Sunday, March 03, 2013

More Art

After my time in Miami last September and taking in its amazing art and culture, I knew change had to happen.  I was clearly missing that art and creativity in my life.  I did a little bit in the fall but it was still tough with work travel and then storms and then the holiday.

My promise for 2013 was simply More Art.  More Art in 2013.  It was easy to start off on that foot too - with IPAY and APAP within 10 days of each other immediately post New Year's.  I saw some wonderful performances at both conferences but it also occured to me that I've relied on the conferences as a primary source of performance and new art.  I still get out and see shows - in NYC and here - but I wasn't reading the reviews in the Times and making lists of theater worth checking out.  And we all know the visual arts fell off my radar some time ago.

So without over-doing it, I'm adding in bits of art each month.  February has included a trip to Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, a gorgeous indoor and outdoor scultpure and mosaic garden designed and created by Philadelphia native Isaac Zagar.

It also included me getting back into the pottery/ceramics studio.  I took a Friday night Fun in Clay class at the local community arts center.  It was a small class and within the first hour, it was incredible to experience how it felt again - how much I rememebered, how focused I could be.

It's about First Fridays, museums, photography, ceramics, painting, and doing more of it.  Doing some with the child and some alone.  Some structured, some not.

Let me hear that whistle baby

So I'm not a top 40 listener, unless I'm working out.  But it's killing me how many people I hear all fired up over lyrics these days, corrupting their kids - as if it's any different now than it was when we were kids.  Of course it's trash.  Of course there is way more in our/their faces now.  But I counter Flo Rider's Whistle with The Do Me Rap...or I Touch Myself.  Both tunes I knew word for word and sung along to, in the late 80s/early 90s, when I was 12-13, and knew what they meant.  But I also sang Like a Virgin and I was 7.  Or Billie Jean at age 5.  I didn't know what it meant and the 'rents didn't get into it.  They let me enjoy Madonna and MJ.  I'm sure they rolled their eyes at Madonna the way my eyes roll at "celebs" these days.  This stuff will always be around, in some form, influencing our kids, be it through radio, peers, social media.  All we can do is make the choice to be and stay involved - know when it makes sense to change the channel (put on XPN), unplug, zap MTV/YouTube, or ask the 6th grader, "Do you know what Whistle is about?" and maybe it's a platform for meaningful conversation...or let a teacher know that the 4 yr old is belting out some inappropriate language at school.

And now I give you the Divinyls.  CLASSIC.

Monday, October 22, 2012

I hate Tumblr

Monday 5pm rant: I hate Tumblr.  There is NO order to any of the Tumblr blogs I've ever stumbled across (if that's were they call themselves) and 90% of the time, no real credit given for photos (that reblogged business is BS - AND it looks atrocious when you scroll and scroll and "reblogged by______" takes up 80% of the page).  When little hipster faces smile at me from About, I want to smack them for posting and not giving a shit.  It drives me MAD.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Trying to clear my head at the moment...just get in it, get out of it, and everything in between.  Conferences, while often anticipated for the travel, the change of pace, and the promise of face time with my colleagues, does indeed bring a crash.  I remember my first APAP and the crash that followed.  It was like the day after Christmas.  Many moons have passed since then but I still experience it.  I was cranky last week, no doubt just trying to get caught up on sleep and tie up loose ends before the next trip.  Midwest was terrific - easier, busier, great meetings, a great session, meaningful connections.  I felt for a moment, brilliant.  And PAE was...well, when I get out my own head and get perspective, even a better sense of space and time, it was decent.  Especially given that I didn't know any southerners.  I made a lot of new connections and that does matter in the long run. 

It's hard to not compare the two conferences.  Each has its own mission and values and personalities.  Hard to not compare my experiences at one versus another.  They were both decent in their own way.  I long for consistency and pay off.  I suppose it will eventually happen. 

It's also hard (for me) to not always be thinking, what's next?  What is the next goal to achieve?  It's hard to be in the moment.  Be content and appreciative and grateful of this time and this experience.  That overachieving side of me is one of my greatest strengths but also a weakness since it can eat away at a sense of worth.  It's easy to let myself be defined by a series of achievements and met goals.  I'm remembering a TED talk about how it's important (and often enough at times) to just show up.  To show up, bring our best, put the time in and do it.  Not every day is magic or brilliant. 

