Sunday, July 12, 2015

Small House, Big Suitcase

"Are they moving closer to one another? Or further away?" She asked.
"That is a haunting question," he replied.

There is no way to ever experience everything we want to do in this life. There is a cap on our experiences. In deciding what is important, what fills us, what we want to risk, we have to make decisions about how we want to live our lives. What is worth gaining and what is worth losing and what is better left untouched? Where do we channel our energy and when do we rest? How do we spend our money and what gets saved? And, ultimately, how do we spend the precious moments of our lives?

As a child, my mom would pack my siblings and I into our van drive us nine hours from Maryland to Massachusetts every summer. We would arrive at a small beach cottage in Duxbury, MA. It was a space that held decades of memories for our family, memories that were being built long before us. The rocky beaches, the sandy steps, the loft with the splintered and thick wooden latter, and the sound of the ocean. This cottage held an energy that lives in my bones and is released every time we pulled into the gravel driveway.

Family was the centered of those trips to Duxbury, but family always meant something broad and vast for us growing up. Family was who you loved, who you shared meals with, who you laughed and cried in the arms of. Holidays and vacations were filled with family, people, that we loved. People that knew us and shared spaces together. Not because we were related necessarily, but because we loved each other too much to not share those spaces with one another.

As years passed, that cottage became something of a refuge for us, and for others. We flocked there to relax and reflect and to enjoy the sun and sand. The love felt amongst and between souls in that space is unlike anything I have experienced anywhere else in my life. The door was always unlocked, everyone was always welcomed, and even the messiest life situation was accepted and embraced on that sandy back deck. Long walks down to the jetty meant real conversations and honest hearts revealed. Travels to the Powder Point Bridge meant discussions that cradled our deepest fears.

This cottage, this beach, these people and memories are rooted in me so deeply that I cannot help but know this place nurtured important truths I now know about myself. Marian, a beautiful family friend and neighbor to us, was one of my favorite people to be around at the cottage. A fierce Irish woman, not unfamiliar to adversity, has a soul I have always been pulled towards. Unique in her views of partnership and relationships, I would watch her and her partner, Dave, and often wonder how two people could love one another so deeply, yet never get married (or even move in together). Their partnership was a beautiful balance of everything they protected about their individual lives and everything they desperately wanted to share with one another. Untraditional in every way, yet so simple and beautiful to watch.

Marian loved to travel. She was a woman on the move. I remember gazing at her many souvenirs in her small house in Plymouth, wondering what it felt like to go to these magical places around the world. The tiny, one bedroom home she had made for herself on the first floor of a classic New England duplex, my heart felt rich when I entered this space. Marian, boisterous and bold always, was accused to saying, "Small house, big suitcase. That is the only way I want to live." I remember the first time I heard her say this. I remember knowing in my bones that this would be my driving philosophy in life, even as a child. The restlessness I felt, the need for adventure, the curiosity and wonder that came from being in a completely new place and disrupting my routine- this was what I wanted to chase.

I have started to feel what it is like to feed that restless nature I have with travel and new experiences. Moving from one location to another, traveling solo and with friends, meeting new people, and discovering smaller corners of the world that may go unnoticed. These experiences are energizing for me, they drive a passion and need I have that can't be quieted or tamed by standing still. Staying in one place is exhausting. Moving, that is the state I want to be in constantly.

So as I return to Duxbury this year, I reflect on the legacy this small space holds for my family. It will be the last year we gather in this house, as next year it will no longer be ours. The cottage will be passed on to new owners, new families, and primed for new memories to be built. Heavy hearted, I walk that beach for the last time and stand on that deck knowing a view that was a permanent part of my childhood is now ending.

And then I will pack my suitcase and keep moving.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chasing Art

"I can't stop moving forward," she said.
"Then you better run," he answered.

Sometimes we all need to experience something that knocks us off our feet. Something that shakes up our normal. A disruption to our routine.

These are actually the exact reasons I traveled to Charlotte last month. And recently, travel has pretty much been synonymous with art for me. I have been hunting art. Art in its natural habitat, art on the streets, art that shocks and art that makes me feel something new. Chasing this experience has become a kind of complex art within itself.

In general, I found Charlotte to be underwhelming, so I assumed my day of art hunting would probably yield similar results. What I didn't expect was to find art that would suck-punch me in the gut and then kiss me on the lips.

I stopped into the Mint Museum Uptown after hearing about a Warhol Exhibit. I was told at the desk that I would first have to proceed to the second floor to start with the Body Embellishment Exhibit.

This. This was what I had been looking for all weekend. This was the wow of my trip. This is the reason I chase art and why I keeping coming back for more of it.

