Emotional Juggling Act

For the last week, I have been busy working on a new business project with my husband called Super Nature Adventures that I plan to launch this month. This project stems from my lifelong love the outdoors and will feature monthly subscriptions of adventure packets. Each will focus on a different family trail in the Pacific Northwest. This has all been very daunting, but also very exciting, especially in the last few days as we’ve been smoothing out the final details for the project. Yet at the same time, my teaching still lingers in the background. Just this week, I began teaching a class that will likely be my last one as an adjunct on a topic related to my dissertation, no less.

It would be an understatement to say that this juggle been a challenge, and not only in the ways that I had expected when I laid out this game plan to make sure I had some income while I was working on the business launch. I knew that juggling two kinds of work would be stressful, and I had anticipated such common challenges as learning a new culture. What has caught me off guard is the emotional work of this juggling act. I am at the starting point, but also must attend to the closure of a chapter in my life. This simultaneous process of closure and change has brought forth emotions that had been lying dormant since I first walked across that stage to be hooded for my PhD. And yet simultaneously I am so so eager to move on.  Each side of this equation comes with so many competing emotions that some days I feel like I am having an identity crisis.

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The #5womenartists Campaign for Women’s History Month

It’s March, and along with Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, this month also marks the second year for the feminist art history hashtag campaign known as #5womenartists. The campaign invites you to think on how quickly and easily you can list 5 women artists. While naming 5 women artists isn’t hard for me (I teach a class on Women in the History of Art), I suspect there are many out there who might have some difficulty. Why? Well for starters, women make up only 9 percent of the artists represented in the most widely used art history survey textbook, and only 5 percent of the
artists represented on museum walls. What’s worse, is the inequities apply to Guerrilla Girls 2015contemporary art as much as art history. This recent sticker created by the art action group the Guerrilla Girls makes this point clear. Even in 2015, men have almost total control of the art market.

The campaign was created last year by National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA). The folks there saw it as a starting point towards positive change  As NMWA director Susan Sterling explained at Big Think last year:

“By calling attention to the inequity women artists face today, as well as in the past, we hope to inspire conversation and awareness.”

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Some thoughts on Joy, Resilience, and Practicing Gratitude

A few weeks ago in early January, I was having a conversation on twitter with fellow PhD Lisa Munro and others about the importance of practicing joy in 2017.  Yes, joy. Yes, now, of all times. Lisa wrote an excellent blog post on this subject, where she discusses establishing joy as part of her New Years intention, and the quiet power of practicing joy “in the middle of such terrible things.”

Here’s a gem from the post about practicing joy – but don’t stop here. Go and read the post for yourself:

“Joy requires being present. Like, really present. There’s no way to find joy while distractedly scrolling through Facebook while reading tabloid headlines in the grocery store and secretly wishing ill on the person in the express lane with 32 items. Joy requires our full attention.

Joy requires great vulnerability. It doesn’t seem possible to be worried about looking cool and experiencing joy at the same time. JOY requires letting go of what we want people to see in favor of experiencing something genuine and being real about it.”

I have also been thinking a lot about joy this year. Like Lisa, I usually choose words instead of specific resolutions to start every new year. And like Lisa, joy was one of my words. However, until reading her post and talking to her about joy as a practice, I hadn’t developed any useful tools to help me focus on this theme for this particular year. After several of us shared our tips in our twitter conversation, I decided I needed to start a gratitude journal. I have been using it every single day since. Continue reading “Some thoughts on Joy, Resilience, and Practicing Gratitude”

2017: The Year of Writerly Resistance

After our 2016 Holiday Hiatus, we are back with a bang! For new followers and old, welcome to our blog. We’re so glad you’re here.

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Overtoom, Amsterdam, 12am January 1, 2017

I had a fantastic New Year’s eve: As I was in London for research this winter, it was an easy hop/skip/jump to Amsterdam. There I got to ring it in with old friends, and together we ate fragrant persimmons, drank sparkling wine, and watched the glorious Dutch tradition of extravagant firecrackers and rockets explode over the Overtoom for hours. I had many important and beautiful conversations with the writers who I have carried, and who have frequently carried me. Together, we fortified ourselves for the coming year.

By all rights, 2017 is going to be a hairy year for smart women everywhere. There will be a lot of changes in Washington that affect the world as the US becomes the latest nation to succumb to the global wave of aggressive nationalism and all the terrible things that accompany it.

Anyone who writes for a living is already aware that financially things will get tighter as the new political process unfolds. At minimum, we should expect that all federally-funded projects could become bargaining chips, and have the potential to be de-funded. For those of us whose main work is writing for and in those areas, either as contractors, full-time, part-time, or freelancers, it’s a really scary proposition. Continue reading “2017: The Year of Writerly Resistance”

Smart Women Make Art: Five Urgent Works for a New Year

Hello all, and goodbye to 2016. This week, I have the honor of being the last to post at Smart Women Write before we all take a break until the New Year. For this momentous occasion, I have decided to share some art works by women that have resonated with me as of late, as we go into the New Year. We need strong women in our lives, more than ever. And we need art. These are a few of the many art works that have moved me this term by the way of their incisive messages. So consider it a holiday gift of sorts: a small collection of art works that each, in their own way, urgently confront the challenges we face today. Continue reading “Smart Women Make Art: Five Urgent Works for a New Year”

Smart Women Write From the Heart About The Election

Dear Readers,

The election of the new president of the United States was the inglorious epilogue in the global spread of regressive, dangerous ideology. To the smart women who write, it feels like a very clear confirmation that something beautiful and important in the soul of  not just the  nation, but the world, has died.

Without consciously having orchestrated it, each of us (Tanya, Bryna, and Angela) wrote about living and writing and working with this stark confirmation fresh in our hearts these past few weeks. If you read all three posts together, they look a little bit like the disjointed phases of  grief.

Continue reading “Smart Women Write From the Heart About The Election”