How to Succeed

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personal-headshots_midlife-haircutBy “My Midlife” you would hope to know all of the answers on how to succeed. Unfortunately, I don’t. But I do enjoy learning from others and am inspired to learn how to succeed through all mediums.

I say all of this as I did just that last year in July. I left my full-time job that I held for six years as a production assistant into a freelance writer and event planner/coordinator. It’s been a busy year writing numerous articles for Circa Magazine, assisting with a wedding reception and two Baptist State Convention Annual Meetings (about to complete my eighth year running this project.).

With this career change, I added to my education through community college courses: Write It Like A Journalist and Special Event Planning. Write It Like A Journalist re-awoke my love of writing allowing me to refocus this skill in this day and age. I found work in magazines, the web and blogging. My passed job taught me WordPress skills and enabled me to find a new venue. Check out my website: http://moniquemrogers.com/.

The Special Event Planning course encouraged the sharpening of the skills I already had and gained more knowledge of the industry. Within that course, I assisted a friend with her wedding reception.

In addition to the community college courses, I joined groups in the industry such as the American Marketing Association (AMA) and Women In Network (WIN) North Ridge Chapter. I also participated more with the Triangle Association of Freelancers (TAF). I’ve not only received a lot of great knowledge from these groups, but also encouragement and motivation.

I also attended at least one function with Alice Osborn with her one day Memoir course and a meeting with Business and Professional Women/Raleigh (BPW/Triangle) where I gained even more stills and met some wonderful working women.

With all of these professional changes, personal life doesn’t stop. I had the opportunity to volunteer and train with the Baptist on Mission, also known as Baptist Men. I learned how to cook for about 350 people on a team with American Red Cross standards within the Disaster Relief Training in Mass Feeding.

I also joined Mended Hearts where I volunteer, visiting cardiac patients weekly. I’ve also had the opportunity to use my writing skills by writing an article about their annual meeting this past year which was published in the WakeMed Hospital’s newspaper. This year I’ve been nominated to hold the     office for the coming year.

Though I know just leaving jobs, people and things behind is scary, not knowing where you’ll land, it is well worth it. This year I’m preparing for a more permanent job. But with the knowledge I’ve gained, I can continue my writing and event planning/coordinating on the side and see where I go.

Body Shaming

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personal-headshots_midlife-haircutBy “My Midlife,” my body has been through thick and thin both figuratively and realistically. So why don’t I like it anymore?

For one, I remember when this tall slinky body flowed down the run way twirling and swirling, stopping in poses. Those were the days when balance wasn’t an issue walking on tall pointed heels.

You remember the heels don’t you? It’s been so long. Now I’m best friends with flats and “good walking shoes.” Better yet, I’ve spent over $200 on orthotics at a store only grandmothers should know about.

But how did I let myself get this way? I have plump birthing hips, without the blessing of a child. My “long wicked legs,” as my friends used to say, don’t feel as long or wicked. They’ve been bruised by a lack of balance, slamming into furniture that has always been there.

And let’s not get into clothes! Lord knows it’s tough. I feel like I wear bigger clothes only to make me bigger. And bra straps still slide off and jeans still slip down my hips.

Clothes catalog shopping is no longer an option. A mental prep is always in order before shopping and a cry fest soon prevails.

And the remarks and tugs from family and friends have got to go. I know I’m overweight. I see the same me in the mirror that you see.

So what’s the solution? Well I lost 42 lbs. after my divorce with a good old fashion lifestyle change including workouts at the gym and meal plans, along with a neighborhood competition. Looks like those were great steps.

But this time around, one of my doctors has prescribed shots to help curve those cravings. I’m not a diabetic, but those daily shots should help this metabolism change in life known as “My Midlife.”

So what’s my plan? I’m getting on the stick on Monday. Signing back up to change my lifestyle again. Gym, please welcome me back. As for the shots, I’m still figuring those out with my insurance and if I want to go that far.

As for my next phase of “My Midlife,” I’ll be 42 in 15 days. Craving for a husband, baby, family and more dreams then I can count, I’m loving and caring for myself now. Won’t you join me on my journey in the next phase of “My Midlife?”

