The Best Female Painters of All Time – Top 10

Thoughts, art

“There are no rules… that is how art is born, that is how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules, that is what invention is about.” 

– Helen Frankenthaler

Whether the brush stroke is wet-into-wet, feathering – or the art incorporates polka dots and mosaic elements; women painters have long been creating masterpieces. Some of the best female painters may not have been recognized initially because people didn’t see value in their work or simply couldn’t stand the competition, however, their vision, talent, and voice couldn’t remain in the shadows forever. The best female painters in the world have made their mark and this list will highlight 10 of the finest that you should know about!

  • Frida Kahlo
  • Georgia O’Keeffe
  • Mary Stevenson Cassatt
  • Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun 
  • Yayoi Kusama
  • Hilma af Klint
  • Louise Bourgeois
  • Artemisi Gentileschi
  • Helen Frankenthaler
  • Laura Wheeler Waring
  1. Frida Kahlo  

Beauty and pain never looked so divine and Mexican painter Frida Kahlo harmonized the two so beautifully. She primarily used oil on copper to create deliberate and striking self-portraits and still lifes.

Frida Kahlo knew physical pain and emotional turmoil, which she used to fuel her artistic fire. Born July 6, 1907, in Coyoacán, Mexico. Frida produced roughly 200 small paintings that merge elements of fantasy, folklore, realism, symbolism, and surrealism to depict not only hauntingly sensual originals but relate fierce personal narratives as well. 

“I paint self-portraits because I am so often

alone; because I am the person I know best.”

-Frida Kahlo

“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone because I am the person I know best,” she once said

Frida’s muralist husband Diego Rivera was instrumental in helping her hone the techniques she used in her paintings, which featured vibrant colors- reds and yellows- rooted in her rich Mexican tradition. 

She died in July 1954, after which her reputation soared. In 2000, her 1929 self-portrait, Portrait of a Lady in White, was sold at auction for over $5 million, further cementing her status as one of the best women painters in the world, 

2. Georgia O’Keeffe 

Among the greatest female painters is the mother of American modernism and the queen of abstract art Georgia O’Keeffe. Born in November of 1887, O’Keeffe made significant contributions to modern art.

Throughout her career she experimented with abstract art, focusing on composition colors, brush strokes, and shapes. 

However, she remained true to her love for nature, painting desert landscapes and flowers to exude the feeling it evoked in her.

Georgia ÕKeeffe Art in New Mexico | Museums & Tours | New Mexico True

“I had to create an equivalent for

what I felt about what I was looking at –

not copy it.”

– Georgia O’ Keeffe

Over time and through the influential ideas of American painter Arthur Wesley Dow, who advocated simplifying forms, Georgia O’Keeffe developed her style, fusing abstraction with realism. She continued painting up until her death at 98 years old.

3. Mary Stevenson Cassatt

Mary is one of the best female painters of all time and is considered the only American impressionist painter to have exhibited her work with the impressionists in Paris.

Her depictions of family life, particularly the bonds between mothers and children set her apart from other painters. 

Mother and Child in Boat, 1908 (oil on canvas), Cassatt, Mary Stevenson (1844-1926)

Formal training didn’t appeal to Mary and she primarily educated herself and was influenced by the works of influential painters Edouard Manet and Gustave Courbet, and Diego Velázquez.

She also had a close working relationship with Edgar Degas who became her mentor and whose pastel work she admired. After coming across some of Degas’ pastels in a shop window, it made an impression on her.

“It changed my life! I saw art then as I wanted to see it.” 

Mary showcased her first Impressionist work in the U.S, the 1878 painting, In the Loge, a depiction of her modern woman.

In the Metropolitan Museum is the Havemeyer Collection; to which Mary was an invaluable contributor. She died in 1926.

4. Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun 

Eighteenth-century turbulence in Paris, France, and obstacles to women’s advancement did not deter the self-taught, Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun from pursuing her art, which has landed her in the top 10 women painters category. 

Élisabeth was accepted into the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1783, becoming the fourth female member with the help of Queen Marie-Antoinette.

Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Self-Portrait with her Daughter, Julie, 1789, oil on canvas, (Musée du Louvre).

Her painting, Peace Restoring Abundance helped contribute to her recognition. She was the queen’s official artist and painted more than two dozen portraits of her. Élisabeth is known for her sympathetic portraits of the aristocracy.

Élisabeth fled during the French Revolution, but commissions from European nobility and royalty for portraits kept coming. Of the war and its impact on her art, she said, “But I could now paint no longer; my broken spirit, bruised with so many horrors, shut itself entirely to my art.

I could now paint no longer; my broken spirit, bruised with so many horrors, shut itself entirely to my art.

– Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun

It’s believed that Elizabeth produced some 600+ paintings throughout her lifetime. She died in Paris in 1842.

5. Yayoi Kusama

One cannot talk about the greatest female artists without mentioning the Japanese painter, Yayoi Kusama, who is affectionately called ‘the princess of polka dots. 

Yayoi recalls how as a little girl she experienced a hallucination that was freakish and frightening. Pictures this: talking polka dot flowers that were everywhere. This hallucination left her feeling what she described as ‘self-obliterating’. These dots became a prominent feature in her paintings. 

Yayoi recalls how as a little girl she experienced a hallucination that was freakish and frightening- of talking polka dot flowers that were everywhere. The hallucination left her feeling what she described as ‘self-obliterating’.

Yayoi Kusama | Biography, Art, Infinity Mirrored Room, Pumpkin, & Facts | Britannica

‘Polka dots are a way to infinity. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environment.”

Although her mom destroyed her canvas in an attempt to discourage her, she continued with her art and eventually left Japan and made it to New York, where in 1959, her art was on display in various exhibits. Yayoi voluntarily checked herself into a psychiatric hospital in Tokyo in 1977, where she is a resident to this day.

6. Hilma af Klint 

The Swedish painter Hilma af Klint is a part of an elite group of females who are the best women painters in the world. The abstract painter began producing radical abstract paintings in 1906, that were vibrant, colorful, and out of this world.

Born in Stockholm in 1862, Hilma was a medium that was involved in spiritualism and Theosophy (any of a number of philosophies maintaining that a knowledge of God may be achieved through spiritual ecstasy, direct intuition, or special individual relations, especially the movement founded in 1875 as the Theosophical Society by Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott (1832–1907).

Her abstract paintings can be described as occult-inspired and magical-looking.

She was called a crazy witch and between 1906-1915, she produced 193 paintings known as the Paintings for the Temple. Hilma explained that the pieces were painted “through” her with divine “force” saying, 

“I had no idea what they were supposed to depict… I worked swiftly and surely, without changing a single brush stroke.” 

– Hilma af Klint
Group IX/SUW, The Swan, No. 1 (1915) by Hilma af Klint | The Guggenheim Museum

“I had no idea what they were supposed to depict… I worked swiftly and surely, without changing a single brush stroke.” 

Before her death in 1944, she instructed her heir to keep her abstract paintings from public viewing until 20 years after her passing.

Her work was first seen in public in the 1986 Los Angeles show The Spiritual in Art. Hilma only received widespread recognition as a pioneering abstract painter when the Guggenheim Museum hosted a major survey of her work from October 2018 to April 2019 titled “Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future.” 

7. Artemisia Gentileschi 

Artemisia Gentileschi is in this top 10 women painters category because she is a pioneering Italian painter whose paintings reflect historical-art innovation.

Some speculate that her traumatic past -surviving rapeperhaps fueled her inspiring works of art and have characterized her paintings as autobiographical. Her paintings are also dramatic with a level of sensitivity in how color is handled and the female form is depicted.

She’s arguably the best female painter of the 17th century, with paintings that reflect the stories of women, including ambition, motherhood, and passion.

She paints herself as a woman completely in charge.

Self-Portrait as a Lute Player by Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi, is an oil on canvas from 1616-18 with dimensions 77.5 × 71.8 cm. The painting is housed in the Wadsworth Atheneum collection in Connecticut, USA.

“As long as I live, I will have control of my being.” 

