08/03/2014 12:54 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Grateful Artist

2014-08-03-crayons.jpgNancy grew up with a monster. Not an imaginary one that lives in a closet, but a real live monster who doubled as her mother.

Nancy suffered greatly from this abusive woman who preferred drink to her offspring. When she was just three years old, her mother would shove her into the corner with crayons and paper.

The toddler would draw for hours. She knew that if she kept quiet, she was safe from the beast. Yet art was not just a safe haven for her. It was a portal into another world, an escape where she could lose herself for hours in the sheer beauty of it.

Nancy doesn't have happy memories of the suffering she experienced. But she's grateful for what flourished in her impoverished home: the artist in her.

Being an artist is what Nancy cherishes most about herself. She makes batiks and ceramics, and considers her art her babies. She sells her pieces from her home so she can meet their new "parents."

Nancy's story makes me think of a flower bursting through the cracks in a concrete sidewalk. Through her pain something miraculous managed to spring forth.

I have a ceramic cup that Nancy made, and I sip coffee from it every morning. I treasure it because it's beautiful, but also because I know the artist's story.

I can still see that frightened toddler drawing in the corner.

To learn more about our one-minute blog, watch our video at