Co_creation a la LYNDSEY


Vessel ready.

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.   And invariably, the crafts loop back, caught up in the insistent undercurrent, bobbing and disassembling in the eddy that crashes them back against the rocks at water’s edge.  Oh, hello again, dream-smashed-to-pieces.  Hmmmm?

As much as I’ve loved the spoken intent of this Artican yearly ritual, the “Boat of Dreams” parade, the symbolism of the boats that capsize, crash, and never join the center of the river’s big flow has always left me uneasy.  Too close to home for my own questions of the way I relate to STL and to my personal vision.  Is my heart drawn to or stuck in the Gateway City?  Attraction or attachment?   Do I want to shoot roots in the 314, or am I afraid to feel desires that lead elsewhere? These questions, as they echo elsewhere in my life, assure me that they have more to do with me and less to do with this city itself.

The power of this river –  of the sacred confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri, is an almighty vortex that I’ve both given into and resisted – regarded as blessing, regarded as curse.  Respect it for certain.

I recall Bolo conversations with modern day pirates circa Rockaway Armada era whose raft had been dashed by the wake of a barge. “You think you’ll stay a month or six, and smile back a decade later, Still Here.” . . .  so goes the story for many.   It was mine: drawn by a job, by a love, by possibility – then positively lured by the power of myth that lives in epic proportion here.  More at home than I’d ever been elsewhere.  More found family. The stories of the mounds, the echoes in the caves, the outrageous serendipities that melt time-space into a winking puddle in my panties.  Soul blush.

But the intrigue, the parties, the traditions, the scene, at some point faded.  They don’t hold the lure they used to, and I got to feeling irrelevant.  Learning curve?  30s vs 20s?  Nesting instincts? I remember biking in to a party early this spring, arriving full of energy and excitement and…. Oof, immediately feeling so over the drunky slurring small talk.   Yawnathon.  Not fed, not met, not interested.  So, have I just got to discover a new fit here, new project, new stride, new leadership after my insides have shifted?  Or is the feeling of ‘just not getting any’ an invitation to get it somewhere else?

I took a break last summer to catch my breath and reconnect with nature, then came back in fall 2012 for a gig and to re-assess. Then I left again in spring of this year, questions still looming large, feeling drawn to head back to my hometown in rural IL for a season of re-falling in love with my family and a gorgeous little garden project at a halfway house. And for the first time in a decade, I can actually imagine not moving back to St. Louis. Gulp. I have a choice.

The revelation is scary and exhilarating; pros and cons each figure in with solidity.  A year ago this week I was moving back to STL, ready to hit the ground creating.  To celebrate this anniversary and the widespread emotions it brings up, I thought:  to write my questions through might help appease the ache and clarify new desires.  Shed light on unfinished business, intuit direction, recap lessons.  Here I’ll remember the arc of my stl-timeline, review last year’s key collaborations, and muse about the making good on prospect of ‘beloved community’ that wooes me completely, as I choose what’s next.


My own STL love affair in a nutshell:

I moved to the outskirts in 2002 to teach art appreciation at Lewis & Clark Community College in Godfrey, and blessedly caught wind of CAT and of the DIY art scene.  The authentic artists I met and the brazen feel of a city-rebuilding changed my life, redeemed my art degree, and set me on a path living creativity in context.  I finally put my finger on a pulse that thrums in the heart of me, and I’d found good company.  Freak flag finally free to fly.

For the next handful of years, I collaborated like a mo-fo.  Scosag, Craft Alliance, St. Louis Public Libraries, St. Louis Art Museum, Contemporary Art Museum, Cherokee Street.  The Dissonnettes at Radio Cherokee.  Basement shows. Rooftop howls.  River trysts.  Homeschool curricula, mural residencies, workshop series, impromptu performances, singing down backstairwells, kicking out windows, rapping atop dumpsters.  Girl got around. And found her edges.

In 2006 I was attacked in my home in the middle of the night.  Thus began the healing journey in earnest. I left STL for a year to get clear.

I returned in 2007 with a stronger aim to live in and spark the healing power of art.  Collaborations took on a more spiritual nature – a Dia de los Muertos grief circle,  World’s Biggest Belly Laugh beneath the Arch, the start of May these Changes Make Us Light, teaching childrens’ yoga, the birth of Atnas, women’s circles, and mostly – all the love I knew how to muster, poured into Cherokee via the Hub and CAMP.  The People’s Joy. The We Bee Family Circus.   More meditation and yoga,  less blunt and whiskey.  Still coffee.   Still shaky/sporadic Practice and the latent martyrdom of Duty.   Stuck between past habits and relationships built around substance and a sense of ‘scene’, and the growing desire to bridge and heal and connect in more radical ways than I yet knew how.   Facing failure, and fear of failure. Bigtime.

