My life has been filled with more ups and downs than I can possibly count. In junior high, I began my struggle with Depression and Anxiety. I had absolutely no idea then that this was something that would follow me into my adult life, then it was just my angsty reality. Although this isn’t a post about Depression and Anxiety specifically, it is an integral piece of my story and I strongly believe that one’s whole story is important to their journey. I don’t really want this post to be an entire book, so I will just touch on a few important parts. For the better part of my teenage years, art was my way of managing those highs and lows. In junior high, it was basic drawings and writing poetry. In high school and college, it became mainly painting, but I would do absolutely any kind of art I could get my hands on. I would paint every surface I could such as old wood from my dad, canvas, paper, or the walls of my bedroom.
Art felt as necessary as breathing. It was how I dealt with all my emotional struggles. However that all changed in 2009. That year was a really big year. I lost about 8 people that I loved within those 12 months. In March or April, I had an adverse reaction to the medication Zoloft, which resulted in developing a condition called Functional Myoclonus where my body would twitch constantly. In September, I married my best friend at 18 and a month later he left for Basic Training. By the time Fall rolled around, I was so emotionally tired and instead of running to art as I had for so many years before, I ran away.
I buried myself in my new life as an Army Wife. I stopped working and became a housewife. I would cook, clean, and blog about couponing, recipes, cleaning tips, and more. During this time, I was often a bit of an emotional wreck. Occasionally I would start a piece, but I didn’t finish anything. Every so often my husband would say, “Erica, can you please do art already!” But I always had an excuse.
I don’t even know where to start anymore.
Right now I don’t have the time.
It’s too hard to just pick it back up.
Maybe I will soon, but right now I can’t.
Or, I would simply say No. I can’t. Or rather, I won’t.
When Kendall’s contract with the Army ended, it was as if we finally released a breath we didn’t even know we were holding. It felt like we had been living in this idealistic, dreamlike state and all the sudden our bubble broke and there was this great big world available to us. I started this painstakingly slow journey of trying to find myself in this broken world I had created. I started doing things because I wanted to, not because I felt like I was supposed to. I started recognizing the things that are important to me and what I want my life to look like.
I also starting trying everything I could think of to reach the life I wanted. I started a portrait photography business, which I hated. I learned Coding and web design, which was interesting but not my passion. I tried niche blogging, but it felt unauthentic and limiting. I tried going back to school, but after 3 days I realized that this was WAY too linear of a life choice for me. I freelanced and managed social media profiles for people. I essentially took every paying job I possibly could.
I recall a conversation with Kendall, shortly after I had gone back to school for the final time. We were sitting at our favorite local coffee shop and I asked him a question I had asked so many times before. What should I do with my life? As we sat there and talked he simply said, “You know what I am going to say, Erica.” I just looked at him. I was finally in place to hear those words that I so desperately needed. “I know, but please say it again.”
You need to make art.
I wish I could sit here and write that I immediately jumped right back into things, but honestly it has taken me a long time to really figure this out. I am learning that I tend to be tunnel visioned and while sometimes that can be beneficial, it required a transition away from my preconceived notions of how to make money online. I have had to take time to find a style, to play with mediums again, and allow myself the time to start figuring out what I had to say.
But I have realized that it is time for me to stop running from art. I have to face the emotions that I ran from. I have to face my distractions and struggles and learn how to not let them defeat me.
This quote from The War of Art by Steven Pressfield has been one that I have to keep on repeat.
“This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny.”
I am the only one with the power to create the life I want. I am the only one who can make the decision to work or not to.
The power is mine. So I must stop running and stand strong. I have to trust my ability. Trust the process. Trust my decision. Because I have one life. If I spend it all waiting for my life to magically become the life I want, I will literally wait the entire thing away. I refuse to accept that fate. I refuse to die without having said what I need to say. I refuse to miss out on my only opportunity to see and contribute to the beauty in our world. This moment is mine. And only I can make use of it. Otherwise, it is gone. And I refuse to let that be my reality any longer.