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  • Writer's pictureDr. S

Confessions of a Challenged Artist

Challenges occur when a person finds it difficult to accomplish a task, face a situation, or learn a new skill. We may experience challenges mentally, physically, spiritually, or socially/ relationally. But God made us to face our challenges. We were created to apply our faith so we can work through any challenge, so we can adapt and overcome. Quite often those challenges feel like they are much stronger or larger than our ability to overcome. However, simply quitting and not accepting the challenge should not be an option. We will not win in every situation, but we will fail in every situation if we choose to do nothing. Tranquility Fine Arts Gallery was born out of a deep heart desire, but it basically fell into our laps.My husband, Mike, and I were walking down the street, and saw the construction that was taking place in this area. It was my heart's desire to be a part of the art world, to have the gallery, to be an artist, etc. You most likely know the story, and so I purposed in my heart and prayed over this idea. “God if this is meant to be, then let those doors open. Those doors did open. I am not saying it was super easy. It was not like Amazon delivered it the next day. We had to jump through a few hoops, but every time a challenge presented itself we were able to overcome it. Finally, in January 2021 we opened the doors to the public for the first time.I am getting excited because we are getting ready to celebrate our second anniversary and enter into our third year of being a part of downtown Woodstock businesses.

Even after we opened the doors, challenges continued to present. But we stayed focused. Though I felt like I took a hit many times we figured things out, we prayed over our struggles and we overcame. Now I'm not saying that things are perfect, and I am not saying that we will be the next success story on TMZ. What I am saying is we've learned a lot regarding how to be grateful and to evolve. I believe good things are coming. I hear this in my head often, “Challenge accepted!” I do believe that when people give up because something feels hard, they are cheating themselves. And let’s face it, life is hard. Life is supposed to be hard. I can also offer that people are giving up when they choose to stay in a unproductive situation and refuse to make positive changes, because change is hard. We should not allow ourselves to get to comfortable or to familiar. We should challenge ourselves and/or face challenges as they are presented so we can grow. Though my average day is filled with paperwork, progress notes, billing etc etc from the mental health office, I make time to paint, research and quite often just sit and dream. I've always been a dreamer even from childhood. This has served me well. Dreaming was my escape. I would Escape into my own mind and daydream or envision adventures such as being Wonder Woman and saving the puppies next door or being the next Dr Phil or the next Monet. Everyone who knows me knows I'm a dreamer and that once I see that vision I will always swing for the fence. I won't settle for less.This is where I feel many people cheat themselves. People convince themselves that they are making the right choices by taking the easy way or even the safe way out, but then later in life they may talk about their many regrets. I have also noticed that people who do not dream have a negative attitude towards those of us who do dream. I have noticed those who seem to give up and call it rational thinking or stress free living have a negative attitude towards those of us who do not easily give up. Many people have judged me harshly for being a dreamer.

Again. I am not saying I always succeed. I have experienced much heartache and disappointment in my life just like everyone. However, failure to me is defined as not doing anything at all. If I give it my best and it doesn't work out, then to me that is still a success. And if I swing for the fence, but I fall short, that is okay. I have been wearing my big girl pants since a very young age. I've learned that even if your bruised and beat as long as you're on your feet you have hope to over come. These are lyrics to one of my favorite songs, “I may be bruised and beat but I am on my feet” so for me as long as you do not quit, you can always find a way to learn and to evolve from any situation that falls short. We should see that we are learning, and we can always find a way to go forward, to evolve and to grow. If you are not growing, you are dying. I started out as a young adult in a very different career, and when I was over stressed or felt like quitting, I would problem solve through it and find a way to grow and push in a different direction. Others tried to criticize me for this or would even mock me at times. Misery loves company. That is a truth. But I learned to stay focused and be true to myself and my beliefs. This is what brought me here to this place in life.And I have very few regrets. I have experienced much heart ache, but I have few regrets. So challenge accepted! Our next venture as we enter into our third year is to expand. I don't know how I got on the email list for Guardian Studios at Echo Street but I am thankful I did. Maybe it was coincidence. Maybe it was luck; however, let me be honest. I do not believe in luck. And most situations that we call coincidence actually does not meet the definition of coincidence. I believe everything happens for a reason. Regardless, I was placed on this email list and I started to see emails about this development, these art studios, and this community that was coming to the ATL. I've actually said for quite a few months now I want to go check it out. Every time I would see they were holding an event or an art opening I would say let's go, but then we did not. Maybe we were out of town or to be quite honest I may have just forgotten. The timing just never seemed right and then as I am dreaming and brainstorming around the gallery just a couple of months ago, I get another email. Challenge accepted! So I gathered information and I did a little research and I learned the story behind Guardian Studios at Echo West and the plans for the development of these properties where the studio will be. It just so happened that Mike and I had planned to go to Atlanta for our anniversary, one of our favorite things to do. We love to go to Atlanta and spend the night at the Westin and enjoy the view, enjoy the food, maybe see a show or maybe just relax. It was our anniversary weekend and we were headed that way, so it took about two seconds for Mike and I to decide that we could go by the studio to talk to someone and to check things out. And of course on the way down more brainstorming!

To be honest I already knew exactly what I was looking for, I knew my budget, I knew my boundaries, and I knew what I was going to do. The question was would Guardian Studios fit what I had already decided? We go in and talk to Jessica, who is absolutely amazing, and look around. We leave knowing the answer is a yes! It is a fit and we found our starting point. Not long after, I literally sat in the hotel while waiting on Mike and before leaving to go to our show/dinner and I developed the business plan for Tranquility @ The Guardian in less than ten minutes. So, now it is time to put this in to action. Again, challenge accepted! This new adventure actually evolved from a recent situation where we were bruised and beat. Again I might be bruised and beat but I am on my feet! God has a way of working these things out. I've heard my pastor say, "make sure you're on the right bus with the right people!" and what I have learned is that if I am on the wrong bus, then it is okay for me to get off of the wrong bus! Or if I am on the right bus, but others do not want to stay on that bus, then I will accept their choice to leave and I will remain focused on the destination. Now back to the challenge accepted. So we have our business business plan and it has been put into action I have dates on the calendar and here is a bonus, (this is where I do not believe in coincidence) as I am dreaming, planning and praying, I get another email indicating that other Studio spaces within this Garden studios are opening up. The email was to a group of people and the invite stated, "if you feel like you want to make changes, now is the time to do so.

Yes please! It just so happened that a better Studio was going to be available and the timeline actually fit my schedule perfectly. So challenge accepted! Plan developed! Faith applied! Faith and obedience applied! Here we go! Our second location Tranquility @ The Guardian will be opening in February. This will provide us the ability to network more often. It will allow me to develop more relationships and reach a larger art community or community of art buyers, or collectors, or enthusiast. It will give us the opportunity to reciprocate and offer opportunities to up and coming artists for the V.I,A awards, and art events, and art exhibits. It will provide a market for me to recruit more talented artists to offer works in our Woodstock location. As I have said a million times, a supervisor once told me early in my mental health career, "if you're not growing, then you are dying." I truly believe this and especially when it comes to operating any business. I believe this when it comes to our spirituality, our relationships, our physical health, and our mental health. It just makes perfect scientific sense. A stress free life does not exist. We should be challenging our selves and not running from the hard tasks. Of course, we want to manage our stress and to live with as much balance as possible. But we also need to step out of the comfort zone and grow to our full potential. This brings opportunities and life satisfaction.

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