How splendid it is to be human

may your passions bubble over
spurting into the sky
like the exploding mountains of Hawaii,
All the glory of fire and fury
the hot liquid flows down the boulders of your holding muscles
and you find release

meanwhile a stream flows sweetly and sings,
may you drink of it,
and be replenenshed by peace and mirth.
your wonder and fascination
a cup perpetually full and overflowing
feeding ferns
the sparkling magic nectar of spirit

may your anger cut cleanly and focused like a fine knife through ties
that no longer serve you,
I would say they never had but
oh, the lessons you've learned
that have rendered your soul
a swift stream of clear and rising air
on which birds have visions of the vast spread of land
so they can plan accordingly

may your feet sink deep into rich soils,
and find nurturing there
glimmering stones and coins revealed
between your toes.
the sanctuary of your quiet knowing is strong here and let it remind you
that we are all the same
a primal heart's steady drumming

and oh, to strive for balance in all of it,
too much soil will make you heavy and
in too much air you'll drift away,
too much fire and you are cinder,
waiting again for a flame

but you never can drink too much water,
can you?

May you find laughter forever in the inherent folly of human
While we trip and spill and fall and burn,
While we love and fight and yearn-
may we do it together somehow despite it
toes stampled and lines crosssed,
disregarded dogma and hurt feelings

May you play nice as much as possible,
and still hold your own

May you be the fool,
all you need over your shoulder
tromping with hope and glee into the sun,

May you also be the high priestess,
passively observing
and holy aware

May you be all the things and none,
but most of all may you be human

 

 

 


 

Poem 2

my paintings are but ashes of my art

the artist is hungry
to work
whispering in my ear
coy and beckoning, rolling around in candle light
it looks at me with those eyes
a temptress, I love her

the artist is hungry again
screaming for trees
and seeing things
all the spaces imbetween moments where truth and art and beauty lives
it is writing poetry on the walls of my being
I try not to read it

the artist is hungry again
staring off
creating places
to dance wildly in, masked and clad
it is always well lit and attractive
I clap for the performance

 

Poem

For as long as I can remember
The clouds between us
& the full moon always seem to be the same
A veil
that can resemble wind rippled sand or
a tescilating pattern or
dragon scales

a soft blanket to filter
the pull

to the flowing tides of our hearts
& crashing waves of our minds

the wake of our bodies, small oceans

a veil you can lift through full moon lens
to see the infrastructure
of the mountains
of the sky
of myself
and you

all the same and iridescent glowing

one night there appeared a tunnel,
where the clouds parted ways
a full moon pinhole
and we were
camera obscura
simultaneously leaping up and through it

through this layer of atomosphere

another dimension that mirrored our own

The Dream Center

When I met with Ozioma in February of 2017 to discuss the possibility of becoming the Dream Effect fellow for April, I was lost. I was in the midst of an intense transformation. As a new Mother I was trying to figure out who I was, and who I could be to best serve myself and therefore, my daughter. I had worked for a few years in an artist collaborative group, I had traveled and met other creatives, I had learned skills and gained experience in my career as an artist, designer, fabrication specialist, and event supervisor. I was asking myself, "What do I do now? How do I utilize my abilities, experience and talent to support my family financially while also feeding my soul?". I was not sure that it was even possible do to both, to do work that made me happy WHILE supporting my financial needs. I was just barely reaching a point where I had the confidence to believe in the dream. 

What I needed in that moment was support and resources. I had attended Ozioma's "MasterPlan Mastermind" online course and "MasterPlan Method" workshop in January, which helped me first identify what my ultimate goals/dreams were in the first place and begin to articulate possible routes to achieve those aspirations. The Dream Effect Fellowship gave me the opportunity to put those ideas into action by providing a venue, technical resources, promotion, and most importantly, SUPPORT in the form of coaching, the exchange of business strategy concepts, and encouragement from the Dream Center team. 

I designed and implemented three workships and two community events for the month of April 2017. You can read more about them [here]. The process of actively designing the programming was transformational in and of itself. Over the years I have had many lucrative ideas that never left the confines of my brain/notebooks where they would exist only as thoughts or scibbles on a page. The act of putting those ideas down on paper and thoroughly planning them to the last detail was exhilerating, giving me the first taste of accomplishment that would inspire me to passionately continue with the determinaion and perserverence required to see ANY creative projects come to fruition. 

I could not have predicted the effect implementing the programming I had designed would have on me. On an individual level, watching my dreams materialize before my eyes after months of planning, design, building, and acquiring materials, was invaluable. My sense of confidence and belief in myself, my sense my self worth, which had always been an internal struggle, not only grew, but grew stronger and wiser. I saw that my ideas worked, I saw where they could be revised, and I saw how they affected other people. The most valuable experience in this whole process was in watching the way the attendees recieved the programming. I watched the individuals who attended the various events and workshops get inspired, explore their creative selves, and learn new skills. Beyond my own personal desire to express myself, beyond material gain, I learned that what I really love doing, what really matters, is serving others. If I can teach a person something new to enrich their life, if I can help someone even just to get a glimpse of their inherent potential, if I can make someone feel like they are being listened to and supported, if I can inspire someone to chase their own goals, I have found the truest success.

