Feminism in Albanian Art


While I was visiting Tirana I managed to spend a few hours at the National Gallery of Art. I am a frequent art museum and gallery visitor and what I found at this particular museum landed it in my top favorite art museums of all time.

What was it about this particular museum that made it so special? Its female visibility. Living in New York I have noticed that one of the biggest issues with art museums is their lack of feminism. This issue is in both the percentage of female artist’s work they carry and in exhibiting art that displays women in a modern way. This is such an issue that there are separate art museums and galleries established in order to give woman the visibility that they deserve.


I was not faced with this particular problem when entering Albania’s National Gallery. Instead, I found examples of artwork that portrayed woman in non-traditional and strong roles. This is perhaps due to the isolated communism the country faced. One good thing about communism? It requires everyone to be equal – this includes the women.


There was also a traveling exhbit while I visted displaying the artwork of Sofia Papadhimitri:  a woman who clearly knew how to capture the bodies of people.


This museum was quite the refreshing change from the usual artwork that I see. A change that has welcomed itself into my heart to stay for a long time to come.


The Earth Mother


I am writing this blog post from my balcony right now. It is a strange feeling when considering the fact that it is January in New York. What makes it even stranger is that just yesterday I left my home with snow on the ground, while today I wore a light jacket in lieu of a coat.

It is frequent that we hear about global warming. I believe I have been hearing about it since I was a little girl in elementary school. And now that it is finally here, that our world is changing all around us, it stirs up particular feelings in myself: feelings of responsibility.

It is clear to me that environmentalism is a feminist issue. The first religions believed in the earth as a woman and that mentality has brought its way down throughout the ages. When the introduction of male dominance inserted itself into our culture, the idea that Earth could be property, just as Woman could, was also established.

And now it is time that we take a step back. We shall begin to view the earth as the living entity that she is. A woman so powerful she sustains us all. And it is time we create a respectful and loving relationship with her and take away from our minds the idea that we can possibly own her. For as she is proving to us right now, as the warm wind blows my hair off my shoulders, it is she who owns us.

The feature image was taken on a road trip in Albania

Worry No More

IMG_1315[1]I recently took a trip to one of my favorite museums in New York City: American Folk Art Museum. This museum contains works of art by artists who were self-taught, many of who were in mental institutions. That alone is what draws me to AFAM so frequently. There is something so intriguing in witnessing how the mind and passions of an individual express themselves without any influence from the outside world.

While the museum is truly worth visiting, the museum shop is worth a trip in itself. The shop is deemed as one of the best in the world based on its uniqueness: the whole shop is composed of self-made artisan products. It is here that one can find the most special little gems. And that is just what I found on this trip.

While strolling through item after item, I came across a little cubical filled to the brim with these tiny handmade dolls from Guatemala. The back read as follows:

“Worry No More: There is a story that when the Mayan people of Guatemala have worries, they tell them to the worry dolls and then put them under their pillow at night. By morning, the worry dolls have taken all the worries away.”

It was at this moment when a thought possessed my mind and I have not been able to get rid of it since. Do I worry? Worrying is a consuming habit that many people struggle with. In fact, when it does overtake me, it can be draining, overpowering, and unshakable. However, I have found in recent years that I have shed my habit of worrying – but not for the better.

Instead I have replaced it with avoidance. I see myself avoiding issues and struggles in my life that would otherwise provide me with great stress. The problem lies with the fact that by avoiding them, although I relieve myself of worry and stress, the solution is only temporary.

This has never been more apparent than recently in my life. An event occurred that required me to rearrange the path I was going on. But instead of approaching the problem and figuring out how to come to a solution at the time in which it occurred, four months have pass. Today, the source of my worry has not gone away but rather grown larger and become more dangerous. What solution do I have now but to worry?

Why is it that I only find myself in these drastic extremes? I either allow the issue to consume me or assume it does not exist. How does one find the right balance between the two? How can I go about achieving this? In the meantime, I have the worry dolls to bring me comfort.

