Feed your artist soul: guest post

Pastel landscape painting En plein air
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I’ve written about my attempts to feed my artist’s soul. Just heard from a subscriber about how she feeds hers—she invites others to join her on trips to Europe. Pretty cool.

Nina Weiss has been a professional artist and educator for twenty-five years. In all that time teaching she’s had many single women students at various stages in their lives and careers. She says she noticed that no matter how busy, stressed, and swamped they were, these women seemed compelled to find time somehow to attend an art class or carve out a weekend to attend a workshop.

“The women who attend my workshops come from all walks of life, including lawyers, architects; executives, and homemakers. They realize and honor the knowledge that no matter how fulfilling their jobs may be, they still have urges to dig a little deeper into their creative selves and give those urges an outlet.”

What happens when you honor these urges? Nina says, “Our creative selves are quiet, but they’re very important to our happiness and well-being. Creativity is a process that is not necessarily linked to outcome.” It’s more about the process, she says, and how that process makes us feel. “It can be something just for yourself and not meant to please anyone else…fulfilling and pleasurable regardless of how it turns out. Acknowledging the creative process can lead to a deep contentment that cannot be overestimated!”

Nina teaches classes and workshops throughout the United States. In case you find yourself with the urge, the time and the money, check out Nina’s European Landscape Painting and Drawing Workshop coming up. She’s been doing these workshops for ten years and says they offer a wonderful opportunity to give your creativity “free reign in a comfortable setting of like-minded travelers and artists under the tutelage of a compassionate and experienced teacher.”

BURFORD, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 21:  A view do...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

This year the workshops include a visit to the Cotswolds in England. I’ve been there and can tell you  it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I actually did a watercolor from a photo I did there—and sold that picture right away. You can check out a catalog of Nina’s workshops here and visit her website at www.ninaweiss.com.

“Whatever you do, be sure to go make some art and feed your soul!” says Nina. I second that thought.

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Chicago real estate and single women

Lincoln Park during the winter.
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Hate the heat. So I thought I’d show you Lincoln Park in the snow.

Growing pains—well, changing pains.  I’m happily settled in my new digs in the busy Lakeview area of Chicago, learning even more about why people love this city.

My condo in Logan Square is on the market. I bought it from a single woman. I owned it as a single woman. And there are two other single-woman-owned units in our beautifully rehabbed building. Chicago—as is the case with most large cities—is a great place to be a single woman. So many job opportunities. So many things to do and places to go and people to meet. Full of adventure, yet not overwhelming. I’ve met and made friends with more single women in the few years since I returned to Chicago than I did in my 33 years in Cleveland.

My granddaughter (she was 3 in July) and I are spending more time together lately while her single-mom Perri is busy working for her real estate customers. How’s the market in your neck of the woods? Perri says it’s still pretty slow in Chicago, except for some precisely circumscribed areas known as “the” hot areas of the city—Lincoln Park and Bucktown being two of them. But even a block or more outside the boundaries of those neighborhoods, she says, sales are still slow.

For more tips about the market, single-mom ideas, fun stuff to do, and ways to make your home more beautiful, subscribe to Perri’s blog, ChicagoLifeandStyleBlog.

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A “Single Working Women’s Week” meditation

It’s a candle kind of morning. Dawn came gray, then suddenly lit by a strange light, then darkened with heavy layers of cloud. I love the morning. So peaceful. So full of possibility…

Started reading The Artist’s Way last week. It’s a book that’s been calling to me for years, since I first heard someone talking about it. It’s a book that—should you accept this mission—forces you to think. About things you may not have wanted to think. About things you may not have bothered to think much—like what do you  really want to do  with your life? Things like what did you like and what didn’t you like about your childhood…stuff that you may have already—if you’re over 50 like me—thought enough about, thank you, and have no desire to revisit.

Rebel Yell
Creative Commons License photo credit: Rohit Chhiber

An interesting exercise. List five lives you would have liked to have led if you didn’t lead the one you have. My list came fairly easily—rock singer, motivational speaker, painter, biologist/physicist, lawyer. Then the next part asks what can you do in your life to honor that part of yourself? Hmmm.

I realized that I’ve unwittingly been doing something significant during my present life to include some aspect of all those other dream lives. It was a curiously gratifying feeling.

Rock singer – For thirty years I’ve been known as the “crazy lady in the back who sings” in the aerobics-to-music class. It’s been one of the greatest joys of my life to sing and “dance” that way.

Motivational speaker – I’ve been been invited to do many presentations over the years of my career. For each one I’ve always done my best to inject my passion about the subject and my wish to share important information. Takes a lot of work, can be a little nerve-wracking (depending on the audience), but it’s a powerfully satisfying feeling when I know I’ve reached the minds and/or hearts of those to whom I speak.