In 2011 I manifested a messy, all-encompassing illness and other body-dramas that turned up the intensity in my healing journey.  Oh! I have anger! And shame!  I tuned out from most all social life; inner life became central.  Fulltime detox.  I understood at a new level my own responsibility for creating my life.  I saw my stories, patterns, shadows and learned to love the Ugly. The mighty ginkos and catalpas and cypress grove in Tower Grove became far more interesting to me than whatever whatever was in whatever whatever gallery/bar/venue. The natural world and plant and human healers came completely foreground, so did the truth-telling mirror of a Beloved.

In 2012 I determined to live all my open-ended inquiries as boldly and directly as I am able in the moment. I determined to learn to accept and be myself, completely.  To forgive myself.  To make a comfy, well-cared-for vessel of myself for Love to play through.  To laugh at my shadow as I transform it.  To find good company with other souls so also inclined — to this aim, I traveled to learn at Earthaven and Kripalu.  Goal: daily live like I know I am infinite, eternal, and whole.  Let the questions of where-how-with-whom be fluid for now.  Lean in.

So, here in the present moment on a Tuesday morning, drinking yerba mate in rural Illinois, prepping for upcoming travels and researching,  feeling the pulse on my life’s trajectory in the big pic of this M.Cyrus-Syria-seriousness world arena.   STL seems quite far away – not gone, but shrouded.  It feels like we are letting go of each other.   I can and do imagine the circle winding back around in an absolutely dreamy way, someday. Maybe sooner than I think.  Maybe never.  But for now, I want to feel the mighty love and gratitude I have for the Loo and her people, to know that letting go is not Failing or Quitting, to honor these four powerful lessons that surged forward in my time there last year.

Spider-web-weaving, setting the tone for the upcoming residency. Back when i had a rat-tail.


1)   W E  A R E   I N T E R C O N N E C T E D

Early 2004. Standing in a circle with a rowdy bunch of middle schoolers at Yatemen Liddell, day one of a three-month residency.  We toss a ball of yarn back and forth, sharing some ice-breakery sort of q/a as we weave.   It’s silly, there’s chitchat and irreverence.  And something true that we all feel happening.  We can sense each other’s micromovements.

STL helped me live this.  Growing up and even in college I’d been cushioned by my small-town upper middle class white conservative Christian bubble.  Feeling and falling in love with the southside shook my shit and exposed me to poverty, addiction, internalized racism, honesty, bravery, passion, Reality, struggle, unity-thru-diversity.  What does it mean for me to be a contributing citizen of the planet?  It woke up my love of bridging, weaving, inviting, enlivening . . . and the vulnerability that’s up when we risk connecting across deep divides.

So Whitman’s noiseless, patient spider is officially a proud member of my spirit animal entourage….. “Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.” It was natural for me to leap off from the same Ludacris lyric that inspired the classroom yarn metaphor for an interactive sculpture proposal that found me out of nowhere last summer and woo’ed me back to STL last fall.

These words to the wise welcomed the audience post-concert.

While I was at Kripalu I received an invite to apply, and here’s the narrative I wrote, envisioning a giant Venn diagram for the Interfaith musical memorial at the Sheldon Concert Hall:

Sketch, manifestation, material close-up: organic cotton ribbon died with turmeric; hemp died with pokeberry; willow.

On receiving the call for art that celebrates diversity, the web of life came to my mind’s eye. “When I move you move, just like that” says Ludacris.   “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe, “ says John Muir.  Deeper still, the words of Chief Seattle: “Humankind has not woven the web of Life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”              Yes.

To me, this sacred web is at once a call back to the Earth and a call back to each other.  Nature makes space for us to feel and to heal.  And to celebrate diversity, first I have to root out and heal racism in my very own heart – though I cringe that it exists, I know our culture has powered itself by oppressing us, each uniquely isolated in a fear of separation.  When I bravely seek to find what is blocking true intimacy with others in my experience, I bring awareness and compassion to the dark. Then with breath and commitment, I practice a new way – daily, like water with a stone. Gently with persistence.  With practice, I am welcomed back to the whole of All That Is.

