I have seen several post calls for support of late. The suggestion at the end is to repost the message. The offer seems to be, if you need something, I am here for you. The texts apply to depression and other illnesses. This got me thinking.
It has been a difficult few months for me. I don’t say this for sympathy- just stating a fact. Challenges have prevented me from doing what I would normally do.
What I have been keenly made aware of is that people offer what they can do. For instance, a kind word, an offer of prayer or good thoughts, a card, sometimes dinner, or to offer to drive somewhere. Covid has made me understand in a whole new way that we are all in this together. Aging and challenges have made me understand that I have limitations, and a prayer might be the best I have to offer at the time.
I guess I am writing all of this for the simple reason that often I beat myself up because I am not able to do all the things I would normally do to support those around me. However, sometimes the simplest things have made the biggest difference for me.
Yesterday someone carried tables for me after a workshop, before that someone helped me arrange the classroom, someone made sure I had cups and water for the class, someone shared a very supportive word, and someone was empathetic (when I suggested I was pathetic). I share this because each of these actions was simple, but each made a huge impact. Each made me feel like I am supported and cared for. I am incredibly grateful.
So, my advice is to meet people where you are. If you can listen to someone who needs a kind word, please try to do so with your greatest love, If you can offer a ride, or a grocery run, please do. If you can do nothing else but wish someone well in your heart, then do that. We are all in this together.
You make a difference. I am grateful.
October has been a time for many artists to find a way to draw daily. It seems like we have spent so much time doing businessy things over the summer that we need to shake the dust off and get back to creating. Since its beginning Create Art 4 Good has facilitated workshops and other good things for all those creative, and this year I wanted to inspire a back-to-basics kind of challenge. Just like self-care, sometimes taking a moment to draw seems to happen too rarely.
That said, I know there are many challenges this month, not the least of which is Inktober. I certainly respect what they are doing, but I don’t always love the topics. The “Drawtober” challenge I created is an effort to explore some of the basics again. Think about textures, shapes, and color. Make the ordinary extraordinary! Make it yours!
I would love for you to share your drawings! Feel free to use whatever media makes you happy. Work for thirty minutes or less, and then post on social media! I’d love to see! Please use the hashtags #drawtober and #createart4good
Let the creation begin!
There are so many things I want to say about today. However, I am certain you are going to be inundated with others’ thoughts and ideas too, I certainly don’t want to be “noise” I will do my best to keep this brief. (I cannot promise)
Today, on the international stage, has been declared “Empowered Women’s day”. While I am thrilled to celebrate this day, EVERY DAY should be empowered women’s day. But, I digress. Today is a day where I am hoping we step back and take a look at how we treat women. This goes for not just men, but also women. As a mother of one daughter (and two bonus daughters), and a grandmother of one granddaughter, this day is a reason for pause, to take stock, to certify that my actions are true of empowerment.
First- words matter. What you say and how you say it really DOES make a difference. We are here to help each other be the best possible humans we can be. I have preached to my children to be the best they can be, no matter what path they may choose. Living your best life is not easy. The world can be so full of roadblocks. My job as the chief cheerleader is to help them navigate the roadblocks, or sometimes just to sit and listen while they do. Sometimes empowerment means to just sit and hold space.
Think about this- what if you only had support for your ideas, for your dreams? Certainly, it is a journey and not every idea is going to bloom, but you will with certainty grow, learn what works and what does not. If you have support (and no judgment) the likelihood is we will celebrate the process instead of feeling shame about the lessons (aka failures).
Next, leave your garbage in the trash bin. The world can be a challenging place. However, my experience is not yours and yours is not mine. While personal experience can bring wisdom, it shouldn’t bring roadblocks for others. I see this, particularly when speaking with my children and grandchild. It is vital for me to step back, perhaps guide a little but ultimately let them follow their heart without me dashing their thoughts. I might not agree with their choices, and some might even scare me a little, but ultimately, it is their choice.
