So there I was in the desert of southern Utah. My paintings weren’t selling because this new population hadn’t yet responded to my work, and the place didn’t really fit me. But the land was stunning and I’d been sent there, it seemed, by Spirit, so I chose to stay.
I was surrounded by ancient sites, which my dog and I explored on a daily basis. They were what I called “raw”, completely undeveloped, existing pretty much as the ancients had left them. I knew what to look for and found them tucked everywhere, in canyons, on mesas. I had a deep knowing of the lives lived there. It felt as though I had come home but to a home I couldn’t exactly remember.
I took a job guiding horseback tours—on animals bred from wild Mustangs—across the desert to the ancient pit house villages and rock art. One day in particular, riding with a small group of women from China, I marveled at the surreal nature of my life. In a million years I couldn’t have dreamed this up for myself. It’s why, I believe, we’re meant to be less goal-focused than our culture tries to impose. When we let go of control, when we remove the blinders directing us to a determined destination, we’re made available to enjoy the journey, to explore the magical side trips Spirit has in mind for us. We can’t know what adventure awaits us there or how it will affect and direct our lives, or what we miss when we don’t go.
I did other work in Utah. I painted two shows and taught but, most importantly, I was of the desert, of the land. Three Land Masses, the Colorado Plateau, the Great Basin and the Mojave Desert, all join exactly under the small town where I lived. The rock literally vibrates with its own power and radiates heat. I believe the ancients were drawn to the energy of the place for the same reasons we are: To heal. When I painted in my studio my back was to 1500 foot red sandstone cliffs. I felt the place drawing old poisons out of me like a long soak in Epsom salts. I gave myself over to mother earth. She wrapped herself around me, cleansing the past from my very cells. She took generations of sorrow deep into her molten core, seared it back to dust and it was no more.
I know, now, it’s why I went to Utah. It’s also the reason I had to leave. There is too much pain memory for me there. The land took my sorrow but it also spilled my blood. The desert there is stained with it.
Utah prepared me for New Mexico. I had no dream of coming here, no plans, no intention, just a suggestion from a friend to do a road trip. I followed the messages of the universe and they led me here. But it is because of the work I did in Utah that Spirit gave me to this land and it to me. I would not have been ready for it otherwise.