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Pull up a stool at the bar and let the blonde with the brilliant sunny smile pour you a tall freezing frothy glass of ale. Melissa is tonight's Toil Girl in the Spotlight and she'll tell you why.


"Before I met my sweetheart Jason I was with my previous boyfriend for thirteen years. I even commissioned Les quite a few years ago about a Toil Girl portrait that kind of celebrated that relationship I was having with my ex at that time. Almost everything that was featured in that first Toil Girl portrait was there for him. It turned out he was seeing another girl while he and I were supposedly a couple--and I had no idea it was going on until after we had broken up.

I was still with my ex when my Dad passed away--but he wasn't there for me emotionally when I needed support.  He put on a great show for everyone, but the only person, other than my family and friends, that sincerely cared about me and how I felt was Jason and a very close friend I grew up with. Jason was always there for me during that hard period. I won't forget the peace that I felt when he walked into the room where I was standing by my mom. He smiled at me and asked if I was holding up OK. I said I am now.

After my break-up with my ex Jason and I had become very good friends before we actually began to date. I never knew what a real relationship was supposed to be like until Jason and I began to establish a relationship. He's still showing me things to this day. I've done more in these four years with him than I'd ever done with my ex. We make each other laugh just about all the time. We cook, clean, and just live in the moments. I had gotten back things I'd lost from myself and I'm still learning to live again without my Dad. He was my solid rock. But Jason is now right there by my side.

I eventually showed Jason the portrait Les created back when I was with my ex. He liked it but he wasn't a hunter or a Harley rider which were two of the things featured in that first portrait-- plus I wasn't anywhere close to being any of those things either. I asked Jason if he wanted it because my ex never showed any great interest in it.  Jason said "Sure, I'll take it. It's beautiful". Ultimately I didn't want him to keep it, because all I could see was everything I had done to please my ex and nothing for myself.

I had gotten in touch with Les again and told him I loved the picture he had done for me long ago, but then I explained why I didn't want it to represent me anymore and asked if I could pay him to redo it or just do a completely new portrait. He was so understanding and helpful and said he had no problem in creating a work of art that reflected the new happier me.

As far as the concept I had in mind for the new portrait, I went with something that both Jason and I like--even though Jason had no idea I was doing this. We like to go out to our favorite place and sit at the bar and talk to each--as well as to the bartender. We are one another's favorite company, something my ex never really had any interest in being.

Also included in the art is my fur baby that I lost a year to the day my dad passed away. Les also made the portrait extra special by putting my favorite picture of Jason and I in it.

This was the best thing I'd done for myself--as well as for Jason, but, mainly, it was for me. Jason is my very best friend and he makes me want to be a better person. I'm am happier now than I've ever been.

If anyone wants to be a Toil Girl--do it! But do it for yourself. Let it be for you. Be what you want to be or be something you've always dreamed of being. You owe it to yourself".

Melissa, there is no doubt receiving such write-ups as yours are truly what make this all worthwhile for me. Creating a pretty picture is one thing. Creating something that evokes a personal joy and love within someone's heart every time they see it is a whole 'nother ball game. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing the beautiful and not-so-beautiful things that were responsible for the birth of this portrait.

By the way, the things you say about your Dad...and how difficult of a transition his departure has been for you-- that lets me know your father obviously treated you with love and respect. You were his princess. And it would have been unacceptable for you to have remained with a man such as your ex that treated you as so much less than that. But Jason has found his princess and you have found your prince.  Your Dad is very happy now.

Hugs and thanks again for sharing this with us Melissa.



Inducted 9/17

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