I’ve never really considered myself an expert on much of anything. There are many things that I know, but there is even more that I don’t. I am a runner, so I know about running (but I’m not an expert). I can cook very well (but again, I’m no expert). I am an artist, so I know about art (but I’m no expert). I am a CNA at a nursing home, and I’m in nursing school, so I know about nursing (but I’m definitely not an expert). I have been a business owner for about 16 years now, so I know a lot about business. I may not be an expert in business, but I have definitely learned a lot about what success really means.
My business, Hartselle Art Studio & Gallery, LLC, has been in operation in downtown Hartselle, AL for many years. During these years, thousands of beautiful souls have entered this very small structure through what many would describe as a very ordinary door. Most may even call this “A Hole in the Wall”. It’s definitely not state-of-the-art by any means. There are stains all over the floor and walls. It completely lacks in professional design appeal. But for us, it has been perfect! These wonderful souls are more than family to me. They have positively influenced, shaped, molded, and decorated my mundane life in a way that cannot be described. Even before I realized it, success came early on. Success, I have since learned, is about people. It is about putting others first, pouring your life into them, and letting them know that you are there for them. It is being trusted by a sweet, young teenage girl that thought she was pregnant; when a sweet mother of a 7-year-old described the seizures that suddenly engulfed his body; when ladies began sharing their breast cancer survival stories; or when a smiling young man gave the studio the name ‘THE HAPPY PLACE’. Success equals love. That’s it, plain and simple. Love. Genuine, heart-felt love is what has pushed, motivated, and encouraged an ordinary small business owner like myself to succeed.
Art instruction has been the ‘description’ of my simple business for years. But, few know and understand that it has had nothing to do with art instruction at all. Art is just what has happened on the side. Families of all make-ups, backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, income brackets, and mental/physical disabilities are the ones that have touched my heart beyond comprehension. This is a business that wasn’t formed on the premise of fame or fortune. In fact, many students couldn’t even afford classes, but no one was turned away. How could anyone be turned away? One can make any type of rules when owning one’s business. So, I made the rules.
The relationships developed at 313 Main Street West will forever be engraved in my heart. To those who graced me with love, showered me with endearing praise and encouragement, and families that have accepted me as your own, I sincerely give all the gratitude my heart can bestow! I humbly thank each and every student, friend, and family member for sharing your hearts, secrets, prayers, smiles, laughter, tears, and talents with me.
When I reminisce over the last 16 years, I consider myself to be the most successful person around. I am intelligent enough to realize that few people know my name or who I am. I am not famous for anything… not singing, dancing, acting, athletics, money, or politics. I have never been given an honorary doctorate or asked to speak publicly for a graduation or for motivational purposes; I have never been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (of any kind); I don’t have my face on currency or a stamp; I am neither a Saint nor a Princess. But I am successful, because, for me, success isn’t determined by dollar signs. It is measured by the impact you have had on those in your life, the impact they have had on yours, and the love mutually shared.
The sign now says ‘CLOSED’. There will no longer be art classes at Hartselle Art Studio & Gallery, LLC. I have shed many tears thinking of you all. I have spent time in prayer over each and every name I can recount. I have listed these names on paper, and they number in the thousands. THOUSANDS! You all have intricately played a major role in my success as a teacher, student, mother, friend, daughter, aunt, and sister. You will never know how much you have touched my life, because there are no words that can adequately describe your effects. Thank you for the ride! It has been perfect and very successful! Thank you for the hugs. But mostly, thank you for the love! I am abundantly blessed because I knew you!