Perfection. This is the killer of all greatness in my opinion. As women we have these images in our heads that we have to have superpowers, be the ultimate —- fill in the blank along with a hundred other things. Certainly, I have learned that for me perfection is not attainable, and the seeking of which is ultimately setting myself up for failure. Today, my best might look very different from tomorrow. The goal here is not perfection, but to do the best and most invested you can be at this very moment. If you fail? Change the path a smidgen and try again, but perfection is not a worthy goal, authenticity is.
Lastly, your success does not diminish me. “A rising tide lifts all boats.”- Celebrating each other, our success, supporting each other through the difficult times serves everyone. EVERYONE!
So today. take a minute to ponder how your actions and words to empower other women. You have the opportunity to take stock and grow a little. You have the opportunity to send someone a text, remind them why they are doing so great. You have the opportunity to write a note of encouragement and slip it onto a co-worker’s desk. You have the opportunity to pay it forward even in the smallest of ways. YOU have the power to make a difference. So go do it.
A rising tide lifts ALL boats.
Sending you so much love,
In the #MeettheMakerChallenge- next up is Brand Values. When forming Create Art 4 Good, I worked really hard at defining what this was all meant to be. For me going into business was an opportunity. It was an opportunity to not only create art, and support the art of others, but it was also a way to be aware of the world around me and use my talents for good. I give a portion of every single sale to a local charity. It doesn’t matter if it is a greeting card from my card business – Greetings 4 Good, or a large painting, each piece I have created is used to pay it forward.
Toward that end, I created “the thoughtfulness project”. It is a project that seeks to pay it forward, give back, and create joy. It is a project that can be as simple as paying for someone’s coffee, dropping off hundreds of cards to a nursing home, or sending something to a stranger in need. Last year (2021) I sent literally thousands of cards, through the mail, dropped off, or otherwise. Most were sent to 97% strangers. The whole idea is to SHARE THE LOVE!
The best of what we are can be joyfully shared with others to support and celebrate! Life can be hard, but we as humans who care can make a difference. That is just what I seek to do.
I personally LOVE February- (not for the snow in upstate New York, I assure you.) I love it for the love. It’s Valentine’s day, it’s hearts everywhere, and NOONE gives me any grief about painting hearts all day long. Painting hearts seems to be one of those carefree mixed media fun things I so enjoy. I enjoy it on such a pure and sweet level. (when I am not self-editing)
But it goes deeper than that. I see my art as an opportunity, as a meditation, as a way to put an intention out into the world. While the shape of a heart might be an obvious symbol of love, the intention goes far beyond that. This is a motivation behind my card company Greetings 4 Good.
Greeting cards can show love every single day of the year. Greetings 4 Good seems to be one of the ways I can do this. I make art, I photograph it, pop it into my creative suite, send it to the printers and voila! Cards! Some of my earliest and happiest memories have to do with cards. Making them, receiving them, seeing the variety, how people sign them- I noticed (and still do) all of the details. While it may just be a piece of card stock, for me it is a symbol of love.
I am not sure why I woke up on a fourteen-degree morning to share all this with you- but I did. Today, I think I am feeling the gravity of the two-year pandemic. I feel the weight of not being able to see people, I feel the weight of separation, isolation, and concern. When an unexpected piece of “happy mail” (happy mail = unexpected mail that is not related to bills or other adult things) shows up in my mailbox I feel valued, loved, and thought of. It’s a good thing.
So… send the card- the note, the postcard- whatever! Share the love! It matters.
It has taken me a day or two to catch up with the fact that the new year has presented itself. A brand new, shiny, clean new year. In the past, I have always looked at the new year as a fresh slate. This year, circumstances don’t necessarily present that optimism as clearly for me.
It is also a time of reflection on the year past. From what I observe online, many are suggesting that 2021 was a horrific year. I agree, it certainly had its challenges. I am discouraged that it is so easy to discard an entire year as horrific.
