Work for Free until you Gain Experience


“Skudeneshavn Norway”  20 x 16 Oil on canvas; SOLD, Prints available!

The economy goes up and down, depending on the world’s financial health and our own. The stock market rises and falls with the state of business and who the decision makers are in Washington.

My first husband thought my writing was a waste of time until I started getting paid for it. When I could pay for my own dental bills, contact lenses and clothes the time I spent at the typewriter and computer was suddenly valued.

“Money is the root of all evil” until it digs us out of a hole or provides for our wants and needs. Money is power and a necessity in today’s society.

But I have to sound off about all those hours and days I volunteered my time and talents to organizations such as “Kansas Right to Life, Pro-Family, Neighborhood Watch, and the churches I’ve been a part of throughout the years.

Practicing my craft writing plays, skits, and stories for local groups helped me develop the skills I needed to write for profit. I also met many artistic types and those who only needed them. I learned how to solve problems, reduce costs and persevere to the end.

In the fall issue of Guideposts magazine, a young single mother was asked to paint something patriotic on the tailgate of a truck. She had never painted something like that before, but she took the challenge. Her beautiful work was noticed and other jobs appeared. She enjoyed it so much that she began painting these scenes for nothing for the many veterans who admired her work.

When I moved to Florida 13 years ago, I ended up painting on the outdoor Nativity scenes with another member of my church for our mini Christmas pageant. I had to improvise, create in my mind, and use up gallons of acrylic paints when up to that point, I had only used oils. After this there were so many outlets to express myself and participate.  I became involved in a totally new genre’ of art leagues, artists and shows.

Great things can come from the giving of your time and talents for a good cause. What can happen?

  • Recognition. People get a glimpse of your artwork or read an article they enjoy and they remember your work and your name. Soon you’re in one of their contact lists and the rest is history.
  • Opportunities. Your work may be admired by an Interior Decorator, a buyer or an agent. Your skills may be wanted by a business or a corporation. I was able to write for an airline, an insurance company, a rehabilitation center and many other health and education institutes.
  • Connections. Getting work is all about networking and getting to know people in many walks of life. By word of mouth, I was able to connect with the heads of many companies. Sometimes other people who were working on a project found out that I’d been on a similar project with a photographer at another company. I would get a call for a meeting, and then I’d be off and running at another place, using the skills I loved.

Don’t give up. Your generous heart may eventually be rewarded!


“Arabesque” 18 x 14 Oil on canvas; Egrets taking off (framed)

Find your Anchor, believe in yourself and Go!



Do you long for a constant; something that stays the same and never falters or waivers? Forget about it. Unless you’re talking about God who is omnipotent and eternal, everything else in life is in a state of flux and is ever changing. Without an anchor for your soul, it is easy to flounder.

Other people or circumstances may sabotage your efforts, but most of the time; you are your own worst enemy. And it is fear that goads you. Where does this deep-seated fear come from? Look to your own insecurities. A low self-esteem diminishes trust in yourself and others. Feeling insecure increases your sense of aloneness.


When you face your demons and doubts head on, that puts you back in the driver’s seat and in control of your present and your future. Live life on your terms not on someone else’s.

If the talents and skills of others intimidate you, compete with yourself instead. Do something better or differently than you did yesterday. Surpass yourself in stamina or creativity. Accomplish a difficult task at long last. Take a different course and see what happens. Surprise yourself in a good way. Stick to a plan and see it through. It’s not a race against the unknown it’s a race against you yourself. What others do doesn’t matter. Beating your own record, now that’s something to smile about.


I speak from experience. I’ve taught myself many new and unusual skills. My goal has always been to see if I could. Was I capable of learning how to sew, to crochet, to knit, to quilt, to write, to paint, to get paid for what I do? Then I took it a step further. Was I able to interview people, research unknown places and topics and overcome my own fears and insecurity? The answer was yes!