– Artemisia Gentileschi

Artemisa is the first to portray sexual predation in “Artemisia Gentileschi: The Image of the Female Hero in Italian Baroque Art.

She was a champion of the oppressed woman and her dramatic Baroque paintings reflected that position. Artemisia admired Caravaggio and her art was heavily influenced by him and she became recognized for her realism and use of chiaroscuro. The exact date of her death remains a mystery.

8. Louise Bourgeois 

Born in Paris in 1911, Louise Bourgeois was not formally linked to a particular artistic movement, but exhibited her work with the abstract expressionists of her time, like Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock.

The themes in her paintings were dramatic and sensitive, such as anger, jealousy, abandonment loneliness, sexuality, and unconsciousness. This modern contemporary figure is one of the greatest female artists whose work often reflected her own experiences or was inspired by her memories and was emotionally charged.

“My childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama.” 

– Louise Bourgeois

Louise has stated, “My childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama.” She had her first solo exhibition of paintings in New York in 1945 at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery. Louise was more than just a painter and also became known for her large-scale sculptures. She died at the age of 98 in 2010.

9. Helen Frankenthaler 

Helen Frankenthaler has long been recognized as one of the best women painters in the world and a great American painter of the twentieth century. This American abstract painter is widely credited for being instrumental in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field painting.

She developed the soak-stain technique (thin washes of pigment that soak into the fibers of the untreated canvas), which expanded how abstract painting could be presented.

“There are no rules… that is how art is born, that is how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules, that is what invention is about.” 

– Helen Frankenthaler

“There are no rules… that is how art is born, that is how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules, that is what invention is about.” 

Born in 1928, Helen’s professional exhibition career kicked off in 1950 with her painting, Beach (1950) in the exhibition titled Fifteen Unknowns: Selected by Artists of the Kootz Gallery. A year later, she had her first solo exhibition in New York’s Tibor de Nagy Gallery.

Helen’s true inspiration came not only from her contemporaries but from the “old masters” as well. She died in December 2011 at age 83 after an illustrious career, cementing herself as one of the best female painters of all time.

10. Laura Wheeler Waring

Among the best female painters is Connecticut-born African American artist Laura Wheeler Waring. Born in May of 1887, she was displayed in the USA’s first exhibition of African American Art in 1927.

Laura Wheeler Waring is renowned for her portraits of prominent African Americans made during the Harlem Renaissance and her beautiful landscape paintings.

She studied the works of master painters like Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Édouard Manet, and Claude Monet, which influenced her style achieved through vibrant and realistic techniques, with an emphasis on light, vivid colors, and atmosphere.

While she studied romanticism and impressionism, she leaned towards realism. Some of the portraiture subjects included Mary White Ovington, W.E.B. DuBois, and James Weldon Johnson. She was also an art educator for over 30 years. She died in 1948.

Laura Wheeler Waring, “The Study of a Student” (ca. 1940s) | PAFA

These 10 greatest female artists have left their mark on the art world and should be celebrated for their achievements.

This is just a small number of female painters, which hopefully piques your interest to explore more women painters and artists in general. Happy discovery!

A Glimpse of Nature and Paganism in Medieval Poetry

Thoughts

Recently, I found myself wandering around the pages of one of my textbooks. I stumbled upon the poem, The Wanderer.

The Wanderer is a beautiful and ancient poem that details the themes of grief, acceptance, and struggle. Indecisiveness, lament, nature, and paganism also make a strong appearance in the poem. The poets of the Middle Ages were skilled at writing and creating poems and verses that were impactful without having to overshare details or overuse words. This technique is found in The Wanderer, making it a perfect piece of medieval literature to examine and analyze. The version of the poem that I specifically refer to in this article is from the Norton Anthology of English Literature. Tenth edition.

The Wanderer in the Exeter Book manuscript

    The Wanderer falls into the genre of elegy and is expressed by lament. These literary devices were common in Germanic-inspired Anglo-Saxon poems. “The lament of The Wanderer is an excellent example of the elegiac mood..” (Greenblatt, 2018). Readers of this poem are able to recognize lament and elegiac tones throughout The Wanderer, and also in other epic poems, such as Beowulf (Greenblatt, 2018).  

    After analyzing The Wanderer it was exciting to see many elements of mythology, paganism, nature, and religion all combined. Throughout the poem, the tone remains somber and reminiscent. As “the wanderer” recalls memories; nature, elegy, and paganism are found throughout. What is striking is the similarity of this poem to the concept of Ragnarok found in Norse Mythology. This is a personal theory of mine after the examination of the poem and of Norse myth. The connection to Ragnarok seems evident as Ragnarok was said to have been the end of days for men and the gods. The connection between The Wanderer, Ragnarok, and nature and paganism are intertwined tightly within the poem’s verses. The Wanderer describes elements of death, mentions nature, and appears to be struggling overall with the concept of death, as well as the concept of leaving his pagan ways behind him which is a symbol of elegy. Lament and elegy within The Wanderer include the death of family, friends, traditions, humankind, and personal beliefs. 

    Based on personal analysis there appears to be a direct link between The Wanderer and the Germanic god Odin. Though there are several examples, line 80 of The Wanderer shows the connection well: 

“Battle took some, bore them away; a bird carried on above the high waves; the gray wolf took another, divided him with death; dreary spirited an eorl buried in an earthen pit. “Mankind’s Creator laid waste this middle-earth..” (Lines 80-85) 

“Odin the Wanderer” (1886) by Georg von Rosen

The mention of battle resembles Odin, due to Odin depicted as god of war. Associated with ravens and Valkyries; the bird carrying the spirits on high waves could be a symbol for the ravens or Valkyries which Odin is deeply connected with. Mention of “the gray wolf”, as personal theory, is symbolic of Fenrir, who is one of the direct causes of Ragnarok in Norse myth. The gray wolf taking “another” represents death. As Larrington mentions in her Poetic Edda translation, Fenrir is who takes Odin down. Another tale of Norse myth is The Binding of Fenrir which is a widely popular story that explains why and how Fenrir contributes to Ragnarok or the end of the world. 

Prior to Ragnarok taking place, the Norse myths say that a great winter would take place and would last for several years (Fimbulwinter/Fimbulvetr). The last bit of The Wanderer, specifically in lines 95-115, mention the darkness, the cold, and the winter that is symbolic of an end of ways and days, such as Ragnarok. The world serpent in Nordic myth also plays a key role in Ragnarok and line 97 of The Wanderer poem references only walls being left that have serpents on them. This is a foreshadowing of Ragnarok thus demonstrating heavily pagan viewpoints in The Wanderer. By the end of line 115, paganism has vanished, a new world or kingdom is born, and “middle earth” is no longer mentioned. The Wanderer appears to have let go of his traditions, and has accepted the “Father in Heaven” who has a “fortress for all”. 

Portion of The Ragnarök Frieze (Freyr, Gullinbursti, Skadi) by Herman Ernst Freund Germanic Mythology

Odin is present in this poem as well as Christ. Mention of Germanic customs, traditions, gods, and nature are therefore common themes in The Wanderer. Odin himself was a wanderer. Several stanzas found in the Wanderer highly reflect viewpoints in The Havamal, also called “The Sayings of the High One”, or “The Words of Odin”. (See lines 65-72 of The Wanderer). The resemblance to Larrington’s translation of The Havamal is nearly identical thus reflecting the paganism and nature found in The Wanderer. What is truly fascinating regarding that is The Wanderer poem pre-dates the Eddas and Havamal by several hundred years.

Stanza 6 and 7 in Carolyne Larrington’s Havamal translation directly relate to Lines 65-72 of The Wanderer. 

“About his intelligence, no man should be boastful,/rather cautious of mind;/when a wise and silent man comes to a homestead/blame seldom befalls the wary;/ for no more dependable friend can a man ever get/than a store of common sense” (Sayings of the High One, Stanza 6, Larrington, 2014). 

