‘put on your red shoes and…’

imageIt feels like the world has just lost a family member.

Collective grief for an artistic legend.

I can’t seem to shake off the heavy hearted feeling. The want to weep and weep for someone I never knew personally, but whose voice and face are so familiar and so, so comforting.

Perhaps it’s that he stirs up memories of childhood in the canola fields of Switzerland. His family lived down the road in our sweet, French village. My imagination dreamed up how the pop star’s home existed near by. Surprisingly, my imagination did not include any plush, kitch additions…my imagination decided it looked just like our home, only with David Bowie and his family in it.

Perhaps it’s that my generation grew up at awe of his Goblin King prowess. My cherished video copy of it was taken to every sleep over to watch with sparkly eyed fear, wonderment, love and humour. And I can’t wait to watch it with my son, who already understands that “rocks are friends”.

Perhaps he reminds me of my regular imaginative, empowering exploration of costume as a child. My three favourite people to dress up as and to spend my day being were David Bowie, Zoro and Strawberry Shortcake. I could be my very own hero, just for one day.

Perhaps he reminds me of my wild and free years as a youth – his songs an inspiring soundtrack to dance, dress, dream and be.

Or that dance-magic time I slipped into his concert and had my mind blown by him being him. By who he is. As he is. At each stage of his life and of his creativity.

Perhaps it’s that he encompasses creative expression, and being yourself – through your ages and stages – playing, creating, expressing. With grace, integrity and with dignity.

Perhaps it’s because he died a similar death and age to my father. And I feel for his family to loose the great man in their life.

Every little aspect of what he represents and stirs in me makes it a sad day.

I am sure he, his music and his death stir and represent unique memories, feelings and thoughts in each of us.

And this is why his music – new and old; images and videos of him – young and old; and his lyrics – across time, are slipping respectfully out of shops, out of homes, all over social media and t-shirts and tote bags today – across place.

“Because my love for you

Would break my heart in two

If you should fall into my arms

And tremble like a flower”

Thank you to a creative legend that reminds me to express, dance, create and be myself, without fear, at every stage and age of life.

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worth it

The best thing about this moment right now, is that it’s another moment of many lately, in which I show up.

I am scared to say it out loud, because I so don’t want to loose this feeling.

What is the feeling?

It’s flat out, inspired.

Heart glowing, dream making, ideas bubbling inspired.

Combined with action.

Yes, the doing part.

It’s  been a long time of tiny inspired moments lost to self doubt, self critism that essentially built a ‘block’.

A ‘big f-off shiny’ block.

It’s been a long time of this type of inspired moments lost to the tummy of the big bad wolf. Chewed up piece by piece, until I couldn’t find them anymore. Even when I searched the wolf’s shit. Gone.

It’s been a little while of inspired moments put aside because being the mother of a baby swept me up on a day-by-day-moment-by-moment-wild-ride-of-love-sleep deprivation-“how on earths!?- Woha-this-is-amazingly-divinely-overwhelming-this-love-is-like-never-before-primaI-protective-listen-to-his-breath. Putting myself aside.

(From this, of course has come another kind of inspiring moments.)

The moment I refer to now though, is my own, a private world I’ve had in my heart and mind since I first discovered dance.

When my son sleeps I give myself the time and space to climb into that world and alongside that I am much better at catching moments to ‘administrate’ this world. Which is key to action, not letting it slip, finding spaces to show up, resources to make it, inviting others to collaborate with, planning, capturing, exploring, documenting etc etc.

I have more energy now.

Because I’m really trusting my heart again.

I’m having to work hard to not listen to the scars of the wolf and to my own internal trolls. If I keep doing that I will regret it.

My boy deserves to see his Mum doing what she loves.

I deserve to do what I love.

And not just because it feels good to do what you love…..but because I believe that by doing what you love you usually give more to society. You have the right energy, you foster the right tools and you make offerings that are gifts.

I have joined a tribe of mama-artists

I have started my mothership collective.

Watch this space for upcoming movement classes/workshops.

And a piece is brewing.

Hooray!!

absolute child

I don’t know exactly where it’s all coming from…(maybe the space for dreaming that I have been allowing myself recently)…but I’ve been re-struck by some beautiful memories of my childhood of late.

As a young adult I thought I grew up in a perfect family. But then, with the loss of my beautiful Dad, I removed my rose tinted glasses and saw a few chips. Apparently there is no such thing as a perfect family. I found this hard to accept and spent years trying to understand and accept my, our, weaknesses.

But now, I’m experiencing the joy of slipping the rose tinted glasses back on.

