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Tuesday
Dec282010

I Am Woman, Watch Me Create!

By Whitney Ferre

I love the quote by Albert Einstein, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” It reminds me that whatever the problem, to find a solution there must first be a shift in our thought process. So when I learned about the documentary “Who Does She Think She Is?” I immediately went to, “where does the shift need to happen?” As the mother of three school age children, a wife, an artist, an author, and an entrepreneur, I have intimate knowledge of the struggles faced by creative women.

Where is the shift here? The guilt has been created by the society outside of ourselves. So, it is within ourselves that we will find the solution. I see two opportunities to create a shift within ourselves. Let me speak to my own experience to illustrate.

First, as hard as it can be, I know that I need to protect my creative time. If I feel “guilty” about taking the time to create, I am by default validating the position that mothers “should” spend extra time devoted to family, or “should” only engage in activity outside the family that produces an income. When I align with the “why I need to create”, then I can explain to my husband and kids that this activity is not optional. Over the years, I have had to work, sculpt, carve, illustrate for my family how important my creative activity is, as well as how important it is for all of us. I can also stand firm and let them know that they do not want to be living with the woman who has not had her time in the studio. As a result, they spend more time creating, drawing, painting, building, imagining. I have been able to create this family culture, but only because I made a shift within that created a shift outside of me.

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Tuesday
Dec282010

Let The Kids Grow Up Already

By Scott Sager

New Years is upon me, bringing thoughts of change and self-improvement. I am overwhelmed by suggestions to lose weight, be a better father or increase my happiness next year. The obstacles between me and my personal upgrade are formidable, things like chocolate chip cookies, and how far away the gym seems on a cold morning.

I certainly think my kids would benefit from some well-thought-out resolutions (keeping their rooms clean, getting to bed on time, doing their homework neatly come to my mind). But as teenagers, they’re changing all the time, in spite of me and the other adults around them.

I make it hard for my children to grow and evolve into their next phase of being. I resist their mutations. They become stuck in my head a certain way and I’m unable to see the evidence of their transforming identities.

My younger daughter loved the color yellow when she was 3-years-old, maybe longer. Everything yellow — stuffed animals, food, paints. I found this wonderful and endearing. She called it “lellow,” which was so cute and made us all ask her if she wanted “lellow” candy or “lellow” clothes.

She’s 13 now, and “lellow” is not her favorite color anymore — but you wouldn’t know that from me, her mother and her grandmothers. We still look at her as if nothing has changed, in spite of the evidence: she is now taller than five feet and able to pronounce that color just fine, thank you very much. We still give her yellow clothes and bring her yellow toys. I can be alone in the house, saying “lellow” to the dog and, magically, it’s as if that little girl is in the room with me again. Read Complete Article Here.

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Friday
Dec172010

A Good Mother Should...

By Joanna Lindenbaum

Watching the documentary “Who Does She Think She Is?” struck a heart-chord with me as I witnessed so many of the women being interviewed in the film finding the tension between her role as mother and her role as artist.

When it comes down to it, many of the mothers that I know experience the pull between their creativity (whether it’s their art, their teaching, their business, their not-for-profit, their cooking; whatever their soul-centered work is) and their family life. This pull - visible or not, conscious or not - can be draining, stifling, shameful, confusing, and frustrating.

Let me explain a little more. What I have found, as I’ve worked with women who have been caught between their passion and their family, is that they are operating under powerful and embedded inner expectations – what I would call “have to”s, “should”s, and “need to”s – around what a “Mother” is supposed to be. These expectations are either spoken or unspoken rules and codes that circulate in society and are adopted as Truth, even if they don’t ring true for a particular woman. Some common expectations include:

 

-“A good mother SHOULD put her family and children above all else, even herself”

-“A good mother MUST spend most of her time tending to her children”

-“A good mother SHOULD feel totally fulfilled from her family life alone”

-“Creativity and soul-nourishing activities MUST BE separate from and less important than income-generating jobs”

 

Expectations like these might sound arcane, however they are still powerfully at play in many women’s (and men’s) lives, even if the family is modern, progressive, and feminist.

