Who run the world?

It’s been months since I last wrote anything in this blog, not shocking – I have the attention span of a 2 year old. One of my new year’s resolutions is to finish projects I start…clearly that’s going well.

I chose today to write again because there are certain situations that have occurred more recently that warrant a “I should write about this” thought in my head. Today’s situation is something that I feel strongly about and just need to get it down on paper..err well…”internet paper.”

I’d like to think that women have come a long way from when my mother was young and she would tell me stories about how females her age would go to college to seek a husband or how she was not be able to go to an art school in New York City because the big city was no place for a woman. I would hope that most women would agree, we want to be seen as equals.. We fight for it, we score high on SATs, we go to college for whatever we want to go for, we graduate at the top of our class, we get a high paying job, we become CEOs, or doctors, or artists, or teachers. We prove to ourselves that we have this inner power – that we are equals, that we can chug 10 beers at a local sports bar and rival the nearest gentleman in a game of arm wrestling and look good doing it…  and then we fall in love. We fall into a deep, head over heels, sleepless in Seattle, makes me want to actually look good in underwear kind of love.

Now, there are plenty of people who have found the right guy or woman in their lives that brings them up and changes them for the better – but those people probably dated and fell hopelessly in love with the wrong assholes before they met the right person.

Though most of us are educated in the arts or law or history or science, there was no course on how to maintain our inner strength when the guy or gal we fell for becomes irrational and controlling and then ends it. And now you are 19 and you feel like your life is over.  I wish I could go back in time and slap a backbone into my 19 year old self. Just how I wish to slap a back bone into some of the young girls I come in contact with on a daily basis. We become so consumed with our new found love that we begin to let our needs and our wants slip away. We then have this new fear that starts growing in our stomachs, that one day they won’t want us anymore and we’ll be thrown out like last year’s hair-do (the one with the bangs that I used to part in the middle).

I wish there was a conversation that got started when young girls go to see their school nurse for that special “puberty talk.” A conversation that talks about how important it is to be your own universe, your own world. To have things for yourself, starting with a backbone. To have crushes, to have a first love, a second love, a third love, and to get heart broken – but all the while to never loose sight of your inner strength. After everything is said and done, and Mr. Side Visor Frat Boy has left you in the dust, you still have yourself, and that should be enough.

These young girls need to a revival of self esteem or self awareness – maybe I’m using the wrong words – they need to be shown that they need their own life, their own hobbies, their own friends, their own personality. They need to set goals and achieve them on their own. They need something that makes them say, “this happens and it sucks but I can move past this because I am strong enough.” If only it was that easy…*folds super hero cape and places it back in the box*

Blog, Day 4: Anxiety, Shmangxiety – Why Bother?

I am dreaming in illustrations and I can see thought bubbles above people’s heads. To any freelance illustrator, this is good news! This means my work has picked up. However, this is also bad news for someone who keeps piling on projects and work onto a small petri dish. Also difficult when I am someone who can’t seem to say ‘no’ to anything though my inside me wants to strangle the life out of the outside me. Anyway, thank goodness for all of those family members who just give out Starbucks gift cards during the holiday season…I think I have enough to last me through March.

Thus, I have not found the time to write in this blog within the last 2 weeks, but I have found plenty of time to get my anxiety levels to a pretty high level. ‘When?’ might you ask, my imaginary readers, have I found the time to do this? During my peak sleeping hours, of course! Why is it that you can go all day without thinking of anything to worry about then night falls and you are all comfortable and warm in your bed just about to close your eyes, and boom! One thing after the other, and, before you know it, you are wide awake worrying about things that are of none of your concern like, ‘My tire light just went on in my car today. I have to get my tires changed. I also need to get new wiper blades. Is it going to snow this weekend? I have so many errands to run. I am going to get stuck in the snow while running my errands. My tires are going to fly off my car. My wipers are going to fail. I am going to be stuck in the snow, in my car, with no tires, and no wipers, and somehow every serial killer in the world will be in that area, walking around looking for people like me.’ *This is a total exaggeration, but honestly, it’s ridiculous the things that can keep me up at night.

I am aware that it is my workload that makes me anxious. I know that everything will get done, and I will find a way to finish and accomplish all of my goals yet I still worry about it. Once I start worrying about one thing, I start worrying about everything. Things that don’t matter in the bigger picture. The bigger picture being the big L word, ‘life.’ Once I got out of my own head, which I have managed to do, I realized how often people I’m surrounded by (coworkers, family members, friends) care or worry about things that won’t make a difference in a week’s time. I find myself getting frustrated about this, now that I have made myself aware of it again.