There had been so much confusion in my life in regards to how to balance personal development and giving. I was always asking myself if I was doing enough, and how to give back. The Dream Effect Fellowship showed me that if you can dream, you can make it happen. The Dream Effect Fellowship showed me that if you do the work to develop yourself, your aspirations, your abilities, and your business, it has a ripple effect. Your community, the people you encounter; your friends, your family, and the people you interact with in your work, are intrinsically effected by your upward trajectory, whether by a passing conversation, a distant witnessing, or a direct act of teaching, coaching, and passing on information and hope. 

Just think for a moment. If we all took the time to dream, did the work to develop those dreams, and supported each other as those dreams were implemented, what would our communities and ultimately our world look like? What would there be to learn? How nourished would our souls be?  The team of the Dream Center asks those questions,  and works to answer them. 

After my Dream Effect Fellowship, I continue to do the work. I continue to teach the workshops I designed and implemented at the Dream Center at various locations across the Hudson Valley, and soon enough, beyond. I continue to design and implement creative programming as an individual and with other creative collective institutions. I do this work with a greater sense of self confidence, with a more organized, grounded, and effective methodology. I do this work with a better understanding, acceptance, and love of who I am and how I work individually and within the collective. The Dream Effect Fellowship and the Dream Center inspired me, supported me, and taught me. As a result of my time working in around the Dream Center, I am better able to serve myself, my family, and my community. 

Law of Attraction - A Day

As my bedroom gradually becomes brighter with the glow of the rising sun, I open my eyes. Outside my large bedroom window is an expanse of land that seems to roll on forever to the South, with forest to the North. I smile and throw my arms overhead in a rolly-polly stretch, arching my back to and fro, stretching one leg over my hip, and then the other before my legs swing off the side of the bed and my feet greet the cool floor. I saunter out the door to the sun room where my yoga mat and meditation shrine live, accompanied by various hanging and potted plants, spending a good half hour stretching, praying, and smiling there, preparing for the day ahead.

On the way to the kitchen is Stella's door. Stella's door is covered with the drawings of whatever it may be that she is most passionate and proud of at the moment. My favorite is the poem she wrote using the letters of her name as the first letter of each sentence. I am enamored by her everyday, still, always. Stella's door is slightly ajar. Peeking in, I see her stretched across the entirety of the bed, her arms over her head and legs stretched as far as they could go, just like when she was a baby. I can't believe how fast she is growing. I am so incredibly proud of the person she is becoming. Her face is serene, deep in some wild and blissful dream. I stand there for a moment longer, I could stay forever, watching my daughter, Stella, sleep. A glow of maternal love consumes me and is radiated from my heart, I smile.

After doing some typical household chores, whistling, I might add, in my beautiful open layout bright and breezy somewhere between the mountains and town home, I start breakfast. Stella and I collected a new round of eggs from the chicken coop yesterday, and every cell in my body vibrates with satisfaction at the sound of the egg shell cracking against the frying pan rings out and yields a dark orange yolk sizzling onto the pan. The coffee pot gurgles, the rooster crows, and as I cook a sleepy eyed bed headed Stella plops down on a stool on the island behind me. "Good morning, honey bunches of oats. Did you have any dreams?". With a yawn and a stretch Stella begins to hazily recount her dream, growing more vibrant and awake as the details of the dream, or her morning story, intensify. I hand her her plate and sit down across from her with mine. She nips and bites at her breakfast between her description and analysis of her dream, barely hearing me when I remind her to finish chewing before she speaks. By time the meal is done Stella is in full force, ready for the day.

Once the dishes are done and we've finished brushing our teeth and getting dressed, we're off to feed the animals and tend the garden. We are a part of a co-op with a chicken coop, five goats, three alpacas, and a few cats that hang around, coming and going as they please. Every day these creatures bring joy, friendship, and a new adventure into our lives, not to mention the sustenance and nourishment we are able to share with the community in the form of eggs, goats milk and cheese(with herbs from our garden, of course, eventually honey from our bees), and wool. It can be hard-getting-your-hands-dirty-sweating-in-the-sun kind of work, but it's the kind of work I like, and the kind of work I can feel good about at the end of the day. I am happy to bring Stella up in an environment where she knows exactly where her food comes from, between our homestead and other members of the local community, where she is integrally connected to the entire process. Not to mention the lessons in work ethic, attitude, empathy, and responsibility. Whether or not she would continue this lifestyle is solely up to her, but I like to think the values will shape her character and help her make good decisions throughout the rest of her life.

When we arrive at the garden some of the other members of the co-op are there with their children of varying ages. We all talk and share as we work, Stella chattering excitedly and flitting about, fascinated by some bug or plant or cloud or the shape a vegetable has taken, perhaps taking interest in the care of the newest addition to the community or enamored by the childhood wisdom of one of the older kids. I am grateful for the diverse influences of the different people Stella has in her life.  Before we know it, it's time for lunch. No amount of freshly picked green beans can surmount the rumble in the belly of a hard worker. Stella and I head back to the house with a some fresh veggies, our share for the day, waving good-bye to our friends, animal and human alike.

After a hearty lunch it's time to study. Stella attends a local Montessori hybrid school part time, and we continue the rest at home. History, math, science, literature, geography, languages. music, philosophy- I love how this style of education caters to Stella's individual interests and talents, challenging her adequately while encouraging her natural thirst for knowledge and wonderment with the world at large. I cherish spending this time with Stella, teaching her, learning from her, watching her grow. Once we've finished our lesson and it's time for some independent study/play, I move to the far corner of our living area where I have a little work station of my own. I read or paint or weave or write or research- and let's be real, fold some laundry- available to my daughter should she have a question, an idea she'd like to share, or is struggling with anything.  

