Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What an Amazing Day!

Yesterday may have just been one of the greatest days of my life so far.  I had a lot to accomplish when I woke up and I didn't exactly know how things would go because I had a list of people I needed to talk to, with a list of requests for each.  All of what I needed was related to school and getting things sorted out over my thesis and graduation. Because I didn't pass my French test last semester, I couldn't apply for graduation or turn in the proper forms.  Because I worked at the Museum while I was going to school, I took things very slow in my academic career.  I wanted to make sure I did well at both school and work, so I didn't overload myself.  Well, this put me behind and now I'm going to have to petition for an extra semester in order to have the time I need to write and defend my thesis.

I don't know exactly what is going to happen, but I'm proceeding in my work as if I'm going to get the extension so that I don't waste any time.  I want to graduate so badly and I want the experience of writing this thesis.  This is what I've been working toward!

So what went well yesterday?

1. With the help of OU School of Art and Art History faculty, I sorted out all of the steps I need to take and the paperwork I need to fill out.  Sometimes that can be as confusing as figuring out how to approach a topic of a paper. I was so grateful for the guidance!

2. I settled on a thesis topic! This was a big deal because I have been going back and forth all summer, trying to decide what I wanted to do most.  I had said that I wanted to write about the image of women and bicycles in late 19th century art, but I've also had another topic in the running.  I really want to study portrait miniatures of the 18th century, especially those that were given as gifts around the Georgia area.  I've realized that the confidence I gained this summer came in handy for making the decision to go with what I'm really passionate about (the portrait miniatures) vs. going with what I thought would be a sexy topic.

I just feel that in the long run, my love of eighteenth century art, Savannah, GA, gifts that were given between people who loved each other, etc. will carry me through all of the hard work and research it will take to make a great thesis.  Plus I'll get to travel to some wonderful places to do that research! When I told dad about it (I gave my mom and dad reports of my good news throughout the day, haha!) he said, "It sounds like you'll need to do some traveling."  Woooooohooooo for a mom and dad that not only supports you in your education and the chasing of dreams, but one who also understands what it takes to do so.  Again...grateful!

3. I met with my thesis advisor and he was not only excited about me passing my French test, but also my choice of thesis topic.  He gave me some great advice and we made a plan for how to proceed.  I can't wait to get started today on my research and I'm really looking forward to working with Kenneth on everything.  I know I'm going to learn so much!

4. I found my third and last Master's Thesis Committee member! It's formed! Now all I have to do is get the signatures and turn in the paper work and I can't tell you how excited I am about my committee.  They are all people that I admire and respect for their knowledge, but also their teaching style.  They are kind and patient people who want nothing but to see me succeed and that was evident when I was taking their classes.  I know they will all challenge me and I want and need that! But I also know that they will be rooting for me, so I can't wait to work with all of them.

5. I heard from someone who told me he would support me in this whole process of petitioning the grad college for the extra semester and I told him that no matter the outcome, I was grateful for the support. And I am.  This person doesn't have to help, so I'm not only thankful for it, I'm honored. And I was really excited when he congratulated me on the French test.  It's almost like when my dad says, "Candy Corn," to tell me he's proud of me.  (I'll explain that at a later date.)

6.  I went to yoga for the first time in a while and it felt so good to sweat! I also got up and took a long walk early yesterday morning.  It feels good to move! I knew that yesterday could have potentially been stressful, so I tried to do what I could to ensure a good state of mind and exercise really helps with that.  Plus my great friend Preston joined me at yoga and it's always good to see P. :)

7.  After yoga, we met my friend Netha at the Library (the fun one) to eat and have some cocktails.  I'm so glad that Netha is back.  She's been gone all summer, doing research and an internship, so I hadn't seen her until last week.  There is something about the friendships of people who are going through the same thing at the same time (grad school).  We understand each other and our neurosis. Haha! Seriously though, I know that Netha and I will be lifelong friends and it was awesome to celebrate such a great day with her and with Preston.