I feel like I am in a Lifetime movie when I bring up what I am about to bring up, but it makes sense to discuss this now. A little over 2 years ago, 2 weeks before Spring finals, I woke up with a tiny cut on the back of my right ear. By noontime, my ear swelled up, and the cut had gotten larger. I woke up the following day to a fever and my ear had gotten even bigger. I had gone to the doctor and received some ointment and an antibiotic. This didn’t work, and by Saturday my ear had gotten even bigger and the little cut had grown into a gaping wound. I was put on different antibiotics. The following week, I had gone to the doctor for a checkup of my ear. My fever spiked to over 104, and the whole right side of my face was so swollen, had I been green, I could have passed as the Hulk. I was put into the hospital into isolation (I was the mystery diagnosis of the afternoon). The ER doctor didn’t say much, but what he did say was, “if this infection has spread to her brain casing, which it appears to have done, this is life threatening.” My mom had turned gray. He then wheeled me into the hallway and placed me outside of the exam room, where I waited, by myself, for 10 minutes, which felt like eternity. My mind raced with the idea that I could die from something as silly as an infected cut. I thought about my mom and dad, the look on my mom’s face, I thought about my nieces and nephews, I thought about my last hospital trip (6 months before this one, I fell 10 feet and broke 3 vertebras in my back) and how that ER doctor said had I been 1 foot higher, the fall could have paralyzed me. I thought that I couldn’t be that lucky twice. I can’t tell you what else raced through my mind that evening as I waited in the hallway in a hospital gown with a pounding, swollen, ear – but, I can tell you what I didn’t think about. I didn’t think of the stress and anxiety I was feeling earlier that morning about my finals. I wasn’t thinking about the silly fight I had gotten into with a friend over that weekend. Nothing else mattered. It was as if nothing had happened before that doctor said the words, ‘life threatening.’

Needless to say, I am fine. However much ‘my life is a Lifetime movie’ that last paragraph sounded like, sometimes you have to go back to those places to set you back on the right track.  The week after I had gotten out of the hospital (I was awarded with a “Bravest Patient’ certificate – oh, forgot to mention that at 22 years old I was placed on the Pediatrics floor for about a week because it was the only floor with a room available for someone with a ‘mystery diagnosis’), I remember feeling like I could not have enough love for anyone that was a part of my life. I want to get back to that place. We get so consumed by the hustle and bustle of day to day life and all of the stresses that it brings, that sometimes we don’t even have a second to pause and say, “Does this even f****** matter?”. Chances are, if we do take a second to breathe and ask ourselves that question, then answer it honestly, most of us would say no.

Note to self: Anxiety, shmangxiety - worry about things that matter, don’t bother with the things that don’t.

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.”

- Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Blog, Day 3: The Art of Doing Nothing < The Art of Doing Everything

This holiday break i’ve been practicing ‘l’arte di non fare niente’ (the art of doing nothing) a little too much. (More snow in Northern NJ today – makes it easy to have ‘make a cup of coffee’ as the only thing on my to do list.) Blocking out all of my responsibilities to Billie Holiday’s greatest hits, I suddenly remembered I have to add finishing touches to 70 Bridal Shower invitations. Once my mind jumps into one abrupt thought, a tidal wave of thoughts pour in along with the guilt that ‘l’arte di non fare niente’ is meant for others, those who aren’t trying to wear several different hats, or a cape.  With that being said, anxiety set in with all of the work that the new year will bring in – new authors who need illustrations, illustrations for the current book that I need to finish up, new projects at work, and trying to get this organization off the ground. Then this thought popped into my mind (if I were one of my cartoons, this would appear above my head in huge bubble letters with doodle tornadoes drawn all over the page): Remember that time you wanted to try meditation??? 

Nevertheless, I made another pot of coffee and got to work – well, tried to get to work. My hands decided ‘l’arte di non fare niente’ exhausted them too much so nothing was coming out quite right. An illustration professor once told me, ‘An illustrator trying to draw when tired is like a race car driver driving under the influence, dangerous and will loose all of your sponsors.” Didn’t believe her until I became a self-diagnosed insomniac my last semester of college – mostly everything appeared warped, as though I hired my nephew to do all of my projects. He still draws people as floating heads with spider legs. (My portraits from him have some sort of uni-boob drawn above my forehead. Perhaps this is how I look to a 3 year old?) 

I decided to delay freelance work and start putting more research into starting up a nonprofit. Everything I came across all went back to number 1. Determine what type of nonprofit organization you want to create. Pretty obvious, right? There are endless possibilities of where I can take this. Before I dive into the business side of things, I need to perfect my idea. After I set this into motion, I can start setting goal dates for the rest of the start up plan.

Hopefully, my twenty million thoughts for the next couple of weeks will take a vacation so I can focus on setting an idea in motion, and finish all of my side work.

l’arte di non fare niente’ - we will meet again, one day. 

