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05/29/2010


Art: Finding my Way • by Diane Cook


My logo symbolizes my life’s purpose. The simple act of two girls holding hands.

Helping each other along the way, lovingly and genuinely. This purpose has always been buried deep inside my heart.

Life on the Ranch
Being a middle child can be a blessing and a curse. I came not totally planned, just 2 1/2 short years after my older sister. My mom was a stay-at-home mother and my dad was a ranch foreman on a small ranch outside of Brenham, Texas. We lived in a sweet wooden house on the 100+ acre ranch that had holes in the roof that would leak when it rained. I can still see the old tin pots sitting on the kitchen table as Hurricane Carla blew in the year my younger sister was born, 3 1/2 years after me in 1961. I have great memories from that time in my life and of that little house.

We moved from there when I was 5 years old to a larger ranch closer to my parent’s hometown of New Ulm, Texas. My dad was moving up. Now he was the assistant foreman on a huge 600+ acre cattle ranch, which also had show horses. Not long after, the foreman took another job, and my dad moved into his position. We had lived in another small wooden house on the ranch, but this new position brought us over the hill into a bigger house with white asbestos siding. Still no air conditioning, but my older sister now had a room to herself, and my younger sister and I had a room together. You would think we were close by our ages, but we were not.

Living on this ranch, or anywhere else this far off a main highway, was not my idea of fun. I rode a bus to and from school each day that was a 1 1/2 hour ride. Most of my friends lived much like I did, but either on a family-owned farm or ranch. Some of my friends lived close or in town. That is where I wanted to live. Town. Anywhere but the ranch. I participated in 4-H, as my mother was a leader, so I had the opportunity to be a part of everything from dress reviews to food shows, talent shows, and a singing group. Each year I showed a lamb at the county fair.

A Talent for Art
But, I loved to draw. I loved art. I learned I had a little talent in the first or second grade, but it was in the third grade where I knew I loved it. Drawing brought praise and recognition. My school was so small that two grades were in the same classroom. The teacher divided her time each day between the two classes, which probably had no more than 20 students total. Each month my teacher had the students design their own calendar, then she would put her favorites on the bulletin board in the front of the classroom. Mine was always there. I beamed and loved her for it. She told my parents I should take art lessons. That never happened. For one thing, money was really not available, and honestly we lived too far from any town or city that offered them. I was devastated.

Things changed, and my parents divorced. My mother moved to the city, and then we stayed with my dad. My older sister had married. This was a hard time for me. I had just started high school. I took two years of art in high school, but never quite fit in. I was from the country, and my high school was in the nearby larger town of Bellville. I participated in sports, as my friends were not artistic but more athletic. I followed my friends.

Connecting Through Blogging
After school I immediately married, and had my daughter. Three years later I was working and raising my daughter on my own. It wasn’t until 8 years later that I remarried. (And, I must say to the most wonderful supportive man on earth!) I continued to work, and did not have much time for art. My husband and my daughter were my priority. Once my daughter finished college and moved out to begin her life, I once again began feeling that tug. There was something more. I knew it. I was satisfied with my life, but my love for art had never stopped pulling at me. I had dabbled with many things along the way, but always alone. I started and stopped more things than I can count. I had never connected with a group or other artists.

Almost four years ago, I happened upon a graphic designer’s work, which had her web site and blog information. I went online, found her site, and then went to her blog. Her name is Dawn Houser. I had no idea what that would do to the rest of my life. It changed it and me.

I started designing jewelry with a little help from a co-worker. But it was simple beading, and I became restless for more. I found out about art retreats from other bloggers, and attended my first Art & Soul in 2008. It has proven to be a pivotal point in my artistic life. I connected. I finally belonged.

As Simple as a Choice
Fast forward to today, and I can see all the beautiful things that have happened to me in the last two years. I have been blessed by people I didn’t even know, and might never have had the privilege of knowing, including fellow artists Diana Frey, Riki Schumacher, Colette Copeland, Deryn Mentock, Susan Tuttle, Chris Kerr, Stacie Florer, Susan Sager-Brown, Stephanie Lee, Molly J. Alexander, Seth Apter, and my logo designer, Susie Hibdon, of Vintage Susie. Now good friends. I have been published in several magazines, thanks to Christen Oliveraz, Beth Livesay, Jana Holstein, Amanda Crabtree, Jennifer Jackson, and Jenny Doh. It helped establish my credibility, and has enabled me to begin teaching classes at a nearby art guild. Thanks to Linda Young, Adorn Me! 2010, became my first national retreat to teach this past March. It is a time I will never forget, full of priceless memories, surrounded by beautiful artists and now great friends. As I plan my retirement from a full-time job at the end of 2010, I am hopeful that teaching will continue to be a huge part of my life. God willing it will be.

I do not believe in circumstances. I know that my life has taken many twists and turns for a reason. My life has not been hard, compared to many. But, it has been one I’ve taken alone. So often we can look back at our childhood as being a hindrance to the rest of our life. I submit that it is the perfect way, divinely orchestrated to bring us to the place we are to be today, and to the person we are yet to become. It is living a life of gratitude, accepting all the bad, as well as the good. Yes, it is as simple as a choice.

I have learned that I cannot change people, but I can change myself. If I want to be a shining light for someone to find their way, I must be available. I say, “Take my hand, we’ll learn together.” That is what I desire, and that is my wish for you. That we find our way. And if you need help, take my hand.

Yes, I am finally home. And, it has been a long time coming ...

Favorite Quotes
Two of my favorite quotes:

Vision will take you so far. Imagination will take you farther.

