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Diane, 53, Mequon, Wisconsin

It's a typical mother-in-law story. Eleven years of resentment [and] misunderstanding results in a bitter letter from my mother-in-law. I was in therapy for depression at the time, and her letter devastated me.

Some of her letter was true, however, I realized that she didn't have a clue who I was. I wrote an apology [in which I] described my favorite things—from movies to art and old lace. Her apology came over the phone and days later in a box containing pieces of old lace and a book on Georgia O'Keeffe. Her box changed my life because I also didn't know who I was! My childhood dream to be an artist gave way to a major in interior design and a steady income.

I had just begun to dabble in art again when the box came. I picked up the book, read the chapter on Ghost Ranch and called my best friend, Kyle, [who] had been contemplating taking a workshop there. We got the last spots in the class.

My family has been connected to Ghost Ranch, a place for healing, ever since. It was there I shed my skin as an interior designer and shouted to the rocks, "I am an artist!" I am [now] 100 percent a fine artist: painter, printmaker and jeweler. I owe this to my now-beloved mother-in-law and forgiveness.


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