splitting myself in two at a crossroads

I doubt this post will take long, in fact, I have a long day tomorrow so I need to sleep soon.

But you know when you were a child, and when you were asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and your response was long enough so whomever the caretaker was had enough time to do the dishes, flip the laundry or just keep the child occupied so you weren’t doing all the work? Yeah, the answers were often over-ambitious and in some sort of reality, impossible. “I want to be a fireperson, and a teacher, and a astronaut, and and a princess, and a mommy and, and a reeeeealllly big superd- supuhhero!” But it’s not actually impossible to be many things at once, we all have to wear several hats in a day. I’m an artist, cosmetician, skin care consultant, busker, artisan, writer (not that anything is published yet), a member of a community, a feminist, a role-model, a graduate and alumna, an illustrator, a sales-woman, an ear for the general public… and I’m not a mother yet, nor a partner, and I’m not a caretaker in general (which has 20 million hats to wear in each respective role).

Here’s where my conflict lies, do I pursue being a cosmetologist or aesthetician? Or do I follow to become a “studio artist”? Lastly, do I choose to be a curator?

I had a weird dream not too long ago that I am trying to analyze. My dreams, I find, are the best insight to what is going to happen or decisions I need to be aware of. And I am not sure how valid my dream was given “Colours of the Wind” was being sung in my dream. The dream itself is relatively foggy but I remember being given a blessing by an aboriginal elder. But the elder did not actually say anything, but I think I knew what was being “discussed”. Some new artwork ideas have come to me, and the art from around here, the woodland aboriginal arts and Group of 7 inspirations have had an effect on me.. but the images that are still prominent in my mind – mainly two paint brushes, two large filberts, were first wrapped in hide, then the brushes were wrapped in a plastic floral wrap with feathers as a part of it’s design. Feathers, brushes, wind and the “smoke” rising from the mountains…

Feathers are used often in blessings and smudgings in aboriginal tradition, and the brushes are a part of my trade… the wind seems mainly from the Disney contaminant, but also frequent in Thunder Bay. The smoke rising is from the roadtrips my mother and I have made from Thunder Bay to Barrie a few times now. Every time we pass Agawa, going towards Thunder Bay, it rains. The rain is so cool that the warm air from under the trees and on the mountains rises up and creates the most fascinating illusion.

They’re old photos from four years ago from a crappy camera… I need a good camera.

I think the dream was like a graduation ceremony from an elder but another discussion of where do I go from here? I suspect from the dream (and I am figuring this out as I type), that my path may be fine arts driven…

I have to work out the pros and cons, and I’m going to need feedback from those who read this and friends who know me, even the slightest…

If I were to be a studio artist, and by that I mean pursue a degree in the Fine Arts in Studio (painting, drawing…), roughly a similar song and dance to my undergrad (not quite  but hang on), I would be put through my measures creating art as intensly as I can for two years straight and never knowing my standing, and likely falling under the same curse as I always have of doing twice the amount of work for a good, but lesser mark than I deserve, based on the fact I do not brown-nose, bend to anyone’s will without reason and just because… I will likely graduate, with a job, a few publications and would be able to be shown in galleries more often and sooner in my life. I am becoming more and more opposed to the idea that a few people will determine my worth or capabilities vs. the general public who likes and sometimes purchases my art ( in all honesty, those purchases were commissions and those have been scarce). It will be a constant battle of will IF I am ever accepted… The bonus to being accepted is that it fast-tracks my ability to be accepted by professional galleries, can apply for more grants and higher selling prices to some of my artwork (because I have this thing in my head that I really should charge based on my cost of materials, labour and skill level I’m at, like paying students to paint your house rather than a professional individual – you’re going to get a different quality of work, not necessarily always for the worst). Still not thrilled over this option.

My other option is to pursue my cosmetics jobs. I have this weird thing, and a Shaman once told me it was something called “Weasel Magic” – and before you laugh, it sounds right. In myth, weasels were sent over to the opposing tribe’s camp to listen in on secret plans. Weasel magic means I have this thing where I hear a lot through the grapevine, have a tendency of being a double-agent, but also that I’m quick and clever, but most of all, people like to tell me things. I cannot tell you how many times people have given up their life stories to me within spending less than 24 hours with me (and someone, please testify!). A number of my customers feel comfortable discussing otherwise personal, embarrassing or frequently mistaken information about them. For example, one night I was cashing out one woman who was entertained by a stuffed monkey we had on for sale. Her voice was clearly horse from a cold, and that fact was confirmed by the large amount of medicine she bought. As I am cashing her out, she looks up and says… “Can I get your advice?”. I thought it was going to be about a product or lipstick shade… but no, she then says “I’m in an abusive relationship” and falls immediately into tears. Gobsmacked, I reach for a facial tissue and simply wait for her to elaborate. Without going into too many details, she was indeed in an emotionally abusive relationship and she was looking for a way out. The woman didn’t know that you can ask for a police escort if you need to leave a situation such as hers. I gave her information such as the woman’s shelter in town, a hotline she can call and just general advice I know (and just for you, dear reader, it would be helpful to know such things as shelters and a hotline or two in case you come across this, or someone you know).

