We have just returned from a lovely, warm trip to Florida. Sandy beaches, short wearing, pool swimming, ice cream eating, tropical wildlife and sight seeing filled our lazy days. After several long days of driving, we returned to our frigid abode. We have a unique home with a equality unique heating system. It is hard for us to leave in the winter months as we have a manual heating system. Our wood stove heats our gym, and our wood pellet boiler heats the rest of our home. Both need daily attention. Jess fills our pellet boiler twice a day and I load our wood stove countless times as I like it to be roaring and toasty in the gym as it is our main living space. To leave for a week, we have to shut it all down. Jess blew out our water pipes and turned our water off. We filled buckets of water for impending toilet flushes, and made sure we knew where are cozy slippers were.
After a 14 hour drive Monday night, we returned to a chilly home. The pipes had frozen despite the antifreeze, and Jess was up until 4 am getting our system back on track. We stocked the fire and put mattresses on the floor around the stove and had a good old fashion camp out in the gym to get us through the night. Two days later, it is almost back up to comfortable temperatures but we still need our slippers close by.
I have never driven to Florida before. I realize it is not a novel concept and many people have done it before us. It was quite manageable with three kids and two large dogs in the back. Sitting in a car for 12-14 hours a day naturally inspires a certain amount of navel gazing. Although it was hard to even find my navel amongst all the snack wrappers, dog hair and take out food, I did manage to have a few thoughts on the road. As Jess did all the driving, I was well stocked with books, magazines, movies and podcasts to fill my hours. Surprisingly, I mostly just looked out the window. I thought a fair bit about what sort of entertainment I had brought and why. I had three large bags at my feet. One was full of coloured pencils, a colouring book, a sketch book, my embroidery project, books titled Drawing Figure Drawing, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and The Artist’s Way. My other bag was stuffed with design magazines, a giant Rohinton Mistry novel, and another sketch/note book. The third bag was filled mostly with DVDs for my kids, as I couldn’t master illegal downloading on the fly, and two for me: BBC’s Pride and Prejudice miniseries, and a documentary on Fran Lebowitz.
So what is the theme here? Let’s work backwards. I found my DVDs at Value Village and I have never enjoyed a miniseries more than Pride and Prejudice so that’s an easy 6 hour kill. I may become a Colin Firth stalker in my next career, but that is fodder for another post. I am going to hear Franny speak in Toronto in April, so there is that. The rest of my bundle of treats combine art and design, with a little design and art on the side.
From an early age, my mom told me to never depend financially on a man and to always have a job. She had left England at 16 to become an au pair in New York, met my dad, and had two kids. By the time I was seven, my parents were divorced, and my mom still had us kids but also lacked any marketable skills for the job force. This is not a sob story, and that divorce was the best thing that ever happened to the three of us.
My mom had always wanted to be a nurse. While working a low paying job, with little financial support or childcare, my mom went to night school and became a nurse. She was a superstar, and a damn good oncology nurse. She may not have been the most technically minded nurse out there, but boy did she kick every nurses ass on the love and compassion front.
I took her advice to heart. I have agonized over what career to have since I was 12 years old. My career plans have changed as frequently as my age. I always wanted a job in the arts but it didn’t seem like the path to stable employment. So I looked the other way, and marched down the road of practicality. I choose my second degree not on interest but on future job prospects. I researched which educational stream would provide the most job options in my geographical area and chose accordingly. I am even boring myself thinking about it right now. Automation was a thing of the future so off I went and enrolled in a robotics program. I was top of my class and got a good job that I excelled at.
And then I gave birth three times in three years, and fully depended on my man financially for years to come. I had no energy for any job in my sleep deprived, diaper filled world other than parenting. Sorry about that mom.
But don’t you worry, it has all worked out so far. We have made some unconventional decisions, some wise and some not. I am currently self employed with months of unpaid work in my fiscal calendar. If my mom was able to become a nurse amid all those obstacles, I think I should be able to be an artist with my unfettered calendar. I am not aiming to be great, I just want to lose myself in the process.
I am turning 46 in a few days. This is the year I am going to embrace the impractical, and the whimsical, and throw logic to the wayside. I will still look the same when you see me. I won’t be walking around town unbathed, hair matted and speaking in tongues. I will still be me but I am going to open that door that I closed long ago and let the light in.
I am going to use The Artist’s Way as my guide, and my starting point. I bought it in 1991 and have never fully used it. I have read it and thought about it but never begun it.
Tomorrow it begins. Wish me luck.