Learning From Baldwin and Embracing the Journey

And so my first blog offering begins…

Wednesday was the end of a two day intensive workshop for Pages. For two full days the educators and artists came together to brainstorm, spitball, jump into creative exercises and begin to build the bones of what the 2017/18 Pages will be. The journey has begun.

James Baldwin said, “I am saying that a journey is called that because you cannot know what you will discover on the journey, what you will do with what you find, or what you find will do to you.”

Being a newcomer to Pages and knowing intimately the infinite morphing of what that creative process can do, I came away from those two days inspired and having no idea what I’m doing. You think you’ll know. I prepped and studied, organized and anticipated. I thought I had my finger on the pulse of how I would be needed or how to contribute. However, in a word–nope. This is the beauty of how the universe works, how the creative process and its unpredictability never disappoints, and how some of our most necessary challenges find us. Having said all this, some of the most important takeaways from the time spent together were:

  1. we are involved in a unique and fluid collaborative made up of smart, engaged, talented, and caring individuals
  2. we are all a bit unsure, nervous but excited and committed
  3. we are all willing to take challenges and feel slightly uncomfortable for the sake of supporting and enriching students
  4. we are in good hands as we follow a safe, creative, and sure-footed leader who founded this project at The Wexner Dionne Custer Edwards
  5. and we are all deeply invested to do the best job we can to serve young people by contributing to their education and involving them in an experience different from anything they might ever encounter.

We viewed strange and wonderful creations by Cindy Sherman, were shaken and empowered by the words and work of James Baldwin, and bathed in the transformative musical inventiveness of Kronos. Though I may have been temporarily thrown off course to understand my place in this collaborative, my temporary self-indulgence paled in comparison to the creative riches of those two days. Here’s a list of words that I hoarded from the workshops:

noise, disturbing, quiet, nervous, chaos, passionate, identity, uncertainty, power, truth, freedom, connections, creativity, witness, artistry, safe, evidence, fear, engaging, brutality, morality, brilliance, humanity, uncomfortable, injustice, love, provocative, peace, unsettling, inspiring, unknown.

The mixed bag of thoughts and feelings we will undoubtedly recognize when we meet our students as we create a new chapter to Pages.

The creative process can be delicious but it also demands the doubts, the fears, the not knowing: the resistance. As artists, and indeed as humans, we need that resistance to rub against the love and passion to create something real, something honest, sometimes ugly, and sometimes lovely.

At the end of the day, we will all be on this creative adventure together to learn and embrace this incredible opportunity. It would seem that we have already succeeded before we’ve begun because, like Baldwin so clearly understood, we also know intuitively that we need one another to make a way. We understand this because this collaborative  journey is creating something larger than ourselves.

Time to make the donuts.

Time to get to work!

Hello September!

When I think of September I do think of new beginnings. In August I wind up what's left of summer, reflect on what's been accomplished and what needs to be, lick any left over wounds from the last season, and get my ducks in a row in prep for this very month. But that's more the "work" side of September.

Personally, I love the idea and the chance at another fresh start to do more, do it better, and live more fully. When you have children, the start of yet another bump up in the school year makes the reality of time marching on all too real.

In my writing life, this month and the approach of fall helps to inspire my writing. This season I embark on a brand new book project with my daughters. A complete departure from my last one and one that should make for a very cozy, poignant, and meaningful fall and winter.

Whatever YOUR goals, dreams, and hopes might be, I encourage you to contemplate with purpose, with commitment, and with a feeling of joy as you begin this September and new season journey!

Happy September




So I know. I realize it's been a while since my last post. The balancing act sometimes has its own timetable and I have been trying to roll with it. Sometimes up and sometimes down but still rollin!

I can't believe it was 2012 that I published my first book, Not So Black and White! The time has flown!! It's been full and fun, rewarding, and fulfilling.

I've had so many incredible opportunities, a whale's share of personal challenges, and some struggle with regaining my balance through it all. However, being a Libra it is all about finding the balance so that's no new project for me. I go through periods when I question my purpose, my ability, and even my needs. At times it can all lead to a jumbled mess. My father used to always say, "Your work will save you." The older I get, the more relevant and true this becomes. I feel more and more that despite personal things turning upside-down in my life, if I can hook into the work I will find myself back to where I need to be. Perhaps this is working outside in and maybe my way back to balance will change again. In fact, I'm quite sure it will but for now I look to what will pull me back to the table; get me busy with something worthwhile and with a creative challenge that gets me off of myself. And it's interesting how things show up when you allow them/"it" to do so. 

I recently heard from my mother. For those who don't know my story, I have been estranged from my mother for most of my life, but every now and then she will make a cameo appearance. I would like to say that these cameos are positive and encouraging but not usually the case. This recent one actually didn't have it's impossible effect on me, but on my eldest daughter. I had not anticipated this. It was very difficult to watch and know: that my mother's disappointing reach now extended to the next generation. But here's where the good part comes in. Out of this emotionally challenging event came an inspiration to do something to counter it all in some way. Enter...next book idea.