Never live faster than your guardian angel can fly.

To learn more about Diane Cook, see rosa-josies.blogspot.com.

Comments

awwww, diane.
yeah for you!!!!

it is so nice to be a tiny stitch
in God's most awesome tapestry.

keep it up, chica.

xoxo
dawn

http://dawnhouser.blogspot.com

awwww, diane.
yeah for you!!!!

it is so nice to be a tiny stitch
in God's most awesome tapestry.

keep it up, chica.

xoxo
dawn

http://dawnhouser.blogspot.com

Oh Sweet Friend,
How very touching & poignant this heartfelt story is. I feel blessed to be able to find out more about you & what created this amazing woman & friend I know today. Your jewelry design speaks to the creativity you have within & oh, how I wish I could see one of your childhood calenders...what a precious memory.
Dear Diane, thank you so much for including me in your list of friends & mentioning my blog. I feel honored to have met you. You have inspired me & held my hand as I journeyed into the world of graphic design & I am better for have known you.
Congratulations on such a wonderful article!
Smiles & Hugs,
Susie

Hi Diane, how wonderful it is to learn more about my wonderful friend. This bio is so well written, and your photos and work are just exquisite.

You have touched my life in so many positive ways. I can see there is so much more for you to discover about your ability, and I can't wait to see the layers peel back as you make those discoveries. You have a passion to help others, and we all know that and love you for it. I excited for you to retire, so hopefully I can see more of you! Take care my friend, BIGGGGG hug.

Riki
xoxo

Diane,
I can't imagine a more deserving person to have the success you currently enjoy. Your heart is as wide as the Texas landscape you live in...and your work continually evolves and grows according to your life experiences. I can't wait to see what you come up with next...it has been a pleasure getting to know you via your blog and your enthusiasm. You have been such an inspiration to me.

Diane,
I am totally blown away! Thank you for sharing yourself so openly! It is such an honour and pleasure to "know" you - even from afar.

What a lovely post and gorgeous jewelry!

My Friend, you have given me so much through your friendship and encouragement, and I am unbelievably thankful for you. Thank you so much for sharing such a private story with the rest of us; it gives a much more complete picture of the woman and artist I love and respect.

Congratulations on the success you continue to have. It allows so many people to experience the compassion and artistic gift you so readily share.

I am so proud of you!

:-) Molly

Thank you all my very dear and precious friends. Even though we may never have met (yet), I feel like we are such a close knit family. You must know, this is really what I long for, and love each & every one of you for your friendship.
Jenny has given us a way to connect that is beyond words. And, for this, I am most grateful =)

Diane, it is wonderful to 'meet' you and to learn of your story--I love your quote: life is "divinely orchestrated to bring us to the place we are to be today, and to the person we are yet to become". It is that acceptance and gratitude for every moment we are given that form the foundation for all that we are yet to become. It truly sounds like you've found your way and are giving back so willingly and unselfishly. Wishing many more blessings to you :)

Diane,

I am so thrilled that you have been "published" in Crescendoh! Your article was so open and genuine...I am really touched by your openness and the wisdom that you have absorbed from your life (though not at all surprised at either!)

You are truly one lovely woman!

Suz

How wonderful to learn more about you!
And to discover the heart of where your glorious creations come from, just wonderful. :-)

Hugs,
Anne

Hi Diane,
Thank you for sharing your personal story. I found it touching and uplifting. It is lovely to meet you and I hope our paths cross one day as I would love to meet you in person as well!
Take care, Laura

My dear Diane...
What a pleasure it is to call you friend. Your smile and loving spirit can work itself into any heart. You are indeed on your intended path. I am so very proud of you and your accomplishments as a person and artist. I know that we have just begun to see your creative self and it will continue to soar upon your retirement. Thank you for being part of my life.
Hugs
Diana

Diane
What a beautiful story....I feel like I have come to know you even better - to learn of your childhood and life with your parents and sisters. You are such a generous soul, and so deserving of all of the wonderful things that have worked out for you this past year. I am looking forward to witnessing many more of your successes and thank you for your friendship!

Diane,
I keep checking back & can't wait to connect to all the wonderful links you've given us to explore!!! This is just sooo fun my friend & every day, I'm excited to see...where will she take me next!!!
Smiles Friend,
Susie

I love your logo; You story, shows how your compassion and
lifestyle taught you to reach out and share your soul! It took
time for you to grow into your talent; Your work is amazing~

So, happy you shared your Art Saves story and found your way!

Dear Sister,
Only we three know where our lives began and how we got to where we are today. The three of us are still one and will remain forever. Remembering Orr's and the Double Mac are some of my better memories. Remember the sound of the rain on the tin roof, and the rain from Carla that ran down on our dinner table into pots and dishes, and we couldn't figure out how come Mom made so much to eat, but it was to catch the water from the roof. Remember how cold we use to get under the feather beds and when Carrie was born. Sisters we are and sisters we will remain. Love the blog and jewelry that is forever in my heart. Keeping looking forward and know we are there and love you unconditionally. Middle sisters are fun and easy. Congratulations on all your awards and on your upcoming retirement. Love you.

Diane, you can't help to inspire!

Diane,
You made me realize that there is hope for me along this journey. What a beautiful story you shared about yourself and all this time, I was wondering about your story and how you got to where you are today. Your story in some spots sounds very similar to mine. . .you are an inspiration. I am trying to figure out how to get to your workshop for the end of this month from Gulfport, MS. I need to attend to surround myself with art . . .your art!! One of your big fans down here!! xxxoooo

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