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I’ve never been one to declare New Year’s resolutions or make lists of quarterly objectives. As an artist, I like to keep things fluid so I can embrace opportunities as they arise. Plus, my definitions of “success” have little to do with quantitative results.

I’ve tried doing vision boards but could never understand why I needed a visual to spur me on when the pictures in my head are plenty vivid. I make lists only when I have to. So, you can imagine I felt a bit of trepidation when one of the women’s groups I belong to decided to have every member choose a “word of the year.” My friend sent me a worksheet to help me land on my word, and I grudgingly filled it out. …


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Every year we buy a live Christmas tree, although this past year, due to the pandemic, we did not. We’ve always patted ourselves on the back for taking our trees to be mulched after the holidays, but this year I read a blog post about holding on to your tree. The writer suggested propping it somewhere in the backyard to serve as a winter home for birds and small critters. They noted that the falling needles would be good for the soil and the branches could be used to protect perennials from snow and frost.

Part of me loved this idea. Another part struggled with messages I received as a child about well-kept yards and removing “waste” and creating a neat and tidy environment that even the neighbors would appreciate. When I was a kid, the responsible action was to drag your tree to the curb for the garbage collectors to haul away. Later, my husband and I accepted the inconvenience and cost of driving it across town to the recycling center. Now we’re being asked to put the needs of Mother Nature before our own longstanding beliefs about what makes us “good citizens” with a pristine lawn. Next, no doubt, our society will move away from the harvesting of live trees altogether. …


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A friend mentioned this year she’ll be setting “values-based goals.” This was something I could get behind. I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions or long lists of specific objectives. I typically have one or two big goals but, as an artist, I prefer to stay fluid, able to pick up or let go of my goals as opportunities arrive. I acknowledge, though, that most of my goals, and certainly my most successful efforts, have always been tied to my core values.

In 1991, I started a simple freelance writing business. In 2009, I decided to launch a company that could “grow in conjunction with community service.” I even put that exact wording into the mission statement for Teresa Funke & Company, LLC. …


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If I were a visual artist, I’d be a fiber artist, using the tools and traditions of all the women who came before me and whose artistry was often overlooked.

If I were a singer, I’d be a folk singer or maybe a soft rock artist, the type who tells stories in their songs.

If I were an actor, I’d gravitate towards the stage. There’s nothing wrong with film or television, but nothing beats the energetic connection between an artist and a live audience.

If I were a poet, I’d write poems about history and the unsung individuals history so rarely celebrates. …


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My husband does most of the baking in our house and has for the 29 years of our marriage. It’s one of his favorite pastimes. Yet after all these years, it’s still not unusual to show up at our friends’ dinner party with one of his delicious strawberry rhubarb pies or orange chocolate cakes and have our hosts thank me instead of him. I remind them again that Roger is the artist in this case, not me.

I’ve actually had a few people criticize me over the years for “making” my poor husband do most of the cooking and baking. …


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Brené Brown recently interviewed Dolly Parton on her Unlocking Us podcast. Dolly said two very different things that have been swimming around in my mind. The first was a comment about the pandemic. She said, “You can’t be too safe, but you can sure be too sorry . . .”

Her second comment came in response to Brené’s question, “What’s the first thing you do when you have to be brave?” Dolly replied, “I always just think my desire to do it is greater than my fear of it. I just pray about it and go.”

It’s interesting to me that such a talented, hardworking, ambitious woman could admit to sometimes playing it safe and other times leaning into her bravery. As an artist, business owner, and devoted family woman, like Dolly, I can relate on so many levels. …


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I was thinking today about a fundraiser my husband, daughter, and I attended a little over a year ago for our local museum. We dressed according to the theme and enjoyed free food and drink. I had every intention of being on my best professional behavior — after all, I had been hired as a speaker for the museum not that long before the event. But when we got there, the appetizers and cocktails were so tasty and the band so engaging, I found myself letting go. My daughter, of course, egged me on. We had a few silly moments on the dance floor I still enjoy remembering. I didn’t go all-out crazy that night (I’m still a professional at heart), but it was a perfect night to blow off steam. …


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My husband and I were walking in our neighborhood when a car came racing by. I estimate the driver was going 10 miles over the speed limit. There was a blind curve coming up, and I’d seen some kids on bikes earlier, so without thinking, I jabbed my finger in his direction to tell him to slow down. He looked right at me when I did it.

“Great,” I thought. “Now he’s going to come back and beat me up.”

I imagined what I’d say if he circled the block, jumped out of his car, and raged toward me. Everyone is so on edge right now; it wasn’t hard to believe that could happen. I knew I’d start with a sincere apology. “I’m sorry. That was really rude of me to point at you that way, it’s just that you were going fast and there are kids on bikes and I didn’t know how else to get your attention.” My hope of course, was that he’d accept my apology, admit his error, and drive off at a safer speed, but I sort of doubted that’s how it would go down. …


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Two couples came over last weekend for a socially distanced, outside-in-the-cold birthday gathering for one of our friends. When he arrived, he had the “Celebration” song by Kool & The Gang playing on his cell phone. “Let’s dance!” he said.

My husband and our other friends stood up to shake their booties. I got up too, then I just stared at the ground, frozen. I couldn’t remember if I start off on my left foot or my right or what to do with my arms. It seems my Covid-era feet have got no rhythm.

My next thought was to wonder what other creative muscles have atrophied in this time of coronavirus. I still sing now and then, mostly in the shower, but the other day a few friends burst into song on a Zoom call, and I noticed I was way off key. I haven’t written anything since this pandemic started other than this blog. I did take an art class, but my own mother asked why the mandala I drew looked like a squashed cantaloupe. …


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The way I’ve been feeling the past few months reminds me of having morning sickness. “Morning sickness,” by the way, is a misnomer. While it does often strike in the waking hours, it’s just as likely to hit you any time during the day when a certain sight, smell, or taste sets you off. At least, that’s how I remember it.

With the coronavirus numbers rising again, the election uncertainty, the social unrest, and dreaded winter looming, it’s no wonder my morning sickness has gotten worse the past few days. I was lucky not to experience much nausea with my firstborn, but I definitely had it the second time around with my daughter. At the time, my biggest responsibility was taking care of my toddler-aged son, but when those waves of queasiness washed over me, all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and pull up the covers. I didn’t, though. I couldn’t. I had this little Tasmanian devil swirling around I had to keep out of harm’s way. …

About

Teresa Funke

The world needs an army of creative thinkers, and you’re one. Ignite your inner artist/“Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life” www.burstsofbrilliance.com

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