Once Stella is done with her work and I've wrapped up what I'm up to, we start dinner. Every month there is a communal dinner where everyone from the co op spends the day at the local park, engrossed in cooking and conversation and discussion about the successes and challenges of the co-op. For special celebrations, the women come together and make flower crowns to wear and dance in, celebrating each other and themselves throughout the whole process. Those congregations always end in a bonfire and music, the people of the community coming together in collective love, celebrating life and each other for all that it is and all as they are. Some evenings friends or family will come by and join us, but tonight it's just us. As I prep and cook the meal I integrate Stella in the process as much as her attention span that day will allow. We eat, we talk, we clean up, and now it's time for the evening walk. My favorite part of the day. 

Sometimes we're joined by the neighbors or one of their dogs, but tonight it's just us. Stella will intermittently wander off, lost in her own train of thought or investigating something curious. Some nights we talk incessantly, some nights we don't speak at all. A vine riddled archway marks the end of our yard. We continue on the path up the hill, stop to check the gardens and the animals, and back down the hill to the woods and ravine. In the summer the line of the woods glitters with fireflies, resembling some kind of fairy wonderland with stone garden chairs and a table just passed a small foot bridge over the ravine. A fair bit passed the foot bridge and stone table, is a clearing where someone has built a labyrinth, a winding path marked by stone. We save our excursions to the labyrinth for special or evenings, or evenings where some internal struggle or questions needs resolve. The air smells like dirt and grass and leaves, like flowers in the spring. It glides over the hills and dances with the grass, with our noses and fingertips and hair. Water bubbles and gurgles in the distance, birds are making their last calls as the creatures of the night begin to stir. 

By time we get back to the house it is nearly dark. We commence our nightly routine, and settle into bed. I read Stella her favorite story of the moment, or the next chapter of a classic novel, or my favorite, Stella tells me one of her stories. Once her eyes have hesitantly fluttered shut and she is asleep, I kiss her forehead and get up, shutting her light and taking another long gaze at her before I leave the room. My heart beams with pride and joy, warm in my core, whether a rough day or an ideal one. I am grateful.

I walk through the house straightening up, turning the lights low, lighting candles. The living area of the house has rounded archways, stucco walls, and wood beams protruding here and there. I might light up the fireplace and read, watch a movie, go back to my desk and continue a project from that afternoon or one long awaiting completion. I even might go to the barn in the yard and tinker with some welding, wood work, or a large weaving or painting. Tonight, I continue planning our month long road trip to big sur or into the desert, or our national park tour. When that's all done, I return to my meditation sanctuary to stretch and reflect, practice gratitude always, and meditate before bed. 

As I settle in and my eyelids begin to get heavy, I smile and think...What a great day.

Newburgh Open Studios

Last Saturday rolled around and my paintings still were not done. I pulled out a stack of water color pieces I did while I was pregnant, framed them, and surprised myself with how elegant and refined they looked, compared to my usual paintings on cheap canvas or paintings on broken pieces of wood or paintings on scraps of paper. Now, I can spend an adequate amount of time, little by little, working on the pieces in progress and truly finding what it is they have to say. Ahhh.

After I had dropped the pieces off and chatted for a bit, a strange thing happened. I left feeling particularly inspired and hopeful, not just about my art, but about my life. [TERAN] Studio always has a way of doing that. There is something about that space and everything it represents in that city, that renders the place like soul medicine. Perhaps it is the volume and the variety of the highly energetic, inspired, talented, motivated and dreaming souls that pass through their and show their work there. Somehow that energy soaks into those floorboards and blesses everyone who dare open themselves to dreaming and passion. I think of all the artists who showed their work there for the first time(including but not limited to myself), the people inspired to pick up a paintbrush or a spray can or a sheet of felt or a cup of wax after visiting. I think of the people that met there for the first time, the connections made(often orchestrated by the hand of the well calculating and charismatic TERAN himself), the conversations had. Many a time Will Teran as leaned over to me and quietly said, "those two need to meet" or "you should really talk to ____". All that powerful energy zinging around and bouncing off those heavy industrial columns, how could that place not be magic?

Suffice it to say that I had a fair bit of anxiety surrounding the birth of my daughter. I was unwed, technically jobless, living in my car by choice traveling the country. I'll never forget seeing her image on the screen during the ultrasound and feeling love, joy, and terror simultaneously. I was comforted to read throughout my pregnancy that women often have to mourn who they once were, to say good-bye to those people to make room for the all encompassing role of mother. I guess I just did not understand the extent of what that would mean. Could I still be an artist? I imagined myself in some corporate nine to five job, slaving to support my family financially while barely able to enjoy my daughter, my paintbrushes and canvas in a dusty box somewhere waiting to be unearthed after a few decades. My soul ached at the thought. I've come to find that that is so far from the case. Looking at my life now, with Stella turning three and a half months human tomorrow, the driving force behind everything I've ever wanted to do has been set ablaze. As an individual I understand that I need confidence and self care in order to show my daughter how to love herself. As a women I need to behave with strength and integrity to show my daughter how to conduct herself. As a professional I need to pursue my cause with passion and vigor to show my daughter that she can do whatever she wants in this life. As an artist, and as me, I need to take my sweet time and enjoy all of it to show my daughter that life is what you make of it.

