Who Is This For?

It’s one of my favorite fantasies to believe that I can stay safe inside my little bubble, creating only what I want to create, when I want to create it, and that people will love all of it and and pay me great wads of money just to have a part of it in their lives, but that’s not how the world works. No artist can live in a vacuum without devolving into self-referential, repetitive work, running out of ideas, or just plain going mad. And the truth is, the act of creation, for many of us, doesn’t have a lot of meaning if it’s just about self gratification. For me, specifically, I want my creations to make a difference in people’s lives–to inspire them, to give them hope, to help them find what they need to then make a difference in the lives of others.

There is a quote by Rumi, that elegantly sums this up:

Be a lamp… Rumi

But that is only the what, not the who. Which brings us to today’s question.

#DareToExcel Challenge – 4:

Who is this for?

The innovators who thrive advance their big, new ideas in part because they love their ideas to make a difference in other people’s lives. Do some research on the people who might benefit from your challenge. Look at the online conversations, on our private forum, or – better – have real-time conversations with customers or potential audience members.

Make notes on what feels broken or not-quite-right or downright frustrating in their worlds.

How does he feel when he’s not feeling so great? What one irritation keeps tripping her up?

Then make notes on this: What does she want – a different feeling, a problem solved, one step toward a yearning – that your project might surprisingly give her?

Go back to your burning question: How will your question invite them in?

Look back at your project brief. Did you define a problem in a way that speaks to their perceived wants?

Don’t over-think it for now. We’re taking notes and keeping momentum.

I have to admit, I balk at the word audience. It reeks to me of performance, as though I am putting on my beliefs like a costume that I can remove at any time and revert to who I really am. For me, and for probably all of us undertaking this challenge (and many more beyond), the whole point of this exercise, of the work that I do, is to fully embrace and share my true self whether it nets me customers or not. I want to focus not on giving people what I think they want, but on helping them find what they truly  need. But semantics aside, Jeffrey is right. Art for art’s sake is not enough. It needs to be shared, and it’s important to know who will be best served and to share it with them.

While I do think that there are people who could be well served by my first question, and it’s associated project Hands in Motion, Mind at Rest–people who want to find ways to work their way through distractions, to make space for the big important work to flourish–I believe it is the book, 3T, that has the most to give:

  • To women who feel like the heroic stories of our past have stolen our deepest symbols and stripped us of our power and agency, and long to rediscover and reclaim them
  • To students and teachers of Medieval, Celtic, Catholic, and most particularly, their intersection in Arthurian literature, legend, and mythology, especially those with feminist-leanings
  • To anyone looking for ways to create new stories to replace those that don’t fit anymore
  • To survivors of bad relationships or trauma, those dealing with grief and loss, those who may struggle with “invisible” health problems, or others, especially women, who feel powerless and want to take their power back (perhaps even preppers)
  • To people of all genders who believe that climate change is real but that the paths we have half-heartedly travelled in our attempts to solve a problem that threatens us all are just not working

Seeing it written it all feels a bit broad, but I believe there is a great deal of overlap, and that these rough notes will begin to coalesce as I work on the book. As for the small sample set of people I’ve talked to about the book–they all said they were excited about the unique combination of history, symbolism, feminism, climate change, and memoir the work will include. What they want is a new path to healing, re-empowerment, and social/environmental change. And that is exactly what I am hoping to build.

Time to rework my #projectbrief.

 

One Small Project

Our second #daretoexcel prompt arrived yesterday, but, unsurprisingly, given my first burning question, it took me a bit before I could sort an answer.

#DareToExcel Challenge – 2:

What one small project can you define to start creating into your burning question?

Complete the top half of the My Project Brief Sheet – title, problem, feeling, and/or question as well as the wonder & curiosity that can light you up to excel. Share it with your audiences. You’ll be glad you did later in the challenge.

To help you focus, write or draw or design a simple project brief. Don’t make it overly analytical but don’t undervalue this really important process either.

Set limits and constraints. Maybe you limit how long you are going to take to create this small project. Will you limit how many pages, designs, or features the project will have? If it is for an audience or a customer base, what problem do they have that this small project might respond to?

