This year my husband and I lost a dear friend in Andrew Wyeth. The last time we saw Andy we had lunch at Farmers in Port Clyde, Maine. It was about one week before his health took a steep decline. He was the most alive person I’ve ever met. In one turn he was a perpetual seven year old, full of curiosity and wonder. Then he was like Yoda: serious and unflinching. We all thought he’d make it past 100.

His parting words were, “If you love where you are and who you’re with, you’ll be fine.” Then he said, “I believe in the two of you and what you are doing. Stay free. A lot of people will try and tell you what to do. But stay free.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about Freedom and how Freedom is the nutrient we must foster in order for all parts of us to grow. A friend of mine says that every action we take is in attempts to conserve something. As artists, we know that we are protective of our studio time and joke that we have a jealous muse if the muse isn’t fed. But staying alive, I mean really alive, in the dailies: that needs constant intention. Because the sum of all our actions composes the end result. Making hard decisions that don’t bend toward the consensus, but staying true to intuition. It’s like every day we stitch a small piece of the larger fiber. And every decision, word, sacrifice, gain, action constitutes a key ingredient in that single stitch. If you make decisions to make everyone else happy, you will become average.

Freedom isn’t about ditching one’s accountability, it is precisely the opposite. It’s about taking actions that come from a place of compassion and giving… all the while keeping a healthy distance from what would deplete you. Freedom is not bending to the status quo. That is death to an artist. Freedom is trusting the continuum.

We need to always feel growing pains. Those growing pains let us know we are rising to the occasion in life and not falling into habit. Growing pains let us know we are ever expanding into a bigger and bigger vessel.

Freedom comes from decisions that are so personal that we cannot rely on advice to get to them. Freedom is the result of a balance we strike between our souls and what is asked of us.

As Andy said “Stay free. A lot of people will try and tell you what to do. But stay free.”