Listen To Your Heart

Art for me has always been a means to communicate, to process, to emote and to explore. In fact, my art and I were solid for the first 20 years of my life. Art was fun, fulfilling, unfiltered, and experimental. I felt dangerous and safe at the same time! It wasn’t until grad school that my relationship with art became destructive and during this time all of my studio insecurities and unfulfilled expectations seeped out.

As with any relationship gone wrong if you don’t have a coach, mentor, or a non-biased 3rd party to help you work through it…chances are it won’t last. While I loved creating I didn’t love the idea of being a starving artist. Unfortunately my $150K masters degree didn’t teach me “how to become a professional artist” rather it taught technique, philosophy, and critique. At the same time, at 21 years old I didn’t have the business acumen or personal resources on how to make a living as an artist. What I did know was that graphic, digital, or interior design were areas I could monetize. In short, I left the studio for what seemed at-the-time a glamorous corporate life in New York City where I worked mainly within design, advertising, and events.

I’d come back and revisit “art” like a late night booty call but sure enough I’d leave the next morning and ignore that little voice within me as fear crept in and there wasn’t a place in my life to be the artist I thought I should be. I was full of excuses, I didn’t have a studio space, I was busy with work, I was tired, hell I was happy so what would I paint about, I thought I had to be in emotional turmoil in order to create. In hindsight, I was extremely misinformed.

Fast forward 18 years, I found myself happy with a loving husband, toddler and a new baby on the way. However, I was still very unfulfilled with my day job (perhaps that’s why I changed jobs like people change underwear). Life isn’t perfect but I was in a good place.

In August 2016, I was five months pregnant, working from home hiding from the Zika outbreak in Miami Beach. I was on a conference call when I received a number of voicemails and texts from both my dermatologist and my husband (Michael). Once I was able to reach Michael he informed me of some news that changed our lives indefinitely. I don’t remember much of the conversation but I do recall going into shock when I heard that my biopsy results from a small mole on my back was CANCER.

Since that fateful day, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy, underwent cancer treatment, endured the news that the cancer returned which required new treatment, more surgery and restaging to 3b Metastatic Melanoma. Not to mention during this time I became pregnant (shocking to me I was thought to be infertile and my boys were conceived via IVF).

Just 7 weeks before my 40th birthday I was faced with choosing my own life over the life of my unborn child. This was single-handedly the hardest choice to have to make. It still stings to this day. I needed to remain healthy and alive for my husband and to raise my sons and to live my life.

As one might think I definitely underwent an intense period of self-reflection. Not to mention the notion of “death” became very real. Months passed, healing was in effect and Michael and I agreed I should quit my day job and take some time for myself. I reconnected with art and found myself in a place where I was now able to create without the stress of being a starving artist nor the expectations of a thesis or a degree. It brought me joy and it allowed me to believe that for me Cancer is not bad. I know this to be absolutely true because it strengthened my relationship with my husband, it allowed me to have gratitude, to truly cherish the time I have with my kids, to slow down and to be more present.

While my cancer journey is not over and I continue to be scanned every 90 days and I have a 50% chance of reoccurrence. It was Cancer that pushed me to dig deeper to discover what my heart wanted. It wasn’t until I was faced with the reality that my days are numbered that I began to listen to my heart.

If you have silenced that little voice inside take a moment to listen to it. It shouldn’t take an illness, or life-shattering event to stop you in your tracks. Life is short, time is priceless, enjoy it with whatever means possible. It’s all about perception.