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A Wandering Soul started out as my beaded jewelry business name. I would find tiny stones and hand carve little images in them. Each little piece of jewelry would have a story. My sister-in-law had told me about an artist in Virginia named The Bead Poet that she had purchased a piece of jewelry from. I thought the name was so beautiful and I wanted to have something that would become my alternate identity. I wanted it to sum up who I was so that the work I was creating would be personal.
The name meant a lot to me. I had recently left school because of a complete breakdown with depression. During this time I could barely leave my bed for weeks at a time. My soul was wandering. It was trying to find its way out of the darkness. I was so very lost. A Wandering Soul evolved into a stone lamp making business. I wanted to make something more technical and original. I was struggling with leaving a high pressure education in Landscape Architecture. I felt like a failure. I wanted to achieve something amazing but in my broken state struggled with accepting the limitations the illness had created.
I literally became a wandering soul. I started traveling more. Meeting people I had been introduced to through online gaming. I would take solo kayaking trips to collect the stones for my lamps. I tried caving, took trips to New York City, wandered botanical gardens and did things I never dreamed I would get to do when I was younger. Despite all of this exploration something was still missing. I was still filled with sadness and rage hiding it with beautiful creations that people wrote letters to me about. Letters explaining how important the piece of art was in their lives. That their four year old son made a ceremony out of turning on the lamp I had made every night. It made me feel like what I was doing was important in a tiny way.
I fell into the darkest place and felt that my soul was truly lost. I felt the wandering was in vain because there was no end in sight. After putting myself in the hospital I had nothing to lose. A Native American shaman came to speak at the college in our tiny little Upstate New York town. He was from Arizona. It changed my life. One week there and I felt a little less lost. I felt like my wandering had more purpose. I started on my path once again.
A move to Chicago led to my little business turning into a candle making business where I started to learn about how chemicals in fragrances can cause depression and other serious health issues. I started applying this to everything in my life. I started using all natural cleaning products, eating right and exercising. I had gone from a 125 pound vibrant human being before the illness hit to a 166 pound listless shell of a person. I started to gain new life, lose weight and get inspired. I had a destination.
The final piece to my extreme transformation came when my husband said he was going to throw all caution to the wind and get me to Oregon. I had wanted to live there since my teenage years. I had no reason. I knew nothing about the West Coast. I only knew I needed to be there. We packed everything we owned into a U-Haul with our two dogs and headed west.
On my journey I saw a white buffalo. I huddled in a gas station while three tornadoes passed us in North Dakota. I saw the painted hills in Montana and smelled the incredible smell of a landscape filled with sage. With each mile my wandering soul covered I became more alive. I was a wandering soul for a different reason. I was not wandering lost. I had a purpose. I was wandering to live, to experience, to find my home. I lost over 50 pounds and got in the best shape of my life.
I remembered the story of Jumping Mouse the shaman had told me. Though I have not reached the end of my journey I know I am in the right place. I am heading in the right direction. I know my soul is wandering not because it is lost but because it is found. A Wandering Soul no longer has a sad context when I say it. It is who I am. I wander with purpose. My purpose is to show people the beauty of the world. It is to show we must each put one foot in front of the other even when it is unbearable because moving forward is the only way we can leave behind what is poisoning our spirits. It is what will bring us to our destination and we will appreciate the reward so much more because we worked so hard to get it.
Sometimes I resent that it took 8 years of pure hell to get to the point I can get up everyday and participate in life but at the same time such a terrible illness has changed me. It has made me more understanding. It liberated me so that I could go off and live in a beautiful place. It has helped me do things I would have been to scared to do in the past. Most of all it gave me an identity. A Wandering Soul means so much more then just a business name. It is my journey that made me who I am today.
Beautiful Lichen Framed Art Print by A Wandering Soul | Society6
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