significant actually. At this point. But I’m like, yeah, I’d I’d take fifty bucks. I’d take a thousand bucks. But it’s every like, artists look forward to it every year and you just you see art all over some of it’s outside big sculptural work and some of it’s inside in the in the restaurants at cafes and — Yeah. — at your store — Yeah. — everywhere.

And I like I like the some of the things I’ve seen too is that in in those instances where you can, like, scan a QR code and buy it it’s like, you know, the the minimum price is five hundred dollars, but you can actually pay as much as you want. And it’s like being able to do the tipping, being able to you know, to top up, to actually express to you what that art means to you if you have the financial means is an incredible way of of sharing in the wealth and sharing in that experience and allowing someone to be able to create more art. That’s the other thing too is that, you know, we joke that artists sell their art to buy more art supplies, but it also pays their rent and their, you know, their cell phone and their Internet and their shop buy and all of these things that they have to buy in order to sell the art. We kind of forget about all of these things to live as a human and then to operate as a business. Yeah, web hosting fees and sales tax, and I’m just all of our everything costs money. That’s right. So it does. So let’s talk about nourishing as a caregiver. So you have chronic illnesses and disabilities and being your caregiver for someone else. Yes. Let’s talk about that. Because at this point, you’re nourishing somebody, you know, how how does it look for you to be nourished in that process?

My dad and I do a lot of mutual support for each other. I moved out here after my mom spent two and a half days in the hospital. That was when I decided that my parents needed help. Right. I’m from North Dakota, originally, that’s where I live now. The culture here is is very like, protestant work ethic y. For those who don’t know, I grew up like, Lutheran. That’s not really relevant except for the whole protestant work ethic thing is, like, you work really hard and you help other people out, but you don’t ask for help for yourself.

So my mom went into the hospital with a septic infection. And she tried to get herself discharged, and she, to this day, thinks that my dad and the doctor ganged up on her to have her admitted. Recently, she’s like, was I really that sick? And my dad was like, you were septic She’s like, really, I was. Like, she doesn’t remember it the way that it happened. For sure. So that happened, my partner and I were like, I think something messed up. They need help. Like, mom’s gonna die if we don’t get help in there. She’s at that stage between needing like, being independent and needing a nursing home. She’s in the town. Yeah. But if she didn’t get help, like, something bad would happen.

First of all, at about the same time, my illness was getting worse. And I couldn’t perform my job duties. I worked with deaf kids and my arms were going them. So I couldn’t use sign sign language. It was a problem. So I offered to move home, and my parents had to think about it. Mhmm. My mom didn’t want help. And my dad we were on video with my parents, and my dad was, like, kind of behind my mom going. And my mom’s like, I don’t know if I need help yet, and my dad’s like, We’ll talk about it, but he was, like, nodding. And you could see the relief on his face. Like — Right. — I didn’t think I could ask for that, and I’m so glad you offered. I mean, there’s a way for your mom and then really that caregiving. You’re seeing that actual caregiving and nourishing for your dad who is basically — Right. All of that up until And still farming full time — Absolutely. — with his brother and his nephew.

So in the winter, my dad and I do a lot of mutual support. I don’t like to drive in the winter because it makes my fibromyalgia flare up. Mhmm. Has the tense winter driving is just too much for my body. So my dad does the driving for our appointments most of the winter — Okay. — which is a nice way of taking care of me. Because winter driving is not good for me. Okay.

But then in the spring, like, coming up here, we’re still under too much snow, so we haven’t started planting yet. It’s very stressful. But starting when those we start melting and they start getting ready to go in the fields, my partner comes out from Chicago. And stays with us for the for about three months during planting. Okay. And then that’s kind of a chance for me to do some recuperating and resting because I am still doing a lot around the house. I’m doing laundry. I’m doing dishes. And I’m helping my mom with her Paypal account and her sewing machine all these little things that come up that are kinda, like, you don’t think about until it’s just all day. Yeah. Picking up prescriptions and running errands and someone hacked the PayPal account someone changed your password? Was it you? No. I think it was actually no. I think it was you.

So my partner comes out to help. Because everything gets really busy in the spring. And it used to be when I was teaching, it would get I would just really get stressed and exhausted in the spring, and I needed the help at home. And now we’ve just shifted it to needing help here. Yeah. So then my partner does the lawn mowing and helps with the dishes and the cooking. And then I can just sort of rest on the house stuff and focus on some art and some, like, self care.

