Monday, May 25, 2015

GATHER / twyla tharp and the creative habit: post one

A really incredible friend of mine had been RAVING about this book, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life by legendary choreographer Twyla Tharp for years. I had it on my amazon queue for months and months and then one night, waiting to grab dinner with said friend, I walked into a book store and this was staring me in the face. It begged to be purchased and ravenously consumed.

The book is life changing, and I don't mean that in a self-deprecating way. It truly helped to adjust my thinking and helped me hone in on what I want to offer the world as a creative. Since I am so enamored with Twyla's offerings, I thought I'd share one of her exercises with you.

For this post. Set aside at least 30 minutes to really play here. This exercise was SOOO enlightening.

In chapter three, your creative DNA, Twyla says, "If you understand the strands of your creative DNA, you begin to see how they mutate into common threads in your work. You begin to see the story" that you're trying to tell: why you do the things you do (both positive and self destructive): where you are strong and where you are weak, and how you see the world and function in it. (Tharp, 44).

Don't hesitate here. These questions are just for you. You can answer them honestly and in your own voice. They are just here to help illuminate.

These are my answers to the first 15 questions.....what are yours? Questions 16-33 will be in a separate post.

Your Creative Autobiography

1. What is the first creative moment you remember?

I've always been mesmerized by collage. I used to spend hours at the time getting lost in building collages from other people's words and work. Tracing was also something that would devour my time when I was younger. I always wanted to be interactive with other people's works of art.

2. Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it?

My little sister would get stuck participating in my creative endeavors. We're four and a half years a part. She spent most of our childhood lurking in my shadow. We recently sat together for a night and collages with mod podge (a new medium for me) and she quietly let me know how much she admired and truly saw collage as a passion of mine.

3. What is the best idea you've ever had?

Creating a painted tree on a wall of a teen temporary foster care home. I was in my senior year of high school and my boss asked if we could come up with an art project with the kids. I offered up the idea of painting a huge tree on one of the interior walls, near the tv room, which, would then have every kid place their handprint in paint on the wall. Each kids who came to stay; for a week, a month, or years, would know that they always had a family there. It is still one of my meaningful pieces of work.

4. What makes it great in your mind? 

I impacted. I was bigger than myself. I was truly offering meaning to those that I had suffered more than I could comprehend. I connected. I created without any expectation of reciprocation.

5. What is the dumbest idea?

I truly believe there're no dumb ideas, only places to grow from. All my "dumb" ideas turned into my places of greatest learning.

6. What made it stupid? 

Dumb ideas always seem like a place to start from. Give yourself time.

7. Can you connect the dots that lead you to this great idea? 

I was feeling really vulnerable in my job, the kids around me had experienced so much pain and suffering in their short lives. It felt visceral and really beyond the scope of my life. Our conversations always revolved around a sense of belonging. I wanted to create a space where they would always belong; something permanent in their ever changing lives. It was the only way I could think to connect us.

8. What is your creative ambition? 

To connect people; to others, to themselves, to their yoga practice, to their passions, to the core of who they want to be. I want to be a conduit and cultivator for creation and connection.

9. What are the obstacles to this ambition? 

That little voice inside my head that screams into the night.

10. What are the vital steps to achieving this ambition? 

Surrender. To acknowledge my journey now. To know that I am on this path. I am currently living out this ambition. To SHARE, more and often. To give to other MORE AND OFTEN.

11. How do you begin your day? 

Often longing for rituals. Usually I wake up tired and reluctant to remove the warm blanket that keeps me safe from harm. Sometimes, hopefully more starting today, with some movement, some contemplation, and some good food.

12. What are your habits? What patterns do you repeat? 

I am a habitual eater at home. I crave the comfort of stability and sameness. I love to curl up next to the ones I love. I get a chai latte every day; there is something so very grown up about a warm cup in your hand to start the day. I write when I am sad and overwhelmed. I practice yoga often and sometimes against my will. I crave sweat. I say I love you at least 20 times a day. I stay awake long after my body longs for bed. I love to get lost in fiction. I love blankets and pillows and the feeling of being wrapped up.

