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What happens when dreams come true

I was pushing my way through Long Covid and burnout that day I was walking down the street in Mountainair at the Sunflower Festival. It had only been a few months since I had made a life-changing decision, and I was about to run into another one.

Let me back up a few steps.

When I was a teenager, I knew with every fiber in my being that I would spend my days as an artist, a painter to be specific. But then life, as it does, intervened with other plans, and I spent a few decades raising children, getting married and divorced a couple of times along the way.

I had found my dream job at a newspaper, and several years later had the chance to buy it—and did. I had partners in the beginning. Over time those partners dropped out, but the business was thriving. I paid it off in 2019, and entered January 2020 full of big and ambitious plans. Then came the pandemic.

The business survived 2020, but did less well in 2021. Still, we managed, until I got Covid for the first time. We almost closed down, but the community rallied to save the business. After that, I struggled through Long Covid for all of 2022. It was in the middle of that when things changed for me one day in Mountainair.

As an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I had spent decades trying to “unpick the knot” of my own psyche as I struggled to deal with the effects of CPTSD. I was working with a therapist after a lifetime of mostly resisting the idea.

Despite the fact that I hadn't done much art, I had lots of supplies and would do art for fun from time to time. I had always thought of myself as an artist. One day I noticed something that infuriated me: I would only allow myself to do art as some kind of reward for being “good.”

I noticed very shortly thereafter that it wasn't a reward like I thought; I was actually punishing myself by having art supplies close at hand (actually surrounding me, for the most part) but most of the time I was not allowing myself to do the thing I love doing best—making art. I was so angry with myself that on the day I figured this out, I made a drastic change in my life.

Fuck punishing myself with art. I decided I would flip the paradigm on its head and instead prioritize art, and make space for doing art every single day. Around the same time, I stumbled across an amazing art therapy technique that forms the basis of my art to this day.

Suddenly, my life was a flurry of making art. I started carrying art supplies with me everywhere I went, and if I had a few spare moments, I did some art. I was on Cloud 9, feeling better and happier as soon as I made this change. Because I was in the middle of Long Covid and burnout, and still feeling the effects of the pandemic in terms of anxiety and depression, that was a very big deal!

So I was walking down the street in Mountainair at the Sunflower Festival, when I ran into two friends who own an art gallery there. They asked me what I had been up to—and I showed them the small sketchbook I had been carrying around, full of dozens of what I now call my Tiny Jewels.

On the basis of that tiny book and other work I had done, they invited me to do a show at their gallery, and we set a gallery opening date for December 2, 2023, almost a year and a half into the future. They wanted to see what I would do in a larger format, and so I started working much larger.

Since then, I've done hundreds of drawings and paintings in watercolor and acrylics, including several large works and one very large work.

Early this year I got Covid for the second time, and had to sell the business that I had poured my blood, sweat and tears into for almost two decades. It broke my heart, and letting go was one of the hardest things I've had to do as an adult.

Next came about six months of working on art as my first priority as I slowly recovered my health, first for therapy, and as time wore on, to bring in some money. Then another major life change, relocating to Las Vegas, New Mexico from Edgewood, and completely reinventing my life.

The first order of business was to create an art studio. My new home has a giant garage—a huge, glorious space for me to spread out art projects galore.

Almost every day over the past year and more, I've thought about the opening that happened December 2, for a solo show of about 20 works, large and small, at La Galería at The Shaffer in Mountainair through December. I can hardly believe that finally arrived, and how much my life has changed since that summer day in Mountainair.

In addition, this month my art is in three other art galleries: I have several pieces at a cooperative gallery I joined in Las Vegas, El Zócalo; I have four small works at Gallery 140 in Las Vegas; and I have two pieces of art at Ghostwolf Gallery in Old Town Albuquerque, in their December show called Enigma.

I now have a job that doesn't leave me exhausted emotionally and physically—and I spend hours every day doing art or preparing my art to show. And I'm just getting started!

While this year has been one of the hardest in my life, with earth-shaking life changes coming at me one after the other without respite, my landing spot is soft, warm and welcoming—and full of art. My health is good and my stress is low. I know I'm very fortunate; it's a feeling I can hardly describe, but I will say this: Follow your dreams.

Follow. Your. Dreams.

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