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The other day I mentioned to a friend that, whenever I get to the studio and close the door behind me, I feel safe. He asked me what "safe" meant to me in that regard and whether or not I felt "unsafe" elsewhere.

I didn't have a real answer for him then but I've been thinking about it for a while now and I think I've figured out where that feeling comes from.

I've worked hard to "get to be" an artist throughout my life. I squeezed that identify somewhere into everything else I was, often when there wasn't any room for it.

Whether I stayed up after hours as a parent to paint or turned boring, non-creative secretarial jobs into an opportunity to secretly draw irreverant comics (yes, about my bosses - it was a very boring job!) or hung out in the art department more than at my copywriter desk across the newsroom, it seems I was always TRYING to be an artist.

But, are you an artist when your art doesn't sell? How much of your art has to sell before you're an artist? Do gallery owners get to decide if your art qualifies you to be a REAL artist? If you have a different job than ARTIST to pay the bills, can you even say you are an artist? Do you have to qualify it as part-time? Even the IRS doesn't like to let you call yourself an artist if you don't make a lot of money at it after three years trying. They can decide you just have a hobby. You aren't real.

Of course this is all bullshit.

Art has been a driving force of my heart forever. And, whether or not you practice it, I bet you've similarly been driven at some point in your life to create something from your heart. heART. HEart. I'm just never not so driven.

So, what is that feeling of "safe" I feel when I get to the studio. It's not about safely crossing the sometimes shady activities occurring in the parking lot, it's not about getting the doors locked against the world outside. It's not about quieting any fear.

It's about love.

I am so in love with the life I've created as an artist and finally being free to spend most of my days creating that I feel like I've finally found myself after a lifetime of feeling lost (unsafe, unsure) about my own true spirit.

Does that mean I am worry and trouble free in all areas of my life? Well, sort of.

This month and next month I have two surgeries. One is a somewhat invasive exploration of my brain to try and correct a hemifacial spasm that has a negative impact on the quality of my life and an expectation of getting worse with age if I don't address it before it's too late.

So, I am. November 19. (inconvenient time on the calendar if you are at all interested in capitalizing on our weird holiday sales gravy train). And the other is a lesser invasive brain surgery mid December to make sure the operation this summer worked and those other two annuerysms they left alone are sitting pretty and not causing any trouble. Both of these surgeries come with some risk but a far greater amount of hope than fear.

My happiness of late lets me lean into the experience without as much fear as I might have otherwise entertained. All I can feel at the moment is an intense gratitude for the peace and creative joy I've been finally blessed with and the friends and family I share my artist's heart with.

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