Old Phone juxtaposed next to Iphone
digital divide, Essay's, Psychology, technology, Transgender artist

I Want to Talk About the Digital Divide: Old School vs. New School, Ageism, Inequality and Social Injustice.

I’ve been thinking a whole lot about the Digital Divide and Old School vs. New School, and my struggles to stay afloat as I get older.

primate-ape-thinking-mimic

I wonder if Apes ponder these life questions, after-all, we descended from them, right? Apes do look so human, just sayin’. 

So, at this point, we all know the digital divide, but I feel I must weigh in on this, and throw my opinion into the mix. However, for me it isn’t the digital divide alone. No. It’s much larger and been plaguing humans for millennium (not millennials, haha kidding). In my world , my mind, my experience – it is that point I’ve reached in my life –  where I’m either choosing to evolve or decline. Simple yet profound. But reality.

So my experience , as is many people’s experience,  is aging and the digital divide. The digital divide is the discussion of the age-old-social-injusticesinequality, the have’s and have not’s, the socioeconomic divisions, ageism, gender inequality etc. –  that have plagued us humans for eons. In the animal world (like my Ape friend above) it’s ‘survival of the fittest’. My son (a millennial) and I,  feel passionate about changing the digital divide –  this Ted Talk sums it up the best.

Adrian (my son) is a classic tech nerd, he is getting ready to graduate with a degree in computer science. Some day he may work for one of those ‘mega-lithic-tech’ corporation’s. We’ve talked at length on digital responsibility and the collective accountability the developed world has. The responsibility the Tech industry has. We feel passionate toward creating digital equality.

The responsibility to address this digital inequality we face today and bridge the enormous gap we have as a society, is our social responsiblity to the world. And, it is democratically sustainable, and frankly, long overdue. It is a real problem for older folks who have little, none, zilch, zero, nada tech skills (or desire) to learn new skills. Yet, if they live ‘tight to the belt’ with minimal resources and need to work, instead of retire.   Or are older and still of working age, having to adjust to this new-school-tech world, to float above the water, or else sink to the bottom. Their world is spinning fast and they must learn to play this new techie game in life, to make end’s meet. This is wrong. Life should be easier for them. Why make it harder?

I find myself (at fifty-three) cursed by the digital divide, in my opinion too soon. Shameful, because many, many folks are trying to wrangle with this problem, and believe me, it’s a problem. But the other side of this, is the resource question, or shall I call it what it is…the poor people. ‘The divide’ is nothing new to them, they’ve lived this reality for years. Add to this, the current and longstanding, social-economic injustice problem, of the digital divide, and you’ve compounded the injustice. This is detrimental to solving poverty, here and worldwide.

Artist’s (such as myself) experience this phenomena, if they choose to stick with their hand to mouth art practice(s), and live the starving artist’s (dream) which can be a (nightmare) economically. Oddly, this is what I aspired to as a young artist. In Art School (at that time in my life) this was the norm. We snubbed technology, we were trained to live with a paintbrush and palette in our hands, not a computer. I know, some chose to embrace the digital revolution and joined the ranks of digital artist’s, illustrator’s, and photographer’s, but, seriously, a great many didn’t. They built their dreams based on the old school, old world artist lifestyle. And when many artists returned to school to learn desktop publishing and web design, many other artists, who loved the act of working with their hands, doubled down and rejected this new art form. I am one of them. The rugged, starving artist, romantic, but broke.

Today, I feel I have sputtered along over the years, patching together my techie skill set on my own. I have done pretty well, considering I did it alone. Still, it is an exhaustive process for me to keep it up at times. Let’s be real, I grew up different from today. We didn’t have a computer in tow –  everywhere we wentThat isn’t the world I lived in. I am a baby born at the beginning of the Generation Xers. Today, it has become ever-present that I must keep treading water, with computer in tow, or I will sink. Having the computer skills I have taught myself, and continue to learn and peck at, has been invaluable. A new and emerging, dare I say, LOVE of digital design and digital art – which I have poo-pooed for decades now – has gotten me riled up, excited again. I am becoming ‘the sponge’ I was in Art School, wanting to learn every technique available. Of course, it comes down to resources. What is realistic and what is folly. That’s what us artist’s do best though, dream.