“The careful guest, who comes to a meal,/keeps silent, with hearing finely attuned;’ he listens with his ears, / and looks about with his eyes; / so every wise man spies out what’s ahead (Sayings of the High One, Stanza 7, Larrington, 2014). 

Identifying similarities in The Wanderer can be done by examining lines 62-72. 

“… So this middle-earth / from day to day dwindles and fails; /, therefore, no one is wise without his share of winters / in the world’s kingdom. / A wise man must be patient, / not too hot of heart nor hasty of speech, / not reluctant to fight nor too reckless, / not too timid nor too glad, not too greedy, and never eager to commit until he can be sure. / A man should hold back his boast until / that time has come when he truly knows / to direct his heart on the right path” (Greenblatt, 2018). 

The resemblances stood out instantly based on new examination and previous analyses of each text. The ideas mentioned in each ancient poem reflect Germanic pagan viewpoints which did often include nature. 

The little bit of this poem has so many symbols and devices that one could write a book on how paganism and nature around without. The examples above are only from a small analysis and prior readings that led to the connection of the sources used. For people in the middle ages, life was hard for plenty of reasons. It is important to not overlook the conflicting feelings of religion among the ancient people, as well as the importance of nature and old sayings full of wisdom.  

References: 

Greenblatt, Stephen, et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. TENTH ed., W.W. Norton & Company, 2018. 

Larrington, Carolyne. The Poetic Edda Translated by Carolyne Larrington. Oxford University Press, 2014. 

Blog That I Recommend for More Reading:

The Norse Mythology Blog – The Wanderer (Seigfried 2016)

Room 121

Experiences, Poetry, Thoughts

Room 121 – a Tribute to the Mule

Narrative Poem by @kimberlyanneinc

Welcome. Before you begin reading this narrative poem, I want to say thank you for being here. Room 121 is a place that you have been to before. It is a place that we have all been to before, in some way or another. It is up to you to determine what Room 121 is about. Room 121 is a diverse room filled with every kind of energy and emotion that is possible for human beings to demonstrate and feel. Room 121 is full of mysteries that are not meant to be solved. Room 121 is what you want it to be.

This post is best viewed on desktop or tablet. 

Room 121 – a Tribute to the Mule

What’s going to happen in Room 121? 
I swore to myself the last time we were there that I’d never set foot in a courthouse again. 
You know it was not supposed to happen this way. 
Like an out of body experience I see the stupid happy plastered look on my face. 
Walking with you like I should be so proud when in fact I should have 
hid my face. 
Then maybe now I wouldn’t be so embarrassed 
and ashamed of being associated with your name. 
Almost reaching Room 121 I’ve practically crumbled and just might 
disintegrate. 
 
What will happen in Room 121? 
In Room 121 I’ll become brand new and it’s going to be like I never even knew you. 
Remember that moment in Cinderella? There’s a fairy godmother who completes the impossible. 
She made it all possible for a transformation to take place. Can you see the wand now waving? 
Waving around now right in front of her face? A transformation I’ll go 
through even though I think really, it’s you who needs one too and 
you probably need it much more than me since you have issues with your eyes, 
your ears, and all things. You need glasses so you can see. A hearing aid so you can listen. 
 
What is going to take place in Room 121? 
If only a real fairy godmother exists, then she could help me help you! 
With this issue of vision. 
Helping you would be much too kind considering there is no hope for you anyway. In Room 121
I will release all of the pain 
and the guilt 
and the misery 
and the shame - 
along with all of your lies and your undiagnosed illnesses 
and that fake bit of chivalry that brays out of you like a True ass.
 
In Room 121 I will walk in alone and I won’t mind at all because I’ll be one step closer to 
escaping any thought of you 
for the rest of my life. 

Sometimes I wonder if the world only knew 
how weak and infantile you truly are 
if it would 
HELP. 
 
Do you think it will be beautiful in Room 121? 
Then they’d be able to escape you too; but like me they wouldn’t have to run 
because you’d already be gone. 
Faster and faster just like a marathon 
of foolishness and mental fragility due to your frail existence. 
In Room 121 donning silver attire, I will walk in with pride and 
explain my mistakes of how I fell for your 
schemes, 
your strategies 
and your lies 
and how 
NOW
they have made me only so much more indestructible - 
Rugged and impenetrable either through the heart or unmentionables, thank you. Thank. You. 
My armor is heavy, and my battle scars are unseen. Only those who wear this armor too will 
understand what that means. 
With my head held high and curious eyes glaring at the gleam 
that my iron shield, metal plate, and inlaid sword bring - 
everyone will know that you are not a real King. 

Just another imitation descended from swindlers and shams, who could only hope and dream to move on to better things 
instead of constantly being masters of the masquerade. I’m sorry you were built that way.

The crudeness of my words, is veracious as your credentials
of being extremely detrimental. 

The fact that you are a mule, and one that is destructive is comical to say the least.  
Being a tool is exactly the purpose of such an animal. Stubborn and a certified beast 
of burden - 
of this I’m certain. 

As I lift the helmet off of my head, and start to remove my sheathing, the verdict is reached and now I am breathing. A sigh of relief blasted out of my chest knowing that I was heard and that your cowardice 
made it all so easy.

Sailing out now of Room 121 
I go away and in search of anything that isn’t you 
for eternity now. 
Sailing out now of Room 121, 
off and away there I go, here I go, to anything or anyone that isn’t you 
forever now. 

Sailing out now with my armor, weapons, and my ship, hands on my waist with the hips you will miss - 
farther than ever so you can never taste my lips 
again.

Assailant should have been your title once long ago, but you can’t be called that anymore. 
You’ve lost this battle and I’ve won the war. Now thanks to Room 121 I am perpetually 
unassailable. And when the truth hits the ears of all who will listen, this is how the tale will go. 


Thank you for reading. If you’re a rebel writer, let me know what literary devices you can spot in this poem. I’d love to hear from you. ❤ ‘Til then, happy writing!

Nixie

Experiences, Poetry, Thoughts

Do you remember the first time you brought your newborn home from the hospital? Your first baby. Do you remember counting every breath? Feeling their chest? Putting your ear next to their tiny little lips that would one day ask, “WHY?”

I’ve recalled that feeling and lived it again. But this time with no bassinet, no crib, no play pen. Instead I’m laying on the bathroom floor, worried sick. Counting breaths per second as the clock ticks. As I think of my foolish ways, and the dismay that was brought on by today, I ponder it all as I stare at my new stray. With all that I can and all I’ve got, an offering should take place.

She’s eating and breathing and drinking which is a relief. Considering her condition, as told by the vet it’s somewhat of a rendition of – well, I don’t even need to tell. You already know. She’s mostly silver, grayish, kinda blue. She has a tiny white patch on her chest too. Her eyes are the darkest green, but somehow resemble emeralds or jade that have been spun into a galaxy that lives in her gaze.

Mystic as she is no matter what is wrong, I’ll treat her like my own and sing her all the songs. The ones I always chant to the other two I have, like a ritual I plant and water what I can.

Filled her water several times, because she kept drinking and drinking. Water is a gift of life, primordial and consistently. Thinking and thinking, I call her Nixie. Tiny little sprite, washing everything down. I watch her, observing as she circles around. 9 times like the waters of Styx. If she has 9 lives, then I hope they let me have – at least one.

I hope she doesn’t go yet, because we’ve only just begun. But if she has to take her journey, she won’t do it alone. Precious little Nixie Styx, this can be your new home. ✨

Places: How They Influence Us

Experiences, Thoughts, Travel

Within the last couple of years, I have transformed; mentally and emotionally. Some of the things I did before the pandemic were unhealthy and questionable. I mean very mentally and emotionally unhealthy. I was around people who were just not good for me and my mental and spiritual health was on a decline because of it. During the pandemic, and with tons of time to be alone I had an epiphany of sorts. After realizing I had almost wasted my life with an individual who was completely toxic for me, I realized that I truly wasn’t living my life the way that I should have been or could be doing. Realizing that, I decided to make the most out of my 2021, once many COVID restrictions started to lift. 

