Anne Butera Painting

Hello, my name is Anne Butera and I am the creator of My Giant Strawberry. I am an artist, writer and crafter living in a small town in rural Wisconsin. Over the years my life has taken some unexpected twists and turns and although I never imagined I'd be calling myself an artist and living in a small town, the yearning for such a life has been with me since I was a child.

I grew up in suburban Chicago in a loving and creative home. My parents nurtured my imagination, nourished me with stories, fostered a sense of ingenuity and surrounded me with art, crafts, music and gardens. Even so, it took me many years to realize that a life with art at its center was even possible.

Creativity comes naturally to me; I like to paint, crochet, sew, take photographs, draw, write, garden, cook and daydream. I studied creative writing in college, but after I graduated I sought a "real" job and eventually trained to be a children's librarian. With a love of books and an affinity for working with children it seemed like a good choice. Although I loved to create, I never considered myself an artist. Working in a practical profession, even my identity as a writer got tucked into a drawer like all of the stories I'd written.

I think a lot of us end up in lives that we eventually realize aren't quite a right fit. Realizing it, identifying why and understanding just what's wrong is hard and doesn't happen overnight. Changing it is even harder and may take even longer. For me the change was gradual. I started a blog. I began spending more of my free time on creative pursuits. I returned to my childhood daydreams of being a farm girl. When my parents decided to purchase a piece of land in Wisconsin and fulfill their lifelong dream, I jumped at the chance to help them build a little farm.

The year I spent on my parents' land was an amazing experience of creative discovery. I began teaching myself how to paint, something I had secretly yearned to be able to do. I also began designing, crocheting and sewing bags, jewelry and other accessories and opened an Etsy shop to sell them. I helped to raise baby chicks and ducklings, plant an orchard and grow a giant vegetable garden. I tried my hand at pickling and canning and dreamed of living a self-sufficient life on my own land. I was a city girl relishing the chance to play farm girl.

Things didn't work out quite as I imagined and my time at the farm ended abruptly and uncomfortably. It was a dark and difficult part of my journey, but I continued to create and I continued to dream and hope. I came to realize that even in the darkest days and the ugliest times there is beauty and there is joy. During this time I began to keep Joy Lists documenting those little, everyday glimmers of beauty and grace. I focused more than ever on teaching myself to paint. Painting became my passion. Eventually the darkness began to clear.

Today, in this little Wisconsin town I'm still dreaming, still painting, still creating. My husband and I live near my parents' farm in a house filled with plants and animals and countless creative endeavors. I am daily grateful to be on this journey, no matter how bumpy the road may be.

Thank you for reading my story. I encourage you to leap for your dreams, to start living the life you want today. There is no more perfect time to begin.