And then in the fall or, like, mid summer, my partner goes home. And then in the summer and fall, I do I’d I’d pick up all the driving, and my dad’s working sixteen hours a day. And that’s when I get less care myself, except for just going to the doctor and stuff. Mhmm. And then once winter winds up. Once harvest winds up in the fall, then my dad and I kinda go back to more of the mutual support model — Mhmm. — that we kind of have carved out for ourselves. So, like, my biggest area of receiving care is usually those three months that my partner is here. And we and I can just really I don’t have to be as vigilant. I have a lot of hyper vigilance with my mom. Mhmm. She’s a she’s a fall risk. I mean just having an extra set of hands and ears in the spring is really nice.

Because then someone is also cooking for me. Which takes I I don’t I eat better when my partner’s here because when I’m cooking for myself, I’m living on boxed vegan mac and cheese and beyond burger and beans and rice and things that are fast. And when my partners here, I eat real meals. Yeah. I one hundred percent get that. So are you how are you with asking for help? I that is a learned skill. As far as my physical and, like, disability and chronic illness needs. I I can do that now.

I first got sick in twenty thirteen, and it took me a while. I tried to power through for a while, and I think that made no. I know that made me worse. Mhmm. Like, I’m much better now about just saying, to one of my parents or my partner or whoever’s around, like, hey, I need rest. I need help. I can’t do this. You know, I was in a business help has been a little bit harder to ask for because I don’t know what I need alone or even, like, what to ask, and I’ve gotten better at that. Yeah.

But I was really nervous at first. Because I didn’t wanna be seen as stupid. Oh, okay. Which is which is silly because Right. Intelligence is a made up idea anyway — Yeah. — like, it’s based in ideas of racism and white supremacy. Yeah. So, like, who the hell cares if someone thinks I’m not intelligent? Right? But also, like, If you don’t know you don’t know you don’t know. So here’s a huge I wrote this down because I wanted to talk about a big difference in, like, asking for help and accessibility between, like, the accounting class I try to take and being in the catalyst. So I try to take a two accounting classes. I was taking payroll accounting and, like, intro to accounting so I could do my books myself. Yeah. Yeah. And I was taking it at a community college online. I started that August. And then in November, like, I was doing really well in the class. I hated it. I hated everything about it, but I was doing really well. Yeah.

That November, my mom fell when we were outside. And she smashed her face on the ground, and we had to call nine eleven. Because she was injured, and I didn’t know what to do. At first, I couldn’t even get her up. I thought maybe she’d had a stroke while we were outside. By the time we’re we’re rural and all of our first responders are volunteers. So by the time I got to our farm, I had her up and inside and a nice snack, but I still needed her checked out. Was very stressful. She looked awful. I can imagine. Mine was really scary. And I knew when I moved here, At some point, I will need to call nine eleven. Right? This is going to happen. But when it does happen, you’re still not expecting Right. So that happened.

The same week, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and maybe lupus. It’s not lupus. That week, they thought it was lupus. Right. It was a really bad week. Okay.

My accounting professor had worked into the syllabus that we had one, a one time use, you can extend your homework for a week. You just need to ask. Okay. That’s what I did. Okay. I hear back from her, you didn’t ask using the right means of communication. There were like five ways that we could get in touch with our professor. There was an email, there was, like, a chat thing, and there were, like, ways through the the class management software, there was a way through the homework server. Like, there were, like, five different ways, and I happen to use the wrong one. Well, how would you know that? She didn’t give me the extension. Well, if I would’ve read the syllabus. I’m sorry. I have no spoons this week. Yeah. I might have lupus.

My mom fell and broke her face. Like, I I’m barely functioning, but I was able to open up my laptop and send you an email. When I was teaching, I considered that good enough. If you tell me what’s going on, I will have the grace to give you an extension. I’m trying. So she’s like, no. You have to do it. You didn’t do it the right way. You don’t get the extension. And I was like, this is like, I can’t find what you’re telling me. Like, my brain is not processing the information on the screen. I quit. I just stopped going to class. Yeah. It was just so at that point, it was so inaccessible — Yeah. — to my needs. To my brain, to my illness, to my life situation that I just quit.