I didn’t do it all at once. I battled one new skill at a time. I discovered what was, for me, lasting, and what was merely a whim. Once I mastered one craft or art, I moved onto the next. Each time I succeeded, I added another notch to my self-esteem belt. I did my homework. I was sometimes still working at my computer until two or three in the morning. I wasn’t competing with anyone else, only me.


I put myself out there. I dared to think that if someone else could brave the turf, so to speak, why not me? I networked. I made connections. I found myself working as a consultant and being paid to write training and education materials. I used my imagination to craft children’s stories, articles, and educational film scripts. I ventured into illustration and never looked back.

As a commercial once quipped: “I’ve come a long way baby” from the shy backward girl of my youth. I did it by proving to myself first that I could. When rejection came (and still does), I keep on going. If I feel good about what I’ve done and what I’ve created, I figure someone else will, too.


Some of the very things that were rejected by so-called experts have been the very projects that have sold and appealed to others. What that taught me is to trust my gut and “stick to my guns.” And I’m telling you now, if I can do it, you can, too.

Run Your Laps Every Day – Reach for the Stars not the Dazzle of Fool’s Gold


“Namesake” 24×18 acrylic on canvas

My oldest daughter ran track as did her younger brother. I remember the grueling contests, the aching muscles, and the near collapse after a race, the throwing up afterward, the dark side of competition all for the ribbons, the glory, the win.

Running gets in your blood. It drives you. My daughter could run miles on the steam of anger leaving from our house and traveling for sympathy to see her friend in another county; a different city.

I watched them both compete and admired their persistence. Peer pressure helped, but the adrenaline rush after a track meet was addictive.

I tried it a few times at the YMCA. The track was the diameter of the building. I ran around and around, and around. 15 laps equaled one mile. I did a lot of counting (and forgetting), and counting again. My “round” trip was tedious and boring. My goal wasn’t to win. I was competing against myself. The end game was to lose 10 pounds. I didn’t last long enough.


“With These Hands — Hope” Oil on acrylic under painting; 16×20 canvas

I discovered that the difference between success and failure, for me, was being outdoors. I knew where to walk and just how long I needed to go. I used my car to gauge the distance. I started with five miles, then ten. After a few weeks, the pounds started to melt away. Exercise is much easier than counting calories, and more fun.

Every athlete, every runner knows you have to put in the time. It’s no different with any other skill or profession. Time equals distance, equals gain. “No pain, no gain;” you’ve heard it a million times.

The difference between success and failure is often as simple as this. One person spends his or her time vegging out in front of the “Boob Tube” while the other one does the laps, the practice, and the work to improve his or her skills or business.

One person reads books related to their interests and dreams, and another would rather spend his time making things with his hands. If either develops a skill and a driving interest, they have a shot at success.


Open Book” 20×16 Oil on acrylic under painting; Original SOLD, but prints are available.

What is success? Does it mean money? Does it mean having all the toys and whistles? Or does it simply mean doing something that rewards you with fulfillment, satisfaction and a decent living? Of course, the answers are unique to each individual. But I guarantee that if you were in a devastating tornado or a destructive hurricane, you’d probably say what most people on T.V. say in the aftermath:

“These are just things. We can replace things. But my family – thank God they’re all alive!”

If you haven’t yet discovered what you’re willing to live or to die for, you haven’t really lived. If there is nothing on this earth for which you are willing to sacrifice your time, effort, and devotion to besides yourself, you haven’t really loved.

Many people can’t understand faith or a belief in something greater than themselves. Without a guiding force it is easy to get caught up in the moment and waste your time on quick gratification or cheap thrills. A guiding force or higher power can help you resist that which hinders your growth and success. A deep inner peace can empower you to run your laps, every day, until you reach the heights of your potential. It costs nothing, but it will change your life forever.

Find Your Passion — Make Your Mark, and Succeed!


“With These Hands — Wonder”

We all need a purpose in life that stirs our passions. We need to feel useful. Personal fulfillment comes when we feel we’re making a contribution to our family, to society, and to the greater good. Our creator has given us gifts and talents to use in the service of our fellow men. Why? Because he loves us and wants us to be happy! He wants us to be joyful.

