I didn’t plan on being pushed off the first cliff. In fact, I have a healthy fear of heights. Divorce, selling your home, moving, and empty nesting have a way of thrusting you into the abyss. I scrambled to get my footing and land in one, albeit disheveled piece. The person I was in that scenario was someone I didn’t recognize nor much like. Insecure, frightened, and humbled, I quickly realized how much I didn’t know about myself and what made me tick, never mind what would bring me joy and serenity.
I read voraciously trying to figure “it” out. Googling turned out to be my savior, but I will talk about that another day. There are very few how-to-put-your-life-back-together instructionals out there in the huge internet world. There are plenty of stories about people who rise from the depths of despair, intuitively divine their one true purpose and soar. The thing they all seemed to have in common was a great certainty and clarity of what that purpose was. Very depressing when you have no idea what your particular thing might be.
I have a dear friend, whom I see about twice a year, that has always been an anchor and sounding board for me. At one dinner in the middle of my mental chaos, I was talking about just this and all the things I was thinking of doing, when he finally told me I had just named about 10 different things, sounded like a nut, and needed to pick one and focus! So, in an attempt to do just that, I began meditating (great thing!), journaling, discussing and plotting the merits of my many and various callings, ad nauseam. I regularly beat myself up, then alternately became my own cheerleader on a head spinning rollercoaster.
Then, lo and behold, a contest to win a B&B miraculously was brought to my attention. In one fell swoop, I could manifest the many choices I had ruminated about. By writing a mere 200 hundred word essay, I could take off and begin my future in one giant step. My creativity, need for company, cooking, baking, gardening, design and marketing prowess would all come together in what I was confident would be a huge success. The dream was intoxicating. I suspended decisions about my future until the results were in for the winner. I was confident that I could embrace this challenge whole-heartedly, move to another state, and rebuild my life with no trepidation.
Shockingly, I didn’t win. As surprising as that may have been, I did realize something important in the process. I had forgotten how to dream and I mean, dream big. The world of possibilities had been shut down in my mind, I had let my personal ambitions and goals get diluted and stuffed away. I wasn’t willing to let go of the high that this change and hope had brought me. Now I was on a mission. I discovered the world of life coaching methods and positive psychology and started taking baby steps to make new life decisions that truly suited me and try to regain some clarity on who I was. Slowly, I came to realize that my heart’s desire had been right there in my own backyard the whole time. I just hadn’t given it the recognition it deserved.
I am an artist, always have been, always will be. For years I wouldn’t even use that word to describe myself, due to my own narrow-mindedness about what I thought that word meant. I did do a lot of things that were certainly artistic and afforded myself and family with a beautiful life and in the process, I became a serious muralist and designer. However, I had slowly rationalized away my desire to just paint the things I found exciting because of fear of failure.
Now, I am willingly and joyfully jumping off the next cliff into the world of the unknown. In an effort to get up close and personal with my talents, shortcomings, epiphanies and roadblocks, I have given up a permanent place of residence for the time being. I am spending the next few months getting reacquainted with being an artist, traveling, and putting the real work into discovering and being proud of my craft. No trying to make my living or paying bills in any other way but making art and hopefully not torturing my friends and family that are lending me their homes, storage spaces, and companionship in support. I hope to truly embrace the journey, not cling to any result, and begin to follow my bliss (thank you Joseph Campbell).