1. Determine what type of nonprofit organization you want to create.   Here we go. 

Blog, Day 2: Fabric Softener Super-Hero

Being off for holiday break, plus the snow storm that hit Northern NJ yesterday, plus this cold I’ve managed to get (after my 3 year old nephew sneezed directly into my face on Christmas Eve, I knew I should have overdosed on vitamin C), led to a few hours of research yesterday. Well…to be truthful, I didn’t set out to research on topics that I am interested in, I was actually stalking Facebook and came across some photos of a close friend from when she traveled to Morocco to teach children English for a few years. From there my fingers hit google as fast at they did when I watched some strange documentary on ‘the real’ crystal skulls from the Indiana Jones movie. Yes, I actually thought for a minute that space aliens placed crystal skulls with magic powers on earth to save us from the end of the world. Moving on…

I started researching teaching abroad, as I have since I found out this type of position existed. Which then led me researching positions that I have always been interested and passionate about but constantly go back to this feeling of, ‘well, what can I do?’.

I’ve always felt this pit in my stomach when I would think about the future, career wise. Not a pit that represents the whole, ‘I don’t want to grow up’ feeling, rather a pit that has always made me feel like I should be doing something huge; something bigger than myself. That pit in my stomach decreased in college – I was focused on pleasing my painting professor (can’t tell you what or how many different profanities populated my mind during those 5 hours of studio time), and then trying to grab any opportunity for an internship that would perhaps lead to a shot at a future in the art world. That pit came back after I decided there was no way that I wanted to work at an art gallery, after I made myself sick with anxiety during one of my internships. (First time I rode a subway in NYC, I got on the wrong one, passed up Chelsea by a long shot, costing me an arm and a leg in a cab ride only to find out I was an hour early, and it was snowing. I am the only person in the existence of humankind that could not find a Starbucks in Manhattan that day.)

Coincidentally, one of my internships I got to spend time with a wonderfully brilliant artist of Indian decent who was raised in Bombay and brought up Jewish in a predominately Hindu or Muslim society. Her work and her, well, essence, made me (and her viewers) question our own concepts of identity, involving race, gender, etc, and how terrible misconceptions can lead to hate and war. I learned so much about a culture I knew really nothing about. She taught me of her family, and the way she was brought up.

At that time, I became consumed with reading about different gender roles in society. I was relating these topics to every class that I took. Then I took a course entitled, ‘Women in Art,’ that really effected the way I went about my own life, not just the art world. The class was taught by a real pioneer women, who I can say, ‘I want to be her when I grow up.’ I became completely consumed and overwhelmed by the overload of information I was hearing, studying, and writing about.

Then, I got a postcard in the mail about a speaker who was coming to the university, Gloria Steinem. I grabbed the nearest phone and ordered tickets. I felt the same way about seeing her in person as I did about seeing Belle from Beauty and the Beast when I was a kid, surreal. I got goosebumps watching this real woman on stage talking about her life and the issues that are still majorly occurring across the United States that no one, unless you take your time to research about it, would be aware of.

What I am trying to get at here, in a very long, ‘my life as a memoir’ way, is I know I want to be apart of something that’s bigger than myself. I want to start something that is bigger than myself. I want to combine my background in art, along with my drive in improving the lives of young women, and passion of educating people my age or younger that are unaware of anything going on outside their own world, and create something or some kind of organization. But what? I wish there was a map that I could follow that would lead me to the finish line. I will get there, I just need to keep focused, and this ‘blog’ is helping. Whether it’s just me reading this or not.

And now, I have to take my patched up super-hero cape off. I hear my washing machine ding. Attempting to save the world, one fabric softener at a time…

Newbie Blogger

Constantly coming up with new ideas or 20 million thoughts on any given topic, I should have started writing years ago…although years ago this blog would have been filled with teenage rants over who said what or what evil look was given to whom and by whom. I probably would have named it something along the lines of “myparentsareevil.”

This old age of 24 has brought me one year closer to renting a car on my own, but also knowledge of what issues are important in the bigger picture, and which ones are lacking in that department. It has also brought me one year closer to the big 3-0 (the birthday of doom that says ‘your twenties are over, get a grip, and pay for the drinks’), which is sparking a fire under my ass to work towards everything that I want to achieve.

With that being said, WordPress will be my outlet in giving my mind a rest in hopes that I can stop investing in post-it notes that I leave next to my bedside with the thought that I am going to wake up mid-sleep, with some stroke of genius idea on how to cure world hunger.  Though I have thousands of post-it notes with random ideas scribbled on them, the most ‘genius’ idea of them all was to create a purse light – which of course, has already been invented.

I graduated last Spring with a BA in Art, and since then I have been working at a specialized education school during the day, and at night, I am a freelance illustrator working on two children’s books (written by different authors). I also have a small greeting card line that has been doing pretty well (knock on wood). However, there is so much more that I am passionate about that I haven’t even really begun to explore.

I am at a point in my life where your friends start veering off into different directions, marriage and the thought of starting a family is on one side, while the other side is populated with people that are buckling down in their careers or just starting them (of course there are those who are on both sides). I’d like to consider my path as an adventure, and starting my own nonprofit organization will be somewhere along the lines.

This ‘blog’ will follow me along that adventure. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even get one reader!