Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year! and a look back at 2013.

Wow, wow, wow. What a year! I lived so many amazing moments it feels like three years in one.
2013 started with me crying in a bed. Or that is how it felt to me. I was in a job situation where no matter how hard I worked I knew I wasn't wanted. I was grieving for my very beloved Uncle Tom who had a heart attack at 65.

I was sobbing into a pillow Dec 31, 2012 wondering why I was so upset. Wondering why I couldn't stop crying. I had a job. An apartment. Friends. A great supportive family. But you know what? I wasn't living life my way. I was doing things right. Losing weight. Eating right. Working hard. And it wasn't enough. I am known for drastic moves. I am not one who can manipulate anything cause if I am not happy I can't hide it. I was very hurt that not everyone in the world loves me. So I freaked out. I sold off half my stuff. Sent the rest to my parents house.

This led to an amazing 8 months of learning. Of healing. To letting go. Things weren't too drastic. I knew I needed money and that I didn't want to take unemployment. So with the help over over 130+ friends and family I raised money on Kickstarter to travel "Walk with ME." I walked with 21 people in LA and 24 people starting in Boston, going to Gloucester, then to NYC, Pittsburgh, PA, Washington DC area, Asheville, and Durham, NC, a stop in Greenville to see my friend Todd and his wife Carol, and then to Athens Georgia to make some awesome posters for three weeks.

This trip was nothing short of amazing. For how smooth it went. For the love I felt with all of the friends I got to reconnect with along the way. For free meals, free coaches, free BEDS(!)...for FINALLY learning how to say thank you when I couldn't repay what I was given. For finally learning to be vulnerable. For learning that when things go wrong it doesn't mean something is ruined. So many lessons were learned on this trip. I landed in Boston hours before the bombing. I walked through the glass in Watertown where the bombers tried in vain to escape the authorities. I went to the finish line holding Alison's hand. I read Opal books. I got to see so many old friends. I went to the Smithsonian museums for the first time and Uncle Tom was there in the caverns of an old Chinese urn. I discovered the Cloisters and public gardens surrounding it in NYC, a magical place. I got upset at hippies for being so aimless in Asheville. I fell in love with Pittsburgh where I went to the Mattress Factory and Conflict Kitchen. I met cute boys in a couple cities. I drank too much and  met Michael Stipe.
With all of this, I made my first Artist Book chronicling the whole darn thing.

What I have never mentioned till now...is that I took Uncle Tom, literally, along the whole way. He was in my backback, some of his remains in a white box hoofed it from city to city.

After the craziness of all this travel and I will say, the fatigue of this travel I found my way to Minnesota to fall deeply asleep in my parent's basement for a couple weeks. While finishing up the "Walk with ME" book. Which was printed June 2013 with the amazing help of Alen. Who made this project feel and look professional. I showed the work at Fox Egg Gallery, along with the posters and monotypes I had made. It was all a successful ordeal though not at all lucrative. I made back the money I spent on pritnting the books. Even Steven as they say. I paid Alen what I could.

I then directed and produced my first performance piece to be performed in an honest to goodness theater! Highways. Hanna, Julia, and I performed LABOR-ation. A great piece about what I have learned the past year. Leaving my job, to find out what is out there beyond the 9 to 5.

I had planned the trip to Minnesota to overlap with the birth of my first niece or nephew....and Oliver came out a few days "late" but in time for me to spend about 5 days with him after he was born. I was holding him just hours after he was born. Sitting there smelling his new born smell, which is so sweet and addictive, I know I am now bonded to him for life. What a little gift to my family this boy is. I get to hold him, kiss him and laugh with him....singing songs to make him smile or look very serious. I love him bunches. So along with all this great art stuff was the momentous occasion of becoming an auntie or tanta as they say in German.

With a dwindling checking account, I headed to Half Moon Bay, CA. Where Laura McHugh is starting an artist residency out of her house near the beach. I spent a lovely 2.5 months working on visual art while taking walks with local Half Moon Bay-ers. In the first 3 weeks there, I trained and successfully ran a half marathon (actually 13.5 miles as the route was measured wrong).The mayor almost went for a walk with me. I walked with 11 amazing people and made 4 good looking paintings and another series of monotypes. I slept in. I meditated.

I took a trip to NYC for the Creative Time Summit. Which mostly caused me to have a panic attack. I met some inspiring folks though. And Jamie, who I walked with in LA, got to eat meals and visit museums together.

Then to finish the year, I spent 10 days doing a Vipassana meditation retreat. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I learned an amazing breathing technique and an amazing meditation technique. For the first seven days I was so inside myself...the inside became outside. I didn't speak to others except to the teacher twice. I then had a very intense meditation experience and broke silence cause I thought I was going a bit cuckoo. I then held it together to finish the ten days.