As best as the material world and these hands can ask, this creation is an invitation to do that work, a symbol of our togetherness-in-process.    I humbly ask the wisdom of Asibikaashi, Spider Woman, of the Ojibwe people, as well as their facility with and reverence for the natural world: guide my hands.   Let the wisdom you carried again direct our ways.

You + Me.     Self + God.      Dark + Light.      Known + Unknown.       The weavings fill two interconnected circles, a venn diagram, with the space between left empty.  The mystery, the god-seed, this divine silence that inhabits the space between: “where two or more are gathered, there I Am in the midst….”   We ask for divine surprise to fill this space between, and the grace to inquire whole-heartedly. Listen intently.

The ribbons, held in each of our hands, will tie on to stand in for each our personal commitment to walk into our own work.  Softly with self-compassion.  Uniquely to each our journey.   May our co-creation be an image that lives in our guts to guide us each and, by extension, our city into the mighty healing work of releasing the legacy of “-isms” that lives in our histories and in this land, that we might be fully free to experience the diversity and power of our combined, divine light.

STL alleys in september: poke rich.

Cosmic ripple giggle echo timing.

For this former queen of dumpster-hotglue-glitter-foam-tchotchke, choosing to use solely natural materials was a completely new artistic choice, and wholly inspired by my time at Earthaven.  It was also meaningful to me that I wove one of the circles at home, communing with my pops to harvest willow from his home-away-from-home golf course.  In my first ever “better to apologize than ask permission,” I got kicked out of Tower Grove for harvesting willow branches in the wee a.m. of one of my first mornings back. Returning to STL with eyes now more trained to see plant life, I loved riding the alleys scavenging ripe pokeberry to harvest.  Which ended up being not colorfast at all, and poisonous . . but a completely fun mess. I spotted bamboo in someone’s backyard; knocking on the door to ask if I could harvest – I was greeted by name, a stranger who knew of me from her daughter’s school.  Surprise community, evidence of interconnection.  And in the universe of cosmic comic timing, I dug the love-nudge from the universe via TUT email that came in the midst of my weaving-day…. Ludacris again.

The day of, beauty abounded.  Blue clear skies, fun support from friends in a perfectly smooth set up, a stellar musical program. The sculpture was just a moment’s interaction, but rich:  seeing all these beautiful humans, clad in the traditional garb of their faith culture, tying their ribbons together, conversating, reaching up to connect to the circles, intermingling.  The process as symbol-generation was satisfying.  The process as actual evolution felt like a jumping off point to…… what next?  How can a symbol of coming together then actually translate into a deeper experience?   What does it mean to harbor grace toward different faiths not for one night’s performance, but from the core root of mending energetic separation?  Time and depth = the work that reconnects. So far as a community artist, I feel most practiced in short term work, creating symbols, images, events that invite togetherness.  Which is fun but leaves me hungry . . . I understand my work now to be building the inner spiritual foundation to support greater community healing, longterm projects, finding and learning from mentors who are skilled not only in the initial ‘ollyollyincomefree’ but also then how to safely sustain what happens when we start unpacking our messy stuff to get at the true roots.  I keep feeling toward my teachers, knowing “when the student is ready….”


Amazing duo dance performance embodying tension, attraction, power-over, power-with, white politeness; Time Traveler Pidi Pagano; Celia sparking community songing, as ever.

2)  W E   N E E D   C O M M U N I T Y   R I T U A L    S P A C E

Peaceful atop a mound of rubble, five or six of us breathe in unison under the unseasonably hot noontime sun.  We see the river, we see the growing tent city, we see the surrounding shells of St. Louis industry.  A strong-arm’s stone’s throw from the Arch, past and present meld into a timeless state  – - stamped by our iconic manifest destiny. Ding!  Artica is a surreal and relational exploration of the lifeline of our city, sweet forgotten river, beyond chronology. Together.  “Shall we gather?”   It’s an unscripted time to feel and remember the importance of ritual, curiosity, sacred cycles.  When birds and omens had a chance to win out over Lumiere’s flashing TV feed.   The wandering, serendipitous offerings and exchanges that the festival and participants invite remind us each of our innate power to affect the landscape and build a city based on collaborative celebration.

