Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Realizing my dream

As far back as I can remember I've always wanted to be an artist. Well, that and an archaeologist. So it makes sense that I began my gallery career exhibiting photographs of abandoned buildings, a kind of urban archaeology if you will. When I was in elementary there was an abandoned shack in the woods behind the school and I would spend hours there looking through what was left behind. I loved leafing through the old newspapers and digging amongst the discarded personal belongings. Even then I had a love of history and a joy of exploring.

When I graduated from high school I applied to art school immediately. Not once had I entertained the idea of pursuing another path and halfway through my degree I had second thoughts about my ability to make a living from art. I'm sure you're thinking, uh yeah, you should know there's no money in the arts. Well, I was naive enough to think that if it's my dream I can make it happen; a notion I will come back to in a bit.

So, I left school and ran away to Victoria BC.  I was two years into school and decided I needed a break to think. I left Victoria to follow a guy to Toronto, had a failed attempt at love and moved back to finish my BFA. Over the next 10 years I moved and traveled a lot. I lived in Calgary, England, Holland and had too many apartments and broken hearts to count. The travel bug had a hold of me and I wanted nothing more than to be free to see the world. Eventually, my age-obsessed inner voice spoke up, telling me I need to settle down and be a responsible citizen. Maybe I would build the career of my dreams, meet the guy, buy a house and have dogs (I've never wanted children) if I just stayed put for a while. Although I have managed to gain a small group of collectors while working on my art, none of these things happened.

I have been back in Halifax for almost nine years and seven of them I've been driving myself, and my friends, crazy trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I applied to school, got accepted and then dropped out before it started. I looked into being a professional organizer, archivist, commercial photographer, cruise ship worker, travel agent, and the list goes on. I ignored my little girl voice who was egging me on to travel and be an artist. I'd tell myself it was a ridiculous notion to think I could just up and leave. How would I support myself? I have bills to pay. Would I be lonely? What would people say? Where would I go?

Well, it just so happens that I never did figure out what I want to be and that inner voice has never gone away. What I want to be is an artist. What I want to do is travel. I have read many times that what you are meant to do is the thing you've always wanted to do, no matter how silly it sounds. Last year, when I was once again heartbroken, (yeah, it happens a lot) and creatively stunted I decided to take myself on a road trip. It was exactly what I needed and it fired up my love of travel once again. It was also an amazing inspiration, resulting in my most successful exhibition to date.When I returned home I decided to make my dream come true; to travel full time and be free to get inspired and educated by what I see. Now, dreams don't just come true (usually). You have to take an active role in making them come to fruition. Luckily I am very stubborn and goal oriented. Once I put my mind to it there's no stopping me.

I am now a month away from hitting the road in my new home on wheels and I am excited, overwhelmed, anxious and thoroughly impressed with what I've accomplished. I consider this my final attempt at becoming the self-sustaining artist I've always dreamed of being. Even as I type that it sounds ridiculous, but if I fail I can at least rest easy as an old lady knowing I gave it a go and didn't let fear stop me from trying.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Preparing to go

Preparing to go starts the moment you set a date.

One year ago I decided to become a vagabond. If you are thinking, Why I would choose to do this?  read my 'choosing to be homeless and jobless?' entry on the FAQ page.

Once I committed to my decision I began reading and researching what it means to travel for extended periods of time and ultimately make it my new lifestyle. I now know from talking to people that it's a common dream for so many but so few venture out of their comfort zone into the world of the unknown. And who can blame them?! It's a scary thing to quit your job and let the randomness of life take you where it will...but I've never been one to let fear stop me from doing anything. 

Three books that stand out from all the others I read are Travels with Charley, Only Pack What you can Carry and Wanderlust. Each one of these tugged at my travel bug heartstrings.

John Steinbecks, Travels with Charley, is my favorite book out of the three shown. In 1962, he set out in a truck and slide-on camper to travel the US.  He wrote that he was moved by a desire to see his country on a personal level, since he made his living writing about it. His writing is so engaging and it's the book that really solidified my decision to pursue a life on the road...and get a dog!

Only Pack What you can Carry, by Janice Holly Booth,  is a new book published by National Geographic about her deepening sense of personal understanding and appreciation of the travel experience through adventures she took by herself, for herself.  She stresses that everyone should learn to overcome unhealthy fear and do things that make us feel uncomfortable, so that we can learn and grow. I found it very inspirational as a solo female traveler. 

Wanderlust, by Elizabeth Eaves, was a great read for me because she is a woman traveling alone. It spans 15 years of travel, beginning when she is a sophomore in college. Elizabeth's insatiable hunger for the rush of the unfamiliar and the experience of encountering new people is inspiring.