I like to make grand statements and sparkling metaphors. It seems the important lessons are hard to put into words. I found that failure was the best teacher and led to the most amazing year. That grief was essential to my letting go of the normal and going for my dreams. That following our dreams is in one way a lot easier than I thought it would be and in other way much harder. I had to let go of where I am from to find myself and then learned that having a loving family is nothing to reject.

After sitting with myself for 10 days I learned, we go from love to hate within ourselves. That usually it isn't those around you that are causing emotions but rather your mind. Your mind is fed by what you eat and how you live. So if you are upset, depressed, or annoyed look at what you are eating/doing. Looking for the divine is the important part. Believing that there is more than meets the eye is extremely important. I learned how to calm down after 6 days of anxiety, or thoughts looping through and letting go of them. I came out of it a lot calmer and very disorientated.

After stripping down reality, and meeting a higher energy. I came back down and read The Goldfinch. I searched for the quote about failure in the book and I can't find it right now. But I did find this one...which I think my life revolves around a bit, "We have art in order not to die from the truth."  -Nietzsche Our reality is raw and overwhelming and we find ways to make it palatable. That is art.

I have proclaimed 2014 the year of the Inner Thigh. Where I continue to seek the spiritual in the everyday. Where I have a base of who I am down and now I go in for the detail. Where I will work on my core physically and spiritually. I am hoping to let more love in. As this year I have experienced love with so many old friends and my family. And I learned that abuse comes from someone else's need to be understood and not understanding that "understood" comes from within.

In 2014, I am saving up for a trip to Santiago, Spain. Or rather to the border of Spain and France, so that I can walk the Camino, a pilgrimage that takes a month to traverse. There are always more answers to be found. and heck if i don't like a challenge! I am researching when the next holy Year is...as I may want to wait to walk until then.

 In 2014, I will be open to a new life in LA. I hope to go to the Huntington Gardens and sketch every weekend. I am hoping to have a calm loving life with my awesome art friends around. I hope to not drink. Eat more veggies. Love my body whatever size it is. Run some more 5Ks. Find a gallery to show my next series of drawings. And realize how awesome my life is, over and over and over again. Now I have to go play with my nephew while I can.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Half Moon Bay Walk with Me #10 with Laura

I must say I come to this post a little rushed. As tomorrow I am leaving for a 10 day silent retreat. I am rather excited about this. But it means packing up, once again, and heading out on the road, once again. I have been moving a lot but I can say it has brought me to the right places at the right time.

Like meeting Laura for example. Laura is the woman that has been my benefactor. I think that word is strange but it is true. That she is starting a residency here in Half Moon Bay and that I am the first resident. I spent most of the last 3 months residing in her home and getting to use her studio to create art. Even while she was in France, I got to stay here and meditate and create. I feel so lucky to be here. It all happened because I went to the Women's Art Institute at MCAD (at the time it ow is at St. Cate's in St. Paul). She and I were housed in the same dorm room. I was around 26. I would like to think this is one of the many cases where me being open, kind, energetic, smart and artistic created a friendship. Laura and I stayed in touch and she even came to see me while I was a curatorial fellow at Otis. Laura has offered me a respite from the craziness of LA in the form of long weekends at her home.

Laura is in the beginnings of creating an art residency in Half Moon Bay. I was the first of what I hope to be many artists that get to be a part of the healing energy of Half Moon Bay. The ocean here is gorgeous and for artists trying to get away. This is the spot.

Laura used our walk as a time to pick my brain about strategy for working within community. I have a tendency once I learn something, to think that EVERYONE has learned it. That is not the case. Laura has questions and I have suggestions. Social practice artists don't have answers. :)

I think what came up for me during this conversation. Is how important the spiritual in art is to me. I have been trying to fit into this corporate world of art or art to make money world and it makes me sad. Life for someone as sensitive as me is hard. Truly. I find it difficult to put myself out there cause I don't want to hurt others and I don't want  myself hurt. It means I have to figure out a way to make money that isn't soul crushing.

Laura and I had a sunny walk along the beach then through the neighborhood back to her house. We ran into a local artist who just happened to have a check bounce from an employer. An interesting moment on a walk, where I have been living on the kindness of others, especially Laura, and here is an artist not getting paid for work already done. I don't know what the connection is. But it felt profound. To think, wow, artists sure to get the shaft by our culture. What if artists got paid for what they did. For how they inspire others. And how maybe some people are just made to explore and express themselves as their job. That it isn't even in that moment for anyone else. Maybe that is just how they survive.

It was comfortable to hold hands with Laura. I wouldn't say there was a deep connection made but I did feel relaxed and energized after the walk. I think Laura has taught me how to honor what I do. Not on the walk, but rather by giving me the space I have had the past 3 months. I hopefully have brought my energy to the growing art community.  

