Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It's June!!!!

Or at least until Thursday. And I would like to, at this time, make a blanket apology to everyone I have offended this month. Oh, and perhaps I should add May into the equation. My life, and everything going on in and around it, has just been too much with none of it getting resolved fast enough for my tastes. I find myself constantly wanting to yell, "Make it march!" Or, "Stop the World. I want to get off."

I don't think I am the only one feeling this pressure. I certainly know the artist community I belong to on the ethernet and here in the valley is going through many of the same feelings. I have had so many, I think I should withdraw from my first fair talks it isn't even funny. Have considered one of those voice messaging machines that has a press 1 for encouragement, press 2 for just a sympathetic voice, press 3 for practical solutions, etc. but I don't think I have any suggestions for number 3.

I just keep telling myself this too will pass. To assure myself of that I was looking at my calendar to assure myself that Mercury was not in retrograde to explain all the communication issues and I noticed I completely missed the summer solstice (June 21). No wonder I feel so out of sync.

So, like I said, I am sorry if in my haste I have wasted words and offended anyone. I will take a deep breath and try to begin July in a different frame of mind.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I May Not Look Busy

There is an assumption among a certain set that because I am self-employed I have time on my hands. Time to do their stuff. This request for assistance from others goes in spurts. I am in one of those spurts at the moment.

June, July and August are very busy months in a mountain tourist town. Make hay while the sun shines as it were or at least the snow does not fly. As president of an arts council, a working artist in my own right, a gardener, a pet sitter, and a home owner the list of todo's of my own abound and time dwindles down daily. Mind you I am not opposed to helping my neighbors and friends out from time to time. It is what we do in the high country.And I may in the future need their help.

But some people have no idea what they are asking. Like my artist friend with the light boxes and failing ballasts. I came up with the idea of her switching over to battery lights so there would be no cords to irritate gallery owners, a problem she had shared with me. She wants me to spend my time googling possible battery lights for her art. "I am so busy," she whined and then launched into a list of deadlines that loomed. "Yes, Jane, I know because I got the same list of deadlines plus one." "Oh, but you are so much faster at this than I am," she said. Some people see others as staff.

But flattery will get you nowhere these days. I have learned to say no. Though with some people just trying to get them to hear NO takes a lot of time and I want to scream not merely NO but HELL NO. The problem is the worst when I, by all outward appearances, seem to be doing less. Artists require a lot of meditation time. Really, I am not making this up. And little interruptions don't go well. Easier to put down a wet paint brush and get back to it after a phone call then to set aside my thoughts on composition of a piece I am working out in my mind before putting pencil to paper. Creativity loves a void. The problem at the moment is keeping that void open.

Let's take yesterday: 1) putting labels on the post cards for Artsfest which approaches too rapidly, 2) meeting the plumber and my working friend's house to unstop toilet, 3) e-mailing back and forth in regard to a safety product we are trying to purchase for artsfest, 4) putting some thought into what paintings to submit to Contact and which to the NM State Fair Fine Arts Exhibit, 5) remembering I have to come up with a list of rules for Artsfest exhibitors - omg moment, 6) noticing the outside container gardens are wilting and I forgot to water them, 7) watering them, 8) leafing through sketch books to seek inspiration on my labyrinth painting, 9) finally giving in to the fur kid increasing pleas for a walk . . . suffice it to say the list goes on. Yesterday was definitely not a welcoming void for the muse.

May today be a better day or at the least more empty.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Attachment Disorder - Third Verse

 I don't care what you want and what you agree he is willing to let you have, once you say I do he won't. Men are the masters of bait and switch. My most recent ex-husband told me constantly before we were married that he loved my independence and self-reliance but his needy ex-wife got all his attention, money, and time. (And he remarried her. I was just a sandwich wife.)

And believe me I fought for my rights. I had this downstairs office/studio where I wrote free lance articles and also made my masks. I posted "office hours" on the refrigerator. These were times I was to not be disturbed for anything short of a forest fire evacuation. I was NEVER in that office when he did not knock at least once for something petty. Like where I hid the clean towels in plain sight.

I could say it was just Marc, but Bruce always got drunk and vanished when I needed the Suburban to go to a fair with my weaving, and John would "drop in" to corporate headquarters drunk as a skunk and require a ride home.

