Michelle Micalizzi, Artist
(All Rights Reserved)

“I want to help you learn how to confidently look the prospect of failure in the eye and move forward anyway, because in life, the question is not if you will have problems, but how you are going to deal with them. Stop failing backward and start failing forward!”
~John Maxwell

I have come to believe that failure is part of “it.” By “it” I mean everything. Failing is, in my humble opinion, a prerequisite for everything worthwhile. From the moment we learn to walk as babies we fall on our asses and pick ourselves back up, or choose to sit in our own shit. Another reality that I have embraced is a quote from my very smart Mother, “I am not dead yet.” This is a seemingly obvious statement, but I identify with what she is saying in her infamous Irish humor kind of way, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings! “

I read John Maxwell’s book, Failing Forward, when it first came out in 2000 at a time when I was personally going through a massive lifestyle shift; I loved the title of the book. Failing Forward sounded like a good way to spin failure to me! I read it in one sitting from cover to cover. In fact, John Maxwell’s book in part led me to get my Masters Degree in Administration. As an artist, business school seemed out of the question for me but Maxwell’s book woke up a part of me that I never wanted to admit was there. It was not surprising to me that Maxwell’s book was on the syllabus of one of my first courses in business school. I love it when I have already read the material and I get to talk about it with other inquiring minds.

It has been my experience that failure always opens our minds to solutions we may not have considered had we not fallen on our ass. If you are lucky, your fall is public because it forces you to put your “Big Girl Panties On.” The thing about putting on your big girl panties is it is an everyday decision. One must or at least SHOULD put on her panties one leg at a time every day. I imagine that on Nov 9th Hillary Clinton was very aware of this process of putting her big girl panties on so she could move forward.


“Well, “Failure” is a positive word in the gym. Muscle failure means that you went to the wall, you held nothing back, and you found out where your edge is, that day. Tomorrow, the edge moves. Failure piled up is SUCCESS!!”
~ Janet McConnell, GalaxyGirl Fitness

Recently my friend Janet McConnell, owner of GalaxyGirl Fitness, commented on my “What Do you Think” Personal Facebook Profile post about this topic. Her perspective made me laugh right out loud. Yes indeed, failure when we are weight training is a way to force our muscles to be stronger. Failure is a way to grow. Why can we not see it that way in all areas of our lives? Pushing to the edge and to the limit is where all the remarkable stuff and growth happens. I have never seen a real success story play it safe!

My dear friends and associates, Sarah Billings Wheeler and Joanie Wolter, also commented about the trials, tribulations, and rewards of being teachers (and a dancer and artist) who truly care about their students amid a system that is a mess. The people who choose to raise our country’s children in our schools have to deal with all forms of failure everyday in order to keep helping kids succeed in this crazy world we live in. If they did not fail forward we would have no one to teach children every day.

Feel free to add your 2 cents on my Facebook Business Page too!


“A particular train of thought persisted in, be it good or bad, cannot fail to produce its results on the character and circumstances. A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances.”
~James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

I am a big believer in running my life on “good gas.” While I was becoming a Financial Advisor with Edward Jones, one of the general partners told us to fill ourselves up with “good gas” because we don’t get very far with bad gas in our tank. When you are out there building a new business whether it is a financial advising practice, a bike shop, a pest control company, or your art business there is a lot of time when your mind can have it’s way with you. I love the modern spin on writings from James Allen, Einstein and even the bible. The idea that only we have control over our thoughts and only we can regulate what we let into our heads. In my experience, the best way to change your mind is to replace a lower-level thought with a higher-level thought. I also think that we have to do stuff that speaks to our hearts and not just our heads.