8. After dinner, I went to Patrick and Phillip's for Top Chef night and to share my good news.  They were nothing but supportive and excited for me and it was, as usual, a lovely time.  My friend Courtney was also there and she's a kindred positive spirit so when we were telling each other about the things we were grateful for, the energy seemed to explode in that room.  She's getting ready to take off on an adventure of her own and I couldn't be happier for her!

I'm finding that your attitude is what can make or break your day.  I don't know exactly what is going to happen with graduation, but I know that if I'm working as hard as I can to reach my goals, I can be proud of myself.  And all I kept finding along the way was encouragement, open doors, people saying either "Yes" or "I'll do what I can to help." So I have a good feeling about the way things are going to go.  I'm "cautiously optimistic," as one advisor told me to be.

How can all of that encouragement and support make for anything but an awesome day? I may just be the luckiest girl on the planet.  Happy day!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Update: I Passed My French Test!

Wooooooohooooooooo!!!!! I'm so excited! I knew when I left that test that I had done much better than I did the first two times I took it.  I received notification in the mail last night that I did pass! What a relief! I guess it goes to show that if you're prepared and if you have faith in yourself, you can do just about anything.  Last week, Chandra posted the following on my Facebook wall.  I think it sums up everything I'm doing in life right now. Haha! So, so grateful!

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do." ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, August 29, 2011


Today I realized the benefits of working on myself and building the confidence that I've written about so much this summer.  I've been putting off something that needed to be done because I was worried about the reactions of a certain group of people.  I won't go into too much detail but I'll say that I have finally reached a point where I trust myself and my gut instinct when it comes to building this business.

I know that it could be very easy to get ahead of ourselves and jump over a few things that are vitally important and I don't want to do that, but I've had a tendency my whole life to be a people pleaser and that can mean trouble when staying true to yourself and your own dreams. I was giving in when I should have been sticking to my guns.  What I have realized this summer is that when you aren't true to yourself, you experience major blocks.  That definitely happened to me. I thought that by this time, we would have our board formed and  our nonprofit paperwork filled out and sent in, but I spent so much time thinking I should be doing something yet feeling like I should be doing the opposite that I just got stuck.  I know that all the self-searching was for good reason.  I'm positive that it was something that I needed to go through in order to learn these important lessons. And I definitely needed to learn them now versus down the road. The price tag is so much less now than it will be once sixtwelve is up and running.

So today I took an action and sent a message.  I stood up for myself, but not in a fighting way.  I just explained my point of view and perspective on things.  I'm happy to report that a few people in the group were very receptive.  In fact, they were supportive.  I think it just proves the point that when you are confident, others will be confident in you.  It doesn't hurt that these people are rational and kind, but I'm still grateful nonetheless.

I feel so much better about everything now that I have said what I believe and feel is best for 612.  I also know that this ability will come in handy as we're making decisions, asking people to donate resources, and as I am learning how best to motivate people.  I am working hard on myself so I'll have more to give as a leader.

So now it's time to get down to business!!!! We're back on track and I'm excited about getting things done!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

French Test = More Confidence

Last school year I took a French test twice and failed it twice.  It's a reading proficiency exam that every Art History graduate student has to take.  You can either take it in French or German (or Spanish if you are studying Art of the American West) and seeing that I had two semesters of French under my belt (both taken over 5 years ago) and only one semester of German, I chose French.

The first time I walked in to take the test, I thought I had done it! I thought I had rocked that test. But I found out later that wasn't the case. So I took it again. The second time I knew I hadn't passed, even as I walked out the door. I panicked and froze in that testing room! I watched the clock's big hand move around its face twice and even wrote a note to the grader, saying that I knew I had failed.  *Side note - The grader sent me a little note with the notification that I hadn't passed, saying something like, "I'm sorry this was so hard.  Don't give up Amy! You can do this!"  I thought that was extraordinarily kind and encouraging.

So today I'm getting ready to head down to Norman to take it again. I've been studying and I feel more prepared than the first two times. I'm hoping that it all goes well and I have more confidence in myself than I did last semester.  That seems to make a big difference in everything. I'm finding that the more confidence and peace that I carry with me, the more I can relax and take my hurdles in stride. James said to have fun with the test. "YEAH RIGHT!" I thought.  But he is right.  I can have fun with everything I do if I choose to. It's just a matter of taking a deep breath, treating today like any other day and seeing what I can do. (And being prepared really helps too!)