A few days ago, I was sorting through the books on my shelves and discovered a forgotten book called: “Discovering Your Purpose,” by Ivy Haley. It brought back memories as I thumbed through its pages. Part of the “SkillPath Publications” used in training seminars; I had purchased the book while attending another class on customer service and office management.

Haley points out there are “Certain key principles that have guided countless generations and remain relevant for us today; such values as honesty, integrity, respect, equality, excellence, kindness, faith, fair-play, accountability, quality, and unconditional love. These are universal values or truths.” The golden rule adapted from Christ’s teachings, which urges us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, falls into this category…”When you’re principle-centered, driven by and operating out of your values, you experience far greater life fulfillment.”

I read my personal scribbles in the blanks provided. Sadly, life conflicts and personal turbulence ended my completion of the book, but my notes are revealing. In the section: “Inventory of Values and Principles,” I answered the questions. Please answer them for yourself, along with me:

  1. What four things are most important to you? (My answers follow 🙂
    God, Family, Church, Friends.
  2. What are some things you’ve really wanted to do, but never dared go for? Professional Writer (although I did free-lance for awhile, guilt made me      hold back). Develop my artistic skills – illustrate my own children’s book.
  3. What, specifically, are you willing to give your life to? My God and Savior, My family, My talents: writing and painting
  4. In what areas of your life do you spend the most time and in what activities? Taking care of my family, Computers (a necessity in my work at the time.), developing web sites with an eye on developing my own.
  5. In what areas do you desire to spend more time than you’re spending?
    For me, it was writing and painting
  6. If you were to defend or support something you believe in, what would it be? My answer: The Gospel of Jesus Christ
  7. What character qualities do you find admirable in others?
    My answer: Goodness, helping others, a positive attitude
  8. What could you do that would be of most value to others?
    I try to write helpful, uplifting articles, stories; I like to help others; to cheer them, assist them, I like to get involved in causes I feel strongly about.

I can’t say I fulfilled these promises to the letter, but I gave it a good try. According to Haley, we usually feel passionate whenever our values are involved. In her book she uses the following exercise. A “values” grid is arranged like a checker-board. In each square is a “universal” value: those things you are willing to give your time and attention to; your life and your “passion” to.

Here are the universal values: (circle five that are important to you): accomplishment, adventure, affection, approval, challenge, competition, family, freedom, health, financial security, independence, integrity, loyalty, order, relationships, recognition, prestige, power, security, self-acceptance, spiritual, wealth, wisdom, pleasure, self-development.

These were my five choices: 1. Family, 2. health, 3. integrity, 4. spiritual, and 5. wisdom. The author then gives a scenario: “You’ve been diagnosed with an incurable disease and told you have six months to live. You spend the next several weeks searching for a cure. Each challenge presented, gives you a choice and asks you to place a value you are willing to give up in order to achieve that goal (either to be cured or remain healthy).

By the end of the exercise, the last value you are willing to give up becomes the first value of importance to you on the next list. Here are my values listed by importance, and why that value was and still is important to me:

  1. Integrity: If I am true to myself, I will be true to my God. If I am honest with myself, I will be open and honest with my God.
  2. Spiritual: God lends me breath. He is my reason for living. He sustains me. He is “my joy, and my song.”
  3. Family: My prayer every day (and still is) is that my children will recognize the “light which shines in darkness,” and that they will “hunger and thirst after righteousness” and put their trust in the Lord.
  4. Wisdom: All learning is not good unless eternal perspective and knowledge is applied. We become wise when we obey God’s commandments.
  5. Health: Health is of no value if the other four values are missing. Health is important if it keeps you vibrant and alive in standing for truth and honor.

Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: “The biggest tragedy in America is not the waste of natural resources, though this is tragic. The biggest tragedy is the waste of human resources.” And how do we waste those resources? We spend our lives doing the things we think we should do or the things that are “popular” or “smart” or “worldly” and “we go to our graves with our music (our passion) still in us.”