Unlike our first prompt of the challenge which came to me in a flash (actually two back-to-back flashes), prompt number two required a little more thought–partly because I have two questions, which at first, at least in my mind, aren’t really that connected. The very first thing that popped into my head when I read this was Jeffrey’s rephrase of my first question, which he simplified into a short, catchy phrase: What if I make instead of mull? Which is great, but a) how does that translate into a project, and b) how does that project relate to my second question about the book, when the first question was actually about sewing? Which of course sent my brain into full mull-mode. So instead of continuing to let it spin itself into a tizzy, I decided to sleep on it.

As it turns out, “sleeping on it” is the perfect metaphor for how a Make, Don’t Mull project would work.

IMG_2222

It seems counter-intuitive at first, focusing on quilts in order to make space for a book to grow, but the longer I sit with it, the more right it feels. In some ways it’s just like taking up meditation in order to relax and clear the mind, except with the added bonus, of finishing incomplete projects that have been weighing me down. Their completion will not only free the head-space that they’ve been occupying, it will also free up the physical space in my one small room, and may even bring in a few extra dollars to boot.

So while I am stitching away, at the rate of at least one seam per day, I will also be ramping up my book research. But instead of obsessing over every historical and mythological detail, trying to will just the right way to weave it all together, I plan to make basic notes as I go, but otherwise take a laissez-faire attitude, allowing the pieces to mix and mingle naturally, letting the threads and characters make their own connections, letting the story lead the way.

This is not my usual tack. I have always been a plotter not a pantser when it comes to writing books. It is also not my usual way to finish anything beyond a first muddled draft that I find it difficult to untangle. Perhaps by letting the story steer for a change, together we might actually reach our destination.

 

Publish

Change is afoot.

Have you ever gone on a  trip only to return and feel like you may never catch up? That’s where I am right now, having just returned from a week in California to attend the fifth annual FOGcon spec fiction writers’ conference. The event itself only took up three of those days, but since I had to get on a plane anyway, I decided to pad my trip with a little extra time to see family and friends. Which was great, but a bit of a whirlwind. And the con? It turned out to be one of those experiences that has incited me to question everything. To review, rethink, re-imagine. And not just the specific projects, but my whole direction, my mission, what I want to achieve and how I go about achieving it.

In addition to that game changer (which I hope to post about soon, either here or on my apocalypse blog), my work schedule is about to change dramatically–evolving from something approximating 1.5 days per week plus intermittent freelance work, to 5 days per week, likely starting at the end of the month. After so many years drifting around employment, it’s going to be a serious adjustment. Then again, I have hopes that a more rigorous schedule might help me better manage my personal work time as well. But either way, a girl’s gotta pay her rent. And between now and then, I will be working hard to get my space, tasks, and time streamlined and organized, and revisiting my post about which things I need to #stop. Otherwise, I could be looking at a pretty rough transition.

Among the things that need catching up on: Quest posts.

#LiveTheQuest question 9:
What indicators of growth can you celebrate? #celebrations

Look back on your second month as well as at your reflections with prompt 5, #growth. What small indicators can you identify and celebrate that you have changed something positively in Month 2 or that you are moving the direction you need? For instance, are you acting differently? Are you thinking differently? Are you speaking about yourself as a business artist and your best work differently?

Probably the most important growth indicator has been giving up the Big Picture for Lent. I have always struggled with the project equivalent of my eyes being too big for my stomach. I load my plate with everything it can hold and then some, all the while envisioning the even more extravagant feasts I will create in my future. But the truth is, I can’t even decide which delicacy to put in my mouth first, so I try a bite here and another one there, until I’m too full and queasy to think about cooking ever again.

Having taken a step back from that vicious cycle, I’ve noticed a couple of important things. It isn’t just about how much I load onto my plate, it’s what. It’s easy to be lured by sweets, but they don’t work for the long (or in my case even the short) haul. To help counteract that, in part inspired by a recent post by Saundra Goldman, I have started focusing again on questions, the most important of which has become:

What do you most want to build?

Followed by:

Will this help you build it?

These two questions work for pretty much everything, from what I eat and how much I sleep, to which books, projects, and other activities deserve my time. Some items have easy answers. Too much sugar, bad television, and/or excess social media not only won’t help me build anything, they will pretty much unbuild everything.

