It's difficult to make my story "brief" but I will do my best. I have no art background, no classes, no schooling, nothing--unless you'd like to count grade- school art class...
In 2007, I was looking for a penmanship curriculum for use in the homeschooling of my then 2nd grade son. I don’t remember everything, but I eventually ended up in the studio of an accomplished calligrapher. I was mesmerized by her writing. It was like an ice skater doing pirouettes on paper. HOOK. LINE. SINKER. I bought supplies and the Zanerian Manual. I wrote every day; every spare moment I had went into writing.
I was an active participant in the OP Yahoo group for about six months until I accidentally smashed my hand with some ice which rendered it quite useless. Looking back, it was a very frustrating time... I ended up having a couple of hand surgeries. But, all the while I was determined to continue my penmanship journey. I studied books and watched online videos. Because I couldn’t write without pain, I read the books and practiced by letting the letters dance in my head. Sometimes I would move my arm like a music conductor to mimic the movements--kind of like a child with a sparkler! In terms of bottles of ink, I may have had only 2 bottles of Higgins worth of experience by this time, but in my mind and heart, I think I made full use of those years physically lost. Madarasz said more than once to “Study as much as you practice”-- I merely was forced to study more than practice!
In 2009, after my second surgery, I was able to write one meager page. I was so excited! The day my bandages were to be removed, I took that page to show my doctor and enthusiastically thanked him for "fixing" my hand. I was free from the bulky wrappings and eager to put pen to paper again!
That very afternoon, I was in a car accident that ripped both my thumbs backwards. Seriously. That same afternoon. Just got the bandages off and BAM! Back to square one. Maybe “negative one” because now it was my right and left hand! Long story short, after many more doctors, therapists, etc., I had to have a another, more complicated hand surgery than the others, which led me to have to re-learn to write anything. My thumb is different than it used to be. (I’ll spare you the description of what they did) For a long while it was more legible, and easier, to write left-handed!
In 2012, I went to the Milwaukee IAMPETH convention. I had only written sporadically for years. I was afraid of a full week of writing because I knew it would hurt. But I practiced as much as I could in the week before the convention (mostly so I wouldn’t look like a total idiot around the people I was about to meet, whose work is so inspiring to me!) At the convention, I met many wonderful people, some of which I had read about in my studies and some who had zero experience. What a blessing it was! After a couple days, I couldn't really write much and had to mainly watch the presentations. It was okay to be a spectator. Oh, how I learned so much there! I think what I gained most was a bit of confidence. I am still lacking in that department, but that's ok, I’ll keep working on it.
Since then, I've worked and worked and studied and practiced and just keep pushing myself forward. I have been featured on Style Me Pretty, in Dasherie magazine, and won the 2015 IAMPETH national scholarship. I know I have a long long way to go, but am enjoying the journey.
If there were one phrase to sum up what I believe in life it would be: that whatever we go through in life, good or bad, makes us who we are, unique and special and how we choose to look at things that "happen" to us makes all the difference in the world!