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What do you do?

I met an extraordinary woman at our neighborhood party last summer. During our introductory small talk, I asked, “What do you do?” She replied, “I’m an artist.” The next question was forming in my mind: “Do you [paint], [do pottery], [quilt] …” when she added, “I cut hair.” I was stalled momentarily. She filled my silence by adding, “And I garden. And I cook. And I decorate my home. And I …”

I was silent for even longer as I incorporated these new ideas into my existing thinking. My whole life I’ve longed to define myself as an artist. But I'm not an artist. I am a teacher. I am a mom.

Yet, I garden. And I cook (sort of). And I decorate my home. And I throw parties. And I write.  And I …

 

I get it now

I've had one year to reflect on my conversation with my new artist-friend Amy, and slowly, I've woven her ideas into my own thinking. Of course she is an artist. Cutting and styling hair is a very precise art, and it demands a lot of vision, imagination and skill. Combining a palette of perennials successfully requires an understanding of color and texture, (in addition to the more scientific understanding of plant growth habits). Chefs consider themselves artists - they find complementary, sometimes unexpected, combinations of flavors, and their plates function as the frames for their works of art. Home decor often evokes emotions - patterns and form combine to create a mood, just like we experience when looking at a painting.

 

I AM an artist.

Last night, my family and I attended the annual summer block party. Amy and I chattered away about so many interesting topics, and somewhere in the middle of our conversation, she said, "You would understand. You are an artist."  This time, I didn't miss a beat. I knew exactly what she meant.