Sunday, January 29, 2017

Anxiety in the time of President Trump

The first time I felt this scared about the state of the world I was 13 and President Kennedy had just spoken to the American people about the Cuban Missile crisis. I thought we were all going to die. It was the beginning of a level of anxiety over the state of the world that was palpable to me. I was terrified and I never wanted to feel that level of anxiety again.

But I did.

My high school and college years intersected with the Vietnam war and class wars in America. I remember a jumble of events, emotions and anxiety. I worried about my male friends, fearing their draft numbers would not be high enough to avoid their going to war.  I worried about all the violence I was seeing between the races, the rioting and hate and division. I never wanted to feel that level of anxiety again.

But I did.

For a while I thought it was getting better. We seemed to be learning to be kinder to each other, to listen to each other, to put ourselves in each other's shoes. I saw MLK and RFK and I had hope. I saw  walls coming down in Europe and I had hope. I saw a peace talk between a Palestinian and an Israeli and I had hope. I saw women stepping up and being heard and gaining the right to their bodies and I had hope. My anxiety was starting to subside over the fate of the world. Maybe we wouldn't get to the brink. Maybe we wouldn't kill each other here or abroad. I was thinking maybe I would never again have that sinking anxiety that the world would end.

But I did and I do.

And this time it's worse than ever before. I'm watching the world as I know it crumble. I'm watching any shred of feeling safe disintegrate. Yes, most of it is from our new POTUS and his administration. We have a puppet who has NO idea he's being used by everyone - by Putin, by Bannon, by his party. They will use him and toss him as soon as he's outlived his usefulness. His ego and narcissism is so strong, he is so pathologically sick, that all they have to do is put some shiny words of praise in front of him and he will do whatever they ask him, sign any Executive order of THEIR agenda, all for a few platitudes that stoke his ego.

All this terrifies me but what saddens me is how divided we are. How will we ever fix things if we are all yelling but no one on the other side is listening. How will we ever come to a consensus if all we ever think is that we are 100% right and they are 100% wrong.

I am liberal and proud of it. I believe in equal rights for women, for people of color, for the LGBT community. I believe in a woman's right to choose what is right for her body. I believe we should continue to let people who are desperate and dying in their countries come here. All my grandparents came here from Europe to escape persecution. I believe in being kind and taking care of those who can not care for themselves. I believe in Medicare and Social Security and Medicaid and healthcare for all.

What I don't believe in is the kind of hatred and division we are now experiencing. I get up in the morning and my stomach hurts before I even turn on the TV to watch the news. I think, "what did he/they do or say now?" I worry about whether I will have to "unfollow" or "unfriend" people because of what they put on FB.

I will continue to email and donate and write and make calls for what I believe in. I think this is a fight that demands to be fought. But I am also willing to listen to all sides if there's a reason to. If it's not just hatred and bigotry and a denial of basic human rights. If it's a real willingness to reach out and work together for what is fair and just for ALL human beings.

I am an optimist by nature so I'm always looking for signs of hope. These days I find it in all the people I see demonstrating and fighting the fight and those across the aisle, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who see people, not politics and are willing to speak up.

I was hoping that once the PEOTUS became the POTUS my anxiety would be assuaged by calmer rhetoric and more reasonable actions.

But it didn't and I'm pretty sure, based on Trump's first week in the office, that I'll be dealing with this anxiety for the next two years at a minimum, and longer than that depending on the results of midterm elections.

I am anxious. I am terrified. I am sad.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

What is enough this holiday season

I've spent a lot of time and energy worrying about having enough.  Did I have enough time to do the things I wanted to do?  Did I have enough money to retire?  Did I have the talent to be the artist I wanted to be?  Was the happiness, success, friends, recognition I had in my life enough?  Did I even know what enough was?

I think some of us spend a lifetime wondering if we're enough.  It can get in the way of living your life….having doubts, questioning whether your choices are smart, are doable, are reasonable.   Will they get you where you want to go?  Is where you want to go the place you should be striving to get to?

Over the years I've worked hard to try to enjoy what was instead of thinking, "It's not enough. It should be better.  It should be more."  I wasn't always successful.  It certainly wasn't easy.  When I let my head get in the way, the doubts could ruin a party, an art event, an evening with friends that were going just fine until I started to think it wasn't enough.  When I let my heart drive, I enjoyed the meal, the jokes, the show reception, even if what I got from it wasn't quite "enough."   In those instances I was in the moment, laughing at a joke, having a conversation with someone that got my intellectual or creative juices flowing, I was savoring the fun I was having.  It was only when I stopped to "think," that I sometimes got in trouble and began to wonder if it was "enough."

This holiday season know that you are "enough."  Know that the people in your life believe you are MORE THAN ENOUGH.  Enjoy the moment, your family, the food.

Know that there are others that truly don't have enough, that would be overjoyed to just have ENOUGH, that would think they were in heaven if they had what you had.  Help take care of them and you will have a much easier time thinking you are enough.

Happy holidays to all my friends and family.  You are enough for me and I love you all!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Looking Back on Thanksgiving

Looking Back on Thanksgiving

It's not always easy to look back when you have more years behind you than in front of you. Did you do the things you set out to do? Did you become the person you wanted to be?  

