It is a weird mental experience to return to your home, after a long trip.  I have only been home in drips and drabs 5 months in two years. There was a time in the distant past that I wished my work included travel. I stood in my shop every day – product in -product out- money in- money out. My life was very predictable. I am not saying it was bad, I have always loved what I do, I am just saying you could predict by last year at this time, what would happen next year at this time, now  I never quite no what is ahead. I got home from my trip in May and received two phone calls the next day for work in the shop. I asked the callers how   they knew I was back and they both said, “Oh, were you away?” Then I just stepped back in my shop and work like nothing had changed in my life, a month passes and I am off teaching, talking, visiting and demoing. I heard a person being interviewed on NPR years ago talking about how we all have the power to create our lives. I thought, “like that’s a big news flash”, being self-employed I thought I had created my life in the way I wanted. Now I know I had created one compartment of my life, the one that earns money and maintains a life style. The other compartment of feeling fulfilled as a member of the human race was unopened. It does become a chicken and egg situation. Would I be able to live this life right now if I had not stood in my shop for 40 to 60 hours a week developing my skill for thirty years. The answer is probably no. I think what the speaker on that radio program should have said is that every day we have the power to recreate our lives based on what we have learned the day before. My recreation cannot be a solid structure if I had not built a strong foundation. For instance I will not be on American Idol next year singing some incredible song. I am not saying I would not be capable at some point, (anyone who knows me will tell you that I am an amazing singer-to my face-with a little smirk). The fact is that I am tone deaf and have never been able to carry a tune, but I believe if I put my attention to the musical spark within my soul after many years I could develop a way of singing, that presented in public, would not make people run screaming. We all are filled with so much possibility! Success comes down to focus and hard work, of course that has to be sprinkled with shameless self-promotion. I truly believe we are all great at something. When I first thought of the project that would eventually become Turning Around America. I sat down and wrote out all the problems that I would face. Leaving my house, the cat, the expense, living in a van, the danger, the logistics etc… My friend Jane gave me a card once that I kept above my workbench for years. It was an animation of a naked woman stepping out over a pool of water as if she believed she would be able to walk on it. It spoke to me about the power of belief. It was that idea that allowed me to overcome all my perceived obstacles surrounding the first, Turning Around America, project.


I am a big plan kind of person, and it is a little unnerving not having the big 10 year plan securely in place in front of me. From not being so plan oriented – amazing, wonderful things are happening in my life. Jenn and I are planning our next Turning Around America project entitled, Sanctuary. It is step one in an idea we have, to create a wagon train of artists traveling around the country teaching their skills in any hamlet, town or city who would invite us. Phase one is designing and building a self-sustaining mobile art studio. Once we get the design down we will figure a way to make a bunch, and then how to get them out and teaching. Four years ago I would not have believed this could even happen. Now it is just a matter of how it is going to happen. Stepping naked out over the water and believing you can walk across it works. Taking the risk of changing my comfortable life has made my life so much richer than I would ever have imagined. It has also started my foundation of my new work in public art, and education. Who knows what will sit on that foundation in twenty years.


About turningaroundamerica

Collaborative Team of Jenn Moller and Beth Ireland
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3 Responses to DECEMBER 4,2012

  1. dianethayer says:

    I like what you have to say re: the hard work to make an idea happen and self promotion. If not you, then who? I think we sometimes get wrapped up in that notion of “being discovered”. I believe that if we do what we love, we work hard but it sometimes doesn’t feel like hard work. Also, working hard feels good. If it’s your passion, if you believe it is what you’re meant to do, doors open, a synergy happens; things come together. But it’s not without the hard work. I am interested in your idea about a traveling group of artists. Please keep writing about how your plans are progressing.

    • Hi Diane,
      It is good to here from you. Are you officially retired?

      • dianethayer says:

        Yes I am…from teaching. I have a part time job driving a bus for the assisted living community my Mom lives at…very fun; woodcarving and playing my ukulele; I’m trying to not over schedule myself so I have time to “be”… Like “being” a lot. I sometimes don’t know how my day will be…I like the mystery of it… I’m so grateful for leaving the stresses of teaching in the public school behind. Sometimes my biggest decision is whether or not to wear black or tan pants with my bus driving shirt. 🙂 !
        Re: your next adventure with Jenn, is there a reason why you aren’t considering a class A- used, motor home and modifying that? Hey- take care!

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