Words I penned post-Artica one year, when asked to share for a grant ‘impact report’. Over time, this changing site has been the closest thing to ceremonial grounds in my STL life.  From the birth of the Argus-mound mural that Lezlie and I would create anew each year, to the dedication ceremony for Catherine Magel’s astounding and expressive community clay mural,  to the Chame-Pidi-Pidi train track explorations to Mark the equinox and solstice, to meeting a new lover at a song-circle-campfire, to making trash sculptures from river debris, to a tetris-sidewalk installation with the Rotary club and junior high honors students, to a giant bonfire I organized for visiting slam poets, to the Bird Brain community dance, to seeding symbols in Josh’s brick labyrinth for a let go ritual, to stumbling upon myriad creations from Dwyer’s giant nest to Dann Green’s human gerbil wheel . . . over the years, Artica – the festival but even more so the living site — has been one big shapeshifting gameboard for community creation.

Tom builds.

Claire putting the finishing touches on STL is a Creation Myth in the Making. Whoosh, released - - go go kundalini rainbow transcending,,, whoooooooooooooooooooAAAAAAAAAAAAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMa.

As much as I love to be there for the official festival full of costumes, noise, fire, and surprises, experiencing the unpopulated Artica more suits my soul’s fancy.  I’ve come to look forward to early quiet time with my sculptor friend Tom, companionship as he schleps intense amounts of clay, and I go skip around scouting treasures and bop back to check his progress.  Over the years, his on-point site specific installations emerge in the land between poetry and play, poignant and pure pretty.  With all the fury and imagination of the most masterful sand castle,  he makes stuff that looks completely fun to make –  with such skill and sheer quantity that its presence, as it dissolves with time and weather, whispers the tragicomedy of humble human civ. The beauty of trying, and dying….with a chorale of water and light and reflection and shadow, all accomplice.  Being privy to his process is a favorite part of Artica, for me.  I love Tom.

Over time, I’ve left quite a few paintings at Artica.  It’s a cross between blowing a ripe dandelion and leaving a baby on someone’s doorstep. I don’t believe in hiding work away waiting in the wings longterm…. Storage = stagnant. Either it’s bought, or it’s a gift, or I’m living with it.  Art that doesn’t find its home, finds some transition – fire, the river, the sander, the axe, or Artica.  In retrospect, last year’s installation is evidence of my ‘let go’ readiness….. a Godbits anchor plus a smattering of painting remnants from the “StL is a Creating Myth in the Making” ilk ~ images I’d used to manifest or reflect vision tendencies as the ‘intentional community’ seed started sprouting in my belly.  I installed these together behind a ‘stage’ atop a strand of rainbow DNA, the latest addition to the Argus/City of Unlimited Light living mural.   “Here’s what I know so far,” . . . offer it up.

Probably my favorite part of this year’s piece was Claire’s participation. The festival is one big energetic call/response . . . .  gather your intentions and supplies and show up, dance with the world of cause and effect.  As ritual space, this tango between the material and spiritual world generates eurekas and ‘chance’ occurrences that provide a mirror to what’s up in the subconscious.  So, my heart was mighty fed by this beloved little actress who came to paint on this set I’d created….. young Claire has come in and out of my life for years now. I first knew her as Sali’s little sister, as we came alongside her family in grieving the horrible loss of her big sister bright soul.  Then I knew her as the young Atnas as we collaborated on a film, and then generally as friends as I’ve kept tabs on her bright, creative self.  So when she boldly took over the rainbow power I was painting, it called up my latent Gracespace dreams of supporting young women’s expression and empowerment . . . sister circles across generations.  Soon the wall was crawling with funny, lovely little women who were making their own marks.


Ooh baby 'cos yr hips don't lie.

So Artica has these basic ingredients for ritual and ceremony –– space, history, singing, dancing, fire, color, nature, sharing, playing.   And its fun and good and wandering and rich and gentle and easy, if you want it to be.  Yet all the while I notice my growing need for a deeper intimacy that I feel with urgency like a bee buzzing my ear. I can’t ignore the words that swim up: “the safety of a container.”  It has everything to do with substances, and intention; with a yearning for growth, and willingness to transmute shadow. I feel keenly the energy of a crowd, and also how it leaks.  I yearn to learn the science and spirit of facilitating that power, consciously, together.  Magic, practice, present, head on – unity, aim, transform.   When I want this and the group vibe feels elsewise, somehow I‘ve learned to make my desire wrong and stuff it. Or be alone to inquire in my spirit.  But I now claim my desire, AND I want to play with other people.  People with honed practices, deep passion, and well-sculpted senses of possibility. People with emotional slack, who can reflect back without projection.  So I feel these feels, their complete validity, meanwhile relaxing into right where I am – the longing. Last year at Artica I remember breathing into the unfulfilled desires,  letting the awareness be, and letting the wanting out of my head, into my body . . . freed around the fire, snaking into my hips, whooping and dancing the prayer that’s burgeoning in my belly. Humor, inclusion, redemption, celebration. Kick it up a notch.  So be it, and so it is.

