Friday, October 14, 2011

A Beautiful Life

This time last year I was going through The Artist’s Way in Florence, Italy: taking my “artist dates” at the Uffizi, sketching in front of the Duomo, writing poetry travelling through the Apennine Mountains, watching the Tuscan sunset over Florence through my west-facing villa window. But somewhere in the midst of all these beautiful and exotic experiences I began to miss the rest of my life and the beautiful things in it. I missed spending hours bent over a pair of pliers and cases of beads, making the jewelry that would adorn my small Iowa home town for years to come. I missed my sewing machine and weekly trips to the thrift store to dig up things the rest of the world had stopped caring about so that I could make them in to something beautiful. And perhaps most of all I missed my closet, shallow as that seems. I enjoyed the challenge of suitcase living for awhile, but by the time October rolled around, about 6 weeks after my trip began, I was ready for some variety. The Artist’s Way made me hungry for a sustainable life of beauty and deep down I knew I wasn’t going to be in Italy forever.

I never finished The Artist’s Way, and I regret that a little bit. Life back in the United States at Christmas was pretty crazy and three daily pages of writing just wasn’t happening. It was what it was.
I did learn something very important though. I went into The Artist’s Way trying to narrow my artistic focus, to understand what area I really loved the most so that I could just pursue that in a graduate program and beyond. And then just the opposite happened. I remembered how much I loved to draw. I started singing seriously again. I wrote, but not just poetry anymore. I started writing about my experiences, blogging seriously, and caring about the nuances of photography. If I wasn’t wholly an artist before, I am now.

Needless to say no artistic focusing came out of my wandering abroad, but I did come to see art as a way of life more than a career path to conquer. I realized that my life can always have as much or as little art in it as I want. There are always choirs who need altos, blank apartment walls to fill, moments that are begging to be recorded, and weddings to get dressed for.

So buy a camera that you can learn how to shot with and carry your point-and-shoot in your purse. Write down the dreams you have in the morning when they’re worth remembering.
Absolutely love at least one thing you’re wearing every day. 
Sing in the car. Bake something that will look pretty when you’re done with it and then eat it with someone you love. 
Hang stuff on the walls. Use crayons. 
Read Emerson or read Updike, but above all read something worth reading. 
Grow flowers. Watch the clouds. 

You get the idea.


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