“I Don’t Bake” and other things I decided about myself when I was 8.

Eight years old. Easy Bake oven. Those two things went hand in hand when I was a little girl. I like most eight year old girls, was very excited to get mine, and on my very first day of having it was ready to bake. I followed all of the instructions. I had my cake mixed and in the little aluminum pan. I plugged in my oven. This was so exciting. I slid the mini cake into the oven slot and peered through the little oven window to watch. Then it happened, a loud crackling sound, the oven lights went out and I’m pretty sure I heard a little sizzle come from my new oven’s cord. My mother, instantly pulled me away from the smoking appliance, quite alarmed by what had just happened. You see she had once been rushed to the emergency room after being electrocuted from pulling a vacuum plug out of the wall by the cord. (true story) Hmm… now that I think about it, the likelihood of there being something wrong with that particular outlet rather than something being wrong with my new oven actually makes more sense, but I digress. What all of this meant for me was no more easy bake oven! I honestly have no idea what happened to it, but I’m pretty sure it ended up in that Monday’s trash collection. I looked at what was left of it. Some brownie mix and a couple packs of icing. I ate the icing, all of it, right out of the pack, and after getting sick declared “I don’t bake.”

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I am 51 years old and in the last few weeks, I have made cornbread, brownies and a pumpkin loaf, all in my real oven. Gluten free, dairy free. It was no accident the icing had made me sick. Since my baking attempts turned out to be quite good and I managed not to set anything on fire, I found myself declaring to my partner Diane, “Babe, I bake!” This was pretty exciting. For 43 years I had been telling myself and everyone else, “I don’t bake.” It’s a new me!

This got me to thinking about how many other things I have decided about myself based on my eight year old self. How smart I was or wasn’t. What I was good at or not. What I could do or not. Even what I liked or not. How many of those things had I declared and held onto for 40 something years? 

What have you been telling yourself since you were a kid, and it became who you were? Things like, “I can’t talk in front of people”, all because when you were in the third grade you were asked to get on a stage and your knees shook and you got sick to your stomach. Ever since then the anxiety just makes you say “I don’t do that.”

Here’s a good one. “I’m not an artist, I can barely draw a stick figure.” I’ve lost count how many times someone has said that to me. All because someone made you feel like you didn’t have artistic talent when you were a kid. Your attempt at your first stick figure was a failed one with three legs and a head shaped like a football. What if you had been given the chance to practice your stick figures, like you would practice an instrument or a sport? Maybe you would have become good at stick figures and tried out your new found creativity on other things?

Something maybe to think about while I go ahead and google peach pie recipes. 

Imposter!

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PICASSO IN HIS STUDIO AT LA CALIFORNIE, 1956. PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDRÉ VILLERS. © SUCCESSION PICASSO/ DACS, LONDON 2019. © VILLERS ANDRÉ/ DACS, LONDON 2019. IMAGE © RMN-GRAND PALAIS (MUSÉE NATIONAL PICASSO-PARIS) / MATHIEU RABEAU.

There was a time when calling myself an artist made me feel like a fraud, an imposter. I had been making money in the creative arts industry for years but that doesn’t make you an actual artist, does it? 

A real artist has a big studio with skylights. Paintings are scattered around, ideas half expressed piled on top of other ideas waiting to be completed. A real artist drinks copious amounts of wine and plays dramatic music, classical or opera, as they paint in large dramatic strokes that mimic the emotions of the concerto. A real artist is a recluse slipping in and out of the shadows either because they have agents auctioning their paintings for millions or because they’re starving and have devoted their life to their work. Either is actually quite acceptable.

I was none of that. I kind of fantasized about being that, but I definitely did not fit the description. I did at one point drink the copious amounts of wine and other liquors, but since have decided I paint better without it. Actually I do everything better without it. Thank god for sobriety.

So I hesitated, each time I said, “Hi, I’m Lori, I’m an artist.” 

Eventually other people were calling me “artist”. An unprovoked, matter of fact description of how they saw me. And eventually, I did start believing it. 

I had actually been living it since I was 14. I had actually earned the label. I did actually fit the bill, and once I truly accepted it as truth, I found myself changing my name. Or maybe I was just adding to it, but now I was calling myself a leader.

You can only imagine the stress. I’m like Cinderella, instead the chirping birds aren’t her friends singing happy songs, no they are chirping away in her brain in rapid succession, “What qualifies you to call yourself that?” That comes off as really self focused.” “You are taking up way too much space.”

