The horse's pasture to the East...

Monday, August 8, 2016

TO BE OR NOT TO BE, that is the question... I Choose to Be ME!

Did you know that I'm an artist? I am. Over the years I've designed furniture, made floorcloths, designed and painted murals, worked on gallery paintings, prints, drawings, been an illustrator.  I was an excellent interior designer too. I ran a gallery that would have made it except for the events of 911. At some point I lost track of that. 

I focused on being a 'someone' that people expected me to be. I tried to live up to the expectations of others. And that's a goal that can not be reached because you can never be who you aren't. It's a chasm of disappointment. When I failed big time at being a mortar and brick business person I thought it was my fault. I was mortified. I lost my home, lost my business and nearly lost my family. I don't do failure well. 

It wasn't my fault. Sometimes there are events you can not control. I simply was not on the path meant for me. Notice I didn't say wrong path. There are no wrong paths. But there are times in my life when I fell away from what I really was for the sake of other's expectations. 

I stood up, dusted myself off and began this second journey with the idea of fixing a part of myself that was not broken. I didn't know that. It's taken fifteen years for me to stop banging in to walls to understand that I am fine just the way I am. 

Good things did come from my remade self. I've learned how to do a fair to middling job of using technology. Scary territory. A paint brush and canvas, markers and paper or pastels and the ground I've made for them make more sense to me. Computers, pads and iPhones are science fiction. They beep and blink and feel odd under my hands. Even teaching myself to touch type was a struggle. 

And I've honed my story telling skills, rediscovered the joys of writing letters and essays. Sometimes I publish without editing and make grammatical mistakes that would make my honors professors roll over in their collective graves. Then again I like the raw, unfiltered original drafts too. I like the stumbling around and weird side bars that happen when my mind drifts. That's the right brained self popping out. I haven't killed her with my overwhelming need to fix what never needed to be repaired. 

I've made friends, virtually, with people from all over the world. I Twitter, use Facebook, post on Pinterest and Instagram. I explore new apps and programs that show up every other week. And I observe. 

My Mom would understand that part of me, the person who keeps a running tab on how people react to what I have to say. And, slowly, the artist has come out from hiding. I let the ever loving crap beat me up and kept right on giving and giving and giving. I rediscovered the athlete who loves to run with horses and pull weeds until my hands bleed. I go to my 'Zen' place when I clean the barn until I'm parched, filthy and still driven to get the cobwebs down from that last corner. And here I am again, wandering. And wondering.

This year I've been writing and posting about politics. That's a subject I usually stay away from, along with religion. Most people are already set in their path. I've always thought it was a waste of energy for me to make any statements. But, considering the horrible mess American politics has become, I decided to adhere to the idea that bad things happen when good people are silent. 

I have always been a person in the middle. I follow no particular religion although I am spiritual. I am an independent voter who sometimes casts my vote for a Democrat, sometimes for a Republican and, more often, for an Independent candidate. (And I've been told that "my vote is a waste". No vote is ever a waste. This is supposed to be a democracy. People can vote for whomever they want to. My vote always counts and so does yours! ) I belong to only one organization because they have the best learning system I've found for teaching myself how to be safe with my horses. And I observe, watch, listen, and stir the pot to see how people will react. I read articles about the same event written for different organizations from opposite sides of the bar while I try to find out the truth, unfiltered and unbiased. Not easy to do in a virtual world where everything is an editorial.

I've come to the not too startling conclusion that life is just like high school. People still want me to be in one clique or another. I've been told, "Nancy, you're better than that." How patronizing. I do not need to be corrected or taught by anyone. I refuse to be categorized.

I've been pushed around for my independence by trolls on the internet. And I think it's funny! I could be "helping" someone. I should be "smarter" than that (guess my IQ of 139 doesn't count, or my straight A's or high EQ, the two businesses I've run, and the more than 130 artists I sold work for. Did you know that I was selling more than 260,000 dollars in product a year, more than sixty percent of it fine art? No? Well now you do. And I went on to work as an independent seller for three different galleries while I helped to place some of those artists in other galleries because, for me, running a gallery was a promise that needed to be followed through on. Commitment is my middle name. And I also sold another 124,000 in fine art while I helped to place people. That means I made 112,000 for the artists and expenses only for me. Foolish? Perhaps. But it was my religion for a while. Making money was not the goal.) . I "should be doing more" with my life. I've been told "Glad to see you're doing something with your life". The list goes on and on. I've even been attacked for having raised sons who are strong, independent thinkers and creative problem solvers who don't always agree with me. How odd. Why would anyone think that children should be raised to be adult worker bees who follow my path? "You're not a very good mother." Yeah. I was told that too. I kind of think that's up to my adult children to decide, not some smug, patronizing goof ball who knows nothing about me or my family.

Shall I tell you what all of those statements mean to me? Nada. Zero. Zilch. So why did I bring them up? I've dropped hot potatoes for a year now to see how people react. I post highly reactive, controversial quotes, images and articles from the left and the right as a social experiment. I even told people I was doing that and the emotional reactions still happened. I. Am. Fascinated. And I am deeply saddened too. Most people never evolve past their high school expectations. 

No wonder the more things change, the more they stay the same. The Great Machine has done it's job. It seems that most people, even the well educated, are incapable of exploring the world outside of their own narrow ideal. We've been taught to do that by our education system right up through college, the media and the ever present peer pressure that I allowed myself to be led by. Shame on me. Sometimes my learning curve is huge and cumbersome. 

I am content. I love myself as the Independent that I am. I fit no one's ideals except my own. I do not need to be "better" or "worse", "smarter" or "more compassionate". I like the path I am on and I am fiercely proud of the people I love. I am Miss Nancy. I smile a lot. In fact I laugh more often than not. I am wounded and have ugly scars. I cry. I empathize without filters. I deeply believe in the power of fine art, the written word, music and the independent creative mind. 

And I am off to spend my day being more of who I am and less of who the world thinks I should be. 

I am, ever yours just exactly the way I want to be, Miss Nancy, smiling because I can.

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