Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Road Back

This blog post is autobiographical in nature. I invite you to read a little of my personal history since 2011, as I offer my friends and clients a peek into this artist's life evolution. I hope that in some way, through sharing my experiences, you will be inspired on your own creative journey.

Life is a journey, but you have to walk the road.

Two years ago in October 2011, I was a percussionist and singer in a tribal percussion ensemble, a band. I also had a small writing and author promotions business within a networked creative writing team. I loved my life and was supporting my family of two through these creative efforts. I can't tell you that I had a plan or a goal in mind for where I wanted to go in life, with my business, or even my singing and performance career. I was just happy to be living the life I had.  As so often happens in life and in stories, all that was about to change.

It was the chickens fault. The musical community, in which my husband and I performed and lived, housed a chicken coop. The coop was ancient and in great disrepair, but sheltering 16 chickens. I was the volunteer chicken wrangler, feeding, and shooing the chickens nightly into their shelter. I took my chicken duties, as well as the health of my chicken charges, very seriously.

Chickens are funny creatures, very amusing to watch, with a variety of personalities and habits. Unfortunately, my chicken friends were under nightly opossum attacks and I was at a loss about how to protect and serve them.  We had appealed to our landlord/band and community leader for assistance in repairing the chicken coop, without success. I was having lung issues related to the cleanliness of the facilities. The chicken coop had dirt floors and could neither protect the chickens from predator attack or be properly cleaned. Without going into chicken husbandry, let me just say that things were not well on the farm.

My husband was notably concerned with my deteriorating health.  He determined that I was carrying too much responsibility and set about to correct the situation.  We discussed the matter together and he decided to speak with our landlord/band leader, to give my two week "chicken detail" notice. We felt that the landlord would not respectfully allow me to back out of the chore, for which I was being compensated in eggs only, and that my husband's support and backing would be advisable in the situation.

Well, the resulting encounter saw our landlord physically assaulting my husband for refusing to give an explanation of why I was no longer willing to be in charge of the chickens. My husband's quiet response that " I am respectfully giving you two weeks notice, so you can find another person to take care of the chickens. Vonnie doesn't need to give you a reason for why she doesn't want to continue carrying the responsibility. . ." met with a violent reaction. In the span of 15 minutes a 5 year friendship, 2 year band relationship and an apprentice relationship was ended, my husband was injured, and we were basically homeless.

Gone was the singing and percussive performance career. Gone was the writing and promotions business. I had no place to work and no Internet. Gone was my husband's percussion apprenticeship. We were out of the band, a home, and about as low in life as we had ever been. All we had were the few possessions we'd held onto, my Grandfather's paintings, our clothing, drums, and my computer. Everything we had been building, all the dream chasing, ideas, and creative expression we so valued seemed stripped away.

I would like to say we bounced back resiliently, but we didn't. We were bruised and broken by the encounter. Our faith in life, humanity, our sense of security, and safety had all been shattered. We were now unemployed, homeless, and to make things worse, I had to return service fees to clients whose writing and promotions projects I could no longer complete.

It has been two years since I worked my writing and promotions business, written in my blog, or worked for a client. I have been a home maker and substitute teacher.  Oh, I thought about writing. I thought about my business. I continued to follow the promotions trade online. I thought about what I would like to do and how. In a way, I think I was waiting for my husband's permission to pick up my pen and start again. I have felt a tremendous responsibility and guilt for what happened to him and to our lives. He never held me accountable, but the guilt was there no less. He has always been supportive of me. I just couldn't bring myself to revisit that part of my life and start over again. Basically, I was having an EGO moment that lasted two years. I didn't know who I was anymore.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

This summer, I was contacted by a former author client of mine, for a book review. It was unexpected. I was afraid. Don't ask me why? I was just afraid. It seemed like such a small request, and I so loved her previous work. I said yes.

What a simple thing a yes can be. "Yes" can open doors and hearts. "Yes" is turning the boat downstream to flow with the current of life. "Yes" is allowing, creative, and fertile. Sometimes, all it takes to recover from trauma and start moving forward on the road of life, is saying it. Yes, Yes, YES!

I don't know what paths I will tread on this journey. I can't guess at how successful my business will be and if it will recover from two years of neglect. I just feel so glad to be saying YES, and to feel life course through my creative veins again, the prospect of rebuilding doesn't feel so frightening anymore.

I am thankful. I am thankful for the flood of creative work that my client friend has poured into my hands; her willingness to invest in herself, and the trust she has placed in my ideas and efforts.  Returning to creative work has been a healing balm and brought a turn around in my outlook and thoughts.

It is never too late to grow and expand in life. Our experiences do shape our attitudes and beliefs about what can be, but they don't have to be limiting. Our thoughts influence our point of attraction and determine the circumstances that flow in to us. I know this by looking back over these two years of my life. The person I was is gone. I am more than the experiences I have shared. I can see how my thoughts and beliefs influenced what could happen and did happen around me.

I am busy again, creatively, energetically, and working. I am in a better position to create the life of my dreams than I was two years ago. I have restarted my writing and promotions business. I am fiscally recovering, balancing work worlds, between teaching and the writing/promotions work. Every week I am singing and drumming in a Jazz group.  My husband has resumed his musical training and is also jamming with me weekly. We are back on the road to successfully living the lives we dreamed of having two years ago. We are filled with gratitude.

My biggest problem these days. . . is finding time to write in this blog.

Expect to read more from me in the coming days, as I get back in the saddle and practice for myself and my clients the work I know and love.

Ink Slinger's Whimsey will have a new services website very soon. We are days away from publishing a revamped service menu, re-establishing our former InkSlingersWhimsey.com domain.

Thank you for reading and sharing in my journey.

Never let go of your dreams. When you get bucked off the horse, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back on it! It is the same with life.

Love and Light
Vonnie










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