Change is one of those words that either lights people up or brings a scowl to their face. It’s ever-present, but it can represent either a hazy unknown that induces fear and anxiety, or it opens the door to an unwritten future; a bright new chance.
Change has been the word of the summer for me. I feel like I have undergone change in spades; all of it good and all of it welcome. Some of the change I have prepared and worked for since I returned from Europe. Some of it has entered my life fortuitously through friends and brought unforeseen opportunities and provision.
Most of you know that I moved into my tiny house at the end of last month. You can see pictures here and here and here. I have been living here for exactly one month as of yesterday, and it is becoming … home. I’ll be honest, the first two weeks I felt like I was staying in a very cool AirBnB that strangely had all of my possessions in it. I have spent the past weeks nesting and organizing and yes, still decluttering. Believe it or not, I am still streamlining my possessions, getting rid of things that I don’t really need or want. After several huge changes, first divorce and then my move to Europe, I am now a professional declutterer. (I don’t even think that’s a real word). I can be quite detached when it comes to the stuff I own, perhaps abnormally detached. Minimalism has become very trendy as of late and there is a myriad of blogs and articles telling you how to do it in the most pain-free way. Some even call this process Swedish Death Cleaning. Whatever you decide to call it, I tell you this, I call it FREEDOM.
My aunt shared with me a practice popularized by a woman named Kondo Mari where you evaluate every item you own by determining if it ‘sparks joy’ in your heart. Almost every single thing I have in my tiny house is something I adore, whether it is my turquoise mixing bowls, the books that are on my shelves, or the clothes in my wardrobe. I do have a few things that I would like to replace when I can afford to, but these are the exception, not the rule. It was so fun to unpack all of my (five) boxes and discover what treasures I had stored there. Everything I own has a story and meaning and does indeed ‘spark joy’ in my heart. This practice is a bit challenging in a tiny house as the items you can keep are extremely limited due to having a footprint of less than 200 square feet. All in all, however, my brain and emotions feel so much more at peace with everything having a space and a function. So yes, tiny house living is agreeing with me.
Another huge change for me occurred a few weeks ago when I started a new job. I am working 30 hours a week at a non-profit therapeutic school here in Portland called the Serendipity Center. You can read more about their mission here. I am the new Events/Marketing Coordinator and I’ll be working hand in hand with the newly hired Development Director to plan and execute events to fundraise and bring awareness to the incredible work Serendipity is doing. This job came at just the right time, both financially and emotionally.
I know some of you are probably a bit taken aback that this nomadic travel-loving artist got a ‘Job Job.’ It has been a significant process to come to the place where I felt that pursuing employment outside my illustration work would be the best choice for me. When I left the states I knew only that I needed to give myself some time and space to let creativity have its way with me. I didn’t have any expectations of what would happen in my journey. I only knew I needed to explore a part of me that had been dormant for so many years. Divorce and the Camino had woken me up, and I did not want to fall back into hibernation.
I have flirted with the idea of pursuing art full-time these past 18 months and there were definitely moments this year when I thought I was heading in that direction. After several months pondering whether this could be a real possibility, I came to the conclusion that it is not the right time for me. I have several projects that I am working on, but they are tiny seedlings, barely rooted in the soil. I need a season to let them organically grow. The bottom line is that I don’t make enough money through illustration alone to pay my bills right now and the stress that brought to my creative process was significant. Significant enough that I knew I didn’t want to burden the thing I love most with that weight and responsibility. Liz Gilbert addressed this in her book ‘Big Magic’ and it has always resounded with me.
The reason I always maintained other streams of income was because I never wanted to burden my creativity with the task of providing for me in the material world.
I do not believe that Creativity comes to us from the material world, and therefore she has no concept of what it takes to survive in the material world. Creativity is a timeless little playful disembodied weird other-worldly goddess. She doesn’t need to eat, she doesn’t need a roof to sleep under, she doesn’t need to go the dentist. (WE DO, but she doesn’t.) Creativity just wants to engage with us (or not, sometimes!) in her own crazy and unpredictable ways, but she never promised to provide for us.
I adore Creativity. I love her. I have devoted my life to her, because she brings me joy. But I do not suggest relying upon her to pay the oil bill. She is not very reliable. Creativity has no idea what the words “oil bill” even mean. Creativity doesn’t give a damn about your auto insurance. She just wants to dance with you, and then sometimes dance away — on her own schedule, on her own strange rhythms.
This is why I made a promise to my writing life when I was about 15 years old. I said to writing: “I will never ask you to provide for me financially; I will always provide for YOU.”
The weekend after my first week at work Lissa and I took off on a 3-day backpacking trip. I sat in the meadows of Paradise Park on the first evening and I pulled out my sketchbook to capture the stark beauty of Mount Hood looming over me. Quick lines, bold colors and vivid light gave me the image you see above.
I am so grateful for all this change I’ve been experiencing. For the new roof over my head and for the new job that is going to pay my bills and allow me to do meaningful work. And as far as my art goes… creativity and I are finding our own rhythm; our own way of being. I want to provide for her and I know that my choices are the right ones for both of us in this present moment. I don’t know exactly what will happen next, but I am grateful for our unpredictable, crazy and always beautiful dance.