My fear has been that if I don't pass the test, I can't graduate. I can't even apply to graduate until that test has been conquered and time is running out!  That's a really big deal after all of these years of school, after giving up my job at the museum to finish my degree, not to mention the humiliation I'll feel if I can't complete what I started. Then there's the disappointment I fear that my dad will experience. I always want to make my family proud.  But most of all, I want to make myself proud. I don't want to ever give up! I am going to keep trying as long as the school will let me to get this right.

So we all face failure every now and then and goodness knows I have faced disappointment and dashed hopes over the past year (and not just at school), but I'm finding that every time I experience those things, it's an opportunity for life to whip me in a different direction and usually it's towards something that's better for me anyway. Failure or rejection is hard to swallow, and I'm not saying there is something better for me than finishing my masters, but I have this peace that whatever happens, it's going to be ok. And I'm still going to follow my dreams with 612, no matter what occurs in that testing room today.  I just have to give myself every chance to succeed and a big part of that is walking in with confidence, knowing that I can do this!

UPDATE:  The test went well! I won't know any results for a couple of weeks, but I know that I did better than the previous times I took the test. For one thing, I finished the test.  I couldn't even make it halfway through the last time. There might have been a few verb conjugations that were questionable, and there were a couple of sentences that didn't make the most sense, but otherwise, I feel good about it.  I learned a lot studying for it and I know that I improved, and that's important.  I also told fear where it could go when it creeped in during the test. It tried to take over, but I was mentally and emotionally stronger than that fear and that's what I'm most proud of. Confidence is key!!! So now all I have to do is just keep working and wait to see what happens!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Historic Preservation Expo!

Last week was full of exciting things going on around OKC but one of my favorites was the Historic Preservation Expo held Friday and Saturday at the Cox Convention Center.  This event was organized by OKC's Office of Sustainability and the State Historic Preservation Office and served a great need! Presentations and classes were given in topics ranging from energy efficiency to tax credits for HP and there were over 30 vendors or organizations represented.  James and I attended specifically to hear Dennis from Wewoka Window Works give a presentation on How to Restore and Revive a Wood Window with Brad Owens.  Dennis even used a picture of our building in WWW's exhibition booth alongside images of the work they did on the windows at Union Station downtown.  I felt very honored for our building to be featured right next to such a beautiful, historic building in OKC.  Mainly, I'm just grateful that I live in a city where people are so dedicated to not only preserving our history, but helping others with the same interest.  People like Catherine Montgomery with the city and Harry Simms with the state office were both so helpful to James and to me when we were just starting out on our project and I wasn't surprised at all to know that they had a huge hand in planning the expo.  We are a part of a community of great people and it's a privilege to say that.

Here's a picture of Dennis and Brad giving their talk!

And now to get back to what I really should be doing...studying French! My test is tomorrow! Wish me luck!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How to Start a 501c3 - Part 2

James and I attended the workshop at the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits yesterday on "How to Start a 501c3." It might have been one of the most helpful 3 hours of my career life.  Wow!!! There is so much to know and so much to keep in mind when making every single decision.  Yesterday we not only learned about the steps you need to take to start a nonprofit, but also the issues surrounding taxes and law.  I kept up and I wrote down questions I had so that we could revisit them, and I felt good about being able to understand what the speaker was saying, but there were times during her talk that I thought, "Oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into?"  And then there were times when, like James said after the workshop, I felt, "We can do this!" It's just a lot to take in and it's going to take some time to process it all.

Luckily, we have had good advice and guidance from the beginning. We've also had the blessing of a great lawyer and CPA, so I know we're on the right track.  There was really only one thing that we need to change (adding a clause into our certificate of incorporation) that we've done so far and then we can move forward.  We can rework our mission statement (and we need to!) and move forward with our purpose, bylaws and policies because we now have what we need to be thinking about in mind.