Men are extremely nearsighted in my experience from Dad to brother to boyfriends to husbands. They do not see further than their own wants once they are sure of you. And no this is not my blind spot. Let's just look at religion. In the Muslim faith all the women will wait on the men in the afterlife. With Mormons the reason against women divorcing and re-marrying is that they would have divided loyalties in heaven. The Catholic's burned witches at the stake because after the plague, where more women survived than men, they owned property - heaven forbid. And in the last ten years the Baptist synod decided women were always to be submissive to their husbands.

Modern man has learned to pay a certain lip service to the desires of his mate. This is in part because women no longer NEED men and they have begun to see that just maybe they have to make us want them. But most men seem to be high maintenance and low return. Just enough of the good ones exist to make hope spring eternal. Who wouldn't welcome a help mate through life - someone to do those chores you haven't the time or energy for. But beware Lowe's and Home Depot now report that up to 70% of all lawn and power tools are now sold to women. AND not as gifts for men. It is just easier to mow the lawn yourself especially when Toro has redesigned the power mower so even women can start it. NOTE: to all makers of chain saws. You have continued to ignore female users of this tool. Get wise.

Today women can buy houses without men on the loan application. You can even have their tubes tied without father's or husband's permission (something I fought for in the early 70's), and you can go out to eat or to a movie alone. Even carry a hand gun! Or, and this is one of my favorites, buy sports clothing designed for women! Yes, we hunt and fish!

And more and more women are choosing to not be attached to a man. Unless he is rich beyond your wildest dreams there is not much of an upside to love, honor and obey in this day and age. What the mental health community calls attachment disorder is becoming closer to the norm. What is increasingly out of the normal range are those women that MUST have a man in their lives regardless of the cost.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Attachment Disorder - Second Verse

Like Miss Elizabeth Swann of Pirates of the Caribbean I happen to find pirates quite attractive. I think it is genetic programming. And not just with me. Among baboons the young females leave their maternal gaytard and seek out the male juvenile delinquents of neighboring gaytards (yes, that is the name for a troop of baboons). After a riotous time and sure they are pregnant they go running back to mother. Stop me if any of this sounds familiar.

The mistake us humans make, to my way of thinking, is we think we can reform that pirate with the flashing eyes and devilish smile and we marry him. My father was a pirate. But mother had help from the military and World War II and Korea in his transformation. Due to my high level of self-preservation I never got pregnant in my dalliances with pirates though I stupidly married a couple. Unlike fur kids you cannot house break them.

I prefer the term self-preservation to attachment disorder. However, most trained mental professionals see self-preservation in women as a disorder. Yes, even in this modern age. And most of the fundamental religions about think women ought to be the submissive and supportive member of the union blessed by God. And when a marriage fails it is frequently the woman that gets the blame - bruises and all.

I was totally shocked when I worked with Peer Educators in northern New Mexico. Mothers and grandmothers blamed daughters for crying incest. It was family business and the way of it. Obviously they did not watch Oprah.

Yes, I still find myself insanely attracted to pirates. I content myself with watching them on DVD's. Though if one were to ask me on a short sail I might say yes. But I know better than bring them home. I have learned my lessons from the baboons.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Attachment Disorder

I was chatting over coffee with a friend about her new "relationship." What is it about people "in love" that makes them want to fix you up? And why can't they get that some of us are totally happy out-of-relationship. Point of fact I am anxious and resentful in a relationship. I have faced the fact that I have an attachment disorder.

I have spent time in therapy and a lot of self-education on this. I probably am dismissive-avoidant mostly but having a few boyfriends turned stalkers in my past has put me leaning toward the fearful-avoidant model. To the point that sometimes when I meet a new man I begin back-peddling right after names are exchanged.

There was this comedian who joked about his new sobriety a lot. He said he loved Alanon, which is for people addicted to people addicted to alcohol. "I love sick women," he joked, "and Alanon puts them all in one room for me." Put me in a room with 50 men and I will fall in love with the sickest in seconds. Once burned (well, I won't give you numbers) twice way as they say.