13. Describe your first successful creative act. 

I very clearly remember the final product (I still have it in a box in my room) of a short detective book that I wrote in elementary school. I had to design a book cover, write the story and illustrate it. I was so proud of it when it was completed.

14. Describe your second successful creative act.

I clearly remember a collage I made my a poetry project in high school. I went wild and above and beyond the expectations of my teacher. I create this beautifully collages book of images juxtaposed with the poetry. It felt and still feels magical to me.

15. Compare them. 

In both instances, I didn't ask for permission to create outside of a box. I just did it. I just created. I just let what I felt guide how I made. It's interesting looking back on both of those, I don't remember hesitating or waiting for permission to create. It was just inevitable. It's interesting to see how I've gotten in my own way as I've grown up.

Friday, May 22, 2015

GATHER / look up

Look around. Be a tourist in your own backyard. 
I made an impromptu trip to the library the other day and out of nowhere this stunning display happily greeted me. 

Art is everywhere. Take a deep breath. Soak it in. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

FOLD / reaching past your comfort zone

Chair pose often gets a bad rap. It's one of those poses that is awkward and uncomfortable. It requires patience, mindful alignment, strength and balance. We could easily avoid this pose for the rest of our lives, but where we would be if we only tried things that were easy and felt good, all of the time.

Yoga is about the dissonance between strength and surrender. Surrender feels good, it feels like melting and breathing is easy to find in those moments we we can just let go and sigh deep. Strength can feel like an affront on our bodies and in our minds. You mean I have to hold this for how legs are shaking....I just can't do it.

But without strength, we cannot build beyond this pose. Without strength, we stop growing. I know that chair pose used to be one of those poses that I couldn't wait to get out of. But now, I think about all the micro adjustments I need to find surrender even amongst having to be strong. If you sink into your heels, free your toes, lengthen through the crown and spinal column, tilt your pelvis towards the ground and melt you tailbone towards your heels, you will come begin to find a new relationship with this pose.

You will find moments inside of it that allow you to fully breathe in and out and you will savor the sweetness of that release into a forward fold.

How have you been holding out on your practice? 
Have you been avoiding those postures that require strength, patience, and a kind mind? 

Next time you roll out your mat, can you find space to relax into those poses that require strength? Then can you sink deeper into the moments of sweet surrender. You are stronger than you think you are. Try finding chair pose, or any pose that you find yourself avoiding, just for a few minutes.

Raise your arms up over head and find a strong Tadasana (or Mountain Pose). Turn your pinky fingers slightly in towards each other, activate the muscles in your outer arms. Turn on your shoulders by actively pressing them together and down your back. Take a deep breath in. As you exhale deeply, sit back into your imaginary chair. You can do this against as wall as well, to help straighten and align your spine. Sit a little bit deeper. Sit back onto your heels, you should be able to free your toes from the earth and root down through the back body. Your knees should be far enough back that you can see your toes greeting you from below. Straighten through the back body, feel long and powerful in your spine. Feel length even as your legs begin to shake.

Shaking happens in yoga, it is a powerful tool that allows us to know when we are breaking boundaries in our bodies. It alerts us to our strength. Keep that steady breath. Inhales to grow tall and exhales to sink deeper. Tuck your tailbone by engaging in your core. Bring the bellybutton towards your spine and curl your tailbone underneath you. Feel the chest rise up. Take one last huge inhale and as you exhale, before you sink into a yummy forward fold. Allow yourself a few breaths to really soak in your surrender. Fill the belly with breath and really acknowledge where you are and how you feel.

Utkatasana, means fierce pose. Be fierce. I know you have it in you. Strength breeds vulnerability, surrender, intuition, and growth. Get out of your head and into the pose, watch is shift inside of you.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

GATHER / core desired feelings MAY EDITION

CLARITY : the quality of being easy to see or hear

EXPLORE : inquiry into, to examine by touch

MORNING : the beginning, the first period of anything. 

