Why San Pedro?
I started writing ‘Sketches from the Heart of a Texas Artist’ after I lost my dream job to paint a 140 foot mural on the side of a prominent hotel, after to a sexual harassment scandal broke me down to the point that I couldn’t take it anymore. I wrote a novel to navigate through the pain. I developed an alter ego named Mona Lamar. I wrote a story about the journey that I wished I could have embarked upon as I sought a path through the darkness that plagued me in the wake of the abuse.
Several months into writing the story, a Belizean man whom I was very close to, passed away. In his honor, I made Belize a destination for Mona Lamar, along her journey toward wholeness. Knowing that I would never have another opportunity to learn more about the country from my friend, I booked a flight to his country so I could learn about it first hand.
The moment I stepped out of the single engine Cessna, and onto the runway, and only paved surface on the two by four mile island, Caye Caulker, and breathed in the salty Easterly air, and knew I was home. But it wasn’t until I returned six months later, that Belize truly became my home.
I talk a lot about the power of writing, and how easily things can be manifested if you get your thoughts out of your head, and out on paper. Just as my protagonist met her love interest: the deep, sexy, brooding, Creole, Antoine, along a pier, I met my Lovey the same way. And just as Mona felt a powerful energy the moment she approached Antoine, when I met Lovey, we were drawn together by the same, undeniable, force of nature.
Our relationship unfolded quickly and before I knew it, I had visited San Pedro seven times in one year. Within that year, we had real conversations about starting a family, that were followed by two miscarriages. Living in two different countries was no longer allowing us to grow in the direction that we desired. It became apparent that it was time to make the move and join him in the tropics.
I invested in enough raw materials so that I could create and sell twenty five Love Necklaces per month, which is what I calculated would bring me to my goal of 300 donated necklaces in 2019 (I’m almost two months behind in sales, but I have faith that I’ll make up the deficiency).
I had already developed relationships with women’s shelters in San Pedro and Belize City, as recipients of The Love Necklace, but after experiencing day to day life in San Pedro, it didn’t take long to learn how great of a need there is for the Campaign down here. Domestic violence is an “equal opportunity” epidemic, and effects women everywhere. Belize is a small country. San Pedro is a small island with limited resources, so helping hands are a must. In this patriarchal culture, women often start at a disadvantage. So here I am down here, connecting with empowered women, working to create a paradigm shift.
Today, I met with the Director of Hope Haven, the San Pedrano shelter supported by the Campaign. She and I are developing a summer mentorship program for highschool girls who receive counseling at the shelter. Titled, “Love Campaign: EmpowerHer,” they will learn about the importance of self worth, red flags of domestic abuse, and how to find support when they, or their friends, need help.
These days, most of my work is focused around growing The Love Necklace Campaign, but my paintings and writing are not only integral parts of the Campaign, they stand alone as strong works of art, and drive the vision of my body of work as a whole.
In a million years, I would have never imagined that I would live on a small island in the Caribbean, it doesn’t surprise me. My art has always been inspired by thoughts of the tropics. Luckily, we are living in a global society where we can connect from anywhere, because I don’t know what I would do without my Texas tribe.
When I lost my dream job because a man told me that my work was worth nothing more than his sexual desires, I didn’t know what the future had in store for me. I followed my heart and was led to San Pedro, where I have the opportunity to develop a family with Lovey, and his son. But it is so much more than that, because I also have the opportunity to develop meaningful programs within the Love Necklace Campaign, as I strive to make a real impact on the lives of young San Pedrano women.