Basically I am very happy out of relationship and very miserable in one. Mind you I have friends. I am a very loyal friend and have friendships going back decades. But they are all women, gay men or others with attachment disorders like mine. I am inclined to look at attachment styles as a sliding scale. I am toward one end (though not the extreme form which tends toward sociopaths) and at the other are people in relationship that seem unable to ever be out of them without becoming trembling masses of emotional jelly. That too is a disorder in my humble opinion. And I subscribe to the "woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle" theory of social connection.

"You just need to give it a try," my friend said. "There is the right man for you out there." Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, and have the bullet holes in it to prove it." And the police files on the stalkers, the loaded guns around the house, and the fear of a knock at the door or the phone ringing. Who needs that?!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This Little Window of Time

It seems to have been so long since I was on a normal schedule that I am not exactly sure what it is I am trying to get back to. Today I am going to contemplate that.

Yesterday included the drive over the mountain to the dentist for the new crown. I like it. And after talking to friends of my age and how much they are spending on their mouths I guess this flurry of dental attention is not all that bad. It just whacked the budget. So I am doing windshield time on my return and figuring out what money there is to pay my bill off on Wednesday and I stop by the garden shop and buy plants.

This was so stupid on so many levels. One, the van was still packed with all the art fair stuff. And two, money is tighter than I want it to be. Still, here in the high country there is such a tiny window of opportunity to garden, and the impatiens I had put in the two containers by the steps don't like our cold nights. Now there are Geraniums there. And I have a third container planted and on the shelf by the door. The opening of the studio tour is July 24, 25 and 26 and I want the outside to look as nice as the paintings inside. Well, that is my excuse and I am sticking with it.

Beyond the tooth, the unloading of the van, and the digging in the dirt yesterday was about catching up with all the little stuff that fell through the cracks the last few weeks. But today has the possibility of getting back closer to normal. Yeah, sure. Need to hit the weeding outside, unpack more paintings inside. And do some sketching and a little painting in the heat of the afternoon. There have been those ideas rattling around in my head for a week. Need to get them out and down on paper.

Nothing but the commission I just got has to be done in the next three weeks. But two ideas are for a themed show coming up. And I am looking forward to wanting to paint as opposed to have to paint.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

No Down Time

All this last week I have been holding on thinking this week before me was going to be "down time." I would have at least a week to relax and muster my mental forces before preparation for the next fair. But this next week includes two dental appointments and two pet sitting gigs in the opening half.

Being busy does not get you past the issues you must deal with. It just delays them all.

I used to have a cat that loved it when I laid out a pattern on cloth in preparation for sewing. At the time I had no large cutting table so I laid the folding board on the floor and got down on my hands and knees to pin. Riley bided his time. Then from a far corner of the efficiency apartment took a run and leap and slid all my carefully laid out fabric and pattern into a huge rippling heap at the far end of the board. My life is looking like that at the moment. And if I don't deal with it soon it will only get worse.

But what I really want to do is just sit down in a corner of my studio (before I plunge it into chaos again by unloading all the art in the van) and have a cup of tea.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Compassionate Leave

I have always loved this Andy Warhol painting of Marilyn Monroe (also a Gemini) because without a single change of expression the colors change her Mercurial mood. Like many an actress she had mastered the "looking good" facial expressions. I can be really good at that myself.

For a month now everyone has been asking me how I was. And I have been saying, "Fine. Just Busy." It wasn't like my husband had died. Mind you I have had one or two I would have cheered had they died. Sorry about that. Having my sister's husband die suddenly seemed rather removed from me so why shouldn't I be fine. If I had worked at a mainstream company I would not even have merited compassionate leave beyond attending the funeral.

Maybe it is just my close tie with my sister. I can so often read her mind even when separated by states. But it dawned on me this morning that I am not "fine-just-busy." Yes, I am busy and it borders on frantic. And now the little accidents have crept in. This happens when I ignore an issue. I tripped over my shop vac yesterday. Hell, it is 3 feet tall. Looks like R2D2 but I tripped over it. Nice bruise forming. And the broken saw must be something I am not paying attention to - mind elsewhere. And I stopped taking paintings off the studio wall yesterday when I realized my balance was not what it should be to be on a ladder. Stress can do that.

But taking a break (be it compassionate or otherwise) is not possible until Monday. So like Marilyn I will just smile for the camera.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ever Fell Like Screaming?