I don’t know, maybe it’s the HRT, maybe it’s the getting older thing, but I love making art without getting paint all over me (well, honestly, it’s the clean-up I loathe). Haha, I guess with my transition, I’m changing. I love painting, don’t get me wrong. I’m still a painter at heart, BUT,  I feel I’ve grown and opened myself to all artistic tools now. Whereas in the past I was stoic and rigid, rejecting of the ‘new school’. Evolving from the ‘old school’ isn’t as bad as I feared. Challenging? Yes. But that’s okay, I’m up for the challenge.

As far as the divide, I do feel it is imperative that the digital divide become eradicated from the face of the earth immediately. Humans can do better than this. In order for the world to thrive, we must care for others. Division and greed must die off, and social responsibility, social justice, must prevail. It must prevail – not because it’s trendy, not because we are greedy, creating wealth off a shallow trendy idea of ‘Digital Equality’ –  but because literally – we should want better as loving human beings.

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Cartoon drawing of fear and panic
abundance, art as therapy, Artist, clarity, Psychology, writer

Fear and Panic are the Enemy!

Don’t Panic, Instead, Live a Life of Truth, Clarity and Calm – and Abundance Will Prevail.

I believe in the cliche’, if you build it they will come — gasping? I know…wretched, but true. I believe in this overused term, of course, until my own panic sets in and fear leeches into my psyche!

I battle this most everyday. Artists and writers everywhere face this demon.

I recall one of my favorite cartoon characters, The Great Gazoo from The Flintstones. Gazoo represents this emotional, spiritual, crises of the conscience. A little space alien, appears above Fred’s shoulder. He’s lecturing him on — what’s right and wrong/good and evil — evoking fear and panic in Fred’s mind, playing upon his guilty conscience.

Abundance comes in many forms. One thing is certain, if you panic, abundance becomes restricted, delayed, suppressed. If you start the day with clarity of purpose and faith in your ability to remain calm, things begin to manifest. Abundance presents — not as money (however, it can and many times does) but as flow.

What is Flow?

It is the excitement and expectation that what you create today is good, purposeful, beautiful, delicious, charming, in fact —  it’s great!

Haven’t you had this experience?

When you paint, write, sing, cook and everything you create is amazing!

That’s flow –that’s abundance — that’s money!

Photo by David McBee from Pexels

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Abundance shows up as a peaceful knowing that your spirit is free. Creativity is purpose and innovation. You will have gratitude for your clarity, joy in your creation — that’s the ultimate reward!

When the juices are flowing you feel the most alive. I do.

Panic, worry, doubt and fear — these feelings present as a spiritual crises of your soul. Your flow stops, sputters, chokes, and your creativity/abundance — stifled.

These feelings happen to me on a regular basis. Anxiety sets in — am I wrong? Should I, would I, could I? — blah, blah, blah. This is the look on Fred Flintstones face, the anxiety and panic. He thinks, am I making good decisions? Struggling to regain his sense of clarity, his sense of spiritual truth.

Truth is… making art/writing/being creative, sets my personal point of reference back ‘True North’. I wrestle with my anxiety by creating my art. If I surrender to the flow, the spirit, the force, the magic — however you want to label it — abundance prevails. Making art/writing/being creative, has been the ‘set point’ in my life. Without this clarity, this purpose, I would fail miserably in life.

I struggle with this strange notion that if I’m not working a job, bringing in lots of money, then, what I do isn’t legitimate. After all, society perpetuates and rewards this ideology. This truth has been hard to digest at times. However, by seeking calm and clarity (and most important) by keep building and tending to the garden of my creativity — I know the fruits of my flow is the reward. 

Like Fred, The Great Gazoo is with me. As good spiritual leaders do (okay, okay he’s a cartoon character) but I like him, whatever it takes… Gazoo is with me, helping me to find clarity, calm and truth. I won’t surrender to panic and fear, rather, I will use it to forge a path to greatness, a path to abundance.

