It’s hard to believe that this will be my 21st Post for Widow’s Voice. Almost half a year of posting now. People ask if it’s hard to conjure up something new to write about each week. Sometimes it’s a bit challenging. Lot’s of energy goes in to a post. Usually I have an idea or inspiration on Monday and try to draft a paragraph or two each day, tweaking and doing a final edit on Friday morning and choosing the best original photos for the post. However, at other times it’s a challenge deciding on what to post. Sometimes it’s hard to find inspiring energy. But, posting weekly has kept me motivated, and for that I’m grateful. It’s good to have to show up on the page, literally, and when someone tells me that they appreciated a post, that is the ultimate compliment and incentive to write on.
As I’ve posted previously, I left corporate life in NYC at age thirty to become a a full-time working artist. After my late husband Rich and I moved to Georgia in 2020, I got so caught up in starting a new life in the South that I stopped painting and writing. So much time and energy go into creating good blog posts, short stories and novel drafts and one’s best art. Overtime, burnout is inevitable and a time out is needed.
I’m happy to relay that for the past six months or so, I’d served on a committee for an art gala organized by my community’s women’s club. I enjoyed the process of collaboration, something I hadn’t done in many years. At one time, when I was actively exhibiting and selling my art, I’d served on the board of one of the most active fine arts and crafts guilds in the state of New Jersey. I wrote monthly profiles of our members and served on the committee that organized one of the most well-regarded holiday crafts events in the state. A lot of planning goes in to a show of that stature. There are artists to be juried for acceptance, advertising, marketing and of course planning the physical layout of the event that was held in an aging elementary school!
Although I do miss my tight community of artists and my clients I’d developed over three decades up North, I don’t miss the often grueling physical set of indoor and outdoor events and all the gatherings of friends and family missed because I’d spent so many weekends exhibiting at art festivals. Rich and I even planned our wedding around our schedule and even then some of my artist friends sacrificed lucrative events to attend.
I did well working as an artist, the money stream was good and it was actually a challenge to keep up with inventory while fulfilling commissions and work for shop owners. Everyone thinks it must be fun to be a full-time artist, it is, but few realize how much work goes into being a successful working artist.
If I recall, I began to slow down in the aftermath of 911. My community of Brick Township alone, just a little more than an hour from NYC, lost 6 citizens on that fateful day. There is a beautiful statue of a mourning angel located right down the road from where I once lived. I got to interview its creator, Brian Hanlon, for an on-line newsite.
Things changed after that. People everywhere were naturally dismayed and distracted and so was I. My pleas for a dog were soon answered. Somehow Rich knew that I needed a canine companion. Because I now had a dog, my travel was limited and attention taken from my work day to care for a pet.
I also understood that after so many years of being part of the art scene I was burned out. I began to paint less and relied more on side jobs that offered structure and security. But I remained in the art world, still painting and showing and things were alright until Hurricane Sandy ravaged my community. I literally watched bins of my artwork float away from my studio.
Soon after I was hired to substitute for an art teacher who’s home had been lost in the storm. Working with those kids in that art room for those months was fulfilling and helped to get me through a dark time.
But we keep on moving forward. The art gala here in Georgia that took place on February 4, which happens to be Rich’s birthday, was a huge success. I met several local artists and enjoyed working with an enthusiastic and fun group of woman. It was also a nice way for me to introduce my work to a new audience.
Finding consistent motivation and inspiration in the wake of tragedy is a daily challenge. Now 66 weeks (approximately) entrenched in The World of Widowhood (WOW), I am learning how to better navigate the “ruff” patches as I try to find my way back to painting and the writing of canine topics. Resilience, Persistence and Endurance are the qualities I try to develop with each passing day and the inevitable challenges faced and to settle in to my new life. I hope this motivates you to do so as well.