100 Days of Our Bodies

My creative energy is exploding. EXPLODING. I long for days and hours when I have little to do but create. Alas, that isn’t happening in the near future. So I’ve been working small. And what started small, is becoming something big to me and perhaps, others.

100 Days of Our Bodies grew out of this daily grounding practice designed to both center my thoughts and work around human bodies, while releasing some creative energy. I chose to work in small scale to keep the time required at a minimum so that I would continue to do this process daily (or nearly daily). The work is created in a 3×4 inch pocket sketchbook. My thoughts and work are currently focused on the body. How bodies are connected. The presence or absence of touch. What stories are our bodies telling. How does experiencing “the other” make us feel about our own bodies. Our similarities and differences. Strength and weaknesses. These are things I am exploring in this daily practice.

I wanted to post a link here to share with all you who subscribe but may not be on social media where I post these regularly.

100 Days of Our Bodies

“Working Artist”

I’m writing an arts grant for my Beneath Our Skin Project and they ask applicants to write about their years as a “working artist.” So I’ve been reflecting on my path lately from the early rabbit cartoons I drew as a kid, the scar from an 8th grade linoleum tile carving project where I cut my thumb joint to the bone. Two years out of high school, when I returned to Nebraska to visit with my high school art teacher, “Teach” – a woman who was integral to my arts education, exposing me to as many mediums as possible in four years; often at her own expense – she asked me what I was working on. By then, I’d moved on to photography and I felt a little ashamed to say to her that I wasn’t painting or drawing any more. She looked at me and said, “you’ve just changed your medium.” I moved on to painting wall murals for a couple of years and volunteering to teach art lessons in a friend’s classroom and outdoor school. Upon entering college at 22, I took a couple of drawing classes but soon found myself leaning more towards writing as a craft. For years I’ve been writing pieces here and there. Working on a book idea or two. Published an essay in 2014. I’ve kept my hands busy with paper crafts and needlework, keeping my friends in scarves. Have painted a thing or two here and there. Two years ago I began to re-explore creativity through my master’s program and haven’t been able to stop being drawn to painting and making in various ways. So though “working artist” may not be the way people view me, I feel like I’ve been a working artist most of my life.

Fat Activism Conference

It’s been a busy few months and I’m excitedly preparing to embark on a major new project that I’ll have more information for you on soon. Until then, please consider registering for this amazing conference. It’s virtual, so you can listen to it from a computer or phone anywhere. I’ll be speaking with many other talented and amazing people.
Fat Activism Conference Sept 23-25th Online - listen from anywhere, Powerful Speaker, Practical Tool

It’s All Messy

“It’s all messy: the hair, the bed, the words, the heart. Life….” 

William Leal

I’m having a day. A day in which it feels selfish just to say that, let alone write it down and share it with whomever might read. And yet, I’m doing just that…’cause, well, I’m having a day.

There is an incredibly big world out there, with so much going on. Today especially, but really every day when one thinks about it. And I do. A lot. And yet, right here right now, there are lots of things going on too. Do you ever get shut down by the big picture? I do. Overwhelmed by all there is to do and all I want to do and knowing that there just isn’t ever going to be enough time to do it all anyway, so I just keep plugging away at the smaller things; the things that seem less important, less big, less incredible. And they are, but they also aren’t, because everything; even the little things are important.

I’ve been beating myself up lately for feeling stuck. And I’m not stuck, it just has that appearance. By stuck, I mean working an 8-5; not socializing much; and being more sedentary than I’d like to be. But at the same time I’ve been feeling “stuck,” I’ve become president of a nonprofit board of directors; am pursuing a second advanced degree; am in the planning stages of a large project for said degree; am working both a full-time job and picking up some extra work each week as a virtual assistant; submitting writing for publication; occasionally dating; meeting new people and building friendships; taking care of myself and my space; committed to a regular yoga practice; pursuing creative projects; and maintaining communication with friends around the globe. Whew…that’s a lot! So clearly, the only thing that is stuck, is my head up my own arse!

Funny how it can be hard to see that about oneself.

I’ve been showing up to life a little bit messy lately. Unorganized, late, sometimes tired; often just shut down…compounded by this feeling both “stuck” and overwhelmed at the same time. I don’t like being messy, but I’ve been trying to cut myself a break and I’ve also just been trying to think about life in terms of waves and stages, or cycles. Everything, every living thing has a life cycle. And most living things have life cycles that are dependent upon the life cycles of others, creating systems that are often nestled within other systems and so on creating and sustaining everything we know that is in existence. I’ve noticed a cycling trend in my life that goes something like this… Doc3

These moments in my life where I focus on professional pursuits; educational pursuits; and/or a full balanced life, cycle but they are also connected like cogs in the wheels of my existence and they pretty much make me who I am. So I need to find a way to just accept that. Besides, every moment I exist in right now, is because of every decision I’ve made either actively or out of absenteeism throughout my life.

So I’m having a day…one of those days. The kind where I wake up a little bit from the stupor I’ve been stumbling through and look forward to a new day, or maybe just the next day, where I’ll hope to show up just a little less messy. But if I don’t, that will be ok too.

 

Adventure is always a good idea…

Like most people I know, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook’s reminders of posts and events from 1 year ago, 2 years ago and more. And don’t even get me started on their attempt at allowing you to filter out the memories you don’t want to see, by date and tagged friends, seriously? But today, remembering was good. Although, lets not give all the credit to the book of face, I’ve been thinking about today for a while now, remembering, taking inventory, reflecting on the year gone by. There are milestones in all our lives that we mark, both those that are common (birthdays, weddings, deaths) but also those that are unique to each of us….

