Where I was. Where I am now. Where am I going? Part 1

"A horizon is something toward which we journey, but it is also something that journey's a long with us."
                                                        - Hans Georg Gadamer

"If you are striving to be equal to your destiny and worthy of the possibilities that sleep in the clay of your heart, then you should regularly be reaching new horizons."
                                                         - John O'Donohue

Above is a road curving towards a horizon. I like to use this as a metaphor in my paintings and photographs. We all travel the road of our life which is both created by us, our choices and desires, and created by the mystery that is beyond our human understanding or control. If I were to walk to the hills in the far distance of this photograph, I'd walk to the top of one of the hills and see that there is another horizon to reach in the distance. This is life.

I'm thinking about this experience I created for myself this summer. I'm reflecting on all I've learned and been inspired by... Where the inspiration to do this came from?  How I was able to do this? And now, what will come from this experience?  Some of my questions have been answered and more have come to the surface. I have gotten some perspective on a lot of things. I feel so full and inspired by all the sensory experiences and all of  the human exchanges.

At the same time, I see another horizon looming in the distance where I have the opportunity to create and learn from this quest and the lingering questions I have. I am sitting on a tip of an iceberg. Art, history, culture, stories, music and experiences lie beneath the surface to be revealed, studied, processed. These interests of mine...questions of authenticity, of identity and of culture can be a focus of a lifetime and I still will not understand it all. Where will these interests, this path, the questions lead?

About my journey...

Where I was.
The impetus... This winter I was deeply inspired by the folk art of Hungary and Poland to better understand my cultural identity and history. I saw and still see this as a doorway to inspire my own creative focus and also as a platform from which to launch into further study and a deeper understanding of the world and myself in the world. I'm going to be honest with you too, I believe that my ancestors have guided me here, to go on this quest, to be on the land where they lived, to connect with my living family and visit places where the dead rest. So many meaningful signs have appeared on my journey. In some ways, depending on how you look at it, it's been quite surreal. 

When I first had the realization that I may create an adventure for myself  last February/March I remember laying awake late one night thinking of being far across the ocean, far from home and all things familiar.  I thought about sleeping alone in a strange bed. These thoughts were both scary and alluring. Lucky for me, the alluring part of this imagining was far more captivating.

I am learning that fear is just fear. I should look at my fears, think about them and then make the best choices for myself with the intention of creating meaningful experience and beauty.

After facing my fear, I had to give myself permission to go on my quest. I had to figure out how I wanted to create the experience and how I was going to pay for the expenses of travel and education. Because of my supportive family (many thanks to Josh and my parents) I was able to see I can do this.  So, I bought my plane ticket, sent in my application to the summer school program in Krakow, got in touch with my family overseas while trusting that it would all work out and everything that needed to come together would come together. There is something freeing in letting go and trusting.

I also had to ask for help which was the reason I created the Indie GoGo campaign. This was very, very hard and very scary for me to do. Not only was I putting myself and my vision out in the world but I was asking for funding at a time when money is increasingly tight for many people as the economy continues to struggle. I was afraid to ask for help.

I had to ask myself, "Am I worth this?" The answer was yes. I have to be honest though, one of the hardest things about this trip was acknowledging this: I am worth it, I need help. ...and then asking for it.

Thanks to so many of you... your support with donations, kind words and wishes I was able to fit this experience into my budget and I was blessed with so much positive energy! Facing my fears, reaching out  and reaching my goal with fundraising at this stage of my quest was a huge boost and made me realize that I can do something bold and follow my heart. I am blessed to have so many positive relationships with family and friends. I hope you are starting to receive the postcards I've been sending out and I look forward to sending card sets, having a party, telling you stories, cooking eastern European foods and giving back to you all after I return home.

 We are not "islands" in this world. Although I've believed this for a long time I don't think I have experienced the intensity of this statement until now.  Positive relationships are one of the most important things in life. Often I have felt fiercely independent. Thoughts like, "I can do this myself. I don't want to bother anybody. I can be all alone. I don't need to or don't want to depend on anyone." have been a regular part of my internal dialog. I have spent a lot of time alone out of circumstances and choice. I even enjoy being alone ...sometimes. I need to be alone...sometimes. Maybe this comes from being an only child and being introverted? I've spent a considerable amount of time alone on this trip and have pretty much enjoyed it although there are definitely moments I am missing my family, friends, cats and even regular activities like singing at the lop of my lungs in the car.

I have also spent a lot time with family and new friends. I see that the magic of my experience here would not have happened if it weren't for my positive connections with others. Others like you who donated $10 or more to my quest,  who said "This is a great opportunity. You should go. What are you waiting for?",  who picked me up at the airport and the bus stations, who hosted me and cooked for me in your homes, who shared wine with me in city squares, who taught me about the art, the history, the architecture, who shared their culture, answered my questions, allowed me to study in the museum, met me and shared meaningful time and stories with me. I could have seen the sights and stayed in the cities and towns that interested me on my own but much of the magic was breathed into this experience because of meaningful connections with others.

For these connections I will be forever grateful. I also hope to continue this connectivity, to encourage others, to help others, host others and continue building the momentum of positive, meaningful connection.

How interesting is it...? The duality that we are all alone in this world. When we are born, the umbilical cord is cut and we are alone. We die alone. Yet we are all so connected. If you believe in the spiritual nature of life, are we ever truly alone? I don't think so.  There is endless space out there but with every step we take we are constantly held and supported by something and someone. For me this way of looking at things is very comforting and very special.

I got on the plane back in Boston on July 3rd alone with none of my friends or family. From that moment on I've stepped through hundreds of doorways: new experiences, people, places.  I am constantly met. Met by my own companionship, met by my family, met by a new acquaintance or friend, met by the sound of the world waking up in the morning and quieting down at night. Intentions coming to life. Doing and seeing what I was planning from far across the ocean this past spring.

So for all of you planning your own adventures and dreaming dreams remember that no matter where you are you are constantly and consistently being held. Everyday is an opportunity to try something new, hug a loved one, sing a song, rest, smile at a stranger, eat alone in a nice restaurant, contact long lost family and friends, make a new friend... Look at your fears, give them space in your company but don't let them stop you!