Introducing Hand Holds, and Work that Gets Done in Its Own Time

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I think it's common when you're pioneering a new way to do things to compare your process to other, established and seemingly more legitimate ways It's Been Done Before.

Take launching, for example. Some traditional joints have the process super dialed-in, and the timing and execution of the way they introduce new work to the world feels elegant and effortless. I have to admit to envying the polish and shine of it. The established way felt like the legitimate way to do it.

So we had the best of intentions for an elegant launch. I had a whole wall of the apartment papered with a big 12-month calendar. We had hopes that all the new work would be done by April, and that videos would be completed and posted 10 days ahead of time. We had all kinds of good intentions in this department. From mid-September until our production season ended (we were hoping in April), we were looking at six major releases: Telling Your Story, The Care and Keeping of Creative Souls, The Iconic Self, Ritual and Rhythm: A Guide to Creative Self Care, Beauty Everywhere: A Portable Gallery, and The Gift of This Moment.

But my friends and I, as you may have gathered, do many things, of which these resources are just one part. We travel, we teach, we care for loved ones who fall ill. We are committed to our own growth and development, which requires our presence and attention, as well as time with our mentors, guides, and support people. Around January it became evident that keeping our schedule would require us to work in such a way that would be out of line with what we value. See, we can't teach about things like taking care of ourselves and being present with any integrity unless we are practicing them all along the way--and not just when deadlines are far away.

The primary piece of what my friends and I are committed to is not just making the work, but creating a new way to be in the world, even while completing our tasks. So we changed the schedule. We gave each project to come after a little more room to breathe and become. We took care of our souls and our bodies in the meantime, and kept our presence-promoting practices firmly in place. We imagined the introduction of a new work as not a one-shot opportunity to bomb the interwebs with ads and chatter, but as a conversation one simply begins, and invites others into, and expands collectively and organically over time. 

The work will be done when it's done became the new motto.

There is so much yet to be done (believe me, the long list is never far from my mind), because the truth is, this is only the beginning. I'm trying to remember all I've learned this spring as I head into my summer, which I hope will be filled with lots of rest and maybe some short film-making. When the long list haunts me, I say, The work will be done when it's done.

And it is.

Saving Jim: Unplugged with The BTK Band

I woke up a few days ago thinking that I should share this story I told here in New York last December. Does that ever happen to you--right after waking a little courage slips through your carefully guarded cracks? So I got out of bed and pulled up the video and watched it. And immediately changed my mind.

This started an interior debate over which was the true wisdom--the whim or the reason?

My rational mind has tallied it up, and there are 512 reasons why I shouldn't share this video. I'm dying to inventory every one of them right here, but they have this very tedious and exhausting quality to them and the compassionate side of me is begging to spare you that.

To be honest, I am failing at coming up with a single reason why I should. But it's haunting me a little, this vague sense that maybe just one person needs to hear it, for some reason I simply cannot imagine. And then I watched Brené's last talk, and I'll confess it's made me feel momentarily just the tiniest bit brave.

Last fall Peter Aguero asked me to do this experimental new Unplugged show with The BTK Band, his improvised storytelling rock band. Usually raucous and wild with a full line-up of guest storytellers, in the Unplugged show BTK would be dialed down, with one guest storyteller sitting in for the whole night. The set-up was: four stories--longer and looser than we usually tell (he begged me to stay loose), with the band breaking out of their usual verse-chorus-verse-chorus-verse-chorus mode and letting the music be longer and looser as well. There were even chairs. (I had never sat down onstage.)

I brought four stories that had never been told onstage (some of which I don't tell off-stage, either). It's unrehearsed, completely improvised. Just me jumping, with the band and some friends in the audience my only net.

This wasn't the first time that Peter did something that almost made me lose it and cry onstage. I'm guessing it won't be the last. Jeff Scherer (off camera) sings the chorus. This was the second story I told that night. (Contains explicit language.)

Now I'm going to cook dinner and pretend I did not just post this.