I have always been an avid reader of business, autobiography and biography books. I receive Inc Magazine’s emails and sometimes there are some interesting articles and books listed. One of this weekend’s emails, The 10 Best Business Books of 2016 (So Far), lead me to a Bloomberg article, How to Write a Bestselling Business Book The seven habits of highly prolific self-promoters. There were 11,000 business books published in 2012 by the big publishing houses. I believe that number may have quadrupled by now with self-publishing on the rise. The fact is – there is a lot of bad advice out there. It is smart to choose what you digest/read wisely.


“The key to aging is to not mourn what’s lost but to celebrate what remains; to not identify with limitation but rather with possibility”
~Mark Middleton

I just turned 49 on October 2nd, which made me realize that these are the last days of my 40’s. Personally, that doesn’t hold a lot of value for me but to others, that magic or cursed number 50 – the BIG 5 0 – means something. I love the Growing Bolder posts and their whole enlightened mission both from a social and a business perspective. Listen to what founder, Mark Middleton, has to say about Luke Perry showing up on the cover of AARP; I love it! . I hear a lot of people, and sometimes myself, thinking about AGE as a component of failure. The ole adage, “I thought I would be further along than this by now” crap that we tell ourselves. I am really looking at that idea this week as it relates to the limiting crap we tell ourselves about success and when it is supposed to come or even what qualifies as “success.” I have had many successes as well as failures in my life and I have many more to come because I refuse to accept any kind of limiting factors. There is plenty of everything out there. There is no lack. Age is just a number.


Said about Grandma Moses
“A cultural icon, the spry, productive nonagenarian was continually cited as an inspiration for housewives, widows and retirees.”
[9] Her paintings were reproduced on Hallmark greeting cards, tiles, fabrics,[2] and ceramics. They were also used to market products, like coffee, lipstick, cigarettes, and cameras.[9]
~ Judith Stein, Art Historian

People like Grandma Moses inspire me. Moses was a folk artist who did not even start to paint until she was 78. It should be noted that she began painting two years after she developed arthritis. Now many people would not call Grandma Moses a businessperson. However, Stein clearly states otherwise. Moses was indeed a businesswoman supporting herself after her husband passed away from a heart attack. The schoolhouse in my home state where she went to school in Bennington, Vermont, is a museum. In 1969 her painting Fourth of July, (that the White House now owns) became a postage stamp. She was featured on the cover of LIFE magazine and named “Woman of the Year” by Mademoiselle magazine. She lived to be 101. That means she painted 1,500 paintings in the twenty-three years AFTER the point in life when most people retire and give up on work of any kind. So let’s put this in perspective, on average she created 65 paintings a year WITH arthritis in her hands. Grandma Moses had ten children, of whom only five survived. She had to deal with the grief of losing a child a mind blowing five times, and she lost her husband. What if she had let grief stop her? Her work was discovered hanging in the window of a drug store (NOT a fancy gallery) by a collector. Further proof that Pop Up shows are not an original idea. Local business owners have been showing art for a long time! The following year her work was featured in an exhibit entitled, “Contemporary Unknown American Painters” at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. She was exhibited throughout the U.S. and Europe for twenty years. In November 2013, her work Sugaring Off became her highest selling work at $1.23M. The Phoenix Art Museum is one of many collectors of her work. She said, “I look back on my life like a good day’s work, it was done and I feel satisfied with it. I was happy and contented, I knew nothing better and made the best out of what life offered. And life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.”


Consider in your mind of your accomplishments and dreams. If your dreams are larger than gains – so you are still young.”
~ Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres, the ninth president of Israel, who just passed on September 26th of this year at age 93, said it best at the Yalta European Strategy (YES) Annual Meeting, which was held in Kiev almost exactly a year before he passed. For me no matter what age I am or what my life circumstances are; I will always give my best to the very end. Experience is the best teacher. Life is meant to be experienced, not achieved. There is really no scoreboard. Hell, in my book, as long as you have not lost all passion, given up and stopped dreaming, you are winning.