Today I took Stella on her first Newburgh Open Studios tour. I explained the paintings to her as she looked on intently. I introduced her to some of the people that I would consider my very best of friends, mentors, and role models. She loved every second of it. The moments that I took her away for a quiet bottle, she would smile and squeel and babble like she often does, with a light in her eyes that seems far far beyond her mere months of experience. Compared to the days we spend at home, while lovely in their own right, I would have to say that even baby Stella seems inspired by the scene that had developed in Newburgh. I look forward to being involved in that community for many years to come. 

After seeing and talking to so many artists, parents old and young, children, and everyone between, I realized something that I've always known. This is my tribe. This is my family. These are the people I want to work with. These are the people I want to work for.

I can't wait to show you what I'm up to.

Keep Swimming(Painting)

Even when everything changes, it stays fundamentally the same. Once again I've found myself with a deadline looming ever closer, a pile of paintings sitting in the trunk of my car unfinished. I told WT of [TERAN] Studio I'd have the paintings to him by Saturday, a week before the opening party of the Newburgh Open Studios tour. A month or so ago I mentioned that I might be interested in participating, intending to take my time on the pieces I had been working on and see how close to complete they were when the event came around. Sure enough, I was included in the roster and confirmed to participate. I am grateful to be pushed, to see how much I can accomplish, and I always seem to do more and do my best under pressure.

Now that I've been working, it's become that much more important to maintain balance. Spending time with my daughter takes priority, but finding time for self care remains important. I think of the days before I left to travel when it seemed like I worked constantly. Working for the pumpkin show, working on my art and at the studio. Now, as a mother, there is no such thing as a day off and it is only beginning. While Stella is still an infant taking care of her is relatively simple and follows a pretty consistent schedule, sleep, eat, poo, play, repeat. Once she starts running around more and sleeping less, it will be another story. Looking back, it seems like I had all the time in the world and yet at that time, I felt overwhelmed and like it was so difficult to get anything done. Now, if I'm awake, I'm on. Whether I'm mothering, working, or painting, I have to show up 100%, and I don't settle for anything less. 

Last night when I got home from work I spent a few hours with Stella, soaking up all the smiles I could get and just being present with her. My Mom was generous to watch her for a few more hours while I worked on my pieces for the show. Settling into the garage with my paint and my pieces, I found it easy to slip into focus. The moment came however, as it always had, where I looked at everything I was working on and felt that it was not enough. It wasn't good enough, I didn't have enough time, I wasn't good enough, who am I kidding I'm no artist, I might as well scrap those pieces and settle to do something simpler. I might as well pull out of the show altogether. I packed up my things and stared at the one piece listlessly, unable to devise my next step. I thought of my daughter in that moment, and understood that one day, she would feel this too. She would feel a sense of defeat and inadequacy in some project she was undertaking, whatever the genre. If she were to come to me in that moment, I would tell her to keep going. I would tell her that giving up and settling for less is never an option.

So I kept going.

I got the paint back out and looked at the piece hard. I tore it apart, what I liked and what I did not, what worked and what did not. I squeezed a tube of paint right on it's surface and started hacking away with the palette knife methodically and with rejuvenated focus. The process in and of itself soothed me, the playful pushing and pulling and mixing of colors absorbed me in a way that despite the fact that I was manipulating the medium and putting it where I wanted it to go, I was also surrendered to it. I was surrendered to the flow as if something foreign was guiding my hand. 

By time I was finished covering what I wanted to cover and accentuating what I wanted to accentuate, the series of steps I would take to complete the painting became clear again. I looked at the other two pieces and saw a path for them, too. I smiled to myself, feeling accomplished as I packed up my supplies and set myself up for an easy transition into artist mode the next day. I went upstairs and picked up my daughter. I changed her, I fed her. It was about 9:30, and I knew within the hour she would be asleep. Whether I'm coming home from work, or coming back from some form of self care routine, I can sense her gratefulness for my return. I can see it in her eyes and the way she omits a contented sigh before she lays her cheek on my chest. I held her close, as I always do, swaying and singing her made up songs of which she is the star. She fell asleep and I held her for a long time after.

Stella is a gift to my heart, and to my soul. She is a gift to my ambition and perseverance, to my confidence and my self love. I look back and can think of countless times when I gave up, or went to my mentors for pep talks and motivation. While a good pep talk does no harm, I was able to pick myself up. I was able to keep myself going. I was purely self sufficient in that moment, taking ownership of my creativity and my responsibility to my chosen craft. 

I have never been so motivated to SHOW UP FOR LIFE as I have been since Stella was born.

Mindful perseverance. Showing up and being totally present for everything, whether it's doing the dishes, taking a bath, or writing an email. Each moment I spend with my daughter renders me enamored. I think because of the intense feelings of love and joy I feel when with Stella, I have to make the best of the time while I'm away from her. Otherwise, I would likely fall apart from sadness and maternal separation anxiety. If I can't be with my daughter, I better make this good, I better make this worth while. It is not always easy, and sometimes I do waiver, but I have a hell of an easier time coming back to center, and a stronger center than ever. Not to mention that I want to set an example for her, and I want to make her proud.

 

Memories

It's amazing to come back to this blog and reread the posts, finding that I've already forgotten so much that has happened. Even though I wasn't able to make full posts, I have drafts and outlines of all the events and thoughts that I don't want to forget, that I want to write out and remember with all the depth of memory. I would like to keep each moment, like a marble in my pocket to take out and admire whenever I feel nostalgic. To see and smell and feel, feeling tangibly and emotionally those places, those people, those breezes and sun beams, the dust and the wind and the rain. Feeling the myriad of emotions ranging from utter exultation and wonder to fear and sorrow. 

