When I was little, I wanted to be Indiana Jones. Learning that the vast majority of archaeologists don't travel around the globe with a bullwhip, rescuing damsels in distress and saving mankind was a huge disappointment, so I decided to be an actress. In quick succession, I believe I added acrobat, princess, world-famous artist, author, rockstar - not a musician, mind you; years of being forced to play the flute and piano taught me that I hated playing instruments almost as much as mucking the horse stalls and putting in hay on a 95 degree August day - and several other unlikely pursuits to my list of dream careers.
I'm now 33 and I can't be any more certain of what I want to be when I grow up than when I was 7, but I do know that being able to create art and educating other people fulfills something in me in a way that nothing else seems to be able to do. I spent almost twelve years in the field of Addiction Treatment, and while I realized early on it was not a lifelong position for me, it allowed me to develop the personal skills and tools needed to enhance my emotional health and well-being. It instilled in me the importance of being a guide for others who are struggling with their own issues. The mind fascinates me, and the power we have to nurture and heal ourselves and others with alternative therapies was proven over and over during my time in that field.
As an adult learner returning to college, I watched many young students flail and flop their way through their first year, many not finding their way back for a second. That was me the first time around, when I was 18 and attending a four year college away from home. My experiences there were what led me to understand and empathize with the hundreds of clients I worked with in Addiction's Treatment, and I don't regret those lessons and gifts, but it certainly drove home the fact that I was not ready to be a serious student as a teenager. I had to experience some hard knocks before being capable of taking the opportunity to earn a college degree seriously.
Art Therapy is an area I've considered on and off for awhile. I'd always talked myself out of it, as the idea of returning to school and committing to years of study to become certified seemed out of reach, financially as well as the time required to achieve that goal. So, like many people, I stayed in a job I didn't particularly care for, because it paid the bills and because forging a new path just seemed too exhausting.
In 2012, my position was made redundant, and I was laid off for the second time in 2 years. Terrified, and yet somehow free and unfettered, I made a plan: Write the novel I'd always said I was going to, lose the weight I needed to lose, have an adventure, meet a great guy, and get my derrière back to college.
I'm gonna brag for a sec, and there's nothing humble about it! I worked REALLY HARD to get where I am, here in 2014, and somehow, miraculously, astonishingly, gratefully, I've accomplished all of the things I set out to do, and then some. I'm the same size I was in high school, which is awesome. I took a trip that really needed to be taken and while it was incredibly difficult and emotionally disastrous, I came out the better for it, and boy, was it ever an adventure! I did write a novel...I honestly don't know if I'll ever bother to get it published, but I'm not sure that's even the point anyways. I've met an incredible guy and he is almost certainly magical (and very, very human, which makes him all the more special). I've made so much art the past two years, I can't even count it all. SHAMELESS PLUG: I got invited to do a Plein Air painting event in June and then my work will be auctioned off and I am SO FRIGGIN' EXCITED/TERRIFIED about this upcoming event!
Finally, I've completed my Associate's Degree! I don't want to stop now. To paraphrase Newton, an object in motion tends to stay in motion, and I'm an object in motion. The school I'll be attending next will allow me to tailor a degree, presumably with a focus in the Arts and Psychology, that would allow me to continue working towards my ultimate goal of becoming an Art Therapist.
Will that truly be where I end up a few years from now? I don't know. Perhaps it sounds a little hokey, but I've discovered a formula that works for me: If I simply keep putting one foot in front of the other, God gets me where I need to be. I don't need to know where I am going to be headed in the right direction. It used to frighten me, and I always thought I should listen to people who insisted I needed to make a plan and stick with it, but the reality is, life throws curve balls. Setting a goal and then being flexible about what comes along in the meantime is a lot like a high-wire act. I'm happier living this way. Perhaps I've become an acrobat after all?
The bottom line is a degree will never be a waste if I am learning things I feel passionate about. The human mind, how it works, the value of art and creative expression...these are things I feel passionate about and pursuing next.
To some of you who may or may not be reading this...Thank you for the past 2 years. You were part of my life in a variety of ways, all of which were extremely important. Things don't always make sense, and I wish some things were different, but things are how they are and I'm not going to let a single one of those things tear me apart. If I had a theme song, I'd insert it here. Love, Peace, and Success to us all <3