“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise.”~Anais Nins
In the two or three years leading up to my 40th birthday I knew I wanted to do something spectacular, something that most people wouldn't think to do. While most people dread the changing decades, I embrace it. As the saying goes, "Do not lament growing old, it is a privilege denied to many."
The only person I shared this crazy dream with was my sister (and well my husband). My sister lives on Ottawa and it was the location of the skydiving company where I considered doing the jump. She wanted to do the jump too, so I made her promise to keep it between us. I knew if I told anyone, especially my protective older brother, he'd try and talk me out of it! Ha!
I knew I wanted to make the jump on my actual birthday, not the day or week before or after. As the date drew closer, I started to feel nervous. I didn't think I would be able to go through with it. I felt I was taking an unnecessary risk, especially being a mom. Yet I knew I wanted my children to see that life is meant to be lived to the fullest. With time getting short (only about 10 days away from my birthday), I pushed aside my fear, booked a plane ticket to Ottawa and booked the skydiving jump. I still didn't know if I was going to chicken out but I was a step closer.
Obviously, I did follow though with the plan. It was the most amazing experience I've ever had. Something changed in me that day. Somewhere in that 60 second free fall I decided I would never let fear stop me from achieving a goal or a dream. I cringe to think I almost let fear stop me from leaping out of that plane (well, technically, the guy did the jumping for me, not sure I'm brave enough for a solo jump). All of the fear stemmed from the unknown, as most fears do. I plan on going skydiving again, for my 50th birthday. This time I'll be taking the kids with me and we'll experience it together.
When I got out of my head (stop over-analyzing everything, Wendy) and into my heart (follow your intuition, Wendy) made the leap into creating the life I visualized in my mind and so desperately desired deep in my soul.
I realized that most of my life had been spent doing things because I thought that’s the way they had to be done. I realized I was doing things I thought other people wanted me to do. As a teenager, I wanted to be an entrepreneur but I thought it was too risky and I should do something more “stable”.
So I did.
I went to Art school (because, I mean, that’s the real money maker right?) Ha!
Looking back, everything happened for me exactly as it was meant to. Going to Art school actually was my saving grace. After Art school I went back to university to get an Education degree and, luckily, I landed a full-time position as an Art teacher in a 7-12 high school even before I finished my degree. I had a job waiting for me as soon as I graduated. Had it not been for the Art degree, I may still have been looking for a full-time teaching position.
“Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you.”
Having been a teacher for 15 years and counting, it has prepared me to be exactly where I am meant to be now. I have had so many rewarding years in the classroom. I’ve practiced and honed my skills in Art, public speaking, planning, and leadership.
But there was always this lingering dream of entrepreneurship that kept whispering in my ear, gentle reminders that it wasn’t done with me yet!
I started listening.
I committed to doing more of my own art. I revamped my website and added an art store. I started putting myself out there (which is no easy task for me). I started seeing results. It was exactly the motivation I needed. It was exactly what my soul needed. Fear may creep in again from time to time but I'll never let it stop me from living my best life.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
~ Howard Thurman
“Dear old world', she murmured, 'you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.”― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
For the past number of years I have had the idea for a painting that I am just finally starting. As of now I will title it Mr. Barbour's Wharf and it will be named for my neighbour, Samuel Barbour. The title may change as the painting evolves, or it may stay the same. I don't necessarily think it needs to have an obscure title. Sometimes, the title can simply serve as a homage to the lovely people or places who inspire the work. That is what Mr. Barbour's Wharf will be. A tribute to my childhood, to the places of my memory, and the people who have made lasting impressions on my life.
Growing up near the sea, the ocean was our playground. Living in a coastal community meant people relied upon the sea for their livelihood. Although my family did not make a living directly from the sea, we did live close to the fish plant so watching the fishing vessels leave for the fishing grounds or arrive home with their catch was a sight that always seemed to make you stop and look. There was always a sense of amazement and beauty in the sight of a boat coming in the harbour. It never seemed to get old.
As a teenager I remember lying on the railing of the front bridge on warm summer nights, looking up at the stars and listening to the hustle and bustle of the fish plant when it would be in full swing, with upwards of one thousand people, processing the seasonal catch. To some who never experienced this small town life it may seem boring and uninspiring, but to me it was heaven. Sure I dreamed of moving on and doing other things with my life, but, even as a young person, I was acutely aware of the beauty that surrounded those simple, fleeting moments. You may argue that time has made me nostalgic. Not so. I very clearly remember being in those moments and understanding how peaceful it was and knowing I was very fortunate "to be alive" in this world.
