I met Christalee at the University of Saskatchewan 30 years ago (Whoa! I just did the math. 30 years ago? How is that possible?). While the call to higher learning fell on my deaf ears, Chris went on to get a degree in journalism and political science. Since then, she has been the editor of newspapers, has written for newspapers & magazines, and has recently written a manuscript for a book.
Mother. Writer. Creater. Seeker. These are words Chris has used to describe herself. In addition to other things, I would add that she is a passionate advocate for rural prairie life, a visionary, and a mover & a shaker. This woman gets things done. I’ll let my beautiful friend tell her own story of the power of creativity.
‘It’s an odd-ball kind of gift to have received from the universe,’ I’ve always thought about my innate ability to sketch and draw.
In school, I rarely shared my talents as I never really saw any point, or, more importantly, any career-making potential.
As I moved into adulthood, my creativity was exercised even less as I considered it a hobby (at best). Besides, who has time for creative crap when you’re knee-high in life as a journalist, wife and mother!
But as the years wore on, my growing desire to put brush to canvass began to nag at my subconscious. I’d take a class here or paint with my kids there. Nothing substantial … nothing that spoke of commitment… nothing that permitted judgment … or joy.
But at the age of 46, a transformative life experience grabbed me by the gills and released my creative spirit. In 2011 we travelled to China to adopt our precious daughter, Journey. While visiting the orphanage where Journey had spent the first 11 months of her life, we met a tiny little orphan who no one was coming to adopt. Her name was Mei Chen and she slept in the same room as my daughter.
When we returned to Canada with our precious little girl who was truly a dream come true, we were happy, but we were also tormented by the reality that no one would be coming for Mei Chen. By no small miracle, we found a USA organization call Racers for Orphans with Down Syndrome (RODS) which helped us find a family for Mei Chen and also assisted us in raising the $15,000 required to get Mei Chen to her new home in the USA.
As if my painting ability’s very purpose was waiting to emerge in this time of need, at the exact moment I stopped to ask, ‘What can I do to help this orphan with Down Syndrome unite with her Wisconsin family?’
As if the angels themselves sang the very song in my ear and offered the very hope that I needed. As if the Universe herself said, ‘This painting gift of yours, my dear, should be used … NOW!’
What happened next was pure magic not of my own making.
I painted 21 oil paintings in 21 days and sold them online.
“Watching” Sold for $325
Typically, a painting takes me a year or more to complete. But this time, I put brush to canvass and it was as if I was guided by something deep inside of me. I’d flip through a magazine each evening before starting to paint and an image would choose me (from skies to flowers to cows and kids).
“Darby” Sold for $350
Then I’d simply start and within three to four hours, the image or photo I used for inspiration would transfer through my brush into something that was colourful, original and simply inspired.
“That Face” Sold for $225
While painting, an hour felt like five minutes. I was simply entranced by the process. So it was that I was able to sit down each evening and spend what felt like 20 minutes to me, but was actually about four hours, and produce works that I believe were simply channeled, rather than thought about and painted.
“Yellow Rose” Sold for $325
People loved the paintings and on-line bidding became competitive and fun! I raised $4,500 to top off the $10,000 that had already been raised. With the stroke of a brush, the funds needed to get Mei Chen into the loving arms of her new family (Bill and Kelly Schultz – check out Kelly Schultz’s Facebook page to see this incredible family) miraculously appeared.
I used to think my drawing ability was an odd-ball gift.
Now I just think of it as ‘a gift’ – one of the greatest I was ever given!
This complete story is included in Chris’ upcoming book, Journey to Joy, which tells her tale from a breakdown, through healing, to finding joy. Visit 21days2joy to learn more, pre-order a copy, & pictures of the adorable Mei Chen, now living with her family in Wisconsin.
“After 44 years of living, giving and letting myself down, I was finally able to hear my calling, and more importantly, to answer it without fear. A beautiful butterfly of a human being emerged – one who was enraptured with life; one who could fulfill her destiny (and the destiny of an orphaned child); and one who was joyous beyond all expectations.”