THE ART OF RELATIONSHIP
Author and Tribune Media writer Jackie Pilossoph called and asked if she could interview me for her weekly column LOVE ESSENTIALLY. Sure I said, and so it began: a neat conversation about ART, the business of showing your authentic self, hoping for a connection and the risks involved.
You can read her column below. It is a treasure!
The art of love requires authenticity, vulnerability
AUGUST 10 2017
COLUMNIST: LOVE, ESSENTIALLY
One of my favorite summertime events is Art At The Glen Town Center, a Glenview art show where artists set up tents and display and sell their work. The art includes paintings, photography, jewelry, ceramics and furniture.
What I've always found so interesting about shows like this is that people walk around browsing casually, often without giving anything too much thought. For the artists however, the contents of their booths equate to a lifelong passion, a treasured dream they are realizing, and in most cases, their livelihood. In other words, artists put their souls on the table for everyone to see. They are proud. They are excited. They are happy. But, they must also be fearless in showing their vulnerability.
At Art At The Glen, which took place last weekend, I saw many, many beautiful pieces of art, including the work of one of my favorite artists, Shelly Lawler, a Hoffman Estates-based photographer who puts her vibrant photos of gardens, nature and water on canvases and on women's scarves.
Lawler, who has held jobs in the past as a model, cruise ship singer and corporate trainer has been a full-time photographer since 2005, when she began taking pictures in her garden.
"Gardening was my sanctuary, my therapy, and my peace of mind," said Lawler, whose work is displayed in homes (including mine), businesses and hospitals all over the country. "What I'm aiming for in my photographs is something that is beautiful and peaceful and lovely. I want to sweep your heart and emotion into those feelings."
Lawler said she feels that every artist has his or her own unique, authentic and real story, and that the art business is not for the "vulnerable of the heart."
"When you're an artist, you're expressing yourself and hoping to touch people whether they buy or not. If it's not your day or week, it will be another time," she said.
Having been an exhibitor selling my novels at various events in the past, I can understand how it feels to put your craft on display and stand there while people walk by, examine it, digest it and then decide if there's a connection. It's not easy.
Some people like it and some don't. Some people are verbal about their feelings — both good and bad, while others buy something or walk away empty handed without making any comments.
I'll never forget, one woman saying to me, "I really didn't like your book. In fact, I threw it in the garbage." But then, some people are so kind that it warms your heart, or so complimentary that it inspires you even more. It's a mixed bag and you never know what kind of reaction you are going to get.
As I perused the art show, I watched some of the artists interacting with potential customers. Detecting whether or not there was a connection was pretty easy. Some conversations appeared strained, while others seemed incredibly harmonious.
I got to thinking, when it comes to dating and relationships, aren't we all sort of like these artists? Let me explain.
Everyone has his or her own way of expressing ourselves to the world. These expressions can include art, or course, but also our appearance, personality, sense of humor, profession, hobbies, passions, families, friends and past experiences.
Just like in the art world, some people respond positively to us. They enjoy us, they laugh with us, they respect us, they appreciate us, and they might even fall in love with us. In other words, they get us. Then there are people we meet who don't appreciate us, who don't understand us, who don't think we are funny, who aren't on the same page, and who may not even like us.
Both art and human chemistry are about a connection, a positive energy that people feel when they meet and interact. When that meaningful connection is felt, the artist usually makes a sale and two people usually decide to get together, perhaps go on a date.
But here is where those looking for love have to be careful. Just as an artist does, it is very, very important to be authentic when expressing yourself. In other words, when meeting someone or dating, don't try to be what you think the other person is looking for because you want him or her to be interested, or because you think he or she won't like the real you.
Also, keep in mind that showing vulnerability is always a good thing. Is it scary to put yourself out there and share imperfections, weaknesses, and fears with others? Of course! But these relationships almost always end up being the best, deepest and most meaningful.
Lastly, remember that you can't force a connection. Just be you—the real you, and tell yourself that if he or she isn't interested, that's OK. Much like Lawler said in reference to selling art, "If it's not your day or week, it will be another time."
If you are proud and passionate every single day about what you have to offer, real love will eventually find you. And not only will it last, but like a good piece of art, it will appreciate more and more over time.
Jackie Pilossoph is a freelance columnist for Chicago Tribune Media Group. She is also the creator of her divorce support website, Divorced Girl Smiling. Pilossoph lives in Chicago with her two children.