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20 posts from May 2010

Out of the Rain • by Jared Knight

Art Constantly Saves
I was graciously asked by Jenny to tell my story about how art can save. Art is the only consistent thing that has ever been in my life. It's like I was born with a brush in my hand and I just never put it down. When people ask me how long it took me to paint a painting I tell them it took all of my life to finally paint this painting. So my story is not one of how art saved me in one particular incident or not. It constantly saves me.

Packed Up and Drove
I could talk about the school years but I prefer to jump straight to the meat of the story. Like leaving home for the first time. I packed up my car and drove to Colorado. I then sold my car and started taking trips, and hitch hiking across the country. A lot of times I would give plasma to supplement my income from painting portraits on the street. I simply do not know what I would do without art.

Making it Through the Day
This one time when it was raining outside I had nowhere to sleep so I went to a coffee shop to drink as much coffee so that I could to stay up through the night. Of course I had my scrapbook and I was drawing like a madman because of stress and well I guess caffeine. A table next to me noticed me drawing and came over to ask me if they could see them. They just so happen to be owners of a record store. They were renovating a place where the record store would open. It was very modern looking. They hired me on the spot. I then had work for about six months. I got a small apartment and got out of the rain. Exposure is exposure and you never know what is going to happen. You always have to play your cards and pay your dues to the simple act of creating in public. Let's not even get into mental sanity. People who do not live like this or think like this have no idea of what it is like to have to rely on your self-expression just so you can make it through the day.

Art Therapy and Learning to Let Go
There is so much work of mine out there that I have no idea where it is now because I've completely lost contact with it. This is the problem of being an artist and a vagabond and having photographic problems, storage problems and a host of many many other obstacles. There was a point when I was in a canyon with some friends and I built a catapult from junkyard goods. I then began reading aloud to the pages of Jack Kerouac's novel On the Road as we launched my paintings into the canyons of Colorado. If I would not have done that I do not think I would have been able to move on in my life and would have been stunted artistically. Here we can see how art saves, even in its destruction of it. I guess I wouldn't call it destruction ... maybe more of a transition. Art gives you the ability to think beyond the box exercising your creative mind to where you can see the truth of the reality before you.

Now that I am in my late 30s, I am always painting not only out of habit but also respect to my teacher, the teacher I call art. Due to the consistency and the passion that I had in my 20s painting now has an even deeper meaning.

Out of the Rain
Art saves me by giving me the ability to converse with myself and this has given me self-awareness that I can always be doing better. Art saves me by giving me the experiences of contacting the universe every time the brush strokes the canvas. Art saves me by knowing I have a place to go out of a rain.

Jared Knight is a painter. Learn more about his work at

Art Made Me Brave • by Jodi Ohl

July 21, 2006, was the day that my old life ended and a new one began. It was an outrageously warm summer evening, a Friday night, the kind where everyone gets off of work and kicks off their shoes, grills out some steaks, and shares laughs in the yard with the neighbors next door over a icy cold drink. That’s the way it was supposed to be anyway. Little did I know, that in the course of few hours, my whole world would be turned upside down in a way that I would never have imagined when the evening began.

Needing to be Helped
The truth of the matter is, my world had been changing for the worse for several years prior to that evening. I had met someone who I thought I loved more than anyone I had ever loved before in my life. He made me feel good about myself and made me feel loved. We were never apart for days, months — until one evening he disappeared for three days, leaving me someplace by myself without a word. It was after he came back that the lies began to unfold and I began to realize what a fool I had become. How did I not know that he had a substance abuse problem? I knew he had a drinking problem but I thought I could help him get over those issues, but I really had never known anyone that had an issue with drugs before so I didn’t see the signs that were right before my eyes. I should have ran when I had the chance, but I held onto those days of sobriety, when he was the person I met and fell in love with — like a beautiful grain of sand that slides so swiftly through an open hand. The feeling was never there long.