In closing, we have a choice. Give up and become boring, or spin our apparent failures into something that will eventually make a great freaking story with all the things that makes a life well lived; love, loss, suspense, wild success, quiet moments, and heart wrenching failures all mixed up into one for real life. I choose to keep writing my story knowing that whatever the ending may be it’s not going to be boring!


Illustration’s Story

This week the concept for my drawing is based upon “It’s not over till the fat lady sings.” When I first thought of this idea I had no idea what the back-story was for this colloquialism. When I researched it, I thought PERFECT. I knew this saying is referenced sometimes regarding an overweight female opera singer. However, I did not know that this saying references a specific opera character or anything about her.

The “fat” lady usually refers to the Valkyrie Brünnhilde character from Richard Wagner‘s opera cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen and its last part, Götterdämmerung. The opera singer usually identified with this saying is Amalie Materna in 1876. The last song or Ari that she sings is twenty minutes long and literally leads directly to the end of the world. In essence, when she is done singing “it” is really over. As a side note, the opera has four parts and took Wagner twenty-six years to write. I am sure he had a few moments of doubt over those years!

The more I read about this character the more I was amused. Brünnhilde was a shieldmaiden. She was no not a delicate flower. Shieldmaidens in Scandinavian folklore are women who chose to be warriors. Essentially as the story goes, she makes an unpopular decision to fight for one king as opposed to another and subsequently gets banished to a castle surrounded by a wall of fire. In the traditional damsel in distress fairy tale kind of way, a man coming to rescue and marry her is the only thing that can save her. Of course her knight in shining armor shows up to rescue her from the castle but not from a lifetime of hurt. A sorceress, who has her own plans for him, gives her love a potion that makes him forget his love for her. Then through the plot of a long twisty dramatic story, he marries the wrong girl as she marries the wrong guy (a few times) where a bunch of children are born from those marriages. Finally, when her love is in flames on his funeral pyre, she throws herself onto the flames so that they pass into the afterlife or Hell together. What a story!

Brünnhilde wore a horned or winged helmet, held a spear and a shield. I just love the images of her online. What I love the most is that this character was not a weak needy woman. Unlike her literary fairytale counterparts, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty or Snow White, she is not timid. She was a warrior completely able to take care of herself. However, even warriors have weaknesses, fall in love and have lives that do not go exactly as planned. She is a fierce and complicated girl who just happened to wear armor. The notes and light bulbs are her song and her ideas to the bitter end.


Work was shown during The Sonoran Arts League – Hidden in the Hills Studio Tour
 on Nov. 18-20 & 24-26, 2016 at the Micalizzi Studio


This work will be shown again at the


AoFDB IV – The Gratitude Series

Carstens Fine Art Gallery

November 15, 2018

6-9 PM

7077 Main St., #5
Scottsdale, AZ 85251


CHARITY:  The Phoenix Art Museum

In this gratitude series, the paintings are gifts to the featured business owners
and the sketches are for sale to the public and online at the 
Fearless Art Works eGallery.  

Two pieces of the original six works will be gifted to Fearless Alliance Fitness Team member, Optavia Health Coach Stacy Phillips

Both the original work and all six sketches  from this series will be on view for the opening.

25% of the proceeds from the sketches & 10% of profit
from print, retail & illustrated book sales
will benefit the  Phoenix Art Museum.

Entrepreneurs and inspiring stories of all kinds are FEARLESSLY DELIVER’s muse and focus.  As an artist, a business woman and a visual journalist Michelle Micalizzi paints with a purpose. The FEARLESS ART PROJECTS are collaborative social practice art engagements that connect art + business + community.

THE ART OF FEARLESSLY DOING BUSINESS (AoFDB) is an unprecedented and unique social practice project that celebrates the fearless entrepreneurial spirit by highlighting the stories of unique and fearless business leaders.Ten percent of all retails sales are donated to an art or business related charity every. 

AoFDB IV features seven fearless entrepreneurs that have gone over and beyond their call of duty partnering with me on past four fearless art projects in one form or another.  

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