Elemental Journey: Part 1, Remembering

Atlas at the beach, watercolor on paper, part of the Operation 365 series, one painting a day for one year.

Many of us struggle to find our calling. What are we meant to do with our lives? As climate change and global violence escalates, the call is becoming more and more urgent. Find your authentic path now. There’s no time to waste. The Elemental Journey Series is a series of four literary novels, Earth, Air, Fire, Water. Each follows protagonist Pear Elizabeth Swinton as she goes on a heroine’s journey in search of self.  Pearl’s journey is a fictionalized version of my own process of finding my path as artist and novelist. In this blog, I’ll explore my process in hopes that both my novels and this blog inspire others on their journey.

This story begins in early childhood. But to tell it, I must start with an event that happened when I was 30.

I am sitting in the kitchenette of tarot reader Judith Laxer in Seattle’s trendy Capitol Hill District. She’s throwing cards for me on the small wooden table. From the tip of the musky incense stick on the table, smoke billows up like tiny smoke signals. Next to it sits a purple candle, crystals, tiny stones.

“You are a visual artist,” Judith tells me at one point. I snort, sit back in the chair, snort again. She looks more closely at the cards. “Yes, a visual artist. That is your calling.” I scowl, and try not to let her see I’m rolling my eyes. Sixty freakin’ dollars for THIS?  I’m a former international journalist, newly arrived in Seattle. I’m feeling this earth-wrenching call to do something else with my life besides journalism and I can’t figure out what. I’m lost and confused and depressed. But, what I’m NOT is a visual artist.

I keep the scowl on my face as she finishes the reading and I hand her three 20s. What a waste. As I leave, I take out a Salem Light. It’s that kind of rainy Seattle day when the sky hangs around you like a heavy coat. I roam around Capitol Hill smoking, hunched against the drizzle, scowling.

It would take me five years to pick up a paint brush, and another 10 to own myself as a visual artist, to allow myself to live a sensual life of color and texture, to give myself permission to channel light through my body and out of my hands. In short, it would take more than a decade to allow my life to feel sacred every single day. I have a lot to thank Judith for. It must be difficult to give such a gift when the person receiving it rejects it so darkly.

So, any journey to find the self begins with the loss of the self. I’m a writing coach and a metaphysical coach and I have worked with hundreds of people over the years. This loss of self is global. It is epidemic. And I believe it is the cause of depression, of violence and even has a lot to do with how we treat the planet.

I write about this loss of self in my first novel Earth, which is to be published by Booktrope in February 2015.

As I grew up, I kept seeing fragments of myself, balls of light spin from the top of my head, fly up and out, and swirl into the sky. With each loss, I became more of a shell. At some point, I’d have to figure out how to retrieve the parts. I’d have to go find the lost parts of me, put them all out in front, connect the dots, create a constellation. Reform myself from the dust and light of the universe.

I coach people who want to find their calling, and those who already have found their calling as writers. Again and again, we have to go backwards into childhood to find these lost parts of ourselves. What did you love as a child? What are your forgotten dreams? What caused you to give up?

This sounds easier than it is. Parents, the community, our schools – they aren’t in the game of nurturing the authentic self, and many of us have locked away our dreams so tightly it can take years to find the key.

What still shocks me about that reading I received those 20 odd years ago from Judith is this:  somehow I had forgotten all the visual art I had done as a child, all the contests I’d won, in second grade and fifth grade, and the Best of Show trophy I received for a citywide competition in the sixth grade, the award-winning parade floats I built in high school, the theatre catalogs I illustrated. It’s absurd how deeply these memories were buried. It was as if I’d lost my memory.

So, this Elemental Journey back to our authentic selves, back to our sacred calling, begins with remembering.

What do you remember?

If you’d like to read more about Earth and my other novels in the Elemental Journey Series, go to www.carolineallen.com. Have a book you want to write? As a writing coach, I offer a free initial consultation, www.artofstorytellingonline.com. More info on Judith Laxer’s book Along the Wheel of Time is available on her website


4 thoughts on “Elemental Journey: Part 1, Remembering

  1. Lovely! And I adore the painting above. After Remembering comes Listening and then, hardest of all, Trust. Bravo for being brave enough to pick up that paintbrush again, for remembering, listening and trusting. I look forward to reading your book.


  2. Caroline, this is really beautiful. I’m so glad you were able to find your calling after so many years of wandering and really hope our society is moving toward a time when parents, community, and schools will nurture the authentic self in children.


    1. Mary, Thank you. I almost wrote into the piece that I think our society is going more toward nurturing the authentic self — well at least America, well at least some of American schools. My interest are those of us who are now all grown up and didn’t get that, but still have a hole in our hearts where our passion once lived!


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