Last year I went on some truly amazing adventures and discovered so many new places and met some lovely new people. At this point, I’m not a stranger to traveling alone. I find that traveling alone is extremely beneficial and something that everyone should do at least once in their life. I don’t mean traveling for work either, or something tedious. I mean to go, across the country, or the world – completely by yourself and for only one purpose: leisure. 

Last year, by the power of fate I made it to Iceland twice, Omaha, Nebraska (Nebriowa), and St. Louis, Missouri. I feel like I’m forgetting something, but if I remember I’ll be sure to come back and write about it. I did go to Roswell, but that was for a family visit and something I’ll discuss later on. Traveling for me is all about exploration of the world and exploration of myself. It might not seem like a lot to some, but the places I went to and the things that I saw last year have given me memories that will last a lifetime. Traveling makes you realize just how tiny you are in this giant and overpopulated world. 

Seeing Mt. Esja, among many other beauties in Iceland for the first time, was breathtaking. I did, of course, see some epic waterfalls, ate fermented shark (and didn’t puke, haha Gordon Ramsay!), and even saw one of my favorite artists perform. On top of that, I even went to Álfaskólinn, the official Elf School of Iceland, and was lucky enough to sit with a historian and listen to stories of magic and folklore (my favorite!). 

Sitting on Mt. Esja, Iceland

When traveling to Nebraska, I stood in two states at the same time while on top of the Bob Kerry Pedestrian bridge where I witnessed a marriage proposal at sunset. It was so romantic, and I was thrilled to have captured photos of the moment. (The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge is a 3,000-foot footbridge across the Missouri River between Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska.) I did send the photos I got to the couple after their special moment. I rode a bicycle up and down the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The feeling of connecting with nature and history brought me such pleasure and it’s a magical place I’ll never forget. On the trail, I slowed down so I could witness a musical performance taking place on the side of the river. I saw the Durham Museum and listened to stories of military men and the brave Standing Bear. I was shocked and heartbroken at learning things about Standing Bear and his people, that they never would teach us in school. At the Joslyn Art Museum, I discovered an epic Dutch painter, Maria Van Oosterwijck. I ate the best fish tacos I’ve ever had in my life at Voodoo Taco. I wish all of the time, they’d open one up in Chicago. 

I rode all over downtown Omaha by myself on those little stand-up electric scooters and let my hair blow in the wind as I cruised the streets, examining the architecture and statues of pioneers and buffalo. Somehow I managed to make my way to a concert of roughly 70,000 people in the middle of a field that looked more like a valley than anything. It was one of the hottest days of the year, and I had no idea how I’d get back to where I was lodging. Luckily, I met a beautiful Princess in the crowd who was from Lake Okoboji. She told me about where she was from, and how people always looked confused when she said “Lake Okoboji”. It is a glacier lake that was formed 14,000 years ago by the Wisconsin Glacier and has a maximum depth of 136 feet, making it Iowa’s deepest natural lake. Bri, or Bree, if you ever read this, just know that I think you are a genuine and beautiful human being. It’s mysterious that we never exchanged contact info after hanging out and demolishing curly fries after the concert. Thank you for helping me get back into town so safely. In my mind, I’d like to think it’s because we are both Midwestern chicks who were looking out for each other that night. She initially came up to me and started chatting because, for a moment, she too was in the crowd alone. 

Somewhere, Iowa

For my son’s birthday, we drove to St. Louis. The first time we saw the Gateway Arch, it felt incredible. Seeing things in person that you’ve only read about in books or on the internet gives you this indescribable feeling! It’s like yes, we finally made it. My son particularly loved St. Louis and Missouri in general. Especially when we drove out to the Meremac Caverns and learned about the hideout spots of Jesse James. Seeing the caverns all lit up felt like being in a dream. We got to explore a part of the earth that so many other people haven’t been able to see. We also spent time at the City Museum, and it was one of the most interesting places I’ve ever seen. Everything constructed at the City Museum comes from old pieces, parts, and random works of art that were once part of the city of St. Louis. Inside the City Museum, which is both equally fun for adults and children, you can investigate the unthinkable.  I rescued a toddler while there who had apparently gotten lost. I found her crying in some loft (there are literally secret compartments all over that museum). Thankfully, her parents found her once I brought her back to the front desk! It was still wild though, considering each child gets a wristband and their parents are supposed to write their phone numbers on them! There was no phone number on hers, which made me super disappointed. My mom instincts kicked in super hard!

St. Louis, MO
Gateway Arch National Park

The City Museum is a hundred-year-old warehouse where artists have recycled the remains of the past to create miles of tunnels, slides, and climbers as well as bridges, castles, and other structures. There are secret caves inside, giant halls, and more tunnels than you can ever imagine. On top of the building, there is even a school bus on the roof and a Ferris wheel. Some of our time was also spent at the Magic House Museum in Kirkwood, MO. The Magic House is a non-profit organization that provides hands-on exhibitions and educational activities that are tailored to the specific interests and requirements of children and their families. In addition to field excursions, STEAM evenings for families, scout programs, and summer camps, the Museum provides a range of interactive learning opportunities that encourage and inspire kids of all ages toward becoming successful learners.

City Museum, St. Louis, MO

This is just a tiny snippet of what I’ve experienced last year in my “free time”. The point is, all of these places shape what I know, who I am, and how I see the world. Every time we discover a new place, we discover something about ourselves. We discover something about humanity. As much as humans seem impossible, experiencing new things and new places gives you a chance to discover the good that is left in humanity. In St. Louis, I was shocked at the hospitality we received at one restaurant. It was genuine, it was real. It wasn’t that fake smile or fake voice that many servers here in the city pull. 

In the city, when I was growing up one of my favorite hideout spots was the Montrose Bird Sanctuary. The Montrose Bird Sanctuary is a quiet preserve that is home to a diverse range of migrating songbirds and butterflies, and it also has a skyline view. When I was younger I thought it should have just been called the Butterfly Sanctuary. The last time I was there, sadly, I did not see so many butterflies. There were plenty of tall grasses and trees to hide in and around. Maybe I loved the spot due to my obsession with nature which I’m going to blame on books of my childhood like, “The Giving Tree”, for example. Or even “Goodnight Moon”. Growing up with books that taught about nature, the stars, and altruism – one shouldn’t be surprised that a favorite hiding spot of mine is just next to the shores of Lake Michigan where you can easily hide in trees. It looks much different now than it did back then. Even though it’s changed so much, it will always be one of my favorite spots. I went back and visited last year, and found a single rose floating in the lake. I considered it as a message from one of my most loved and missed friends. 

Near Montrose Harbor, Chicago IL (I promise you, I did not put that rose there!)

I’ve been incredibly lucky to experience so many things. This year, I can only imagine what else I will find. Taking none of this for granted is critical to the importance and the extent of my appreciation for all of the magical things in this world. 

Roswell, NM 2021

Tragedies As A Catapult

Experiences, Psychology, Thoughts

Endings almost always lead to beginnings. In my experience, it seems that way. There’s been a few times in my life where something ending has put me on a completely different path, leading me to brand new and often exciting experiences. Whether these endings came in the form of relationships, jobs, or even the deaths of loved ones, they transformed me as an individual in their own different ways. Each experience contributed to the web that is my life.

Tragedies and new beginnings are often interwoven like an intricate web of fibers bearing all different kinds of colors.

Tragedies and new beginnings are often interwoven like an intricate web of fibers bearing all different kinds of colors. Each color and each fiber represent a different aspect of life. Life has this way about it that can leave us confused, questioning everything, or really trying to find our purpose. Ironically, its counterpart, Death, leaves us wondering many of the same things.

Part of our purpose, I believe, is to learn and grow while we are here on earth. We cannot grasp new ideas and flourish if we do the same routine things every day of our life. That must be why we suffer tragedies and have pain and sorrow. It must be why, right? Without these tragedies would we truly be ourselves? Who would be? We become stronger and more resilient with each new beginning that is presented to us by a tragedy. 