I’ve I’ve seen this so many times I’ve experienced it where it’s just, like, the the ask for accessibility is greater than the actual effort to give the accessibility and so therefore that it doesn’t happen. It just I mean, you try it once or twice and then you realize that the world is not meant to be accessible. And you’re not I’m like, this isn’t designed for me. Right. This is not meant for me. I just wasted twelve hundred dollars. Yeah. I’ll eat it. I’ll eat it. Yeah. I’ve I’ve done it too. I’ve I’ve basically said, well, you know, there’s thousands all. I just can’t be the ask for again, the ask for accessibility is just greater than the actual task at hand, and it’s just like, okay, I’ll move on. And I know I’m not the only one. I know you’re the only one.

I I know that, like, I mean, it’s just when we have when we live in a world where people who are in wheelchairs are, you know, seem to be asking for too much if they say, can you please just shovel the sidewalk so that I can get into the, you know, the government building We had a multimillion dollar building built here for our city, and I went to a consultation and saw that they hadn’t built, like, wide enough doorways. So there’s a gentleman who couldn’t get through in his wheelchair. We had to help him transfer onto a chair, and then I had to fold up his wheelchair, get it through the door, bring it all in front of a huge audience of people So not only does he not have the dignity of having a doorway that he can just just stroll on through, but he has to then perform in front like, his disability in front of all these other people. And, you know, it’s it’s disappointing. Right? Like, that kind of stuff in a new building, we shouldn’t have to be, you know, begging for this kind of accessibility stuff. This is it’s just to be standard.

So then I join the create the rules catalyst. Yeah. Because I had already met you and had a couple sessions with you and your way of working with people is super accessible. Yeah. Very very neuro spicy friendly. Yeah. Whatever you want. Come on in. Yeah. Yeah. Like, I’d had a couple one on one sessions you helped me hammer out some things through my podcast. You taught me about, like, how to do a twelve month rolling budget. Yes. Really basic things that, like, I didn’t know because I’ve never taken a business class. Sure. And I’m inventing all this from the ground up. Yeah. And I just I never wanted to be a business owner. I just wanted to paint. Right? All of this stuff. Right? So I joined in my first day in the I was really nervous about it. Right? Yeah.

So I joined in November thinking I’m really gonna use this in twenty twenty three, but I’ll, like, hop in the work room right now or I’ll never get over that hump. That’s right. So I hop in and you’re like, hey, welcome. I’m like, cool. How does this work? Yeah. And I just, like, hang out and listen. And I’m like, we really just, like, ask our questions out loud when we need help. I was like, how do you know? Can I schedule an appointment? And you’re like, sure. But you don’t have to? No. You can just come in, like, I can just blurt out that I don’t understand SEO. Yes. Yes. You can. I can just This is a little bit on my website, or this isn’t can’t figure out how to hook this up. Okay. Yeah. It’s like, I don’t grok this. You can do it for me? Yeah. I can. Yes.

Like, the fact that there was one day where I was like, I don’t know how to content plan. Like, this is — Yeah. — I’m so burned out on this. And then Darcy was like, oh, here and she gave me an entire map. And I was like, you’re kidding. Yeah. Yeah. I was like, this is so easy I mean, that easy easy. Like, I still have to do work. But, like, I don’t have to work hard. Yeah.

But I said to people, like, if like, if you can’t, like, you’re like, hey, I gotta put out something and I have no idea. Like, just pop in the work room and I’ll be like, you can put out this. Go put it out right now. Yeah. Yeah. The amount of stuff I have seen generated — Yeah. — just from people saying, I’m stuck on this. And then you or Darcy or somebody else was going, oh, well, how about blah blah blah blah. I’m like, that was so cool. Like, I’m I’m taking no executive dysfunction out. Like, we don’t have to you don’t have to sit there and go, I can’t because sometimes our brains just don’t click. Yeah. You know? And it’s nobody’s fault.

And do you have those kids learned by eavesdropping? Yeah. And then you learn by eavesdropping, or you learn or you just go, hey, can you write and the next thing you know, we’ve written you twenty pieces of content that you can just throw out over the next couple weeks because it’s easy because it’s not our own business. Right? Yeah. Right? We can look and say, oh, I can I can look and see what’s working right now in social media? Here, try this. Try this. Try this. Try this. You know, and you don’t have to go and figure out all the trends. You don’t have to figure out all the pieces or stuff I can say, like, you know, set up a, you know, set up your phone and record yourself just over the next hour because that you can use that those little seven second clips of you just putting those You saw that talk you did.

