American Girl In A Box

American GirlLet me out.

I’ve methodically worked my way through my house selling clothes, furniture and household possessions. This move I’m planning on making didn’t come to me overnight. I’ve been plotting and planning, dreaming and scheming for a good 4 years. It’s all I’ve talked about to those closest to me and I was sure that my friends had become sick of me droning on about my plans as the years ticked by. I never would have imagined so much emotion displayed at my “All-Things-Art Sale”.

I saved the hardest for last: getting rid of my artwork. I wrote an Evite to everyone I knew who had known me as an artist over the years. If people loved my art and would use it or display it, I would simply ask for a kind donation to help me on my way. I slashed my prices, for it was more important for me to find good homes for my creations than it was for me to make a lot of money. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to sell quite a bit of my artwork, but I’ve kept the unsold pieces in careful storage. Like a litter of kittens, these pieces brought me joy and came with so many memories, but I had to find them new homes.

All Things Art SaleThroughout the day, dear friends wandered in and out of my home looking at a retrospective of 30 years of artwork displayed. Some were uncomfortable and one friend told me that it made her feel like I was dead and she was going through my belongings at an estate sale. Many of my guests have watched me grow through different series and concepts in my artwork and to see it laid out all together was, in a way, a historic type of event. I was questioned about how I could let it all go and I explained that for years and years, I had been interested in getting my name recognized in the Dallas art scene. I worked at meeting gallery owners, art collectors and other artists. I’ve spent years and years doing this dance, in hopes of getting a gallery show that could then be added to my resume. I wanted to be respected and associated as a Dallas artist, and I’ve been somewhat successful. I listened to several friends verbally process their interpretation of what I was doing. With tears in her eyes, one friend said, “I feel like I am robbing you.” I responded, “You’re not robbing me – you’re freeing me!” It’s been a great ride, and I’m so grateful for all the experiences, but this Dallas based, American Girl is about to crawl out of her box.

I recently read an article in the New York Times called, “You Won’t Be The Person You Expect To Be” . It is a fascinating article, by John Tierney, about how our personalities and tastes change over the years. The phenomenon, called “end of history illusion,” occurs when people tend to “underestimate how much they will change in the future.” When we humans look ahead, somehow we expect ourselves to stay the same.” Of course we don’t. “Middle-aged people often look back on our teenage selves with some mixture of amusement and chagrin,” said one of the authors, Daniel T. Gilbert, a psychologist at Harvard. “What we never seem to realize is that our future selves will look back and think the very same thing about us. At every age we think we’re having the last laugh, and at every age we’re wrong.” Even as recent as 6 years ago I would have never imagined that I would be selling everything I own to travel the world and work overseas.

Life is short. What box do you want to crawl out of?

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12 thoughts on “American Girl In A Box

  1. Lena Hobbs says:

    I agree with your friend, this is so sad. Please do not sell another thing. I will keep it for you as long as I can. Art needs to be displayed, shared, be a motivator and a stimulus. But as I write my replay, this thought occurs, perhaps that is what is happening. I know why you didn’t invite me, an old woman in tears would not have been an asset. I would have been drawn to the flame, but I would have been miserable.
    My daughter, If you can keep your health, sanity and independence, old age is wonderful. You feel so free, even as you hurdle toward the inevitable. Yes, it is different than you think. Mom

    • My sweet Mom, I know if you could, you would build a shrine to me and put everything I’ve ever done in it. However, in doing so, there are not many people who would be able to come to the shrine. By my creative work being lovingly placed in the homes of people I love, my work will be seen by more people and the effects of having seen it will be directed to a much larger audience. The emotional response I got, from the audience of buyers that day, about my courage, my passion of life and my faith in the “knowing in the unknown” was so overwhelmingly more than my artwork has ever evoked in anyone. I don’t think my artwork has ever brought people to tears or ever caused people to rethink their own life path. Instead of creating art pieces, I am now creating an artful life, and that is so much more inspiring! And as a side note, I have saved back the pieces that I simply cannot bear to part with, and yes, it is wonderful that they can be stored at your home. I love you.

  2. amy says:

    Love this 🙂 I’ve quit my job and career path and now I’m hoping to travel in March and volunteer towards art therapy/creative youth work, best decision ever! Your blogs are inspiring me to keep it up 🙂 thanks xx

    • Dear Amy, Gee, thank you so much for the compliment on my blog. You have no idea how happy that makes me to know that people are really “out there” reading it. I want to be inspirational! Where are you going in March? I’d be interested in what you know about art therapy/creative youth work. It sounds fascinating! All the best of luck with your new endeavors!