In my last post, I discussed grief and people who I’ve lost that have impacted my life tremendously. When thinking of them, there is someone who I lost that comes to mind specifically, and losing this person really was a catapult for me to enter into a new beginning. After experiencing such a devastating loss, I was transformed.

In a way, I entirely reshaped my existence and what I’ve done with my time. The tragedy was my catapult to start endless amounts of creation in the form of art and writing, and just simply living my life the exact and precise way that I wanted to; with absolutely nothing holding me back.

There is another time when a friend and I were on separate paths in life for about seven or eight years. We did not speak for the entire duration of those years. Something magical happened that suddenly brought us together, and from that tragedy (separation), we were able to start a new beginning. The fibers of our webs once again became intertwined, thus causing a new bond. New beginnings are quite possibly one of my favorite things. I even have a tattoo dedicated to such meaning. Similar to the balance of darkness and light, fortune and misfortune are opposite yet closely related. There is an awakening that happens with new beginnings, like the break of dawn after a long dark night. You cannot have one without the other. Maintaining balance is important. 

There have been plenty of times where I’ve had a fresh start. One of the most recent situations I can recall where I’ve had to “start over” was after getting married in a rush, and then getting divorced. When I think of it now, it seems so ridiculous. The choice I made could be considered a mistake. However, if I did not choose to get married, and then go through a divorce, I would certainly not be where I am now. So like those little colorful fibers are woven into the web of my life, how could this be a mistake? The divorce led me to another new beginning and I’m now at a point in my life where I know exactly who I am mentally and spiritually, and exactly where I’m going. Gratitude for the entirety of the situation is a complete understatement of my feelings. Whereas, before, I was just kind of going through the motions of life and not exactly sure about anything. I was still learning how to be me. This tragedy that I suffered through, and the fact that I went through my own depression was absolutely worth it. I wouldn’t wish the pain on anyone, or the confusion, or just downright nastiness of what I’d experienced, but everything that has happened has made me such a better person than I was before. 

Breathe. It will all work out in the end. 

In my experience, when things don’t work out it is a sign that things are actually working out. It may sound kind of crazy or silly, but I promise it is true. Some doors are just meant to be closed, and that is okay. In one of my favorite books, by Icelandic author Gunnar Andri, something he said in the book has stood out in my mind for several years now. “When one door closes, another opens. And sometimes many of them open at the same time.” Correct! I do agree with him on this statement, as well as much of the wisdom inside of his book. (5/5 stars, I definitely recommend)  

And when those doors do open, taking the opportunity to walk through them can seem frightening or challenging. The thing is, with a new start, you must not be afraid. Of course, being scared of change or doing something new is a natural human emotion. Humans don’t like change. It’s been proven. Sometimes though, change is exactly what we need. A new path is given to us at the worst time, which in reality often can be the best time. There have been so many positive things that have happened to me since my divorce or other designated tragedies, and I recall the feeling of starting new friendships and relationships with other people after these terrible situations happened. I’m happier than I’ve ever been and I truly do believe that if the tragedies didn’t happen, I really wouldn’t be on the path I am now. It’s an amazing feeling.

If you’re ever feeling like you are living in total despair, or you just simply can’t move on from a situation or a certain someone, I’m here to tell you that you certainly can. It’s absolutely possible. When your tragedy hits, surely there will be flowers that will bloom shortly after. 

Things to Remember: 

  1. Don’t be scared to end something 
  2. Don’t be nervous about experiencing your own tragedy (It will make you stronger)
  3. Don’t be intimidated about trying something new 
  4. Do try to meet new people, learn from them
  5. Change is a good thing sometimes 
  6. Take every opportunity presented to you (It’s there for a reason)
  7. Find your balance between dark and light 
  8. Remember that everything will work out in the end 
  9. Tragedies and new beginnings are interwoven; everything is connected

New beginnings can be hard, and learning something new that you’ve never done before certainly can be a challenge. In the garden of your life, just make sure to tend to the flowers that bloom after the storm; not the weeds.

 

Inspiration and Contributions

Experiences, Thoughts

“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”

Maya ANGELOU

I am a bit behind on my writings this week! Normally, I post by Wednesday or Thursday, but this week it has been so busy for me. Finally, I’m at ease and am able to get my words down on this “paper”. 

This week I’ve been thinking about kindness, inspiration, and the good and the bad of life. Each day I have to log on to my browser on my desktop for work, school, and everything else. Whenever I log on, the browser is filled will all kinds of terrifying and depressing stories filled with misery and shock. It makes me crazy if I look too long, so sometimes I head over to this website and look at GOOD NEWS Stories because I despise looking at only bad ones. In fact, watching the news is not allowed in my house! (Before you call me a warden, realize it’s just me, my kid, and the cats.) Most of the news on mainstream news channels is all trash anyway and is weakening the minds of all of us. Never do I ever recall in my life hearing a “good news” story on the 5:00pm news. Do you? In a book I read once, the author broke down how much time we waste by watching the news, and how much more of that time could be used to be productive. Considering I gave up on the news when I was 17 years old, I felt proud to know that my viewpoints aligned with the author in that respect. (And much else of what he said, to be fair.)

As an example let’s do some quick math similar to what the author wrote in the book.

30 minutes of news per day x 5 days a week = 150 minutes of watching news

150 minutes per week x 4 weeks = 600 minutes of watching news per month

600 minutes = 10 hours per month

10 hours per month x 12 months = 120 hours per year

Now if you add in watching both the morning and evening news, you are going to double your numbers in the above equations. Imagine wasting 240 hours per year watching the news.

Photo by Danya Gutan on Pexels.com

Crazy to think about, isn’t it? I feel bad for those that do! If you do, and you are shocked reading the numbers, congratulations this will be the beginning of your new life and a new routine. What can we do with 120-240 hours per year instead of watching the news? We can work on ourselves, our community, our passions, our family dynamics, and hobbies. So back to my main topic – good news and bad news. Positivity vs. negativity. Inspiration and contributions!

Positivity seems to be a recurrent theme on social media these days. Often we post pictures or quotes that have to do with being positive or inspirational. I too am guilty of posting this kind of content. Not that there is anything wrong with it at all – because there really isn’t. Whether we practice what we preach is up to us entirely as individuals. But as the saying goes, “It’s the thought that counts.” Right? When we post these quotes or images on social media, is it just for likes, or is it because we actually want to inspire others? Chances are, it’s the latter. Something I’ve posted recently was an inspirational quote by Bruce Lee, and with the quote, I attached an image that also had a quote by Maya Angelou. The two quotes posted were: 

“Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.” – Bruce Lee 

“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” – Maya Angelou 

These two quotes are not only true but also legendary considering who said them. Reposting these quotes is a contribution of sorts and gives a little spark of hope to those who read them. Isn’t that the end goal of sharing these things on social media? It’s like when you read them, you feel a passion or some wonderful sentiment that was not there just seconds before. You feel the emotion behind it. You feel the spark and want to share that spark with other people. Misery loves company or so they say, but I think inspiration does also. 

Through my writing and freelance work, I definitely feel like I help people much more and that I’m making positive contributions to the world. Some of my side gigs also give me that same feeling. I’m no stranger to getting paid to pick up groceries for the elderly or give people a ride when they need it in exchange for cash. Time is money of course, but I also feel good when I’m helping people who actually need help – and getting paid for it. The same thing goes for when I help companies write or edit articles and blog posts, or when I help my clients with their website needs. I love to do it, and I enjoy helping them while I can also have some sort of creative freedom. These are all contributions I make to my life, and my community through my work. Inspiration is one of the driving factors behind such actions.

One time several winters ago, I stopped at a local grocery store near my friend’s house to make a run for some alcohol and munchies. It was the month of January and the temperatures were below freezing. Seeing a homeless woman outside of the store asking for food broke my heart. I’ve never talked about this until now, but I bought a bunch of extra food, including a warm pre-made meal, and gave it to her. Could this also be considered an act of inspiration? I believe so. Random acts of kindness, positivity, and inspiration are just good for us and our mental and physical health. 