The result is that you feel guilty when you devote time to your passion; unfulfilled if you devote all your time to your family…and pretty tired either way.

The way to begin to turn around this guilt, misalignment, and frustration is to first get clear on all the ways you are operating under other people’s expectations, whether those other people are your own parents, your friends, your religion, your culture.

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Friday
Dec102010

A Mature Presence in the World via the of Goddess

By Rahti Gorfien

There are a lot people in recent years who call themselves ‘goddesses’ walking around.  Which is kind of fun.  Burlesque goddesses, corporate goddesses, you-deserve-that-you’re-a-goddess-goddesses. 

But what if really, we’re all just, er…women.

Now, I hope I’m not about get my ass kicked here…although I probably am… what if all this goddess stuff is really just some mass inferiority parading as superiority complex?  It could be.  But that might not be a bad thing, and I’ll tell you why.

Goddess-embodying has roots in ancient matrilineal cultures, and so there’s some subversive energy at play here that I’m all for.  In ‘Who Does She think She is’, a wonderful documentary about women artists, Goddesses, particularly of the Eastern variety such as Kali, are the favored subject of one painter because she is inspired by their ruthlessness. 

Ruthlessness is a quality often required of anyone who intends to make art for a living.  In that sense the field shared by artists of any gender and women in the United States could be called even.  However, within that subset of the population women and especially mothers are as marginalized as anywhere else.  The Guerilla Girls, an artist/activist group launched in 1985, keep statistics such as the following in the public eye: currently only 4% of all work on exhibit at MOMA is by women.  Another woman in the film begins her career as an actress-singer well into motherhood and marriage, and that proves to be a deal-breaking game-changer ending in divorce.  For every woman in the film, a quality of quiet ruthlessness has been mandatory in order for them to survive as artists at all.  And so it makes sense that to simply attain a right-sized presence in the world, a mindset of amplified empowerment is needed, and goddessing certainly fits that bill.

But the goddess thing may be becoming passé, and that, I think, is a good thing too.  Because beyond that imagery is maturity, a state of knowing, accepting and championing of oneself.  At that point, the issue of ruthlessness or goddess-ness becomes moot as we settle into an identity of Self that includes all that we are; wife, mother, artist…but in no particular order.

Thursday
Dec092010

First Thoughts on "Who Does She Think She Is?" Documentary

Commentary by Denise Laurin

The film struck a familiar chord for me, as it reflected back to me what has been the guiding force in my life: how to successfully combine a creative vocation with a meaningful family life.

I can see it all clearly now that I am on  the other side -in my fifties with a 21 year old daughter . Since I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, in an Italian family where waiting on men was normal, the idea that it is unfair that women have to choose between career and family never really occurred to me. 

My response for a long time was thinking that having children was simply out of the question. I wanted to be an artist, which was  a very consuming life path. At 34, I decided life wouldn’t be complete without a child, so I ventured into that unknown territory called motherhood. Having my daughter helped me see life differently. In fact, I have no doubt that having her in my life has enhanced my creativity. Like the women in the film, my days revolved around taking care of my child’s needs and fitting my work around her. There were many late nights. I was constantly tired.

For many of us,  we are forced to juggle a number of realities: we have to earn money, we are compelled to express ourselves creatively and we want to be able to spend time with our children.  What I propose is this: even though we might not be able to pursue our passions full-time, we can keep the big picture in mind and take opportunities to move closer to our goals by keeping them in focus. Remember, it is not just a feminist issue here, we are also dealing with a society that demands results NOW, SUCCESS before 40.  As the book Art and Fear states, those who go on creating learn how not to stop.  No matter how difficult life gets, just keep the pursuit of your dreams going in some concrete way.

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