My 2016 Resolutions

It is practically required for us to write down resolutions for each upcoming year. The idea is that a new year establishes a brand new start for us to become a new, better, us. However, how often do we actually keep those resolutions? This is my list of 16 revolutions for 2016:

  1. Keep My Resolutions. The very first resolution on my list is to actually keep them. Now, this does not mean that I will not mess up. It simply means that I will get myself back on track when I do. But mostly, this resolution has nothing to do with the context of the resolutions that I aim to keep. Rather, the consistency that will require from me in order to do so. It is doing the same thing over and over and remaining consistent that is the key to success. And this year, I wish to master that skill.
  2. Read 20 World Books. If you have read about my mission to read the world, then you know what I am talking about. If not, here’s the short recap: I plan to read a book from every country in the world in order to gain multiple point of views from people and cultures drastically different from my own. I have just begun this mission and wish to read at least 20 books from different countries in the upcoming year.
  3. Make Consistent Weekly Blog Posts. This resolution is similar to the first in that I am working at honing my skill of constistency. This blog is still infantile: only a month old! And I recently read that most people quit blogs within the first three months. My goal is to keep with it. I plan to post at least one post a week for a year before deciding whether blogging is for me or not.
  4. Save Money for Travel. Traveling the world is always something that is on my mind. I cannot tell you how many hours I spend reading travel blogs and looking up new places to visit. This year I plan to actually save up the money for it. However, because generic goals are bad goals because they are usually never completed, one needs to be specific in order to actually accomplish them. Therefore, I plan to save $5,000 of travel money throughout all of next year.
  5. Go On an Adventure. Which brings me to my next resolution. This year I resolve to actually go on a trip. But not to a place that I am familiar with. Instead, I want to travel somewhere that is so drastically different from what I am familiar to. The options I am currently thinking of? Mexico. Peru. Iceland.
  6. Learn the Alphabet in Sign Language. I am thinking of writing a whole blog post on the importance and benefits of learning sign language, so I will not hash it out here. That being said, learning the alphabet in sign language is a bare minimum that can at least give you the ability to communicate (albeit not the most proficient and quick!).
  7. Drop 20 pounds. Okay, okay. I get it. Lose weight is probably the most common new year resolution in existence. And everyone makes it. And very few actually follow through. I do not support the lost of weight for beauty purposes simply because I do not believe there is a such thing as an “ugly” body. I do, however, support maintaining a healthy body and believe that what a healthy body weight is will differ for each person. Unfortunately, I am currently not at my healthy body weight. At ALL. I know this because my health is starting to get affected negatively because of it. That is why I am making the resolution to drop 20 pounds throughout the next year. I hope to accomplish this resolution through morning runs, healthy eating, and (hopefully!) signing up for swimming classes.
  8. Perfect A Recipe. I have no idea how to cook. Or bake. Or sauté. Or sashay. Or frankly anything for that matter. And jokes aside, I need to step up my game, asap. This year I will pick one recipe and perfect it. I will do it over and over and over again until I know how to make it like I know the back of my hand. That way, if I ever need to make something for dinner, I already have an option up my sleeve and won’t look like a total mess.
  9. Learn to Drive. Now this one is just sad. I have had my learners permit for years now and still have not managed to get my license. Truth is, I simply do not like driving. Simple as that. But reality is, it’s a convenient thing to know. It’s like risking death by drowning because you never bothered to learn how to swim. Foolish. So this year, let’s get this unfortunate necessity out of the way, shall we?
  10. Keep A Plant Alive. A few months ago, I got an Aloe Vera plant and a succulent. And you know what? They’re dead. We’re talking SUCCULENTS! They require practically no care at all. And I killed them! Here I am preaching about Mother Earth and Nature to anyone who will listen and I killed a succulent. So for the new year, I will get myself a new child and keep it alive this time!
  11. Clean and Rearrange My Book Shelves. This seems like such a small goal that it shouldn’t even be on a New Year Resolutions list. But I have procrastinated this goal for 6 months now. Yes, you read that correctly. I guess with this resolution, it is more along the lines of: STOP PROCRASTINATING! 🙂 But let’s start with the book shelves for now…
  12. Backup My Computer. And iphone. And life basically. I am probably the biggest culprit when it comes to this. I never back anything up and end up losing it all when things crash. And my technology crashes a lot. Maybe this will encourage me to pay more attention to all the little details in life.
  13. Write Letters. As a little girl, I loved writing letters. In third grade, each student was given a pen pal (a student from another school) that we wrote letters to back and forth throughout the school year. My mother also helped us write letters back and forth to my cousins who lived in Europe all the time throughout my childhood. And recently, I found a letter I wrote to my older myself years ago. But with the increase of technology – nobody writes letters anymore. As children, our happiness comes from the inside, pure and free of societies expectations and oppressions. This year, I want to go back to something that made me happy as a kid: writing letters.
  14. Enjoy the Snow. The Earth is on fire. Temperatures are heating up. Glaciers are melting. The lives of many species are being threatened. That is why when the snow finally comes down in New York, I resolve to not complain once! I will try to enjoy the cold weather as much as possible. And when it becomes to be a pain, I will remind myself that I am experiencing a natural phenomenon that generations after me may never even get the pleasure to experience.
  15. Complete a 1,000-piece puzzle. I can not even tell you how many times I have bought one of these puzzles and never finished. It’s been years since I have even attempted completing a 1,000-piece puzzle. And honestly, there are a lot of chapters in my past that are still open. I believe that finally completely a puzzle, something that has been left unfinished, may perhaps allow me to close the entire chapter of my past and relieve myself from it. Thus allowing me to move forward with my life. Plus, puzzles are always fun.
  16. Talk to The Stars. Reflection is perhaps one of the most important things for the path of success and personal happiness. Often people say to keep a gratitude journal in which you write all the things you are thankful for. But sitting down and actually writing takes up time that I am sometimes just too lazy to do. This means I skip out on reflecting on my life. That is why this year I resolve to each night look outside my window and talk to the stars. I do not wish to restrict what it is I will say: it can be stating a list of things I need to get done the next day, tell a story of something good that happened that day, stating a few things I am thankful for, talking out loud my insecurities, and frankly, anything I want to get off my mind. And I hope the stars will listen.

