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Balancing Boxes • by Denise Hahn

Denise HahnFrom Childhood to Adolescence
As a child, making art saved me ... it saved me from book reports and other mundane projects! As I grew into my teenage years my love for creativity segued into theater as I designed costumes and sets for my high school plays. I even won an award for my set design.

Huge Gap
Interestingly there was a huge gap during my adult life where I did not have creativity in my life. I wonder why I allowed myself to be pulled away from something I loved. The answer is, it just happened. Life takes you in different directions and the direction it was taking me was work. This work that took me away from creativity also drove me to become someone who thrived off of the competitiveness, the recognition, and the money related to work.

At some point along the way I went from being that young up-and-comer to that old seasoned professional. I stopped wanting the better position, nor the more money. I didn't want to work 7 days a week, running on empty as I would put in 90+ hours a week. Once I came to this place, I asked myself: "So what now?" I had become bored and complacent ... a bad place to be in an ultra competitive field.

Art to the Rescue
That’s where art once again came to the rescue. It all started when a friend introduced me to scrapbooking. We went on a cruise for her birthday and I came home with a bunch of free scrapbooking goodies. I found I was having an amazing time using the creative part of my brain. Scrapbooking soon had me thirsting for something with more dimension. That’s when I started reading many of the mixed media and altered art publications. I started making projects at first by doing tutorials and learning techniques. Then I started branching out with my own creations. I found I gravitated toward vintage ... especially those things that are nostalgic for me, objects that bring back memories of my childhood. I just started creating and the possibilities seemed endless.

Amazing Creative World
I started making so much stuff I figured I would need to start selling it as art supplies can be pricey and I needed to fuel my creativity with some cash flow. My work was first sold by Julie Wooley owner of The Vintage Emporium in Long Beach. Julie loved my work and totally inspired me. She suggested I go to one of Kim Caldwell's Artistic Affaire events. I did, and have been thrust into this amazing world of creative women ever since. Now I sell on etsy, teach classes, and sell my work.

Art saved me at a time where I was not feeling good about my job. All of my friends were “work” friends and my entire world revolved around work. Now I have an amazing group of creative friends, an artistic outlet for my mind, and even get some nice recognition. I have been able to achieve this amazing balance in life that if I had not found art, would be a very sad existence. Like the old saying goes, no one lays in their deathbed wishing they had spent more time at work.

Derby Box
I always strive to now have balance in my life. I am involved in a lot of things and I am able to look at them critically and decide what sort of time and energy I am willing to give them. I call it “putting it in a box”. As an example I am involved in Roller Derby. I know that if I totally immersed myself in it, I would no longer have time to create art and might even get hurt and miss work. So I coach. I still get to be involved but in way that gives me balance. Derby is in a nice little box that I make sure to stay in no matter how much I want to be out there crashing with my girls!

Etsy Box
Another example is my etsy shop. The business person in me wants to market, increase sales, brand myself! But realizing that I can’t do it all, I have made a very modest goal of one sale per month, and then consistently impress myself when I quadruple my sales projection. By doing this I have been able to have several little boxes that keep my life balanced, entertained and fulfilled. Feeling overwhelmed? Put it in a box and you will find you can create amazing balance.

To learn more about Denise Hahn, visit,


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