I was like, oh, yeah. I see. And I did save, but I was like that I always forget to I I record myself then I forget to use it. Yeah. I just keep a — Okay. — I keep a video folder on my phone. And then, like, the other day, I just I was like, wait. I recorded myself with a podcast couple weeks ago. I don’t feel like going on camera. I’m just gonna go upload. I uploaded that. It was like it was like fifty four minutes. And of course, it’s like, do you want these seven seconds? I’m like, yes. Like, why was I I didn’t I didn’t move my I was like, I’m not even going to move to see if it’s a different clip. I’m just gonna take the seven seconds it has told me that looks fine and I’m just gonna put some words and then it went. Right? Yeah. That’s nourishing me. I was like, I I let that tool nourish me in that moment. Yep. Oh, yeah. It’s great.

There was What’s Oh, and I know that there’s other ways that the room has been designed excessively because I know there’s at least one person using captions in there. And another person is it’s you. Yeah. Why didn’t wanna say that? See, I need captions. Yeah. There’s a caption happening right below here. Yep. So then I can hear what you’re saying because I just I have an auditory processing. It’s just that’s just who I am. Yep. And there’s I know somebody sometimes runs Otter so they get transcripts of what we’re working on. Yeah.

Like, all of these tools are built in. Yes. Okay. Or or if you if we don’t have it built in like, sometimes, some people are, like, do you add it? Click on honor. I’m, like, okay. Yeah. I don’t care. Like, if you have the tools that work for you, use them in the space as well. Like, there’s no — Yeah. — like, it’s just like, you know or you need us to record this right now, this little blurb. Sure. Let me just hit the record button, and then I can send you a link and you’ve got it afterwards. You know, those are those things where it doesn’t take again, it’s no time. It’s no effort on my part to make sure that those accessibility things are built in.

And the body doubling, I had never heard of that. You had said something about it on a Facebook post about when you join the catalyst, you get these things. I was like, what’s body doubling? So I looked it up and I was like, oh my gosh. I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD till I was thirty six years old. Right. And all of a sudden, like, all the mysteries of my childhood unlock Like, why am I so anxious all the time? Like like, why am I a burned out gifted child, basically? Secret to every burned out gifted child is ADHD. I swear to them. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think most of us who had great potential and now were exhausted and in chronic pain we had undiagnosed ADHD. So as soon as I learned what body doubling was, I’m like, that’s why I can. That like, that’s the secret to why I can and can’t do things. That’s why I can’t clean the garage unless my dad is also mowing long. Like, It makes so much sense.

In in my twenties, you know, I’d phone a friend. I talked to him over two hours and cleaned my entire apartment. You know, I wasn’t vacuuming, but I was like sweeping, doing dishes. Loading the dishwasher, washing walls, washing windows, putting stuff away, taking my laundry down the hall. Like, I did all of that on the phone, and now I look back and I go, oh, that’s because I was already knowing that body doubling was what I needed. I needed to have that space of somebody else doing something in my proximity even though it was over the phone because she was also doing stuff. You know? She was, like, painting or making stuff. You know? She’s, like, oh, I’m just doing I’m making this thing. Okay. We’ll sit here and talk on the phone. We we weren’t in the room together, which is where body doubling started. Right. We were on the phone. And that’s what we’re doing right now on the catalyst. You just come in. And even though, like, when there’s nobody else in the room, there’s something about setting yourself in that chair. Yes. I think it’s we’re we’re body doubling each other, like ourselves at that point. Right? Like, it’s like, I see myself, my avatar in that room. I’m here. I can focus and do my work. And I don’t get it entirely. I don’t understand it, but it works. Yeah.

My aunt used to call my mom when she was cleaning the bathroom. When we were kids, Like, if it was Saturday and the phone rang, were, like, auntie Jerry’s cleaning the bathroom? Yeah. And it was, like, this running joke for years. And now, My sister does it. We’re like, we were all just undiagnosed for, like, our whole lives. That’s right. We all just needed body doubling.

When my sister she moved out to Idaho for a short time while I lived out there. I used to call her up and say I’m cleaning my fridge, can you come over? Yeah. And she would sit and drink the little bit like, I would have wine with just a little bit left in the bottle. She’s like, well, I’ll clean the fridge. I’ll take care of these wine bottles while using the rest of it. Like, kind of as a joke. But, like, as long as someone was bare — Absolutely. — I could clean the fridge. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s and I can’t believe how much that has opened up my ability to do admin tasks which I hate. Absolutely. Yeah. And it’s like but if I’m doing them with you and with BBA and with everybody else and occasionally, I get to hear this joke about, like, talk about some little side tangent like, Rob Lowe’s kids trolling him on Instagram, it makes the day that much better. Absolutely.

