• Cara Van Leuven


I feel like this blog is going to be totally lame and kind of braggy, but there's a point if you can manage to the end.

The past week and a half have been a whirlwind of feeling homesick, Tom visiting, the most esteemed art show in my history, meeting people who inspire me and finding opportunities that may not be on my direct path but couldn't be missed.


The Monday following my last blog post I was so homesick I was ready to fly home and stay. I wanted to lock myself in the newly found comforts of my pool shed studio, yet forced myself to visit my friend Jen who recently bought a horse farm in Ocala. And thank God I pushed myself out of my own misery.

Ocala was the medicine I needed. If you’ve never been and you’re a horse lover, it’s something to experience. The roads are dotted with horse farms, from grandiose to modest. Nearly every pasture has jumps set up at various heights. Horses bask under enormous oaks and you can find trailers at pawn shops.

Despite having things figured out back in St. Louis, Jen and Brody took a huge risk to start a life in the Sunshine state. Here they were in Ocala, surrounded by cattle, an Olympian rider and Thoroughbred yearlings. Access to high quality trainers in Ocala is undeniable and the level of incredible, jaw-dropping riders is like looking for Mickey Mouse at Disney. They are EVERYWHERE. Jen and Brody are actively pursuing a new dream, and I'm honored to be lessoning there and being a part of their dream in any small way I can.

By Thursday Tom was my shotgun rider in the big van. Just kidding — he drives, even on vacation. We set up in Mt. Dora and had a disappointing Saturday; rain and cool temps kept shoppers at bay. I was exposed to a level of art and artists that was pretty exhilarating. It has inspired me to redefine the way my booth looks at shows. It will be a slow process, but folks, I think we are on the cusp of something big here.

Sunday Mt. Dora did not disappoint, and I wrapped up many of my favorite pieces so they could head to their new homes. That's always such a good feeling. One of the folks I was lucky enough to meet face-to-face and chat with was Meghan O'Donoghue (this was after hanging with another Land Rover 3D Rider). I was chatting about paintings with a rider who saw her dream on the horizon as a little girl and made it happen and she's still making it happen.

I took Tom to the airport today, but over the past three days, he and I did what Tom and I do best — drive around and look at stuff and dream. What if we could make 3-6 months in Florida a reality? My God, we love to dream. And slowly, ever so slowly, we make our dreams our reality.

So that takes me to the present. I had an art show in Delray Beach planned and paid for. Yesterday I sent an email explaining I had to back out. I gave them the reason why, and I think it's a hell of a reason, personally.

My dear friend Kim Berkley is taking three dogs to New York City to compete in obedience and agility as part of the Westminster Dog Show. She could use a little help and one thing I've discovered is that dreams are not solitary incidents. Dreams take teams.

Tomorrow I fly to NYC and zigzag my way on subways and buses to get to a dog show and help a friend. For the first time in years, I feel compelled to take my camera and document the weekend. Stay tuned ...