And finding again in myself those moments of absolute child.

The hours in the garden concocting stews from petals, mud and greenery. Was anyone there with me? Watching me? I haven’t got a clue. I was busy.

And free.

The pine forest across the road was a place of adventure for myself and for my brothers.

Dress ups.

Music.

Dancing.

Puppets.

The sprinkler.

Slip and slide.

The yearly trips to the coast – bush walks, swimming, board games. Shell collecting. Possum watching.

Clue-do.
Monopoly.

Cards with Marnie.

Treasure hunts with cousins.

The willow tree.
Friendship
Tree climbing.

Dolls. Dolls. Dolls.

The dresses hand made by Marnie.

Marnie and Poppy’s garden. The cubby house Poppy tailor made out of a leafy bush.

Poppy’s garage. Full of mystery and history. The scent of paper and type writer ink.

Nana’s suitcase of dolls.

Pa’s birds.

Marnie’s dressing table…the black and white photos, the antique perfume bottles, the jewels.

Nana’s wardrobe. The textures, colours, scents.

Switzerland. We went on weekend bike rides as a family. On evening walks to say “bonjour” to the cows. Colouring in unicorn pictures on the balcony while Mum sketched the landscape ahead.

Dinners as a family outside. Snow men. Ski trips. Hikes.

Zoro. I really was Zoro.

Big brothers.

My brothers have always played a big part in shaping me. They are very different to each other and I always looked to find the perfect balance of their strengths.

They loved me unconditionally, played with me, protected me.

Pets too. Wow. Pets are such a lifeline for a child. They listen, they cuddle, they understand.

Unconditionally.

And nature. It frees a child’s wild. It invigorates their dreams, inspires ideas and builds boldness.

Mother Nature. She holds you and loves you unconditionally.

I had all of this. Good brothers, a big backyard to play in, time to explore, pets to love. Real friends, imaginary ones. Mother Nature embracing me. Environments to roam. I even remember having the dog from ‘The Never Ending Story’ with me, everywhere I went.

And don’t forget. I was Zoro. The Zoro.

There are so many aspects of these childhood treasures that I long to offer my son.

We, as adults, seem to have an innate desire to give the best of our childhoods to our children…or is it for ourselves to relive the best?…or is it that we never should have stopped the best from happening by getting overwhelmed by the more serious aspects of adulthood?

I will never forget watching my 40 year old brother drag out the ‘slip and slide’ to share the joy with his 4 year old son.

My son, the dog and our back yard, though tiny, is a place where dreams are made.

Cloud watch, moon search, bee listen, petal analyse, mud make, dig-dig, seed plant, growth see, ant observe, bird watch, sit still and breathe type dreams. Or pull out weeds and sweat, sort and shake off type dreams.

And right now, I’m obsessed with fabric in the garden.

My heart glows at the simple sight of pretty fabric blowing in the wind. Or strung up over us in tent like fashion. If you can’t find me. I’m lost in meters of sari as I try and pin it to the fence, the roof, a tree so that little one and I can delight in it’s above-us-ness.

It feels so good to play again.

To obsess over such a simple, odd, pretty thing.

I hope little one is watching me and giving himself permission to do the same, forever.

Just as I am watching him and giving myself permission to do what he does best, now.

Play passionately, intensely, daily.

Hello my little child.

Check in

So far so good….

Daily pages are happening, and so is a little movement and stretching.

Before 10am.

Tiny, tiny steps that are big, big achievements to this solo mama.

It is about grabbing it when you can. And letting it go, if you can’t.

That moment little one wanders off to play with his train for 5 minutes, I grab my book and write my 3 pages.

I am also grabbing moments to pick up a book and read…and what I read helps me in my search for my rain dance.

I think the biggest revelation here has been opening up space. Physically, mentally. Space for my creative dreaming mind (that brave young teenager part of me).

I had to start doing this in a literal sense by going ‘shelf by shelf’ as Gretchen Rubin would say. De cluttering, spring cleaning, letting go, making room, simplifying, finding a place for what we use or what we love aesthetically. Fixing broken things. Getting organised. Finding clarity.

This has also been happening to my calendar. Creating space, letting go of the things that don’t feel right anymore for my family, and making room for the things that do.

I still have a few shelves to go, but how about I start embodying this. Dust off the cobwebs in my bones, awaken my liver, dance my heart free, stretch, move for 10 minutes each day, before 10 am.

One of the best things to come from this so far (ironically as I type into a blog) has been my de cluttering of technology.