I was embarrassed of the truth within our four walls but at the same time I held on, as if everything was okay when it was so very wrong. I was a career woman. I was independent and strong. I helped other people. Now, I was the one that needed to be helped. The secrets that I held were tearing me apart in ways and I didn’t think anything or anyone could save me. In the days after that first incident, I would paint with my watercolors. Beautiful little pieces that allowed me to escape the reality around me for that precious time I could steal away and paint. At work, everyone needed me. I was the leader people looked up to, I was the one the customers came to ... and at home, I was waving my white flag and giving up in many ways, except when it came to my art.

A Symbolic Painting
On that warm summer evening, a fire started in our duplex apartment. It was an accident — he didn’t mean to do it — but I know it was caused by his altered state of mind. In a blink of an eye, my world and my children’s world changed. So many things we all cherished were now gone. I was alone, 600 some miles from my nearest relative with nowhere to go. How would I survive? How could I possibly pick up the pieces this time? To say I felt alone is an understatement. I felt isolated, betrayed, almost suicidal. The next day I came back to see if I could salvage anything and there was my biggest watercolor painting I had completed out on the front lawn, tossed out by the firemen trying to break their way through the apartment to get to the source of the fire. It was blackened with soot, almost unrecognizable, the paints all mangled lines of color like mascara tears. I cried and I cried over that painting as if it were a person (which thankfully no one was hurt) that I had lost. Perhaps the destruction of the painting was symbolic of a person that I had become and a life that I had to bury once and for all.

Healing the Broken
I did pick up the pieces with the help of many people that came to my rescue over the course of several months, but I had to truly start from scratch. Financially, it’s been difficult. The spring of 2007 I started journaling, creating mixed-media collages that truly were a lifeline for me during those dark days. I have never been good at saying how I felt. I could write about my feelings, and I always loved to paint so visual journaling was a good marriage of the creative things I enjoyed. It was that spring though that I began to paint with everything I had inside of me. Suddenly the emotions and the drama I had been dealing with internally had a place to reside so I could heal all that was broken. Art made me brave. Braver than I ever thought I could be. I met “sisters” in art through blogging and locally through a few groups that I became involved with. I began to blossom and began to believe in new possibilities. I finally found a community of individuals I could relate to, which washed away my feeling of isolation. The summer of 2008 I took another leap and sent my work off to be published. I didn’t think I’d be accepted but I decided that at the very least, I had a 50/50 chance by trying — they were going to either say yes, or say no. They said yes.

Turning to art to saved me from the deepest trenches, lifting me up time and time again over the last few years. I wish I could say that after that summer night I never had to deal with any more nonsense, but that wouldn’t be the truth. It’s been a long road. While I have moved on in a lot of ways, I’m still healing in so many other ways. I‘ve learned through my art, you have to let go to move on to greater things. Mistakes made allow you to grow. When I’m alone, I grab a brush. When I’m depressed I paint as if I am taking medicine, until I forget what ails me. And now, I am able to create when I’m happy, too. Art has enabled me to survive one day a time, one canvas at a time. It’s a beautiful and joyful feeling to be at this place today. I’m grateful to be able to share my story knowing there has got to be someone else out there that has walked in my shoes. You are worth saving, too. Grab your art and let’s do this together!

To learn more about Jodi Ohl, visit her blog at or her Etsy shop at

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

No Matter Where I Am • by Deborah Boschert

I am lucky to have lived in lots of places. When my husband was in the Navy, we moved pretty regularly. Our county is so diverse and interesting. I’m thankful for all the people I’ve met and adventures I’ve experienced from Maine to California and lots of places in between. The actual tasks of house hunting, packing, and uprooting are challenging, but ART SAVES me every time.