Painter – I loved to draw when I was a child. I dreamed of being an artist, but my parents firmly discouraged me and suggested something sensible for making a living. While I was married and raising my kids, I was fortunate to be able to study drawing and watercolor painting. Talk about a lot of work! Talk about nerve-wracking—having my first one-woman show was the most frightening and exhausting experience of my life. Even though I am an excellent salesperson, I’m much better at selling other people’s stuff. It’s weird when it’s your own work out there. Anyway, I’m happy to say I sold many of my paintings, and I’m pleased to say I still have a few on my own walls.

Biologist/physicist – I had an immensely inspiring nun teach me sophomore biology. She was a powerful example of a single woman who wasn’t afraid to exercise her individuality. How she got away with it as one in the order of nuns of  the Blessed Virgin Mary that taught us is beyond me. Suffice it to say, when I got to my first college biology class, I realized this was going to be way too much work. Still I read voraciously about pscyhology and metaphysics, and then branched into actual physics for the layman. I am passionate about the subject. And 30 years after that failed biology class, I became involved in writing to the Cleveland Clinic development department, and the flame of my interest was rekindled. I started writing a blog about bioscience, BioMedNews.org.

Lawyer – Ah, this one’s tricky. My very first job out of high school was as a legal secretary for the second largest patent law firm in the city of Chicago at the time. I loved the whole “lawyer” thing, loved their intelligence, their command of the English language. What I didn’t like was the way they seemed to view me as a second-class person, not worth their time or attention. I had come out of an all-girls Catholic high school where you were judged on your performance alone. By the way, it’s an experience I’d still recommend for any girl who’s been held down or made to feel less important than the males in her family or who needs to get out of her own teenage hormones and focus on her work.

Anyway, I ended up marrying a law clerk who worked at the firm—we actually had arguments about the meaning and use of words. What fun for a writer and a lawyer! I adore courtroom dramas (think I’ve seen every passable one ever made). And I write medical-issue-related blogs for a wonderful public-service-spirited attorney. Writing Mesothelioma-Advice.org lets me exercise my understanding of using language properly in a legal context. All interstingly gratifying exercises for my legal tendencies.

Now during this special holiday, Single Working Women’s Week, maybe it’s a good time to ask yourself those questions. What five lives would you like to have led if you didn’t lead the one you’re leading? And what are you doing now to honor those parts of your soul?

I hope you like your answers. And if you don’t, this is the perfect week to imagine into being some new ways to have fun with your dream lives. My way of bringing my painter back to life now is to join the Art Museum. I’ll be scheduling monthly visits with my sketchbook.

I’m wondering if being single lets us honor more of all our parts? Has it been true for you?
Creative Commons License photo credit: Rohit Chhiber

Listen to some truths about being single!

Fisher 500 AM/FM hi-fi receiver from 1959. Cou...
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The hottest stations these days don’t broadcast from radios.

Had a great time being interviewed on a wonderful Internet radio series last Thursday. I also invited one of SWWAN’s favorite champions to join me, Dr. Karen Gail Lewis. We had a fantastic discussion with Leah (host and mastermind behind Women Living on the Verge of Evolution) about being single—what sucks, what’s great, what can we do to help each other.

Dr. Karen Gail suggested we establish small groups of women who can and will talk honestly with each other about the challenges and the joys and rewards of living as single women, supporting each other to express all our feelings—and as we do so, come up with ideas for improving the language our society uses about being single.

SWWAN is the perfect focal point for setting these groups up. We already have a couple of online community setups that we haven’t done much with. If anyone is interested in helping give form to the small consciousness-raising groups she suggested, email me and let’s toss some ideas around. Great way to meet other single working women!

Here’s the link to listen to the show: “Being Single: A prolonged state of waiting—or an empowered life choice?”  It’s fun! And we even had a single guy (my brother) call in to say he wishes single men could do more of what we single women are doing. Hurray! Consciousness-raising all around…

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Single women pioneering creative lifestyles

That’s what Dr. Kay Trimberger observed in her ten-year study of single working women’s varied lifestyles. Single women today are pioneers–looking beyond traditional forms and breaking new ground to find ways to incorporate intimacy, connections with younger generations, friendship, sensuality, and so on into our lives.

She observed that the most satisfying single lives were supported by six pillars that the individual woman had mastered in some way:
a. Make a home – decorating, gardening, cooking
b. Work – meaningful, joyful but not workaholic
c. Network of friends and extended family – takes good social skills to achieve
d. Community – network(s) of connections through church, politics, work
e. Connection to next generation – relatives, friends, mentoring, other approaches
f. Sexuality – from creative celibacy, to widely varying arrangements with lovers, to other ways of incorporating sensuality

She was surprised to learn that the middle-class single women she studied came from the same types of typical middle class families as married women. They didn’t have significantly more or less dysfunction in their early lives–as many people would suggest as a reason why women remain single.

Perhaps her most fascinating observation was that the least happy single women she studied were those who put most of their energy into either finding or keeping a partner.

Dr. Trimberger urges all single women to claim what is good about their lives. That we should feel free to do what we want–not what society tells us to do. Listen to her thoughtful interview on the new pioneering single woman of today.




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