A year ago today I was on the highway leaving the red sandy monuments and canyons of Utah, traveling west into Los Angeles. On this day I drove passed Vegas to witness a thunderstorm  traveling around that desert valley. "Witness a thunderstorm" does not seem adequate to describe what the experience truly was. Traveling south on I15 there is a vast, flat desert that comes to an abrupt stop in the distance at the foot of a great protruding mountain. It was as if a single cloud held the thunderstorm, like in a child's drawing, and I could watch it travel across the expanse of the land and sky. I could see clusters of rain like sheer curtains, more opaque in the places where the material folds. It seem that the lightening favored to strike along the heavier areas of rain, the electricity naturally favoring the conductivity of the closely huddled and rapidly descending raindrops. 

The nastiest gas station I had ever been in was off that highway. I was particularly tired that day, determined for whatever reason to get to California sooner rather than later. I had experienced some car trouble in Utah, and was feeling most disenchanted with my travel companion, particularly after that last week in Colorado. I pulled up at the pump in that gas station somewhere not far from Los Vegas to find a pick up truck with Colorado plates, piled high with furniture and the general contents of a life and household. As I was pumping gas I inadvertently studied the family. There was a mother and three daughters of some kind of Latin American or even Native American origin. The mother seemed tired yet hopeful, the young pre-teen to teen girls chattering giddily among themselves, perhaps distantly aware of whatever their mother's worries and woes, just better equipped to deal with or bury the fear under what remained of their childhood innocence and hope. I wondered if we had traveled together across that barren and beautiful country, through southern Colorado, Utah, and Arizona into Nevada, unwittingly rendering each other travel partners. 

Returning the nozzle to it's holster I entered the gas station to use the restroom. Upon entering I noticed an argument of what subject I do not recall between one of the customers and cashier, a line slowly growing longer behind the insolent patron. Each of the bathrooms was occupied, so I stood quietly behind the three young women from outside who gladly continued their whispering and giggly chatter. I gazed about, absorbing the assortment of knick knacks on the display nearby, an array of glittering dice and aliens on shot glasses and key chains. I searched outside the large windows for that traveling storm, just barely able to detect the grey that would mark the edge of the storm. The disagreement up front did not seem to escalate but rather drone on incessantly as the line grew, the face of the cashier flat and emotionless, revealing that this was not the first incident, that she dealt with this kind of thing often. Finally whoever occupied the women's room left, and I watched desperately as only one of the girls entered the commode, and closed and locked the door. A man left the gentleman's room, and I quickly took advantage. What I found was no gentleman's room. Everything seemed to be covered in a thick layer of grime and bad graffiti. The vulgar inscriptions may have been an improvement to the residue stained acrid green tiles. The light was old and industrial, twitching decrepit blinking yellow light onto the unsavory surfaces. On the far wall was a bio hazardous waste receptacle to accommodate the syringes of what I could only imagine to be droves of disease addled junkies, wondering in for their fix on their way back out to the desert from the seedy underbelly that I imagined Vegas, in it's entirety to be. 

I walked outside and found the wind to be kicking up, the culprit, the mover of the storm swirling all around my face and arms. I surveyed that great valley with squinted eyes, sensing the deepest darkness I had yet to encounter on the entirety of my journey west. It would not be the last time, nor the most insidious energy I would encounter. I got back in the car, and continued down the highway hat headed straight for that mountain, for that great rocky triangle triumphantly marked the edge of the desert. I stared a long time at that storm as we both moved through that valley. The whole feeling of this place and the encounters made here held a sense of omen, but the beauty and wonder of that storm restored my heart with a sense of wonder and hope. That cloud was like a shower head passing over the city, rinsing it clean, rinsing it clean, rinsing it clean.

Now that I think about it, I realize how truly full this day was, and how vivid it all is even a year later. I traveled through that mountain pass and on that long, congested highway into Los Angeles. I had my sights set on Venice beach where I had been enchanted the year before while in LA for the Jack O'Lantern show. Having flown in for work, I enjoyed watching the steady transition of the terrain from flat desolate dark and rocky desert, to mountain, to California country, trailers with yards and palm trees and then the suburbs, the city, and at last, the Pacific Ocean. I actually got into a car accident, distracted by some kind of directions and frazzled by navigating the unfamiliar highway system. I 'bumped' some kind of expensive rental, an audi or mercedes or something of the like in the middle lane of bumper to bumper traffic. The vehicle slowly made its way over to get off the next exit, and I followed in agony. I was weary from a long day on the road paired with unfamiliar highway and heavy traffic I hadn't experienced the likes of since leaving long island almost two months previously. The sun had already set, it was dark, I was tired, and now in a state that I could only describe as agony in anticipation of whatever consequences waited for me. I was having a difficult time making my way over when I realized, watching the expensive rental exit off the highway, that I could just keep going and quickly be swallowed by the crowded highway. So I did, with little remorse for the minimal damage inflicted on the vehicle. It was, after all, a rental. So I continued, victorious and grateful that I was able to escape.