 

Life Chooses Timing

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personal-headshots_midlife-haircutTurbulent squalls of water flaring up from the sea. Winds blasting to and fro. Hurricane Matthew is here. But what allows him to come onto land on one stretch of shore and not another? What allows him to ride across a land taking everything in his path hording and spitting out items that he has just found. Things –not his things but ours. Is he teaching us lessons? Is he killing the innocent? Is he maiming and crippling the people?

The last couple of weeks have been whammies! They’ve been challenging and whammies! I’ve gone through so many emotions – from a death of a high schoolmate to enjoying a survivor luncheon and finally to a storm named Matthew tearing up our worlds.

But in “My Midlife” each has a different response; I deal with stress differently now in my forties. Losing a classmate has reminded me of the need to let go. All of this, the mundane and unimportant, are temporary. We need to cherish the sweet times. We need to tell the people we love what they mean to us. We need to break our walls down and let people in. I know that I know all of these things, but it takes death to recount my blessings and see what I really want out of this life. And it encourages me to contact those that I want to share it with me.

Surviving – where do I begin? I’m not sure if it’s in my genes. But all I know is defeat is not in my vocabulary. I speak from a broken heart, physically and emotionally. I’ve been through more battles than one person deserves. But I think all of those jagged cuts have been for a reason to learn from, grow stronger, and become a survivor. I knew I was special at an early age having a heart problem like no other kid I knew. I knew the solution would be a small battery packed box that would eventually go into my chest. Grandpa had one. They called it a pacemaker. Doctors and my parents chose to wait until my body needed it. Now at 41, I’ve had three. On top of that, I’ve had A-Fib, A-Flutter, a Catheter Ablation and Congestive Heart Failure. Many lessons learned here. What do I do with this knowledge and experience? I brighten the day of patients, reassuring that they are not alone. I’ve been there and done that and they can to. Everyone has a story, especially from their heart.

And last week, not only did I take part in a walk. But they spoiled us, both cardiac and stroke survivors, with a wonderful brunch before our race. What a blessing it was to spend time with new friends and volunteers sharing as survivors.

But what do all of these life instances have in common? Timing and what hints life chooses to provide along the way. Life is in steps. And there’s no rush to the finish line. It’s what’s in these steps that life offers real treasured knowledge and experience. We grow in these hard times, valleys of life if you will. In these hard times, I’ve reached up and grabbed hands of family and friends. My relationship with Christ has strengthened.

Life chooses timing, not us. It is the paths we choose to take. But without those paths, great opportunities don’t arise. It’s in these steps that we meet the people that we need to meet. It’s in these steps that we learn life’s lessons. We then have the opportunity to swing back around, in an old instance, and better understand them with another point of view.

But do you ever wonder why things happen the way they do? Who controls the time and when things choose to happen? I definitely see God as having control over our lives. The choices offered, but ultimately, with freedom of choice, we choose. However, I also see our life’s paths coming into play with our choices as well.

But one of life’s lessons most learned, I recently shared with a friend: remember that there are people worse off. And it’s not the battles we try to conquer. It’s the positive attitude we use to conquer them.

Cancer, You Can’t Take It All

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personal-headshots_midlife-haircut

Crazy, how some stories just fall into your lap. But what’s worse is – the cost. And what’s more, the struggle and fight, prior to the words getting onto the page.

This blog post has been months in the making as the cancer took and took from the victims. I say victims because the patient is not the only victim. There is a wife or husband, children, parents, siblings, nephews or nieces and maybe grandparents, but definitely friends and extended families involved in this breakdown of a person.

One thing I’ve learned by “My Midlife,” Cancer is never fair. It breaks the person’s body down, taking and taking what it thinks is his. It is a journey – sometimes short, sometimes long. But it seems everlasting when walking through it. This brutal disease’s enemies are highly powerful medications that try and kill it. In the midst, it weakens the patient’s body – tissues and systems – imperative to make it function.