The TowerBut other things aren’t so clear. And that’s because the answer to the first question hasn’t been so clear. And now that FOGcon has basically thrown a big fat Tower card onto the table, it’s even less so… except that, maybe, it’s not. Because there is nothing quite like having preconceived notions blown apart to reveal in stark relief, the inviolable things that remain standing. The foundation, of course… the west wall upon which I scribble incantations in invisible ink that only reveals itself when illuminated by a setting equinox sun… the outline of a once hidden box where years ago I buried my heart to keep it safe from harm…

Fire reveals the shape of things. What remains after we sift through the ash becomes the bones of a new beginning. Tonight the sifting begins. Soon after, I will draft a stronger plan on the foundation of the old. Which leads us to the next Quest prompt:

 #LiveTheQuest question 10:
How will you “publish” your project? #publish
Look back on your #burningquestion and #oneproject. How are you or could you get this project “out” into the hands and hearts of the people who ache for it? How will you publish it?

First, a reminder of my #burningquestion:

What if instead of having to choose, I could combine the things I love?

And then my #oneproject:

To create an object of art that incorporates:

  • Words
  • Pictures
  • Fabric
  • Inspiration from existing works of literature, poetry, and art
  • And dreaming my way through our world’s uncertain future

Because my path lies not in walking a straight or winding road, but in building a home at the place my roads converge.

A few posts later, I decided this project would take the form of a quilt. And I may still make that quilt.  But re-reading what I wrote about my questions and projects in light of #publishing, I realized that even before this quest started I had begun creating a work that incorporates all of these things, as well as a companion burning question about prepping for the best instead of the worst. This is already out there in front of the world–online, on Facebook, on Pinterest, and on my business cards. It’s my Apocalypse Garden–my home at the place where the roads converge. My own little Pantano Realty building (for those of you familiar with my hometown).

As for what impact my FOGcon experience may have on my little garden, that remains to be seen–perhaps a new tagline, a new posting schedule, improved content and social media plans–but the structure appears to be sound.

And in case you wonder why I referred to it as my little garden, I’ll just leave this here:  Why “Stop Playing Small” is Bullshit

Shaping Time

#LiveTheQuest question 7:

How can you change your relationship to time? #shapingtime
What one thing could you do this week to shift your relationship to time? Having too little time is largely a matter of perception. William James observed this over 100 years ago, and psychologists and anthropologists alike are confirming that sometimes depending upon our economic level, our nation of origin, our experience of awe, and more, we might perceive that we are busy or not.

What one thing could you do this week to shift your relationship to time for the better?

One thing? Of course I have a list, including things I have already been working on, but for this week, just one thing, I will focus on this:

I will prioritize my most cherished activities early in the day–write at least one sentence, read at least one page, take at least one photo–before I dig in to email, chores, or anyone else’s work.

I started today that way and already feel the weight of my to do list and deadlines slipping from my shoulders. It’s strange. I wrote a  poem about this years ago for a friend. Sometimes it takes a while for us to embrace what we already know for ourselves.

TO DO LIST

Put yourself first. At the top of the list. Cross off returning that phone call you didn’t want to make. It’s too early in that time zone to call anyway. And the laundry will still be there an hour from now, still lounging in its casual best, happy enough to delay its swim.

Instead walk out into the gold and coral dawn. Watch the sun paint the sky every imaginable glowing hue as clouds coast by like boys on downhill bicycles.

Take your favorite mug filled with your favorite tea—the one that smells of coconut and the sea—out to the wooden Adirondack chair, now grey with age and the harsh Santa Fe sun, to watch the tinted light stream by as birds sing and centipedes dance at your feet.

Pick up that pen, the one that felt so good in your hand that it practically flew across the page. Flew, yes, like those birds, like those clouds, like those colors slipping away to pale as the sun rises higher and the sky flashes blue.

Or choose your own road—a paintbrush, a trowel, a chapter from that gloriously long book—but choose it and write it down. At the top of that list. Because once you’ve had that gorgeous moment, that day is yours. And nothing else can touch you.