How I Use My Journal

How do you use your journal? I made this video for Liz and thought I'd share it with you, too.

All the parts and pieces of the new Iconic Self Home Retreat Kit are arriving or en route. I have some behind-the-scenes stories about each component, so I'll introduce them to you one by one. Look for a series of posts called Iconic in the Making starting on Monday.

In other news, I'm working on our travel plans for Steady Burn in California this March. I'm doing very few live workshops this year and I'm anxious to see all of you face-to-face. I'm so honored to have two of my mentors, Phyllis Mathis and Caren Gazley, coming in to teach with me, and even more of my friends will be in the house attending. There's nothing like the goodness we cook up when we are together, and having you join us would make it even better. (I think we've even got a few spots left.)

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.

Finding Each Other

I have the best five blog readers in the world. Seriously. It's so encouraging to me when you comment and write to me, when you tell me the story of how our journeys are intersecting.

Here's a video and song by one such reader that I keep coming back to again and again. I'm sharing it here today, in case you can use its soothing vibe. I remember what it was like before I had this space, this community and togetherness. It was so lonely then.

I'm so thankful for all the ways in which we find one another.

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.

From The Moth Stage

In two years of telling stories at shows all around New York, I haven't posted any of the performances here until now. This video is from The Moth's Homecoming StorySLAM, hosted by Peter Aguero at Housing Works Bookstore. I hope you enjoy it.

For more information about The Moth, visit 

My post on Where This Woman Creates (Really) is also syndicated on Blogher today. Stop over and say hello or add your own photos to our Real Spaces Flickr group.

Dancing with Himself

Andy telling one of my favorite stories in my living room. Photo by Justin.

I met Andy Ross at a Moth StorySLAM, but it was at his one-man show, Melancomedy, that I knew we were really meant to be friends.  My first thought in the audience that night was, How does this guy NOT have a job writing for TV?  My next thought was, This work is hilarious and completely endearing.

That evening I realized the reason I don't enjoy a lot of comedy is that so many jokes are created at the expense of ridiculing people or tearing them down.  But Andy's show isn't like that.  There's a compassion and a level of insight present in the portrayals of his characters that has you laughing not so much at them as at yourself, and our common humanity.  I adore him for that.

We've been friends ever since, and having him and his wife, Colleen in our lives is a gift.  My girls climb them like trees and wrestle and chase through our apartment right up until bedtime.  We argue like siblings and laugh at each other, then ourselves, then each other again.

Recently, when I was completely off the map, Andy celebrated the 200th post on his blog, Wait for It, with the video below. It makes me so ridiculously happy that I don't want anyone to miss it--so give it a spin and then head over to his website for more videos, great writing, and endless laughs.

And look for Andy in Mad Magazine--on newstands now!

Dancing with Myself from Andy Ross on Vimeo.


When the Cameras Break

photo by Tracey Clark

Every summer, I gather for a few days with friends on the Oregon coast.  It's a refuge, really, from work and worries and woes, to revel in the simple pleasure of being together. 

I was so excited to have my panoramic camera this year, dreaming of wide ocean views, but it broke within minutes of my arrival at the shore.  Then I thought I'd switch to instant film, but that equipment, too, stopped working. I dug through my bag for back-up plans and equipment, and grabbed my digital camera for a day-long outing.  We were there five minutes when the battery died. 

I just kept trying to breathe, and to move from Plan E to Plan F to Plan G.  I ended up with a few Diana shots (with a standard shape I've never tried before), but after recharging I mostly shot with my digital camera, which is rare for me.  I also remembered to pull out my new Flip Video and play with it a bit.

I put this little project together with the digital shots and clips.  I'm hoping that it reminds me all year long that surprising (and even beautiful) things can happen when it seems like everything's going all wrong. 

Photos taken with a Canon Rebel XTi and a 50mm f1.4 Lens .  Thanks to the good people at Lomography for solving all my equipment problems when I got home.  And thanks to my friends for all the ways in which they restore my soul.