I was the mousey girl you never heard a peep from in class. The girl who wasn't at ANY of the parties and shows. A bookworm artist who wasn't allowed to have much of a social life growing up so I spent hours in my room learning the bass guitar and practicing alongside Ramones tunes and trying to figure out The Cure songs. A zillion late nights painting and creating. My best friends were my paints and bass guitar. Luckily my Mom and Dad fully encouraged me going to art school (Arts Magnet) although my Dad would pipe up with other suggestions like "Dentist!". He still scraped up the money to buy all the art supplies on my list and proudly displayed my paintings in his room, even taking them to his job sometimes to help get attention to them. I should at this point mention my family is way under the poverty line and buying anything and keeping a roof over our head was a struggle.
When I was old enough to leave home I did and of course went a little crazy with my new found freedom, my 20's were spent playing in bands, watching bands, eating-breathing-drinking-
I started reading books on meditation and practicing it. I needed to change my patterns, the way I viewed the world and myself. I needed to look at myself and look at myself hard- every little ugly aspect needed to be examined and brought to light. This is one of the hardest things a person can do. To accept that you have all these negative traits and name them. It is an ongoing process that is done daily. My life started to change, my thinking started to change. I was just starting to feel empowered when disaster struck. I had a back injury...a bad one. Luckily it wasn't bad enough to warrant surgery but it was bad enough so that I couldn't stand for even 5 minutes to wash a dish or cook at the stove. Walking was hard. Sitting for a few minutes was painful. I couldn't sit and paint! Even lying down was no comfort. This was a work injury and soon all the stress of dealing with Workers Comp had flooded my soul. I had to take time off work, money was slow to trickle in and I was doing physical therapy like my life depended on it- because it did! I was Depressed with a capital D. I was in pain that wouldn't go away. Instead of hydrocodone which did nothing but make me feel crazy I turned to wine every night so I could get a few hours of sleep. My health was suffering. My job was bullying me to return to work and it was a HORRIBLE situation there because they really didn't want me there anymore. I was a liability, broken. They needed a fresh young spine in there to burden so they treated me horribly. It was after a particularly ugly interrogation where the HR department was making me feel like a subhuman criminal that I decided I was done with this life.
I immediately started calculating how much I needed to live on monthly...NEEDED to live on- bare bones...then I put down the figure of $5,000 and made that my goal. I was going to quit when I reached that goal. I bided my time at that place, still hurt from the injury, still mad at the treatment I was getting I had my little calculations in my backpocket every day and counted down the days till I would see $5,000. Soon the QUIT day was in sight and I put my notice in. Had I really just decided to quit my stable job of almost 9 years with health insurance? Had I really just decided to leap into the great unknown and see what would happen? Yes. Yes I had and my very health depended on it! I couldn't hurt my back at this job again.
Luck brought me a part time job that I could start the very next week after quitting. It was a quick transition, I barely had time to celebrate my newfound life when the biggest nightmare happened. My Dad passed away unexpectedly. I can't even describe in words what a world shattering, soul destroying feeling this is. I couldn't function. It was all too much. I left the working world to mourn, grieve and experience life without having anyone to answer to. I had $5,000- I could afford some time to myself. Since my Dads passing I have not been the same. Time is valuable to me. People and experiences and being able to have time to enjoy them- it's everything. Being able to spend my time creating and doing what I feel I was put here to do is SO important. So in time I began "self employment" and donned the role of "starving artist". My Dad was self employed almost his whole life, like father like daughter- it is in my blood.
I feel like all fears have been stripped away...I have nothing to lose. Since entering into this newfound life I have just opened my hands to what the Universe wanted to hand me. I was now in the world as an artist, I wasn't wearing a miserable mask and hiding from my true calling. Now the Universe recognized me and was giving me the appropriate work. I felt like I was in the Universes closet, trying on this outfit and that. Would you like to try being a teacher? Yes please! How about a freelance graphic designer? Oh yes, very much! You like blogging don't you? Try this gig out...
Not having the fear to try things that were new and discarding the things that didn't fit- that is where I have found myself. The $5,000 is long gone and I struggle daily- painting every day to put food on the table and pay rent and bills. I feel like my mind is on hyperdrive with creativity and ideas. One idea I had called "Hour Swap" got me instant attention and put on television. I have had almost a whole year to look at my health and make important changes- now that I know what its like to not be able to walk I try to run and hike daily. Knowing the feeling of not being able to sit and paint because of pain- I live in my studio. All things are appreciated. I don't have a car, I get around on my bike everywhere- hauling groceries, delivering art to the post office- happy to have a strong back again to do these things. My Dad instilled in me a passion to do things right, "if you're going to do something-do it right so you don't have to do it again" he would say. He may have been talking about washing the dishes but I apply this to my life in everything. Take time, do it right. Time is flowing away from you this very minute, make it count. This is YOUR life and you deserve to be happy.
I write a lot about using your hardships to fuel your dreams, creativity and motivation over at my blog THE ADVENTURES OF UNEMPLOYMENT http://www.theartofpoverty.
my website with art: http://www.tigerbeearts.com. Sometimes it's the things you don't have that are your greatest resource!