CENTERED : the source of an influence, a point on which emotion focuses

ALIGNMENT : an adjustment to a line 

May feels a bit like a punch in the face. But apparently, I am far from alone. In doing some astrological digging, I found out that March and April were tumultuous times for the universe, we were tossed about, gifted hard truths, and shaken a bit at our core. But....there is a silver lining. It's a newness, a moment to breath in where we are and move forward by embracing the unknown. When we make space for integration, we see our life through a new clear vision from our eyes and heart strings.

Lena Stevens, from The Power, wrote in her article about the energetic theme for May,
Look at what is showing up in your life and allow it to align itself to you in a way that supports where you are going."
I love that. LOOK and then TRUST. deeply. without questions. 

How does May feel in your bones?

In mine, it feels tumultuous, unpredictable, and ever changing. Maybe that big, bright, beautiful full moon has had something to do with it. 

I am not feeling charged at the moment. We all have these moments in life and at the moment mine feel filled with longing and inquiry. I want to find some mindfullness around knowing self this month. I want to take a step back, surrender, and listen to what is whispering to me in the background. I want to be filled with choice and free from the weight of desperation. A lovely little newsletter from Danielle LaPorte greeted me happily in my inbox this week. It said, "the light choice is the right choice. don't say yes until it feels...light." AMEN sister. Seek the light, shed the dark, and stay beautifully tied to your center. 

You already know your truth, you just need to have the courage to show up, listen, and say yes, from that place of warm and glowy light.

Monday, May 11, 2015

GATHER / see something

This last weekend I had the sincere pleasure of attending the PARIS PHOTO exhibit at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. Empty store front facades in staged New York City were transformed into an international art fair that housed so much aching beauty. It was incredible to feel out of my comfort zone, mingling with others interested in seeking the unusual and visceral, and being a part of something that felt bigger than myself.

When was the last time you wandered out of your routine? 

Maybe it's a road you haven't taken in a while, a new route to the grocery store, a longer, but more beautiful commute to work, an early morning sunrise. You can do it. It only has to happen once. Try it and see how it will turn your head and give you access to a new and expansive place inside yourself.

Dare to make space for something small to shift. It will make all the difference.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

FOLD / offerings.

One of the definitions of an offering is to present a prayer.

Have you ever felt as though you were shrinking? A bit like Alice down her rabbit hole. I find myself slipping sometimes, unwillingly jumping to the worst possible conclusions, finding myself alone in the dark, when really there are lights everywhere.

I was thinking about offerings today. Those things that we offer up to the world that serve as a request for something greater, something more clear, something we can understand.

I am so far from having it all figured out, but today, as I was thinking about things that were weighing heavily on my mind I realized all I had to do was offer it up. Say a quiet wish into the unknown and let that wish carry you ahead. I know this sounds a bit woo woo, but try it. Turn off all the noise in that very loud head of yours and speak that prayer out loud. Find the words to ask for what you need.

Last night, I spoke out loud about guidance and grace. Right now, I need both. I need to feel supported and connected and I need to trust that this too shall pass. We will never have everything figured out. There will always be highs and lows, but offerings, we can have those in spades.

Offer up something that you need, wish, desire, crave. Give it to up something greater than you. I promise you will find comfort in just speaking it out loud.

Let yourself surrender into the unknown, and trust that you spoke what you needed and that it was heard.

Be gentle. You're hanging in there. Know that we've got you.

Monday, May 4, 2015

GATHER / the importance of coffee dates

You are not in this alone

Let me say that one. more. time.

You are not in this alone. 

Yesterday was spent with a good friend of mine. We are always really open with each other, but yesterday, we seemed to melt into a space of vulnerability right from the get go. In talking to each other about our stressors, our current state of mind, and the things that were weighing us down. I realized that we are all walking around in this world thinking that our problems are our own. That they are singular and are not felt by other people. We we allow ourselves to really speak from that place of vulnerability, it becomes easy for others to say "I feel that too".

Sometimes all we need is someone else to acknowledge where we are at, to help us understand how to keep moving forward.

Take a trusted friend out for coffee, tell them how you really feel; no guards, no pretension, just truth. You will leave feeling a deeper, more profound connection to your friend and yourself.

We all need each other and we are all in this together. Who knew a coffee date could do that.