Leaders stand out, and I’ve been taught my whole life to follow. Put your head down, work hard and do what the person in front of you asks you to do. It’s much more ladylike, right? 

Nope, not me. I’m going around drawing attention, shouting to anyone who will listen, 

“EVERY FEMALE HAS VALUE!” “EVERY SINGLE ONE!” 

What will it take? Enough people calling me a leader for me to consider myself one?

What if I could put aside all of those minimizing, self depreciating thoughts? What if I grew into the role and owned it? If I were to look at myself as a leader how much more likely would it be that I might actually lead. What if the likes of Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Ilhan Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were sitting in the back of a room somewhere still listening to the voices saying they should be quiet, they should accept what they have, they shouldn’t expect more? How much would you like to bet that at some point they all heard those voices?

What extraordinary name do you hesitate to call yourself? Do you believe you are extraordinary at all? I can tell you without a doubt, YOU ARE, and you are allowed to be. This is an extraordinary life we get to live, or it can be one where we play small and live up to only the expectations of those around us. 

I dare you to be unapologetically you, whatever that may be. I’ll keep working on me. Together we just might change the world.

 

A personal debate.

Waking up this morning there’s a good chance the very first words you heard on your tv or radio, the very first words you saw displayed on your phone, wether it was a tweet or a news alert, said something about the democratic presidential debate last night. There really was no getting away from it. If you’re a rare breed and managed to turn all news and social media off for an entire day you’ll have to do it again tomorrow because we’re in for an instant replay as 10 more of the 24 democratic hopefuls debate our future and the well-being of our country.

As you listened to the debate, or the recaps and opinions this morning, what can and can’t be done, what we need and don’t need, and how to go about getting it, what did you think? Did it cross your mind at any point if you’d be able to stand up there in front of millions of people and declare what is right for your future? Your answer might be a confident yes or maybe it’s a resounding no. Me? I have my own, highly critical, often argumentative inner debate every day. The debate that often determines not only my future but my day, Is not one of a political nature but is the debate I have with myself. Instead of being on a stage saying what I’ll fight for, I have a one on one boxing match with myself. One minute I think I can do anything I set my mind to, the next I get a punch right to the gut that says, “no you can’t, what makes you think you’re so special?” I debate all kinds of things. Seemingly ridiculous things, like should I get my hair cut the way I want, or should I just style it the way everyone else would like it? As if I have any idea what that would be. Yet I debate it over and over again silently to myself. I should really try to look more feminine, says that pesky little voice that sounds oddly familiar, like I’ve heard it a thousand times before. I nod my head in agreement, because after all, the cashier in the grocery store keeps calling me sir. Proof!

Thank god, a minute later as I’m approaching my car, bags still in hand, I straighten up my backbone and begin the debate. “Who cares, he didn’t even take the time to look up at me.”

Do you know how much time I spend debating with myself what to do with my hair? I wish I was talking to a crowd in front of me right now so I could see the wave of nodding heads. You’re following me right? It’s scary. We spend so much time debating who we are, based on how we dress, style our hair, wear our makeup. How we think people see us. How in the world do we have time to think about the things we say are really important to us. No wonder we never get around to doing the things we dream about. How do we win an argument with ourselves that we’re worthy of great things in life when we can’t stop arguing with ourselves over wether we look good enough. Imagine if I wore my hair exactly the way I wanted, expressing myself authentically and powerfully, exactly as I am. No compromises. I like me better already, and you probably would too. I want to live my life powerfully. I want to make a difference and a lasting impact on other people’s lives. I don’t have time to be debating with myself, especially over things as simple as my hair, which by the way, stay tuned for my new style in the next couple weeks, because I’m going for it!

Do you think “the girl on the right” (photo above) debated with herself about how she looked? I’d imagine she stood in the space she created for herself and said “this is me”. As a matter of fact she didn’t even think about it, and just presented her authentic self, with no concern about how different or unique that might be. Her self esteem hasn’t been chipped away at quite enough yet, she still thinks she’s ok just the way she is.

Let’s leave the debating to the politicians and stand in our own strong space, determined to be the change we can be in our own lives and others. Lets be so authentic we don’t even have to think about it and just present as ourselves. Let’s win our inner debate, so when the really tough issues come up in our life we have the strength and confidence to win the fight.