Stitching in Texas
When we arrived in Texas, we stayed in a small furnished apartment before we moved into our house. I packed a tiny box of fused fabrics, bits of batting, and embroidery floss for this transition time. I didn’t have my full stash of materials, my sewing machine, my favorite paints, or embellishments. I didn’t even have a work surface other than the top of the bed. I took time to create small compositions that incorporated lots of hand embroidery. During this stressful time, the methodical rhythm of stitching through layers of cloth was a perfect creative escape. Working with a small selection of materials forced me to make simple decisions, which are sometimes the most successful. Creating everything without a sewing machine fostered a new love of handwork. I still use improvisational hand embroidery in almost all of my work.

Saved by Art & Artists
There is no denying that it is difficult to be in a new place where I don’t remember exactly how to get to the grocery store, let alone in which aisle I might find my favorite cereal. But, I can make art anywhere. Remembering that, making it a priority, and exploring my creative spirit makes me feel fully myself, no matter where I am.

Not only does ART SAVE me in these times of transition, ARTISTS SAVE me too. After years of blogging, participating in swaps, and collaborating with artists all over the world, I am so thankful for the friends I have made! I have met some of them in person and others I look forward to meeting in the future. These relationships continue no matter what is going on in my life or where I am living. I find the familiarity and regularity of these online connections so enriching. They really know me. They celebrate successes with me, support me though challenges, appreciate my personal style, and encourage me to continue to put down roots wherever I am! I try to do the same for them.

To learn more a bout Deborah Boschert, visit

Art: A Catalyst for Life • by Karen Grunberg

When I was little, I hung out with this group of kids who were my parents' friends' children. They were really mean to me and didn't really want me around. So, I've always had this idea that I didn't belong and people didn't like being around me. Even though, over the years, a lot happened to show me otherwise, I was just stuck with those ideas in my head.

Capturing the Shift
About two weeks ago, I found a box of photos from my childhood and teenage years. I looked at the photos over and over again and realized that I was smiling in all of them. Even laughing in some. I had people around me, with their arms on my shoulder. Suddenly it hit me that I was all wrong. I had belonged and I was loved. I had hundreds of photos to prove it. (I can’t really put into words the fundamental shift this caused.) So I grabbed a minibook I had, glued the photos all over it, and journaled all around it. I journaled for seven hours. I wanted to capture this moment of revelation and have something for my future self to revisit if I got delusional again. It was energizing and life-changing.

Creative Therapy
I wanted to couple that experience with my wish to create more often and to have more fun with creating, so I thought ... why not do a weekly challenge? Yes, I know there are thousands of them. But the idea of this one would be using art, scrapbooking, photography, or whatever your creative outlet is as a form of self-therapy. It doesn’t have to be revealing. It can be with colors, a specific technique, lots of journaling, or very few words. It can be art journaling. It can be anything you want as long as it’s therapeutic to you. Creative therapy.

My hope was to have a team of scrappers and mixed-media artists — many of us, so that we don’t all have to do one each week. Since this is emotional at the core, I want to make sure it’s authentic.

I hope you’re as excited about this idea as we are. I am honored and humbled to be in the company of these amazing artists and I hope that their work will inspire you as much as it awes me.

I don’t want to call this a challenge site since challenge and creative therapy don’t go together in my opinion. So, we’re going to call them catalysts, since our goal is for the work to be the catalyst for our life and a catalyst for you to feel inspired to create your own piece of creative therapy.

To learn more about Karen Grunberg, visit or

So my Happy Spirit Can Prevail • by Kelly Warren

I have been blessed with a happy spirit. Sure, everyone has her share of struggles, and I’ve had mine. My parents have had five marriages and divorces between the two of them, my mother attempted suicide and then a year later did take her own life, and I miscarried twins two days after losing her. But I’ve found that even through all that, I’ve remained a pretty happy spirit. I attribute some of it to those very events. The one lesson that has stuck with me through all of that is one that rests squarely on my shoulders: I am the only person responsible for my happiness. Just me. No one else. I believe that happiness is a choice, regardless of your circumstances.