This brings me back to Mr. Barbours Wharf. Mr. & Mrs. Barbour were my neighbours on Vincent Heights. They lived down at the end of the lane and like in the movies, they were the sweetest couple - just good, kind people. Mr. Barbour had a wharf down by the water. This wharf was positioned directly across from the tiny beach (in a little cove) where my friends and I would collect beach glass, bits of old china softened by the sea, skip rocks, dig for clams and mussels, explore, create adventures and sometimes simply be still as the gentle lap of the tide would lull us with its hypnotic ebb and flow.
The Wharf it seemed, had always been there. It was mended over the years with pieces of lumber and logs, I'm sure, although I never remember seeing new lumber. If new planks were added, perhaps they, too, had been exposed to the elements prior to their being attached, pieced together like the fabric of our souls. Maybe my memory has faded. Maybe that particular memory is not necessary for the telling of the story.
As I prepare for the painting, I rely upon photographs I took a few summers back. I began a small sketch on handmade water-colour paper, using a micron pen and Grumbacher watercolors. I kept my movements loose and gestural and hope I will achieve the same effect when I get to the oil painting. I find it difficult to loosen up when I get to the canvas because I want to make it "perfect". This painting has special meaning and I want to make it just right. As I prepare the drawing, I am using a grid method to transfer my graphite drawing. I am only loosely using the guides to get the basic structure down. I fill in the underpainting in umber washes and contemplate how I will approach the subsequent layers.
When I think of the relationship Mr. and Mrs. Barbour shared I am reminded of a Fred Cogswell poem, Like Two Slant Trees.
"Lean on me," he said,
loving her weakness
and she leaned hard
adoring his strength
Like two slant trees
they grew together
their roots the wrong way
for standing alone
The poem speaks of the love between a man and a woman. They rely upon each other for strength to face anything. The poem indicates that they cannot survive without the other. I don't think that is the case with Mr. and Mrs. Barbour, but they seemed to share a love and friendship that is worth striving for. As much as I love the poem I feel the roles of the man and the woman are interchangeable. I used to take a harsh feminist approach to the literal interpretation of Like Two Slant Trees but then I realized in my own marriage there are times when I am weak and there are times when I am strong. I have stopped my need to always seem strong and tough and learn to appreciate the times when I am in need of security and strength; when I need "to lean" and when I need to be leaned upon.
So, you see, I may take a photograph and create a painting from it so that it closely resembles the source. However, I rarely just copy a photo. Mr. Barbour's Wharf is not a demonstration of technical skill. It is so much more. Maybe I should title the painting Like Two Slant Trees. Like two slant trees, the wharf literally depends on the other pieces of lumber for its support. Like two slant trees Mr. & Mrs. Barbour depended upon each other for support. Like two slant trees, I would like to think that my husband and I rely upon each other for support. I used to be adamant that I "didn't need no man" to take care of me. And I still don't think I need that. I know I would be perfectly fine to take care of myself and my family. However, here's where I have changed. I have accepted that while my "roots" are NOT the "wrong way for standing alone", I "lean hard" because I know Jamie will lean back. Every fibre of my feminist nature is screaming for me to insert a sarcastic remark right now. Instead, I think I will count my blessings and call it a night.
Thanks Michael Bublé. Those lyrics (from "Feeling Good") just popped in my head as I selected "new post" and it's quite fitting for today's topic. I've been home for four months or so now and I am loving the freedom of not having to work full-time, although I don't seem to have any extra time. That's a good thing. It means I have lots to keep me occupied during the day.
I'm still on the fence as to whether to move back and re-establish my career as a full time art teacher. As time passes I am increasingly aware that I will soon have to make a decision and stick with it. We've written a list of pros and cons for both options (not kidding) but ultimately it comes down to a decision between the heart and the head.
My heart is home and with all the dreams I have of what it means to be home and what the possibilities are for my future. My heart is also with the students I left behind and those to come because it really is amazing to see them grow and to be a part of their lives, even if it is for a short time. It's nice to think that maybe you may capture a scattered student and make a difference in their lives. I can have that again. I just have to re-organize a few things.
My head is with my job and the logical pieces associated with contributing a decent salary to the household income. You get to make a difference, to teach art, AND get paid fairly well for it. That allows you to have some additional luxuries in life, of course (not that "things" matter), and life is just a little easier all around. Plus, I've worked hard to get where I am and it is not easy to let it go. I also miss my co-workers because they are an awesome group of people.