Before you get defensive, I know there has been great loss. I know that we are tired. I know that the world is STILL in a global pandemic. I know that our lives have changed in order to manage that pandemic. I know. I know that likely every single one of you reading this knows someone who is suffering from covid, cancer, or some other horrible affliction. I am keenly aware that the challenges are great. I might even suggest that I am pretty aware of the same.
Yet. I cannot dismiss three hundred and sixty-five days as all bad. When I reflect upon the past year, I see the personal growth I have worked towards. I see my children blooming in their relationships, their careers, and their humanity. I see my business changing and growing. I see many positive things happening. I see good deeds, good people, generosity of souls, kindness, and caring.
I won’t pretend that I ignore the darkness. There has been so much loss, so much illness, not just Covid, but cancer, and other scary things. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the darkness. But these are the times I actively seek the light. I try to do my best to ramp up the courage and a healthy dose of hope.
As I said, I take time each new year to reflect. Reflect on accomplishments, on lessons learned, on growth, on the joys, on… well many things. I think it would be easy for me to see only the darkness if I didn’t consciously seek gratitude for all of the good, for the joys, for the kindnesses. I saw something recently where someone suggested that we don’t have bad days, we have bad moments. Rarely is every single minute of a day horrible. This offered an interesting perspective that I try to adhere to.
The year presented us with some really horrible things. I know that many are weary. Many have faced giant mountains. I only seek to suggest that we see how many of those mountains have been conquered. How many moments of joy have stitched us together. How many blessings have we received?
So… seek the light, my friends- it is not that we won’t have challenges this year, but I believe that we can meet those challenges more successfully if we focus on the light, even if it is a sliver of light in the darkest darkness.
Happy New Year- sending you so much love,
Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm. A. Lincoln
I have had to ponder this for a bit, it all felt too jumbled emotionally to share. I honestly couldn’t decide if I was happy or sad or both. At this point, I feel the emotion just “was” and defining it ultimately served no real purpose. It was instead an opportunity to move through it and find a way to the other side.
A few weeks ago, would have been my tenth anniversary having a studio at the Hungerford. I bring this up only because leaving the Hungerford marked a huge transition for me. I made note of the date literally the day before. As I said above, I wasn’t sure if I felt happy, sad, or otherwise.
The Hungerford was my first “real” studio. I made a studio space into a gallery. I embraced the esthetic of not so long ago industrial and created my own real-world gallery. I supported artists there. I had a new exhibit with a guest artist (or artists) every single month. I held workshops there. I held events that supported and reached out to the homeless, women in crisis, and those being treated for cancer. I held meetings to support small business Marketing, Artisan Socials, and more.
I worked so hard there… I grew as an artist and a person there… I made some dear friends there… it was home.
In January of 2020, I made the decision that it was time for a change. I love(d) what I was doing- but something in me knew it was time for a big change. I had a lot of time to think about this as I spontaneously drove to Florida by myself (after an invitation twelve hours earlier from my son and bonus daughter) to spend a week with them. I did it! (If you only knew how out of character this was for me)
When I got home about ten days later I knew that change was in the wind. It was happening, I just wasn’t sure how. ( The last time I felt this way I went back to college.)
Enter a Facebook post by Brandi Marino. Brandi shared about a new collective at the Piano Works Mall. I decided to go check it out. My original intention was to see it and if I liked it, consider opening a second site for Create Art 4 Good. Perhaps I would hold workshops there.
Two days later, after seeing the space twice, I made the decision to move from the Hungerford to Central Creatives. (My husband was not pleased, but thankfully he was supportive)
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew this wasn’t just about changing location. It was about changing the business altogether.
The universe must have agreed because out of the thin air I had people volunteering to move me. SO many people! It was really quite amazing. (talk about grateful!) I moved in on February 23, and on February 29th, we as a collective had our first big opening.
Then… the global pandemic hit, and we shut down.
Why on earth am I telling you all this? Well… you see, I changed far more than location. I changed the business. While I still try to support my fellow artists, I do not have a new exhibit every month (who could in a pandemic?) This forced me to make some changes. I am certainly not suggesting that I love the pandemic, but as my mother would have said, “There’s always something to be grateful for.”