Today is the “official” anniversary of the #adventure2015. On this date last year, I was packing up the last of my belongings in to my car and heading off away from the home I’d known for 10 years, friends, job security in search of adventure on the open road, new experiences, and good works. I’ve shared a lot about this journey in various forums and the posts where I captured some of the more engaging moments of the adventure can be found here in this blog over the past year. For the past few days, I’ve been thinking about today, the past year, how to mark it, what to say and share with others, all these things. Life has changed a lot for me. It started before I left on the adventure and that change and personal growth has continued, IS continuing everyday. And while I have moments of wishing I would have stayed put in my comfortable apartment, dancing on the weekends with the girls, and enjoying life in the sweet little niche I’d carved out for myself, I really have no regrets about the decision to go, explore, adventure.

After sharing that today was my “adventure anniversary” with a friend via text, she responded with “Ten things you’ve learned. Go.” I couldn’t think of a better way to share today with all of you, than to share the most salient things I’ve learned from the past year. I’ve added an 11th thing, because it resonates with me in ways that I’ll write about down the line. My take away from all of this: adventure is always a good idea.

Thanks for all the love and support you’ve shown as you’ve gone along on this adventure with me. The adventure is never over…

 

ten things you've learned go

Life’s Roller Coaster…

downloadI want to share all the things that have been going on in my life. There are so many changes that I don’t know where to begin. There’s too much to catch up and yet, so many important things to say.

It’s been an important year for all of us. Eye-opening (hopefully) with a call to action around issues of power and privilege that are impacting (infecting) our daily lives and killing (literally) others. I’m sitting with both sadness and empathy, but also a great deal of hope for what our future holds; even through these challenging times.

I’m living in Houston now. It’s good. I’m happy. I’m starting over, once more and while the past few months have been challenging, they’ve also been months of personal growth and more learning about who I am and who I want to be.

I’m in graduate school, too. In an amazing low-residency program at University of Vermont, Leadership for Sustainability, M.S. I’m learning both “book” knowledge and a lot about building relationships and gratitude.

I’ve also been learning about relationships and people who will sit in your corner even when it’s risky for them. I’ve been let down, by those I trusted. I’m learning to trust people’s actions, more than their words. I’m giving fewer chances, which may not seem positive, but I’m also learning I’ve given far too many chances to people who only use them to hurt me or others more. What’s been reinforced for me, is that the people you can trust the most, are those willing to sit through the hard times with you; those who will struggle with you to figure things out; will “grow through it” with you. I’ve been lucky to have these people in my life, these are the people I treasure and relationships I will nurture. For the others, all I can say, is “people will notice a change in your attitude towards them, but won’t notice their behavior that made you change.”

Lots of challenge and change. That seems to be the theme for this year. I wouldn’t undo it. I have zero regrets. I’ve had moments where I’ve been at my very best and others where I left my best self at home.

That’s what I have for an update, with a hopeful thought (as always) that I’ll do better at sharing more regularly.

Peace

In which she falls apart

I haven’t been writing. I could write lines and lines of why that is and not a single one would matter really. Tonite I write in search of something; solace, substance, truth, peace… It feels incredibly selfish in light of all that goes on around me to focus on what I’m learning about myself and why that matters, and it is. But it does, matter, that is.

It’s been exactly five months since I left everything I’d grown to know as home and comfort to set out on this adventure. The irony of this moment is that when I began to envision making this adventure a reality, I felt completely confident and comfortable doing so because I knew myself, I’d become the most authentic me, living life out loud, taking advantage of opportunities without fear or trepidation, and loving the heck out of myself and others. What was missing in my authentic self, was experience, exploration of new places and challenges, and a very honest desire to use the gifts and talents I possess to do work that supports opportunities of growth for others.

Here’s the crux…. Somewhere along the path of this adventure, when things started getting really challenging, when there was trial and hurt and sorrow, I unpacked a less authentic version of me, I hadn’t experienced in years. Those who knew me well in the ‘90s will recognize this self. Angry, hurt, afraid, cynical, frustrated, uneasy. I didn’t like this self much in the 90s and I really am not enjoying her now and neither is anyone else. Here’s what, I know that this is not who I am at my very core, but throw me into a situation where everything that is familiar to me is completely indiscernible as present in my life and those walls go up and authentic me sits quietly inside while this version lays waste to all who shall dare to approach. It’s not a pretty picture, but it is honest.

I wasn’t prepared for some of the challenges and changes, the culture shifts, quieter life, the loss of my animal companion. I’ve made mistakes and errors in judgment. I’ve tried to be accountable for that. I’ve misjudged other’s communications, intent, and willingness to forgive, move on and try another day. I’ve led with pride when I should have followed with curiosity. And maybe most importantly, I’ve hid myself in ways that have hurt others as well.

I don’t know what this means. I’ve never before been this aware of the fluidity of authentic self between those layers of protection that we keep “just in case” but which can wreak some of the worst havoc when they reappear. Truth is, its definitely all a part of who I am. Each day is a practice in peeling back those layers and shedding that skin to grow ever increasingly authentic. I know there is more change on the horizon. I am hopeful for what both this insight and the coming days brings. The one good thing about things falling apart, is the opportunity to put them together again.

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