In her book ‘Happier at home’ Gretchen Rubin sets a goal to open up her time more for the things she loves, and it got me doing the same. Like her, I usually make calls while on the way somewhere or check my emails etc while I am waiting. I’ve stopped doing that. And it has reminded me of how  it’s those moments that can be your most creative and/or that allow the creative dust to settle and/or the observations made during them provide fuel for creative ideas.

Internet was only becoming a ‘thing’ when I first started studying dance at uni. I used to just book a computer once every couple of days…but now, it’s just here…in a knock,knock, knock at the door to your little world, all the time sense….of course this has many pros, but I think it hinders my creative mind a lot. I had forgotten how much I need to give my creative mind the space to digest and to dream.

It was a bit daunting at first – the idea of falling behind. But it’s again about de cluttering and organising the inbox. And booking in the time that’s right to open the door up.

From this overall process so far, I’ve made a wonderful change to little one and my routine. Simple, but wonderful.

Since he was a baby, I have cuddled him to sleep to the same piece of music. A beautiful piece that is soo inspiring, but that ends too soon. Now we listen to an entire CD each night – CDs that evoke dance in me. Nothing better than cuddling your child, closing your eyes and dreaming up dance.

This was the part of me I had lost.

This music dreaming was something I used to do as a teenager while I drifted off to sleep.

I am glad to have it back. And I hope little one likes it too.

I look forward to seeing what else I find as I make space again for my dance.

September beginnings

So, so bazaar but somewhere in my dreams last night I came up with my plan.

Tim Minchin’s concept of art work being “an artefact (I have uploaded link to face book) of the time you are in when making it and the time you have to make it” reminded me that I need a time-line.
I am sure you have no interest in hearing about my time line!? But sometimes reading other people’s ways helps us find our own. So I am putting it out there just in case it might help you, if you are “lost in living” (another link I have uploaded to face book) like I get…
Feel free to share your own ‘creative rituals’ in the comments section of this post, or email me – no doubt it will spark further thought and ideas from myself and other readers (if anyone is reading this!?).
Making this plan public is also about accountability for me.
I have a few personal hurdles at the moment that are taking up a lot of time and energy – they are quite stressful and do make my creative heart feel a little guarded.
So I give permission to myself to go gently.
One foot at a time.
I am also a solo mama, so I don’t have someone to ‘look after the kids’ while I go for a walk let alone head to the studio.
My son is essentially on the walk with me (which is a beautiful thing – but does make your focus different to if you are on your own during the walk).
So I give myself permission to not just go gently, but to take it when I can.
Each day, for the month of September, I will:
– Catch a moment to do 3 pages of ‘daily page’ writing (an idea of Julie Cameron’s that I have been doing for years – less so as a Mama- I find it helps me calm my mind, organise my day, declutter my brain, if you like, so that creative ideas are given space to unfold). I usually do it with a cup of tea. I will catch a moment to do it either: a. when my son sleeps in b. when my son is engaged in independent play c. alongside my son as he draws.
But I must do it by 10am.

Stretch and move for 10 minutes , also by 10 am. While my son plays around me, climbs on me, stretches with me. I must play inspiring music at the same time to help me dream like I used to.

Dance with my son for 5 minutes to inspiring music in the pre-bed night time to shake off our day, connect, be spontaneous, brave, laugh, play, release.

Meditate for 5 minutes a day (obviously this can only happen when…if my son sleeps). This may seem irrelevant to being an artist (all of the above might!?). And in fact at a talk that I went to recently which was by a panel of 4 mother artists, a joke came up about one mother artist saying to herself “I should be meditating right now” (when she found the time to write). And that things like meditation or exercise had to go out the window given the time was limited. The priority had to be the art. I think of though, how I used to go to sleep dreaming up dance pieces and perhaps I need to do that again. Also though, I need to find presence, space, calm, and build my sense of self confidence and even sense of self identity right now. And I have a feeling meditation will help me to do this.

– Exercise is the same. In her book ‘Walking in the world’ Julie Cameron talks about how an artist’s practice should include a 10 minute walk. I might throw that in too!

All of the above might sound so simple, amateur etc….but it is me staying gentle, being realistic (financially, time wise).
It also allows me to be Mama Bear and slowly work the creative rituals into that.
One foot at a time.
On one hand I know that being the best Mama I can be means fostering my artistic self.
On the other I appreciate the simple pleasures of motherhood and want to keep the balance.
I also need to work to pay extra bills – so this is another layer in the life of the mother artist who does not earn consistent money from the art work or is trying to find ways to earn money from the work.