 

Shift

Something has been shifting out here in the snowy southwest, and it all started with a picture. This picture, actually…

Dreaming

 

… a young girl asleep in the back seat of the family car with her best friend Smokey Bear, dreaming the beauty of a world to come. The first photo in a series that will grow to at least 365 images deep. Perhaps more.

But actually it started with this post from fellow Quester Marisa Goudy: How a 365 Photo Project Makes You a Better Writer.

I’d done a 365 project before, starting Koru365 in December 2010, when my dissatisfaction with working in corporate tech was reaching its crescendo. At that time I had already begun to plan my escape, but needed something to both inspire and anchor me during the transition. And it did. So I  already knew that a 365 project could change a life. And since I had been longing for a little positive change again lately, when I read her second article, The 365 Project as a Creative Process, on my friend Saundra Goldman’s wonderful site, Creative Mix, I knew it was time to give a new 365 project a go–posting a daily photo from my life and work to my Facebook page.

Only 13 days in I am already feeling a shift. So far my photos have revealed dreams, distractions, the artistic lines of words on paper, major blocks to creativity, the beauty of what’s outside my windows, and more. The process has returned my attention to the world I inhabit and what truly matters, as I consider what I want this chronicle to reveal about my life this time next year.

And it has done something else. As promised, it has gotten me writing consistently again–a feat supported by a second very simple 365 project I’m doing with two friends, in which we share one sentence we’ve written that day with each other. Knowing that they are waiting, that they are also writing, makes me want to share something beautiful with them. And so every morning for the last five days, I have written either a poem (sometimes more than one) and/or a page or two in a novel that I started but didn’t finish this past November.

One sentence, one photo doesn’t seem like much, and maybe that’s why it works. Because it is so simple, almost stupidly simple, to complete, we complete it. And sometimes we do more. Sometimes a lot more. But even if we don’t, over time, these small bricks, stacked one on top of the other, combine to build something extraordinary–a castle, a bridge, a cathedral. A body of work. A life.

What will your bricks build this year?

 

Skills

Sometimes answering is hard because you don’t know where to start. Other times, it’s hard because you don’t know where to stop.

#LiveTheQuest – 4:
What skill set do you need and want to develop or to hone? #skill
Between a naive hobbyist amateur and a signature artist is a curious apprentice. If you ever lose the apprentice’s edge, you risk either keeping your head in the sands of fear or in the clouds of arrogance.

To live your question and respond to your challenges differently, what new skill set do you need and want to develop this quarter in order to execute your one project or something else exceptionally well? What existing skill set do you need and want to hone and sharpen? How can you do so more intentionally?

Self-Care

Just because I’ve managed to keep myself alive all these years, doesn’t mean I have a clue about how to treat myself well. Eight times out of ten, I consider food a chore. The ninth time it fills me with dread. And that last one, it fills me with joy (but usually only when it involves things that are bad for me). And sleep? I love the idea, but somehow that love doesn’t translate into action.

I need to learn the difference between taking care of myself and treating myself with care. And once I do, I need to develop the skills that those unfamiliar actions require, like cooking, and turning off the computer before midnight, and learning when to say no. Which brings us to skill set number 2…

Letting Go

Today at work, my boss and I were talking about my work schedule. She told me she has hesitated to ask me about taking on more hours because she knows how busy I am. But when pressed, neither one of us could say what, exactly, I am so busy doing. Working, cleaning, errand-ing, Facebooking, planning, recovering, writing, blogging, sewing, dreaming, seeing… living?

But the fact is, much of what I spend my time on (and sometimes who I spend my time with) has nothing to do with my priorities, or even my interests. A lot of it has to do with digging through piles trying to find things. A lot of it has to do with things that other people want from me. A lot of it has to do with should-ing. A lot of it has to do with distracting myself from all of those things. And a lot of it has to do with trouble prioritizing amid a sea of too many daily decisions.

So how do I fix it?

  • Let it go
  • Just say no
  • And…

Habit Building

One good way to cut down the overwhelm of excess decision making, aside from culling clutter and other distractions, is to automate as much of our routines as we can by turning them into habits. According to dictionary.com, a habit is:

An acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.