But it doesn’t take the spirit of the fighter. The soul inside the earthly cavity fights to stay alive. Fights to be in its comforted home, family, being. It fights to see another day. It fights to LIVE.

Days become more memorable. Like sands falling in an hour glass, time is limited. Making the best of it, is key. Time spent with family is sacred, not only to the patient – to continue to live as long as he or she can, but to leave with the best memories for his or her wife or husband and children. He or she chooses life’s sweetest memories.

By “My Midlife,” I understand that as Christians, we know that the spirit does continue to live. It moves to a better place, a place of comfort where it’s wrapped in the arms of our Lord. It awaits for God’s allotted time for our spirit to join him or her in heaven.

We see his or her spirit in the people he or she has left behind. We watch him or her in the growth of his or her children. We are encouraged by the spouse that keeps that spirit alive by reminders of the precious times through stories and trinkets.

Death, at any age is difficult. But to be young – a child, a young adult or even a young mother father, the fairness of this disease is unspeakable. There are losses to this disease – the life it stole, the dreams it took, the hurt and counseling both monetarily and financially it causes in its wake.

But somehow there is resilience! There are relationships from afar that have been reignited. New ties to extended friends and family are made due to the loss. Security in prayers from around the world. Benefits, helping in some ways, to better the family on this treacherous journey.

From his or her passing, we grow some closure to the effect that cancer took. But we never forget the brief visit that person had in this life. We never forget who he or she left behind. We pray for and encourage the spouse and the next generation.

Then when the pain starts to subside, just a bit, there’s an excitement to see the next generation. We eagerly watch what they will accomplish in this life, making both their parents proud. I pray these children find comfort knowing that they have a parent in both worlds, one on earth and one watching from above them, in a world no longer in pain.

Life a Messy Perfection

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personal-headshots_midlife-haircutEveryone has one. Do you? You know the friend or family member that looks like they have it all together.

By “My Midlife,” you’d think I’d have it all together. Grant it, everyone has the same amount of minutes and hours in a day, days in a week and month, months in a year. But do you ever notice that some people do more extravagant and wonderful things with their lives than others?

Some look like they’re living a “How to…” book on how to do their life. They are the people who married at the right age. Gave birth to the most polite children. The father works hard all day and still has the energy for family time and their children’s extracurricular activities. And the mom, not only works a full-time job, has dinner on the table, is there for the children both in and after school while manning a position on the PTA and labeling their non-allergen organic foods for their kids’ lunches. Whew! And that’s just home life of the ideal family. But are there really perfect people, families? And are they doing it – life – perfectly?

I watch and read the news daily. And today our society is more broken than fixed. What makes it seem like some people have life more together than others? From “My Midlife” experience it seems like a lot of it is the choices that are made. Many people seem to make priorities and criteria in their lives and don’t back down. As a Christian, I see the people around me making the choices to place God first, family next, their jobs follows and whatever life offers. It falls into place thereafter.

But is it through life’s example that we learn perfection? I come from strict parents. They gave warnings and punishment when needed, provided curfews and rules. They had to know who I was with and when I would return home. We ate dinner every night at the table with no calls during dinner or after 9 pm, unless someone was dying. And there were many family trips where I studied in the backseat. See my parents didn’t graduate from college. They did take classes here and there at the community college level, but they wanted more for the next generation.

Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, I wonder if we’ve lost a sense of perfection. I will tell you my story. I was a worrywart and a very anal-retentive child – always worrying about people and animals, making sure I was never late, doing things perfectly or as best as I could. Actually I strived for perfection in all aspects of my young life. I lived my life knowing that there were repercussions for anything that I ever did. I pretty much lived my life making sure to color within the lines.

But the older I got, life happened. Some decisions became my decisions, instead of my parents’. Laziness or overbooking my expectations caused things not to be on time, none the less perfect. Like one of my life mantras, “Pick your battles,” I also pick which crisis is most important to fix at the time. As an adult, my God’s gift of strategist came into play with multiple life aspects. Our society became more of a balancing act in a circus, far from the organized Catholic school room where choices were just A and B.