Vienna Souvenirs

When I was younger, I got a purple seashell on a family vacation. It currently sits on my bookshelf, always reminding me of that vacation whenever I catch a glimpse of it. That is why we buy souvenirs when traveling to new places. As reminders of the memories we made there. Here are the things I picked up while in Vienna to remind me of her.


The Vienna Melody

The first thing I picked up, which as a book lover is no surprise, is an actual book. This one is called The Vienna Melody, translated to English by Ernst Lothar. It tells the story of the wealthy descendants of Christopher Alt, the piano key maker.

Many people have the tradition of picking up a particular souvenir item every where they travel to and growing a collection. I have noticed that one of the most common items collected are mugs. I have decided that I want to buy a book at every place I visit. In this way, I can grow a little international library. This particular book was purchased at Frick Ihre Buchhandung bookstore (www.buchhandlung-frick.at) located in the center of the city. I actually quite enjoyed it a lot because it was very modern and had a good diversity of both German and English books. It also had a good collection of architecture books on sale which was icing on the cake!


Klimt Bookmarks

Speaking of books and collections, I also have a growing bookmark collection (hey, don’t judge me!) and picked up two with paintings of Gustav Klimt on them. I love how shiny they are.


Klimt Mug

I actually do not believe I will ever be a mug collector. Mostly because there are only so many mugs you can use at a time, right? But right before this trip I actually ended up breaking my everyday mug. I decided to not go out and buy new one and instead pick one up on this trip. This is the one I ended up going with. And of course, it has a Gustav Klimt painting on it.

I actually did not buy this mug in the center of Vienna, where most of the souvenir stores are located. Instead, I got it at a store right across the street from the side (not the front) of the Hundertwasserhaus. There was the kindest old man who owned the store and it ended up being my favorite shop we visited.


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Sisi Compact Mirror

And lastly, I picked up this compact mirror with the fascinating Sisi on it. Actually, the legend and story of Sisi is quite the interesting one that I enjoyed very much learning about. I couldn’t help it. I might have fallen for Sisi.


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Do you pick up any souvenirs when you travel? Do you have a collection going on? Have you found a piece that you absolutely love?