Art Forms Emerge
When I look back over those times in my life, I realize that what kept me focused was art, in whatever form it took at the time. As a kid, I was into any craft I could get my hands on. In addition to being a wonderfully talented seamstress, my Nana was also a ceramics artist and had her own business selling her ceramics for years. She taught me to sew and she taught me to create dozens of whimsical little ceramics pieces. After my parents divorced in 1978, Mom and Nana introduced me to needlepoint. I was 12. From there I discovered cross-stitch and embroidery. And music ... still yet another art form. I started playing piano then and play still today, 32 years later. I realize now that through each major event I’ve experienced in my life, another art form emerged. In high school and all through college, I wrote, pouring my experiences into long detailed essays and journal entries to get everything out. Through the power of the written word, I rid myself of any sadness I experienced so that my happy spirit could prevail. I didn’t dwell on why things happened. I accepted them for the lessons they could give me and then released them. After my mother’s death, I recorded a CD, using music as my therapy, which led me to add guitar to my artistic endeavors. To this day, I still very much have an “it is what it is” attitude. Why not just make the best of what it is, whatever “it” happens to be? I believe that life is far too important to be taken too seriously.

A Place to Create Happiness
When my twin girls were born in 2003, my artistic side really started taking center stage. I started creating jewelry, simply because I wanted a mother’s bracelet commemorating my girls’ birth. From there, I got hooked on jewelry design and Happy Shack Designs was born. Since I started my business six years ago, I’ve expanded my art to include my long-lost love of photography, and I’m now delving more and more into mixed-media art. But even before I incorporated my business, I had dreams of having a happy little shack where all sorts of creativity took place … place where people could come together to create art and share stories and make their own happiness ... a place where they, too, could discover that happiness is, in fact, a choice. And from that dream, The Purple Cottage was born. I’m now combining my love for art with the experiential education skills I’ve learned in my career as the coordinator of student life and leadership development at a large four-year college here in Florida.

Helping Me Save Myself
This is where I believe art has the power to save. From my own experiences, I’ve learned that art cannot only be an escape, but it can also be the salve that heals and the glue that mends. Through the simple act of creating art, in all its many forms, I believe you can create your own happiness and build your self-confidence. Has art saved me? Honestly, I can’t really say that for sure. What I can say for certain is that art helped me save myself. My wish is to use those lessons to empower others to do the same.

To learn more about Kelly Warren, visit or

Art: She Has Saved Me • by Connie Hozvicka

I have an 8-foot painting of a Goddess that hangs on the wall at the foot of my bed. I purposely placed her there as a daily reminder of why I am here. What my life is about. How important trust, commitment, and good old-fashioned truth is. Her presence reminds me not to stray or get distracted by fear. She’s good at demanding that I rely upon the strength that has been building up inside me for years.

When I Wasn’t Ready to Save Myself
She is a painting. She is Art. She is what saved me, when I thought I wasn’t ready to save myself.

She saved me from living a life too small. From thinking small. From believing that my dreams could only come true as long as I kept them small.

She awakened my spirit, blew breath into my lungs, and set fire to my creativity again. She is the voice inside of me that is also inside of you. The words that dictate the imagination. The clues to the masterpiece in bloom. She is creativity, hardship, talent, and the beautiful full moon.

Nothing Less Than I Really Am
If I hadn’t taken the time to listen, if I hadn’t taken the time to cry, if I hadn’t believed there was a reason behind my longing to go somewhere to paint and hide — Art would have never saved me. I would have never painted her face. I would have never learned that I was only living my life to survive.

She has taken over control now, and dictates all the shots from here. She is Art I said, and she has saved me from being anything less then who I really am ... big, glorious, and strong.

To learn more about Connie Hozvicka, visit

Art … Save Me! • by Laura Kaufmann

Art ... Save Me!
... or as Aretha Franklin sang ... rescue me!