– Along side this I need to find 10 minutes a day to read. I am reading a few books at the moment (about creative practice) and will try reflecting on them through my blog….oh dear, that might mean another 10 minutes!?

– Eiks!?

The last thing…the scariest….the one I am really going to struggle with:

This one came up in my dreams.

Some mother-artists talk about how their art practice is now ‘tiny’. Tiny sketches or short stories. I wondered in my sleep how you do this as a choreographer? And I came up with a plan.

One movement a day. A gesture, a travelling movement, an action. One movement that I refine through the day and eventually capture in memory, drawing, words and/or video. I may eventually share with you occasionally as an offering .
That one is massive to me – that’s really doing the work. And like I said, my current guarded heart makes it more challenging. But perhaps this is what my movement will talk about. Perhaps I will find movement vocabulary to express a story that is locked up and needs to be danced.
Here I come September, the little rain dance begins with spring….

Vulnerable

Where is that brave young girl who didn’t worry so much about what other people thought?

Asked, while also valuing the adult in me who cares about what other people  think – in the sense that, they leave with something worthwhile.

It’s a fine line.

…taking risks, trusting instinct-the creative process, being honest-vulnerable, open

while

…not over indulging on your audience, reader, listener, self.

I’ve been told by mentors that if I am fascintaed/busy in the moment, others will be fascinated too.

Is this true?

Brave young girl tells me I need to lighten up and just put the work out there, f@&k ups and all.

Vulnerable adult woman doesn’t want to have her audience, readers, listeners, others leave without something in their heart…

So, I will attempt to make offerings. Because, without offerings, I am neither brave nor will others have a chance to leave with something.

Step one of my little rain dance.

An offering.

trauma, creativity, the artist’s block, or self sabotage – Act 1

From when I can remember, I created dance work.

We lived in a little town outside of Geneva for three years from when I was 5 years old. There are photos of me dancing in the open space of the house dressed up and free. Apparently I used to put on a different costume each night and do a performance before my family ate dinner. Usually, from my memory, it was to a crackly record blaring the song “Born in the USA”!?

This continued on our return to Australia. I would rope friends in and choreograph entire three act performances on them, which were then performed to our families in the rearranged lounge room. I wonder if they were entertained, or bored, or fascinated, or chuckled lovingly at it all when we weren’t looking.

I’d escape in the lounge room and climb into music, costumes and creative dreams for entire weekends.

I put myself to sleep at night, by listening to various pieces of music and imagining the dance that went with them.

When I was a teenager I enrolled into the subject ‘dance composition’ at my ballet school. These Monday night classes were mind blowing for me. Our teacher set tasks and projects to support our understanding of the composition process. She saw something. And believe me, that was the first time she ever did really see something in me – because my journey with her outside of that room confused my self esteem in most other aspects of dance.

I was a dance rebel at age 13.

I was brave.

I made political statements about issues of concern to me, through dance.

Discrimination. The recession. Eating disorders. Grief. Mood swings. Identity.

I would commit to hours, days, weeks to find the movement language and to put that language into sentences and to then create paragraphs and to frame these statements with the space and music.

No one seemed to stop me. So I just went with. I trusted my gut. I didn’t fear rejection. Or being ‘too this’ or ‘too that’.

I am now searching myself for that brave little girl inside of me.

it’s easier to throw in the towel…

Half an hour ago, I wanted to burst out crying and give up on rediscovering my little rain dance.

My son was having a melt down, because I burst his balloon (literally….).

We have been struggling this morning. I did my daily pages (more on that later) while he played with the dish washing water. I stretched while he played with his trains. I moved while he played trucks. I felt conflicted the whole time. My presence was going inward, and the guilt….

It’s really important to me that I do not interrupt my son’s play ‘flow’. That he knows I am there, but that he can go deep into his imaginative worlds for as long and as self directed as he wishes.

Along side that, it is important to me that he feels seen, heard, loved, appreciated, deeply connected with me because he knows I am there for him….

Sometimes we flow side by side. In the past my flow has been domestic or practical….cook, clean, pack the bags, shower, get dressed, etc. But now, I am fixated on the idea of allowing time for my flow to be artistic.

When I sneak moments of artistic in and we are flowing smoothly. Our connections in between are so profound. Grounded. Content.

Today though. Eiks!

This morning our flow clashed. I don’t know why. He`really wanted me to push the big truck. And I really wanted to stay in my zone of ‘starting on my little rain dance’. I guess I’ve got this new found pressure on myself as a result of my commitment to this personal project.