I parked in the first spot I could find relatively close to the ocean. Walking a few blocks west I spied Los Angelinos walking their small dogs and chatting away on cell phones amidst dusty lawns and palm trees. The thick, warm sea air wafted up and kept me pushing west, west, west. My travel partner and I walked down the pier, surveying the fishermen and teens and families in throngs along the ocean hovering path. Music played, people smiled, newspaper with various guts and goo from fish and bait littered the perimeter of the walk. The large hush and mumble of the ocean pervaded everything, a humming bass line to the thriving and pulsating voice of people on that early September night. I reached the end of the pier and looked over, the pulsating and breathing slice of ocean surface murkily illuminated by streetlamps. We somehow came into conversation with two rowdy and smiling Latin fishermen, welcoming us and suggesting places to go. We meandered through the canals, marveling at the beauty of the small walkways and bridges, observing the wealth of vacant well decorated and constructed homes, fit for magazines. 

It didn't start until we hit the boardwalk. The relentless thumping culture of California youth, skateboarding and rollerskating and carrying on in throngs of locals and tourists alike. I drank it all in. I breathed the ocean breathe, I sipped the smiles and sounds of plastic wheels on pavement. While I was excited to be reunited with the Pacific Ocean, with Venice Beach which is it's own world in the midst of Los Angeles, I was focused on figuring out where to lay my head that night and get some rest. So like a wild animal surveying the land for a suitable den, I watched, I listened, I studied. Nearing the end of the boardwalk my travel partner and I leaned up against a beachfront parking lot wall, unsure of where to go next, with no leads. As if materialized from thin air a very nonthreatening, rather meek and humble yet knowledgeable young man approached us. "You're new here", he said simply, and proceeded to give us the run down of how life works for vagabonds on Venice Beach. He told us where to sleep, when the cops left the boardwalk and when they came back again, where to park. With that information he bid us adieu and seemed to vanish into that Venice night as quickly and easily as he appeared.

I retrieved my car, and explored until 1 AM came around. I pitched my tent on the sand between two palm trees behind some kind of industrial structure bordered by chain link fence where I fancied any early rising well to do people would not be bothered by my presence. I slept well to the sound of the ocean at my feet. This was only the beginning of what could only be described as the most magical week of my journey. 

It's amazing to think of how truly full, practically overflowing so many of those days of travel were. Sure, there were days of waiting, of slow and lazy meandering. To think of millions of people sitting in office chairs, glancing at the clock every fifteen minutes waiting for five o'clock, waiting for the day to end only to start another the same, and end it the same, rocks my soul on a deep profound level. It amazed me also, how quickly the memories come flooding back, how I can relive those days in my mind and my heart forever.  

 

Weather Man

The weather man was on this morning talking about warm, dry heat coming up from the southwest. Those desert winds coming up to whisper in my ear and smile at me. She says she remembers me, that desert. I remember her, too. So well,  like it was yesterday. Sharp plants embedded in all my clothes, great pink mountains to the North, the tall wise Saguaros all around us consulting about old Indian magic, consulting about the white man slowly but surely bringing about their doom. 

I was pregnant in Tuscon, riding five miles each way on a glassblower's bike to go downtown, carrying sweet injured dogs through unforgiving terrain sometime around the new year. I saw my daughter for the first time, there in Tuscon. Her sweet, barely human figure, ankles crossed, waving her one arm as if to say "Hey, HEY, hey MOM, here I am, hey, look at me in here!" Already so glad to be here, so happy to be alive and becoming. She is the same now,  nearly three months old and utterly joyful. 

The day she was born, after we met and she got all cleaned up the nurses brought her into that room, the room with the windows that  all the visitors look into to ooh and ah at all the new humans. I was rolled passed in a wheelchair to go to another room where I would spend the next few days meeting my daughter, becoming a mother. They stopped the wheelchair outside that room, next to the window where some of my family was admiring her. There she was, laying under a lamp, most content, waving the one arm again. "Hi MOM, here I am! I'm here! I finally made it. Nice to meet you!". I am astounded, still. I am astounded all the time by her, by all of it, by how it all came to be. 

Asheville, NC

When I initially decided to leave, it had come to my attention that an acquaintance I had worked with a few years prior was planning to leave on a similar trip with a similar trajectory. We had worked together at one of the Jack O Lantern shows, and met again more recently at a very close friend's event in Binghamton, NY, coming to find that we shared a lot of mutual friends, one of which was very near and dear to me. I contacted him and we made plans to keep in touch and meet a long the way. I was nervous about traveling alone, but being the introvert and self proclaimed lone wolf that I was(am?), I felt as secure as I could. Low and behold, he contacted me the weekend before I left to inform me that his partner had called off the trip, and of course I was happy, if a little hesitant, to take on a road companion. He came and stayed with me for a few days so that we could become more familiar with one another, and we seemed to get along well. My colleague also had contacts and friends throughout the country, particularly a college friend living right outside Asheville. The first destination was set, and boy, I had no idea what I was in for.

I said good-bye to my family friday, July 31st, and that was the last I saw of Orange County. I left the all too familiar driveway with tears rolling down my cheeks, Stevie Nicks claiming "I'm never going back again" over the speakers. I cried for my parent's fear mostly, I cried for my inner child, I cried for everything I was leaving behind. Then, I smiled for the future, and hauled ass down that all too familiar street and hit the Highway, first stop, Brooklyn. I said good-bye to the man I had been dating, I said good-bye to one of my dearest friends. I spent that Saturday night sleeping on a remote beach in Montauk, determined to see the sunrise on the east coast before I headed West. On Sunday I met with my travel companion and his family, finished packing the car, and got a full night's sleep before we left Monday morning.

