Turning Points & No Regrets: Jonatha Brooke

From the archives--Photo by Susannah Conway, susannahconway.com

I still think about those dark days a couple winters back when Jonatha and I left our respective hermitages and slipped out for a coffee here or a lunch there. How consoling it felt to be with someone who knew what it was to be burrowed in deep, someone who knew how rejuvenating even that small injection of company could be.

It was like getting hooked up to an oxygen tank before plunging back under water.

It's so different now to be together in the bright sunshine of July, with those hard times behind us. With the champagne joy of new work pulling us forward into the crazy scary places that bubble with vitality and life.

I'm so happy to share our most recent conversation with you on Retrospective, where we talk about her adventures in music and theater, turning points and the decisions she'll never regret. (You can also listen in iTunes.)

Navigating the Crumbly Days

Yesterday Liz Lamoreux tweeted about how the day after a launch felt even more vulnerable than the day before. It hits all of us at different moments, in different ways. We reach for different words in an attempt to explain what we're experiencing. Phyllis Mathis says, "This work costs something in soul." Liz Lamoreux says, "Putting from the heart work in the world feels like giving a piece of your heart."

It's a very specific kind of vulnerability to put not just your ideas into the world (Top 10 Ways To Blah Blah Blah) but work that holds the essence of who you are, the stories you carry with you always in the cavern between your ribs. The moments that made you who you are and continue to form you as you journey with them by your side and in your pocket.

You leap, and land. You say, See? That wasn't so bad. You're still in one piece. But then later--a minute or an hour or a day or two after--suddenly you feel all wobbly in the knees like your legs might give out on you. Your body doesn't feel like the solid structure that carried you off into the leap and absorbed the weight of your landing; now it feels like cookie crumbs shaped into a person-shape, held by plastic wrap. You worry that if someone bumps into you or looks at you unkindly, even for an instant, you might collapse into a pile on the ground. You put on clothes before leaving the house but it doesn't matter, nothing makes the naked feeling go away.

All those weeks and months of trusting yourself and what you knew you needed to do to say to make are suddenly drowned out by loud inner shrieks of the hysterical person on prison break in your mind. No one cares! No one wants this! It's going to make no difference!

The people who know you in your trusting and brave moments don't always know what to do with you when in the grip of crippling doubt. People forget to tell you that you're doing alright and that they love you and that it all matters deeply because they take it for granted that you know. And some days, you do. Just not these days.

I wish there were magic words we could speak to each other on these days that chases the doubt away like a very powerful spell. Or that we could wrap ourselves in some protective cloak. But the only magic and cloak I know is to wrap ourselves in love--the deep abiding love of those who are ever-present safety net whether we fly or fall. To try to take it in through our ears, our eyes, our skin. To ask to be embraced, held, listened to while we say the crazy thoughts out loud so we can hear ourselves how crazy they really are.

It is only because of this safety-net kind of love that I can ever take a leap at all. Everything begins there for me, and on crumbly days like today I remember that everything ends there, too.

Phyllis Mathis has been this kind of friend to me for over a decade. I'm so honored to have her as my guest on this week's podcast, as we talk about the way we are formed inside of friendship and conversation. Everything I do begins and ends in these deep soulful connections, but it's a relational form that feels on the brink of extinction.

Give it a listen and think about a safety net you could weave or strengthen in your own life, and the courageous leaps you could make as it holds you.

On Ugly Ducklings and Beautiful Swans

This is the final episode of The Emerging Icon Series. If you'd like to start from the beginning or let your friends in on the action, subscribe here and receive an episode a week in your inbox (12 episodes, all around 3-4 minutes each). I'll open up the comments today--if you've enjoyed this series, let me know.

The conversation continues.

I'm expanding the conversation of emerging to include the wisdom and stories of my friends and colleagues, now available as the Retrospective podcast. Subscribe in iTunes, where you can rate and review the series (all of which make a tremendous difference).

 

Are you ready to dive in deeper?

If you're ready to really pull into focus the forces that keep you quiet and hold you back, then the Finding Your Voice home study course is your next step. Designed as an interactive curriculum, it's self-paced so you can enjoy your bursts of velocity and also take time to simmer and absorb when that's what you most need. Reclaim your power--your voice--and unearth the courage to put yourself out there, over and over again.