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Thinking of situations that are on the giving spectrum, I’ve donated several times to archeological foundations and nature/wildlife foundations. The feelings that prompted me to do so were because these are things that I strongly care about. These are things that trigger my emotion, want, and need to help contribute to my community and earth.

When it comes to contributing to my family, or friends, often I’m putting them before myself. My kid and my fur babies always come first, and for my true friends, I try to be there for them at the drop of a dime. Spending time teaching my son new things, expanding his education by getting him new books, or showing him a new hiking trail is something I consider to be a good contribution to his life. With friends, you might see me trying to make plans with them, or help them through their problems. 

I’m not perfect in any way, and I do not try to be. Even as an adult I’m still trying to practice acts of kindness, gratitude, and contributions of inspiration to myself, my family, and of course my friends. In many ways, I don’t think I’m someone to be setting examples for others, but if I’m in the spotlight to do so my main focus would be practicing to be more understanding and patient with myself and the people who are around me. I believe I do a good job, but there is always room for improvement with anything and everything!

When it comes to inspiration – what inspires you? What inspires you deeply and what inspires you to contribute to the world around you? Always remember – there is good news in the world. Sometimes it is up to us to be that good news.

Photo by Matheus Bertelli on Pexels.com

Elements of Eros

Experiences, Mythology, Psychology, Thoughts

Elements of Eros 

Isn’t it fascinating that in many pantheons of mythology, there are gods and goddesses strictly for LOVE? Personifications of human feelings and emotions via deities are nothing new to discuss. We have all heard of them before. Freyja, Aphrodite, Cupid, Juno, Parvati, and Eros just to name a few. Eros was the son of Chaos (in some variations). Interesting how love and turmoil have been intertwined since ancient times, isn’t it?

Eros was a Greek god of love. He was the embodiment of passion and desire. Some may recognize him better as the Roman Cupid. Without warning, he selects his prey, the innocent and the lonely. He targets the unexpected. With great force and might he strikes their hearts and they are left feeling fluttery and confused. As quoted by Hesiod, he ‘loosens the limbs and weakens the mind’ (Theogony, 120)

Photo by: Kimberly Anne – St.Louis, MO 2021 (Eros Bendato, a massive sculpture by artist Igor Mitoraj)

As quoted by Hesiod, he ‘loosens the limbs and weakens the mind’ (Theogony, 120)

Hesiod, theogony

If you have fallen in love, you know exactly the feeling that is described. 

I certainly know the feeling very well. When thinking of love, I think of also my own solitude as of the last few years. I’ve been so accustomed to life without that significant other now that sometimes I believe it all to be a myth. A real partner surely does not exist in my world. The only people who exist in my world in that respect are people who do not want to stay around. (Please hear: “People Disappear Here” by Halsey) I’ve often found that I am good enough for a little while, but not for anything long-term. But whose fault is that?

Download Halsey - People Disappear Here Mp3 Download - GoodLuckExpo
Photo credit: Halsey

That’s how it feels, it seems. Sometimes. The same ones who crave me for just a little while, are the ones who will not give me monogamy when I ask; but they always return. They always come back. Every single one of my “exes” has always come back at some point or another. Considering I’m “alone” it’s like they think I will just be there for them forever – just for them – even though they do not offer me the same in return. It’s a vicious cycle. Satisfying, but rather annoying as well. It’s one of the most contradictory things I think a woman can experience. I’m sure I’m not alone. 

To have one solid person who can just go through life with me and only me would be a dream. I wish I had someone to build with. We’d probably be a great team. I imagine it often! Other than that I do not think anything else is missing from my life. Just a true love. Not lovers. Lovers are easy to find. A true love is not. A consistent love. One that I can make sacrifices for, and one that will do it in return for me. One love that does not hold things over my head. One that does not want to fight, but one that wants to build and go through this very short life together. 

If there is something that I wish I still had that was from my past it would probably be my high school sweetheart, but he is long gone now. That’s a pretty morbid statement considering I am just in the earliest portion of my 30’s. We had our ups and downs, but I miss him all of the time. He was a love that I could write a whole book on, I think. 

Photo by lilartsy on Pexels.com

Sometimes it does feel like I’m destined to not have certain things. For example, once I had my son – the only thing I really craved was normalcy. I wanted a “normal life”, which I don’t know if I even knew what that meant. I don’t know if I even know what that consists of. All I knew is that I wanted life to be different than what I witnessed in my childhood. At one point, someone told me, “You can’t have a normal life. You’d be bored with it.” 

Sometimes, I think that is true. But as life’s circumstances have caught up with me and I’ve finally realized the extent of my anxiety – I now disagree heavily, even more than before with that particular quoted statement. All I want now is simplicity. That is really it. The belief that I’m not destined to have certain things probably stems from my experiences. Failed relationships are to blame for the belief, but I am personally to blame for failed relationships. I’ve purposely chosen (in the past) people who were not good for me. Trying to solve childhood trauma via adult relationships will never end well. That is something I’ve learned. I have also learned it is okay to be alone, and it’s okay to be quiet. My solitude now is my joy. 

After three major long-term relationships, all of which so far have not worked out completely for a variety of reasons, I guess I thought at some point that having “the one” just is not possible for me. I did think that before, but I do not think that now. Thoughts change over time of course. If I was in pain and mourning the death of a relationship or marriage, of course, the “woe is me” mentality would be in effect. It’s easy to be bitter when you are hurt! It’s natural to feel that way. But feelings are a temporary state. Love is a choice.

Photo by Meruyert Gonullu on Pexels.com

 

Thinking of people around me, there is one couple that stands out in my mind. I will not name names, for obvious reasons. But they have been married for many years now and are actually happy. They have a sense of teamwork in their household. There is no misery or hostility. They celebrate their love quietly. They don’t blast all of the social media with their love. They keep it within the home. They get mad at each other of course, but it’s not something publicized. They have balance! I am now thinking about another couple I know just like the first I mentioned. The two couples each have something in common. They are not from the United States! Is this a coincidence? It could be. I’m also partially biased now because I’ve been reading more and more about the differences in mentality of Americans vs. Non-Americans. The differences in thought processes, relationships, and methods of raising children are ASTONISHING. I love this country, but many of the things we have learned are very questionable and should always be questioned! 

Personally, I think my “true love” is missing because I have not been able to experience, or meet that person yet (at this phase in my life). I believe I have had “true loves”, before. I’m also questioning, like mentioned before if “true love” is even a concept that exists or makes sense. What is even a true love? Is it possible to have several over a lifetime? Of course. Is a true love something you feel from another person, is it another person themselves? Or could it be the actions taken by someone who can prove in a sense, that this “true love” thing is not just a fallacy? Is it all of what is mentioned, combined? I’m sure I could put more effort into “finding” this “true love”, and recently I believe I have put more effort. The only one who really knows the answer as to whether or not my effort will work is time. Time knows all things. I like to imagine that, at least. 

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

As humans, it is in our DNA and very existence to crave love and desire and the want and need to be connected to people around us. In many ways, I feel connected to people “around” me. That is mostly due to social media. If social media is taken out of the equation, then will I be as connected? Certainly not. There seems to be a drought in my life and country (it feels to me at least) that there is a giant lack of community and family (outside) of social media. In the future, if time allows, I would love to start an organization of my own that can help people establish a sense of family and community – without social media being involved. 

In the last 15-20 years, technology has been both a blessing and a curse to us all. However, before technology, meaning apps like Facebook, IG, and TikTok took over our lives, things were so different. I just remember not knowing where my friends were. I remember not having cell phones. I remember going outside to find them. I remember randomly running into them at random bus stops, parks, or at the train stations in Chicago. That is what I remember. We felt more connected back then, and we actually met up and made plans. Not everyone was easily accessible via social media. We were more connected back then than we are now in a sense. Things were more personal. They were face to face. It’s such a strange time we are living in now. We are connected, yet so disconnected. 

