Navigating Intersections…

“If light is in your heart, you will find your way home.” – Rumi

Dear Fellow Warrior,

I hope this finds you doing well, in faith, spirit, and fight. Thank you for returning to my page as I take a moment of my life to share with you another piece of my heart in this space.

So much of my writings are hidden. So much of my art and my heart are behind the curtains, even if I give myself the spotlight on the stage. And even as I keep falling and getting up repeatedly in smaller intervals than I have before, the show must go on. So I try to stay in this particular light as much as I can, as a way to save myself from surrendering to the darkness.

The featured photo in this piece is a painting I completed in 2020 or 2021, in Wisconsin, while attempting to finish my dissertation.

I bid farewell to that painting as well as another special one, two Fridays ago, to a donor for my Painting Auction which I started at the end of 2022. It was the first time sending away one of my paintings to a donor whom I did not know. She and her daughter received it this past Monday, and it really warmed my heart that she liked the paintings.

For my painting auction, “Painting Heals Pakistan,” I was happy with it’s modest success, as it was and remains a great initiative (it’s ongoing for this year at least). Including my own donations, we were able to raise some money for multiple charities in Pakistan, selling 14 paintings for $631.00. The paintings have been shipped to multiple locations in the US and one all the way to Japan.

I am so grateful. There was great effort put into it, beyond just making the paintings. While it has not generated as much interest as I hoped for, I still think of it as a success in my mind and it will continue to be, because as I stated, it was a great initiative, and these are actually words that have been said by other people. I still am in possession of a lot of my paintings, and I do not think I will ever stop painting, at least while I have a roof over my head in the US.

Time dedicated to this auction did take me away from other plans admittedly. Plans to write and publish certain pieces, and in the mainstream. Plans to explore certain opportunities, and some other plans related to my career and beyond at a critical juncture in life. It was a choice I made, whether productive or not. I made the choice to share my art with the world at this time, over sharing my academic and policy-relevant writings or agenda in other ways. I also tried to find a way for it all to intersect. I made this choice. I needed to be with my art at this time of transition in my life. While I will always see the glass half empty, I look to my future, and see a future Dr. Elsa, transformed, revolutionized, and someone who does not regret any choice she made, even the ones that required great sacrifices.

There was a piece I wanted to publish on my professional blog at the end of last year when I started the auction. I guess it is currently sitting in draft form right now. I have been trying to get myself to post it, but like I have stated before, with most of my work, it has just been sitting in draft form in the pending folder, sadly. It is my tragic story and reality unfortunately, still under the wrath of “perfectionism paralysis,” even after completing my PhD. With time passing, some of my work, and my pieces may not have the “market value” that could reach a larger readership, but still deserves to be published. I am still aiming to get that indie blog piece out on my website this weekend, and I’ll use this post to help boil some of the creative juices that can push me out of that block to press the submit button there. I will update the link here once I post that as well soon.

In this piece, I explore the nexus of multiple themes that represents the auction. From my education, doctoral studies, research and dissertation on Pakistan, climate change, mental health, art and education, philanthropy, and more. It is interesting, because of the intersectional nature of auction, in part has represented or manifested in my life…

I called that Painting featured here… “Navigating Intersections.” There may be one or two other ones that share a similar title.

This blog….The Chronicals of a Warrior Queen, has been in part about intersectionality.

A subject that I discovered through my work conducting research as a GRA at the University where I completed my PhD. I speak of intersectionality in some previous posts. Like this one:

The meaning of intersectionality is shared there. What intersectionality elevates is a discussion on how various modes or forms of social inequality or identities overlap and work together to worsen inequality and injustice.

In previous pieces, I may have mentioned how challenging it has been to navigate and figure out the next steps of my life after the PhD.

Perhaps it hit me too late that I really belong in Academia. That I could really be an amazing teacher, professor, even now, and at some point in the future. And I didn’t know how to push forward. But there are many ways in this day an age to “Teach.”

I have tried to use my paintings as an example for me, for my writing projects as well. I had to look at my work in piecemeal, we have to do that to complete it, and to share our talent with the world. I was reminded of this again every time I stare at blank canvas or page, or an unfinished project.

Since the beginning of this year, or the past couple weeks, I have been allowing the negative events in my life to drive me…to have complete power and control over what’s happening in my brain and therefore, in a sense, taking me away from my passions and from really being in the present and in the moment and getting a sense of my surroundings even in my micro surroundings. This has taken a toll on me emotionally and mentally, and even physically. It has triggered my suicidality and depression even more. Certain events triggered me in a way, helping me see the need to maybe change direction. It’s hard to know sometimes.

It might be wise to consider revising my understanding about this world that is truly quite a tragic perspective, narrative or story… but must be understood in order to be able to survive among challenges relevant to my identity and all of my identity intersections no doubt. My intersectionality includes my soul of being a PhD scholar all the way to what I look like and talk like, my brown skin, my black hair, my big nose, and my stutter.

It is quite possible I made the mistake of thinking myself and my story to be special, too. Emphasis on the “too.” Just because one claims or desires a “special” or “extraordinary” life, does not ultimately suggest that others cannot claim this as well. There is an abundance of “extraordinary” out there.

But it is also a complete game of luck. And sadly some things are just not fair for some of us. Sadly there are too many external and internal forces that work against some people and for others. Sadly, some things are so much harder for certain people over others due to critical social barriers and inequalities. But we cannot let this be our crutch… every time things get harder. We have to work with this reality, with our truths and keep up the good fight….

I may have made some wrong choices in the transition after my doctorate. I can say with great confidence that my art was NOT one of them. And I think I will continue sharing a piece of my heart to people through my art, as I continue to figure out the steps of my life. It is taking longer for me. And that has to be okay. Choosing to slow down and attempt to heal should not make me feel guilt and shame, which reinforces pain and makes recovery and rehabilitation harder. I just didn’t expect to be so unsettled and so lost at this stage of my life…

Indeed I “wear many hats” due to my many different identity intersections and that’s okay. I have finally been able to call myself what I am: A scholar, a social scientist, an academic, and an International Development practitioner, among other things. I have also finally been able to call myself an artist: a blogger, a writer, a poet and a painter. My writing and painting have represented “freedom” for me. The catharsis and release of the words in particular, is ultimately the way I feel free. So I will keep fighting for this freedom. I will be alive if I will keep writing, and keep using writing as my Sword, as my courage and resilience that I need to keep moving and keep climbing the mountains...Even as no one is behind me. Even as I have to continue to move alone.

I hope you’ll do the same in your own life too, and thank you again for staying with me or joining me along my journey of survival… When I started this blog I was determined to find my tribe, my army of warriors, and I’m still searching for you. I hope I’ll find you some day.

…As the journey and the story… The Chronicles of a Warrior Queen are to be continued…

“Fall 7 times…get up 8.” – Japanese Proverb.

Peace, Warmth, Solidarity, and Blessings,

Dr. Elsa

Warrior KQueen

“She wasn’t looking for a Knight. She was looking for a Sword.” – Atticus

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