We went for a walk to the park to step out of the tension.

And when we returned we talked, we cuddled. He needed to talk about his fear of the big truck that was doing work down the road. And I listened with all my heart. Soaking up his gorgeous features, pauses, repetitions and gestures as he`told his story.

“Wow! That truck really shook you up didn’t it”.

“Mummy was with you and held you close, and we walked safely around the truck”

Now he sleeps. And as I cuddled his sleeping self the internal fear for me was loosing that connection as I try to do my daily practice. Being absent.- ly present.

And then that’s when I realised its a day to day process.

The “Mummy is having a shower” flow was a struggle at first and now its easy. Sometimes he brings toys into the bathroom, or pulls faces through the glass. Other times he has solo adventures in other parts of the house.

I guess we just need to get used`to the new addition of my creative rituals to our day.

And if they are not working. I can’t let the pressure create conflict. I have to stop. I have to smell the`roses. Push the truck. Listen. Just stop. Let the project go for a minute. Because, right now, the internal conflict of my not being present could result in my throwing in the towel, and that is not what I want to do.

You know, something that helped was a perfect timing post from visual artist Lily Mae Martin. Her honesty is ever appreciated as she struggles with creating her art and parenting particularly while her partner is busier than usual with work. I get it! But it also provided some self-compassion. And your right Lily Mae we have to find ways around the struggles, especially when without village. Every day. Day by day. And I don’t think that means it’s a hobby. It is actually the conflict, the struggle, the tears, the relief, the flow, the non-flow, the breaks, the listening, the fear of the truck, the exhaustion, the balancing act that creates a work of art.

Isn’t it?

what have i done!?

What have I done!?

Have I just attempted to take myself seriously? Too seriously? At a time when I don’t ‘deserve’ to?

I’ve attempted to put myself out there.

For a minute there, I was in a state of panic because I thought I put myself out there as an ‘artist’. And I felt like a fraud.

I am not an artist? Am I? But my current practice is this:

– watching my son create the most splendid installations around our home. Installations that make me awe struck.

– contact improvisation jams with my son while making sure he doesn’t rip my hair out from my scalp.

– an addiction to creating inside and outside play spaces that provoke and inspire him and his friends.

– carrying, lifting, nose rubbing, back rubbing, cuddling, rocking, being silly.

– an obsession with tiny worlds through terrarium making and ogling.

– singing lullabies and duet improv jazz numbers…off key by the way…but on key enough to help him sleep or smile.

– noticing the simplest of moments and feeling so lucky to have seen it.

– reading.

– so much walking.

– spontaneous adventures.

– occasional lounge room dance offs.

Am I a fraud?

On one hand I think artists who don’t live life surely can’t frame it. And believe me I am living life right now.

On the other, I have been told by many, “If you are not doing the work” you are not an artist.

How dare I create a Facebook page under` the category of ‘artist’. Am I demeaning all of those hard working artists who are “doing the work”!? daily, I really hope not.

No. I’ve been an artist since I was born. It’s how I see the world. It’s how I think. There were times in my life when I had a daily practice, and then there were times I couldn’t. Or just didn’t (more on that in a later post).

This is the longest period though, so I do feel like a fraud.

I promise you, and myself, though that the tears behind the eyes. The pain behind the heart. The unframed joy. The adrenaline from running from a big bad wolf, the fear. The love for my child. The awe of his innate artistry. The stories that have piled up. Untold. Will be. In the way I have always know best to tell them, since i was 5 years old. My little rain dance.

I think I am warming up. I am sorting the beans. I am taking a very slow breath in.

I am seeking.

Searching.

Again.

For a daily practice that realistically fits my life a a mother. And that fuels the telling of story through dance.

while he is sleeping

While he is sleeping. I begin. I’m hungry, the washing sits wet in the basket. I should duck to the toilet. Or even have a shower!? Give the dog a cuddle. Dishes.

No, I begin today. And you, my (hopefully I have) readers, keep me accountable, inspired, accountable and motivated. I can find my own little rain dance again. I will. It’s been three years since I last created work. A solo. I turned into a beach whale when I was pregnant. Dancing resulted in my head in the toilet bowl. This surprised me, disappointed me. But I let myself ride the wave in. And trusted my body wanted rest.

And now, he wakes….

I will be back. Because i want to find my dance again. A practice. I commit to daily rituals that reawaken my choreographer. While he sleeps, with him, alongside him, alongside life, alongside the washing, the dishes, the adventures.

“Mummy”

I have begun my practice again…