Somewhere near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in a residential part of a township I can’t remember, is where I had the good fortune to meet a working artist and tour her studio. Her name was Fern Gittings, an aunt of my first husband. She seemed ancient to me, but at 19, anyone over 30 seemed so. She was probably about the same age as I am now.
It was 1983, and I had been married a year. An entire year to perfect the mask that hid my depression. I think Fern saw through me. In her studio, we dipped pens in India ink and practiced calligraphy. We swashed watercolors with brushes made of squirrel hair onto thick paper secured to a standing easel.
As I prepared to leave, she gave me this tiny piece of art she had created. She shared she had always loved this quote, “Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
She added, “But it’s not always that simple or that easy.”
During our brief time together, working side-by-side, she conveyed the importance of honoring creative gifts.
It took me 33 years before I did anything about that.