I found myself kneeling there quietly praying and sobbing in 1998, my husband sleeping in our adjacent bedroom. That was the year of my Seven-Year Itch. I always joke that my Seven-Year Itch came in the form of my mother badgering me to have a child, just one, so I could have the close relationship she and I had always enjoyed.
The problem was I never wanted to be a mother. Even at the young age of 6, my mom said I defiantly told her that I didn’t want to do what she did, become a mom and housewife. But here I was on the cornflower blue bathroom carpet that came with the house I had purchased seven years before, quietly crying and imploring God, “I don’t want to be married. I don’t want to have a baby. I feel hopelessly stuck. HELP!”
You see, I’ve always considered myself a floater in life never having a clear vision of what I wanted to do or be. That’s why I got married. I graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s within five and a half years, and the next logical step seemed to be marriage. After all, that’s what my mother, aunt and two grandmothers had done – found a mate and settled down. I later learned on an episode of Oprah that these are called shadow beliefs. We tend to follow the path of those who have gone before us, even if that path – at least in my case – feels a bit off.
I had even quit my communications job to help my husband manage the hair salon he wanted to open. Another shadow belief right on track: none of the females in my family had worked outside the home. The husbands had always been the sole breadwinners. By my Seven-Year Itch, I had been a nonworking wife for four-plus years. My world reduced to answering the phone at the salon, painting a ton of ceramics while waiting for the phone to ring, taking violin lessons, playing violin in the church orchestra, and adopting a “grandmother” at a nearby nursing home. Add to that caving into my mother’s pressure to have a baby, enduring the nightmare of fertility medication, not feeling joyful upon becoming pregnant, being admonished by my mom about not being joyful, finally getting on board with the motherhood idea, and then – BOOM – losing the baby in the 11th week.
During all of this turmoil that had become my life because of the choices I’d made trying to fit into society’s “norm,” my identity and self-esteem were cowering face down in the corner. That’s why I was sobbing on the bathroom floor during the night asking God for a new direction.
The Universe answered with an open door of opportunity that changed the trajectory of my life.
In July of 1998, my former dean at Texas Tech University had seen the feature story I’d placed in the newspaper promoting the salon. He recognized that I wasn’t working in a formal job, and called to ask if I would teach a summer writing class that started the NEXT day – only two short months after my miscarriage and the thud of my self-confidence hitting rock bottom!
I was shaky, but I said yes to this open door of opportunity. I knew my marriage was failing and teaching was a key to independence and freedom. So, I accepted this Call to Adventure, which led to getting divorced, earning my doctorate degree, and moving from Texas to Connecticut solo in 2003 to begin a new existence as a university professor – a 180-degree shift from my previous self.
For some reason, I had the idea that returning to painting, which I hadn’t done since college, would be a welcome outlet from my apprehension during this tumultuous period. I found it to be an emotional release, a way to purge my feelings of anxiety, fear, hope, anticipation, and determination. My art began taking shape in the form of female portraits surrounded by emotion and femininity. I eventually realized I was painting a visual diary of what was happening in my life, a visual memoir. The female faces may have come from free-hand sketches of women in perfume ads and fashion photos, but the themes and emotion driving the works were from my life experiences at certain snapshots in time.
However, my painting came to a halt as life marched forward. I became consumed with navigating a new town in a new state and trying to decipher the ins and outs of a tenure-track assistant professor position at a new university. The heavy cardboard box of acrylic paints I’d drug from Texas to Connecticut sat in the floor of my closet gathering dust. I only painted two additional portraits after making my big move. My art had become a forgotten part-time hobby pushed to the back burner.
Fast-forward a decade to summer 2013 when my life’s Purpose emerged during Deepak Chopra’s meditation. He asked, “If you could be anything in life, no fear or obstacles, what would that be?” With the simple answer of “an artist” bursting into my consciousness, I soon began to feel a second life transformation taking root.
My intuition started urging me to share my art and writing beyond the walls of my home and pages of personal journals. So, I put my fear of showing my work aside and created a website, vickiworldart.com, that contains photos of my portraits and blog stories about the life circumstance behind each piece. I believed my story of flipping my life from a stagnant position of nonworking wife totally dependent on her husband to an independent professor was an account that could inspire others who may feel stuck in their lives.
But, I soon began perceiving that showing my work on a website was not enough. The Universe was asking me to answer a more profound Call to Adventure that would take me closer toward being my True Self and living my Purpose. I loved teaching my students, but I knew in my heart that becoming a university professor was not my ultimate calling in life.
My heart began imploring me to not sign the next year’s contract at my university. My intuition whispered that if I signed the next contract locking myself into another academic year, it would cause a painful, unnecessary detour just as caving in to having a baby I knew I was not meant to conceive had done. My intuition said that committing to another year at my university would cause a door to slam shut in the face of my life’s Purpose.