And I think that’s the other thing too is is nourishing ourselves as as business owners, as artists, is that we’re not and I said this to you right at the beginning, you know, you’re not just that you are a plethora of other roles and identities as you move through your life. I think this is an important thing to realize is that nourishing ourselves, it’s was really important for me to build a community where people could be their whole selves. So they didn’t have to just show up. I saw in a lot of Facebook groups where people were going through things, and they’re like, this isn’t business related. And it’s like, how is it not business related. This is our entire life. We’re caregivers, we’re family members, we’re going through stuff. You know, it it definitely came to a head when or what was Mary Bird. We saw all these people going through grieving motions and and trying to figure out, you know, policy changes, all the stuff that was happening. People are like, well, that’s not business related. And it’s just, like, they are biz they’re have they are running a business and doing all the stuff course, it’s business related. And I just I thought, what are we doing here? Where we’re, like, making people not be whole people. Because it’s inconvenient or it makes us feel uncomfortable.

Well, that happened to me, teaching even I went through a divorce during my oh, what? How many years of teaching? Like, a a few years into my career. I went through a divorce, and it was really stressful. Divorce sucks. Even if you know it’s the right thing to do, it’s hard. And so where I had I would say my first few years of teaching, Protestant Work ethic, new teacher, I was putting in a hundred and twenty percent — Right. — which I’m probably paying for now because you got a Rob Peter to Paypal. K. You’re you’re just borrowing from the future if you are putting a hundred and twenty percent into work? Absolutely. Yes. I will say and you’re not being nourished. K. That’s right. That’s right. So I go through a divorce. I scale back to eighty percent at work, which by the way is still a passing grade.

My supervisor comes to me and says, we notice that you’re not performing as well as you usually are at a school. K? So me be and she basically, the conversation she had with me was that it was grieving wrong and that I should compartmentalize and leave home at home and work at work and use my job focus on my job is a way to cope with my divorce, which, like, worst advice ever. Yeah. Like, totally just the void trauma. And I was, like yeah. And I was, like, hurt and insulted and so many things by that. I was not nourished by that conversation.

My other supervisor regularly came and checked on me and asked how I was if I was safe. If I was sleeping, if I was eating. Because all of those things are very difficult to do when you’re going through a divorce and you’re living with the person that you’re divorcing. Yeah. Eating is very difficult. Sleeping is very difficult. Feeling I was physically safe. I was never in any physical danger emotionally. I was a wreck. Yeah. For sure.

And I did not feel nourished by that person for the rest of the time that they worked there because I really felt betrayed by one conversation. Now, that was my own baggage to carry. I didn’t have to let one conversation ruin our entire working relationship. That was my choice. But it was their choice to be inconvenienced by my divorce. Be inconvenienced by my divorce. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Because we are whole people at work. Like, it doesn’t matter. Like, of course, I’m not gonna, like, take my divorce to the second graders and tell them about all my marital problems. No. No. But, like yeah. It’s gonna affect how I am who I am in how I am at work. Yeah. Right. And you can’t just be, like, I’m gonna sleep more tonight. Like, that that’s doesn’t actually.

And I I am, like, not able to compartmentalize. I’ve never been able to. And the times that I’ve tried have resulted in pretty significant mental health crisis. So — Great. — being able to be somewhere where, yeah, we get to be whole people. Yeah. Because, honestly, business owner is the least interesting thing about me. And probably the least important thing about me when it comes down to it I mean, yeah, I gotta stay on top of all of the business stuff. So there it doesn’t, like, make the rest of my life fall apart. Absolutely. But I maybe spend three hours a day working. You know? That’s a very small percentage of my day. Yeah. That your whole person outside.

