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Maybe this should be titled Finding the Unicorn Within. I’m not sure. I do know we all have that uniqueness inside us, that thing that makes us special and rare. Even while we know that at our most essential level, we are all the same.

Adapting to leaving an organization to whom one has devoted so much of her time, life, and energy after 35 years has proven a very different change than I expected. From the still-getting-used-to my not needing to be at my desk at 9 a.m. to the fact that my day is completely mine to structure, to the alarmingly slow realization that my creativity is completely mine to unearth and explore … it’s been a sea change.

I began sorting through years of accumulated work samples, tossing most, saving some, all in the interest of making my work space reflect where I am now and where I am going now. I rediscovered an Inspiration folder that I’d created for ideas, and inside it was a quote that I have always loved. So, as I continue to evolve daily into a newer and brighter self, I share the quote with you, from The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.

1495-1505 – “The Unicorn Is in Captivity”, one of the “Hunt for the Unicorn” tapestries, housed in The Cloisters, NYC

“It’s a rare man who is taken for what he truly is. There is much misjudgment in the world. Now I took you for a unicorn when I first saw you, and I know that I am your friend. Yet you took me for a clown, a clod, or a betrayer, and so I must be if you see me so. The magic on you is only magic and will vanish as soon as you are free, but the enchantment of error that you put on me I must wear forever in your eyes.

“We are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream. Still, I have read, or heard it sung, that unicorns when time was young, could tell the difference `twixt the two – the false shining and the true, the lips’ laugh and the heart’s rue.”

~ Schmendrick the Magician
The Last Unicorn

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It was most recently my pleasure to do a small portrait for a woman in Walla Walla, WA who inquired about my doing a drawing of one of her French Bulldogs for a new business card. Between running my own Graphic Design business and applying myself to my writing and illustrating of children’s books, I didn’t know if I wanted to do a portrait. It’s something I have put aside in the interest of focusing on my future in children’s books. But I felt called to do this and felt I was getting a nod from the Universe. It somehow seemed significant that Toni Myers lives out by two of my current favorite authors, Sherman Alexie and Patricia Briggs. Plus I knew it would keep me refining my French Bulldog art and drawing skills.

Toni sent me a baby picture of one of her French Bulldogs, Truman. Toni and her family have show Frenchies and a small, conscientious breeding program, We Be French Bulldogs. She asked if I might incorporate her favorite flower, a purple pansy, in the image. I accepted the work, and we had a great working experience. I loved doing the work – both the portrait and the business card incorporating it  – and she and her family loved the results. What’s more, I had the opportunity to work with a truly delightful woman who now will be a part of more of my own French Bulldog work in children’s books.

Such an arrangement had never crossed my mind; in fact, I wasn’t quite sure why this iniitally seemed such a good thing. But I do believe in synchronicity —  things align in time and space for a reason. Surely this was one of those events, and it put smiles on two faces clear across the country.

You can order Frenchie cards and other items here!

Note: All illustrations, drawings and photographs are © Jeanne Balsam and may not be reproduced in any format without written permission. Thank you!

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