I’ve been slammed, but you’ll find nary a complaint around here, as I’ve been busy writing articles and creating art. Hard to believe it, after years of working for “the man”, but I am proud to admit to myself and the world, I’m an artist and a writer and I actually love how I spend my days. It’s so unusual and novel to me that I sometimes peruse the help wanted ads because I am used to waiting for the other shoe to fall, but part of the work I do everyday is to change those shitty self defeating thoughts.

Last month I had a life changing experience, having been invited to participate in a group art show.

Not only was my work used on the flier, but I got a chance to show with some amazing artists, including my friend of more than fifteen years, photographer Lindsey Byrnes.

I finished my Tormentous monsters with heavy glaze and felt bottoms and packed them up for pick up. A few weeks later I was headed down to the AR4T Gallery. Located in Laguna Beach I sat on the 5 freeway, which I had avoided traveling on since leaving my job where I’d spent at least two hours a day stuck on the 5. I used the breath counting techniques I’ve been learning through meditation and the time passed quickly. Soon I was making the turn off to the smaller highway into Laguna.

I had been through Laguna Canyon more than twenty years earlier for my first Grateful Dead show and now, heading to my own art show, I felt more like my life was reflecting that girl’s dreams than I have in years. Newly sober, still fresh off cigarettes, and in the midst of major spiritual overhaul and revised choices for employment, that drive felt like a page turning moment, where I was leaving some heaviness in the past and hurdling toward my future- full of hope and promise.

On the radio, Florence and the Machine came on, urging me to roll all the windows down, turn it up, and sing along to lyrics that had me crying tears of joy as I raced through the canyon toward Pacific Coast Highway, trying to beat the Laguna sunset. My hair flew around my face, whipping my tears, and I felt my heart break, but it broke open. It was a feeling I remember from being a kid, on a swing, in the ocean, or in my dad’s arms.

I turned onto PCH and found a parking space at the crest of the hill, just in time to watch the sunset from my car.  Salmon skies surrounded me as I caught my breath and wiped my eyes. I put on some lipstick and tied my whiplashed hair into a bun. Walking down the hill I was greeted by my friend and his wife, who are the owners of the gallery and they made me feel like a million bucks.

Then I walked in and saw the show, which prompted another massive opening in my chest. I think it’s the feeling of grace. I started making my monsters over two years ago, and to see them in a gallery, with other people’s amazing work, was a singularly magical moment.

I have wonderful friends who support my eccentricities and my transformation and some of them made the pilgrimage from Los Angeles to Laguna to stand with me and marvel at the evolution of this angry control freak into an artist. I’m forever grateful to have such friends, and I would put a body in my trunk for any of ’em.

These two managed to keep the secret all week, and when they tapped me on the shoulders my face wrinkled up and my eyes welled with tears. I have known these girls for over twenty-five years and I am so grateful to have their friendship. They definitely opened another crack in my heart!

Friends and strangers embraced the work and soon there were red dots!

This is what happy looks like:

By the time I said goodbye to the proprietors I had sold out my first show. I drove home and called my best friend who was in New York on a business trip. Rambling, I told her how great the night went, how our childhood friends had surprised me, and thanked her for having my back all these years. Clearly my heart had busted wide open and I was awash in sentimentality.

Driving north on the 5 freeway, I heard a sonic boom as I was driving by Disneyland and through the windshield I watched their nightly fireworks display. Overwhelmed with gratitude, tears of relief and joy rolled down face, as I watched the sky explode with colors.

The dog days are over.