Calavera triste ***

Shall we gather @ thee river?

…I ended up back at the river for a ritual on Dia de los Muertos.  It was weird.  I was alone. I woke up that morning and had set into motion as usual – the cooking, the remembering, the grieving, the celebrating.  It was a big year of deaths and important for me to honor:  my grandma Kitty, Gary Christ Sr., Andreas.  I spent the day preparing and reaching out for possible accomplices and sites, but nighttime found me still solita. I rode around with my bike cart loaded with shrine supplies scouting a site, and nowhere felt like the place or safe.  I settled on the riverside cobblestone.  I wished the river felt more cared for.  I weirded out some Arch tourists. I rode to a party afterward and felt the familiar demon of not-belonging.  I realized I still have a lot to learn about asking for and being worthy of the energetic support I long for.  Ok. There’s the work. Dig in.


From the first readings of the script to the post-show recap, collaborating together is a powerful way to savor each other's particular genius. I re-fall in love with my friends to behold them up so close. Here Sarah reads aloud an early version of the Earth Diver, Holly sets up her fire stage creation, and a future performer stands mesmerized.

3)  C O L L A B O R A T I O N   I S   A    M I G H T Y    E V O L U T I O N A R Y   A C T

Popcorn brainstorm.  Will you hum harmony to this tune?  Doodle notes while you block scenes.  Hey, foods ready!!  What if we……? Laying on my back taking in the collective chatter, chord-finding.  Accord.  I love this sacred space of back and forthing, creative ping-pong. Confidence to up and share the naked, unpracticed idea-seed so you can help me care for it and give it form.  Trust. Listening. Surprise. Generosity.  Traveling together from the aha-maybe to lights-camera-manifestation.  Collaboration is a face of God.

If you want to go fast, go alone.
if you want to go far, go together.
-african proverb

One of the powerful energetic pulls back to STL last year was the prospect of participating in the neo-holiday-pageant spectacular, May These Changes Make Us Light. In 2007, to the backdrop of Maya Lin’s installation in the Contemporary on a ferociously snowy evening, a sacred tradition emerged: weaving a story of creation that highlights each other’s art.   The plot shifts and has taken shape on various stages, in various forms, with various casts – it remains a powerful way to make merry, giving the gift of time spent creating, together.  This tradition and what it has taught me hold a precious place in my heart.

Last year’s process was tender one, for me.  Good but hard. Time and space had jostled the historic core group looser – unresolved conflicts thrummed beneath the surface.   For me, this energy percolated through the script writing, rehearsals, and the final show.  Natural questions in the evolution of any tight knit group: are we a collective, or a hierarchy? How do we agree on answers?  what are our commitments as our personalities produce friction? – were achingly present, and somewhat addressed, but ultimately sort swept aside in the interest of letting the show go on.   The ache called my attention, and I voiced a strong desire from the start that we allow the work of getting along be part of the art. “May these changes make us light” is a mighty prayer that pleads the deep acknowledgement and transformation of darkness.

So how do we do that? Musical break. Cue Yacht:

I voiced my needs and made offers the best I knew how, and felt partially-taken-up: at our opening meeting I spoke freely on my inquiry of sobriety/sacred space and requested that we collaborate from a place of direct presence; I provided Voice Breath Body as a laboratory for us to share some inquiry-in-body play space; I suggested we move together toward Restorative Circle work when past conflict shit hit the fan.  I really enjoyed facilitating a post-performance circle in which we all got to share the full truth, gorgeous, painful, and juicy, of our personal experiences — especially Sarah P’s invite to relate aspects of our own shadow self that came forth, a la Shadow Effect. I get that my needs are mine, not anyone else’s. And I get that some folks are uncomfortable with being uncomfortable. And I don’t want to harp ad infinitum on what’s not working!  I get the power of positive focus. But if “Politeness is the poison of collaboration,” at times I felt that toxic elephant in the room, and I wanted to practice not ignoring. And I felt graceless, or maybe just unpracticed, in inviting us to look together.  I want to be part of an intimate crew that lets tough love spoken in the moment be part of the iron-sharpens-iron.  And the reality of our chemistry was not yet that.   So if I’m generating my reality and taking responsibility . . . how-where-with whom shall I shape my aim?  Questions that thrummed as I followed thru with the aspects I’d bit off to chew.  Do I just need to be showing up differently here, or do I need to show up somewhere else?