People tell me things. I’m like the other woman to the hair-dresser who you complain to or ask advice from. And my job, being somewhat personal as it is and having one-on-one time with the people I help, is the same thing. And this is really quite a daunting gift at time. I don’t always know how to react when a customer has a flashback of a trauma incident (one customer I did have) or when I’m asked for help for a situation like abuse. I wait and listen, and often that is what is needed  (Lest not be judged, is also a good rule of thumb). I am genuinely helping people that I come into contact with – either boosting their confidence, honest advice on how to take care of ones-self or just being an ear. All the while having a blast. This job has opened doors into doing weddings or advertising… but then I worry there is a limit to what I can do. How many girls go into makeup and hair school? How many people are aspiring to be like Michelle Phan, and become a world-renown makeup artist just because she did youtube videos? How competative is that market and is this just a whim I am acting on? It would be cheap and only take a year to earn the proper certifications to be a makeup artist, and I have a plethora of knowledge (despite what people thought in highschool, I wasn’t allowed to wear a ton of makeup, but I certainly knew more about than those who just got whatever they wanted) and then some! This is something I stumbled upon… could this be a calling? My upset… I doubt I could be as challenged as I have been in other aspects of my life.

Or is my calling being a curator? When I did my internship with the Thunder Bay Art Gallery last summer, I was aglow with my tasks! Mainly – the cornucopia of research! The curator, Nadia Kurd, apologized at one time for the tediousness and lack of excitement in my tasks, and I assured her that learning about people and movements enthralled me. The only boring part to the job I had was some data input for a book donation the gallery chose to receive. I didn’t want that to end and I wished that my job at the time would allow me some room to work and volunteer at the art gallery more. I was like a 1000 watt bulb when I saw the write up by the curator with our research! “I helped with that! I noted that! Eeeeh look at some of my work!”. I had the same feeling that I stumbled upon a calling. Now education would be pricey, similar to the masters degree in studio art, I’m doing the same sort of education however my marks will be based in fact such as formatting, proving my points and just relevant research. I think I write about and research more art than I produce – which would be a lot. I would help other artists…and I could also help move art out of the galleries and into the public space so that it is not just those in the “Art World” who experience the purpose of art. I don’t know if I would reach and affect as many people as I would. However, the biggest bonus here; it would be challenging and I would constantly be learning.

Damn, I need to be in bed.

Okay, my life in the next bit will consist of serious application stuff – There is a work program through the Banff Center that would give me a brilliant opportunity to asses the possibility of pursuing curatorship.

It’s  would be similar to attending school for another year but actually doing work for the school… like a thesis or a trade. I’m new to the graduate thing, don’t make fun of me! I’m excited but I hope I can put together the application in time. IKES! Akimbo, you didn’t give me enough warning!

Here’s the interactive part – ya’ got any advice? Feedback would be awesome, and it would be AMAZING to hear back from my readers.

As far as I know – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, when life gets messy- eat it over the sink, it’s never too early or too late, if it doesn’t scare you – your goals are not big enough.

It will be awesome to hear from you all!

-I’m Elizabeth Hoskin, and I am LovingBedlam


ps- i learned how to use hyperlinks! (yes, that was fun for me).


4 thoughts on “splitting myself in two at a crossroads

  1. I was also at a crossroads much like this. I had the choice between going to college for computer programming, freelance translating with the degree I just got, or pursuing a Master’s degree in translation in hopes that one day I could also continue to a PhD.

    Ultimately, I think I would enjoy both being a game localizer (translating video games to a certain culture, e.g. Japanese to English) as well as being a professor (I’ve always loved teaching and school).

    I think my heart was set on going to college, but I almost felt a door close behind me as I headed towards that direction. I suddenly realized that I didn’t want to leave that opportunity behind; I’m now about to do my Master’s at York in the fall. And I’m really happy and excited about it.

    I believe in active listening, where you listen to somebody’s dilemma/problem/issue at hand, and you try to help them figure out their own answer, lest in the end the solution turns sour and they blame you for their decision and don’t learn to make decisions for themselves. Not that I’m saying you’ll do that, it’s just one of the reasons active listening is effective.

    But find what really drives you, motivates you, and challenges you. You’re a brilliant, quick, and bright. Use these traits to your advantage =) You can always go back to the crossroads and choose another path if one doesn’t suit your fancy, but do what YOU want to do =)

  2. I also haven’t answered because this needs to be a decision based on what YOU want to explore. Lisa is very right that you can always return to a crossroads and try another path if it turns out you change your mind. This is what makes life exciting and worth living and there are never any guarantees. Keep yourself open to all possibilities and trust your instincts. They have served you well so far. Ante up as your keynote speaker said and who knows where it will eventually lead. You know you have my love and support no matter what avenue you decide to take. It’s your life – go live it to the fullest, celebrate what works and learn from what doesn’t.
    Love, Mom

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