I have to admit that this summer I have been focusing on some things other than sixtwelve. I've given it attention, but I've also been thinking about school, friends, family and mainly myself. I've been trying to work on things like confidence because I know that if I am going to be a leader and a manager of people, I'd better be ok with myself.  I have observed people in leadership positions and decided what qualities I would like to emulate and some that I want to throw out the door.

I've realized that a lot of the characteristics I haven't respected either come from a lack of patience or fear.  I need to cut those things out of my own personality, or at least try because I'm going to need a ton of patience as a director.  And I want to be confident enough in myself and my employees that I don't need to lash out at them when there is an issue.  I want to lead with a calm, understanding peace.  That may take years to fully develop, but I'm going to try and I know that the growth that has taken place in me this summer will only translate to a better working environment for anyone that is around me.

The good thing about having taken the time to do that is that we didn't move too much further down this path without the knowledge that we gained yesterday. One of the many important things I took away from the workshop was that we need to follow a logical progression in this journey.  We have so many ideas for the business, but those can wait until we get our foundation established.  They have to wait.  We have to do this the right way and we have to take it one step at a time.  There's comfort in that and if we proceed in this way, we can enjoy every step.

Thank you so much Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits!!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

How to Start a 501c3

I got the call this evening that James and I got a scholarship for a workshop we were planning to attend (whether we got it or not) tomorrow at the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits. I'm grateful for that monetary help and even more thankful for the training because I know we can use the guidance. We need a checklist of things to do in order to make this happen.

The people at the Center are so kind, helpful and encouraging.  They took the time to talk to us this past spring and, of course, we were there right after the last time they had held this training.  They said, "It's too bad the next one isn't until August," but we waited and I can't believe August got here so fast!  So here we are, at the very beginning of this phase. I just know we are going to learn a lot tomorrow and I'm very grateful that Oklahoma has a place like this to help so many people reach their dreams!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

27 Club

So today I was driving down the road, listening to the radio and I heard the dj talk about how Nirvana's "Nevermind" will be 20 years old in September.  HOW DID THAT HAPPEN???? I can remember when it came out!  I was in college, hanging out with a guy that I thought was the coolest of the cool and he played it... a lot! We were friends at that point, but eventually dated and even became engaged.  As of this month, it's been 15 years since we called off our wedding and that realization freaks me out as much as the 20 year time span since Nirvana's epic album release. Time passes so quickly.

Between this anniversary, the passing of Amy Winehouse and an interview I saw with James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem back in February on the Colbert Report, I have to admit that I'm a little up in arms about something! In fact, as much as I love LCD Soundsystem and James Murphy, I'm a little mad at him. Check out this interview, at least until after the part where he says why he's walking away.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Report: James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Ok, so he says he's leaving because he's 41 and "at a certain point I think it gets embarrassing."  Ughhhh!!! This is the mentality that makes people think that 27 is the time to give up and check out.  I mean yes, that does give rockers another 14 years, but who the hell decided that 27 was the cutoff point for valuable and relevant creative contributions to this world? And who said that 40+ is an embarrassing time to be in the limelight for it? (Tell that to PJ Harvey and Bjork, both had awesome albums come out this year.)  You can decide for yourselves where Amy Winehouse fits into this group, and I know that Janis and Jimi didn't check out in the same fashion that Kurt Cobain did, but I've recently heard younger people saying something like, "Everyone I respect creatively has died young."

This bothers me because I feel like I'm just getting started! I'M JUST NOW HITTING MY STRIDE AT 40!

I think we all need to quit obsessing over age and realize that we can all contribute something worthwhile to this world at any stage in our lives.  The key is to be open to what we are called to give and to give it.  If James Murphy thinks that it's time for him to leave what he's doing, that's totally fine.  I respect him for doing what he feels he has to do, but don't make 41 an age where it's embarrassing to rock out!!!!! (I know I'm using a lot of exclamation points, but I don't care. I'm passionate about this!)

