In this episode, I welcome Emerson Mertens! She is a professional dancer, teacher, and choreographer, as well as graphic artist. She shares her powerful story about her own journey discovering health issues that had impacted her for years, and how that has transformed the way she views art, and now how she teaches and inspires her own students. (Fun fact: the cover image for this episode is a photo of Emerson dancing that she post-processed with her graphic design skills!)

 

Get in touch with Emerson Mertens: https://emersonmertens.wordpress.com/

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Episode 27 - Emerson Mertens

Lindsey Dinneen: Hello, and welcome to Artfully Told, where we share true stories about meaningful encounters with art.

[00:00:07] Krista: I think artists help people have different perspectives on every aspect of life.

[00:00:14] Roman: All I can do is put my part out into the world.

[00:00:16] Elizabeth: It doesn't have to be perfect the first time. It doesn't have to be perfect ever really. I mean, as long as you, and you're enjoying doing it and you're trying your best, that can be good enough.

[00:00:24] Elna: Art is something that you can experience with your senses and that you just experience as so beautiful.

[00:00:32]Lindsey Dinneen: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of Artfully Told. I'm your host Lindsey, and I am really excited to have today as my guest, the lovely Emerson Mertens, and she is a professional dancer, choreographer and teacher, as well as a graphic designer. And she is multitalented in many different aspects of art and life. And I am so excited to have her as my guest today and just learn a little bit more about her journey and all those good things. So thank you so much for being here.

[00:01:10] Emerson Mertens: Hi Lindsey. Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited.

[00:01:14] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. Well, if you don't mind, I would love if you would share with everyone just a little bit about who you are and maybe your background and what you're up to.

[00:01:24] Emerson Mertens: Absolutely. Yeah, so I, I've been a dancer and an instructor and a choreographer for about 20 years now. And I focused a lot of my training on classical ballet, but I've also trained in several other styles. I've danced with several companies and organizations over the years, including the lovely VidaDance. So, you're a wonderful company. I had such a wonderful time doing that. And, now I mostly do freelance work, so I teach classes and workshops and I choreograph for different productions and, stage musicals. So I do a lot of that. And, I actually have a new project that I'm planning on launching really soon, which I'm really excited about. It's going to bring dance, training, and classes to people of all different ages and skill levels in a really whole new way that I've never done before. And it's going to be something that everybody can do at home. So I'm very looking forward to that. Very excited.

[00:02:26] Lindsey Dinneen: Ooh, how exciting, what a nice little sneak preview. I can't wait to find out more. Awesome. So are you planning to, and you don't have to go into too much detail if you don't want, but are you planning to do recordings kind of yourself? Like in your own home as well?

[00:02:45] Emerson Mertens: I am. Yes, I'm going to be doing some video classes and like breaking down technique and just all the things I've learned over the years, some different tips and, and just sort of everything that I've learned over all this time.

[00:03:00] Lindsey Dinneen: Excellent. And so how did you first start getting involved in, in dance?

[00:03:08] Emerson Mertens: Oh, that's a great question. I actually started when I was very young, I was about four years old and I started in ballet classes because I actually, one of my feet and legs was turned in more when I was born. So it was a way of sort of helping to train my muscles to work correctly. So, that's actually why I started dance, and then I just fell in love with it from there and turned it into my career.

[00:03:39]Lindsey Dinneen: Wow. Yeah, that makes complete sense. I think you're not an isolated case. Different dancers obviously start for different reasons, but I, I know that it could be so helpful for things like that. So. That's so cool. Thanks for sharing that. And then what kept you going? I mean, what made you sort of fall in love with it and then decide you wanted this to be a part of your life?

[00:04:05]Emerson Mertens: I really just fell in love with the art of it. I've always been artistic. I love drawing. And now I do the graphic design, so I've always just loved art and what it, how it connects people and it's really such a way to express oneself and really see, there's so much like beauty and just a wonderful way of communicating with the world through art. And so that's always been a huge draw for me in dance and performing, and really every, every form of art that I've been involved with over the years.

[00:04:45] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. And so when you sort of started transitioning to professional dancing and teaching and choreographing, was there anything in particular, like any moments in particular that surprised you or you thought, "Oh, I not realized it was going to be like this!" Or, or anything like that.

