A good day in the studio

‘Harlem Night’ Copyright Kate Forman 2006

I will tell you what: I had a great day today. I started out with 13 things on my to do list, and once I blog this there will only be two, easy and enjoyable, things left.

The most recent thing I crossed of on my list was beginning my research for a public art project I’m submitting to. My research lead me to reading all about the tragically short but inspiring life of Florence Mills, who’s personal turning point of her career is also considered one of the events that kicked off the Harlem Renaissance.

She was beautiful, and unlike many of the photos of women from that era, she always seems happy — and current. if that makes sense, something about the expression on her face made me think of her as belonging to this era too.

During her career she was referred to as “the queen of happiness.” Mind you, this was a woman born into intense poverty, the grand-daughter of an emancipated slave, and a child performer — but known, worldwide, for being happy, and from all reports, inspiring happiness in everyone she came into contact with, including the Prince of Wales and Mr. Bojangles.

The weird thing is, I was happy reading about her, and just when I was getting a little sad to think about how short her life was, I came across a quote of hers that is attributed to her very shortly before her death:  “I don’t want anyone to cry when I die.  I just want to make people happy, always.”

Last week I had a really nudgey Tuesday, I couldn’t get out of my way the whole day, it left me cranky, critical, and frustrated. By Wednesday I realized that maybe if I’d backed off and given myself some compassion I could have accepted that the day wasn’t meant to be so serious and task oriented.

What I’m trying to articulate, is that I need to work on perspective, and not get so caught up in my own mental drama the second things don’t flow as smoothly as they did today. Bearing that in mind: Florence Mills. Learning about her today was a gift, and one I’d like to grow on.

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