I don’t know if perfection is still a thing in today’s society. Oh I know, in the writing world there are certainly rules of writing. And in math, there is always only one answer. However, even the process of figuring those math problems out has changed drastically.

In “My Midlife,” my summation is that perfection is to the beholder. My life is far from perfect, but I know that my needs are met. And when it comes to life’s hard decisions for me or my family, I can make them. You see, though I had the foundation of being a worrywart and a very anal-retentive child, I grew up. Life challenges such as losing a parent, construction on a couple of homes, being married and divorced, having health issues, adopting and loosing pets and gaining and loosing friends has molded me into the woman I am today. Fortunately, because of the parents I had, because I was a worrywart and anal-retentive, and I’ve been on the journey that was offered to me, I’ve picked up skills and perspective on the way. In my heart, I know that I don’t have to be perfect or so hard on myself. See, along that road I also met religion. I met a God who sent His son down to be perfect for me, in place of me. Though I started that relationship earlier in my life through Catholic school, I actually chose, or was called to get baptized right before my thirtieth birthday in the Baptist church.

So though I don’t have it all together. And I’m in a continuous effort to maximize the same amount of minutes and hours in a day, days in a week and month, months in a year. I’m trying to do more extravagant and wonderful things because my life is messy perfection!

 

Rejection, the Self-Battle

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personal-headshots_midlife-haircutBy “My Midlife,” I’ve seen battles first-hand both to me and others around me. But one very strong and horrific battle that is hard to get over is rejection. It’s not only a battle in the outside world, but a self-battle. Almost like a self-inflicted wound. Though it starts elsewhere, we continue the battle inside of us over and over, until it’s made right or we move onto something else. Though that evil taste of rejection is always in the back of our minds.

A truth I’ve heard over and over in my life. I’m not so sure who told me, but I do always keep it in the back of my mind, “You can’t be everything to everyone.” But rejection still hurts as it hits the core of our being.

It’s a personal battle that no one prepares us for. Rejection, do you ever get used to it? I often think about the concept of adoption. When I examine things, I examine all aspects. Yes, you are enabling a child to live, opposite of abortion. However, when that child moves on and grows into a new family, what happens when they find out they were originally from other parents. The rejection that they must feel. Do they ever get past that? It would probably depend on their alternative life offered to them.

What about rejection in a relationship – those that break our hearts when friends move away, dating situations that didn’t work out or divorce? What do we do with that rejection? Ultimately people are turning people down because they’re not up to par for their situation in a relationship they want to continue. What do you do in that situation? As a Christian, I’ve learned and am continuously growing in the skill of forgiveness. I’ve been taught that you don’t have to confront the person you need to forgive, but forgive them in your heart. Now this is not an easy task and much prayer, positive self-talk and love for oneself can assist in getting through this life trial.

And what do we do when challenged and then rejected for our personal traits need it be the way in which we do things, our skills and talents or the way we look. The one thing I learned at a young age is people can be harsh. Not sure why acceptance is such a big deal, but it is. Even in the area of science. In a flock, you see even a weak sick bird stay strong until the end so as to not be rejected by its family for not being up to par. In this sense, it’s a survival mode. Is that the same for people?

What do we do in rejection mode? By “My Midlife,” you would think it would get easier. It doesn’t. I have a good cry, question who I am, the way I’m made, my skills and talents and then reevaluate a new plan to use that rejection for me to get back on a positive road to success.

Patience

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personal-headshots_midlife-haircutWhile returning from our morning walk, my black lab Sophie sat patiently waiting at the curb. The seventh grader, waiting a ways down the street, asked what was wrong with her. I explained she was waiting for a couple of puppy friends. Today she waited longer. I got her to walk up the sidewalk, a bit closer to home. But again she sat and waited patiently, looking in the direction they usually walk from. But they never came and we had to come home.

That experience reminded me about a topic that I’ve been meaning to write about, patience. As a child I was like a Mexican jumping bean, bouncing from one activity to another. I’m not sure that patience was always in my vocabulary. Oh I do remember some glimpses of hope for patience. One in particular at summer camp. There was a little girl, about my age, who was completely deaf. I’d never met someone deaf before and could only imagine how alone she must have felt. Even as a problem-solver at an early age, I copied the sign language section of the Encyclopedia Britannica and brought it to camp. I worked my hands to spell words to communicate with her. It took a lot of patience on both of our parts.