My hope for all artists, including Laura and myself, is more time to make art. Less time worrying about how we need to present ourselves. More time with community, less time having to worry about who that is. Laura's friendship makes me feel hopefully as we cross the divide in ages and backgrounds. We both have a lot to bring to the table. What I remembered talking to Laura is how the only way to cross an divide between individuals, groups, communities, and the world. Is through hard time sitting down at the same table. I can't wait to meet who will come to the table at Half Moon Bay. I hope to come back over and over and over again to this great community. For now though, I just can't afford the rent in Half Moon Bay.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Half Moon Bay Walk #9 with Colleen

I had a magical Thanksgiving. One filled with lots of gluten free pies (!!!!) and wine. I was wished away on Thanksgiving day after begging off responsibility to celebrate to work on job applications. Lainey of walk #8 waltzed up to my door and said "Get your butt out here! You are coming to Thanksgiving!" Where I met Tom and Jane from across the street and they were gracious and open to having a straggler come to their new home and their first Thanksgiving. It was an amazing day of chatting and then SINGING (!!!!!!!). It was glorious. And I met a bright young chemist, Andrew, who I hopefully be walking with in January.

On Friday, Laura had Turkey Day for her and her kids, and I was invited too. It was in the house I am staying at so I just had to walk out the door. I was a bit tired from the glasses of wine I had drank before singing "Big Yellow Taxi" the night before. Luckily all the once pie I ate soaked up most of the wine from the night before. Laura's family is totally awesome. She has loving kids who start at ages just a little bit younger than me. I am in the funny spot of a little bit older and friends with your mom. But for the most part her kids are really open to having me around as this weird artist person in the spare bedroom. I must say I think Californians in general are just more open. Even conservatives in they state seem more liberal in mind set to my Minnesota roots. Colleen, is one of Laura's daughters, and the twin of Kati, my first walk in Half Moon Bay. I celebrated Laura's Bday at her house a few months ago. She loves baseball. So we definitely have something to talk about.

First Colleen and I had scheduled the walk for Friday but after a long Turkey Day the day before, we pushed our walk to Saturday. Because Colleen is Laura's daughter I was worried she felt pressured into walking with me. But that quickly dissipated as we walked. As it was Thanksgiving weekend, there were a TON of people out with their dogs on Poplar Beach. We decided to walk on the beach. Which is quite the workout. :) And our hands were rather sweaty. Colleen and I look like opposites a bit. Or rather we joked that I was good at the connection of love while Colleen is good at the business of it. She had a 11 year relationship. Whereas I have had…an on again off again 9 month relationship…and that is pushing it…as a lot of it was off. Colleen has been thinking about relationships a lot as she is learning to be single and opening up to having new friends. If this isn't your first blog post you have read. Obviously we can relate to each other. we openly discussed relationships that we feel are inappropriate. We discussed what we want in men.

Two amazing moments stood out among the insistent chatter of our desire. Well, one wasn't really a moment. With Colleen being "all business" there is an irony to that….as the thing is…she is a lot more light hearted than I. She were walking along on our way back and I was just like "Wow this has been a great walk." Colleen agreed. And I thought to myself well hell let's take a breath and take a moment to celebrate that….So out I screamed "Wooooooooooooo!" and raised our hands being held a bit higher. With all the dogs and their owners running round the beach….I was like fuck it. I wanted to hold on to the light feeling that was growing in me…and Colleen without hesitation joined me. I am a serious one and walking with Colleen made me lighten up.

Another amazing moment was Colleen's reflection on relationships and loving yourself. I have spent years alone, figuring myself out, not wanting to muddy someone else up with myself. Finding yourself is all of life, it doesn't end. Colleen and I are so different and her insight was so enlightening to me. As I hope mine was to her. Here is an amazing thought, "Learning to love yourself is no excuse not to share yourself with someone else as you learn." I know, I know it isn't rocket science but in the moment it felt like finding gold in a bucket full of silt. We are taught lately to fix ourselves. Be perfect. Don't let anyone see your flaws. Well I am going to be really old before I can love someone if I wait for that. And I may want kids. Maybe. I know with all definite thoughts. I want to love and be loved. By friends. By a handsome man. By well everyone. :)

All sweaty and talking talking talking about illicit love as we rounded the bend back to Laura's house. What a walk. A foggy beach. A sunny feeling inside. Colleen made the most amazing drawing. That I have to share. Yes, it would seem that Colleen is purple heart bursting out…and maybe I was able to give that feeling to her. But truthfully, we are both a little of each heart. I mean isn't this project my way of bursting out from behind MY walls? I truly wish there was a way to keep doing these walks. Some way I could get paid to keep learning these amazing lessons. And I am really ready for a couple dates…