[00:05:09] Emerson Mertens: Yeah. Actually, I'd say that was a lot with choreography. Like I always enjoyed doing it, but I never, I never knew that that would be, that's really the part of dance that I really enjoy the most overall. Like, I love dancing. I love performing. I love teaching, but choreography was, sort of a very pleasant surprise to me as part of what I really wanted to focus on. And I just loved bringing it all together and then being able to teach that to other people and have their unique artistic expression come into my choreography and make it something unique that I didn't even see ahead of time, you know? So I had like my style and what I saw in the choreography, but then getting to see the people I work with bring their own special, unique, artistic expression to, it was just really awesome. I love that.

[00:06:04] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. It is really special to see. To see somebody's basically soul come forth and to see how they can inspire other people through their art and their movement too. So that's cool. Excellent. And so I know you have a few stories in mind in particular that you were kind of thinking about sharing. So I would love to hear your stories.

[00:06:32] Emerson Mertens: Okay. Yeah. Great.  I would love to talk about specifically how I have a couple of different health conditions that I have discovered over the years and how that really has expanded my definition and how I see an artist. So to give a little backstory and context, so hopefully it makes sense overall, I'll give a little, a little behind-the-scenes on some of this. So I think there, there are obviously a lot of different kinds of art and different ways of expressing art. But a lot of times within those art forms, especially in classical ballet and the dance world in general, there's these certain boxes and molds that an artist is sort of expected to fit into. And I think, especially with ballet training, there are very specific ideals that are sort of presented as being the ultimate, like what we are supposed to be. So there can be a lot of, if you want to be a professional dancer, then you have to fit this certain criteria.

[00:07:49] And I think that sometimes that can be detrimental to the artist in a lot of ways. And that's not to say that there isn't a place for certain, reasonable standards or a level of discipline, things like achieving correct technique for your own health and physical safety is very, very important. So I do see how that is essential to the art form and the training. But on the other hand, I think there also exists a lot of expectations and sort of these underlying beliefs that I believe can be quite limiting and damaging to an artist, not only in their own expression, but also on a personal level.

[00:08:32] And I, I've experienced that myself and I have talked to a lot of people over the years that have very similar experience. So I think there's a lot of, unfortunately a sort of unhealthy strive toward perfection in a lot of ballet in particular, but also just in dance in general. And I think it really haunts a lot of artists. And even if it isn't quite that extreme for them, there's still this idea that's perpetuated in the world of, well, this is what an artist should be, or this is what a dancer ultimately should look like. So over the years, I started to realize that this underlying narrative exists in a lot of the areas of training and performing and even in, in teaching as well. And it became even more evident to me as I began to have more health problems and physical issues in myself. So I started to realize that the more challenges I began to have physically, the less I essentially fit in. I didn't really fit the mold that the dancer was supposed to fit into. So I had a lot of teachers throughout the years that, some were really amazing, wonderful teachers, and some were not so great if I'm being honest. And sometimes, some of the not-so-great ones were intentionally, pretty emotionally and mentally abusive to their students. So that was very painful to me personally. And I knew that that isn't how it should be done. That's not how we should treat people.

[00:10:17] And thankfully not all teachers are like that. But what I started to realize was that even with a lot of really good-hearted, great teachers, there's still sort of this underlying thought, that's a part of the whole system really, that a dancer has to look like this. There was a lot of that in classes and auditions. It was just sort of this, this overarching idea that the artist had to be this way. So I even remember a time when a really wonderful instructor that I worked with who was highly trained at a world-renowned school. She told me that she didn't know how to break it to her own daughter that she would never be a dancer because she didn't have the right body type. And so that was just really sad to me because it seems sad to her too, because it was like this unavoidable reality that could never be changed, even for her own daughter. And I see this a lot in dance and I've just seen so many people give up on their dreams because they didn't look the part or fit the mold.

[00:11:32] And if I had listened to some of the comments from my own instructors throughout the years, I really don't think I would have ever become a dancer or a choreographer or even a teacher myself. So kind of bringing it full circle here. When it comes to my own health journey, I always knew something was just a bit off. Like it just didn't add up always. I couldn't always do what everyone else could do. And I struggled greatly with what I thought at the time was a pretty severe lack of stamina. So, no matter how hard I pushed, I could never really get past the fact that I felt physically very tired and I had a significant amount of pain, especially in my joints, and muscles too. But mostly in my joints, I knew I had scoliosis because I had been diagnosed when I was very, very young, like in my teens, with scoliosis, which is actually somewhat common. A lot of dancers deal with that, but I knew that my daily pain issues went beyond just that, what comes with that, usually the really sore back and those sorts of issues.