It wasn't just the broken DeWalt Compound Miter Saw that got under my skin yesterday. In fact its breaking, while a strain on the finances to fix, was a relief for the todo list. Clearly I cannot make more frames. So I began finishing artist canvases with wires to hang them, noting them down on the "new titles" list and packing them up.

No, the really frustrating part of yesterday was conversations. Communications were so screwed up that I double checked to see if it was a Mercury in Retrograde period. We are safe until August 20th. The first problem dealt with trying to reach a consensus in a group I belong too. We were doing this e-mail with reply all going on most of the time. That can be such an issue because someone always just replies to the last message instead of all in the discussion. Bad enough to follow one of these threads but I had another going on Facebook messages. I know I am in trouble when I decide to clarify the issues we are discussing. Some discussions just don't want clarity.

Which brings us to the telephone conversations of yesterday. I never seemed to get a direct answer to what I thought was a direct question. Back to trying to clarify. Mistake. Biggest mistake was calling ex-husband about the DeWalt saw. Did he even have a concept if it was fixable? Does he even hear me? We got back into one of those topics I always think is closed but he will walk the same ground on over and over and over. Which brings us to the artist friend and the labyrinth project. Artists when excited do not stay on topic. Make it march did not work with ex so I tuned out of half of her conversation and began to wonder how you draw a labyrinth. It seems like something interesting to put into a painting. Google at least gives me direct answers.

But I always don't accept the really clear answer. At least with Google I get to direct the "conversation" instead of being at affect of it. So upset with ex-husband, frustrated with my artist friend, unclear about expectations with a pet sitting client, unable to do anything about the saw, or even figure out the consensus in two group discussions I let my fingers do the walking through Google and found the Man in the Maze used in south American basketry.
I have this on a silver pendent but it is a bit hard to follow. Now armed with it in a printable form and the directions on how to draw a labyrinth putting it into a painting of a canyon ought to be a piece of cake. Certainly easier than trying to untangle communications from yesterday. Them I have just dropped. Rather like a cell phone.

Then it hit me that if a labyrinth is about meditation then maybe Google is the modern Labyrinth. The Google search calmed me right down.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Problem with Being Self-Employed

My basic problem with being self-employed is that I work for a perfectionist boss who often sets impossible goals and ridiculous deadlines. Fortunately, or unfortunately as far as the boss is concerned, I am a Gemini and ergo often of two minds. Yesterday evening as I was working on the last of three paintings I would like to finish before this weekend - and frame - it hit me how insane my boss is.

Right now, this minute, I have 13 new paintings for the fair of which seven are "significant new works" and of those three I consider major - the triptych and the two panorama paintings. I am usually totally happy with just 4 or 5 new works. Am I going to fall off the edge of the world if I do not finish these other three? And there is always the fair after this one.

When I hit the bed last night I was so exhausted I fell more into a coma than slumber. So deep was my sleep that when the power went off I was only vaguely aware briefly before falling back into the void. I never even heard the two battery backups beeping for two hours. So the slacker in me had a Come-to-Jesus discussion this morning over the first cup of coffee. There are enough paintings. And I like the big three on the artist canvas and unframed. They look so much more modern and clean like that. And didn't my biggest commission this winter want his unframed. And aren't there a lot like that on Canyon Road (big Santa Fe art gallery area).

So the boss has backed off a bit. She has seen the impossibilities of doing all on the list to do and not dying in the process. But she has been saying nasty things about me. Is there a labor relations board for the self-employed?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Morning Chat Over Coffee

Yesterday was a friend day. It began with a round of calls from my sister and others. Then continued through a few errands to lunch.

In my neck of the woods errands can be done in less than an hour. No traffic, not great distance, few shopping options. Or they can take hours because of running into friends. Yesterday was such a day. Old friends (Jack and Shirley with news they were moving back), new friends (a couple at the gallery that had questions), surprise friends (two census takers - yes, I did not mail mine in, folks), and just chatting with clerks about the new hardware store addition (long overdue) or the new clerk at the market.