We drove like bats out of hell all the way to North Carolina, neither of us looking back. We arrived at Lindsay's home at about 3AM, and despite the hour she was more than welcoming. I woke on Tuesday bewildered and misplaced, unaware of my surroundings or how I got there. Once I gained my footing and an idea of where the hell I was, the anxiety subsided and gave way to an extremely peaceful and spacious feeling, some kind of inner confirmation that I was in the right place, on the right path.

We spent the week exploring downtown Asheville qnd The Blue Ridge Parkway. Lindsay had grown up in an area only twenty or so minutes northwest of where my parents live, which I found uncanny, but what was really surprising to me was how quickly I felt welcomed and a part of her little household which consisted of the host, her boyfriend, and two other roommates, a couple. They all shared a small, very comfortable home in Woodfin, a little mountain town just outside of Asheville. The group had originally migrated North from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where we would spend the weekend for  JerryFest. We spent Thursday and Friday crafting, the host putting final touches on her beautiful crocheted clothing, I made jewelry, lino printed t-shirts, and painted a washboard I imagined someone could use as an instrument or decoration. With all of our festival wares packed, we headed south for Myrtle on Saturday morning.

The Myrtle beach extension of this family was just as warm and welcoming. They called the home base the "Mothership", and it was a truly fitting title. It seemed that all the like minded folk in the area seemed to gravitate there, and most individuals within this group of friends seemed to have lived there at some point, for some period of time. Once again, I was shocked at how quickly I assimilated and felt accepted into this close knit group of people. Saturday night we toured the Myrtle Beach watering holes, but stayed up well into the morning at the Mothership, sharing our stories and our beliefs and our political views. Laughing and dancing, hugging and smiling, talking and relating and drinking and smoking. The following day we set up our wares at JerryFest, all participants were relatively successful fiscally, but the real success was in the collective enjoyment of one another. I was introduced to more members of the Mothership clan, and the more people I met the more my heart expanded. We spend this evening at the Mothership, also, now with the extended family. I also met a professional tree climber who offered to take me up to Michigan for the "Tree Jam Camp", to learn not only how to climb but potentially get a jump start in a career as an arborist. It was certainly tempting, but perhaps something I would look back into after I have finished chasing myself around this country and back.

In the wee hours of the morning I walked the mere two blocks to the Atlantic Ocean with a very sweet male companion. When we arrived, we witnessed a strange animal scurry down the shoreline at incredible speed, too big to be a fox but too small to be a coyote. We shrugged it off and walked down the not yet dawn shore, moonlit waves hushing and breathing and purring. He read me his poetry and rubbed my shoulders. I showed him my artwork, and we laughed and smiled and shared until the run rose. Returning home, we bumped into other Mothership sailors, on their own various journeys to breakfast and work and home. 

When the time came to return to Asheville, my cheeks were sore from smiling and my heart was in the brink of busting. The current Queen Captain of that Myrtle House bid us farewell, and we were ever grateful of her hospitality and her warm, wonderful spirit. After a day of decompression from those endless Myrtle days, it was time to go to work. I went into downtown Asheville and 'busked', drawing portraits of people for money, meeting some amazing characters, hearing some amazing stories and conversations that either directly related to something  I was experiencing or inspired me into a new train of thought. There is some kind of strange magic in downtown Asheville, some kind of divinity circulating among the vagabonds and the self proclaimed priests.

Wednesday, the first day I set up to busk, I went to the park in the center of town. A hooping workshop was materializing there, and a toddler quickly approached me with the intention of putting everything I had set up quickly into his mouth. He mother was not too far behind, and we began talking. She told me about how herself and her husband had left their home and renovated a bus to live in, parking it on a local farm along with another gaggle of tiny houses and yurts and air stream trailers. She explained to me how it was difficult to maintain a job, motherhood, and also pursue her creative ventures. We commiserated, and shared our views on communal living situations, a subject that had become a running theme in a lot of the conversations over the passed week. She wished me luck on my journey and returned to her duties. Shortly after she had departed, an older man approached me.

The wiry white haired man sat beside me, and asked me what I was doing. I explained that I was drawing portraits, and he would be my first, the warm up. He proceeded to tell me about himself and his life, and shared with me that he was a wizard of sorts. He informed me that the world was going to experience a great shift on September 22nd where the economic structures of our society would collapse, and to stay away from large cities when this happens. I drew his portrait for free, and he brought me across town to introduce me to someone he was sure I would like to meet.

When we arrived, two men clad from head to toe in every kind of bauble you could imagine stood, deep in some conversation. The one went on his way, and I sat to paint the other. He told me he was some specific kind of priest, and that the ails of the world could be cured with song and dance, and he smiled and giggled often. Meeting him and hearing his story was inspiring and unique. I left feeling different from when I arrived. He was very pleased and surprised when I gave him the portrait I had done of him, and he gave me prayer beads, advising me not to take them off until they break, and when they break, not to be sad about it. I smiled and bowed to him.

In the days to come I did not see the Shaman I had painted, but the other two I bumped into frequently. On Thursday I went back into town and did three portraits, grossing a little more than $30. I only charged five dollars for a portrait, but my subjects were generous. The first subject recommended someone I could go to to have subaRUBY looked at, the second was a pair and I was able to listen in on a great conversation about listening, relationships, and fear, and the third was a young gay couple on their first date. Beyond making some gas money for myself, the interactions I had with these people was truly deep and rewarding.  In my own state of vulnerability and openness, I was able to manifest sincere connections with these people. One strange occurrence that I feel I need to share happened somewhere between the second and third portrait. I was trying to find a particular restaurant that gives free rice, bean & salad plates to travelers. I asked one of the less intimidating looking street kids, and he happily told me where I could find someone who would know better where Rosaletta's was than he. I smiled, wished him a good day, and started to continue, when he said "Enjoy your day, as well, Miss Light". I stopped in my tracks and looked at him. I knew for sure that I hadn't even been close to mentioning my name. I asked him how he knew, he expressed that he was afraid I would hit him, I assured him I wouldn't. He lifted his hat and pointed at his temple, grinning, "The Wisdom tells me things".

