Artist Sherri McDowell

An example of fine art by Sherri McDowell

Photo of Sherri McDowell


When a fourth grade teacher — let’s call her Mrs. Shelton — looks over her eye glasses and shakes her head, announcing "you'll never be an artist" then you take that message to your nine-year-old heart, and stop believing in your dream. But life has a way of excavating long buried desires. Sometimes, as in my case, a near death experience becomes a saving grace.
In December 2003 I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. The disease was raging through my body like a wildfire:  burning me down to “fighting weight” physically and mentally, stripping away everything superficial and vague, everything I had taken for granted: financial security, good health and all the “somedays” I was counting on to finally live my life as an artist.
That devastating news plunged everything into darkness.  Nothing could help or console:  not tears; not rage; not bargaining with a random universe.  The inferno of my illness blazed on, until all that remained were ashes of a life not well lived. At some point (I do not remember precisely when) an eerie calmness settled in.  From the stillness of acceptance came insight for a way forward.
Here is what I realized:  having “enough” time or money or talent or skill or resources — all of these habits of thought were irrelevant.  Being “good enough” was a distraction and a moot consideration.  The portal to the rest of my life was now wide open and the gift of  the present moment was mine to claim.  I was alive to all possibilities again.  I would live as an artist one day at a time, no matter how many days, weeks or months that might be. 
In 2004, after months of radiation, chemotherapy and extensive surgery,  I retired from my day job, visited family and friends, played in the dirt of my vegetable garden, took up [...]

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