Stills from the earth diver animation - power playtime with Sarah Paulsen, Elisa Sugar, Tom Dykas, David Wolk!

But not all of it was uphill or heavy:  aspects of the collaboration were completely nourishing, dreamy, giggle-ridden. Team animation rocks.  Get together all your favorite toys, make great food, set aside a giant chunk of time, and PLAY WITH YOUR FRIENDS!!!  Combining forces elicited so much learning and joy, pleasure in breaking out of solo studio work and fun learning new tools. A crew of us brought the Earth Diver Myth to life in a richly layered performance rife with lush imagery — the shadows and shapes of dynamic live dancing and poetry played atop intricate video/animation projection.  I felt so blessed by everyone’s talents, strengths, offerings – the sum truly greater than its parts. Bonus, we got to capture Paul Friswold’s darling bike-puppet tooling around the Loo, as the turtle roamed the earth looking for mud. LOL for kid audience members, score.

Plant yo'self.

My favorite serendipity of this year’s play was the way the Mud Dance was born.  I’d suggested an all-out mud-covered interpretive dance as the turtle dove for mud, illustrative of creation’s longing to be created, and an homage to mama earth’s deep feels for us – which, wisely, had been instantly nixed as not reasonable in terms of stage logistics. (Somebody’s gotta reign in sister’s messes.)   So when we were brainstorming the vignette-style, casual preview show, Sarah P suggested “Do the mud dance there!”  which David W immediately jumped on: “Let’s!!”  So he and I fashioned a dance that grew from process work we were playing with – studio dates spent swapping intentional listening time, exploring the life lessons we were facing up to in our artwork, and doodling together.  He is a soooooulful creator whose art ripples thru my Yes! place. We crafted a ritual that met both our needs . . . . slathered in earth, incubating at length, emerging, then exploding into his rapping while my body kept time.  It was at was completely sensorial, sensual, silly – spot-on symbolically, as for him it was the first time back in the building where red tape had strangled his shop and crushed some dreams.  The camaraderie and power of process art that syncs up to play into the realm of energy was big time faith feed.  I loved sharing it with David.  Plus it felt really good, physically. I found mud in my ears for weeks in the bath.

Image during Earth Diver.

Collaboration gives me courage to face that what I want is so much bigger than I know how to create.  Practice: dabbling with exponential action, domino effect, synergy.   We is so much bigger than me.  In terms of bringing it, my double-dog dare to self was to follow thru with a lyric that had showed up on the floodwall during a singing to the River. Back when my studio was at Lemp, I loved to take a workbreak, walk down, tone to the flow.   The words were heartfelt, and totally campy. Broadway jazz hands kirtan feels.  I doted on them to coax them out and envisioned over-the-top hammy choreography.

we are creating something more than a scene • something we have never seen or heard • Allowing old patterns & systems of thought to come all the way off  • I can feel my true heart beat and it soft • I will no longer settle for layers of separation that lie about US • We are embedded interconnected and wedded • And in this gut truth I trust: • That all of this loving hating scheming and waiting is just a big Game • We came in different vessels • to forget & re-discover that • we are the same • So let’s get to the business of raising our vibration • to shift what we see • A new economy heals bruised dichotomies • And our shared worth sets us free • Beyond competition • Beyond fear of the dark • Beyond what do you do for a living • Oh lets’ rebuild the ark • Some sort of crazy contraption • That can weather any storm • With room enough for whoever promises to keep you warm • Ooohhhhhhhhh::: Touch me! Free me! Hold me! Know me! • I am you and you are me! • Together catalyzing an ALL SYSTEMS REBOOT • Evolving a remix that transcends and includes……

My mind completely shit-talked the final product at the level I pulled it together.  Or, if my inner critic was being a bit nicer: “That was darlingly dorky – embarrassing – simple & uncultivated.”  In the face of vicious monkeyminding, I went ahead and contradicted it with the brazen slap on the back: “Good for you honey you took up your double dare to follow thru… stay with it sister!”  Or, thanks Paolo: “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”  On the bright side, I practiced a new bravery to invite friends to join in a song I lead, usually I just say yes to others’ invitations. Practice Asking. Queen Bee brought her mighty vocals to the bridge, and David wrote a rap I still have stuck in my head — they rocked it, of course. So easy to see It in someone else. ;)

In the end, only kindness matters . . .