What I am grateful for is that I have found a way to prioritize my own work. I have taken quite seriously my art, my greeting card company, and my mission. I still pay it forward with a portion of the profits going to charity. I still support other artists- I am a pretty good cheerleader, but also I have taken over Rochester Artisans started by the ever wonderful Stefani Tadio. This is a group that assists other artists with all things business. It gives me joy to facilitate that group. I even still do a workshop or two. During the height of the pandemic- zoom became a very handy tool. So the changes are there, but maybe it is more of a shift. Perhaps it was time.
So, I might not be at the Hungerford. But I am celebrating a business that is twelve years old. I am celebrating my own personal and professional growth. I am celebrating surviving and even having moments of thriving in the pandemic world. I am grateful for the opportunity to take my own work more seriously, and the courage to do so. I am grateful for you.
(whew, this was a long one, wasn’t it?)
I believe, with my whole heart, I am in the right place.
The best is yet to be…
Thanks for listening! With so much love,
Below is a blog post I wrote five years ago. It was a post to celebrate several years at Create Art 4 Good. It embraced the growth, the changes, and a big announcement. I am sitting here reflecting on this incredible journey that began over a decade ago, really appreciating all the lessons I have learned and the wisdom revealed. I am celebrating the fact that I have done what I set out to do. I am celebrating the incredible support I have been so blessed to receive. I am celebrating the revelation of my dreams. Each year seems to have brought growth and progress. Each year, the dreams became a little more refined.
Five years ago, I announced that I would begin formally Greetings4Good. Little did I know at the time that the mission was finally revealed. It is certain to me that I was absolutely meant to begin Create Art 4 Good as I did. I was blessed to support other artists, curate incredible exhibits, pay it forward with hosting charitable events, as well as financial contributions to local charities, facilitate countless workshops and other creative activities. This was all part of the process. I have learned so much, grown so much, and found perhaps a quieter mission.
Today, while I celebrate all the business of Create Art 4 Good has taught me, I celebrate more the direction this has taken. When I moved from the Hungerford in 2020, I dedicated myself to a new path, or perhaps just a more specifically dedicated one. I wanted and needed to create more, to honor all those millions of ideas swimming in my head. I wanted and needed to work more diligently on my greeting card business.
Greetings 4 Good has become my heart project. It IS my mission. Perhaps it sounds silly, but I have always needed to think I could change the world in some way. I feel that my “gift” is not necessarily art, but the ability to love. I feel that my affection for the underdog, the lonely, the uncelebrated has been the bridge to this business. Cards, especially for no real obligation brighten someone’s day, remind them that they are cared for, and well, it is a simple way to do so.
I have said for some time that I have been blessed to pick up tools and skills throughout my life that the purpose of which would later be revealed. When I went back to college for a graphic design degree, I thought it was to work on logos and business collateral for others. NOPE. It was so that I would have some sort of knowledge base to begin a card company. These skills coupled with my deep desire to paint and create seem to be the perfect marriage.
So today- I celebrate Create Art 4 Good. While I still do my best to support other artists through mentoring as well as Rochester Artisans (thank you, Stefani Tadio!), I am keenly aware that this was the foundational business that brought me to the mission of my life. I still support those in need through donations, the thoughtfulness project, and the 365 project. (in 2021 I set a goal of sending a card a day, and to date I have delivered/mailed/and otherwise nearly 940 cards to friends, family, and mostly complete strangers) I am completely determined to change the world… one greeting card at a time.
Thank you for listening… thank you for celebrating with me. (below is the original announcement of my card company just for giggles)
the best is yet to be.
Sending you so much love!
The Big Announcement (August 9, 2016)
Today is my anniversary! Create Art 4 Good was launched on August 9th. It will always be a “day” for me. I remember when I began, it was a dream in the making. I diligently wrote and re-wrote the business plan SEVEN times. YEP, seven. For me, it was about ensuring the success of my dreams. Today, I am celebrating with awe my successes and jumping with vigor into the next dream!