  3. Suzanne says:

    Hi there, and thanks for your post. I, too, have been downsizing, selling things, etc. for almost 10 years to get ready for a move to a tiny house, in anticipation of moving overseas for international teaching. It’s been such a freeing experience to shed the “My Possessions Are My Self-Worth” and “Cool People Live In The Right House” syndromes. This is the year I have sold almost everything and moved into my RV so that once I have the job offer I want I can drive to the RV storage lot, say my goodbyes, and hop on a plane. Going through this process with the goal ever in mind feels like the overseas adventure has really already started–each time we give an item to its new owner we get a little further from our old life. Best of luck to you and keep on bloggin’!

    Suzanne

    • Dear Suzanne, How wonderful for you to write! Thank you! And what a great idea about the RV!!! About a year and a half ago, I was considering buying an RV. In fact I went to this huge RV Show at Market Hall in Dallas. At that point in my journey, I was researching alternative possibilities to moving overseas. I was 85% sure I wanted to move out of the country, but there were a few avenues that I wanted to check out so I could be double-sure of myself, and owning an RV was one of them. Your plot is a wonderful one! How awesome to sell everything that won’t fit in your RV, drive it to storage, park it and go to the airport! Well thought out! It sounds like you’re almost there! When do you anticipate parking it and getting on a plane? The very best of luck to you!

      • Suzanne says:

        Hi Anita, I’m going to a BIG international job fair and hoping for an offer that starts next August. I am especially motivated since our pay continues to go down in my present district and they are threatening to close our school (demographics mean we are below capacity).

        When I bought the RV last winter, I deliberately bought an old, cheap one that was working well so I can unload it pretty easily if I want to next summer. But for now I will plan to park it at a friend’s or in a paid storage lot until I know what I’m doing. I hope not to return here (Colorado) to live, but my mother is here so I know I will visit often. When and if I come back to the States I have already decided to live in an Airstream; that’s the only RV I really want or like anymore. The modern boxes can’t hold a candle to the silver twinkies! 🙂

      • Suzanne, which fair are you going to? I’m going to UNI and to SA Cambridge in early February. I wish we could meet! I’m hoping for an offer that starts next August too! Do you teach art? So good to know about the Airstreams. What freaked me out at the RV show was how BIG those monster RVs are! Good grief! It would scare me to drive one–and to think that there’s a bunch of “elderly”, retired people on the road with those enormous beasts! It frightens me! I have a friend who lived in an RV for 5 years. She parked it in a RV site in San Diego and watched the sun set on the beach each night! Did you know there’s a whole network of people who live in RV’s and who have access to jobs in RV parks around the country?

  4. Jenny says:

    The box I want to crawl out of is debt. At the moment, my biggest love (traveling) has to be put on hold hold while I try to pay off debt.
    I love this entire post! And what a great title and image 🙂 I’m very happy that you are going to do something big and brave and exciting. And I also know how great it feels to rid yourself of so many possessions, yay! Enjoy.

    • Dear Jenny,
      Do you know about International School Review (ISR)? There is a low cost involved, I think it is around $29/year, but once paid, you have access to many anonymous teachers, administrators and recruiters who talk about all kinds of topics! It is important to have a pseudonym, to protect your identity, so you can ask/answer all sorts of things. I have read many posts about USA teachers who have been terribly in debt, who sign up to teach in lucrative areas of the planet and pay their debt of quickly. You might consider it. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

      • Jenny says:

        Thank you Anita! Such a wealth of knowledge. I love the idea you shared about ISR, and yes I am one of those teachers with debt from my masters degree and getting certified. I always wondered if there was a place I could go to talk to other teachers . . . . . . Hehehe, can’t wait!

      • Jenny, it is a joy inspiring you! You are a smart girl and you can do this too if you plan correctly. I know from your blog that you’ve got about 1.5 years to go before you can cast off. That is totally fine!!!! I’ve been planning my big escape for about 5 years! I wanted to leave the USA when my daughter graduated from high school, and was planning to – – but then, for my own financial reasons, I figured out I couldn’t do it until she graduated from college–which will happen in May 2013. Careful planning has brought me to today and I’ve just finished filling out my 62nd application! Stay in touch!

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