Art is the perfect antidote to worry. For it is when we are immersed in creating art ... whether it be writing, painting, sewing, singing, knitting, scrap-booking, gardening, photography or all the other myriad of ways to express our creativity ... it is then that we feel safest ... then that we can lose ourselves in our artistic passions ... then that our worries melt away or, at least for a time become distant. The ability to create art saves us from being swallowed up in a world of worry.

Although I believe myself to be a happy girl, an optimist, ever grateful for my many blessings, the truth is I have been a bit of a worrier all my life. Always the good girl, forever responsible and feeling responsible for others … I have let worry create a tension within me. True, it is a tension that is productive … deadlines get met, bills get paid … but none the less, I have not been the creative, carefree spirit that I longed to be … the type of carefree spirit that enables art to flow freely. As a matter of fact, when I was just 11, I was given the award of Camp Worrywart at the closing ceremony of my two-week stay at Girl Scout camp. It seems that it was my grave concerns that caused a commotion on more than one occasion ... something to do with convincing fellow campers that the crickets outside our tent were a nest of rattlesnakes ... or perhaps it was the larger than life fear that our canoe would tip over. In any case, I remember being confused and surprised at the award. I would have much preferred Best Crafter or Amazing Swimmer or Miss Congeniality. My point is, I was confused because my worrying was an integral part of me ... of my very makeup. I didn’t recognize myself as a worrier ... my worrying didn’t mean I was unhappy.

As teenagers, my children accused me of planning too much and looking too far ahead in the future ... of not living in the moment and of always finding something to worry about. I can tell you this ... the more they lived in the moment, the more I worried and the more I took on their responsibilities.

Appreciation of the Tiniest of Details
Fortunately I have always been able to tap into the artist buried inside me and have been blessed with the simple gift of observation and appreciation of beauty in the tiniest of details. My faith leads me to view the beauty around me as God’s handiwork and His gift to us as artists is the ability to see it (or hear it or feel it) ... to take it in and then create our own unique art.

As an adult with a full-time career and a family to raise it seemed as if there was no time for personal art. Other than this deep appreciation of the beauty around me. There were stressful days when worry and anxiety took over. There was little time for personal creativity other than an occasional pretty gift wrapped package, a homemade card or a casserole served in a pretty dish; certainly there was no time to get lost in my art and sadly I would have felt selfish if I had. I was all about being responsible, a good mother, an effective manager, an A student ... and with that responsibility came worry.

Time to Breathe
Now, retired from corporate life, I find myself with time to breathe. Blogging and photography have become my creative outlet and life has slowed down considerably. I have time now to let the artist within me rise up and rescue me from my world of worry ... and she has! She is growing and experimenting each day. I am infinitely more relaxed and calm and am so appreciative of time to create. It is not that there are no longer things to worry about but now I have the time to immerse myself in artful pursuits and as I spend more time creating ... I am finding that I worry much less.

I am finally letting go ... letting art flow!

Let the artist inside you ...
... save you from your own world of worry.

To learn more about Laura Kaufmann, visit her beautiful blog at

Look for the Lesson • by Jeanne Szewczyk

Art has always been a place for me to go when I want to escape the stress and pressures of everyday life. When working on an art project, my mind makes an instant shift and all my worries slip away; Nirvana takes over and I am at peace. I really need to visit "that place" much more often. I think we all do.

Like everyone, I've had more trials and tribulations in my life than I care to remember. But through them all, I feel I have grown from each experience. I've learned to think of trying times as "life lessons." I discovered long ago if you can learn something from a difficult situation, then it changes that negative and into something positive in the end.

I think the most difficult test of my faith came when my mother passed away at age 55, soon after my husband and I were married. We were just starting out with our lives and she was unexpectedly at the end of hers. How would I be able to live without my dear mother in my life? I questioned God’s reasoning for taking her from us all too soon. My faith was given the ultimate test. Would I be able to get through this? ... Could I get through this?