And there have been additional times in my life where patience is all I had, patience and prayers I should say. Picked on in middle school, I almost had the “And this shall soon pass” attitude. I assisted the nuns cleaning the church pews and holy water after school and was rewarded with a candy bar and once a baby Jesus figurine on a cotton ball that I treasured. In the end my patience paid off. In graduating from eighth grade, I received an American Legion medal and The Most Religious Award. Ironically, I wasn’t baptized Catholic. But patience transcends barriers.

Now as an adult, I find myself using patience in compartments in my life. I can be patient with people working an event such as a tradeshow. Yet, I lose patience with people when I’m on the move in traffic, waiting in lines where decisions could have been premade and with people close to me. I fight to not become a crotchety person. In “My Midlife,” obviously I’m not totally there yet.

But in reflecting on patience and what’s wrong with me in losing mine, I’ve come to one conclusion. Like Sophie, my friends have not come. Now it could it be my friends, the husband that would stay through thick and thin or the job that I wanted. You can fill in the blank. We all have a wish list of one day dreams and things we have to wait on to go to the next step or stage in life. But in those steps, people around us are on their own timetables, just as we are on our own timetable. Like Sophie, we’ve been let down, not able to see that glimmer of hope. But somehow we have to look past those let downs and remember there’s a bigger picture. New friends will come when need be, and we will be a friend to others when we least expect it. My husband-to-be is still being molded, just as I am as a wife. And the job? Well, I’ve been working hard starting a writing business this year. This week I hit it big, published by a big wig company and more prospective projects have come my way. Ultimately, we have to wait for the timing. But in that waiting, improve ourselves, our skills and our appreciation of where we are in life. We will never be where we are today again and we need to make the most of it and be patient.

Alone vs. Independent

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personal-headshots_midlife-haircutIn “My Midlife,” I’ve often strived to be independent, yet sometimes I’m alone. One seems positive, while the other seems a bit negative. But are they really? What’s the difference?

As an only child, I grew up doing a lot by myself. My parents taught me life skills, each focusing on what they could bring to me individually and then together as a parental unit. For instance, mom taught me about baking and house chores. Dad taught me how to work on my car and how to build things. Both taught me leadership skills and seeing things through to the end.

Both my parents always taught me that I needed to be self-sufficient, meaning always able to take care of myself and not to get myself into sticky situations. Well, the older I got, I’ve been able take care of myself and able to get myself out of jams. But it has only been by the blessings of God and the people that He has brought into my life and the skills he has honed in on me.

To me being independent has allowed me to grow as an individual with my own thoughts, beliefs and opinions. I’ve been able to live and travel on my own. Yet being independent has brought on being alone.

To be independent, according to Dictionary.com, is to “not [be] influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself.” Another definition, “Not relying on another or others for aid or support.” Though that is great to have such life skills, is it healthy? What I’ve learned in “My Midlife” is that we have strengths and weakness. We need others to balance those with us. Even The New International Version of the Bible (BibleGateway.com), in Genesis 2:18 speaks about “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ ” And though I choose marriage, I’ve yet to find my ever after. But until then, I as a single midlifer, live my daily life honing in on skills that I’m good at and working within my weaknesses.

But what does Dictionary.com say about being alone? It is an adjective meaning “1. Separate, apart, or isolated from others. 2. To the exclusion of all others or all else.” So it looks like being alone is by choice. And for me, as a single midlifer who is choosing marriage, I have not chosen to be alone. I balance my life by going out with friends, visiting family, traveling, church and other outings where I interact with other people.

Wikipedia states that alone refers to “Solitude, a state of seclusion or isolation, i.e., lack of contact with people” and “Loneliness, negative emotions arising from seclusion.” Though this sounds awful, in “My Midlife” I’ve come to find a comfort within, during these times. In getting older, I’ve gotten calmer about some things. I enjoy the more mellow treats that life has to offer.

