Here’s to a New Year!

Happy 2017!

I did not intend to have such a blank spot in this blog after beginning a few months ago. I wrote up an editorial calendar of all the posts I intended to write for two months a few days before the election. Like many others, the election really threw me for a loop. I had a hard time concentrating on anything. The election and the response to it from both sides has called into question my values, my vision for the future, and frankly, my vision for this blogging adventure of mine.

To add to the mix, at the end of November, I retired from my 16 year career as a massage therapist. I planned for the retirement, but the reality of letting go of the career I loved so much when everything else seemed to be up in the air only added to my confusion and inertia. I expected a certain amount of inertia, it goes along with retirement for a few months, but had not planned on the sadness and fear I have been feeling due to the election.

However, here we are. It is January, a time for new beginnings, and I have had over a month of retirement and two months of post-election wallowing. I am ready to shake off the doldrums and get to work on my plans for the rest of my life. I am ready to meet whatever comes with the political climate. Not resigned to it, but ready to resist and to stand up for my beliefs and values and the rights of all people.

I figure out what I am thinking and feeling by writing and making art. I feel that now, more than ever, the world needs people who are figuring themselves out and expressing themselves.

Being creative has made me braver. The world needs bravery and courage, it needs people able to express themselves thoughtfully, not just with knee-jerk responses on social media.

So, I am still here, and I’ll be writing and sharing, and making art and sharing. I hope you will join me, whether online or in person. I have updated my classes and events page with a wonderful two part class I am teaching with my friend, Tina Abbott. It is a class about getting curious about what really lights you up, and how to make those things happen for you in the New Year. It is more than making resolutions, read the description for more.

Unfortunately, we have canceled the two part class, and will be announcing it at a later date. I have 3 dates for beginning art journaling classes in my studio on the classes and events page, if you are interested.

Post-election Reflections

It helps to write it out...
It helps to write it out…

I had planned a very different post-election 2016 post, I allowed myself, in the last couple of days before election day, to get excited and very emotional about a woman president.

But, here we are, four days post-election, and I am still emotional but not excited. I’m not going to write about all the reasons I’m not happy with the result, but I do want to point out the most discouraging statistic, for me, from the outcome:

53% of white women voted for Trump. This statistic lifted a veil from my eyes. We still live in a white supremacist patriarchy, and the majority of white women voters are ok with that.

White women voted for exclusion against inclusion. They voted for a person and a party that are eager to shut down what little progress has been made for women’s reproductive choice, for equal pay for women in the workplace, for basic dignity rights for women not to be sexually harassed in the workplace or elsewhere. They voted for a system that has children of immigrant parents, and black and brown children waking up afraid and being bullied at school and in the community because of hate speech practiced by the candidate for whom they voted. As a woman, mother, grandmother—HUMAN BEING, I cringe and cry for these children and their parents.

What I have decided so far with this election I am so opposed to is this: I am still passionate about working with creativity and I believe that art saves, art illuminates, art opens our eyes–I am more dedicated than ever to my own art-making AND to opening the eyes of all of us through creative expression.

I hope you’ll join me. Make a journal page that expresses your sadness, joy, anger, fear and transform your feelings into a message of love and action. Write out your anger, fear, sadness and what you can do about it, figure out a way to dress that expresses your solidarity with those who are afraid or being harassed. Make dinner for a neighbor family. March or show up at a demonstration, raise money for an organization that’s threatened and/or working for change.

My hope for this website and for the classes I will teach in the future is to help people find a way to express themselves through art and through that process, define themselves and make changes to live with courage, creativity and wisdom. The world needs women and men of courage acting with deep wisdom more than ever. I truly, truly believe tapping into our innate creativity is how to reach that courage and deep wisdom.

Uncovering Courage

Trees are my totems
Trees are my totems

Six years ago my husband of 31 years asked for a divorce. Despite the fact that I felt in the pit of my stomach this was coming, I never believed we would really split up, after all, we’d been together for over half of our lives. When he told me, I heard the thunderous sound of the other shoe dropping. I was also terrified. I hadn’t lived alone for a very long time, and having a grasp of our finances, I knew my income would make it very difficult to live on my own. My husband leaving felt like the end of the world. I NEVER saw myself as a divorced woman, especially not at 61. Part of me wanted to just crawl into a hole and lick my wounds, but I didn’t even miss a day of work. I was sadder and more angry than I’ve ever felt in my life, but I had to keep going. I don’t necessarily recommend this approach, but I somehow knew it was the only way I could keep from falling apart.

A dear friend offered her empty MIL apartment to me for a few months. I paid rent, half the rent of the apartment we lived in when we split. I ended up staying there for 3 1/2 years. It was a delightful studio apartment with skylights and big windows. The small size felt comforting and cozy when I was still going through the pain and uncertainty of the divorce, and starting my life over. It was my safe cocoon.

Another wise friend who’d also been through a divorce advised me to try something new every day. I took the advice to heart, as doing what was left of  my “usual” things only reminded me I was alone and poor. It was a good practice and helped me realize that there was the possibility of a bigger, better life ahead. I would definitely recommend this practice to anyone going through a big change!

Without the dubious security of another income (my husband’s), I was forced to take my struggling private massage practice seriously. It was a struggle, but I began to enjoy building a business, and eventually my financial picture became less dire. As my life leveled out, and I had time and resources to think beyond survival, I began to feel cramped in my cozy nest. I wanted a place with more space for a bigger life and where I could afford to live as I aged and inevitably had to give up massage.

Two and a half years ago, I was lucky to get an apartment in an Artspace building. I carefully researched what it would mean to live here, based on what I felt my needs would be as I grew older. The rents are stable, and subsidized, the space is optimized for artists to live and work in their apartment, the residents are expected to be a community, supportive of each other and everyone’s artistic expression. I’m also close to all sorts of public transportation, so I don’t need the expense of a car, which I gave up a year ago!

I was scared to death when my husband left, but I have developed courage over the six years since that day. I can see now that I’ve been resourceful all my life, I’ve learned that resourcefulness is a part of courage. I would never have said I was courageous, at any point in my life. That is why I was so scared. Now I acknowledge my courage, which I think may have been there all along, I just forgot about it.

Courage is recognizing I can trust myself.
It is listening to the voice of intuition, more than the voice of the critic.
It is being vulnerable and willing to ask for help.
Courage is trusting that life is good and abundant.