Friday, July 8, 2016

Life Began at the End of My Comfort Zone

I love these moments when I am awe struck with how my life has turned out. This wasn't my plan (not that I had one) and yet somehow it was “the plan”. My life is a far cry from where it was. Every morning when I get up I am filled with gratitude. I realize my life could've easily gone in a different direction.

I left home at 16. I went to summer school and night school so I could  graduate high school early. In the afternoons I worked in a coffee shop.  I had no interest in college. In my
16 years old
early 20’s I was divorced, a single mom and worked at a grocery store. During the day I was a checker and two nights a week I worked the graveyard shift, stocking shelves. Most weeks I was sleep deprived and exhausted. Life wasn't easy…but I was grateful to have a job that paid my bills, a roof over our heads, food and health insurance.

….and then my world got turned upside down. The store I was working at was set to go out on strike. I knew I couldn't outlast it. There is no way I could survive and support my children without a steady income. I was so afraid. Then early one morning I got a call. It was my Dad. I had to make some hard choices. I made decisions that changed my life. Was I scared? You bet ya! 

I moved from Ventura to Pasadena, started a new job and began a new life. I found out…Life began at the end of my comfort zone. I met the man of my life, Mike. Within five months we were married. Two years later I rediscovered my love of art.  I took all the art classes I could at Pasadena Community College, joined art associations, attended watercolor workshops, painted, painted, painted, entered shows, took awards…and requests to teach started coming in. Within a short time I had two books on watercolor published. 

Painting in Provence

I teach in ways I wish others would've taught me. I teach with my head, heart and hands. I think creative people learn differently. We see and interpret information differently, which means we also absorb information different too. Coming from the school of hard knocks I teach with a lot of compassion. It comes from being there: feeling vulnerable, inadequate, under educated…I realize we all come from different places in life and we bring that to the classroom. I walk into every workshop feeling entrusted and blessed with the opportunity. 

Here’s a little peek into my two workshops last month in Provence. 
If the videos don't load click on the link to Week #1 or Week #2 below

What's up next? Spain 2017!


Brenda

Week #1                                                               Week #2
  




22 comments:

  1. How wonderful to learn more of your back story, Brenda. I so appreciate your willingness to open up and share your life experiences with your followers. It's encouraging to realize that you overcame obstacles and took risks to reach the place you are. Sometimes we can falsely believe that those whose talent we admire are simply charmed, or have breaks that we don't. I'm so blessed to rejoice with you at how your past has been a stepping stone to the lovely adventures in painting and teaching you now so obviously enjoy. You are a wonderful teacher and example to me. :)

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    1. Your words mean a lot to me. It's nice when friends encourage and inspire us.

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  2. wow, Brenda, this makes me weepy, happy, blessed, grateful, and truly happy for you and how you have overcome and become more than a conqueror. bless you my sister

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  3. I would love tout follow à workshop with you !

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  4. Thank you to share your story. I love you .My Teacher Brenda. ♡ :)
    You Inspired Me. Love.
    Best Regards,
    T.Wongsiri.
    (Pat)

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  5. In the years I have known you the thing I love the most about you is your passion. I see it in your work, your teaching and mostly in your life and family. I'm so glad to have met you. Thank you for sharing your story. Love, Karla

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    1. Karla, Thank you for the heart felt words. ~Hugs

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  6. Spain in 2017? Where? I mean... in which city?
    Thank you very much for your posts and works, Brenda.

    Greetings from Madrid. Spain.

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    1. Hi Mari, here's a link with details.
      http://frenchescapade.com/trips-painting-spain.html#brenda

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  7. Thanks for sharing your amazing story Brenda!! So glad you rediscovered art - your calling!!
    Noticed you worked in a coffee shop for a while - beginning of your 'love-affair'? :)
    You and your art are so inspiring - lately I find myself wondering... "I wonder how Brenda would tackle this" when facing a watercolour challenge... love your books... and virtual workshops... hope to take one in person sometime!
    Blessings, Anita

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    1. Anita, Thank you for the nice words! ~Hugs

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    2. Brenda, Thanks for sharing your energy and images. Watercolor is my passion as well and I'm hoping to deepen my plein air skills during an upcoming driving trip to Alaska.
      Your YouTube slide shows are delightful. May I ask which software you use to create the layers of photos, with music?
      Thanks so much for inspiring us, earlier on our watercolor journey.
      Barbara McGuire

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    3. Barbara, Thanks for the nice comment. The software came with my mac computer, iMovie

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  8. This is my first time to read your blog. You have caught my attention this day! I retired from working, at a wonderful job, but it was time. This is my first day "off" and new freedom is ahead. Your story is encouraging and uplifting! Thank you for sharing. I'll be back and I'll be painting along with you!

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    1. Wonderful! Looking forward to sharing the creative journey with you.

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  9. I live the world of second chapters and those not afraid to step across their pages. What an inspiration. I know someday there will be a girl I share your story with because she will need to know that it is pissible, that someone else did it. What was it your dad offered?

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    1. Deborah, To answer your question, my dad offered me a job. Pasadena was far from everything I knew...

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  10. Wow, wonderful story Brenda. My watercolour story started the same way...it is an amazing coincidence. (Jobless, divorced, single mum and in a foreign country). Hope to share it with you one day in your workshop. I admire your work.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. I also hope our paths cross one day. We are the...hopeful, hard working, successful and strong ones.
      Hugs!

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