Re-being …

My muse, 22" x 28", oil on canvas, copyright, Joan Z. Rough 2002

Becky, a new friend I met at the retreat I talked about in my last post, birthed the word Re-be while we were there.  Becky, like myself is a person who has a ton of interests and has jumped from one field of interest to another.  If I have her story right, she spent her college years going from one school and major to another and later chose two majors in unrelated fields.

Barbara Sher, in her book, Refuse to Choose, defines people like Becky and myself as Scanners.  We are those who don’t follow one path or career through life, but go from one interest to another and another and another.  We do not walk the straight and narrow road.  Instead of having one passion we have many.  We start projects then drop them, leaving many unfinished.  We sometimes feel we are missing out by not having that “one thing” that is our passion in life.  Though we might wish for that one good road to travel, it isn’t really what we want deep down inside.  That wishfulness most likely arises because we are often considered lazy and are bullied because we can’t “settle down” and “finish” anything.

My mother once told me that my life was a train wreck because I had too many things going on. I loved what I was doing at the time, which was simply being me, as an artist, trying out my wings, going from one thing to another. I’d stop whatever I was doing from time to time and try on a different hat. I’ve worked with fibers, paint, mixed media, was a teacher, raised sheep and goats, wrote poetry, published a book and was a fine arts photographer.

Each time I started something new I was extremely excited and filled with a powerful energy that couldn’t be ignored.  Some of you may know what I’m talking about through your own experience.  Though I never saw my life as a train wreck, I did spend many years not thinking very highly of myself because I believed what those around me were thinking and saying.  I often felt guilty believing that my interests were trivial and would lead me nowhere.  There weren’t many people out there who encouraged me or would celebrate my gifts with me.  I often felt that I was forever trapped in a world that I couldn’t manuver in and be happy.

For the last seven years of her life, my mother lived in the same house with my husband and me.  During those years I gardened, cooked, studied herbs as medicine and did a bit of beading because it was easy to stop and start and carry along whenever I had to take mom somewhere and wait for her appointment to be over.  Though I was very interested in those things, there were times I was bored and didn’t feel I could go with a new interest that would suddenly catch my attention.  I’ve spent the last four years since her death digesting the fact that somewhere along the way I abandoned myself and most of what I wanted to do because I chose to be her caregiver.   I did what I had to do.  I am not blaming my mother or anyone else and if truth were told, I’d probably do it again.  I’ve learned a lot about myself as well as my mother and have lived to tell about it.

Now I feel like my old self again … excited and ready to jump back in and Re-be.  For several months now the idea of learning about encaustic painting has been swimming around in my unconscious, occasionally rising to the surface, like a dolphin, for a breath of air. I spent a long day and night this last week shedding my old skin and regrowing another.  I found a short and to-the-point class in encaustics at Book Works in Asheville, North Carolina and I’ve signed up for it.  My creative life is in tact and I’m ready to begin.  Excitement fills my days and I’m filled with an energy I haven’t experienced in years. To make it even sweeter, I get to see my daughter and grandkids who live in Black Mountain only a short distance away from where I’ll be!!  I’m looking forward to May!!

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16 Responses to Re-being …

  1. patti stark says:

    I really enjoyed this. Have fun. Hope you will let us see your new work someday!

  2. Clara says:

    I hear you, Joan. For years, I spoke of myself as a “dilettante,” with all the negative connotations that that term carries. Slowly, I’ve come to see this quality much more positively, as insatiable curiosity. A much more accurate and adventurous way of looking at it, don’t you think?

    I life the “Re-Be” moniker, too. I’ve been meaning to read Barbara Sher’s book. Maybe I’ll get a chance to do that in France.

    Oh, and I’m so glad you’ve signed up for the encaustic class at BookWorks! Which one did you decide on?

  3. Sharon says:

    Part of my dear love of you is the fascinating way you have lived your life and the enthusiasm with which you embrace new ideas and things.

    I think there are more of us who find happiness in exploring new paths than those who safely stay only on one course.

    So glad that you are going to pursue the encaustic painting. Go for it!

  4. patricia says:

    Ah, I too am a Scanner. I love your muse and you too. I happened on a book, Like a Tree, and of course I thought about you. Thank you for sharing your Re-be(ing)

  5. Lailey says:

    Joan I love this! I love the idea of re-being and that just because we might like to try new things does not mean our lives are train wrecks. I love the idea of re-being and the latitude it gives rather than recriminating thoughts we simply (re) when we fall off the beam.

  6. jzrart says:

    Thanks, Lailey! For me loving life is being able to check out what’s on the other side of the mountain!

  7. karen eisenman says:

    Loved this post, so nice to see you loving yourself and your life. It does keep getting richer. I smiled reading this. I also had to look up encaustic painting 🙂
    I like what Clara said about “insatiable curiosity” I think that is the key.
    Thanks for sharing your journey. love you!

    • jzrart says:

      Oh Karen, so wonderful to hear from you. Here we are living in the same community and not seeing much of each other! We have got to change that!!
      I miss you and hope we can get together soon. I’ll be in touch!

      Love you too!

  8. Becca says:

    I would never have thought to describe myself as a “scanner” but I definitely see some bits and pieces of that in me – especially lately. There are just SO many things I’d like to learn and do – always have been – although they tend to gravitate around areas of the arts. Since I resigned from my job, my mind is spinning with things I might try.
    So maybe I’m a scanner after all…just need to light on one thing and dig in!

    Your new venture sounds wonderful ~ I’m looking forward to the results.

    • jzrart says:

      Becca, thanks for your comment. Since you quit your job you sound filled with life! I know the coming months will be filled with music, words and your dancing creative spirit!

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