For the New Year, I’d been looking for a quick, shorthand way to identify all the various bits of my Diva philosophy in order to have a one-word intention to keep me focused; sort of a personal “code word.” Much like “River of Cream,” the solution was staring me in the face, patiently waiting for me to learn what I already knew. (Isn’t that always the way?)


Now, let me explain. I don’t mean that my goal for this year is to be showered in rose petals. What I’m referring to is actually a century-old rallying cry from the labor movement – “Bread for All, and Roses, Too.” It was a demand for living wages, yes, but also for the leisure time to enjoy the fruits of one’s work. Being a firm believer that work has dignity, I find this absolutely magnificent. If you’re just work-work-working to keep body and soul together, well. Demand more. Museums and music and art and flowers and good food are not simply for the non-working class. We all deserve these things. All the time.

The past year had some challenges for me that I met head-on, and also a few where I didn’t do so well. That’s okay. It can’t always be smooth, but it can’t rain all the time, either.  I picked up a paintbrush this year and found satisfaction beyond anything I’d dreamed. I also fell victim to a bad case of Calvinism and overworked myself to distraction, somehow equating voluntary burnout with virtue.

Sigh. I have to keep re-learning the same lessons, it seems.

So my “code word” for this year is “roses.” I hope it will remind me that everything has a cost and cause me to pause for a moment and ask myself if the price I’m paying – in money, in time, in emotional labor – is worthwhile. In other words, “roses” is a way for me to question whether I am merely existing or if I am being true to the causes and attitudes that are central to who I am (or at least, who I want to be).

Make no mistake, Divas, living authentically is hard. It’s much, much easier to simply go along and do what others tell you is right for you. It’s taken me my entire life to get to this particular moment – I want it to be worth the journey. So this year, I’m going to make a concerted effort to be on the lookout for those “roses” opportunities. I started today by carving out some time to really think about what I want. And I painted the roses at the top of this post to serve as a reminder.

As ye seek, so shall ye often find.


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