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.
Everyone loves a moment to be affirmed and a little proud of their accomplishments- This morning, Marketta Gregory shared a bit about my business and my mission! It is fun to see it in the newspaper- for sure!
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 Goodwill 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!)
Well, hello there! Welcome to July. I wanted to take a moment to share all the fun things going on in my life.
First, I am not (typically) one to make a big deal out of my own birthday, however, this year, this month, both my husband and myself are turning sixty. I admit, I kind of don’t believe it. There are days my body sure does feel at LEAST sixty, but I feel like I am just getting started in so many ways. But, regardless of what is ahead, I am celebrating. I feel like more than ever, I am in awe of the preciousness of life, the countless gifts I have received, and the love that I have in my life. I AM one blessed human. I am ever so grateful.
That said! I am celebrating with a one-woman show at Sylvan Starlight Creations. I have been creating for a long time (see above) and I want to celebrate that! I am grateful to Sylvia Serry who owns the gallery for this invitational. The opening is on the fifteenth of July and should be downright fun! I will be demonstrating mixed media art as it is my great love! (one of them anyway) Sylvan Starlight Creations is found at 50 State St bldg c, Pittsford, NY 14534. The opening will be from 4-8 pm. The show will be up through September!
Next, I have updated my workshops. At this point, I am very willing to facilitate workshops in person at the gallery or on a video chat. It is important everyone feels comfortable, but by all means, let’s be creative together!
Next up, (so much fun to share, isn’t there?) My beloved new home (well sorta new) is having an opening on July 30th! You can come to visit between 5-9 pm that evening. If that doesn’t work, PLEASE make an appointment- I would love to show you around! This is becoming my happy place! Make an appointment here: Susan Carmen-Duffy
Lastly, I HAVE SO MUCH FUN NEWS! I am going to press soon AND that means I will be offering a new subscription plan! Stay tuned! I think it is going to be really nifty and fun! There are several to choose from right now- find them @ Greetings4Good.org
REALLY lastly, I hope you are doing okay. Covid has paused the world in such an unbelievable way. I feel like the ramifications are far-reaching for each of us. Personally, there have been struggles, sadness, and loss. What has profoundly saved me has been the practice of gratitude, my art, my family, (chosen and gifted family as well!). Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to others. If never before we understood that we are all in this together – we sure as heck should now.
It’s hard to believe, but this month marks ten years as the owner, artist, cheerleader, floor mopper at Create Art 4 Good. It honestly doesn’t feel that long, but indeed- here we are.
As you may have noticed in the past, I have much to say.
But I am not going to say it all right now- All I mean to say today is how grateful I am for you. Many of you have been with me since before this began. You have held my hand through the doubts, given me light when it was dark and supported me every way you knew how.
I have always believed that art is vital to the survival of the world. It marks history, it shares beauty, it reflects and inspires ideas, and it is a tool of expression. For me, it is oxygen. Not just the creation of art, but having it in my home, seeing others’ art, learning about art, breathing art. As a professional artist, I am always trying to find a way to share my art that is accessible to all humans that also still honors my work and shares my love. I am well aware, as I am one of them, that art can be sometimes difficult to access. As vital as it is to me, it is not always in my budget to purchase the $5,000 painting I just fell in love with.
So, I do my best to share my art, my gratitude, my love in the most accessible ways. It feels almost like a mission to do so. The world as we currently know it is a stressful place. (I suppose that is normal, but this is OVER the top Stressful. So, I have set out to create a set of small paintings to share with the world.
This accomplishes many things, really. I paint. Which is very good for me. Otherwise, I get downright stuck in my head. As the weeks of this pandemic continue, I find myself on a roller coaster of emotions, sometimes all in one day. Also, I am a doer. In a crisis, I generally need to be doing something. Cooking, organizing, taking care of those who are in difficulty. It is hard to comprehend a way that would effectively make a difference to a global pandemic. While I enjoyed biology in high school, I cannot say that I have the facilities to cure a pandemic. (Though I sorely wish I did)
My mission of painting one little bit of love at a time makes me feel as if I am doing something. The reaction in the last two weeks has been incredible. I feel so honored to participate in this and share my art with you! So it continues. I will paint three or so paintings each day and share them with you. Typically I post them on Facebook, but if you would like to be notified, shoot me an email! (Susan)
This time is truly unprecedented. Vital to our survival is how we navigate this time. I am not always good at sitting still. I am MUCH, MUCH better at it when I have a paintbrush in my hand. I am a hugger, giving love and support is a life source for me, and hopefully helps others. These little paintings are my hugs for now.
I hope you and yours are doing well. I pray that you have found a way to take one step at a time, live your day, and embrace the opportunities this time has given to each of us. I am here if you need a virtual hug, or you know, a mini painting.
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.
As I write this the “Uncle clock” (a small grandfather clock that hangs on our dining room wall) as my children have called it is ticking steadily in the corner. The house has gone a bit quiet as my children are each in their own homes or on the way home. The air crisp and fresh with the coming of the new year and is fully optimistic with my long list of personal and professional goals.
As I reflect on the last year, I recognize many positive things. It would be easy to create a long list of gratitudes. But there is something else calling me, I am sure of it.
I anticipate that the coming year will bring many changes. Some are scary, some are exciting, some are a little of both. I have been planning and researching and it is time to be a bit bolder with my career. I know that much of this will depend on the opportunity I create for myself. For the first time in a long time, I don’t know exactly what that will be, only that it is time for a change.
I am excited to see what 2020 will bring for me. I hope that you feel the same. A new year feels like a fresh canvas- I cannot wait to paint it.
I hope you feel optimistic too. I hope this year challenges you. I hope you grow, laugh, and reach new heights. I hope that you find a way to bring the best of you to the world. To love deeply, to create wildly and to know, without doubt-