[00:12:49] Things were going wrong really all over my body. And no one, not even my doctors, were able to figure out what was going wrong at the time. So it wasn't until I was diagnosed in 2014 with joint hypermobility syndrome, that's when I finally started to understand what the underlying problems were, which essentially it means that my body does not produce enough collagen. So my tendons and joints and muscles, really everything, are effected by that. So, that was something that I was dealing with all these years in training that I never really understood why I couldn't do what everybody else could do, at least not to the same extent that they could do it. I remember having teachers back then who were trying to work with me, and really great, awesome teachers, they were trying to work with me and help me figure out why I couldn't do everything the sort of normal way as far as training goes and technique.

[00:14:03] And I remember one of them telling me who was trained in Pilates and gyrotonics, he told me, he said, "It's, it's so interesting because you figured out a way without even realizing it, how to sort of mimic technical positions without..." I was able to mimic them in a way that fit my body type and how it worked. So they looked, it looked technically correct, but I was actually doing it different than everyone else. So that was really interesting to me because I didn't know why that was. I didn't realize I was doing it differently. So it, it turns out this was part of the reason because this condition affects the way I move and how it feels.

[00:14:49] So fast forward to this year and I actually have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. So now I have these two diagnoses, three, actually, if you count the scoliosis diagnosis from many, many, many years ago, and now looking back on my years of training, I, I do finally see why those challenges were so different for me than most of my fellow students. And the thing with both a joint hypermobility syndrome and fibromyalgia is that you can have good days and bad days. So some days I feel like I can run a mile, and then other days I literally feel like I can't get out of bed. So it turned out it wasn't just a lack of stamina like I thought it might be, because stamina can really be built up over time and most people can, can get past that. So what it really was was fatigue. So it was sort of this constant, heavy, tired feeling that comes with those physical conditions. So essentially it felt like I was trying to drag myself through mud. And now I look back and I think I really do wish I knew then what I know now. Like I know a lot of people say that that's something we all kind of say, as we get older, you know, there are a lot of things that we think, "Oh, if only I knew that then," and this is one of those for me, because I was just so extremely hard on myself.

[00:16:20] Like I did not think very highly of myself in even a good way. You know, as a dancer or as an athlete in any way, I just thought I wasn't good enough and I never would be. And I had, I had a lot of instructors who were exceptionally hard on me, and I just don't think it was in a way that I don't think is good for any student to really experience. I was a lot of times treated like I was dumb or lazy because I couldn't do what other people could do. And I knew that couldn't be the case because I was literally training and rehearsing 20 to 30 hours a week and understudying every part I could and really working overtime at home. So it just didn't add up to me that that would be the reason, even though I couldn't figure out what the reason was.

[00:17:16]And I think sometimes instructors can forget that there can be many reasons that a student isn't meeting their expectations. And sometimes we have to ask ourselves as instructors, if our expectations are, are really reasonable, because it's very important to teach discipline and expect our students to give that 100% effort. But at the same time, we need to be careful that we don't always place this impossible standard of perfection on our students, that's ultimately impossible to obtain, which is a lot of what I've experienced and from what I've heard from other people, it's a lot of what other people have experienced as well. So throughout my years of teaching, I found that it's actually pretty rare to come across a student who just truly does not want to try because they don't want to work hard. There's almost always some other reason that isn't adding up. And for me, that was my physical conditions that no one knew anything about at the time. I didn't, my doctors didn't.

[00:18:32] So I didn't really fit the mold as a dancer in one way or another. And so I that's when I really, really started to believe that I just wasn't good enough and I never would be. And that ultimately stole my love of dance and took my personal artistry away in a sense for a very long time. I had a very back and forth sort of relationship with dance and that there were times where I just, I didn't want to do it anymore because I just felt like it wasn't for me, it wasn't worth it. It wasn't, I could never be what I wanted to be or what I was supposed to be. So it just didn't work for me in that way. But now that I know all of this, I'm really, I'm really grateful and thankful to have these answers now and to know this, and it's really changed my perspective now as an artist and also as a teacher. As I'm teaching other people how to grow into their own artistry, it's really broadened my definition of what the artist should be, because it may be true that we can't all do the same things and fit into every specific box. But I think that's, that's okay. You know, overall everyone has their own individual challenges and unique strengths, and artistry really should be individual and unique.