Every Friday night at the park in the center of Asheville, there is a drum circle. I had arrived downtown early to busk, but was feeling particularly tired and hesitant to approach anyone. I set up my easel and began painting across from the Asheville Museum of Art, a popular spot for buskers of various talents. A gentleman and three companions approached and sat on a bench near where I was painting. He began talking to me, and purchased two of my original paintings that I happened to have on me. Feeling successful, and considering it was about time for the drum circle to start, I headed back toward the center of town. Parked on a brick wall in the outskirts of the park, I painted my face and struck up a conversation with a gentleman who made and sold flutes. I rolled him a cigarette and carried on, closer to the drum circle. I stayed on the outside and observed, until I was beckoned down to dance. It started to rain and a lot of the people cleared out. Despite what I was told was a relatively small attendance, the joy and the sense of primal energy and connection amidst the community was palpable. Slowly but surely people approached me, asking me where I got my face painted. Initially I did not ask for money, but they offered. Once the rain subsided the circle picked back up, gaining drummers, dancers, and bystanders alike. The sense of energy and community filled my chest, I couldn't help but smile and dance and feel free. Each person I painted I asked them about themselves, they asked about me, and I picked a unique feature in each of them to compliment, and OH, how they would beam! How strong they felt to go and dance unafraid with their new identity, their war paint! From young children to old women, everyone became a warrior or a princess or just a different version of themselves that night. I felt like I did some great service. I felt so inspired to bring this concept of the drum circle back home, back to Newburgh, for the Renaissance, whenever it may be that I would end up there again. 

Over the course of my stay in Asheville I met so many amazing people, heard so many unique and incredible stories, and saw so much potential for a life there. I was inspired by the community and by the landscape. I have to keep reminding myself that this is only the first stop in a long, long journey. I leave here having gained a family,and a destination to return to. 

I leave tomorrow morning. Until next time, Asheville.

Colorado, here I come.

 

Leaving Home

"Some might call it a quarter life crisis, but I think of it more as a quarter life purge, a quarter life 'becoming'. I've begun dreading my hair and reading a lot of Kerouac. I decided to go back to school in the spring. I have a loose five year plan, a sense of my trajectory more solid than anything I had in my early twenties. I feel good. I feel committed to myself in a way I have never experienced. I am committed to finding her, to being her unabashedly, in all her duality and contradiction. I will no longer apologize for the strangeness, the obscurity. I will no longer hide from the call for wildness and expressive freedom. I can only BE exactly who I want, exactly who I am. I feel secure in this mindful abandon, this reckless unconventionality."

Sitting in my apartment some late afternoon on the corner of Grand and South, Newburgh City, I typed that up for an instagram post. It sat on the web site for about a minute before I deleted it, feeling as if it was somehow premature. I spent the evening like I had spent many before, getting hard on myself in my easy chair by the fire escape window, smoking cigarettes and listening to the commotion on the street. The summer evening light flooded the breezy apartment like it did each day, and I wondered "What am I doing here?".

I had been working for the Jack O Lantern festival for a little over two years. [TERAN] Studio had just presented its last show, an endeavor I had also engaged in for a little over two years. The doers of the community were always looking for more volunteers, doers, and voices for the Rejuvenation of the city, the Newburgh Renaissance, yet I was flailing and unable to focus. I made plans, I wrote in my notebooks, making promises to myself to start projects, to go back to school, all in good time when the stress at work would subside. They were promises I knew I was likely to dismiss with some excuse. I was growing ever restless, and always aware of my plans to leave, to travel, that I had made and broken, like so many plans made before.

About to turn 25, a milestone, I started looking hard at my options. Here I was, caught in a cycle. Work, pay rent, buy groceries, go back to work, find time for the people I love, find time for myself, find time for my passion projects, for my art. I had spent so long cramming everything into twenty hour days, consistently running on fumes. I was burnt out from it all, and unable to see a way out. I could isolate and make plans to go back to school in the spring, keep working for the Jack O' Lantern festival despite the fact that I was no longer stimulated by the work and less than thrilled with the politics. Or I could drop it all and just go. 

So I went.

So far, I think leaving will be the hardest part of this journey. If you ever want to gain true perspective on your life, leave it. Leave the people you love, the town or city or county you know almost each square inch of. Leave your comfy cute apartment, the job you've become comfortable and confident in. Leave your family. It was bittersweet, it was hard. In a matter of a week I informed everyone I was leaving, tried to spend time with everyone before I left, packed up my apartment, got the car ready, packed for the trip. I had vague ideas of where I could go and find work based on testimonies from other traveling friends. All I knew was that the first stop was Asheville, NC. 

There was no greater feeling than hitting the open road, the mass of the country spread out before my feet, before the spinning wheels of subaRUBY. Just in the week and a half process of leaving, so much synchronicity had presented itself, I could only imagine what the frontier and the universe had in store for me. From here on out it was all a matter of maintaining pure intentions and exploring what I could manifest.

I never felt so at peace in my life.