Photo by Frans Van Heerden from Pexelscolorful-colourful-outdoors-830829.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Artist, Career, Psychology

The Pivotal Moment I Followed My Passion And Became An Artist

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexelsadult-alone-black-and-white-551588.jpg

That pivotal moment came – after personal tragedy

I was Twenty years old – lost, depressed, and confused after my cousin Billy committed suicide. We were close growing up as children. Billy’s suicide was the dark storm that wrecked me. As a child of the 1970’s and 80’s, drug use was commonplace with teenagers. Billy became an addict and succumbed to the effects of this lifestyle at a young age. He shot himself in the temple. A common (and preferred method) for men. Billy was twenty-one years of age. And, as I said, I was twenty. I was no angel either, however, I wasn’t an addict. Instead I was in danger of becoming an alcoholic. At the time of Billy’s suicide, I was in the process of getting my act together. Daunting at best, as I had little (to no) resources or support. I proclaimed to myself – I would avoid going down that same path ever, ever, EVER.

Kicked-outta’ the house and living on my own (after graduating high school) life was difficult for me.

Photo by Min An from Pexelsadult-alone-concrete-720362

I found a single room (in a Boarding House). The Glenside Inn, located in the town I grew up, was a restaurant and bar with single rooms upstairs and a shared bath. The Inn became my home for a bit. I found full-time work in a print shop – an old vintage print shop. The shop, in operation since the 1940’s, was still (at that time) using those old typeset letters and burning metal plates for the printers. 

Photo by Wendelin Jacober from Pexelsbusiness-close-up-equipment-1440504.jpg

Available today as collectibles on ebay https://www.ebay.com/itm/250-Vintage-Lead-Typeset-Letterpress-Block-Letters-In-Drawer-1-4-3-8-/113272846465 .

Ha! No secrets here, I’m an OLD man! Okay – I might be overdoing things a bit… however, millennials such as my son might agree with this.

But – I digress.

My job at the print shop was to shoot the mock-up’s, develop the film and burn the metal plates that attached to the large Heidelberg printing presses. Of course, back then, the graphic artist did all the mock-up’s by hand – cut and paste (pre-digital) – an acquired skill and tedious to boot.

What got me jazzed was the grit and grind of the shop

The cool-looking, large plate burners – the graphic artist, angry and stressed – cutting/pasting/smoking – the piles and piles of cut up papers and magazines, stacked messy and high on the drafting board. Yellow dingy windows – the dark and dirty factory atmosphere – the frenzied pace of deadlines – the photography – the typesetting – the wooden print shop relics – and the humongous LOUD printing machines. All this chaos, captured my fascination. I became transported back in time.

After working all day, alone and depressed in my room, I started to draw again. With weekly trips to the library I found art books to study, copying Picasso’s and Van Gogh’s – determined to learn more. I developed a love for abstract art, and began experimenting. I drew my little sister’s elementary school pictures, dogs, abstracts and strange, distorted self-portraits.

No matter what – I wanted to BECOME an artist

This was a bold awakening for somebody that had NO real direction in life. My parents education level – both of them high school dropouts – struggled to raise us kids. Unspoken yet expected – the norm had been – you would somehow GET A JOB when you graduate.

J-O-B’s – weren’t enough

So…I enrolled in night school at Penn State University’s satellite campus. I had no idea what I was doing. I muddled through the process. I spent time planning and studying financial aid (still mystified) I pressed on. Attending part-time at night, while working full-time to pay rent. Art classes during the day and Liberal Art classes at night, I succeeded in bringing my grades up. The daytime art classes were my favorite. My art teacher mentored me, showing me how to get a portfolio together. This was invaluable.

Ultimately –  I transferred full-time to an amazing art school

The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, I couldn’t believe I was there. The whole experience was super exciting and new. Considering, at first, I snubbed the idea, I wasn’t sure I wanted to earn a degree. I believed I would find an artist community and be self-taught. However, that idea folded quick. And without this experience, I might have ended up with my own personal tragedy. Following my passion saved me. Four years later, I graduated, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a certificate in Art Therapy. Eager to conquer the art world and live my ARTIST life, I succeeded.

The after artist’s life (so to speak) is a whole other story…

© [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com], [2018]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Artist, clarity, Psychology, writer

AHHHHHHH — Frustration is Frustrating!

 

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Photo by Genaro Servín from Pexels

Frustration is an unsettling feeling, undoubtedly.

For years I’ve dappled in poetry and blogging. I’ve been skirting the edges of this craft (this art form) since my early days in Art School. Today I feel a calling, a force within, a palpable frustration in my need to write. Why?

