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Recalibrating Presence

<< r e c a l i b r a t i n g P r e s e n c e >>

I was honored to present during “FRED talks” (Fresh Radical Educational Dialogue) at the Rustbelt to Artist Belt conference about Art & Social Change on Friday, April 13, 2012.

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 – perhaps embarrassed that certain dreams hadn’t fruited (yet), naïve for wanting so much, feeling impotent to catalyze the community healing that I’d envisioned on Cherokee Street ~ (and in that, understanding the tiiiiiiiime necessary to invest for real effect).  I’d come to acceptance of my path but was also wanting connection to the crew who’d felt like my colleagues at one point.

The process of digging for words to reflect my journey was meaningful, unearthing touchstones and valuing my process as I saw it in hindsight.  The invitation to speak felt like a beckoning: “Come back to the table!” Preparing to take the stage, I felt unsure whether people would find any truth in my story but relaxed into the intention to offer it as boldly and honestly as I could.   Mic in hand, I smiled at how supported I felt — with loving faces I knew in the crowd and lightning flashing dramatically across the sky, visible all the way across the Chase penthouse glass wall panorama.  I could feel my heart connected to everyone in the room, and the rift I’d felt between me and the art scene healed up as I offered my piece.  The applause, hugs, and encouragement let me know my words landed, reminded me that the world is just wanting for us to speak our truth.  > > >

The link to the audio may surface; meanwhile here’s my notes from the evening. I went last so I got to fudge the ten minute mark and offroad a bit, but the gist is intact.

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R E C A L I B R A T I N G    P R E S E N C E : Guideposts from the road to nowHere

Hi! I’m Lyndsey. I’ll be your lullaby this evening. <<<<big breath>>>> You all get a diehard gold star. Thanks for making the long haul & sticking around to the end.

///title slide/// So I live here in STL, I’m a painter and community artist.- but Last year i slid off the city-building projects and outreach ‘gameplan’…… felt like a little bit of crash and burn. I’m excited to share with you some gems that I discovered along this unexpected path, that help me to reevaluate and reset the foundation I want to work from.

< < < t o p p l e > > >

///babel slide///— A little background: Since I was young I felt in my bones how in my lifetime we would be part of a total paradigm shift. To that end, every few years I like to remix Brueghel’s Tower of Babel…. The ancient myth of human accomplishment and arrogance reaching the sky —- thwarted by divine confusion of language – ///topple slide/// I like to imagine the restoration of our truly shared language. Reconfiguring interconnection,– avatar’s “I see you” — and the healed systems that naturally ripple from that manner of being. My hero Buckminster Fuller writes: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality.  To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

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< < k i d s t a c k > >

With that in mind, after my BFA I landed in st louis,  stumbled into teaching ///kidstacking slide/// and any jaded chip-on-my-shoulder left over from art school blues was totally healed by working with kids. They are my gurus for real.  They teach me the Healing power of spontaneous play ///scosag slide///– unscripted, dorky, heartfelt, make believe. Play researcher Bob Fagen : “In a world constantly presenting unique challenges and ambiguities, play prepares us for an evolving planet.” We’re present when we play. We’re creative, and we’re equal, and we’re open to new solutions.

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< < c h e r o k e e > >

So 6 yrs ago I started really exploring this idea of shared play in my neighborhood on Cherokee – ///cherokeeman slide///… feeling toward this precious moment…when you pass a total stranger, they’re looking tough but they sense you there – whether the smile is on your face or hiding in your eyes –- when you beam their beauty and they feel it -   they melt open –and the kid in them comes forward!  My time on Cherokee proved the truth from Jane Jacobs “Lowly, unpurposeful, and random as they may appear, sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city’s wealth of public life may grow.” ~~ Whether sitting on porches,  in candlelit vigils, temporary murals, public greenspaces, or collaborating with Sarah Paulsen in her creation of the very wonderful People’s Joy Parade. ///marlaisia and pink dragon slide///- I practiced  Relationship before task – of course! We get to know people before we know what we’ll create together….. let the chemistry lead the collaboration.

< < m a r l a i s i a & p i n k > >

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///blank slide/// BUT somewhere in this work, I got off kilter.  Same old story: Stressed out making ends meet, heartsick with grief at the kids on the street needing more love & resources than they or I had access too, losing funding for a public plaza because of LRA politics, blah blah: bogged down.  This struggle led to me feeling so defensive and critical…I was suspicious that  people moving to the neighborhood were more invested in creating a hip hangout scene than deeply reaching out to neighbors, and that broke my heart. I felt sooooo grumpy and crunchy and …. —– whoawhoawhoa– timeout—-–a quote on the my car’s bumper sticker brought me back into check –             ///quote slide/// wisdom from Alice Walker: Look closely at the present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming.” The future I am dreaming is sustainable, supportive, collaborative….fun?!  Does not match this overworked underpaid judgmental-ass stressed out struggling present.  so  I decided to take a big fat break to recalibrate.

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< < S U P E R H E R O E S ! ! > >

I chose a Biketrip to freshen my perspective. Not just any….  A community service ride with a crew of humans dressed as superheroes. All the sudden I’m the Serendipitease! In the right place at the right time, babe.  I’d found out about the annual Biking Superheroes Long Haul for Justice through the superhero headquarters, the Possibility Alliance /// PA pic /// an electricity-free, substance-free, car&petroleum-free permaculture homestead in Northeast Missouri. Over the past 10 years, over 500 heroes have been born – like Queen Bee, Screech Owl, Stardust, Superstretch, my personal favorite: Super Ok with himself guy. Over the course of a month, twenty people ///bike crew pic/// rode from Austin to the east coast of TX: biking, camping, eating simple meals, and stopping in small towns to do service projects – sometimes we’d stay for an afternoon, sometimes a handful of days… stocking food pantries to simple litterpick up to singing in nursing homes to nature preserve cleanup and youth outreach . It was entirely unscripted… no itinerary…. And no paperwork!