So how are you at receiving help? You mentioned earlier that sometimes it could be a struggle for you to ask for help how are you at receiving nourishment? Getting getting better. I think I now at this point, a week before my 38th birthday, I would say that I’m pretty good at it, at receiving it. Sometimes I have to I have to be reminded of the tools that I’ve been given. Right. Like, oh, yeah. I do have a content planner. Right? Oh, yeah. I can ask for writing help. Yes. You can click the catalyst. Yes. I can have someone, like, do a thing for me. There are people who know SEO. You can I don’t edit your podcast? Yeah. Yep. I do have someone editing that for me. Yep. Wouldn’t even be doing a podcast if I didn’t have somebody who knew audio. So I just didn’t have the energy or the time to learn a new skill. I don’t. So I think I’m pretty good at receiving nourishment and health I do sometimes worry that I’m not contributing enough to the work room.

Because I my skills aren’t to a point where I can get back to other people yet. I’m very creative. Oh, geez. I’m very creative. Like, I don’t feel like I’m giving enough to people yet. But I guess what what you have to think about is, like, you know But then I remember just being in the room is room. Yeah. It’s enough for the room. In the room. Right? Yep. Because I think, but when somebody hops into that room and they just see your avatar there. Right? You you can not have a whole conversation, but that person’s gonna sit beside you on the, you know, make the legal table that we have. And they’re gonna, like, they’re gonna work alongside you. So you’re bringing in that body doubling, you’re bringing in that presence, you add to the conversations all time, you tell us stories, you bring us in delightful things, you share your art, which is incredible. People have bought your art in there. And so that has also contributed to them. Right? So that’s that’s you bringing your art to people who have find joy with it.

And this is the realities that it whoa. Like, being in a community isn’t and especially in a business community’s heart, it’s like I I I don’t bring in my business sense. Well, you bring yourself in there. You bring your you are bringing your business in there. You’re bringing your process of working on things and your art. And that is so valuable And it doesn’t mean that you didn’t, you know, you didn’t contribute because you did. I appreciate that. Thank you. The community is better because you’re in it. That’s it.

That’s not some of that, like, again, that capitalist like — Yeah. — it has to be a little Like, tit for tat. Is that tit for tat? Thinking that I have to, like, get out of there because it it doesn’t have to be the same thing for the same, like, that type of exchange. Like, community doesn’t have to work that way. That’s right. It it it shouldn’t work that way. It shouldn’t. No. It shouldn’t be based on the value that you bring to the community. It’s the fact that you’re just there in the community. Mhmm. Right? What’s the fact that you’re There’s I think there’s a line in Encanto.

And, like, one of the last songs of Encontro that way. It’s, like, the real gift is you. It’s not some magic that you’ve got. The gift is who you are. Yeah. It’s not the the gift is you. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Everybody had a purpose. And it’s like, well, what happens if you and a gift that you bring? And if you don’t have that gift for that purpose, are, you know, no. People loved still loved her, you know, being in that space. And I think I think there’s a there’s some interesting we could keep track about this forever a day, but I do wanna you know, we’re we’re we’re at about our time here. So I know that we’ll we’ll we’ll probably keep that. We’ll schedule another one and we’ll have more conversations about this.

But is there anything you’d like people to know about, you know, you and and what you’re doing in the world for through your art? We put up — Yeah. — more kind of stuff, but I think it’s really good for them to know of what you’re creating and why. Yeah. I create mixed media artwork that tends to be pretty text heavy, but the text is usually hidden. I a sandwich, vintage text in between a lot of paint and other layers of goodness. Right. So I have some paintings on my website right now that use Bernstein Bears pages, but they’re, like, seeing which in between the paint. And then they’re all titled The Song lyrics, so I like to mix up and mess around my inspirations and just make a real mess out of it. It’s a lot of fun.

And the collection that I’m working on right now that will be part of a group show in June is based on Ophelia from Hamlet. And also, like, in kanto somehow? No. Like, a lot of song lyrics. Right. Right. Like, in kanto, frozen, Florence in the machine, Okay. It’s it’s a real mishmash. I’ve had a lot of fun with it. That’ll be going up in June, and those will be available as well.

My website is l and wink dot com, and my podcast is hoorf h o o r f podcast dot com or Instagram at hoorf podcast. And that is radical care in a late capitalist techscape. So it’s all creativity, creative process, care, caregiving, and such. Definitely worth a listen. I enjoy the episodes. Thank you very much.

So before we go, I always like to just again recognize the person I’m talking with. So, Elle, you are incredible. We we met I remember our first session that we met. I was like, oh, I don’t really know anything about this person who has booked a a session.