This exhibit immediately swept me away. The premise of this curation is to explore the art forms that are created on, with, for, and because of the human body.

Tattooed bodies of stunning sitters, posed and portrayed in portraits that stood 8 feet tall. Artificial nail art that doubles as weapons. 3D printed jewelry (Jewelry as Wearable Sculpture) in shapes that can only be described as "fetus-like" creatures.

And then there was the fashion. Wow

Let me pause here to say that I am not a huge fashion fan. Shows, design, trends- fashion is not something I am usually captured and impressed by. But this, this was art. And it was captivating. A multi-sensory experience that harnessed every inch of body, this exhibit made me lose my balance.

Art that assaults your equilibrium- that is what I experienced with the threeASFOUR video. Rounding the corner of a dimly lit room, I was suddenly standing arm length away from a theater-sized screen playing the video below, music (by Ratatat) louder than anything I have ever heard in a museum before, and a suspiciously low-hanging spiral of dresses used to create this video. The size. The sound. The movement.

(Seriously, just put your headphones on and watch this video)

And then I wanted to fall over. Yet I was paralyzed. And captivated. It was one of the few moments I wished I wasn't alone on this trip as I desperately needed a partner to help steady my dizzying mind and body.

This is why I chase art. This is why I chase everything I love: for the disorienting experience that makes me question time and space and reality. I chase it to be be carried away.

On a simply, yet layered, trip to Charlotte, I found everything I was looking for. It took me almost being knocked down to realize it though.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Endings That Ache

"How does it end," she asked.
"With ache," he answered.

At the beginning of the year, I chose a word. Not unlike so many others that oppose the commitment to real resolutions but like the thought of pushing forward into a new year with some focus, I joined the masses in owning one word that would guide my self discovery throughout the next twelve months.


And though I probably could not have selected a more appropriate word for this phase of my life, something about this process if ultimately flawed. There is so much we can't know about the future and thinking we can hold tight to one word is limiting, at best- and pompous, at worst. There are too many variables, too much that happens in life that rattles us and shakes us and changes us.

Sometimes, other words step in and own us. They take hold and embrace us and refuse to let us go until we surrender with a deep breath and dive in deep.

This year, ache chose me.

This week, I ended an era of my career. I said goodbye to kids, a staff, a school, and a community that I love with pieces of my heart too deep to truly even understand. I will be moving on from a family of people that have become a bedrock for me both professionally and personally. I am leaving some of the truest partners I have ever had. I will be moving to a new space, a new position, and a new chapter of my career come August.

In August almost no part of my life will be the same as it was twelve month prior. In my searching, I have changed almost every core aspect of my life. Situations, people, location, surroundings, and my heart have all changed.

And with all great shifts comes great ache.

As I push forward, there are moments of doubt and even greater moments of unhinging. There is also incredible strength and beauty in the process of becoming.

Searching + Ache = Becoming

Our stories do not end because we say goodbye. Our hearts to not shrink because we ache. Our experiences do not pause while we search for the true voices in our hearts. And our lives do not stop because there is pain.

Sometimes we have to stay. Sometimes we choose to go. In the end, the ache fertilizes the soil of our hearts where love can grow richer in the future.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

#Litlunch and the Essence of Sharing

"May I share something with you?" He asked.

"Of course," she replied.
Over the past year, I have been blessed to know people that embrace a culture of sharing. Sharing their time, their knowledge, their homes, and especially their hearts. When we share pieces of ourselves with others, when we give over something deep within that identifies us, we are not just sharing ourselves, we are building a shared space that begins to a create "us."

I have received a number of books in the last twelve months. Some have been gifts from family for obligatory gift-giving holidays, others have been surprises from friends, a few have appeared from near-strangers. I am always taken aback by the generosity of spirit that comes from receiving a small package, unexpected, containing the bound words from another. It feels intimate, yet so very public, all at once.

As an English major, and a general lover of the written word, I began to amass a great number of books during college. Some where required reading but most just works of interest that I devoured and placed on a shelf (built in my parents' basement) to be saved or referenced at some point in the future. After I moved out and started my career, the books stayed on that shelf, I having neither the strength nor room to relocation them to my current apartment-living lifestyle.

One day, my brother told me he started reading some of the books on the shelf. In high school at the time, he was just discovering the magic that can happen between two covers. He would read and return these pieces, having found a library that, probably unbeknownst to him, told a deep story of my own literary journey. As time passed, I would recommend, he would read, and we would share. Even the books not discussed held a type of sharing, one that runs deeper than analysis and questions and shapes hearts to fit together more easily.

