Day 11. Into the Woods.


“Hailey” 16×20, oil on canvas. $300.00 [creativ_button url=”″ icon=”” label=”Buy Now” colour=”blue” colour_custom=”” size=”medium” edge=”straight” target=”_self”]

The other day I picked up the newspaper from my driveway– the Covington edition of the Times Pic. On the front page was a photograph of some woods at the Nature Conservancy in Abita Springs. The article described world famous wildlife photographer CC Lockwood who “while he travels the world on commission, focuses on the wildlife of Louisiana”. You can read the full article and see the story here.

Before I scanned the article, I was struck by the colors in the photo and wondered if I could borrow from it to create an interesting abstract painting. I put the newspaper in my studio thinking I might do just that, but didn’t really feel able to begin until I read Hailey’s email yesterday. Hailey is hilarious, spunky, smart. The image from the paper reminded me of her story– going into a beautiful but unfamiliar space trusting that you’ll find your way through it.

Hailey is one of my former students. I understand that when you teach you shouldn’t have favorites. Well, I did. I never said I was perfect. Here’s her story:

I’m not sure if you’re still looking for stories, but I saw Erica’s post and felt inspired to dig deep for a story on bravery.

I grew up in New Orleans and love it there, but I always knew there was a world for me outside of it. I know deep down that that’s the city I need to settle down in, but I’ve always had a bad case of wanderlust ever since I went to San Francisco as a thirteen year old.

I went into nursing for the passion to help others but also for the ease of travel and living anywhere I want. Once I found out I could nurse abroad, I signed up that day. It was an arduous task, to say the least. The process involved a lot of money and time and tests. It never dawned on me during the year and a half of waiting how absolutely crazy this idea was. I would have people tell me how Brent I am, but I never really saw it as that. It was something I had to do.

The day I bought my ticket to move to London, I cried. I didn’t want to leave my home, family, friends, and the life I’ve built. For as much wanderlust as I have, I have an equal amount of love for stability and comfort. I wasn’t ready to leave the city I love so much. I had nervous breakdowns leading up to the leave date, but I knew I had to do it.

I left on the most romantic day of the year, Valentine’s Day, for a country where I didn’t know anyone. I had a really hard time in the first couple of weeks. And I was finally starting to understand all those times people told me how brave I was for moving. I didn’t know a soul, had never left the country, and was about to practice my trade in an entirely different health system.

Since then, I have really made a home for myself here. I still can’t imagine being away from New Orleans forever, but I know I’m where I need to be right now. I thought about this topic of “bravery” on a recent solo trip to Paris and found myself trying to dig deep looking for an answer. Then I realized I was living it while standing on top of the Eiffel Tower looking out over the dreams I’ve had since I was young.

It was then I realized the bravest thing you can do is love yourself enough to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself to the places you’ve always wanted to be.


If you or someone you know has a story of bravery, please E-mail me at [email protected]. I don’t have enough to make it to day 30 and I’d love to hear from you. If you want to get the blog posts in your inbox, please subscribe below.


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Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

November 11, 2016

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