finding a more authentic, playful life --- finding your story

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


So one of the things I'm doing down in Mexico at this crazy residency I got myself director of is to host weekly salons. The idea (stolen really from my friend Cat...who in turn stole it, France, I think) is to gather artists of all stripes (including art lovers) and share works in progress, talk about art, creative process, get feedback, ask questions, engage in dialogue and drink good wine. Everyone contributes in some way.

The community of Akumal has definitely been responding. We have been filled to capacity on almost every night. The attending members are asking questions and engaging in dialogue. It's really lovely.

Last Sunday, we had a 9 year old artist share work. Katerina came with her family the previous week and asked if she could share some of her artwork at the next salon. So I said yes, wanting to support budding artists...and she was astonishing -- articulate, brave and certain. She was so certain. She said she knew someday she would be a famous artist. It was said without a smile or any type of coyness. She was simply stating a fact. When I asked where her ideas for pictures came, she said she simply followed her intuition, followed the pen, drew what felt natural. Duh. I felt stupid asking! How else would she draw? When I asked her what she learned by sharing her art, she said nothing. The better question is what we learned by seeing it. Holy crap. When I told her she should perhaps only share one more picture (after about 30!) she looked at me like I was a ridiculous, sad sack of a human being and certainly 100% wrong to cut her off. (Needless to say, I let her show a few more) :)

She made me think. When do we adults start being fearful? When does fear, uncertainty, nervousness set in? How can we all be certain like Katerina? She taught us all a lesson, I think. Me especially. I have always considered myself brave. I moved to New York! I moved to Mexico! I make surprising, sometimes crazy choices! I'm brave!

But it was her quiet confidence that I coveted. It was her certainty. I want to know things with that certainty. Do you? I feel the older I get, the more I question things. Maybe it's about trust. Maybe it's about thinking less, certainly worrying less. But I don't know. All I know is maybe we all need to be more "Katerina-confident." After all, there is no right or wrong, right? There is only what we know.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Community (not the TV show)

As you may know, I recently moved to Chicago. I moved to be closer to my family. But a move is hard. When you are single and don't have a family of your own, you have to find another way of finding community. Often it's friends. They become family. They become your community.

I have an Iraqi refugee friend who recently got resettled here in Chicago. Alone. No family. No, I'm not on the path to fall for another Iraqi, but I am trying to make a point.

We need each other people. Without community we are lost. Dorothy Day said:  “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”

Community can be one person or a full entourage. It's your people. Finding community is finding your people. If you're unhappy, maybe you haven't found your people!

When I first moved to New York ten years ago, there was a time when I a mess. I felt lost, alone and had no real community. I had two dear friends, who saved me, but I had no sense of belonging anywhere. And I suffered. I was lonely. I missed my family. I missed my home. Eventually, I found a neighborhood and school and church and yoga studio and neighbors. And all this contributed to my well-being and my sense of community. All this ultimately made me happy.

Have you found your community? Good for you! Is there someone around you who could use a helping hand. Can you help another find their community? Can you help them find a sense of home? Look around. Be proactive. Is there an organization in your community who works with recently resettled refugees? or homeless people? Or even easier, is there someone across from you on the train, or bank line or sidewalk that could maybe benefit from a genuine smile, greeting, offer of help? Can we try to be more human with each other? Turn off your smart phone. Facebook can wait. And observe. Look. Participate. Don't let life (or opportunity) pass you by.

In improv, this might be called: making someone else look good. We use the concept in scenework to remind ourselves that the better someone else looks, we look. Make them successful, we succeed. (this is also the essence of team!) Make them happy, it contributes to your happiness. Contribute to their life, it contributes to yours, enlarging your own sense of community, of family. It's a win win folks.

Take care of each other out there.

“Every person is defined by the communities she belongs to.”
Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

writing drill

What was the most important thing to happen to you in the last year? Good or bad. Write about it in first person descriptively and emotionally.

Allow your story to emerge. Write your story.

(and share it in the comments section if you want!)


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

my mexican residency

So here I am...Akumal, once again. This time to direct an international artist residency. ( Fun!

The artists are all here and lovely---5 women this first round--lovely chicas!

It's such a joy to be around the creative spirit, let alone 5 creative spirits. Intelligence, creativity, passion, drive---these are all things I enjoy surrounding myself with. They make me more of all of them myself! I am very lucky.

Today I swam in the ocean, saw a friendly turtle a few feet away who I'm sure greeted me with a nod, ran errands up and down the beach to make the artists lives here easier as well as create awareness in the community and lay in a hammock as it began to rain. But also I already have some sort of stomach thing going on. So...nothing is perfect. :)

Next up is the first Sunday Salon, where we invite the community in to partake of wine and a lively themed discussion, accompanied by works-in-progress by the artists. Should be an interesting night. If you live nearby, come say hello. If not...stay tuned for more updates!