Archives for the month of: January, 2017

attemptWhat would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

The answer to this question is your life’s journey. Isn’t it amazing? One question and there’s the answer.

Knowing where my heart lies inspired me not only to follow it, but also to start a new kind of project. It’s about what you can do if you CAN fail. Failure is part of the journey. I’m not talking about epic, hungry and destitute failure. Simply, this-is-far-from-my-best-work, kind of failure. It’s the Betamax of failures.

I start my project by unwrapping nine 4” x 4” canvases. I have owned these blank canvases for six years. I didn’t want to use them for fear of ruining or wasting them. I didn’t have an idea for their potential so they just sat. And sat. And moved to several homes. And sat some more. And so did the rest of my  canvases, my art paper, my art supplies and all the other pieces I’ve collected throughout the years.

The moment I remove the plastic from these canvases is like opening a present, one I gifted to a better version of myself. A version I had finally decided to be.

One would think that going to art school would give a person creative license and freedom. But instead, it made me a perfectionist. Everything had to be an A+ assignment. I have spent years watching un-art schooled friends create works of art, completely unaware and unbothered that their work was not perfect. I wanted to be this free. The splash-paint-on-a-canvas type. So I take my first step and begin opening tubes of paint.

I buy more brushes and more paint. I buy stencils for my nerdy designer side. I buy more modge podge. I begin exploring all the colorful beads and trinkets I had collected over the years as actionable items instead of a dusty collection for a rainy day.

I make palettes out of old cardboard pieces, a spray booth out of an old box. I rummage through my drawers and bring everything out into the open.

I begin experimenting with paint and masking tape and stencils. Nothing looks pleasing. The paint and stencils don’t work the way I hoped they would. I go back to a few canvases every few nights and look at them. What do they want to be?

I take a walk and pick up a newspaper. I cover most of a painting I had started with a collage of cartoons and color from the publication. And beads and some gold chain sticker. The underpainting showed though like a light through a crack. It is better than I imagined. I could never have tried to get to this point. It just happened. I know now that I have to go in without expectations and just let each piece take shape on its own.

I begin trying other experiments with crepe paper and rhinestones and wrapped gold string. I mix new colors. I mask more shapes. I’m detached from the outcome. I am having fun. I spend a whole Saturday half watching Netflix and working on new ideas.


With license to fail, I can fail masterfully. Fail as part of the journey. And have fun and perhaps encounter some happy accidents along the way.


img_7538Dear car,

It was unfortunate that we met the way we did. You, sitting nearly dormant, driverless for months. Me, averse to driving. We were an unlikely pair. Forced together by necessity, I was so unsteady at the wheel the first time we drove, both scared and careless like a teen with a new license. Little did you know you would never be returning home again, except for visits.

It was the worst part of my life and I dragged you into it. The long trips back and forth from Chicago to Glenview. You, holding a bag for me so I could throw up on the way, completely unaware of my own impending stroke. I was only able to focus on the last month I would have with my mom, your previous owner.

At first it was comforting to have you- you are something of hers that would be with me every day. But cars aren’t sentimental. They are just steel and paint and plastic that breaks. You were however, a new freedom I had never experienced. I would no longer be dependent on anyone to take me anywhere. Only dependent on me and of course you. Not only could I carry myself from A to B, I could take others. I could be depended on. I’m sure my mom would be happy to know she enabled this wonderful unintended but important independence.

Car, we have a lot of fond memories. You took me to marathon training practice. You took on road trips. You took me and countless friends to social gatherings. You were the thing I loved most about my ex-husband; he taught me how to park you and also made a hand drawn map to Ikea to keep with you at all times. I have packed you full of groceries, alley finds, pets, and most notably suitcases of sex toys during my late sales career. You were amenable to the ex-boyfriends changing your brakes and oil and patient throughout Chicago’s worst winter storms. And the blowtorching. Sorry about that. You got me where I needed to go and I was always grateful.

But the repairs have become too frequent. And each day seems to bring a new quirky problem to light. I know some of them were my fault- like when I barreled into a snow drift and took a chunk out of the front bumper. Or when I managed to get into a fender bender in the parking lot of the National Safety Council. And even early on when I first drove you in the city and brushed a brand new parked car. And now you’re 14. You’re not a little kid. You have begun acting out. The check engine light is on. The brake light is on. The A/C is out. The armrest that has come unhitched. And the cassette player, just because it’s a cassette player.

Your days are numbered.

The moment that pushed me to it was when your brakes decided to quit and I was forced to simply glide my way to the mechanic. I always knew I would drive you til the bitter end. And now that time has come. I hope you find a nice mechanic who will believe in your potential, fix you and give you your next 90 thousand miles. Farewell, old friend.