I was late for lunch with Jessica. But then she was too. But that was of no consequence because she was talking to Jack and Shirley. No problem with the tardy table clearing because we just stood by their table and chatted until the new waitress got around to it. Then later that evening off to a reception in the middle of a huge rain storm, ergo it was sparsely attended. We have such great weather in New Mexico that we don't brave the bad. My neighbors did come. I don't see them in the neighborhood. But one person that should have attended for business reasons was not there after telling me she would be.

Nor did she call. Seems she had a date. Remember when you were in high school and your mates dropped all plans they had for ages for some dorky boy? I seriously thought we mountain women had outgrown that. We're an independent lot. Even the married women go out with the girls (some even prefer it). Us single women fall into two basic categories: No way am I going there again and Only if he has a twin engine plane and a business that keeps him away 50% of the time. So I am always shocked when I chance upon the boys first - GF's if I don't have a date type.

It is a newbie thing.  They just cannot help themselves. Big city women have two hobbies - shopping and collecting men. Neither of these two options are available here in the hills. We generally figure give them two years to adjust. Or move. But some of the old friends that move away, like Jack and Shirley, move back. Rather a large number in fact. It has gotten to the point I don't much take "goodbyes" seriously.

So today I am not answering the phone. Or going anywhere beyond one purr kid gig. You know where you stand with cats. They are very upfront.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Upon Reflection

It seems as if I have not paused to catch my breath since sometime in April. Even my normally quiet mornings here in blogland have been scheduled and timed and limited: So much to do and so little time to do it.

And maybe just a bit afraid to stop. Everything going on that I have pushed to the back because I don't have the time for it just now will come crashing down around me. Yesterday I paused in morning chores and realized the grass needed mowed. And that I had not weed-wacked after the last mowing. Where oh where was that weed-wacker anyway let alone the charger for it. (Note: Women cannot start the conventional pull to start weed-wackers so mine is battery powered). Then it was charge it and then plant the new gooseberry bush and pansies I splurged on. See what happens when you pause to reflect?

I was in the studio by 9:30 but so energy charged that sitting down to paint seemed impossible so I began working on frames - the gluing pieces of trim together part. And counting (and re-counting) the pictures to be framed and those to come off the walls for the show next week. This time next week I will be stowing the last of the boxed paintings in the van and beginning the short drive to Red River. Ready of not!

Was working feverishly on Picture Picks Winners Gallery this morning and realized it was less bright beyond the windows than I was used to. And that I had the afghan over my lap and my hoodie on and up. Got up from my chair to get coffee and realized it was cloudy. Had to double check that with my weather bar on my browser (BTW it has been known to be wrong). But yes it is partly cloudy and 34 F.

And it is past time to slow down just a bit and smell the roses. Well, they aren't blooming yet but I found out the Hansa rose I thought was dead was coming back. I noticed that when I mowed over it yesterday. June is one of my favorite months here in the highlands and there are no guarantees I will see it again. Time to pause and take in the world around me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I Like Playing with Layouts

I like playing round with the "furniture" on my computers and my blogs. In fact that was the greatest fun about Y!360. You could redesign your page infinitely and we all took the greatest pride in doing so. And we did it frequently. At least once a season. Since its demise (maybe because of our constant rearranging of the furniture) I have been stuck on platforms with only a limited amount of options - if any. Facebook and Pulse certainly offer none. Don't mention Multiply - I am never going back.

So imagine my rather pleasant surprise this morning when after signing on to my dashboard here at Blogger I found they were offering a new design feature. And course I had to jump right in. First I played with a blog I don't hardly use any more. I had within the limits tweaked my other blogs to a livable level. After trying on all the clothes on the rack as it were I was ready to embark on a rearrangement of one of my main blogs.

The selling point with all the new templates and design features was the larger "blog" space. I am not one overly enthralled with gadgets but the ability to move them in such a way that they did not impinge on my space for posting pictures and words of wisdom was my primary concern. And that I could pick a template and still arrange all the elements to suit me was a real winner. So two blogs rearranged and only one more to go. Well you do have to save something for a dull moment.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Denial is a Survival Skill

A friend gave me a refrigerator magnet some years ago that reads: Denial is a God-given survival skill. I was at the time trying to be rigorously honest with myself and others to everyone's dismay. But since having the responding magnet afixed to my refrigerator door I have considered the times that denial is to be just that - a survival skill.