Not every conference or meeting or moment is awesome and most probably won't be.
Not every piece of art I create is stellar or needs to be stellar.
So accepting that and being OK with showing up and creating for the sake of creating...that's enough.  And in the world of conferencing and artist representation, I need to find a way to be OK with the mundane. I suspect these two are related.  If I can get back to some things that I've missed for some time, namely creating some art, I think I will find an inner peace that will allow me to feel like the hard and smart work of each day is enough, and will in time, allow for another moment of brilliance. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Some people are just moody souls sometimes and the other night at the opening party my mentor was in a mood. I let it go and did my own thing. My last words to my roommate before nodding off to slumber were, "I hope he doesn't come to my session tomorrow."

The thing is some teeny part of me thought he probably considered it. But truthfully, he doesn't attend keynotes or sessions or any of that so I never expected him to show up. At 8:05, maybe 30 seconds after I started my presentation, he walked through the door. Amazement and panic hit me in the face. I couldn't stop, I had to keep going, but it tripped me up for a few minutes. Eventually I had to not think about him being in the room and my nervous thoughts that I was "on" and was I doing a good enough job? Was I measuring up? It's easier for me to talk for 90 minutes to a group of strangers versus to one person I know. And not just know but respect and admire and whose integrity and business ethic and smarts are what I strive for as well.

Way to make me nervous.

I never looked over his way the entire time. Somehow I got through it and it was near 9:30am and as I was wrapping up he offered some additional insights to our audience. It was over, I was done, I packed up and finally breathed and took in the fact that I just led my first ever professional development session at a regional. I did it. It was tough but I did it and it was rewarding.

I fired off a text message that was - I cannot believe you came. I couldn't even look at you. Way to make me nervous. To which he replied, Sorry. You were great. I wanted to hear it.

I spent the better part of that morning "on" in the booth and decompressing and digesting. I immediately felt like he set out to make me crash the session if you will. But slowly, I realized that wasn't the case. Let's just say building confidence as an entrepreneur is tough, even for otherwise independent confident people. I'd been fighting to find myself - both old and new versions of me. I had been realizing since November just how much BS was in my head and how easy it is to get caught up in old patterns of thinking. Thinking that people are out to make me feel nervous, "on" and to be perfect all the time so as to impress and prove myself. Something, I don't know what, got a hold of me and shook me to my senses. It's enough to show up and do what we do. It was enough to show up, in Grand Rapids, be my great self, bring my knowledge, and be part of something bigger. And people come because they care - about me. Isn't that why I go? Even when I know the material? It's for moral support. Finally, I gave myself permission to accept that I was enough and I was worthy of that. That maybe I had shown the gorgeous genius that I am and continue to be.

I circled back with a very sincere thank you...thank you for coming. It was great to have you there. So many compliments on the session, on my knowledge and on "that guy at the end" who had really thoughtful insights. He was there for me. He had my back.

This conference was the final nail in that old thinking's coffin. I realize how much support I have. Real, genuine, I believe in you and have your back, support. It's not always spoken by our colleagues and mentors but it's there. I'm liberated and very blessed.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

On My Shoulders

We were talking about big long term plans and he had asked if I'd stay in our current house and I confided how I wanted to I'd been ready to move for 2-3 years now but given the turn of events from 2009 to present day, it doesn't allow for it.  I gave him the Reader Digest version of it all and summed it up with how I feel like it's my fault things aren't progressing.  And he stared me straight in the eye and said - That's a whole lot of responsibility to put on your shoulders.  You should try to take some of that off.

I felt vulnerable in that I suddenly realized I'd said too much.  And why do I always offer so much?  On the way home I thought of other specific questions I'd had and forgot to ask.  Damn.  But then thought - that wasn't what it was about.  Sure, he's a great sounding board for business tactics and planning but he plays another role too. 

He's always telling me to not be so hard on myself.

I'm always conflicted after these conversations. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Long Island

Last week Mitch and I took a mini road trip to Long Island to see the Treehouse Shakers perform in Huntington.  I had booked Coyote's Dance with Huntington Arts Council on their outdoor stage in Heckscher Park (part of the Summer Arts Festival, Family Series) and it would be a twilight show and gorgeous.  While I'd been to Nassau over the years, I hadn't been back to Suffolk in eleven years and I was excited to make this less about work travel and more about fun -- beaches, seeing the hold sights, etc.  I loved not having to be "on" but just exploring again.