A Mother's Advice
During this time I recalled two quotes my mother frequently would say to us. The first one was, "Everything happens for a reason." Although I generally feel we control our lives by the choices we make, I also believe that karma and fate play part in it too. So I set about trying to figure out why this had happened. What message was God trying to tell us? What lesson could be learned from this situation?

The second thing my mother would always tell us was, "The time to be happy is now." I have a little Holly Hobby porcelain egg my mother gave to me when I was young that has that quote on it. Although I sometimes have to remind myself of this, I do believe it is important to live in the present and not put your dreams on hold for an arbitrary date in the future, because that day may never come.

Going Within
During the time following my mother's death I found myself becoming more introspective while searching for some sort of explanation for why it had to happen. At the same time I also would find solace in retreating to my art space and losing myself in whatever I was creating at the time. I would become at peace with myself and with all that was happening around me. Responses to my quest for answers would suddenly appear right in front of me — something I don’t believe would have happened if I hadn't stopped and taken that time to paint or sew or cut and paste. I truly believe if you are in a creative mode, things will happen serendipitously because you are relaxed and open to receiving them.

Ever since that time 34 years ago, whenever life sends me on a difficult path (of which there have been many), I escape into my little art world and discover things about myself I never even knew existed. And I come out a more enlightened, stronger person. Art Saves.
"Look for the gifts in everything, especially when you are facing what appears to be a negative situation. Everything we attract causes us to grow." — Rhonda Byrne
To learn more about Jeanne Szewczyk, visit her blog at or her Etsy shop at

A Curse & A Blessing • by Ruth Rae

I never would have dreamed that one day I would write a book, let alone two! As a child I was forever curious and had a can-do attitude. I could often be found daydreaming under a tree or roaming in a field playing with seedpods talking to crows and weaving baskets from tall grass weeds. But school was very difficult for me. I was extremely aware that I "viewed" things differently then most. When I was in the 4th grade, I was reading at a 1st grade level. After much testing I was tagged as having dyslexia.

The Wrong Key to a Locked Door
When I was young and in school my learning disability was by far my curse! I wanted to be like all of my friends who were “smart.” I wanted to “get it” when the teacher taught a subject. But the parts of learning somehow never made sense to me — everything was all mixed up and mashed together. I wanted so much to understand but for me learning was much like having the wrong key to open a locked door. I knew I was not stupid but I also understood that I did not see things like most people did. I was taught to learn the direction of the alphabet through touch on sand cards; I would trace each letter with my finger. To this day when I write and try to think of the direction the letters need to go my fingers tingle a little, as they are as I type this.

As a young person in school I only envisioned my dyslexia as a curse, but now I can see the blessing of my curse, as it gave to me a way to see things from a different perspective. It pushed me to believe in myself and not care what others thought of me. It made me seek out my true self and follow my heart! I suppose you could say that I was blessed to have been born dyslexic. My dyslexia made me see things differently; it helped me to understand at a young age that we are only what we allow ourselves to become.

A New Way
The funny thing I have learned about curses is that they teach us to be strong as they push us to grow. I may not have held the key to open the locked door but I was resourceful enough even as a child to understand that if one door cannot be opened then we must find a new way to get to where we need to go. Art and being creative was never a choice for me. I suppose that because my dyslexia made seeing things like others almost impossible, I naturally allowed myself the freedom to express myself in the ways that came easy to me and in the ways that I fully understood. Since craft is so tactile, I was drawn to it at a very young age. Because my disability jumbles up someplace between my hand and how my eyes and brain communicate, even my creative interruptions were never what others would do because my process of logic is somewhat different. Thus, my creative processes have always been somewhat my own.

In all of this I have learned that we are truly lucky when we realize it's the hard parts of our life that oftentimes push us to be stronger and truer to our self. Because of my early struggles as a child I was pushed to question what my eyes would see. Therefore I had to learn how to allow myself to trust my instincts. As a result of my early struggles as a young person in school and as an adult, I have become the sum of all my parts and how I view my life and my art is the direct result.

To learn more about Ruth Rae, visit her blog at


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