Saturday, March 7, 2009

A New Adventure

Sorry I've been absent the last couple of days. I had some work done with my dentist and have been feeling a bit icky... Happily I am feeling better now. I am also excited to report that I have some exciting professional news: I have a new job (of sorts).

On February 16th, Sabi and I went to this artists meeting and met some very talented people. It just so happened that it was also the first meeting of the group and I spent much of the night conversing with the group founder, Anastasia, and her friend Catherine. We were bandying about ideas for events to have the group organize and while we were brainstorming we were all pleased to find that we 'bounced' quite well off of each other. We made plans to meet later and discuss some ideas and all had various things to check outin the interim.

Well, I met with Anastasia again on Tuesday (we have also talked via email etc..) and after some discussion about the best ways to proceed, in order to take advantage of the energy and opportunity we currently have, is to work on incorporating our group as a non-profit, and file to obtain tax-exempt status.

About Anastasia and Catherine, it is quite exciting, for me, to be able to work with these women. Both of them are well-established and accomplished ladies who bring a lot to the table. Anastasia, who will be the CEO, is a published author and experienced actress. She worked in marketing for several years, enjoys 'schmoozing' and has a wide network of friends and contacts that will be valuable in our fundraising efforts. Catherine, who we hope to have as our COO, has a Master's degree in Theatre Administration, has organized many events, and also has contacts and Administrative skills that will prove quite important to our success.

I will be the CVO (Cheif Visionary Officer) and Co-President with Anastasia. While we will split the cheif position of the organization, our titles will kind of reflect our differing roles within the organization: I am, at the moment, acting as architect of the org.. I am writing up our mission, vision, business plan, creating our website, and basically building the structure of our business. Anastasia is going to act as our "cheif fundraiser" and essentially the public face of our organization. Together the three of us will develop the "what" of our org, I will figure out the how and why, and then Anastasia and Catherine will execute our plans.

This is really exciting, our organization has an amazing purpose (which I'll get to in a sec), and for me personally it seems to offer an opportunity for me to finally use my biggest talents to their full potential. I have always been a person who has great business acuity and ideas but I have lacked the managerial and sales skills that arenecessary to implement those flashes of brilliance. Here I have the chance to work with people who have the ingredients I lack in order to really make amazing things happen, hopefully for many people.

So the business:  the website is not finished yet but should be up and running this week (I hope). Our tentative mission statement is: It is the mission of ___ to utilize the power of Art to create opportunities, promote individual and community development, enrich the lives of the people we serve, and work together to fulfill Art's potential to improve society.

Our planned programs include: WAM JAMs-- social meetups for artists to make friends with other artists, network, share their work, collaborate, and have fun. Art House-- our headquarters, a property purchased in a blighted area and transformed into art through collaboration of member artists; Art House will serve as our offices, WAM JAMs venue, a place for us to hold classes for low income adults and youth, house community programs, and we will offer use as an event hall. We will help promote our members through our website, by offering creative opportunities/events/ competitions, and through networking. We also plan to offer a wealth of resources on our website, including forums and classifieds.

This is all pretty early in the planning stage; we still need to make our business plan, bylaws, and formally figure out allof the details. I'm very excited, though, and have my fingers crossed that this will be a fun new adventure and experience :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Me: A Homemaker!

For all of my life I have had a particular opinion about being a homemaker: While I admired and respected the homemakers I knew, I always wondered a) how they could be satisfied with such a life, b)if they ever wanted 'more,' and c) why they chose to do that instead of something more 'important' with their lives.

Perhaps (probably?) this is a symptom of a particular feminist culture that I was raised in (in the larger culture).  As I've gotten older I have come to more and more appreciate the value and satisfaction that we all get from traditionally 'women's work,' and I've also come to feel that the idea that women's work is 'unimportant' (however it started) is an unfortunate idea that has sadly been promoted by some of the very people who hoped to advance the position of women in our society.

It was largely from this frame of reference that I started my journey into being a homemaker.  Since Lily was born and I began to try to figure out how to take care of her and manage a good life for our family, I have approached it from an attitude of homemaking as taking a backseat, in importance, to my 'me' time and my artistic/business pursuits.  

Because of this basic ordering of priorities I often felt frustrated by how much time I was having to spend as caretaker of my child and our house.  I would feel resentful at the idea that I had to 'do most of the work' in the house and scrimp on my duties in order to taker more time to myself and 'relax.'

I have been really thinking about my basic attitude about this and come to the conclusion that I really need to change my way of thinking about being a homemaker.  It's kind of amazing how much of a difference it makes to look at things from a different direction!

1. My primary job in our family is to take care of Lily and our home.  Eric works hard at his job in order to take care of our family financially, and also derive personal and professional satisfaction, and it is only fair (as his partner) that I take my job seriously and understand how important it is to learn my job well and realize how lucky I am to have the option to take care of my family full-time.

2.  I haven't the first clue about how to make a happy and healthy home for our family. Most people I know were at least raised in clean and functional homes and therefore have a pretty good idea of how to make a home work.  I did not have that experience as a child (in my own home at least) and must therefore learn for myself how to create and maintain a comfortable space for all of us to thrive within... also, I feel I was somewhat handicapped by not being taught to live in a healthy and clean way; I absolutely do not want Lily to grow up with those same deficiencies. 

3. creating and maintaining a home that is beautiful, comfortable, and stable IS an important job.  It is through our work as homemakers that we are able to provide a foundation for our entire family to thrive inside and outside of the home.  We give our families an oasis of safety and calm, and having this foundation provides the energy, feeling of security, and confidence for everyone to strive to reach their fullest potential.  In thinking about it, I believe that having the foundation of a stable home environment is perhaps the most important ingredient for a child to be able to explore and develop into the best person they can become.  So I no longer wonder how homemakers could be satisfied with such 'unimportant' work; I now see that our job is the glue of a family that works and is of at least equal importance to work outside.

So, in this spirit of understanding I am trying very hard to organize my home life and time.  I am reading books on how to keep house, thinking about the things I learned from my aunt (who is a great homemaker) and wishing I remembered how it all worked, thinking about the homemaking skills I've observed in the other women I know and trying to plan and schedule it into my own life.  I have given myself a year to learn how to be a reasonably good homemaker (in at least the basic ways) and have started by making a housekeeping schedule that, at the very least, will keep our house clean.  I am also trying to start cooking and planning menus.

It's funny, so many people consider the domestic arts to be 'easy' and therefore unimportant but I have to admit that this is the single most difficult undertaking I've ever encountered... it's complicated and very time and mind consuming.  There are dozens of things to remember all at once and the need to carefully fit into place all of the most important elements of the family.  All of this, too, in the few waking hours of day.

In conclusion, I am proud to say that I am (FINALLY) learning to be a homemaker.  I am joining a proud tradition of women (and a few men) who love their families and provide them a great place and way to live, thrive, find joy, recover from disappointments, and generally share a wonderful life together.  I wish I would have realized this years ago!