Q1 happenings.

Q1 happenings.

I don’t usually recount things for my newsletter readers like a mammogram but the list in my April news is a great way for me to get a better overview of what I’ve accomplished and where (I think) I’m headed. 

  • Our family went to Oaxaca over the New Year's holiday. 
  • I helped organize a local business retreat.
  • I did my numbers.
  • Went to a presentation about Albuquerque Sunport kiosks for local small businesses.
  • We hosted out of town friends for a week.
  • At least 3 great meetings with my business and bookkeeping coach.
  • I attended a newsletter workshop led by a local marketing expert.
  • Had multiple lunch or coffee meetups with local creative friends that helped fill my cup.
  • Enjoyed a scrapbooking date with local collage artists.
  • Marched in a Free Palestine rally.
  • Boogied like crazy at a friend's home dance party.
  • Got my mammogram.
  • Cleaned the casita over and over.
  • Watched two incredibly important movies.
  • Bought a beautiful new (to me) coffee table.
  • I rebuilt my entire portfolio in preparation for commission/collaboration outreach.

My numbers were down in 2023 as I made about $2,000 LESS than 2022 and at that it was not an easy number to hit! Disheartening. As a 50+ age woman in the American workplace I also feel undervalued and a bit old to hustle this hard. I have friends who are also makers and artists who had a rough 2023 as well. One told me she thinks there's something like an unrecognized recession going on for the middle class.

I apologize if this is a running theme in this blog. I am nothing if not truthful and analyzing life and business through this writing is as much for me as you.

So, I don’t have the solution but for now I'm moving on with looking for a virtual assistant. SCAAAARY! Both to ask for help, take on the commitment of another person, and add this to my business plan— what if it works? What if it doesn't? Even though I have a long history of managing people as an in-house employee I've avoided this step for a long time.

Along with this change, I will be reaching out for more commission work which brings me so much creative satisfaction. LINK

On other fronts I’ve also found myself wondering why I don’t have hobbies or a personal development practice of some sort. My girlfriends are taking classes at university again and enjoying the discoveries and learning through their lens of life maturity. Some pals are deep into creating art for their own purposes and experimentation. A bestie is taking singing lessons! It’s so great to witness these expansions. I'm ruminating.

This summer our daughter comes home for another engineering internship. I’m mentally preparing myself for the changes in the house and I'm also newly in the throes of disconnecting with love. She’s really growing up and I feel myself shedding the very intense (self-made) role of her ever-available mom as one of my foremost personas. This is a parenting milestone.

Our family travels to Mexico over New Year's were extraordinary. I’ve been fortunate to take 2 extensive trips with Helen (my mom) that are documented in this blog if you scroll back. This trip was a first as an adult family. I had not been to Oaxaca since 2002 when I was newly sober and mom and I flew over the jungle in a little 12 seat (?) jet from the coast. Oaxaca at that time was the most romantic city I had ever been to! The Zocalo had all the markers of a Mexican novela with couples walking arm-in-arm, families watching their kids playing around the gazebo, tourists and locals sipping cafecito from the covered outdoor cafes surrounding the square. And… I’m happy to report that much of this remains the same 22 years later!

We stayed at a lovely compound owned by an American woman where American regulars and visiting artists could be met at the communal breakfast table each morning. Traveling with my mom, my husband and my daughter put me in an interesting position but I’m pretty used to being the cog in that wheel. Looking back, I would have liked one night out with Roland by myself but this was not to be. 

The very packed days mainly consisted of my mom and I launching off together via taxi or walking short distances. Often R+R would meet up with us somewhere for a meal or museum. As on our other Mexico adventures mom and I made great human connections thanks to her excellent Spanish and both of our undying curiosity. Vendors, wait staff, taxi drivers and artists were warm and talkative. We were the great beneficiaries of human hospitality and relatedness— the kind of encounters that remind you we are all one. 

Roland and Ramona took *fast walking* adventures to many far flung neighborhoods in Oaxaca. They had their own agenda and saw lots of things we didn’t but we all came together more in the last few days. Building a puzzle in the hotel library, dining at well known cafes and hanging out in front of our room enjoying the sounds and colors of our host's beautiful gardens.

Overall, prices were not super cheap like the Mexico you might remember. Our meals for 4 were about $75 without alcohol. The streets are much more bustling than in 2002 and I was glad to see the local people have capitalized on the charm by creating services like wedding parades that build businesses keep and the city vibrant with Zapotec culture we can learn about.

Mom and I did make a point to go to every church we could. We attended a Sunday mass of the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de Soledad. This church was built between 1680-1692! Citizens and workers came and went from the service as they needed on their way to vend, sure to connect with their faith with what time they had. One of the best tattoos I saw was on a young woman's forearm at that mass. She had a beautifully shaded, thick Zapotec braid running the length of her arm— such a perfect symbol of this place and womanhood. 

At a different church I discovered a new (to me) invention; coin operated candles. So smart!

Our 2nd or 3rd day in Oaxaca was New Year's eve. I told R+R I'd like to go to the Zocalo before midnight in case things somehow got crazy. I was envisioning gunshots in the air and the same drunken crazy Tom Foolery like in New Mexico.

We walked down to the plaza together and I was completely wrong about this. The dressed up families were there getting their photos taken on 3 wise men camels, (Mexican kids don't get Christmas presents until Jan. 6, the day of the 3 kings), the live band had everyone up and dancing, there were giant sparklers being sold, and not one falling down or even tipsy adult in the mix. Their New Year's celebration was sane and sweet. Certain guns ARE permitted ownership in Mexico but it's not common like it is here! It's been a while since I've been in a big crowd and felt that kind of safety. These are but a few detailed memories I'll keep from this special time we shared.

Back to the home life: how do you keep in contact with your significant other throughout the day? Text? Memes from Instagram? An actual phonecall? This is how Roland started communicating with me a couple months ago… traded pics of where we’re at at any point in the day. Is this modern love? 💓

So, in the past 3 months a whole lot has happened here— just like most people’s lives. And yet, on the world stage, much has remained the same— the Palestinian people continue to suffer beyond words— if they are not not murdered first. I wrote a very long piece in October before deciding not to hit publish for various personal reasons. Then last night we watched this incredibly powerful documentary, Isrealism. You can rent this movie to stream at home. Please do take the time to educate yourself about the shocking things many young American Jews are being told about The Homeland and their responsibilities to it. 

If you’re still here for the hard things, take another leap and see Origin. Based on the book Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, this is such a crucial examination of the history of our way of dividing peoples around the world that for too long we’ve been labeling as racism. This work is the culmination of deep investigation and connecting the traumatic narratives proving out that hierarchies are the damaging systems we’ve built our societies on. A quote from Ms. Wilkerson: “Caste is insidious and therefore powerful because it is not hatred, it is not necessarily personal. It is the worn grooves of comforting routines and unthinking expectations, patterns of a social order that have been in place for so long that it looks like the natural order of things.”

Both of these movies should be required viewing in schools everywhere, preferably early enough to make a difference. 

"Whatever you are wishing away will gnaw at you until you gather the courage to face what you would rather not see." —Isabel Wilkerson

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