Perhaps it is the voice in my head shouting at me to speak! Periodically afraid to voice my opinion in written format has been directly linked to my fear of commitment. AHA!

I literally was just informed of this by that voice in my head again. LOL! I perplex myself at the same time as finding myself quite brilliant. Seriously, I fear committing to an opinion or “story” as I might have to act on something. Well, at least that is the silliness I tell myself. I want to remain open I think, as an artist I should be open. This is the battle, the battle for clarity and fair-mindedness that stalks my psyche. Strange? I know. Stranger things there are though, ’cause people are their own worst critics.

And storytelling (by the way) is an ancient art form that has been handed down through our bloodlines, our bones. It’s a natural human condition (in my belief) that relay’s messages from within. To seek and tell one’s story, or to be sought out by our inner voice to tell one’s story. Poetry grabbed a hold of me the same way. I heard voices in my head (over and over) that wouldn’t shut up. I felt compelled to grab a notebook and pencil. Lo’ and behold —  poetry spilled out. I felt possessed. Mesmerized, I didn’t stop for several years. Same as my urge to pick up a brush and paint suddenly — telling a story visually, expressing an emotion, depicting a scene. No different.

adult-athlete-concert-763219

Photo by Genaro Servín from Pexels

Back to Frustration. Frustration about pivoting my art form. Where do I start? I know other artist’s and writer’s have the same problem. Painter’s stare at blank canvasses, as writer’s stare at blank pages. So it goes. To pivot or not to pivot? That is my question.

I want to master my pivoting. If I can master the pivot, I can effortlessly succeed. Right?

Frustration will cease to exist if I just pivot from it — Ha! (In fantasy world) Frustration is key to understanding my story — understanding the road to take, the story to tell. Pivoting is part of creating. Sometimes tackling the beast of frustration to the ground is how I proceed with creation. Frustration/Creation. Sounds good to me. I’ve learned to listen to the voices in my head. So, I forge forward. I write. I paint. I pontificate. And I frustrate. But I create, and that is what I live for. Now…what should I write?

©Jay Mora-Shihadeh

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gender, Memories, Psychology, Transgender artist

I Cracked the Outer Shell and Touched the Inside of my Soul

selfieA vision struck me one day, that little bubble that appears in newspaper comics popped inside my head: “The Artist From The Inside Out”. In that moment, clarity washed over me. I said – “What a great premise for my blog”. Lay everything out, bare naked and in the open. Being an artist who is going through transition is simultaneously exciting and exposing; sometimes leaving me in a raw emotional state. After all, I didn’t plan on being transgender, nevertheless this is who I am. I spent my life hiding inside a shell. In mere seconds, I cracked that outer shell and touched the inside of my soul for the first time. A shell created to protect me from our society’s hate, ignorance and judgement. This coping mechanism – I honed –  from the outside in.

Realizing that I had defaulted to my shortcomings and created a suitable safe existence, became shocking to me. This idea of “The Artist From The Inside Out” reversed that dialogue with myself. Critical that I live unrestricted, free from hate and judgement, my quest is to get re-acquainted with the boy I abandoned years ago. Reclaiming ones’ self-identity is vital to transition. Being transgender, and an artist, means visiting the places I forgot, the uncharted experiences of my life that I desperately desired.

When I was a child, I assumed I was a boy, however, society rejected this and rendered me female – that was devastating. Life became hard when that reality sank in. As people challenged my identity, seething anger replaced innocence. The outer shell of self-protection began to form, but with consequences. My life became sad, depressing and scary. Confusion twisted my little soul in two, and I split my world to somehow fit this “new reality”. To become whole as a man, and as an artist, is my end goal. That’s happening with ease now, but with moments of grief. Normal human behavior is to look back and mourn the years we lost. However, grief purges the soul and opens your heart.

“The Artist From The Inside Out” was the light switch moment; the flipping of my life story. As an artist, authenticity is my mantra – what I strive to live by. Living by this code is what I need to feel connected. That authenticity is unraveling for me everyday as I learn something profound (or not) in becoming connected again to my true self. Funny, but the experiences I find profound are the simple memories of a carefree boyhood and joys of unfettered play. The simple love of my Matchbox and Hot Wheels , my purple Nerf football and my reckless tree climbing were true bliss.