[00:20:05] But I think a lot of people have kind of forgotten that over time. So now as an instructor and a choreographer myself, I really make it a priority to encourage my students to become their own unique artists and not just drive for this sort of elusive technically perfect dancer ideal look. So that's something that now I have my personal experience that is changing the way I see the entire world of dance. And I'm really grateful for that. And it's helping me too be more observant and have more compassion towards everyone I work with because I've had many students who, like me, didn't really fit the mold and it might be because they had physical challenges or maybe even just a learning difference.

[00:21:04] And that unfortunately caused a lot of people to just sort of set them aside. But I don't believe we should be doing that. Even if there's something that may keep them from becoming a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet or win trophies in a competition or those things that we all kind of strive for in the dance world, it doesn't mean that they still can't be amazing artists in other ways or other avenues. So, since there are so many different ways to define an artist, my own health journey has really helped me to expand that definition way beyond what I was often taught or shown throughout my years of training.

[00:21:48] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. That's amazing. That is such a powerful story. And first of all, thank you for sharing that because I know that, you know, parts of that story are probably difficult to reminisce over and all of that. So, so first of all, thank you so much for just being real with us, because that's a, that's a big deal. I really appreciate that.

[00:22:13] Emerson Mertens: Well, thank you. That, that means a lot.

[00:22:16]Lindsey Dinneen:  Yeah. And it's so interesting. I mean, I was completely captivated by your story and I think, I personally obviously have also-- for those who know this about me--have been in the dance world for my entire life too. And I can completely resonate with a lot of what Emerson has talked about in the way that, especially a more, I would say, old-school way of training sort of indicated that everyone should sort of fit this one, particular look, this one particular style, et cetera. And, I'm thankful for, for teachers and choreographers like Emerson who are stepping out to say, "You know, there are other ways," like you said, "There are other avenues and we should celebrate the uniqueness instead of squelching it." And, I'm so sorry that you've had those health issues, but I have to say, I think that perspective that you now bring to your students and to those that you work with, your colleagues, that's amazing. I mean, that's what the dance world needs. That's what the world needs is more empathy and compassion and striving to understand and not just criticize.

[00:23:34] Emerson Mertens: Absolutely. I do, I see it as sort of that, that silver lining in my experiences. Yes. It's, it's hard when we all go through these things and they're things we wish we didn't have to go through, but it can-- our experience, if we feel comfortable and are able to share it with others, then it can help someone else going through that as well, and be sort of that way we reach out and, and change things for the better and encourage other people to really be themselves and get through these hard times.

[00:24:13] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. And so I'm curious, do you have any particular advice for someone, whether they're a dancer or any kind of aspiring artist, what would you tell someone who was kind of feeling maybe a little isolated or not part of the mold? Or what would you tell them to, to encourage them to still try?

[00:24:40] Emerson Mertens: Yeah, I, I would say, and this is what I tell my students all of the time, in, in my classes that I teach is, always, always try your best. And that's really, you can be proud of that. You can know that you gave it your full effort, and if it isn't exactly like someone else's, if the outcome isn't exactly like what you see in someone else, that's okay. And you don't have to be, you don't have to look or perform, or whatever it may be, exactly like someone else, because essentially that's what art is. It's very personal and it's very individual and unique and you can bring something to whatever it is you love in a way that no one else can. And so you should always just give everything. You've got to do that. And that will be, that will be enough. You don't have to be enough for anyone in this sort of, this look of perfection or ideal of the ultimate or whatever. Like I said, there are standards that we should--good standards that we should always try to strive for. A lot of it's for physical health and like dance, or, you know, a level of discipline, things like that. But, as long as you're doing those things, it's okay if, if yours looks different than someone else's. That's actually what's good about art, is it can be your expression.

[00:26:17] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. I love that. And I personally have had the privilege of watching you dance and dancing alongside you. And I have to caveat to anyone listening to this--Emerson is a gorgeous dancer and seriously through whatever differences or even if you would consider them, you know, limitations or whatever you would consider them-- you have always shown a level of artistry and care with your technique and your expression that I think is really special. And so, yeah, to anyone listening, I just want to make sure they understand that Emerson is a fantastic, fantastic performer. And I didn't know about a lot of the health issues that you had to deal with, but I wouldn't have known from your technique either.

