Well, hello dear reader. It’s been a little while. I had all sorts of intentions during and following our travels. I planned to blog profound thoughts about the magical journey of growth and discovery through Europe. I planned a photo-journal piece. I planned to tell you all about my upcoming events for the New Year. None of that came to pass. The instant my feet touched back on Canadian soil, life took me by the scruff of the neck and shook me like an angry dog. Nothing of what I expected happened when I arrived back home, and a whole lot else unexpected jolted me through the days. The last three months have been a singularly painful series of awkward leaps from rock to rock, wobbling precariously while trying not to look at the chasm surrounding my feet. Poison darts of pain and sorrow, loss and tragedy, anguish and drama have peppered my hide. Tonight, I am sitting with a glass of wine and a feeling of fragility, as though at the penetration of one more dart, I will fly apart into a thousand pieces.
My marriage of thirty years has ended. There, I’ve said it publicly. After a year and a half of anguish and pain and vague-booking, there comes a point where you just have to face up and fess up. I don’t plan to go into revealing detail. I do not seek sympathy. The end of a deep, profound and lifelong relationship is never easy or painless and it’s been written about a million times. That’s not my purpose for writing this post. My focus has homed in on one particular consequence of my impending divorce that has driven me closer to heartbreak than any other.
In order to afford my home alone, I have to rent out a room. My home contains three bedrooms: mine, my daughter’s and my studio. And so, with no palatable alternative choice than to sell my home, I took the only decision I could. I must give up my studio to have a room to let out.
Ten years. For ten blessed years, I have enjoyed my own creative space. There has been a rending inside to give it up. My steps have been slow, my actions listless and fragmented. I have worked in fits and bursts to begin the transfer of my desk and some materials to a much reduced work area in my own bedroom, all the while my spirit screaming in protest. I got a certain way and then ground to a halt. My heart has been breaking to lose the sanctuary of that precious space, and I came to know in my deepest soul what it has meant to my creative development.
Working slowly through the process of clearing, understanding comes to me in fragments. That a transformation is taking place. That letting go of this physical space would be a leap of faith into the one I have built inside myself. That I have to prepare for a different future. That I don’t know at all what the future beyond the next six months looks like, and how that scares me. I continued to stall, trying to ready my spirit for the rending. This womb-like, precious space upon which I can close the door has become as essential to me as breathing. Even when I am not working in it, there is the knowledge of it, the comfort of that knowledge, held like a pearl against my heart.
While this procrastination and processing went on, I turned my attention to other matters. I stalled out on the work to move my creative space. Nothing much happened for a week or two.
And then, a few days ago, the Universe stepped in to take the decision out of my hands. A faulty sprinkler main on the third floor resulted in seven flooded units. The flooding included my bedroom and studio, damaging or destroying half of my materials, boxes of documents and family photo albums, portfolios of artwork, handmade papers, leathers and old books. Suddenly, the precious buffer I had built against the world lay in a sodden mess around me. Something inside me seemed to break loose.
My first response was to weep. Exhausted, overwhelmed and overloaded, I wept. On the second day, as we worked to pull everything out, I wept again from exhaustion and heartbreak, from overload and embarrassment at the sheer volume. I possess one drawing done by my artist brother, the most talented artist among the five children of my family, the brother who died in March. Holding the wet, stained, torn drawing in my hands, again I wept. And then I gathered myself up and I set to work.
By the end of the second day, my sanctuary was an empty shell with ripped up carpet, about to lose drywall and ceiling. The entire salvageable contents of my studio were stacked in the middle of my living room, awaiting insurance adjusters. My home was strewn with books, artwork and papers drying on every available surface, the deck piled with the unsalvageable paper and materials. I felt fragile. I lay on the couch late into the night in the silence of the empty house, surrounded by the dark hulks of upended furniture and piled belongings, and wept out all the accumulated pain, all the anguish of the last eighteen months, far beyond the loss of my studio. And then I slept.
On the third day, I woke into a feeling of grace and acceptance, my heart at peace with a certainty that an important course correction was taking place. I needed to let go. I needed to emerge from behind the barricading walls of a studio full of amulets and talismans and touchstones and anchors. I needed to trust that the creative space I had built existed within me and was not dependent on location. I needed to trust in the strength of that structure and prepare myself for a different way of working. I needed to release the mountain of art materials and teaching supplies, of old artwork and product and memorabilia to concentrate on what I enjoyed and did well. The Universe had known it, even if I hadn’t. It stepped in to force my hand.
Suddenly, despite effort and loss adjusters and insurance claims and a home in chaos and plans thrown into disarray, there was a lift in my heart. The act of emptying my studio had been forced upon me. In doing so, in seeing the task done, I felt released. The burden of the decision making was lifted from my shoulders, the choices and decisions of what to keep and what to discard reduced by half. I had been able to step through that doorway. I felt liberated and gifted with an opportunity to reset, to redesign and revision. To prepare.
And there, in that moment, I let go.