Photo by Darrel Und on Pexels.com

In a world full of disconnection, it can be a struggle to exhibit values. Values correlate to community, family, and love. When thinking of values, I think many of my own values that I learned in my childhood and teen years still resonate with me today despite the many changes in our world. The values that I believe in, are ones that I’m also still trying to perfect. Lately, I am trying to practice kindness, empathy within my parenting, and as always – being courageous. Not that I lack any major values (I don’t think), but it’s my personal belief that as humans we must constantly strive to improve ourselves in every single area. Nobody is perfect, and this I know, but room for improvement will never hurt anyone. Unless you of course pull a muscle at the gym! Shit happens. When I catch myself having a negative thought or a serious case of road rage, I try to stop myself and redirect my thoughts. It is the least I can do, for my own mental well-being. 

Focusing on well-being, I feel is a good decision and does make me feel like I’m headed in the right direction. Mental health and well-being are important factors for any individual and also for the success of relationships. When things around us go haywire, sometimes the best thing we can do is look within, instead of outward. Look within, right within your heart – right where Eros strikes. 

Photo by Mario Wallner on Pexels.com

Fulfillment at Work – What’s Better? Financial or Emotional Values?

Thoughts

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there was a teenage me. I worked at a popular fried chicken fast food restaurant. One of my fondest memories was the night I quit working there. It was Halloween night (a pretty big deal for me, and the ONLY Halloween night I ever worked in my life). The night I quit was the same night I had envisioned dunking my rude coworker’s head into the chicken fryer. I was so angry and upset at this woman that I thought it would have been hilarious if I did such a thing. My irrational thinking may sound entertaining or quite bizarre, but I’m practicing vulnerability and showing my true human emotions. If you are at a job or in an environment you hate so much that you want to put someone’s head in a deep fryer, you should probably find something else to do!

Thinking of that night and my other experiences makes me think now of fulfillment in the workplace. Is it better to be happy at work? Or is it better to be paid a higher salary? The only one who can answer that question is you. That thought is something everyone should consider. 

Another memory I have from my teenage work experience is learning to sweep and mop properly. I remember going into those restaurants and the managers having to teach me how to do basic things because those basic things were not taught to me at home. What was home for me anyway? I was on the street most of the time, partying it up with my friends.

With jobs, comes experience, naturally. Of course, we also meet those occasional work friends who we somehow never forget. We remember the wrinkles on their faces, the way they smelled and the way they laughed, and the things they taught us. We remember the heartwarming things that they did. (Or rude things they did in the case of the deep fryer story.)

When I think of caring and heartwarming people at work, I remember Theresa. She was an older lady I worked with as a teenager. She is the one who helped me embrace creativity through food art. She and I decorated cakes together. I was her apprentice. I remember Christmas being her favorite holiday. I also remember her chain-smoking and being dirt poor. Theresa loved her job so much, despite it not paying well. She lived in a suburb just outside of the city, and it seemed that she had a hard life. That was something I could surely relate to, although I was 2 or 3 decades younger than her. Despite my somewhat mischievous ways, she was always there for me. Theresa did not judge me. She was a teacher. She was kind of like a mother figure to me. I think about her sometimes. She would drive me home some days in the blizzards and snow even though she did not have much gas left in her tank. She had enough gas to get home, and luckily for me sometimes wherever I laid my head was in the direction she was going. 

Another memory I have is working at a smoothie place, and eventually quitting because of the pervy manager who decided to sexually harass employees including myself. I applied at a different restaurant down the street due to being uncomfortable, and low and behold – so did the manager who was recently fired from the same smoothie place that I was trying to leave. It just felt awkward! Needless to say, because of me reporting him to both companies, he was fired from each. I think it serves him right considering his actions towards me, and the other female employees as well. It’s unfortunate when people who are in authority positions abuse their power. However, it is likely to happen more often than not.

TRIGGER WARNING – Do not continue reading if you are sensitive to sexual/domestic/violence issues.

One day, I was inside of a breakfast restaurant filling out a job application far on the north side of Chicago. Most of my time was spent on the Northside to be fair. This restaurant was almost on the outer limits of the city. I was around 18 years old at the time.

A man sat alone at a table near me and was eating his breakfast and drinking his coffee. He was a tiny little guy and spoke Spanish to the waitress. He saw me at the cashier counter of the restaurant filling out an application. Back then we had PAPER applications for jobs. What a wild world it was! Some of you will remember, and some of you will imagine. (Someone told me we still have paper applications apparently. I was shocked to know this. I haven’t seen one in years, but I stand corrected!)

I was writing down all of my information on this paper application and the man approached me. He asked me if I was looking for a job. Obviously, and clearly, I was. Of course, I said yes, and I asked why? Why did he ask me? What did he want? Back then I was rough around the edges. I mean, I still am. But my sassiness back then was much more vicious than it is now. I think so at least.

He slid a business card over to me and told me that he owned a nightclub in Lincoln Park. (Lincoln Park has been one of the most popular nightlife destinations in Chicago for a long time.) He said he was looking for a hostess. At the time, it sounded like a dream! He told me that I could start the next night. He told me to dress for the occasion. I was so excited. I picked out new outfits, even spending the money to do so. My mom helped me prepare. She said I looked beautiful.

I wore a small black mini skirt, black stilettos, and a white blouse that was a bit low cut and sleeveless. My hair was put up in a giant long ponytail before the Ariana Grande ponytail was ever mentioned. I wore a black cardigan to cover the tattoo on my back.

I remember it so well. I remember thinking how lucky I was to just have a job fall right into my lap, and not just a job, but one where music would be played all night and people would dance all night. The only thing I would be responsible for was to help collect tickets at the door and put roses on the tables and light the candles. “Make it feel romantic.”, he told me.

Ah yes. I will never forget. That is exactly what I did!

The first and only night there at the club, I thought I scored big. After the tickets were all collected and everyone was inside, I danced with the customers! I danced all night! Luckily for me, the guy who hired me, who now I can’t even remember his name, also danced. It was a big party and I was the luckiest girl ever in the world because I got paid for it! I was offered drinks and shots multiple times, but I never drank back then. It worked in my favor.

Finally, the night had to come to an end. The nameless man told me that I’d be able to leave around 1 am, as the local bars closed around 2 and everyone would be heading home around that time. At the end of the night, I approached the mysterious boss man and asked him for my pay. It was pretty good money too, for being so long ago, and it was in cash. As a teenager, it was a sweet deal to me. He told me that my money was down in the basement. He wanted me to follow him down there in the basement of the club, right to his office.

I can’t remember now if I thought anything of it. Naturally, as an older adult now typing this and reading it, you can see how shady it sounds. We got to his little room (“office”) in the basement of the club. It was summertime and extremely hot. The fans in this little room did absolutely no good. My feet were killing me at this point and I just wanted to go home.

Now, remember, I told you he was small. Smaller than me, and I’m a whopping 5’3 and must have been at least 5’6 with those heels. I remember asking him for the cash and telling him I needed to leave. He kept fiddling around with paperwork and money. I was standing near a desk, or a wall. I cannot remember now.

He kept telling me how good I did. But that’s when it started to feel awkward because in reality I hadn’t done shit (compared to other jobs) but light some candles and make a romantic atmosphere, with roses. You can’t forget about the roses! I collected some tickets from people who didn’t even speak the same language as me.

He kept telling me my greatness, and how beautiful I am. He had the envelope of money in his hand. He handed the envelope closer to me while his mouth wouldn’t stop talking, and I snatched it from him (out of instinct because I felt what he was about to do) as he pushed me against the wall and pressed his lips on mine. He tasted like sweat and alcohol. He tasted like FILTH. I pushed him off of me so hard when he did that and ran out of that place like I was running from a blood-thirsty animal. F*cking a**hole, I thought to myself. I ran towards DePaul University, the train stop was right near there. Fullerton. The feeling of wanting to escape is something that still haunts my dreams and I’ve felt it so many times. Not just this time. I remember actually, once I was far enough from the club I took those heels off and ran barefoot to the CTA train hoping not to step on any glass or needles on the ground. I never saw that guy again. Not once. And I hope I never do. I can’t remember his name, but I do remember his face. 

