Friday, January 4, 2013
Living Your Creative Life
I snapped this photo of my place on the Potomac River in West Virginia last summer on a sunny August day. From April to October, this is my favorite place to write and paint. I love it out there. I usually set up my painting studio in April and I find much inspiration for nature photography, as well. If I choose to write in the morning and paint in the afternoon and edit photographs in the evening, I can do that.
I never intended to move to West Virginia permanently, however. The piece of land I was searching for was supposed to be a weekend retreat and a sanctuary away from the DC area rat race, traffic, smog and a rewarding job that included so much paperwork and red tape, that I was constantly stressed out. And, this property had to be within a two hour drive from Northern Virginia where I was living (renting) and working. I had to make my money work for me after divorce and Scarlet O'Hara's father's words echoed in my head:
"It will come to you, this love of the land. There's no gettin' away from it if you're Irish."
Well, I'm not Irish, but I did want a permament home for my kids to come home to during holidays and a place where we could make new memories after my bitter divorce. For a year, I searched the Web, combed through realty magazines, and perused countless realty websites for a plot of land that would fuel, encourage and sustain my creativity and dreams. I stumbled on the ad on a Friday night, called the realtor and drove out Saturday morning, making an offer on the property that night! When I stood on the riverfront patio of the property, looking out onto the frozen Potomac River, I knew I was home. This was the place. I realized right then and there that this was a pivotal moment in my life. I was at a crossroad in my life and I knew it. This felt momentous and huge and I didn't know why. I only knew that I loved that property and felt it would become more than a weekend escape and it was. The property had a one bedroom Park model camper on it and a pontoon boat with no motor :) This was no villa by any stretch of the imagination, but that view is amazing.
We closed on the property in late February and by May, I'd also closed on my house - in West Virginia. I didn't see that coming! Neither did my kids, friends and family who thought I'd lost my marbles. I heard everything from "what are running from?" and "how will you live?", I heard it all :) But, in my heart of hearts, I knew this was a new beginning for me and a real opportunity to live the creative life I'd always dreamed of.
I paint and write at the river from April to October. We have no Internet nor cable at the river and no plans to install them. I'm never bored out there and I find much inspiration in nature, so it's perfect for me. There are few distractions at the river and it's a quiet place during the week which is when I usually write and paint. On the weekends, there are boats, jet skis, and pontoon boats on the river, plenty of action and at night, it's loud with parties, BBQs, family reunions, and pimped-out golf carts, complete with boom boxes and speakers! I love entertaining at the river and my friends from the DC area love to visit, leaving the city behind for a more simple life. The river never disappoints unless you must have TV and the Internet at your disposal.
From November to March, I write at home. There is no water or electricity at the river in the winter months (unless we purchase a generator), so that's when I go home. Home is a 106 year old house in West Virginia, about twenty minutes from the Potomac River which is great. I set up my writing shop on my dining room table that faces a window that gives me a great view of the front flower garden that I worked so hard creating last year.
It was a great move for me in many ways. I live in a large town with a small town feel with few traffic issues and I love the slower pace of life. No rush, rush. No high cost of living and since I live in the downtown area, most everything I need is within a block or two. These days, I rarely drive my car unless the river is calling to me or I decide to take an impromptu road trip. If I need a DC "fix" and plan on seeing my kids and family in Northern Virginia and Maryland, I walk a block to the train station and voila! In two hours, I'm at Union Station in Washington, DC.
I don't have to travel far for a writing retreat or for a solitary spiritual experience. I'm blessed to have these two places that afford me what I need to live a creative life, but they didn't come without considerable sacrifices and concessions on my part. I also had to make many internal changes in myself to create the life I envisioned for myself as a full-time artist and writer. Gave myself a good talking to :)
What do you want?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
If you could not fail, what would you do?
How badly do you want it?
What are you willing to do and/or give up to achieve that goal?
Living in a large West Virginia town might be everyone's cup of tea, but for me? It's great. If my home had a wood-burning fireplace and if we had a hot tub at the river, it would be perfect! Let's see what I can do about those two wishes :)
Believe. Create your life. Visualize what you want and work toward that goal. Make decisions and choices, small and large, that will move you closer to your dream. Dare to dream and live large!
Your dream may not end up looking like your original dream, at all. It might better than you ever dreamed.
Peace and love,