Almost involuntary–that’s what I’m talking about. And so is SJ Scott, author of Habit Stacking. Not only does he talk about the best ways to create repeatable, habit-forming routines, he also gives us tons of great suggestions for the kinds of things that work best (spoiler: discreet, simple actions that take less than five minutes to complete). String together a set that can be linked to each other and last no more than 20 minutes, and you have a recipe for success. Identifying these actions and honing their order is a skill that I’m already working on, and once I get my morning and evening routines set, I’ll see what others I can come up with (like writing perhaps).

Writing & Editing

The truth is, I already write every day–in my journal, the contents of which vary widely from story building, to bitch sessions, to To Do lists, to dreams, to whatever else flits through my early morning (and often late night) mind. But working on actual projects–a novel, poetry, blog posts–is something that happens sporadically at best (or in an intense, focused burst usually inspired by a challenge like NaNoWriMo). To be able to work on a project consistently, perhaps even slowly (dare I say mindfully?) over time? That is a skill I would love to build. Because let’s face it, as a crafter, November is insane enough without trying to squeeze in 50,000 words.

And while we’re on the subject of words, I need to add editing to my skills list–not just editing in general. I’ve already been told by many people that I have both talent and skill for that… just not when it comes to my own work. I have full drafts of 5 novels, three of which may even be worth polishing, an assortment of short stories, and enough poems to fill a book (maybe more) which are all currently languishing in some form of filing black hole, because when it comes down to it, the razor-sharp perception and eagle eye for character, story, and prose that I can wield with precision for other people’s work, goes all cloudy when I look at mine. And if I am ever going to make a real go at this writing thing (aside from a few published poems here and there) I need to figure this out.

Sewing Techniques, & Technology

As with writing, I have a ton of ideas for quilts I want to make–many of which I just plain don’t have the skill for. Hand piecing, quilting, appliqué (regular and reverse), and embellishment for example. Structural 3D for another. Also, piecing curves, making my own patterns, dyeing my own fabric, making, mending, and altering clothes and accessories. And I’m still a beginner with free-motion quilting, paper piecing, machine appliqué, working with non-fabric materials, and can always use more work on my rotary cutting (I just never really got the hang of it).

And then there is the world beyond fabric and thread–the world of sewing technology. I have a computerized sewing machine with over 250 decorative stitches, including two alphabets, none of which I have ever used. It also includes a memory feature where you can save stitch settings and combinations for repeated use which I have also never used. Sure I can stitch, and ditch quilt, and even do some limited free-motion, but I want more. Why shell out the money for a hot rod if you’re never going to take it out of first gear? And there are other machines out in the world that I want to learn. I’m pretty good with the sit-down long arm which is basically a mechanical with a speed control and needle up/down, but what about the 26″ long arm on the 10 foot frame that I played with at AQS QuiltWeek? The one with the stitch regulator that it’s almost impossible to outrun and the advanced computer where you can select pre-programmed designs (or upload or create your own) and have the robot stitch them out for you? It’s the kind of machine that could launch 1000 ships (or a serious quilting business) and since we will be hosting one in the store, I plan to learn that thing inside out.

And I can’t forget the EQ7 software (finally out for Mac) that lets you design quilts digitally, even create and print patters (that can even be sold), and the Artistic Edge digital cutter that can whip through appliqué cutting in a flash… and the list goes on.

Sure, I can’t do it all now, but with a little discernment, I should be able to prioritize, starting with two techniques that I want to learn for one more reason than just improving my craft.

Mindfulness Practice

I have known for a long time that I need to find a mindfulness practice that works for me. Sitting never has. Fortunately, I believe I finally have a couple of leads: hand stitching and free-motion quilting. Aside from learning the hows of the techniques themselves, I will also need to build skill in the mindfulness components: remaining present, observing without judgement, letting go of the chatter in my mind. I’m planning to try doodling and coloring in mandalas as well.

Discernment

And lastly, discernment, because the truth is, I want to learn or improve my skills at all the things. Prepping, homesteading, house building, sustainable power, blogging, French, Japanese, Spanish, Scots Gaelic, Celtic history and lore, photography, spec-fic, tarot, experimental poetry, how to build a business, how to decide which business to build, to read all the books, to see all the movies… you get the picture.

