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a new chapter

many of you know that tod went to washington for five weeks.  he returned a week ago.  fast forward to now and it appears that everything is no longer ever going to be the same.  he has decided it is time for him to move on, leave huntsville and 'us' and continue on his own journey through life.

i can't say that i am shocked.  i will try not to write too much about him here as it is his journey and story to tell online if he ever decides to do that.  suffice to say we have been friends and partners if you will, for about seven years.  i met tod when i was on the road, on MY journey towards becoming an artist.  i had been gone from arizona for just over a year and after a summer of more driving/camping across the states and canada, i landed in vermont and eventually decided to spend a winter there.  it was late summer/early fall and after deciding i was really going to get a little apartment in waterbury, vermont, i soon met tod who lived in stowe.  we became fast friends and within a few months i moved in with him.  my art world began too.  i was finally in a place i could collect materials and still had some money left from my savings to take the time necessary to explore and learn. play.  find my artist voice. 

at the time, tod was care taking in a large home up near the von trapp lodge.  it was a slice of paradise for the most part (nothing is ever perfect let us not forget but thats another story).  his life had changed radically over the last few years and he is was in hibernation phase.  my life had changed radically too as i ended my 20 year career as a masseuse and  ventured out into the unknown with little more than clothes and necessities that fit into my car.  it was a time of exploration for both of us.  he had been dabbling with writing and art but the commitment or drive wasn't as strong, in a way we were a perfect fit as he loved being a part of my process and going out on 'finds' to see what juicy things could be had.  he liked to go on long drives just so i could take pictures for my mixed media wall pieces.  when i think about it it is pretty incredible that we got to live for free in a huge house in the middle of seemingly nowhere and mostly do as we pleased.

nothing lasts though. my money was running out. his money done ran out and then some.  he got a job in stowe driving a taxi and my art got picked up by local galleries and i was making enough to live (since i didn't pay rent and all).  i too drove the cab sometimes but  i was determined to make it with art and was actually making it until the economy blew a fuse. fast forward five years and we move to huntsville texas thanks to nellie sending me an online article about dan phillips. it felt right.  we knew the house we caretook for was going to be sold soon and vermont just wasn't feeling like a supportive environment anymore.  we both were ready to be more 'in the world' and not stuck on a mountain.  winters were getting long and hard and i just wanted to be in the sunshine again and not try to work outside in harsh conditions.  we went for it and moved to huntsville, texas oct of 2009.

we both were intrigued by the idea of  functional art and dan's houses are definitely functional art.  it did turn out that we helped work on the bone house but i soon found myself unable to stay away from my own art and physically handle the work for the phoenix commotion (too many years as a masseuse kind of screwed up my body)  i spent more and more time on my own art and eventually stopped working with the phoenix commotion altogether.  tod lasted a bit longer than i did but he had physical limitations as well and was also feeling there was something else he needed to be doing.  huntsville doesn't offer distractions.  you either know what you want to do and do it or you go nuts.  you dont get to escape here.  (ironic isn't it that there are 23+ prison wards in huntsville) bad joke...

anyhow.  i dove head first into my vase making and flower making and tod tried to dive there too.  truth be told he made some really cool flowers that touch me so much i almost can't stand looking at them.  he has a gift for art. for seeing.  for finding things....but he doesn't enjoy it the same way.  he isn't wanting to spend day after day hour after hour working on something.  he has too much logic or something floating around in his brain.  it isn't (to use his words) 'satisfying' the way it is for me.  i can spend the whole day working on something and not want to stop but he gets angry and frustrated after an hour.  not a good sign.  what he does crave is intellectual stimulation.  culture.  literature.  stimulation that quite frankly does not exist here the way it does in washington.  i get it.  it was good to hear he met some people in washington his last week there on Vashon Island.  you  know its a good sign when out of the blue you meet people and they invite you to come back and maybe rent a room or whatever know its a good sign when you are looking and you find.  when you are found.  that is what happened to me in vermont and i have a feeling that is what is happening to tod right now.  i think he has found some people that are on the path he is to travel on.

