It’s about 101 degrees outside right now (which is crazy hot for the mountains of Oregon!). I’m hiding inside with an iced coffee (roasted by my talented neighbor) and staring into the blank screen on my computer wondering how best to explain what has happened in the last week. I’ve just made a BIG leap into a new chapter in my life. It took years of the universe imploring me to leap, several more years of soul searching and courage mustering just to decide to do it, and then another 7 months to make it happen. But last week…
I left my day job to become a full-time artist.
For those of you who don’t know my background, I’ll summarize. I’ve always had a deep fascination with the natural world. And I have always been a maker. I love art and ecology. So when I went to college I had a hard time choosing one major (because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?). I switched majors a bunch and ended up taking the more “responsible path for a gal with my academic standing” by getting a BS in biology. But I also had enough art classes for a minor in visual arts. I ended up getting a masters degree in Environmental Management and pursued a career in the sciences. A little over 12 years ago I landed my “dream job” as a technician at the Soil and Water Conservation District in beautiful Hood River, Oregon. It was an outdoor job in my field in one of the most beautiful places in the country. Amazing! Through that job I learned so much about water management, agriculture, land management, community, compromise, and collaboration. Over the years I worked my way up the ranks until I became District Manager in 2016.
I went through a phase where I tried not doing art at all and I got really sick – physically and mentally. So I did my art as a side gig. And that little side hustle grew. I went from doing murals, festivals, and gallery shows to making reproductions, opening a wholesale branch of my business, licensing my art, working with sales reps, and teaching art classes. The more I honored this part of myself, the more opportunities opened up to me.
And about two years ago, I woke up and found myself managing two thriving businesses.
One business I managed during the day and one I did at night once I put our son to bed. And it became increasingly clear that I could not sustain both.
I was doing a lot of soul searching, but I knew in my heart of hearts it was time to let myself own the fact that I am an artist too. My patient hubby and all my dear friends spent countless meals and walks listening to me fret about this decision to leave my “dream job” to leap into my other “dream job”. The universe was practically screaming it at me everywhere I turned. On one particularly exasperated walk, I was worrying about what to do, so I asked the universe, “Alight already! What should I do? Give me a sign!!” And I literally looked up to see a huge graffitied fence with the quote, “Worry is a waste of imagination.” Okay. I get it. Being the diligent virgo that I am, I had to organize and plan every step of the way to ensure the best possible transition was executed perfectly, and proper safety nets were in place. So… it took a while. But finally I just knew I had to leap and I did. Last week was my last week at the Conservation District.
So here I am.
Which brings me back to me, my computer, and my iced coffee hiding inside on this sweltering day… How can I really explain to anyone what this leap means to me?
Over the past several months of transitioning to this new chapter, I struggled to find the right language to explain what I was doing. Mostly I told people that I was leaving the District to do my art full time. It has been really interesting to realize how many people only knew one side of me. Even in this tiny little town we live in, people either knew I was an artist or they knew me as an ecologist with the Conservation District. Very few people knew about both parts of me. But I’ve been rolling those experiences around for the last couple days. And I think the truth is that this leap means…
I am choosing to be whole. I am choosing to own all of me.
I am an ecologist AND and artist – and a mama and a wife and a friend and a sister and a daughter and a teacher and more. And I’m so incredibly grateful to have the freedom, opportunity, and support to be able to choose a life that allows me to own it all without killing myself by trying to be what I think others need me to be. I am also trying to be gentle with myself. I am scared. And I am so excited. I feel really raw and vulnerable. And a deep, deep part of me is exhaling and smiling. “Yes. Finally. Thank you for listening.”
I have no idea how things will unfold. But I know that they will and I feel confident that this is the path I am meant to walk right now. I am devoted to living as authentically as possible from this point forward.
Here’s to stepping into the wild unknown!