A change in plans

Where do I want to go with my life? 

That is one big, scary question. 

It entered my mind almost two weeks ago, and came as a complete surprise.  I thought I had my life planned out, at least my immediate future – live in Toronto, get a job, and make art in my spare time.   

But I must admit, I did not craft my plan carefully.  I essentially threw it together in response to a couple of big changes in my life.  Let me explain.

I’ve been living in Toronto since May 2014.  I moved from Edmonton, Alberta to study at the Academy of Realist Art.  Earlier this year, my husband (who still lives in Edmonton) and I agreed that I would return to Edmonton this summer.  In keeping with our agreement, at the end of April I gave two months notice to terminate the lease on my Toronto apartment.

And then in May, my husband and I decided to get a divorce, after almost eleven years of marriage.  We made this decision in part because I didn’t want to leave Toronto.  At least, I thought that I didn’t want to leave Toronto.

Over the last few months, I just couldn’t get myself excited about going home to Edmonton.  It has been a struggle.  I know that Edmonton is a great city.  I know that I have a lovely home there, and a great husband and charming friends.  And yet, it seems that I want something else. 

I assumed that I wanted Toronto.

But I no longer feel certain.  Now that I don’t have to go home, I realize that there are many other possibilities that I never even considered!  I could work as an artist from Toronto, but why not New York City, or Calgary, or Vancouver?  Or another place for that matter? 

So where do I really want to go with my life?  It turns out that I have no fucking clue.

That is a terrifying answer for a soon to be divorcée. 

At least I know that I still want to work on my art.  There is some comfort in that knowledge.

But I’m not even certain about the kind of training I want to pursue.  For the last two years, I’ve been taught an academic style of art.  And while I think that the educational foundation I’ve built is excellent, I find myself wondering about other opportunities to learn.  Given this curiosity, earlier this year I did a workshop with Steven Assael, a realist figurative and portrait artist from New York.  It blew my mind.  His approach was similar to and yet so different from my training.  After the workshop, I felt inspired to push myself harder, to push myself outside of my comfort zone.

So where do I really want to go with my life?  It’s going to take some time for me to answer that question.  But I do have some ideas.

I think that I’d like to go on an adventure or a journey of some kind.  I’d like to study painting with someone else – maybe not for long, and I’m not sure who I want to study with yet – but I can figure those things out. 

Perhaps I’ve been reading too many books about inspiring divorcées, like Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir Eat Pray Love and Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

But since this idea of going on an adventure entered my mind, I cannot get it out.  It resonates with me.  It feels right.

When I go on this adventure, I will want to be as light as possible.  Therefore, I will need to downsize my life.  If you know me, you know that this will be no easy feat.  But I want to be able to live out of a few suitcases until I’m ready to make a choice about my future. I will attempt to become a minimalist, at least temporarily. 

Given my change of heart, staying in Toronto no longer feels right to me, at least right now.  And so I’m changing my plans for the immediate future.  I will temporarily return to Edmonton.  I will take some time to answer that scary question.  I will determine my next step from the spare bedroom of the home I once shared with my husband. 

As an aside, I still adore my husband – he is my best friend, and living with him for a few months while I figure myself out is very appealing.  With his support, I can save my pennies.  I can plan for my future.  And I can work on my craft using the knowledge that I’ve already acquired.

I intend to use this blog to talk about the journey that I will eventually embark on.  I will check in once a week to talk about my progress, be it the art I’m making, the deadlines or goals I set for myself for moving on, my realizations about where I actually want to go next, or the downsizing process that I will undertake.

I hope that in the process of planning my journey, I will be able to make a deliberate choice about where I want to live and work after it’s over.  

Maybe I will return to Toronto.  I just don’t know yet.