SO many things were profound for me. Like chiropractic to my soul – pop pop pop. Realigned. What moved me most was our inner-group working, being part of a team in nourishing ways that I’d been missing in city life. We were substance-free. We were from different generations. Perhaps most drastically – I wasn’t tethered to technology! life without a cell phone on! No facebook! No laptop! Using a real map! Rediscovering intuition….. Our rule of thumb was: move toward joy. Nothing to be done, nothing to fix. Wait, Nothing to fix? Talk about shifting my paradigm…. What would my work on Cherokee have looked like if I had been able to consistenly maintain that approach?

< < B I K E S ! ! > >

///bikes in trees pic/// and…..NATURE! The elements! Rain, mud, river, water, sun, wind. Earth. Hills. Thighs. Sometimes living in a city we lose the cadence that keeps all of life in sync. It felt so good, actually sacred, to remember, to visit my physical edge.

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< < t h e o p e n i n g i n t h e O O P s > >

The most prophetic aspect of the trip for me was learning to love what I came to call the “Openings in the oops: …. The felt ‘failures’ you get to flip into blessed lessons. ///green wig spoke pic/// Like the day I was riding sweep, and a green wig fell  out the didgeridooo in my cart and got super caught in my spokes. So in the middle of nowhere on a country road snipping away getting unstuck when a gallant fellow in a 10gallon hat pulls up, chats us up, drives off…. But then….Backs up, invites us to stay in his town over Christmas, gives us a place to crash, projects, food…. Total Hospitality. Moments like this abounded on the ride – a seeming mistake blooms into beautiful opportunity to connect.

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< < r a b b i t h o l e > >

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///blank slide///

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When I got home from the ride, it was As if scab came off my soul.  As if the trip had somehow primed me to do deeper work – — so, last year around this time I got seriously sick for about six months with a gross full-body infection.  It was by far the strangest rabbit hole I’ve fallen into…. ///disappear tree slide/// There I discovered the surprise gifts of pain… I couldn’t escape from my very uncomfortable skin so…. I Came face to face with all the shadow aspects of myself that I hadn’t wanted to see..  Hello Fear of failure, hello raging Ego, hi poor Victim! Ah there you are lil’ saviour complex!

I get the mind/body connection enough to know this sickness had something precious to teach me….  I received an encouragement postcard with a quote from martha graham that became my mantra through the suffering. ///martha slide ///

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.

In my struggle to do good work, to make a difference, -  I got caught up in my own expectations and attached to outcomes — my understanding that I am not the Doer got forgotten. Oh yeah, I’m a Vessel.

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< < s a y A H H > >

So –

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What does it take to keep this vessel’s channel open? What’s my regularly scheduled maintenance plan look like?   Good thing I had plenty of time to contemplate the full physical and spiritual implications of these questions….. ///green juice slide/// My first step was a mad cleanse for months—- out goes the wheat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine. Coffeeee???? Noooooo….not my Americano?? Spinach, sprouts, kale, my new best friends. Now I’m back to balanced indulgence but so much freer for the reset.

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< < h e a r t m a t h > >

///heartmath slide/// From there I leapt into co-counseling which is a pretty rad technique to unjunk past emotional hurts.  Then I went to a conference on Restorative Circle work with Dominic Barter where he totally rocked my world In one sentence asking: Where are the places you belong that you no longer go? Who are the past collaborators i don’t see because of a tif that stayed unsettled?  Which people at art openings do I strategically avoid because of some impression about them I cling to? And deeper:::::  what do I not dare to do because I’m afraid to?

These places I don’t go block my flow.  And it’s felt – we are energetic beings.

This is an image of the EMF fields of a heart.  The power of our hearts together can change the magnetic field of our entire planet, a fact which has been scientifically measured during emotional world-wide events.  Brings new oomph to the phrase, You feel me?

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< < h e a r t s a l l o v e r t h e w o r l d t o n i g h t > >

Ghandi’s BE THE CHANGe     isn’t     DO THE CHANGE. I’m not arguing for inaction, I’m inviting alignment before all else.  In yoga we say take your seat, which can mean scoot your buttcheeks out the way so your sitbones are grounded. In a larger sense it means: Arrive. Check in. Breathe. Notice. Ground. Do you want to be here?   // then, act , from that place of authority.  One note or call or idea from this place, is more profoundly productive than days of “but I gotta”….

///eastside heartsbright slide/// When we keep the channel open, our work is revolutionary. When we have gunky channels, caused by self-neglect or psychic mud or simply overdoing it, our work runs the risk of being well-meaning fluff,  practiced busyness,  just another URL.  Last year I learned we can’t bring to the world that which we don’t first offer to our own souls.

As creatives, we see what’s not yet visible. In this capacity, We are Healers. When we take our seat, With our gaze, we can see into being the innate wholeness that is each of our true identity, and build cities and systems that make room for that truth. I invite you to, keep it up, do the inner work! do what you gotta do to – - keep your channel open so your unique gifting can come thru.

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///bright mandala TO TRANSFORM THE WORLD I TRANSFORM MYSELF/// And – if you want to christen yourself a superhero, the next ride is in Michigan. August 2012!

< < g e t I T > >

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About me
Educated as a painter, learning as a yogi, and playful as a baby monkey: I am a willing human being __ emphasis on the Be. I am traveling-learning, designing projects to feed my inquiries while attracting adventures and connecting with tribes that grace my journey with experiential wisdom in creative healing and joyful sustainability. My passions are catalyzing radically simple + beautiful + fun intentional community, sparking spontaneous collaborative singing and dancing, acroyoga, permaculture, and loving children.