Walking in the Snow

One winter night I was in line before a StorySLAM at The Nuyorican Poets Cafe with some friends. I really wanted a peppermint tea, and Ben wanted to find a restroom so we set off together to find a coffee shop. We wandered through the Lower East Side of Manhattan, past stoop steps and empty flower boxes and these snowflakes started falling--the big, quiet kind that make you feel like you've suddenly stepped into a movie. Snowflakes landed on our heads and our shoulders and I don't even remember what we talked about but I remember feeling this big, quiet kind of happiness that makes you feel that you are just where you need to be.

That walk through the snow is one of my favorite New York moments.

It was such a pleasure to sit down with Ben Lillie and hear about the journey that brought him to the Nuyorican that night. A former physicist at Stanford, now the director of Story Collider and a writer for TED.com, Ben is my most recent guest on Retrospective: The Podcast. Listen to our conversation here, or subscribe in iTunes.

Filling My Mind and Fueling My Body

Someone wanted to pose as a wheelbarrow...

There are a hundred other things I should be doing, but instead here I am, saying hello. We're getting ready to introduce a new project tomorrow by the joyful Jolie Guillebeau. It's really one of the loveliest projects we've ever done. I have trips to the printer about the catalog in my future, along with ironing out the details with iTunes on the new Retrospective podcast. Then there are events I'm dreaming up and planning up and I'm sure another dozen things swirling about.

But here is what is filling my mind and fueling my body these days: this very quiet awe about what we can make against a backdrop of friendship--how rich and inviting and welcoming it all is. The people whom I clutch close to my heart, whether they know it or not, and the gratitude that comes with living inside a story of love. It's a story that I hope will never end, and that we will some day find a way to tell properly.

There is much to do, much undone, and all terribly imperfect, but in this moment I am all joy.

(Make sure you listen to and download Strong by Maya Stein. It is an absolute balm.)

Retrospective: A New Podcast...and Maya Stein!

If all the people I know and love lived here in my neighborhood, I would host a party every Friday night so you could meet one another and hang out. You would be so inspired and happy to know each other, as I am every single day.

But we live near and far, and we will likely never be all together on a Friday night. So I'm creating this new podcast series as an attempt toward the next best thing.

It's called Retrospective, and it features in-depth conversations with artists, authors and visionaries about the places in which we find ourselves and the stories that brought us here. It's an inquiry into our experience of journey. But at the heart of it, it's an introduction between some of my favorite people in all the world.

It's coming soon to iTunes and all that jazz, but I can't wait for everything to be 'just so' because my first interview is with poet Maya Stein and it is a very time-sensitive conversation about her latest project, Type Rider. Here's the video trailer:

Yesterday I went in to meet Maya on the Highline Canal in Manhattan. She was here in town, and she's been setting up writing stations here and there, even though the official Type Rider trip doesn't launch for another few weeks. I wasn't sure how it would go over here in New York--would people be curious, or too cautious to investigate?

Just those few minutes I witnessed there, with passerby being drawn to her blue typewriter like bees to blossom and Maya conversing with them in a space of pure welcome, held so much beauty and humanity that I was all tears under my sunglasses. I wanted a video camera or some other way to capture the quality of playfulness and adventure that was as tangible as the warm sun on our cheeks. Some way to bottle it up and give it to you like the best present ever.

I do have this to offer you, though: a heart to heart chat, friend to friend, with Maya herself.

There are only a few more days to fund the Type Rider project--please help us spread the word.

 

Maya Stein is a poet, feral writing instructor and adventurer. She is the author of Spinning the Bottle and The Overture of an Apple. On her blog you can sign up to receive one of her original 10-line poems in your inbox every Tuesday.

 

 

Click the link below to play the episode in your browser (it may need a couple minutes to load), or right-click (or control-click) to download it into your library. I have individual files of each of the poems she reads to share with you, but it looks like I need to post those separately. Look for them to be added in the coming days (along with ways to subscribe to this new series.)