Out of the tears was born a project to create with my daughters. A book that we would work on collaboratively and publish together in celebration of our mother/daughter experience. A beautiful book filled with inspiration, empowerment, positive anecdotes, and gorgeous photographs! The idea was actually offered to me, probably a year ago, by my friend Katrina Fontenot. She kept bringing it up and I thought 'yeah, it's interesting' but it didn't really hit me in the right way at that time. Then all of a sudden after the fallout from my mother calling and her effect, it became very clear that now is the time to write that mother/daughter book! And though it is from the perspective (along with my daughter's voices) of a mother who didn't have a mother around (me), the purpose lies in the patterns that have been changed for the better. I get to celebrate what I've done right with my children and share their beautiful spirits with the world!

Currently, I continue to work through some ongoing personal stuff that needs resolution, but I have a stronger conviction that I can get on the other side of it and regain my balance having embraced the new work before me. And what better healing medicine than to create that with my two incredible children!

I am reminded once again that if I hang in there long enough, the balance will find me and the work will lead me home.




Just Begin...

Good morning Monday! Lean in… 

Maya Angelou once said, "Courage is the most important of all virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage." I subscribe to that form of thought and approach, especially where the work is concerned. However, I would be lying to all you entrepreneurs and self-employed artists out there if I said it was easy. I feel that I have a relatively healthy hold on the concept of discipline but it's more than a notion to keep at it every day. It's one thing to persevere when you know what the pay off will be. It's another animal entirely to create, recreate, listen to advice, not listen to advice, hammer, hammer, and hammer away when you have absolutely no idea if anyone will like it, get it or even care. It takes courage to begin and begin again. It takes courage to wake up each morning propping up your dream that you've been dreaming for so long, honing your craft to be excellent, and believing that all the hard work will one day be worth it. It will be worth it. Even if a project or intention falls short it will be worth it. It will be worth it because you had the courage to begin, to hang in, and stick it out. Ultimately, the only failure is to give up. Instead you must choose courage; come hell or high water you must choose courage and choose to begin again. You will never truly know what metal you're made of without it. When you get stumped and stuck in the muck and mire of self-doubt ask yourself simply: what is the alternative? I am banking on the reply being one of courage. You have it in you. Be courageous and just…begin.  XX


Hanging In The Balance...

As much as I feel I'm continuing to learn and grow, I often still fall repeatedly short of feeling as though I am 100% evolving. Why is that? I've come to the conclusion that the balancing act does not disappear, does not get conquered or controlled. I feel that mid-way through, perhaps following the birth of my children, was when I really started to feel the constant pinch of always feeling pulled from all sides, always running out of time, and striving to get ahead. The concept of time didn't really kick in until my 40's, not REALLY. Now I feel two ways: either like a hamster on a wheel or in limbo holding my breath until the next project begins but rarely savoring the snatches of quiet moments in between. This is the new goal. Actually, it's an old one but maybe if I pretend it's new and unchartered territory I'll be more apt to finally and permanently adopt it. How to find the balance? How to achieve a sense of equanimity, equilibrium, and calm in the midst of daily overwhelming information, looming future concerns, and present random BS? The only way I know how to slide over to visit the other side of "balanced" is to steal it, be greedy, and even a bit selfish. When I feel the overwhelm, angst, and stress take over I sometimes have to literally talk to myself aloud. I reassure myself that it will all be alright, that the world will continue spinning even if I choose-for the moment-not to, and that taking pause will only make me and everyone I encounter better for it. With that in mind I stop. I push myself away from the table, grab a jacket and go outside, check myself onto a massage table or shut down my electronics to regain my…balance. It isn't an easy task but as necessary (or maybe more so) than staying "plugged in", meeting the deadline or making the bed. Sometimes we have to just stop and put the whole of our lives on a momentary pause. That time-out doesn't have to mean a week or even a year but we can all spare 10-30minutes to just slow down. So while you're setting your standards high to achieve, to get the writing done, make the meeting, and to always turn in nothing but your best work, don't forget yourself. Remember to visit the other side of the balance; to feed your spirit and soul with accountability in showing up for digesting it all, for peace, and for quiet. Demand the time to honor a need for balance in your life. It can only replenish and contribute in the best way to ALL of you. Becoming a monk may not be a part of the path but momentary mindfulness doesn't cost anything but can return with infinitely important dividends. Namaste artists and enjoy the balance!



exciting things are coming...

Well, we have roasted, toasted, boasted, sung carols, opened presents, and given thanks! Now we gear up for a brand New Year. What will 2015 bring? What can we and will we do to make it the most inspiring, productive, and successful year it can be? If you’re like me, you too are constantly working hard to balance it all, continually challenge yourself, create your best work, and somehow stay sane in the process. Unfortunately, I still haven’t found, been given or stumbled upon a magic pill to keep all of this in check. The only trick I know is to simply keep at it. When I get thrown off, I hold on with all my might to stay in the game and ask myself these questions:

  1. how can I be of service?