[00:27:12]Emerson Mertens: Well, thank you. Yeah. Thank you. I, I did, I tried really hard, so I appreciate that. And I, I have to say also that's one thing I've just always admired about you and I just love about you as a person, is every time we worked together, we worked together in three different companies and in different ways. So we've worked together quite a bit. I always loved how that the people are what's important to you, and that makes such a difference. You see everybody's individual, their heart and their passion and their love for what they do. And you, you encourage that. And that I've just always loved that. Especially as you've been a director of VidaDance, your own company, and a teacher, that's just something I really admire. So thank you for doing that.

[00:28:03] Lindsey Dinneen: Thank you. And I know we we're on such the same page and we resonate so much, but yeah, you're absolutely right. It's about the people and the people have to come first. It's--you're taking care, especially when you're leading in any capacity, whether that's as a teacher or a choreographer, or really, even as a fellow dancer, you're taking care of somebody else's soul and heart, and that's a huge responsibility.

[00:28:28] Emerson Mertens: Yes.

[00:28:29] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, yeah. Wonderful. So I'm curious-- you've kind of, I had mentioned at the beginning, and you sort of touched on it too, that you started dabbling a little bit in other, well, not just dabble, you do this professionally as well-- you started by, I guess, maybe dabbling in drawing and graphic design. And so how has that been a different expression for you?

[00:28:52] Emerson Mertens: Oh, yeah, that's a great question. I, wow, where do I start? It's, it has been different than the performing arts. Obviously it is a different, type of art, but I see so many, so many similarities and a lot of-- I often, I see that my expression in graphic design and, and drawing. I have that same kind of joy that I do when I'm on stage and performing and everything. So it's, it's another wonderful way of expressing feelings and ideas and, and just the beauty of the world and everything. It, it does sort of translate in the same sort of way as the performing arts does, it's just a different avenue and I have loved how I've seen more graphic art and, and videography, and everything's sort of come together with the performing arts world, especially over the last year. There's been a lot of that because we've been home and we've been seeing more on the internet and everything. And I think it's really cool to see the two worlds kind of collide and combine in that way, in ways that I haven't really seen as much before. So I love being kind of in both worlds there. And then also seeing them come together.

[00:30:19] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you so much for all of your insights and your heart for the arts and for the world. I think that's really incredible. I was wondering if it's okay to ask you my three questions that I like to ask my guests?

[00:30:37] Emerson Mertens: Absolutely.

[00:30:39] Lindsey Dinneen: Okay. So first of all, how do you personally define art or what is art to you?

[00:30:47] Emerson Mertens: Okay.  You have such great questions. I love these questions. Art, I think, it's so many things. It's, it's kind of hard to pinpoint an exact definition, but I think what stands out to me the most is that art is really a form of communication. So it has that ability kind of, like I said earlier, to connect people. And it has a way of touching people that I think a lot of the normal ways of communication can't always do. So it's a form of communication with others. And I think it's also a form of self-expression, which is, in a way, essentially sort of another form of communication because we're communicating what we think or feel ourselves to others. So I think that's really true of any kind of art, whether it's dance or music or painting or, or graphic arts--it's essentially communicating some idea or feeling, or even maybe an entire story. Like in the case of dance, a lot of times it's an entire story. It's communicating that to the viewer or listener in, in that artist's own unique way. And that can be a really powerful thing.

[00:32:03]Lindsey Dinneen:  Yes, absolutely. Perfect. And what do you think is the most important role of an artist?  

[00:32:10] Emerson Mertens: I am a Christian, so I believe that God has gifted us all with unique talents and things that we are especially passionate about to really share with the world. So I think for me, the most important role of an artist is really to share truth, hope, and beauty through my art. And that may look different depending on the type of art or the topic. It might not always be obvious on the surface, but I think that at least one of those things usually lies at the heart of nearly everything we share as artists. So to give an example of what I mean, an artist may create a piece that reflects a very difficult subject. So it might not really be positive or, or joyful in the presentation because of what that subject is, but there might, there may still be that truth that can be learned from that or a spark of hope that's conveyed to the audience. So no matter if we're painting a picture of colorful, pretty butterflies in a field, or I'm choreographing a dance about a really hard struggle like anxiety or loss. I believe that as artists, we should always try to look for those opportunities to bring that truth, hope, or beauty into our art in, in a way that really highlights the meaning and the purpose behind it.