So on my desk at work, I began to collect the books of all genres and forms that have arrived to be shared with me over the last year. Sometime in March, I realized that these books might as well be tossed away if they are to sit stationary for only one pair of eyes to admire. I yearned to share the phrases found and lines formed in these pieces.

I started to read one everyday at lunch. If someone else, a teacher or student, happened to be around, I would share a page or two, a poem, a recipe, a nugget of wisdom, from these beautiful works of arts. The speaking of these words and the sharing of these works brought extreme pleasure, questions, calmness, and much joy. So I figured why not share this space with a larger audience?

Everyday (as much as I can control), at 12:59pm, I read from one of these books. Sometimes just a line or two, sometimes rushing through a whole chapter or multiple poems, but always sharing these words and this time of meditation with the world. A moment of time is documented and tagged with #Litlunch.  These books are fine in the silence of my own head, but letting the world in to take a look is so more fulfilling.

Want to see what is being shared next? Or want to share your own findings? I welcome you to join me.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Art That Runs Away With Itself

"Art is so good for me," she said.
"Art is good for all of us," he replied. "Some of us just don't realize it."


For the past decade, street artist Banksy has been creating art that transcends ownership. Working in the dark hours of the night and in the secrets of personal anonymity, Banksy has created a following through art that challenges social norms and provide commentary that ranges from hilarious to loudly contentious. 

After leaving these masterpieces on the streets, they no longer belong to the artist. Tagged, stolen, and protected, these pieces are scattered into the fateful hands of the people who are the fastest and the richest. In the best scenarios, the art is preserved for people to experience. In the most desperate, the pieces are removed from the streets and sold for more money than is even healthy to think about spending on any one item.

The Luxury Spot

Andy Goldsworthy's art worked in a similar fashion, though his medium belonged to the natural world. Beautiful displays of creativity and soul were crafted from nature, only to be left to fade, migrate, and be returned to that which they originally belonged. The rocks, leaves, and water he used didn't belong to him, he just rearranged them in ways that complemented their beauty. And then he walked away, letting the fate of his art be that of the natural forces.

Over the last three weeks I have been purposely placing myself in and around as much art as possible. Beautiful, messy, weird, confusing, soulful art. Art that makes me uncomfortable. Art that makes my eyes squint and eyebrows fold forward. Art that is so stunning I can't breathe. Art that brings tears. Art that is screamed, sculpted, scripted, and scrawled across all mediums. Art that is unexpected.

Container Park, Fremont Las Vegas

In Houston, I was slapped by John Flower's 8 Ohms. I entered a room that held the most frightening and haunting display I have ever experienced. Eight cassette plays activated by a motion sensor. As I entered, each player clicked on, each  playing a different pitch. When I stood across the room, the pitches matched in harmony with one another. When a player was approached, the pitch warped to create a sound that competed, rather than complemented, the others. My body controlled the art -- more than that, it ruined the harmony that existed without my presence. Though without me there was no sound at all...

(You can view a haunting video HERE)

When I stand in front of a piece of art it no longer belongs to artist or the highest bidder. In that moment it belongs to me and my heart. 

The most truthful art runs away with itself. The most powerful art allows us to hitch a ride for a minute.

What are you creating? Are you letting it run free? 

Maybe you should.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hardest Thing ≠ Last Thing

At Last ... Finalement ...

There are so many situations that are difficult. Moments throughout of day that challenge us, pieces of our lives that become complex, sad situations that arise, an unexpected tragedy. Even when we think we are prepared for the hard moments, they are usually much different than we ever expected. So often we battle these moments with no body memory or knowledge on how to sort through the confusing pieces of life.

But the hardest thing doesn't have to be the last thing.

Keep moving forward. 
Keep evolving. 
Keep hoping. 
The light could be just around the bend, 
just waiting on you to change its color.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lost and Found

Sometimes we lose things. Upon realization, panic usually sets in. We search, we try to retrace our steps and figure out where that thing could be. The more perplexing the loss, the higher the anxiety that it will never be recovered. The higher the anxiety, the more frantic we can become.

Eventually, we usually find that lost item. Sometimes there is a feeling of relief. Often we feel triumphant in our fate. Sometimes, though, stuff is meant to be lost. Sometimes, it is meant to stay lost.

In the cyclical process that is life, nothing can be important forever. Similarly, you won't miss that lost item with the same intensity the longer it remains hidden. You might be excited when it is found, but I am willing to bet you forget it was even important in the moments leading up to that reveal.

What is lost? What have you found? And what is not worth looking for anymore?