Luckily, this year, I have my priorities to help guide me: Health, Creative Work, Relationships, and Learning, in that order. Reading all the books can wait. First comes eating, sleeping, and being kind to myself. Eye on the prize.

Stop

Yesterday’s Quest2015 prompt from visionary Charlie Gilkey, asks us to think, not about what we want to take on next, but about what we need to stop.

“Pursue knowledge, daily gain. Pursue Tao (wisdom), daily loss.” – Tao Te Ching*

We often think too much about adding new things, when the source of a lot of our growth is eliminating old things.

What do you need to STOP doing in 2015?

And what do you need to do to make that STOPPING more than an intention?

Attribution: Derek Lin’s translation of the Tao Te Ching

Interestingly, it was the stress of being too busy to answer this question yesterday when it first posted, that led me to wake up with the answers:

In 2013, with the intention of jump-starting my quilting career, I did three crazy things: I signed up to do a solo quilt show and started two holiday craft fairs, one in my community and one online. All three happened in November. Because I had no real idea what I was getting into, I figured I had all kinds of time, and wound up nearly killing myself in October and November trying to get everything done. At the end of that month, I swore that next year (this year) I would do things differently. I would start earlier so I wouldn’t be sewing at the 11th hour. I would clear my schedule starting in September so I could focus more fully on getting everything done without stress. But alas, not only did I procrastinate the making, I added a ton more to my plate (National Novel Writing Month, daily blogging at the Apocalypse Garden, increased hours at work, and not one, not two, but three quilt commissions). Suffice it to say, it hasn’t gone so well. 

So what do I need to ‪#‎stop‬?

  • I need to stop procrastinating, thinking I’ll have more time later (NTS: I won’t)
  • I need to stop putting my art last and do a better job of integrating it into my daily life, both to minimize stress and to enable myself to take better advantage of opportunities
  • I need to stop wasting my time on low-return projects–financial, emotional, creative, and/or spiritual
  • I need to stop saying yes to every commission–only a select few are worth the work and stress
  • I need to stop taking on every fun project that piques my interest, especially at this time of year
  • I need to stop refusing to invest in my art and business–business cards, a $20 webinar on the slow stitching movement, a website plug-in that will allow people to contact me via form not email, none of these cost that much and could make a big difference in my ability to transform this hobby into something more

And how will I make that stopping more than an intention? By committing to taking a close look at everything on my plate within the next 30 days and really discerning what matters most (including empty space for myself) and what needs to be cut (both projects and physical stuff). Quilt making stays. Poetry stays. That November novel, the daily blogging, the five websites, commission work, the two craft fairs and annual solo show… we shall see.

 

Heart Leaps

Today’s Quest2015 prompt from author Pam Houston asks us to consider what makes our hearts leap.

Sit quietly and ask yourself, what in the last day or week or month has made your heart leap up? Not what should, or might or always had, but what did. Make that list. Be honest, even if it surprises you. Keep the list with you this month. Add to it when it happens. Train yourself to notice. Then ask your self today, how can I arrange my life to get more of those heart leaps in it?

The list is longer than I expected, which shouldn’t surprise me. I have a lot of different interests.

  • Holding the finished 7 Blessings quilt top up to the light and watching it glow like stained glass
  • Having a fellow quester compare 7 Blessings to an Australian Opal
  • Finding, watching, and sharing Apocalypse Rhyme on Apocalypse Garden and on Facebook
  • Dreaming the future shape of the Apocalypse Garden
  • My near perfect Apocalypse Garden blogging streak (only one day missed since I started the blog on 9/30/14)
  • The Friends of the Library book sale and all its treasures, especially finding a $1 copy of the Book Lover’s Journal and a mint condition copy of The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Discovering, browsing, holding, sharing, reading books of all kinds, but especially having them in my space–more than anything else, they are my security blanket, my inspiration, my solace, and my joy
  • Finishing CS Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet (and sci-fi lit in general)
  • Watching some amazing, original, risk-taking movies, including Birdman, Twilight Angel, and an old favorite, Strictly Ballroom
  • Poetry class taught by Tony Hoagland (and his amazing reading last month)
  • Sharing and discussing poetry with my two poet cousins, MJ and Suzanne Marie. whose work and interests are uncannily similar to mine
  • Making connections with some amazing fellow questers
  • Napping in my casita’s only comfy chair with the man I love
  • The koala painting in my bathroom–every time I see it

So how can I arrange my life to get more heart leaps?