Once one gets past the crappy Belt Parkway traffic (past Kennedy airport) and well into Nassau County, it's so beautiful on the island.  We arrived and checked in at our "day in" only to quickly realize it was a real dive (as in, pay by the hour, trucker stop, enter room from the outside, smokey/dingy, something out an after school special hide out place).  It reminded me of that horrid little place in Parsippany from years back and now with a 4 year old in tow, I could not in sound judgement stay.  L.I. - for being home to many a swank New Yorker's home or vacation home - has its fair share of lodges and motels and even on a budget, I really wouldn't recommend one stay at one of the "lodges."  As my good friend and I joked, avoid anything with "Sleep" and "Roadway" in it as well.  Fork over the dough and get something nice.  It makes all the difference in the world.

A few calls and a dinner later, we were checked into the fabulous Long Island Sheraton in my old hometown and my bad motel experience was behind us with a credit back to my account.  Funny how things work out.  I feel like we were destined to be in Smithtown for most of our stay.

Sunset over Smithtown

I spent a lot of time just driving....driving around, driving to get lost, driving to find.  Find my old house, my old school, a beach, a park, the diner, and just to see how things changed and how they stayed the same.  Driving to reminisce and tell "when I was a kid" stories to my son.  We found our way to Sunken Meadow State Park on the north shore, complete with a big kids' jungle gym area, a beach, bath houses, mini boardwalk, snack stand, and a glorious albeit rocky shoreline.  We had glorious weather the entire three days and that Tuesday July 10, it was a sunny 79 degrees on the beach.  We didn't have all our beach toys but we still enjoyed the time to just sit and be.  To look out and see CT across the take in the beauty of the coast.

My old house -- Village of the Branch, Smithtown, NY (top) and the Post Office (bottom)

I loved seeing my old house (and the swing set in the backyard) and amazed at how many stories and memories I could recount with such clarity and enthusiasm to my child.  I loved that Mitch wanted me to show him all around, show him my old ____.

I had an existential moment over fro yo that Tuesday wondering what if...what if we had stayed?  What would have happened?  Who would I have been?  Who would my friends have been?  I'm sitting here with my son in 2012, twenty-six years after we left Smithtown.  He might not even be here, at least not in this way, had we stayed.

Sunken Meadow State Park (view of the beach umbrellas that dotted the sky on the mini boardwalk; view of the beach and Long Island Sound; my son a little "meh" over the stone beach)

It was too deep and philosophical for me in that moment, over Red Mango fro yo.

Somedays I miss NY in ways I cannot describe.  I may not even be able to articulate it well here. It's not about wishing something had played out differently, wishing we had stayed, wishing I was a true New Yorker.  It's a different sort of miss, of longing.  It's something that maybe only someone with as much wanderlust would understand.  It explains why, when I return, to the city or the island, I feel immediately like I belong.  Like I could live this NY life.  It's rooted in a love of and need to travel/explore/immerse and appreciation of one's personal history.  That despite the family hardships of that time, it really was a terrific town and for me, at that time (aged 6-9), it was formative and impressionable.  A lot of wonderful memories there.  Most of all, I'm grateful for that wanderlust that brings me back to enjoy every ounce of what that island offers.  Grateful I can now share it with my little guy.

Here are some pics of our time on L. I.  I cannot say enough fabulous things about Huntington -- Heckscher Park, the ponds with ducks, the huge kids' playground complete with sandboxes, the outside theater, the overall experience.  What a family centered town.  Had we more time, we'd have gone back and just wandered around, maybe fed some ducks, seen the museum that is right there in the park, even explored downtown Huntington.  Treehouse Shakers had a terrific audience that evening and I am proud of them and the community for supporting the arts.  A special shout out to John Chicherio at Huntington Arts Council and Jim P. at Long Island Children's Museum - always great to see colleagues.

Heckscher Park - view of the park with the lakes and ducks; Treehouse Shakers perform Coyote's Dance

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Reading List

I asked my Philly Social Media Moms group for summer reading lists as I prepare for a trip this week and the beach in two more weeks.  I'm pretty lucky if I can read two books a year these days but I'm happy to say that with my Kindle, I've been doing a little more than usual.  Since the holidays, I've downloaded and read Scary Mommy and started Swag by Lisa Bloom.

Here are a few more to add to my pile - in electronic form or print - from Amazon, my favorite online shop.  Disclaimer -- I'm a lover of historical fiction and a few of these are historically based and focus on anthropological looks of a certain time.

The Chaperone - Laura Moriarty

Then Came You: A Novel - Jennifer Weiner