  2. where do I need to push myself harder?

  3. am I doing my best?

  4. am I being kind?

The goal is to be able to answer these questions with a “positive” and hopefully a complete and fulfilling positive so I can sleep at night knowing that I have done my best and that I’ve made choices that my children would be proud of. I often feel like a hamster on a wheel going nowhere fast but as long as I’m moving towards something I know I am going in the right direction. The best thing about a New Year, like a new day, is that it’s a golden shiny opportunity to get it right, to make a better choice, to dream a bigger dream, and make a larger wish or desire come true. I encourage each and every one of you to come up with just four questions you think are important for you to be able to answer with a positive, to discover for yourself what helps you to stay in the game when life throws you a curve, and to commit-if only to yourself-that you will do everything you can to achieve a dream worth dreaming and bringing to life. It may take longer than 2015 to get it right, give it legs or flesh it out but I challenge you this year to demand more and to never give up! 

Have a healthy, productive & glorious 2015!!




NAUGHTY or NICE? -the ups and downs of the holiday process-

If there’s one thing I can bank on, it’s that the creative process will bring ups and downs and that the holidays don’t always make it easy.

 Creatively, this is “limbo” time for me and tends to creep in around this time of year after the brand new energy of the fall season kicks off and prior to the new year beginning. However, this is actually a golden time with a wonderful opportunity to work but what’s good on paper and in your mind doesn’t always make its way to the ground. Since I’m one of those bizarre people who gets my Christmas shopping done soon after the Thanksgiving turkey has been eaten, I have no excuse than to get a jump on my work during this hectic time. As people begin checking out, making their flight arrangements for family gatherings, and distracted by all of the good stuff that this time of year brings, I could be writing the great American novel. Unfortunately, I too get very distracted because I adore Christmas time. If only I could somehow manage to not stay distracted! Instead, I seem to remain in a fight with myself with each passing December day; a toss up between more Christmasing or the work that I know needs to get done because I’m the captain of my creative ship and if nothing gets written, created, followed-up on or pitched then I’ll hear yuletide crickets. Not my favorite sound, unless it’s in the middle of July and I’m sitting on evening grass looking up at summer stars. Then I love the sound of crickets. So back and forth I go: being distracted, being largely non-productive, and beating myself up about it. Why do we do this to ourselves?! Then I hear my late and beloved father’s voice whispering in my ear, reminding me about the fickle, merciless, and changeable process. Even though I know this intellectually inside and out, I forget. I forget to surrender. I forget that the holidays, being sometimes distracted, often fighting resistance, and playing a daily active role in the rest of my life is ALL a part of the process. Sometimes we think that only the written words on the page, the gig on stage or the relentless demand for social networking are the only things that count. We have to remind ourselves that it all counts: our confusion counts, our lack of self-motivation, frustration, feeling lost in our purpose, uninspired, and plain old being STUCK all count. It is all a part of the process, not just our creative process but our life process.

 So while I’m a person who ‘wants it yesterday’, demands the best of myself, am a freak for control, and resist surrendering I have to stop, breathe, trust, and nudge myself to sometimes practice the opposite. Last week I tried harder to take it as it comes, accept the temporary lull and resistance, relinquish control (a little bit LOL!)- because it’s impossible and unhealthy to be in control all of the time-, and to try to…surrender to where the process wants and needs me to be. When I noticed these needed practices finding me last Friday I was able to go out to a holiday gathering with some of the most brilliant minds, spirits of incredible women and just—be. Something had finally shifted and I could wholly be present with all of it. I got into my car and blasted Earth, Wind, & Fire’s September and felt so lucky to be alive, healthy, and in the spirit of the season.

 If you build it, they will come but sometimes if you let it go and trust the space in between the bars, unexpected creative holiday presents have permission to find you as well.

 You might want to include, at the top of you holiday list,

“Trust the process”.

 Happy, Healthy, Prosperous & Safe Holidays!!




AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL..,OVER AND OUT. Good morning Thursday. lean in... However, I actually don't know what to say about the state of things in this country today. I felt outraged but not surprised by the Ferguson outcome and needed to step away to digest, to collect, and try to make sense of the madness. And then to compound the insanity of Ferguson with the incomprehensibility of Eric Garner has simply left me cold. I have no words today for America the beautiful. I am-once again-embarrassed for her. Shame on America and the national celebration of her obscenely jacked up fear based society.

No rose-colored glasses today FB. America, I am over and out. What will you do to make me change my mind.

#icantbreathe #injustice #Ferguson #EricGarner #policebrutality #alargerissue #racism #theleventhhour #America #shame #regression #uprising #revolution #overcome #byanymeansnecessary #bevictorious #survive #thrive