The Sioux City United Airlines crash 20 some years ago is one such example. The pilot and his co-pilot and another United Airlines instructor ignored that they were in a no-win situation with the hydraulics out and managed to get Flight 232 to the ground with more that 2/3's of the passengers surviving. Consequently flight simulators stopped programming no-win scenarios. What StarTrek fans know as the Kobayashi Maru. There are times we really don't need to know all aspects of a situation. It is wise at times to whistle in the dark.
I am in denial mode at the moment. My eyes are fixed at a set goal and I am ignoring all that deters me from that goal. The goal is the Red River Fine Arts and Wine Festival June 19th and 20th. And having five more paintings finished and over a dozen framed before then. I am ignoring the neighbors, the fact that the grass needs mowing, the garden weeds, the increasingly cluttered studio - the list can be extended but I will not bore you. I am also ignoring the fact that my set goal of that 5/12 may be impossible. But darn it I am going to get as close as possible!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dealing with Compassion Fatigue

The term compassion fatigue was one I first heard more than a decade ago. It is a term normally used to define a condition of caregivers who struggle to function in care giving environments that constantly present heart wrenching, emotional challenges. But it is now seen in those of us trying to affecting positive change in society and seeing little positive movement and coming to the realization that our mission, perceived as so vital, is elusive, if not impossible. This painful reality, coupled with first-hand knowledge of society's flagrant disregard for the safety and well being of the feeble and frail and helpless, takes its toll. Eventually, negative attitudes prevail. And what seems like chronic fatigue and indifference sets in. We shut down, turn out.

How many images can you see of oil-coated pelicans dying on a once pristine beach before you just shut some part of your mind off in an effort to save a modicum of your sanity? This shut off point comes earlier if you are dealing with personal issues that require you to care or even just function. We cannot all sit at our computers or in front of the television and cry over the horror.

Organizations dedicated to aid and rescue like the American Red Cross see it in their workers and provide counseling for them. They also try to rotate them so they don't have to show up for every disaster. And they know the third earthquake will get fewer donations of money than the first.

When did you start shutting down? After the Haiti Earthquake? Or the Chilean Earthquake? Or the one in Tibet? (Somewhere along there news began to more finely filter and we didn't get the whole story.) Or the 11 oil workers that died in the initial Deepwater Horizon explosion? Or the first oil killed pelican? I think they are up to over 300 in Louisiana alone.

They discovered after 9/11 that you can get post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from just watching the World Trade Centers collapse hundreds of times. And you can get compassion fatigue from being bombarded by images of situations you want desperately to change but feel helpless to do so. Both of these can trigger old issues you have not dealt with. Awareness is the first step toward relief.

It is especially important to normalize your life as much as possible with exercise and meditation and getting away from the televised and e-mailed  images for just a bit. And doing something! Even if it is just signing a petition or writing your congressman about reforms in off-shore leases and liability limits. (Yes, Virginia, there are legal limits to what BP's liability in this disaster are.) 

Remember accepting the presence of compassion fatigue is validation of the fact that you are a deeply caring individual. We need more of those in our world today to balance all the uncaring SOB's heading companies.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June! Already?

My birthday is in the month of June. And I always get a bit crazy around significant days in my life. It is a time for introspection and review of the year and my life. Figured I would begin silly this year with googling other people sharing my birthday. One is Lili St. Cyr the famous burlesque dancer of the middle of the 20th century. She was creative, flamboyant and daring and someone who shares her birthday might be inspired to act a little bit more boldly in their every day life! I've done flamboyant and daring, Lili. 

Another performer and dancer born on my special day was Josephine Baker. 

I also share June 3rd with King George V of England and Jefferson Davis the president of the Confederate States of America. Actually ruling a country isn't for me. To keep myself humble in this regard I keep cats. Purr kids defy rule.

Allen Ginsberg the beat poet of  performance art  fame also was born on June 3rd. He and Raoul Dufy pushed the limits of creativity. Ginsberg with words and Dufy with color.

Discovery of his work this morning was an early birthday present. Don't you just love all that color?

Other people that share my birthday can be found on the Brainy History website. You might also want to look up yours. I found it rather inspiring.