Over the past number of days I have been weighing the pros and cons. When I make up my mind to go back to the full-time position I keep seeing little messages which make me think I'm not where I need to be quite yet. I know it's a little crazy but it does make me think that the future may look a little different for me... Here are some of the quotes that have presented themselves (as I browsed Pinterest, and if it's on Pinterest, it must be true! :) )
Sure, it may not mean anything, but, frig., it's hard not to think it does. I do believe that little signs will present themselves to you if you are open to the possibility.
Perhaps I just want it all... Is that so bad? Is there anyone else in the world like me? My husband begs to differ. He thinks no one can possibly think like I do... I'm so thankful he's a patient man.
Finally, here's another little link that I stumbled across last night. And I'll post the link for the Michael Bublé song from the title...
Ahhh, whatever will be, will be. I must get back to putting some finishing touches on a recent photo shoot.
Well, it's two months into the new school year. Normally, at this stage, I would be busy preparing for the upcoming Halloween Dance, and Remembrance Day Ceremony. This year, I'm preparing my first blog entry from a small rental property that would fit in the kitchen of my dream house that we just sold (but it is a material thing and really doesn't mean that much to me at all). My husband, Jamie, and I, moved our family "back home" to the little town we both grew up in. I type this rather fluidly and I know I should edit it, give it a few days, proof-read, then post. Tonight, I will let it flow out, while trying to remain somewhat coherent.
The decision to move home was not easy for me. I've tried for about three years to take a leave of absence and give it a go. Last year I actually built up the nerve to submit a request for leave. When I sent the email, I cried for four days and rescinded the request. I was a full time art teacher (a dream job) in a 7-12 school. It was hectic. I felt like September was a hit-the-ground-running kinda month that didn't let up till June. The days flew by and the relationships with my students made the fast-pace all worth it. I miss my "kiddies".
However, life takes us down different roads. I'm on a new path and I'm going to see where it leads. Maybe it'll lead me back to my job as an Art teacher, maybe I'll go somewhere I couldn't even imagine. Every other day I have to push down the fear of not knowing what lies ahead and forge on. A prevalent thought I've had since I've been a teenager is that I would never rely on someone for my financial survival. Lo and behold, here I am with next-to-no income wondering what the next step will be, relying on my hubby to hold the fort. Thankfully, my husband is not only financially, but morally supportive. He believes in me perhaps more than I believe in myself, at times. Or maybe he just wanted to move home so bad that he said whatever he thought would work to get me here (ha, ha). It is his desire to move back to our hometown that is my main motivation for being here. Throughout our 19 years together, we've followed each other around - I followed him to St. John's after being enrolled in the Visual Arts program in Corner Brook. He followed me to Halifax while I finished my Fine Art degree. I followed him to Ontario upon graduation. When I was accepted in to the Education program at Memorial University, I moved home while he stayed in Ontario. I intended on completing my degree and moving back with him but I ended up getting a job in Newfoundland so he followed me back to Newfoundland when I landed my position as an Art teacher. So it only seems natural that I follow him home. As hard as it is to feel reliant on Jamie right now, I have finally resolved to let my guard down (when I can relax long enough to do so) and enjoy the freedom I have to pursue my dreams, or at the very least, take a little time for myself. It seems very luxurious. Very wasteful. But I am also very thankful I have this opportunity. Not everyone can be so fortunate and I do realize how lucky I am.
It's hard to give yourself permission to be who you need to become. Talk about inner conflict! On one hand, I love teaching Art, and being in the classroom is almost magical. I don't think I was the greatest teacher ever to step foot in a classroom. There are many times I wish I could have done things differently. But I do know I cared about those fresh faces that came my way each day. Many days, I saw teaching Art secondary to teaching life lessons (lots of first-hand knowledge here). On the other hand, if I don't use my life to follow my own dreams, how can I inspire my kids (my actual kids, and my classroom kids) to do the same?
So here are my fears:
1. falling flat on my face (pretty big one. Like HUGE);
2. not accomplishing what I hope to (although this needs clearer visualization, I have too many ideas);
3. giving up all that I worked so hard to achieve, career-wise;
4. not becoming financially independent again;
but perhaps my biggest fear is this:
5. not being able to say I gave it a honest try.
Writing has always been another passion and it part of the dream. This blog will serve three purposes:
1. to share my ideas and goals;
2. to be an outlet for my desire to express myself in written form. I'm a little on the shy side, and find it easier to write ideas than to verbally share them.
3. to bring you along for the ride.
So let's go!!! How exciting is this?
Note to self: Next time, I'll have my goals (realistically) clarified so I can measure my accomplishments at the end of the year.
Things I love (in no particular order):