Choosing What Defines You

Into the Light Iris Garden
Painted Live on Facebook, Into the Light Iris Garden, 12X12, oil


It’s no secret I come from a long line of determined women, my great-grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother. Since they have gone to that beautiful next chapter in the sky, I’ve been the recipient of some unexplained gifts that I attribute to this trio of stubborn and quite bossy guardian angels. I picture the three of them gathered around my Mother’s kitchen table, stirring sugar into their iced tea, talking, and laughing together over we fickle ones with our feet still adhered to earth.

Constant reminders and little “gift messages” are dropped into my path from these denizens of my happiness. When I am calm and not fretting about things, I see them. One such message landed in my email box last night. It was a thank you note from a new artist, a beginning painter from Oklahoma, who had just signed up for my online class. She had something in common with my great-grandmother, the matriarch of our family, something integral and life changing, and rare. But I’ll tell you more about that in just a moment.

Have you ever received a special message
when you needed it most?

Please share your experience in the comments,
I love hearing from you!


My great-grandmother Nanny was a bundle of busy-ness, gardening, cleaning, and raising a large family. She and her husband lived in a large 2-story home in Palestine, Texas, and he worked as a lineman for the railroad, swinging a lantern to signal the trains. She could tell what a plant was by tasting or smelling a leaf. She turned on her gas stove by placing her fingers lightly on a burner and pulling them back the moment she felt the flame. My great-grandmother lived a long life, into her 80s, and was fiercely independent after her husband died. But there is one thing about Nanny I haven’t told you: She was blind. Diagnosed with glaucoma in her 20s, she lost her vision soon afterward. Glaucoma treatments did not exist then, at least not the ones we have today.

Yesterday, I received an email from Cyndi, a student from Oklahoma who shared that she, too, was diagnosed with glaucoma in her 20s. Cyndi is 51 today and describes herself as the proud owner of stents in both of her eyes. She said when things took a turn for the worse with her eyesight, she wanted to challenge herself visually and not let the disease run her life. She began painting along with some of my Youtube videos, and signed up for my online class a few weeks ago. She just happens to have an amazing glaucoma specialist nearby, Dean McGee, at the Eye Institute, in Oklahoma City.

There are no accidents, and every person we meet in our lives is placed in our paths for a reason. Cyndi’s note was a reminder to me that my perceived life challenges are small compared to what so many are going through. Cyndi always wanted to learn to paint, and decided to tackle her dream head on. In Cyndi’s words, my great-grandmother did not let her blindness define her. The older I get, the more I perceive a fabric that we artists are all weaving together, building, fashioning and sending our creations out into the universe.  It connects us and it’s up to each of us how strong the fabric will be, and whether the threads will be straw or titanium. Paint it beautifully and with joy, you only get one of these wild, magical lives, you intrepid artist, you!


PS: Something absolutely magical is coming your way – Paint Brilliant Italy, my new 6-week online class, is now open for registration! Learn more here!


Nancy Medina in Italy

PPS: See all the sights of my workshop in France in 2 weeks in my new monthly online class, The Joyful Brush in Petal Perks! Learn more here…

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Nancy Medina

Nancy is a master signature artist and instructor with over 1800 online students from around the world. She has worked with Disney, served on the art faculty of the Dallas Arboretum, and teaches workshops in France, Italy and across the US. More about Nancy

Reader Interactions


  1. That was very motivating! Your granny and Cindi are shining examples of what we can do if we choose to look beyond the challenges that are thrown our way. Thanks for sharing their stories.

    • Shweta thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed hearing about them – Cyndi is going to be visiting me later this year, so I’ll share some pictures when the time comes.

  2. I am 82 have been taking art classes for over 20 years. I believe with you that happenings people and places come into and go from our lives by God’s design. I believe that I am a spirit in a physical form and I am here to learn to love in the purest sense. God Bless you Nancy in your purposeful walk Thank you for sharing your beautiful spirit with me .

    • Such a beautiful message Nancy, thank you for sharing that. I so needed a little inspiration and you just gave it to me. 🙂

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