Overall, the patient curiosity is the spirit I showed up with for most of the show:  “Stay with what is, breathe into the needs that your die-hard shadow habit of finding Lack prompts you to see, then come back to what Is.”  I.e.:::::: “So I’m totally bummed that other performers are drinking and getting stoned before the show.”  Fair –one of my favorite improv teachers shared how substances can dull skillful response, presence.  I feel how I’d prefer meditation, check-ins, massage, song circle sync-ups.  Valid need. And—notice – I’m also totally enjoying the camaraderie, the beauty of everyone changing into their finest with stellar makeup support, the adrenaline whooshies.  Or:::::: “I feel really alone after the show, people are snuggling with their partners and I’m feeling not that connected to anyone and really vulnerable with old scripts of self-judgment running strong.”  Alright sister, so you really want to be held, you want to be affirmed, you want to feel good enough– notice your worth is connected to achievement in that thought, notice how your inner critic is blocking connection that is available.   So take this opportunity to affirm your own self, breathe into that desire for connection, and to notice where closeness is – appreciate the adoration of a couple kissing, affirm the beauty of the little girl taking in community pageantry, see the gladness of dancing afterparty. Know it’s always changing. Adjust.

Collaboration gifts us profound opportunity to see each other up close, brilliance and quirks, genius and wounds.  Practicing how we acknowledge both our capacity for light and dark, and then commit to the work that surfaces after the honeymoon fades, is the depth of connection I desire amidst co-creation.


4)  T H E  C L E A R E R   T H E  V E S S E L , T H E   S T R O N G E R  T H E  A R T

My desire keeps leading me toward skill-building creative community healing, and my path keeps leading me to do the work first of attending to the fears, pains, demons, ego that live large in me.  As the inner, so the outer.  As above, so below.  “Be the change…..”  I feel the connection crystal clear:  embodied presence is a locus for radical transformation.   And then when we each commit to do this work and offer support and mirroring to each other, together our power echoes out exponentially.  “When two or more are gathered, there I am in the midst of them” – when awakened consciousnesses meet, Zowie Wowie.  My last cycle around in STL afforded me new opportunities to practice and lead relaxed intimacy in group settings– experimenting with new shapes, speaking clear intentions, inquiring into the kind of framework that makes such work sustainable and safe…all aimed at unrooting of the untruth of Separation that has squirreled its way into the framework of ourselves and our Society.

The Magic Hat hosted candlelit gentleness in the form of partner yoga deluxe.

Returning to STL last fall as a certified yoga teacher, I was excited to grow into this role and feel out how my experience as a community artist informed my teaching.  To me, accessibility is key: my first move was to offer a donation-based class, COME+UNITY,  that moved around to meet people in their offices and neighborhoods.  I bought a stack of orange mats and loaded them into my bike trailer, and I felt so excited to ask yoga outside the studio walls. Though it was sparsely attended (gotta stick around to build momentum, dear), I enjoyed the practice adapting my tone and offering to each building and context. VOICE + BREATH + BODY, was another donation-based series, intended to strengthen the Us Light collaboration and also offered to the community at large.  My goal there was to invite sound play and circle connection into a more traditional yoga practice to support authentic inquiry and spontaneity.  BODY_BENDY was some srsly goofy parent+kid play laced with dancing and finished with green mustaches a la kale smoothies.  US TIME was the sweetest in the series,  a slow-down candlelit evening offering for partners and besties, blending acroyoga, thai massage, and trust exercises to refresh empathy and relax away stress.

"Who me, racist?" . . . Ummmm. So begins unearthing of patterns we never asked for but can no longer ignore. Grief, jealousy, longing, embarrassment, sel-righteousness: your time's up. Let me do the work so we can truly BE together.

I was blessed with the chance to face my own and society’s internalized racism full-on with the support of a group.  “Witnessing Whiteness” met every other Monday at the YWCA – using that book as a study guide, a group of about fifteen white folk embarked to understand the privilege given by our skin color, to educate ourselves on the history of racism, and to support each other in becoming Allies.  We unpacked our memories of being socialized as white, looked at the guilt we’ve carried, got in touch with the grief of living in such a world, shook off the powerlessness we’ve felt, and dug in.