I could go on and on about how much I have learned, and that is completely true. I could share the changes that have occurred in the last few years, (not the least of which is celebrating my dream of a gallery at the Hungerford)- which is also true.
For me, this is a gigantic celebration that isn’t just about celebrating the success I feel in growing a small business. It is about the opportunity that I am jumping into with my everything. It is about the bubbling pure joy that is overflowing in my heart as I write this.
Let me give you the background information.
When I was little, my mom used to say when my father was feeling a bit grumpy he’d go to the hardware store. He would wander around and sort out his thoughts among the nuts and bolts and shiny new tools. When he returned, he was usually in much better spirits. As an adult, I recognize that this was sort of his time out. He didn’t have to talk to anyone, he just found himself in “the zone”- his zone.
I have a similar “thing”, however usually at a stationery store. I wander around, look and let go. My terrible mood usually turns into something proactive, I buy a card or two (or ten) not usually because I need them, but because I have thought of someone who seems to be going through something or someone who needs to be celebrated. My favorite opportunities are the ones that are not required. An encouragement, a thank you, or just a little bit of love.
Why am I telling you all this? In life we are given many messages, if we pay attention it seems that everything is revealed at the perfect time. My love of pretty stationery, beautiful cards, and fine papers isn’t just an artist thing, I would suggest perhaps it’s a vocation. (more honestly NOT just a vocation but a passion… maybe even obsession?!) I fully embrace the art of thoughtfulness. It gives me life and more importantly seems to positively affect those to who I send them.
One of the things that bothers me about our very fast-paced world is that we forget to take notice, to pause, to appreciate, to recognize. We don’t send cards as often as in the past. A recent survey that I posted on social media indicates that we don’t send as many cards, as we want to (which inspires guilt), we LOVE getting cards, AND we appreciate cards that are unique, and beautiful. The message is clear -it is vital to pause, to notice, to appreciate each other.
As an artist, it is a natural extension to make cards from the artwork I create. It is affordable for those who appreciate your work and it is a lovely way to share creativity. I have been honored by those who mention to me after sending some of my cards that they were not only proud to send my greetings, but the recipient was delighted as well. One person shares with me that she sends my cards to her “special people” because she likes to send beautiful art. I love it when I hear from someone I was inspired to send a card to sends me a message that my card positively changed their day, made them feel important or truly loved. I will admit, it is a bit of an ego boost when someone tells you that they exclusively send your images for every reason there is to send a card.
I have listened- and my next step has been revealed.
It is with great honor I announce the birth of GREETINGS 4 GOOD.
Greetings 4 Good will flourish under the parent company, Create Art 4 Good. It will use fine art images to create gorgeous stationery, greeting cards, and other inspiring products. Each week(from now until October) I will reveal the product line piece by piece. I want these images to be your very favorites, so I will humbling ask for your help in deciding which images should go to print! I will invite you to join Greetings 4 Good– which will have some really nifty perks! (free cards, promotions & special offers)
Are you in?
SAVE THE DATE! The official launch date for Greetings 4 Good will be October 7th, 2016 at my gallery – Create Art 4 Good. That night you will see the original images I have created married to the poetry I write to bloom into beautiful and unique cards for you. You will have the opportunity to view and purchase greeting cards that give back (just like with Create Art 4 Good- a donation is made with each sale) and help you to send a little bit of love to those you cherish. This opening will be the gala of a lifetime of making art and poetry and celebrating the bloom of thoughtfulness.
Thank you for celebrating my anniversary, your support of my work sustains me in ways you could never imagine. I appreciate your love and faithfulness.
with great joy, love & peace,
p.s. send someone a card today- for no reason- JUST BECAUSE – you will both be happy you did!
p.p.s. Starting in October, send a Greetings4Good card (just because you will send a beautiful art card- and make many people happy!)
All images and writings are by Susan Carmen-Duffy © 2016. The use of any content from this site without written permission from the author/artist is prohibited.
(Please be nice! The universe appreciates your kindness and honor and so do I!)