Artist Studio at Searsport Shores
Penobscott Bay, Maine
My cabin mice made it clear to me that I had to make a decision. If I wanted to continue teaching at WSU, I would need to find another living situation that would most likely require a one year lease. But I knew I didn’t want to stay in MA another full year. Or, I could leave teaching and begin my vagabond artist dream at the end of the summer. But what about money, what about saying goodbye to a life I’d known since 2004, what about family and friends, and a car with over 220K miles on it??!
The panic about what to do attached to my back like barnacles to a fishing vessel. It wouldn’t leave no matter what I did. It gripped me like a soul who hadn’t realized she was dead. I made the proverbial pro/con list; I meditated at the beaver pond; I prayed at the feet of the garden Buddha; I pulled Medicine Cards and Runes at midnight; but a definitive decision did not arrive.
Then it came time for my friend Annette and I to travel to Penobscott Bay to fulfill our one week Artist in Residence at Searsport Shores. In exchange for a two hour art class every morning, Annette and I were given a huge artist studio (see picture above) to live and work in for one week….right on the beach in Searsport, ME.
We planned our daily art and journal writing exercises, walked on the beach, relaxed at the Hermit Hut, ate delicious vegan food in the local town, and worked daily on our individual projects. I outlined a children’s story I’ve been wanting to write for years, brainstormed and sketched ideas about wolves and the wild woman myth for an upcoming art exhibit, and completed several Ex-voto paintings (to be discussed in future blog entry). I didn’t focus on the future at all during that week. I sketched and made notes, I listened to the wind, I laughed and hiked, I stayed in the present moment, remaining open and receptive. I lived in Keats’ realm of “Negative Capability”.
On our ride back to MA, after our residency was over, about two hours outside of Maine, a realization rose in me…like a dolphin coming up for air after a long time underwater. I knew in every cell of my body that I couldn’t return to academic teaching. As much as I loved and respected and was grateful for the students and colleagues I’d had the pleasure of knowing, I couldn’t grade one more essay, couldn’t draft one more syllabus.
A week away, living the artist’s life everyday, allowed me to see the life I was craving. My decision had been made clear. It didn’t take any lists or oracles. All it took was time away from the Ordinary World….and a chance to focus on my creativity.
When facing a difficult decision, a life changing path, I believe it’s best to follow Caroline Myss’ advice: Choose the unknown. Choose the unfamiliar. Choose the path that requires the most Faith!
Make the most of your Crossroads Moments!! In that way, you will truly grow!