and me?  well i'd be lying if i said i was groovy.  this has been a hideous week for me.  my panic roared it's ugly head.  while i've been making my bills just fine i'm not quite prepared to pay more or move. and moving...when i think about all the heavy stuff i have and how i logistically deal with all of my stuff it feels totally overwhelming. my first thought of course is art.  i have to be able to still make art.  i have to be able to live somewhere that supports that.  period.

so while i've been living pretty much day to day and somehow making it, i know that things are going to change and i need to adapt.  once i calmed down a bit i realized i DO have support here.  true i haven't been the most outgoing person, but i have made strides with getting to know people and there might be an opportunity for me to move into another place that would have an art studio.  it will be more expensive but if it works out ( i will share more when i know), it could be a really good thing for me.  if it doesn't work out, i'm not sure what the hell i'm going to do.  not sure at all.

so.  tod plans to leave by the end of the month.  i will stay here until i know where else to go.  i would have to have my rent adjusted to continue living in this $800 a month loft.  i could pay my $400 but not tod's half.  i figure i have six weeks or so to work like a maniac on art.  it's the best thing for me.  i've been working like mad on flowers this week and even some new vases.  art has always been what heals me and makes me feel sane.  when i make art i go towards a healthy place in my mind and body.  it nourishes me.  comforts me and keeps my brain empty.   call me stubborn or crazy but i insist that i am able to make art.  to live and work as an artist.  i feel that life is way too short to spend it doing anything other than what feeds your soul. it still challenges me when i think about what it means.  i felt i had more purpose when i was a massage therapist but i was also incredibly unhappy and unwell.  i've yet to figure out an overall 'purpose' to what i'm doing right now other than saving my life and sanity.  doing what feels best and right for my being. my self.  whatever it is that makes me get up everyday and live.

art called out to me like the faintest of whispers that you think you hear in the wind.  i followed that voice.  it's been a seven year journey and i can't believe that it is all supposed to just end.  so i will just have to suit up and solder on.  i will miss my tod.  i will miss having that person around day in and day out who oftentimes seemed happier than i was when i sold something.  when i made something. when my work got shown in galleries. when he or i found something cool on the road.  i will miss the one person i've ever been able to live with.  to share poignant moments with.  someone who believed in me as an artist before i even knew what there was to believe in.  i've learned much about myself by traveling with tod to this point in our lives.  i think we both have.  we will remain good friends but i know the best thing for him is to go and focus on himself as i have focused on me. [art]  it feels really sad and really lonely.  i've already cried so much it's ridiculous.  i'm sure when he leaves the floodgates will burst again but i know in my heart of hearts this is the best thing for both of us.  he hasn't been happy these last six months.  it has affected our lives and day to day.  much as i would love for things to have never changed....we all know that life isn't like that and change IS good and all i can do is welcome the next chapter.

ugh. time to cry again.


Janet said…
Paula - sending you strength during this time.
NuminosityBeads said…
What a post and how brave of you to share it. Bravo for your understanding, I'm sure it must be so unsettling.
Keep the strength that you've shown here and things will work out.

As far as one of the cheaper places to live that is rich in wonderful junk ripe for repurposing and a supportive art community as well. What about Bisbee, AZ?
We just moved here as snowbirds ourselves a couple of years ago.
xoxo Kim
Lisa said…
Sending you hugs.
paula said…
thanks for your thoughts/hugs...
and kim a move isn't possible yet...i literally have no money and i gots way too much art stuff to move. one day...the desert...arizona...again, who knows. i have to make do here for now.
Karen said…
ah, what an emotional roller coaster! Hugs for you Paula. Many hugs. More hugs then you need!!
cobaltika said…
i'm sending you best thoughts. what a rough time. for both of you. your Tod sounds sort of like my poet, needing more intellectual stimulation, and i don't think he is going to move to Texas with me this summer, because he is more poor than i am even, and he thinks Texas is too full of rednecks and republicans. funny, he thinks we should move to Vermont! i can't help but laugh - like how would two middle-aged poor people even start to find work and housing and heat their homes *there*?