So though in “My Midlife,” I continue to strive to be independent, I balance my life to lack the negatives of being alone. I fulfill my season where I am now as one day I’ll be balancing my independent spirit and my alone time.

Transparency, How Much?

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personal-headshots_midlife-haircutIn the world we live in today, many people wear many different masks. By “My Midlife,” I think I’ve seen them all and then I see some more. People hiding their sadness, making sure not to show their fear and being strong no matter what the life trial. But I find that I pride myself and am drawn to those showing transparency in who they are and who they perceive to be through actions and the way in which they carry themselves. I find comfort in transparency. But really, what is it?

According to Wikipedia.org, Transparency “… implies openness, communication, and accountability.” As an extrovert and person who has communication as a God-given strength, I find comfort in this definition.

The Wiki definition also states, “Transparency is practical in companies, organizations, administrations and communities. It guides an organization’s decisions and policies on the disclosure of information to its employees and the public, or simply the intended recipient of the information.” Yes, this does sound like a great attribute in the creation of processes in the workforce. However, just as in the workforce, in personal lives, as well as, social media – how transparent is too transparent?

According to the New International Version of the Bible (Biblegateway.com), Proverbs 4:23 states, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” There is definitely something to listening to wisdom in how little or much is shared. It seems, to me, that though God made the whole of us, there is not a reason to share the whole of us. Some things should be left to our own knowledge. Now I’m not talking about lying or not telling the whole truth, or standing off from others or shutting them out. But I do think that there are things suitable for the public and those left kept under wraps.

With this all said, in today’s society, how much is too little or much should be on the Web? In “My Midlife,” looking at others in midlife I see what looks like a healthy balance on the Web. For instance, on Facebook, I see people sharing photos of the good times and the trials. I see those living it up and happy and others asking for prayers of suffrage.

However, I also see those who act like the Web is their personal cable television show sharing everything and more. What is the repercussions of such transparency and sharing? Well, for one, companies review the Web when considering someone for employment. Once something is posted, people can see it any time day or night and as many times as they want it. And we live in a world where editing seems to be just another skill that everyone is good at. Photos, videos, words can all be taken out of context. And the repercussions are not always seen as good.

I say all of this because I wrote a blog that I had planned to post a couple of weeks ago. Though I finally was able to write it, I didn’t know that readers were ready to read it. A blog, like the Web in general, is not open just to our subscribers, it is the “World Wide Web,” meaning it’s open to anyone to read it. So though you may show transparency in your life, wisdom wins out when sharing too little or too much.

Unplanned Inspirations

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personal-headshots_midlife-haircutHaving no Friday night plans, already afternoon, I texted friends to see if anyone was up for something laid-back. The best I could come up with – play cards or dominoes at, Sola Coffee Café, a central destination. The guys had joined another friend for a weekend of fishing. So a girlfriend and I chose the coffee shop.

I joined her by the guitarist. I heard a couple of his last songs and he was really good. Then came the next act. Matt Bednarsky was a clean cut kid who had a bit of an edge. He looked to be in his late thirties, but when he played the guitar it was like wow! He played that instrument like it was an intimate relationship. It was his spouse that he took on the trips – gigs he played all around the world. She knew his fingers and which ways he wanted to play her. She allowed him to play, both working together to make so many tones and melodies fly out of her.

And when he opened his mouth to sing, soulful inspiration was the best way to describe it. His vocals were earthy and raspy. He pulled deep down from his soul to bring out evenly tones. He stood on his toes and crunched down low to feel the music as it escaped his lips.

The words that came were those of an old soul. From Connecticut, lived in New York and now Nashville, Tennessee he traveled the world from Germany and beyond. His travels, wisdom, understanding of cultures and how they are similar and differ from each other were fascinatingly demonstrated in his vocals.

Speaking to him afterwards, I explained what I do. He was excited to read “My Midlife” blog. “An inspirational artist inspiring another inspirational artist,” he shared. So I come straight home and onto my computer to write about my unplanned inspirations from one artist to another.

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