I have always been cognizant of those rare magical moments in my life when everything is exactly as it should be. It’s only happened a handful of times (usually while I'm traveling) but when it does, there isn't any mistaking it. I feel it in my soul.
I remember acknowledging that feeling to a dear friend years ago. We were circling the Island of Capri on a random stranger’s tiny boat. Yes, I know how dangerous and dumb that was but I also knew that (assuming we didn't end up on the news) “this would be the best time in my life.” It was perfect. Every sense was heightened. Every detail intensified. I can still see the sparkling turquoise water, the stunning rock formations, and the beautiful city on the cliffs. I remember being overwhelmed with joy and filled with gratitude for our Italian summer. There was nothing in the moment I would have changed. I was at peace.
I had that feeling again last week at Zapata Ranch. For Christmas this past year, Stephen surprised me with a trip to a Jill Soukup workshop. Jill is one of my all time favorite horse painters and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was. Or how especially grateful I was on that day that my husband isn’t as cheap as I am. This was an actual dream come true. To have the opportunity to meet and study with her in such an idyllic setting was beyond anything I could have imagined. So much so, I had (and still have) some guilt about it. The entire perfect experience made me feel incredibly selfish and self indulgent.
But how could I pass up an opportunity like this? A week in the mountains? In the middle a 102,000 acre ranch? Studying horses with a group of talented artists? I’m convinced this workshop was designed specifically just for me. But as it turns out, there are more of me. I think I have found my people.
I was joined by a diverse group of women, united by a love of horses and passion for creating art. Ranging in age from 35-85 they were some of the most inspiring, supportive, open, wise, and caring people I’ve ever met. I’ve tried multiple times to articulate the experience in a way that does these women justice but quite honestly, I lack the vocabulary.
This was my first workshop so I don’t have anything to compare it with but this was a surprisingly intense experience. I was anxious and excited. I felt vulnerable and exposed. And I’m certain all my fellow workshop participants sensed my insecurities along with my desperate desire to improve because each one made an effort to try ‘settle my crazy’ just a bit. They were nurturing and tough, brilliant and empathetic. They offered professional counsel while understanding and maintaining the inherent joy that comes from making.
Now a week removed and forced back to daily life, my time there seems like a dream. A fuzzy, nebulous memory I’m afraid will eventually fade. But for now I’m holding this experience close. Trying desperately to remember all the details from the week I finally felt like myself again. I had forgotten how good I could feel. For five days I was able to breathe a little easier, focus a little better and see my world a little more clearly.
Yes, I learned a lot about art during my week at Zapata but the real value is in what I learned about myself.