He did fall backward when I pushed him. That is how I will remember his face. Because the look of shock on his face has stuck in my head like dried jelly on a jar. He must have thought I was weak. Did he think I would let him? That is never the case. It will never be. My only thought now, is what if he was bigger? What if I did not escape? What could have happened? And the worst part is, this is only one story. 

I’d never been myself if I didn’t knock him on his ass that night. And this is why you shouldn’t talk to strangers. Right?

The jobs I talk about before always lacked something. Which makes me wonder about true fulfillment in the workplace. How much work do we need to do to be fulfilled? What kind of work do we need to do to be fulfilled? What does being fulfilled mean to you as an individual?

If you feel very unfulfilled at work it might be time to reevaluate what you are doing. It’s important to find something that you love to do and gives you an ample amount of room to grow as an employee and an individual. If you can’t find the opportunity that you are seeking then you need to create it yourself. Be your own boss. Don’t let yourself hit a dead end. I’m trying to build my path and career where I can help others, impact them positively and be financially and creatively free. Having a work and life balance is important. Life is too short to be unhappy!

One of the best jobs I had, as far as being happy and emotionally fulfilled was when I was a cake decorator. The only problem is I never had formal or professional training (besides Theresa), and the jobs I worked decorating cakes did not pay very well. Should I have stayed there despite not being able to make ends meet just because I was happy and fulfilled? Then there are jobs where I have been paid enough to survive and maybe with a little extra, but my soul does not feel satisfied with what I’m doing. So now I am faced with a predicament, as many of us are. Money or happiness? But does happiness buy money? Is it a win-win? Is it a lose-lose?

I don’t recall any job I had as being the worst. Every “job” is an experience, and that is what life is truly about. If bad bosses count as the worst, then maybe I can think of some. I had a boss once who was constantly angry and on edge for a variety of reasons. He’d yell, speak loudly, insult everyone, slam doors and just make super obscene comments at all of us. I wouldn’t say the job itself was terrible. But the way I and some of my co-workers felt due to the way our boss treated us all, was certainly worse than anything I’d experienced before, maybe. I took the job because it was a good opportunity for me in the beginning. I stayed several years, but in the end, I was able to move on to something greater. The thing is, we need to constantly be moving to something greater. When it comes to your happiness and finances – never stop striving for greatness. What defines that greatness? It’s up to you. For me, it’s about achieving goals and maintaining my values.

My work values (emotional) include wanting to help others, influence them or positively impact them. The external work values that matter the most to me are stability and pay. My dream job would be to be a writer/editor/freelancer and get paid for it. Which, I am well on my way to accomplishing as I have already started. What a dream it would be to fully sustain myself in that way! I don’t hate where I’m at currently, but I can always strive to do better. We all can.

There is a reason I was led here, there is a reason I am here now and experiencing this moment where I currently am. But my true calling is a goal that I am working on non-stop to achieve. 

This past year I have already made changes in my life, that allowed me to prepare for my future career as a writer. I can only hope to improve in the future. What are your plans? Do you think it is better to be fulfilled financially or emotionally in the workplace?

I Don’t Remember His Name, But I Do Remember His Face

Experiences, Thoughts

Here is a short excerpt of a blog that I will publish later this month.

TRIGGER WARNING – Do not continue reading if you are sensitive to sexual/domestic/violence issues.

One day, I was inside of a breakfast restaurant filling out a job application far on the north side of Chicago. Most of my time was spent on the Northside to be fair. This restaurant was almost on the outer limits of the city. I was around 18 years old at the time.

A man sat alone at a table near me and was eating his breakfast and drinking his coffee. He was a tiny little guy and spoke Spanish to the waitress. He saw me at the cashier counter of the restaurant filling out an application. Back then we actually had PAPER applications for jobs. What a wild world it was! Some of you will remember, and some of you will imagine.

I was writing down all of my information on this paper application and the man approached me. He asked me if I was looking for a job. Obviously, and clearly, I was. Of course, I said yes, and I asked why? Why did he ask me? What did he want? Back then I was rough around the edges. I mean, I still am. But my sassiness back then was much more vicious than it is now. I think so at least.

He slid a business card over to me and told me that he owned a nightclub in Lincoln Park. (Lincoln Park has been one of the most popular nightlife destinations in Chicago for a long time.) He said he was looking for a hostess. At the time, it sounded like a dream! He told me that I could start the next night. He told me to dress for the occasion. I was so excited. I picked out new outfits, even spending the money to do so. My mom helped me prepare. She said I looked beautiful.

I wore a small black mini skirt, black stilettos, and a white blouse that was a bit low cut and sleeveless. My hair was put up in a giant long ponytail before the Ariana Grande ponytail was ever mentioned. I wore a black cardigan to cover the tattoo on my back.

I remember it so well. I remember thinking how lucky I was to just have a job fall right into my lap, and not just a job, but one where music would be played all night and people would dance all night. The only thing I would be responsible for was to help collect tickets at the door and put roses on the tables and light the candles. “Make it feel romantic.”, he told me.

Ah yes. I will never forget. That is exactly what I did!

The first and only night there at the club, I thought I scored big. After the tickets were all collected and everyone was inside, I danced with the customers! I danced all night! Luckily for me, the guy who hired me, who now I can’t even remember his name, also danced. It was a big party and I was the luckiest girl ever in the world because I got paid for it! I was offered drinks and shots multiple times, but I never drank back then. It worked in my favor.

Finally, the night had to come to an end. The nameless man told me that I’d be able to leave around 1 am, as the local bars closed around 2 and everyone would be heading home around that time. At the end of the night, I approached the mysterious boss man and asked him for my pay. It was pretty good money too, for being so long ago, and it was in cash. As a teenager, it was a sweet deal to me. He told me that my money was down in the basement. He wanted me to follow him down there in the basement of the club, right to his office.

I can’t remember now if I thought anything of it. Naturally, as an older adult now typing this and reading it, you can see how shady it sounds. We got to his little room (“office”) in the basement of the club. It was summertime and extremely hot. The fans in this little room did absolutely no good. My feet were definitely killing me at this point and I just wanted to go home.

Now, remember, I told you he was small. Smaller than me, and I’m a whopping 5’3 and must have been at least 5’6 with those heels. I remember asking him for the cash and telling him I needed to leave. He kept fiddling around with paperwork and money. I was standing near a desk, or a wall. I cannot remember now.

He kept telling me how good I did. But that’s when it started to feel awkward because in reality I hadn’t done shit (compared to other jobs) but light some candles and make an atmosphere that was romantic, with roses. You can’t forget about the roses! I collected some tickets from people who didn’t even speak the same language as me.

He kept telling me my greatness, and how beautiful I am. He had the envelope of money in his hand. He handed the envelope closer to me while his mouth wouldn’t stop talking, and I snatched it from him (out of instinct because I felt what he was about to do) as he pushed me against the wall and pressed his lips on mine. He tasted like sweat and alcohol. He tasted like FILTH. I pushed him off of me so hard when he did that and ran out of that place like I was running from a blood-thirsty animal. F*cking a**hole, I thought to myself. I ran towards DePaul University, the train stop was right near there. Fullerton. The feeling of wanting to escape is something that still haunts my dreams and I’ve felt it so many times. Not just this time. I remember actually, once I was far enough from the club I took those heels off and ran barefoot to the CTA train hoping not to step on any glass or needles on the ground. I never saw that guy again. Not once. And I hope I never do. I can’t remember his name, but I do remember his face. 

He did fall backward when I pushed him. That is how I will remember his face. Because the look of shock on his face has stuck in my head like dried jelly on a jar. He must have thought I was weak. Did he think I would let him? That is never the case. It will never be. My only thought now, is what if he was bigger? What if I did not escape? What could have happened? And the worst part is, this is only one story. 

I’d never been myself if I didn’t knock him on his ass that night.

And this is why you shouldn’t talk to strangers.