Women make things happen.

We were literally two strangers with a common mission living on opposite sides of the country. It’s funny how on Instagram we do what’s called “following” each other. Where else other than social media would a 27 yr old mom/entrepreneur from Utah and a 51 yr old mom/artist from Florida actually end up following each other? Instagram is funny like that. You follow who’s work you admire, who’s photos you like. You follow who entertains you visually and inspires you. Does it always end there? What if you reached out and actually connected?

Connecting was exactly what my intention was. I had decided one evening to write down all of the women’s/teen organizations that “follow” Girl Noticed on Instagram. I then proceeded to email or message each one telling them more about the project. “13 states, 50 murals, workshops, presentations, Marie Claire magazine, national recognition… hey, hey you, pay attention! Notice me!” That’s pretty much how it goes. Did you think people just call me up an invite me to there state to do a mural? I’ve had to get creative when it comes to how I get a wall, and make this project happen. Writing my instagram followers was one of many avenues taken to get Girl Noticed “out there”. In this case the emails and messages were sent, and then I wait. I wait hoping maybe someone will take the extra minute to actually read what I wrote and show interest. And that’s just what Desiree Tolman creator of the Utah Mom Show did. About a half dozen emails and a few phone calls later we pooled our resources and figured out just how to make this happen.

We knew after our first conversation we were kindred spirits. Two women that society would just as well have written off. We both had the odds stacked up against us in life and we both wouldn’t allow ourselves to be defined by those odds. Even though Desiree and I are from different generations, yes I have kids Desiree’s age, we both see the world in front of us as an opportunity for change, a place to inspire and empower. We also see challenges as just that, a challenge. Nothing more. When we allow those challenges to turn into fear, that’s when we have a problem. We’ve proven to ourselves over and over again that fear is a liar and what we put our minds to we can accomplish. We also know that when life has allowed you the strength and will to succeed it’s your responsibility to pay it forward, to give back. Desiree’s Utah Mom Show was created for every mom, tackling all stages of motherhood, while uniting parents who feel they’re alone in their stories.

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Desiree Tolman creator of the Utah Mom Show and Lori Pratico, Girl Noticed

I am thrilled to be working with Desiree and creating a mural for this years Inaugural Utah Mom Show. I would have clearly picked Desiree, but instead I read each of her Mom blogpost nominees and chose an incredible mom to notice.

Kait Peterson and her daughter Eva will be part of an interactive mural where you can write and leave behind your thoughts about what mom means to you. So come say hello and be a part of Girl Noticed’s 14th state.

In the words of the great O, no not Oz, Oprah of course, “What I know for sure is”, that when two women collaborate, you better move out of their way.” 

Get more info and tickets for the Utah Mom Show at http://www.utahmomshow.com

Noticing Heather Neiman

My art is my breath. My soul. I believe my art connects with people because of my vulnerability and authenticity. My art is intuitive, unique, and most often has a story, message, and/or symbolism that expresses itself with much color, collage, and words. I have become my favorite artist, because I finally recognize my value, as a creator, in being a positive force both in myself and to others with my gift of creating powerful and meaningful works of art.”- Heather Neiman

Heather Neiman received 23 nominations when Girl Noticed announced it would be noticing a Fort Lauderdale artist last month during Art Fort Lauderdale. This clearly shows the respect and admiration her community has for her and her art. I found the following nominations especially moving.

“I met Heather Neiman through Instagram. I went out and visited her at a show and her vibrant art captured my attention, her personality captured my heart. She is a stunning representation of human kindness and talent. When I walk into her art space I feel her presence. I see her bright eyes and charming smile and her colorful personality in every piece. I also see between the bright color a depth and a complexity that expresses itself in layer after layer. As I have gotten to know Heather Neiman, I’ve grown to love her as much as her art. She stoked a passion in me for my own art that has been a true gift. I know longer see art as something I can do, but something I want to do, for myself. She is light, dark, color and creativity personified and truly inspirational.” -Christopher Warner

“She paints from her soul and to touch people personally at a deep level of meaning and purpose. She paints to make herself and others more whole and healthy through connecting with beauty in and around themselves.” – Ann Roggenkamp

Here were some of the other words used in multiple nominations to decribe her.

inspiring •  thought provoking • displays her passions and personality in every piece she crafts • her art makes me happy • I love her compassion and hard work and love for what she does • the most talented human I know • puts her soul into her art • extremely talented • a beautiful woman • a fantastic human being and a light in the Fort Lauderdale community • invokes feelings and thoughts that are unique to each and every piece • can make something beautiful out of something so ordinary • sparks joy and makes me smile • persevered and stayed true to herself • thoughtful • courageous • unafraid • unique • making a difference • kindest, most emotionally generous women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting

WOW Heather! We notice!

