THE ART OF POSITIVE THINKING
MONICA SOSAYA HALFORD
Artist Monica Sosaya Halford laughed as she talked about her recent medical checkup. After the doctor told her she was healthy and doing well, the 86-yearold Santa Fe native informed him that she ate doughnuts for breakfast — and that sometimes she prefers cookies.
Halford likes to laugh, and she peppers her conversations with wisecracks. She is amused by the junk-food diet that developed after her six children, including a foster daughter, left home. She had taught them to try any food and eat lots of vegetables.
“I started eating what you usually tell kids not to eat,” she said. “Now I love the dollar McDonald burgers. I have a daughter who groans about it, and heck, I’m healthier than she is.”
Halford has had no major illnesses and is still independent in her home, despite her diet. And it’s not about exercise either. She tells her kids that she doesn’t need to walk around her neighborhood; her multilevel home gives her enough movement.
With a philosophy of “laugh more and think positive,” Halford has spent her adult life pursuing her passion for art and surrounding herself with a wide circle of family and friends. The combination keeps her spirits high and her brain busy.
“With my family and friends, they are always calling to help. I love being around people, and I love parties. I think that’s what keeps me going,” she said. “With my art, a lot of times I’ll go to bed and wonder: What piece am I going to work on tomorrow? It keeps your mind going and doesn’t give you time to feel sorry for yourself.”
Halford is the oldest artist in the annual Traditional Spanish Market, which she first entered in 1979. Her retablo paintings and colcha embroidery have earned numerous awards, including the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Arts in 2001 and Spanish Market’s first place in colcha, a traditional Spanish embroidery technique, last year.
“I think art is my life,” she said. “If I didn’t have the art to look forward to, I think I’d go nuts.”
Instead of napping — “It’s a waste of time” — she embroiders when she’s tired or watching TV. She can’t watch television unless she’s doing colcha.
She also loves being outside, planting flowers in her garden. In the summers she wakes early to get outside and avoid the sharp sun. When she was younger, in the 1950s, she and her friends smeared a mix of iodine and baby oil on their skin and sunbathed until they were practically blistered. She had a tiny bit of skin cancer on the bridge of her nose about 20 years ago.
“I could give a leopard competition,” she said with her usual laugh. “I look in the mirror and scare myself.”
Overall Halford doesn’t think much about her health, beyond following doctor recommendations for flu, pneumonia and shingles vaccines.
“If you think positive, things will be positive,” she said.