However, as a small child I had awareness that I was different. My mother shared the other day a memory of me, at five years old, punching the little boy next door for calling me a girl! I consider myself a Robin Hood type, but a bully – no! My nature is to come to the rescue of the victim, the underdog. I suppose I was the victim of that little boy – and the five-year old me – didn’t accept this! Mom verified to myself (and to herself) that even at five years old, I understood I was a boy.

I strive to express love, passion and the human spirit as an artist. I want to express this crazy need I have to say something in my life. Art is a reminder of the inner light us humans hold. The brighter the light the bigger the impact. Self-expression is one of the biggest needs humans have, but at times forgotten. What higher form of democratic-expression is there but the human right to self-expression, self-determination. Therefore, my self-discovery of being transgender and going through this transition has been the ultimate in self-expression.

A critical and larger part of a healthy democracy is all equal parts are thriving. Artists are here to remind us of the commonality we all experience, because art by nature allows for human connection. As an introvert – as an artist – albeit late in life; my shell cracked open and the man within – exposed from the inside out.

© [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com], [2018]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Artist, gender, Psychology, Transgender artist

I’m Back After A Long Hiatus

C8F3D0F4-771B-4108-8D7F-440CCB22D07F Updated Life: I am resurrecting and re-tuning my blog to catch you up on my life after several years of blog abandonment. As you will discover, I have had a whole lot of change over the years since starting this blog. Formerly my blog was about food, art and poetry. It was pretty “themed”. This time around I’m re-tuning it to a more serious (at times) raw, revealing blog on my artist’s life and mind. As I state in my profile, “The Artist From the Inside Out”. My story goes like this. I began making art as a child (like many artists) it was my escape into my own world. Then suddenly hit by adolescence life became very painful and confusing. I found myself in constant turmoil unable to sustain art making. After years of self-inflicted dysfunction in my teenage years, I once again turned to art to heal my pain. I began to gain some inner strength and decided to go to art school earning a BFA in painting and drawing; taking self healing a step further I also obtained a certificate in Art Therapy. However, upon graduation, my road quickly became disjointed once again. I suddenly found myself in a whirlwind. I was in a relationship, we had a baby to support, I was an activist hitting the streets protesting and chanting, I was donating my art skills and basically heading for burnout. I was lost. I had been running from myself and my art. Instead of the art building me up, it clearly was breaking me down. It just became too painful and tormenting for me to continue. I was having an all-out identity crisis as an artist. I was never clear on my identity, my voice. I would create, then run, create then run, etc. There was an art therapy joke my peers and I would often say to each other, “You know what they say? Every painting you make is a self- portrait!” (I hated my self-portraits). So I quit making my art. I ran from myself.

Years later I sat alone in my living room deeply wounded from a job loss. I was determined to start making art again but this time it would be different. I was insistent on tackling my blocks. I had been listening to a podcast from “The Artists Entrepreneur Network” it was discussing finding your identity as an artist. Then Boom! Just like that my wall came crashing down and I jumped up, slapped myself on the head and said “no wonder you can’t find your identity as an artist! You’ve had GENDER identity crises your entire life!” I admitted to myself at that moment that I was transgender. It was HUGE in my understanding of why I kept running and dodging myself as an artist, (hell as a human being) all these years. Today, I truly believe this is how art built me into what I claim for myself as the man-made artist.

Going through this life changing transition and claiming my true identity means I am not afraid to look at who I am anymore. I’m making great art in different new ways. I’m happily married. I have a great and successful son. The weight of self-hatred and extreme self-judgement lifted off me when I realized my true identity and began my transition to freedom. It has allowed me to create freely and explore ALL of me as an artist. I have opened myself to the business of making art, an avenue I had shut down previously due to my constant instability. Sure I’m a work in progress, but who isn’t. I don’t need to manipulate my self-identity to suit my fictional idea of self anymore. I created a “way” of existing in order to securely live, and that has been very eye-opening. Everyday I’m excited at the myriad of interests and self-discovery I have now as a man, yet at the same time I deeply mourn the years lost to my fears.

© [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com], [2018]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, artwork, or photo’s without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Jay Mora-Shihadeh] and [thepainterspalate.wordpress.com] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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