When my gut says go, i go. Returning to my rural, midwestern hometown three years ago was just such a decisive moment: discern, trust, jump. Two weeks ago, I enjoyed a similar doubt-free “just do it” in joining the Movement Builders’ Institute — a six-month program of leadership training, coaching tools, and integrated support. It’s go-mode for long-held backburner dreams. Light the fire, give the gift.
When I heeded the gut tug to come home, I thought it might be for a month or two. But it grew. So it grows. The garden project took on a life of its own, and the richness of reconciling my roots – in deep mending and strengthening family heart bonds, and making good with my small-town, super simple self – planted a peace that passes understanding. I’m following where that leads.
I was drawing with a kindergartner named Riley; when she drew this figure, I gulped in recognition. “You must come as a child.” Rainbow-hearted and with full trust she waltzed center stage with her pet dragon, the shapeshifting shadow who guards the greatest-pain-is-the-greatest-gift. Start again. And again.
Flocking to the edge of the cobblestones, murky water flows by and the sun is hot. A line-up of people stand at the ready with their homemade boats-of-dreams: a half watermelon full of confetti, a fragile leaf with a handwritten letter, a cast of twigs woven into a raft. One by one, these dreamers toss their biodegradable boats into the great big muddy with a wild whoop or a quiet wish, a cascade of flower petals or a casual column of incense.
“Ride tight into the city – two up, take a lane.” As is the custom, someone from Navigation dances us through the turns of the day’s route before we mount up. Not that we’re going anywhere very fast. Orchestrating twenty-three costume-clad, service-touring bike-riders is semi-complex choreography. Estimated times of departure: we laugh in your face.
Today the basement of Saints Teresa & Bridget Church smells like fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Students giggle and complain as they mix giant batches of dough in the church’s kitchen. Angel Baked Cookies was the brainchild of North Grand Neighborhood Services in collaboration with local youth who needed jobs.
The desire to become a yoga teacher grew out my love sharing yoga with children: the 200-hr basic certification is a prerequisite necessary to get the 95-hr children’s certification. Over 27 days with 63 incredible fellow students, 2 amazing teachers, and 8 skilled assistants, we delved deep into the anatomy of Practice.
In between Earthaven and Kripalu I stop in New York. Funny choice; I am a connoisseur of high contrast. From off the grid to gridlock: fast furious wonderful horrible intense fascinating empty. Observe the difference. Freak out!! Observe. Freaks! Homo sapien means a million things. I love us. We terrify me too.
…and the elements welcome me home. It’s like suddenly receiving news of a giant inheritance, this reversing estrangement from nature. Life here is at the speed of relationship, dependant on the weather, and in concert with bugs, mushrooms, & all the other unseen forces modern life might have us forget.
Sometime near last new year I scrawled large in my journal four verbs: M O V E + L E A R N + C R E A T E + W O R S H I P – core action words I feel best when embodying daily. As I designed a soul school break from the nitty gritty pretty city to recast my personal vision, these verbs anchor and fuel my aliveness.
I was honored to present during “FRED talks” at the Rustbelt to Artist Belt conference about Art & Social Change. Stepping back from an active community arts practice due to an illness and swirling big picture questions had left me feeling estranged from the CAT community and STL in general…
♥ ♥ ♥ How does it feel to find freedom? What does the path through depression into full health look like? This winter 2012 I was honored to create an image that speaks to that healing work, collaborating with students from three high schools: Lindberg, Maplewood Richmond Heights, and Kirkwood.
Descend the stair to the cheery, yellow basement of Midtown Catholic Charities and behold: the smell of sautéed garlic and onions draws you in immediately. In the back, fresh vegetables are simmering, soon to be served up in hot wraps for lingering shoppers to sample.
US LIGHT. A few years ago, a group of friends made a yearly tradition of collaborating on a holiday pageant called “May These Changes Make Us Light.” US LIGHT became my nickname for it, abbreviating to reference the kind of power we have together when we are supporting the unfolding of each other’s highest potential. This brave togetherness requires a both an ability to inhabit the Now moment with open-ended curiosity, and a willingness to bear with inevitable dark glimpses of each other’s shadows–without jumping ship.
Molting was not a metaphor, it was a reality. I felt floaty, fuzzy, ejected from my ‘normal’ life – I cared about very little. Sort of in shock, I entirely withdrew from people, work, and projects. Going out was not in my frame of possibility – I wanted to hide from the wind, the sun, from humans, from the intensity and hideousness of my feelings. Bathtime was my sole consolation. Stillness. Can I be equanimous with this?
“Ace me:” a cocky gauntlet, a whispered plea, surrendered, confident, raising the bar, have my all. Sort of like but way beyond: bedroom’s ‘F*** Me’, or checker’s ‘King Me!!!!’ Here — My life is on the line. What is worth it? How do I do it? For years I’d bike Manchester and only see those first two syllables of the ACE METAL building; that sweet mandate phrase would come foreground, percolate, ring around me.
As I am preparing for the Critical Mass Creative Stimulus 2011 exhibition coming up August 5th at the Regional Arts Commission, I revisited the intention I expressed at the project’s inception. Here’s the proposal I sent in last spring. Along with Sarah Paulsen, Emily Heymeyer, and Alex Petrowsky, I was awarded $1000 as a stipend to encourage open-ended creativity…. soon we’ll share what’s been stewing!
Making believe. Playing pretend. Dancing awake new characters less afraid of reality than I was. Wielding brushes for an encroaching circle of partially started paintings. Skipping and skateboarding the floors of concrete. Hide and seek with song. Torrential rainstorms on the roof. Wrapping my bravery around me like a blanket to ward off dark.
Sequined undies, neon lycra, striped leg&arm-warmers, new neon green bell, rad sunglasses I nabbed from my grandma, facepaint, clif bars, patch kits, pink handlebar tape, neo-spork. Check, check, check. All Packed Up…..but ….going nowHere.
This December I’ll be biking in costume with a motley crew of humans. For one month, each of us will molt our mundane routines, don a cape, and practice being our most playfully awake selves. It’s the Annual Superheroes’ Long Haul for Justice!
As we transform so do our streets and systems. Ghettomorphosis means casting a fresh way of city-building based in self-healing, power-sharing, nature-remembering. No rush. Just us. Ghettomorphosis gives “gentrification” a playful spanking and takes back the keys please!
The world unravels itself to me in repeated images, in symbols, in signs strewn in trash on sidewalks—self-fulfilling prophecies. Like the foreshadowing magnetic poetry I stuck on my toaster oven in that new apartment: “I sing trip away the sad mean shadow.”