I think I think I did, like, a fundraiser for somebody and you came in and it was interesting hearing you because one, I I could see, like, I could see you had so many messages, so many ideas, so many beliefs that you wanted to bring out into your into the world, but that it was a struggle. You were in a position where you were just kinda coming into this care gating role. You you did not wanna run a business. You didn’t want plus you’ve got disabilities coming. Like, all this stuff, all of it. And all I could hear was just this, like, it was just like, it felt like this message that you just really wanted to come out and I I knew I’m like, hey, Elle just needs to have, like, support. Elle just needs to have some bridges. Elle just needs to have people reaching out and being like, how can we make this easy? How can we make it? How can we bring ease? How can we make it easier? And that you would just sort that you would just be able to to put that the ideas and the messages.

Now what I love about you is that your messages are like, chefs kiss. Like, we’re talking like, from from the I mean, I’m still thinking about those the medical the pills. I’m still thinking about, you know, these pieces that you have brought out. They start ideas in me with the artwork, just seeing that artwork. And just having you be out there and and just you you do it boldly, you do it, you know, very confidently in your art. I can see it. I can see it in there. And so I just appreciate that you are creating this art in the world that you I mean, I know that you’ve got the struggles. I appreciate you as caregiver as well. You’re definitely a caregiver in the catalyst as well. I can see that’s just a natural thing for you in there.

But I love how you show up. I love how the ideas and the commentary that you bring. I love the perspective that you bring in. You you definitely do look at all the sides and try to bring in this really nuanced you know, nothing is black, white. It’s like, great. Like, well, let’s let’s look at this. Let’s let’s play with it. And I think that’s an essential skill that we need more of in the world. This kinda questioning and playing with these ideas that have just become norm because nobody has felt like challenging them and you’re out there challenging them with your art. And I love that about you. So thank you very much for being in the world, but also in the catalyst in that space. It’s it’s just it’s an absolute honor to be in there you are so valued in there. Thank you.

Elle Billing (she/they) is a disabled artist, caregiver, and podcaster. After reaching the point of severe burnout as a K-12 educator with chronic illness, Elle left the school system, returned to her childhood home, and now spends half her time sleeping. She spends the other half moving slowly through life, caring for a parent with dementia, making art, and sitting with big feelings.

Elle is the host of the podcast Hoorf: Radical Care in a Late-Capitalist Heckscape

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In a recent podcast episode of “Nourishing the Risk Takers,” host Marissa Loewen and guest Elle, an artist, caregiver, and podcaster, discuss the struggles faced by artists and caregivers. They explore the concept of “nourishing the risk takers” and how it is essential to provide support to individuals who take risks in pursuing their passion for art or providing care to their loved ones.

Leaving Stability for Passion and Care

Elle shares their journey of leaving a stable career in education to care for their parent with a degenerative disease and pursue their passion for art. The decision to leave stability and move into the unknown was a significant risk for Elle, but finding a community that fosters collaboration and provides the necessary support allowed their to thrive as an artist and caregiver.

The Struggle of Art and Commercial Success

Balancing the creation of art that truly resonates with oneself and the audience with the need for commercial success can be challenging for artists. To nourish and support artists, it is essential to recognize their efforts and buy art from independent artists rather than mass-produced pieces found in big stores. Additionally, businesses can support local artists by displaying and selling their work or incorporating it into their establishments.

The Importance of Mutual Support and Asking for Help

Elle delves into their personal experiences of moving back home to care for their ailing parents and the challenge of asking for help. The importance of mutual support within their family and the benefits of having their partner around for assistance are highlighted. Recognizing the need for help in various aspects of life, especially for individuals with disabilities, is crucial for promoting inclusivity and understanding.

The Power of Body Doubling

The podcast explores the concept of “body doubling,” which refers to having someone else in the room, even virtually, to improve focus and productivity. This practice can be beneficial for completing tasks, especially administrative ones. Nourishing ourselves as whole people, not just in our roles as business owners or artists, is essential for our well-being and the communities we are part of.

Being Present in a Community

Elle and Marissa emphasize the importance of being present in a community and the positive impact it can have on others. The value of an individual’s presence can bring support through shared stories, art, and conversations. Community should be about being there for one another rather than a transactional exchange.

The podcast episode highlights the importance of nourishing the risk takers, supporting artists and caregivers, and creating a community that fosters collaboration and understanding. By recognizing the challenges faced by these individuals and providing the necessary support, we can help them continue to create meaningful work and make a positive impact in the world.

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