A New Journey, a New Art Journal

As 2022 winds down, we’re recognizing that our recent move didn’t go as planned. (For many people, I think “unplanned” and “unexpected” describe recent years.)

Oh, we love New England. There is no place in the U.S. where we find so many chatty, happy, people that are eager to be helpful if they can. They even go out of their way to be helpful, despite any inconvenience.

A momentary stop at a highway toll booth can turn into a fun, animated conversation with the person in the booth.  Something similar can happen as we stand in the grocery store check-out line. And the underlying themes are always caring, humor, and sincerity… as well as friendliness and a sense of community.

We also love the wit and humor on display here.  The exaggerated accents can be especially funny, as almost everyone shares that sense of the ridiculous.

And then there’s the abundance of art galleries and general creativity, almost at every turn… that’s something we appreciate, as well.

We love the coastline and salt air. The wild landscapes provide a sense of renewal and exhilaration.

Early morning in Ogunquit, Maine - April 2022
View to the sea, from our balcony in Ogunquit, Maine – April 2022

But, especially on raw and rainy November days in Maine… we miss our near-daily visits to Disney World.

The fantasy of Disney, the entertainment, the sense of being in a unique world… it’s delightful. We’re literally in a place that’s different from almost anywhere else we could be.

And, in that place, it seems like anything (and everything) fun is possible.

Yes, in sharp contrast, there’s the traffic (especially near the theme parks), and the current political polarization in Florida. Being ostracized (aka, “cancelled”) by friends and family… it’s heartbreaking to witness, and so unnecessary.

And then there’s the heat.

In addition, we’d struggled with the challenges in making personal connections and friendships in the Orlando area. Neighbors seemed to move in – and then out (to other states or even other countries) – at a pace we haven’t seen elsewhere in the U.S.

But even with all the negatives, we miss Disney. A lot.

So, we’re deciding what will work best for us in the future. Currently, it’s a coin-flip.

Disney Castle sketch - Nov 2022

Last week, testing Mmarte watercolors, I sketched that picture (above), inspired by the Disney castles.

I love it, despite its obvious imperfections. Of course, the same could be said about life.

Currently, we’re still going through boxes (and boxes, and boxes…) of things we’d put into storage in NH in 2014.

This is one of those “peeling the onion” projects, making decisions in layers: a little here, a little there.

Back in 2014, we’d thought our initial visit to Florida was merely a test to see if we’d like living there. So, we randomly threw everything into a storage unit. A really big one.

But then… we stayed in Florida. There never seemed to be a good time to return to NH, even for our belongings.

Eight years later (it’s mind-boggling to write that), we’re deciding what we want to do. We’re restructuring our careers, and generally getting a better sense of the lifestyle we’d like.

We want something that’s not just satisfying in some aspects, but generally feels like “home” to us.

As part of this process, I’ve been making more art. Some of it is fine art… more-or-less planned and deliberate.

Other pieces are spontaneous or even frivolous, in a way.

But all of them speak to me and inform me about who I am and the life I want.

Fortunately, my husband’s process is similar to mine, and we’re still hand-in-hand wherever we go. (After 20 years, I think it’s pretty amazing that we’re still so mushy and starry-eyed about each other.)

I’m working on a new art journal (some of which will be posted at my art journaling site, Aisling.net), and I’m intrigued by what it’s revealing, literally (in words) and symbolically (in images).

A torn-paper collage in an art journal, with a feather.
This was my most recent art journaling collage. Everything in it represents discovery, exploration, transformation, travel, and a bit of mystery.

This weekend, we discussed what’s next.

For me, a large part is shifting my professional focus to accommodate a somewhat turbulent economy.

I’m choosing projects that can succeed and even thrive, whether we’re in a recession or not. That’s a dramatic shift in emphasis.

Establishing a fresh, flexible foundation is key, but – thankfully – technology makes that far less daunting than it might be.

As the dust settles, there will be more art. But, in the meantime, I’m fitting it between other projects.

Once the foundation is in place, and things are running like clockwork again, I’ll have even more time (and focus!) for art.

But where our home will be… That’s still up in the air.

We may choose New England or Florida, or somewhere in-between, or even become “snowbirds,” with two seasonal homes.

Or, we may explore other countries; Ireland and England are at the top of that list. (Obviously, we’re keeping lots of options open.)

I’m feeling very good about all of this, even with the uncertainties.

2022 has been an extraordinary year of transformation and change. Not always easy, but satisfying in the clarity its bringing.

We’re intrigued by where our path will lead us in 2023. And, as we often smile at each other and say, “It’s always an adventure!”