I got to keep running with the work of discharging buried emotions and hard-to-reach patterns in Co-Counseling practice,  Though part of me maintains high skepticism of the overall RC org as per my still-healing aversion to organized religion, the benefits I’ve received from practicing this intentional deep listening clear any doubt of its benefit.  This shit works.  And I love it ‘cuz it’s free.  The people’s psychotherapy. Instead of shelling out money to a pro, two people make the agreement to support each other by swapping deep listening.   It’s amazing practice in completely Giving, then completely Receiving.  Know: the power of pure attention is golden.

So I notice this chasm in my social life in STL – like its art or spirit.   Art world vs. yoga world.   Collaboration or solitude.   Going out or waking up early.  Hip or woo-woo.   Smart or sacred.  And I know it’s not a face-off, but it’s felt like one.  It’s that sweet intersect in the Venn diagram that I want to live into.  Where co-creation is a spiritual act, where skillful masterpieces spark soulful eurekas, where Present coming together breeds deeper health.

Once on a visit to the history museum in Forest Park, where our righteous flash mob happened, my dad bought me the tee that goes "Well behaved women seldom make history." No duh. They make herstory! Or better yet Thistory.

Before I left, I got to take part in a community art movement that put its finger on this place in me.  From the moment I heard about One Billion Rising, I was on that youtube scooping the moves. Eve Ensler, of Vagina Monologue fame, catalyzed a worldwide flash mob of dancing women, rising together on Valentine’s Day as a statement of power, to end violence against women.   The power of the invitation came from her own victory, claiming wholeness in her own body after abuse and walking through intense cancer – coming to face the interconnections between her own body and In the body of the world. The great hall of the history museum was goosebump central as women of all walks, ages, shapes, colors came together to dance our freedom.  Breathing the electricity of Love in the air, elated sobs shook me free as I felt the undeniable web of light cast around the globe as women came together.  I was asked by ksdk to share why the event was important to me, and stepped past the shame and hesitation to claim my joy in being free.


"Love the Seed that's Planted". A sketch i made for a mural that never happened, during my last project-stay at Home-home in 2007.

LAST SPRING, WHEN I ASKED MY SOUL: WHAT’S NEXT? Weave your way back home, was the answer.  After a hibernating winter of study and quiet-time, I felt like it was time again to adios StLoo.  In April, I returned to the small town where I grew up, ready to make complete peace with my parents, reclaim my own faith,  forgive + accept + celebrate, and do some psychic surgery on patterns of not-belonging/not-good-enough that grew up in my youth.

I do ache for roots.  And I also honor this internal buzz, this impulse to see-feel-storytell the intentional community movement and new ways we can build Family.  I sense the need for deep, clear long-term choices AND I’m still rooting out the stubborn ingrained message that to grow a successful life’s work as a valid citizen means to have a permanent address, husband, children, and 9-5 job with benefits and retirement.   I want more than anything to step up and use my one beautiful life boldly for Highest Good, and I’m aware of why and how it’s hard for me to release fear of commitment.  I long for the “safety of a container” but am still working up the courage to deserve  it.  ………And, I’m doing my best.  I’m clearer than ever on my thrumming desire for Beloved community. I feel the writhing life of stirred-up City and I feel the roots that shoot thru my feet into soil, come Country.   I feel the bless of being surrounded by just a few folks i know thru and thru; I feel the eureka of finding kindred in a strangers gaze. I’m sloughing off what’s not. I’m healing my Desire.  I’m gonna let it take it’s time. I’m going to let it be mine.

2 Responses to STL^sHaPeS

  1. Leslie says:

    Sept 2013 brought its own new flavor in similar format for 9/11 memorial. Girl, you maybe didn’t know it but you were with me all the way. Ribbons, sky colors, big truck, intersections, sunbeams, gettin’ dirty and sweaty, stretching my own boundaries and testing the thickness of my own skin, asking forgiveness not permission, a multitude of chai, and a call to the universe that we open ourselves and see what’s possible. You. Were. There. Let’s catch up and know each other better when St. Louis re-enters your physical landscape instead of your memory-dream-mental-reflection-scape. Or I will come to you. You started something that’s going to become real…planted a seed and from faith it grew.

  2. Pingback: » Archive » EARTHSPEED

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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.