I had great designs on life.  I was going to be the great American writer following in the footsteps of the writers I loved - Philip Roth, Tennessee Williams, Chaim Potok.  I was going to be a great painter or printmaker like the artists I loved -  Giorgio Morandi, Richard Diebenkorn,  Degas.

I would get married, have children, travel, be creative, etc., etc., etc.  Then real life got in the way.

A long term relationship that went awry, that I couldn't get away from, leaving me not wanting another relationship for a good long time.  Parents that needed me to take care of them, support them financially and emotionally, leaving me with little time to have a life of my own.

Yes, I could have said no.  I could have lived my life for myself and turned my back.  But it's not who I am or who I wanted to be.   And I was ill equipped, from an emotional standpoint, to walk away from my parents, who despite what they asked of me, I realized loved me.

Over time, with a lot of soul searching (and therapy) I started to make my way back to my own life….to think about what I wanted.  I started to paint, but didn't consider myself an artist.  I started to write, but didn't consider myself a writer.  Most importantly, I started to ask for help.  And when I did, I got it…from EVERYONE I asked.

I was older than I would have liked to have been when I started living my own life.  I really had to start over, in my mid-late 40's to try to figure out what I wanted for myself.  Not for others.  And I had to look back at what I didn't have that I thought were the most important things…a husband, children, grandchildren.

As I looked at my life I realized at that time I did have much of the things that I wanted.  I didn't have a husband but I had incredibly close family and friends that consistently proved that they would be there for the good (to support my art, my dreams, my creativity), and the bad (two breast cancer diagnoses in 8 years, the loss of a parent, the loss of a job I loved and thought I would have until I retired).

I didn't have biological children, but I had young people in my life I loved and who loved me back.  I was blessed with Scott, Ian, Dan, Alex, Zach, Rachel, Jake, Alyssa, Em and Sam, as well as a family I absolutely adore, and would do anything for, in New Mexico.

I have great nieces and a great nephew, Chloe, Alexandra, Abraham, and Amelia and my little ones in New Mexico, Gianni and Giada.

This year, as I turned 65 and retired, I could look back and see what I didn't have or I could look at what I'm blessed with and what I have to look forward to.


Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

I keep the card from my friend Janet's memorial over the phone by my desk. When people ask me who she is and why it's there I tell them it's to remind me of what's important. Janet was always worried about losing her job. Those of us who cared about her only wanted her to be in remission and get well. Unfortunately that didn't happen. When I lost my job at 60, a 4 year breast cancer survivor, and 2 years from my free medical benefits, I was very very conflicted. I was excited about the freedom to paint full time but also very anxious about money and getting medical benefits long term after my Cobra ran out. But I always tried to come back to Janet. Instead of thinking about what I lost I try to think about what I've found the last two years. Here's what I'm thankful for. I'm thankful every time my mammogram or mri is clear.
I'm thankful for my family and close friends. Thanks for always being there - and to all the young people in my life, thanks for always including me in your celebrations and with the next generation of children coming into our lives.
I'm thankful for my job and all the new friends I've made at work. I'm thankful for my Mckinsey family - I love that we keep in touch, both on facebook and in person. I'm thankful for all the old friends I haven't seen in years and have connected with on Facebook. I'm especially thankful for finding my passion for creating art. It's been such a blessing in my life. A happy and healthy holiday to all. Please remember what's important today!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

What inspires you?

Inspirations can push us to do things we haven't tried before. They can help us be better people and they can help us be grounded and happy when things aren't going the way we want them to.

My inspirations constantly change. Sometimes I'm inspired by art - as I was by the recent Richard Diebenkorn works on paper I saw at the Greenberg Van Doren gallery. Sometimes I'm inspired by people, and what they do, like my friend Lisa, who is kind and giving and selfless and thinks/helps others before worrying or doing something for herself, or by my friend Janet who while waging a fierce but failed battle with cancer continued to work until she just couldn't and who I never ever heard say "why me?"

Right now I'm inspired by all the friends who are trying to carve careers as artists and friends who are trying to find new jobs. We're all trying to live the lives we want, to pay our bills, to find a balance, to not give up, to not say, "why me?"

I realized the next chapter of my life doesn't have to be work or art. I've sacrificed my art to look for work and sacrificed looking for work to paint. Maybe the next part of my life is painting. I know once I stop painting it's very very hard to get back to it and when you haven't worked in the corporate world for a while you start to worry that it will be hard to get back in the work groove.

Keep looking for your inspirations - I'm going to go get out my paints and create something.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

what I've learned over the last few months

I've learned a lot over the last 6 months, including just how much I don't know about a bunch of things.

Here are some of the most important things I've learned:

I've learned not to be afraid either of failure or success. Putting your work out in the world can be scary, but regardless of what happens, doing something is better than doing nothing.

I've learned to experiment - the paintings I'm doing now look nothing like the work I did two years ago, or even last year for that matter.

I've learned to learn from others - it's not just about what you do, it's what you open yourself to learning and a willingness to be curious. I've asked people "how did you do that" dozens of times over the last 6 months.

I will continue to post and share both what I've learned and what I've created in these blog postings and will continue to explore other artist's blogs and websites to learn and grow as much as possible.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

This has been an interesting 6 months. I was "downsized" in December and started painting pretty much full time. Being around art and artists all the time has influenced my work and helped me to grow creatively. I plan on using this blog to share my art, gain feedback and learn as much as I can from fellow artists.