sometimes you just have to be where you have to be, for a while anyway. try not to be *too* much of an artHermit? stay healthy and creative. i really admire you.
ArtPropelled said…
Paula, you have shown your courage time and time again through your blog posts and i know you will manage. You have found your feet as an artist and now it is full steam ahead. Sending strength and cyber hugs for those shaky moments.
Teo said…
Oh man, that was a difficult post to read. Towards the end my eyes got wet too :( it's very sad but it's the right thing to do, you know it. I think you are dealing with it very well. Everything bad is good for something in the end, and maybe this can be a step forward for you too. You stronger than you think, don't let Tod's leaving make you feel fragile. You are such a talented wonderful artist and art will save you, it is doing it already. Sending you many hugs my friend!
Anonymous said…
You are in my thoughts, Paula. It's so hard. Just know I'm thinking of you through all this.
Paula, if you are realizing that you have support where you live, then that is a great start.

I know that you must physically create things with your hands, but I feel that photography might be a good venue for you in some way. Paula the rogue photo stylist. You could make a pile of sh*t look fantastic. However, do not for a minute think I'm calling your work sh*t. Perhaps I should erase this. But I'm not going to. I think you can pick up what I mean.

You are a strong, creative person going through a bad time. You will come out of it on top (or at least high enough to have a view). I think about those bloggers that have put out books. You have a heck of a story to tell. Movies have been made about far, far less interesting people.

I'm sorry to hear that Tod is going in a different direction. I hear the sound of ripping all the way up here. Damn.
Elena said…
I found you through Angela's blog where she posted that fab article about your work. This was a beautiful, heartfelt, post. You are such a brave and creative woman and I hope you find comfort as you continue your artistic journey.
Angela Recada said…
You already know how much I love you and your work. . . Sending you lots of love and huge hugs during this rough time.
My heart is crying for you... don't forget to love yourself... roxanne
collage whirl said…
So difficult to lose someone so much a part of you. So unselfish of you to see him off on his path--but of course you would wish him the best, being the courageous Paula that you are. Remember- "this too will pass", corny perhaps, but it just means you have to get through it. Then wonderful things will start to happen again.
Daphne Enns said…
Hi Paula.

Sometimes I think that we need to make sure to add time for crisis and disaster and the time to move through it...
As long as I've known you Tod has been a fixture. He has been an integral part of your evolution as an artist and person.

So it's no wonder that you are mourning him. He's somehow added some magic to your travels (and you to his as well).

I don't envy this part of your journey, but I can only imagine that it will make you an even better artist with an even stronger sense of community, despite many of us living out in the ether of the internet.

And a lot of us have some part of you in our homes. I have your Coconut drawing. So, I think of you every day even if I don't have much time to keep in touch day to day like I used to.

I'm sending you a big long hug.
paula said…
i have to say i am overwhelmed by how kind and supportive you guys are...people coming out of the blogwoodwork to leave a comment when i thought my blog was DEAD.
you all make me feel stronger, and a little more teary too. what can i say but thank you for caring enough to say encouraging things and being supportive and trusting this will work out. it really really helps me feel less alone, i know we all have to carry our own weight, but you know what i mean.
i love you guys. gulp swallow another tear drop falls
Paula, you've weathered through some really tough times and come out a stronger person and more defined as the artist you are. I admire the generosity of your spirit as well as your love and respect for Tod.
Hugs from me, too, throughout this tough transition in your life.
Christina Romeo said…
Paula thank you for sharing your story of love, creativity and courage to live your dreams.
The honesty and energy in your post is inspirational and I can really connect to where you are right now as I am sure many of us can....we are all here to support you on your journey to feed your soul and I will send you healing, and supportive energy through my meditation this week.
You are on the right path, you are strong.
xox Christina
donauluft said…
I´m feeling with you Paula, It´s hard for me to tell with my poor english, I´m sure you will find solace in making your art and all will work out!
big hugs...
Patricia said…

