Finding Motivation through Small Achievements
One of the luxuries of the Knox/Henderson neighborhood is its walkability. Even when I have a car to drive, I often choose to walk because it's so relaxing to meander along the bright, manicured, city sidewalks. Many of my neighbors share this sentiment, which makes for a vibrant, energetic pocket of Dallas. I'm often shy, but I at least try to smile as I pass someone, which may come across awkward, but my intentions are friendly. There is one neighbor whom I've actually taken the time to talk to, beyond a simple smile. He is an artisan and a craftsman and he always has his garage open, working on some kind of large scale creative project. I walked past him on several occasions while he was working in his open studio, before I had the courage to introduce myself.
One day, I had an opportunity to strike up a conversation with this craftsman and found myself intrigued. He's a jack of all trades and does a lot of building work to cover his expenses so he can afford to work on his own creative projects. When I met him, he was constructing doors. Altruistic in nature, he set a box full of tiles and crafts supplies on the sidewalk next to his hand painted SUV and explained that he was taking them to his daughter's school to teach a tutorial on mosaics.
I did my best to explain the mission of Mpulse Studio and the trifecta of mediums I use to support women's health, safety, and dignity through a trifecta of watercolors, literature, and jewelry designs. I spoke about the 'inspiration' behind my work, which was finding strength after losing a contract job because of sexual harassment, but at the time, I didn't realize that my words had any kind of impact.
Over the past few months, I've noticed my neighbor working with two men in their early thirties. Dressed in trendy urban street wear, they look more like they're about to attend a Kanye West concert, than operate a table saw, but I curiously appreciated the dichotomy of their appearance verses how I always imagine the rough, rugged aesthetic of a craftsman.
Last night, I ran into my neighbor at my favorite tapas bar, Cafe Madrid. We got to talking and I asked him about the young men he's always working with. He explained to me that they come from a part of the city where educational opportunities were not abundant and he took them under his wing to teach them artisan skills. He told me about a large project they're currently constructing and told me some pretty impressive stories about how dedicated and meticulous they are when it comes to the tedious labor, like soldering, but then he said something that caught me by surprise.
Earlier in the day, I went out for a run and in my final stretch, I ran past my neighbor and his apprentices. I waved and smiled as I always do. My neighbor told me that after I ran by, he felt compelled to educate his artisan students in a different way. He said to them, "you see that woman running by? She tirelessly works her ass off as an artist to support the women that you all brag about treating like garbage." He explained that they often come to his studio, sharing stories about how many chics they cheated on their girlfriends, the amazing women and mothers of their children, with. They tell him stories about how they were taught that women cannot be trusted as a means to justify their behavior.
My jaw dropped when he share that story with me. First, it deeply saddened me to learn that those two intriguing men were totally misogynistic, but I was so shocked that my neighbor stood up for me and used my work as an example to enlighten others. I had no idea that I was making that kind of an impact, and while that may seem like a small achievement, it's the little things like that that build up and encourage me to keep working tirelessly in my efforts to empower and offer grace and kindness.
Not only did my neighbor's words encourage me to speak up more about how I use my paintings, jewelry designs, and writing to support my studio's mission, but he inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and take the time to talk to more of the people that I walk past every day, awkwardly smiling at. My conversation with him was a wake up call that I can work my ass off day in and day out, but if I'm not standing up and talking to others about this mission because I'm shy, then I'm not being the best steward of my mission, which is to empower.
With all of that being said, I created a Facebook page called the LOVE Necklace Campaign, where I will be stepping waaaaay out of my comfort zone and sharing live videos as I work to educate others on the ways that we can unite and support one another. I implore you to tune in and help me share this work, so that one by one, we can create a paradigm shift and truly embrace the amazing power of women.