Follow Heather on fb at Heather Neiman Art or Instagram HeatherNeimanArt

#heatherneimanart

 

THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES to Benefit GIRL NOTICED

@ArtServe, Ft. Lauderdale, on Thursday, February 28th at 7pm

Tickets available online at Eventbrite vday2019thevaginamonologues.eventbrite.com

A special benefit performance of THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES will be presented on Thursday, February 28th at 7pm at ArtServe in Ft. Lauderdale. Additionally, we are proud to name GIRL NOTICED as the beneficiary of the evening’s proceeds. Come celebrate the 20th anniversary of the award-winning Eve Ensler play and the founding of V-Day, the global activist movement to end violence against women and girls.

Produced and Directed by Valerie diLorenzo, the cast includes Krystal Aleman, Jennifer Apacella-Cavazzi, Amanda Corbett, Sheila Danzig, Jennifer Davis, Diane Fennekohl, Randi Gold, Hilary Israch, Amy London, Samantha Marcum, Jennifer McClain, and Gaby Tortoledo

What is VDay?

Over the past two decades, tens of thousands of communities and college campuses have staged V-Day benefit performances of The Vagina Monologues in over 200 countries and territories. V-Day activists have raised consciousness, changed laws to protect women and girls, funded rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters (often times these much-needed funds kept them from closing), educated their communities, and raised well over $100 million in urgently needed funds for groups doing the essential work of ending violence and serving survivors and their families. For its 20th anniversary, V-Day is calling on activists around the world to Rise, Resist and Unite. Welcome to V-Season 2019.

What are The Vagina Monologues?

The New York Times called The Vagina Monologues, “probably the most important piece of political theater of the last decade.” Written by Eve Ensler, The Vagina Monologues is an Obie Award-winning whirlwind tour of a forbidden zone which introduces a wildly divergent gathering of female voices, including a six-year-old girl, a septuagenarian New Yorker, a vagina workshop participant, a woman who witnesses the birth of her granddaughter, a Bosnian survivor of rape, and a feminist happy to have someone who liked to look at it.

V-DAY 2019: Eve Ensler’s THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES @ArtServe

Thursday, February 28th, 2019 | 7 PM* | $25 ($20 for ArtServe members)

Tickets available online at Eventibrite vday2019thevaginamonologues.eventbrite.com or at the door.

Net proceeds will be donated to Girl Noticed

To learn more about V-Day and its campaigns visit http://www.vday.org.

#TheVaginaMonologues #VDay2019

Noticing Kandy G Lopez

Born In New Jersey Kandy G Lopez moved with her family to Miami where she received her BFA and BS from the University of South Florida concentrating in Painting and in Marketing and Management. She received her MFA with a concentration in Painting from Florida Atlantic University

She is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Performing and Visual Arts at the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (CAHSS) at NOVA Southeastern University, and has also taught at Florida Atlantic University and Daytona State College.

As a visual artist, Lopez explores constructed identities, celebrating the strength, power, confidence and swag of individuals who live in urban and often economically disadvantaged environments. With a variety of mediums, her images develop a personal and socially compelling visual vocabulary that investigates race, the human defense mechanism, visibility and armor through fashion, and gentrification. Lopez wants her artwork to help educate, communicate, and foster uncomfortable topics that we seem to look past or avoid in our multi- cultural society. Representing individuals within poor communities in the U.S., these portraits help her, as a female Afro-Dominican American, come to terms with the way she too has to adopt and perform identities of survival.

Kandy G Lopez’s work has been exhibited in several galleries and museums. Recent exhibitions include: The ARC – Arts and Recreation Center, the Girls’ Club, Broward College Rosemary Duffy Gallery, Yeiser Art Center, The Catalina Hotel for Art Basel, Cape Cod Museum of Art, Verum Ultimum Art Gallery, Santa Fe’s Gallery 901, Stephen F. Austin University, and Umpqua Valley Art Center.

Click here to check out more of her work.