It is always sad when relationships fall apart or evolve in different directions. We have the loss to deal and it is tough. I love what you are making and agree that you are also a wonderful photographer and creative artist

Vanti Designs said…
first of all here is a big hug!!!
There is one thing in life that is guaranteed, everything changes! There is one thing that won't though, the love you have from so many friends♥ please smile dear Paula, before you know it something new and wonderful will come your way again, its only a matter of time. And never forget you are an amazing artist! love your work!!! ♥♥xoxo
paula said…
you guys are making me cry even more. thank you ...i think for the first time in my life i'm really FEELING people caring for me/about me...truly its almost overwhelming. thank you to all you old and new blog commenters have really filled up some reserve in a heart that is aware of some empty space emerging.
i genuinely appreciate your words. i will read them when i'm feeling lost.
Gail Baar said…
It is sad to read about the difficulties you are going through-yes you do have a lot of support out here, of you and your art.Change is inevitable, but not usually easy to go through. we are thinking of you!
Cynthia said…
Ah Paula, you have more strength than you even know. I do believe that everything happens for a reason, and you will get through and out the other side. Change is hard, and letting go of a partner is very painful, and I feel for you. Love you!
CMC said…
Cry all you want, Paula. Then you can just get on with your life.All that you have experienced in the past will contribute to what you will be in the future. Not good now but you are a strong, talented woman. Make your art... Hugs
Poetic Artist said…
My thoughts are with you..Life is indeed a journey. The paths of two people meet and and become one for awhile and then wham you come over the horizon and they split and go in opposite directions and you have two choice..Stay on the path or run off and think you are strong and will stay on your path. I hope your path will be filled with strength,inspiration and love and enough money.
paula said…
thanks katelen, know i will keep making art long as i have room for all my junk! :) appreciate the thoughts and well wishes.
Tracy said…
Oh gosh, Paula, I missed this post and am just now catching up on what's doing. So sorry that you are going through such a tough time, but like everyone else has said (better than I prolly will) you are a strong artchick and you will be fine once this yucky crying part is over;) It sounds like you are looking to relocate and I think that is a good idea, there are so many places that have so much more going on for you, Austin sounds like a good place to start!

And, sheesh, OF COURSE you will keep making art, was there ever any dougt about that????? :)
paula said…
well tracy..i doubt it when i see how expensive it is to rent spaces. i have a lot of work to do in a few weeks and somehow have to get the funds to get on the road somewhere or even jump to another apartment/work space. thank you for the good thoughts!!!
markhed said…
Hi Paula,

I'm sorry I'm late with a comment, I only found this post after you left a message on my facebook page about having a rough time. I have been through many hard times, too many for how young I am, and I can tell you that each one of them have made me stronger and better.

It is this time, right now, that is the toughest, and you need to concentrate knowing that as the days go by it will get easier and you will slowly be able to see all new things as an adventure rather than a burden.

I hope that you feel better soon, although I know that when you are at the edge, and staring down someone saying "I hope you feel better" doesn't mean much. I hope it means more from someone who has also been at that edge looking down, and has survived to tell the tale, happily.

sending you lots of love.
paula said…
thank you marie...i will feel better when i can make art again and have space and be settled and not so stressed about money....i will feel better eventually i know. we all have mountains and i know this is just part of the journey. appreciate your stopping by and sending good thoughts.
Jayne Rose said…
This is my first visit here and I empathize completely. I took a chance and moved over 800 miles to start over and my art suffered for 8 months. But, now my art is better than ever because of the journey. Life sucks sometimes, but you sound like you will always come out on top.

Good luck.
Jane said…
So sorry to hear about your situation, Paula. You write so beautifully & you sound strong & like you are going to be able to get through this. As long as you keep your goal (pursuing your art) in focus then I believe you can make it. I am in not too dissimilar a situation myself, & ironically enough I think some of the best creativity flows when there is a necessity behind it. I bet way more of us crafty folk than we realise are 'living on the edge'. Hoping things are working out for you. Jx

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