For all of you 20somethings out there that think your life is over or that you are old at 30 (or 27), what you should know is that life is consistent and faithful to give you adventures at every age...and it gets better. The thing about going through all these things that can seem so hard in your 20s is not having a longer span of time to bring perspective. I don't mean that in a condescending way.  I just remember at 26, calling off that wedding, thinking that if I weren't married by 40 I would just die.  I also remember feeling the heartache and disappointment of leaving that guy as if it would kill me. Well, guess what.  I'm 40. I'm happily single and I haven't died.  In fact, I think I'm more beautiful than I ever was in my 20s and I know I'm smarter, funnier, more aware of what's going on around me and my confidence level has somehow skyrocketed, even just in the past few weeks.

I'm pretty sure that if I had taken the marriage path things would have turned out quite differently for me.  I'm not saying it would have been better or worse, but I probably wouldn't be renovating 612 with James and contributing what it is that I truly believe is my calling.  I probably wouldn't have the friends that I have now and I know I wouldn't have had the life that I have lived over the past 15 years. Who knows? Nobody can predict how it's going to turn out or how it would have gone.  I loved that man and I still do.  That will never end because true love doesn't go away, but I knew that he deserved better than my doubts and I knew that I deserved better than to marry someone that I wasn't sure about.  And yes, it hurt.  It took years to recover, but I did it.  And I'm happy now. Happier than I've ever been. And when heartaches and disappointments knock on my door now, I feel them just as strongly as I ever have, but I know that because of all that I've made it through before, I can make it through whatever situation I'm in now.

Take heart people.  Strengthen your spirit and your mind and love yourself as you would love the most favorite person in your life because that is what will get you through.  Take good care of yourself and don't give up!  Don't let anyone make you believe that someone else is in charge of your happiness.  That's your job and the sooner you figure out how to have real joy in your life, the sooner you can start seeing your life from a grander perspective of time.  Stay in this game because the passing of time will help you. There is nobody else in this entire world like you and you have something to contribute that no one else can.  The world needs you and it needs you whole and complete. Know that if you're really trying to better yourself and give what you can to the world around you, life gets better and better...even especially after 27.

p.s. I'd like to thank that guy I almost married, if he's ever reading this, for all of the great music he brought into my life.  You are the reason I know about Joy Division, New Order, The Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., PJ Harvey, Nirvana, and so many more. I'm also sure that the education you gave me is what helps me to recognize these bands' influence in today's music, and boy is it there! I hear things like that high fretwork on the bass and I understand the evolution. I know who these bands have been listening to. I really appreciate it...and everything else I learned...and all the love.

Monday, August 8, 2011

New Door! (Which is Really the Old One!)

This past Saturday I received an email from James.  He's off galavanting around Cali with friends and gathering ideas for 612! His dad had gone by the building and found that our front door was finished. I'm so excited!  It's the original door and it required a lot of work but the guy who did it, Troy, is just amazing at what he does. The whole center area of the door was empty.  He had to reconstruct the wooden mullions and transoms (or is the word I'm looking for "muntins?") and Wewoka Window Works (the company that built our awesome historically accurate windows) put in the glass.  Troy also had to reconstruct the sides of the door. He did a great job.  WWW is the company that suggested we work with Troy and boy have we gotten lucky.  I couldn't have asked for better working relationships with both WWW and Troy! (Side Note: Dennis and Troy both make me giggle a lot and they're always respectful.)

We also reused the original hardware (locks, door handle, etc.).  Even after the talk about how much cheaper it would be to just recreate a new door, we knew we had to have the original one.  I mean, if you've got the fabric right there and you are really dedicated to preserving history, you have to use the original door! You have to! Plus, I don't know if we could create one as beautiful as this.

There is just going to be something about touching the same door and handle and lock that people did in 1929 when the building was built.  Entering 612 in the same way that people did for so many years will connect us to our past and those that lived there...and to our future, all at the same time.  I love it!

I wish I had taken a picture of what it looked like before but we've got video footage of it and when we get the door painted, we'll have all we need for a "door video podcast".  It will be out sometime soon.

Here's a picture of what it looks like right now! Isn't it a beauty???!!! I'm so grateful!