Spend more time in the bathroom? But seriously, the answer is simple–prioritize what’s important:

  • Quilting
  • Poetry
  • Books and writing (let’s just call this stories to keep it simple)
  • Movies (also stories)
  • Art
  • People
  • My blog (which is set to include all of the items on this list, plus prepping, my favorite OCD obsession)

And stop trying to second-guess what I’ve already decided to focus on in 2015–the Apocalypse Garden. Instead, I should spend my energy this month sorting out just how all that will manifest.

Unmake to Rebuild

A few minutes ago I opened today’s Quest 2015 prompt from Jason Silva, read it, and quickly closed it again.

In what ways might you artfully curate your life in 2015 to occasion serendipity, creativity and awe? 

Ontological designing says: We design our world and the world designs us back.

What are the linguistic and creative choices you can make in 2015 that will in turn act back upon you and transform you?

Improv II I don’t even know how to parse the sentences he used. Especially not at this moment. Not after journaling four new pages this morning that completely undo Monday’s post. Four pages that essentially boiled down to: what if I could just drop out? What if I could stop trying to design a livelihood and focus instead on living a life? What if I could unplug, strip down, and whittle every part of everything I own, and do, and am down to the essential?

I tried it once before when I first left my corporate tech job to move to Santa Fe and write. Back then (could it really have been only four years ago?) I was sick and exhausted and deeply unhappy and had to focus on building up instead of stripping down. Stronger now, might I finally be able to use that grit to polish myself down like a tumbled stone until every band of color, every thin thread of gold shined?

And isn’t that the point of curation vs collection? To mindfully, thoughtfully, poetically choose those few pieces that are most meaningful, most beautiful, most magical? To let one small piece of intricately designed fabric inspire the whole quilt. To let its colors, its luminosity be the door through which we invite the universe in to help us co-create our most joy-full, wonder-full, meaning-full life.

Because if I have learned anything since my first attempt to drop out–and perhaps this is only the continuation of that, not a new attempt at all–it’s that when we stop trying to control, to push through, to drive, when we stop trying to figure it all out on our own, when we open ourselves to letting things evolve, when we finally dare to name our dreams–our true dreams, not just the ones we are pretty sure we can manage to do without too much stress or trouble–the universe tends to meet us halfway. Or more than halfway.

Might 2015 be the year that I finally let it all go, give it all away, all but that one tiny seed at the core of me that must unmake itself to finally meet its destiny: a leaf, a stem, a blossom, a fruit, another seed.

So what linguistic and creative choices can I make in 2015 that will in turn act back upon me and transform me? To say no–to anything and everything that doesn’t feel deep, resonant, meaningful, and essential. And to say yes to what does: poetry, quilts, and finding/building the homestead I have dreamed of ever since I was a little girl. To drop out of the rat race of consumption and constant virtual connection, and replace it with creation and true connection. Without bludgeoning my dreams with boiling every decision I make down to the single question “but how are you going to pay for it?” Replacing it with “what might it cost if you don’t?”

Freshly Pressed

It’s been an interesting week.

Last week, I got an email from Andrea of AndreaReadsAmerica telling me she’d like to publish my lyric essay Wider Than an Ocean. It went live on her site on Wednesday. A few hours later, she got an email from an editor for WordPress.com saying that my essay had been chosen for Freshly Pressed, which Andrea forwarded to me, asking if I have a blog she could link to.

I’ve had a lot of blogs, a lot of sites, a lot of online squats and identities, but none of them have had much to do with my writing, or even much about me. And since I didn’t want to tell her no, I decided to build myself a site that does. So here it is.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be gathering up relevant posts from my other sites and consolidating them here–eventually creating an online home that combines all the things I love most. Until then, here’s a video of me reading some poetry. I hope you enjoy it.