Celebrating Women

 

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It is International Women’s Day. I wish to celebrate this with a simple blog. I have been taught many things that have inspired my personal success by a diverse group of women. Women who shine in their greatness in the most subtle of ways, yet are powerful, profound, and inspiring. These women deserve my deepest gratitude and more. 

As I ponder the countless women who have influenced my life, it is literally impossible to mention each one. However, here are a few who I have much to be grateful for. 

To an artist who has inspired me for over twenty-five years. Who gave me more than she could ever know. Her friendship, her joy, her art. I am blessed not only by your inspiration but by the honor in which you have taught me to regard my own work. 

To a fellow small businesswoman, who struggles with people’s horrific bigotry about her cultural identity, I humbling apologize for the ignorance of humans and am deeply indebted to you for your grace. You have taught me that even though I diligently try hard to embrace the wonder and see the good in all, I too have bias about what is not completely familiar to me and need to work on that.

To a woman I worked with long ago- a missionary, a nurse, unfettered by the dangerous and unfamiliar, thank you for teaching me that there are difficult things in life that are meant to teach us and as we “accept them with joy”, the power of these tribulations takes on new meaning. 

To my mother, who taught me gratitude in all things. Even on the worst of days, light will shine. 

To my great grandmothers – one from Italy, for teaching me unconditional love. I am grateful for the gentle way that you put your family first. Your tenacity in providing when you had nothing to share, your heart when you felt broken, and your smile. I remember the smile of each of these women. Their beauty and kindness burnished into my heart.

To my daughter, who celebrates life with her big giant heart. Her humor, her passion, and her ability to find incredible joy in twinkle lights, a cup of coffee, and walks in a park. You have taught me so much about embracing the moment. 

To my other mother, who would work well beyond what anyone could have expected of her. She would move a tree literally), bake five pies, and wash every window in the house JUST because it was on her to-do list. She was anything but lazy, She found joy in these accomplishments, and her laughter…. oh the laughter will forever be in my fondest memories. She knew joy in the simple things, the honest work, her beloved family. 

To a long time friend. She taught me that friendship can be lifelong and honorable. Even with distance – your friendship is real, present. You have taught me that relationships don’t have to be easy to be wonderful. You have taught me that I am worth caring for. 

To my sister. You have taught me that when your world literally ended, you could go on. You made a new world, with big love, with patience, with tears, with incredible courage… You made the best of incredible hardship. You raised your family and created more than love than anyone could have thought possible. You have taught me so much. You have encouraged me beyond measure. 

To the lady driving through the parking lot about four years ago smiling your face off. I was so lifted by your smile. It occurred to me that smiling is maybe something I should do more. You changed my life. 

To my husband’s grandmother. You taught me to do my best to put ME first. To take care of me, to enjoy the little things and do it while drinking a nice cup of tea. You taught me that life is to be celebrated, you taught me that I was worthy. I will always be in your debt. 

I could go on and on… there are women I have never met who have also influenced me. There are traditions that have inspired me that I could have never known had I not opened my heart and mind up to something unknown. I am grateful.

For me, International Women’s day is a celebration of the wonder of women. Embracing not only who we are, but where we have come from is a profound aspect of this. I am grateful for the incredible women in my life. Those who walk with me, inspire me, and love me. I celebrate you. 

with deepest gratitude and love 

Susan

The art of paying it forward.

Disclaimer: I actually wrote this blog two months ago. I have been struggling with it ever since. First, I don’t like rocking the boat. It is uncomfortable. I want to inspire, not tick people off. But this topic is important. It is hopefully an opportunity to at the very least make people think about what they are asking for.

Secondly, this is NOT to stop requests. It is to as previously stated, just open the door for discussion, raised consciousness.

Lastly, Thank you for reading this. Sometimes we just need to be heard. That said, on to the rocking of the boat.

 Today I received an email from a stranger asking for art. This isn’t an unusual circumstance, I receive many each year. I admit, when this first began happening I was flattered. They wanted my work! It felt validating. Some of the requests even suggested that it was a good move for me to gain exposure. That made a great deal of sense to me at the time. After all, I NEED to make art, why let it sit in the studio collecting dust? Why not give to someone who will get it out in the world!?

Then I gained more spirit, I am more experienced, I grew, and a very wise person suggested that perhaps I shouldn’t part with my work so easily. She told me that it was certainly a good thing to help people in need, but why must it be ALWAYS for free? She suggested I could give a generous price break, but I should ask to be compensated for my work. 

I responded with,” because that is what we do, we help.”

She then asked if Wegmans (our local grocery store) would give me my groceries for free if I asked them. 

“No,” I replied. 

The problem becomes bigger when you receive requests dozens of times each month. As a business that has grown over the last eight years, I have literally hundreds of requests and I still find It is difficult to say no. Everyone is in need it seems, everyone is trying to do good things. However, practically speaking, there is no way I could give to everyone who requests.  That said, we are all trying to help each other, right?

I think that artists are particularly vulnerable. After all, artists are doing what we love to do, right? That is payment enough, right? Perhaps. However, artists, just like everyone else still have to pay for not only materials to create art but all the other line items that go along with living life.  This IS our job, this IS our vocation. 

I am reminded that we generally don’t ask for other services or other items for nothing. The electric company doesn’t compromise on being paid each month, nor does the mortgage company, or even the grocery store. 

Why am I bringing this up?

It isn’t that I don’t want to help. I do. I actually donate a portion of every single sale made at my gallery to one of several local charities. I guess I am hoping that we will be more sensitive. Art is like any other profession. There is skill involved. There is effort. There are expenses. Just like the auto mechanic, your doctor, your plumber, or your cable provider, we exchange money for services.  While it is true, many artists follow their big dreams and create art every day.  I would imagine that every human who grows up to be what they have dreamt of being has a similar fulfillment. Art is no different. 

So the next time you ask someone to design a tattoo for you, design your business card, paint a picture of your grandmother, donate art to your favorite charity or whatever the case may be, be sensitive. Be honorable. Think about what you are asking for.  Know that what is donated to you is a huge gift. Consider the fact that like anything else, art is a valuable resource. It doesn’t happen magically.

While it is true that artists generally love the work, the process, they also appreciate the opportunity to put food on their table, heat their homes, and buy more art supplies. 

Thank you for listening. 

Blessings & love, 

Susan.

P.S. 

This does not in any way mean that I will never give away a piece of art. It only means that I am trying to share insight from the other side. Thank you for your awareness. a heart painting created on player piano paper