Follow Your Bliss.

That's probably the best advice my Dad's ever given me. And he's given me a lot of great advice.

I remember coming to him in tears when my first job out of college turned out to be a nightmare. He gave me the same advice his Dad had once give him: "You don't have to do something just because you're good at it. You don't have to do something just because someone asks you to. You don't have to do something just because you think you should." In effect, he was telling me it's ok to say no. For people who are "pleasers," such as myself, this hit me on the head like a ton of bricks.

He told me to Follow my Bliss when I was at a crossroads in 1989. Should I stay in Seattle, a city I loved, with a career that was going places? Or should I move to Michigan to be with my college boyfriend, who was all I could think about? I chose the latter. Sixteen years and two incredible children later, I'm so glad I listened.

So now my children are in school all day. I'm back at work, as a Substitute School Nurse in my kids' district. I love it. I worked hard for my Second Bachelors Degree in Nursing and I'm thankful for the opportunity to use it in such a joyful, helpful way.

I'm a great Mom. I'm a great School Nurse. I love my life. But something was missing. Something integral to who I AM.

I come from a long line of talented artists. Grandmother, Mother, Aunt, Sister...me? I enrolled in an art class. Call it kismet, call it serendipity -- my instructor, Lisa, has pulled from me latent talent I never knew existed. I mean, I knew there was SOMETHING. After all, my Grandmother was self-taught and produced this:

(A very young Whippy)

My Mother -- who has studied with Charles Schorre, the great water-color artist -- can do anything, from portraits to pottery. She has more talent in her little finger than any of us could ever hope to have.

My sister, who majored in Fiber Arts, blows my mind with her creativity.

Omigod! With this degree of talent in my family, I was completely terrified to pick up even a crayon. But I did. When I was in high school, my family vacationed in Louisiana's French Quarter, and I painted this view from our hotel:

I fell in love with watercolors, and painted this cabin scene:

And now, many years later, I'm starting again; attempting my first portrait. It's my son, done in colored pencil. The work is painstaking, yet therapeutic. Layers upon layers of color, the strokes meticulous and measured. I must, as my instructor says, look at my son's face "as a landscape," or else I will miss the subtle gradations of color and shadow. With each stroke, I think of my son, my life, my blessings.

It's a work in progress. He's still in "the ugly stage," as Lisa says. It's ok. I savor each stage. It may not be perfect; it may not be good. But it's bliss.

I wish for you the same. Find your bliss. It may not be easy. It may not be quick. But it's worth it...YOU'RE worth it.


  1. Lots and lots of talent, Jennifer! I love to read your blog....

    Monica Betke

  2. Monica!!! Omidog, you've been reading this?? Send me your EMail.

  3. I agree with Monica. The watercolors are great, but I am particularly impressed with how the colored pencil portrait is shaping up.

    One of these days I'm going to get around to taking some art classes. I've always sketched and drawn, but this past spring I started dabbling in painting. I'd love to learn in a more formal way - I need to follow your example!

  4. Ok, y'all. I am seriously VERKLEMPT. I was real uncomfortable putting the art out there. But it's part of my new game-plan. Just say Yes and don't hold back nuthin.' Ed, enroll in a class, dude! Find an instructor who will let you explore a little until you figure out what speaks to you.

    The colored pencil is sooo tedious. The portrait already has like, 9-10 layers of color. And I haven't even started the hair, shirt or background!! But the results are glorious. It's the Ann Kulberg technique, if your'e interested. Get Prismacolor pencils; they're the best.

    Good for you for thinking about it! We're all born with talents, or "blessings." I think it's our duty to ourselves (and to God, if you want to look at it that way) to discover them and then develop them and rejoice in them.

    Whether it's art, singing, dancing, public speaking, doggie massage(one of my hidden 'talents' :D )...you never know until you explore...

  5. Beautiful Jenn! I'll have to add your mom's blog to my list!

  6. Oh, and PS: Joseph Campbell, whom I mention in the tag, was the originator of "Follow Your Bliss." He gave a fantastic interview with Bill Moyers(my Journalism idol) years back. He's worth a look-see...

  7. wow, your art is amazing! I always used the excuse of being too busy with kids, work and home to have any other bliss. After leaving work I finally started pottery classes and find nothing better than being in the mud. It's inspiring to see you do it all!

  8. Good for you! It's so therapeutic, isn't it? Do you have a wheel or a kiln? My Mom used to do incredible pottery. Sold like hotcakes. She's more into fabrics these days.

    The creative process is like a brain-buzz, a total high. It can be anything--music, writing, design. Speaking of! Your "Crazy Woman Ranch" house is amaaaazing. Are you a fan of modern design? It looks kind of modernish.

    Go get muddy! :D