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.

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