Finding Freedom From the Inner Critic

Presenting the latest installment in the Finding Your Voice video podcast series, in which I missed the good lighting, spent a lot of time looking at the floor, and had trouble with some video corruption after recording. I share about selecting your audience (or working without one), saving your editorial/critical lens for later in the creative process, and more.

You can watch previous video podcasts on the Multimedia Resources page.

I also spoke very candidly in an long audio interview with Melissa Rivera about the deep soul work I did through the winter, my relationship with my body and creativity in my childhood. You can hear it today on 3 Sisters Village.

When You're Holding Dynamite: Emotionally Charged Stories and Memories

What do you do when you're holding a story that feels like dynamite? Today's Finding Your Voice video podcast kicks off the conversation. Chime in with your own thoughts, observations and questions here in the comments, over on the discussion board, or on the site's new Facebook page.

Retrieving Autobiographical Memory

Here's a Park Slope-ish sight: toy animals on the bar at Perch. Grab a Guinness during sing-along hour, if you are so bold.

The girls are home for Spring Break right now, so my studio time is scarce. But I put together another Finding Your Voice video podcast about excavating memories from the cobwebs of our minds. This is the second part in this series of FYV bonus conversations.

Finding Your Voice is self-paced, so it's never too late to order it and chime in on the FYV Discussion Board. You can also let us know your best memory-retrieval moves in the comments. In the video I mention Dan Siegel's book, Mindsight, which you can find on Amazon.

Critics, Credibility and Trust

In this extension of the Finding Your Voice conversation about critics, I take a look at what makes the words of some people more wounding than others. I'll also be available today on the FYV Discussion Board for Q&A.

This is the first in a series of video podcasts related to the Finding Your Voice multimedia course.

Participants: Log in and head over to the FYV Discussion Board, where you can click "Create New Post" to ask a question, continue the conversation or request topics for upcoming podcasts. The comments and stories from the FYV community are amazing.

Podcast: Zeal in a Time of Rest

In today's podcast I talk about weaving a thread of zeal or passion through this season of quiet rest.  I talk about this book and this post by my friend, Jen Gray.  I'm in an editing phase right now, and it is all I can do to not edit this track, but I need to get on to other things.  Thanks for taking me as I am, still waking and struggling at times to find the right words.

Click the link below to listen; right-click to download it for your computer or mp3 player. You can find previous podcasts here.

Podcast: Reimagining New Forms for Creative Projects

a green market stand built out of a yellow school bus, Union Square

Sometimes in the midst of a creative project, we need to reimagine the form it is taking.  This can be frustrating and difficult.  In today's podcast I'm talking about how I'm making my way through such a space right now.

(ps--You can see a few pics from last night's show here.)

Click the link below to listen, or right-click to download. You can find previous podcasts here.

Podcast: Look and Listen

The Impossible Project, Horizon Perfekt with redscale film

Today's podcast is about looking and listening as remedies for creative hangovers. 

I'm looking at the new issue of Uppercase Magazine and pictures from Monday night's show.  I'm listening to this interview Meg Hutchinson did with Bob Edwards and her song, Seeing Stars, on repeat.  What are you looking at or listening to this week?  Let us know in the comments.

These podcasts are unrehearsed, unedited thoughts straight from my studio.  Click the link below to listen or right-click to download it.

Podcast: You can be more gentle with yourself than you imagine

Walking the lily pads, Diana Instant+

I'm sneaking out of a family movie night for ten quick minutes just to lay down these thoughts for you about the spaces I'm traveling through this week.  I am out of the studio a lot this week, enjoying our last lazy hazy days of summer here in NYC and managing my wellness with lots of rest and an easy pace.

Click the link below to listen, or right-click it to download.  You can find previous podcasts here.

Podcast: Creating Spaciousness

An outdoor fruitstand--redscale film, Horizon Perfekt

"Spaciousness" is the word of the month over here.  From time commitments to wardrobes, I'm editing down to essentials and delights.  Freeing up computer memory and table tops, preparing the soil of my life for a new crop of possibilities.

Click on the link below to listen. Right-click the link to save it on your computer or in your iTunes folder.