[00:33:48]Lindsey Dinneen: Yes. And amen to that.  I love that. Okay. And then my final question, and I'll explain my terms a little bit, but do you think that art should be inclusive or exclusive? And inclusive simply refers to an artist who puts something out into the world and includes some context behind it, whether that's, it could be as simple as a title, it could be program notes, it could be a description. It's just some context, versus exclusive being when the artist puts something out there and doesn't provide context. And then basically then at that point, it's up to the  audience or the viewer to come up with their own thoughts.

[00:34:37] Emerson Mertens: Sure. Yeah. That's, that's really important I think to, to think about as an artist and speaking from my own personal experience, I'm, I'm one of those people that, when I hear a song on the radio, I like immediately go to the internet and try to figure out like what the artist was thinking behind it, like their, their idea behind why they wrote the lyrics that way to everything. So I really like knowing the meaning behind things. And I think it's important sometimes to know that intent behind the art, because if something's just completely abstract to us, then we might have difficulty connecting with that art. And it might not have that same personal impact on us as if we did know more about it.

[00:35:22] But then at the same time, I also believe that there's a place for subtlety and art. So those little details that maybe aren't fully explained, but they still have meaning behind them because if everything's explained upfront, then we might lose some of that personal connection to the art because we can't connect personally, maybe with that, with exactly with what the artist is thinking. So, sometimes the subtlety, those little subtle elements can be poetic and profound to us as the viewer or listener. And that really speaks to our own individual experiences. So I guess I sort of land somewhere in the middle of exclusive and inclusive in art. I think it really depends on the type of art and the story that an artist is hoping to portray that should really lead them more one way towards exclusivity or the other way towards inclusivity and how they choose to share it. But overall, I generally think it should be a little bit of both in most cases.

[00:36:31] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah. That makes complete sense to me. Okay. Yeah. Well, thank you again so much for just being my guest today. I really appreciated your insights and your honesty, and sharing just what helped you basically become who you are and the way that you approach your art. And so I just want to say thank you so much for continuing to create and finding creative ways to dance and to teach. And, and again, maybe it doesn't look quite the same, but I think that that's something to be celebrated. So thank you for continuing to share art with the world. I think that what you do really matters and it really makes a difference.

[00:37:15] Emerson Mertens: Thank you so much. And thank you for having me. I was so glad to be on. I love what you're doing with this podcast. I, I love learning more about all kinds of different artists, and I just think everybody's experience really can, can help us see all kinds of different things that we may have never noticed before. And I just, I love that. So thank you so much for having me on and having me share my experience.

[00:37:39] Lindsey Dinneen: Yeah, absolutely. Yes. I completely agree with you and thank you so much to everyone who has listened to this episode. I really appreciate your support. And I hope if you're feeling as inspired as I am, if you wouldn't mind just sharing this episode with a friend or two, and we will catch you next time.

[00:38:02] If you have a story to share with us, we would love that so much. And I hope your day has been Artfully Told.

[00:38:12]Hey, Artfully Told listeners, it's Lindsey here. I want to say, first of all, thank you so very much for your continued support of Artfully Told, for listening to the episodes, and for being a part of bringing art to the world. I really believe that what we're doing is important and matters, and I'm just excited to share art with you on a continual basis. I do want to reach out to you.  I do the whole podcasts myself, from the interviews themselves, to the editing, to the transcribing, and then of course posting and all that good stuff. And I absolutely love what I do, but it is both time-consuming and expensive to run a podcast. I have to have the proper equipment, and then of course the proper editing software and hosting platform. And in order to continue to be able to do this on a sustainable basis for the future, I'm asking our listeners, if you guys would consider supporting the podcast. Even a very small monthly donation, like $5 a month, would really go a long way towards me being able to continue to do this in the future. And so I have set up a PayPal account that you can access through the Artfully Told website, which is www.artfullytold.podbean.com. And I would love if you would consider just making a monthly reoccurring donation to support the podcast. We don't have corporate sponsors. So everything that you hear is me doing this from a labor of love. And I love it, but I would ask if you would perhaps consider supporting it too. Thank you so much. Have an amazing day and I'll catch you next time.

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