Collaboration Preview: Christine Mason Miller, Liz Kalloch

Photo by Justin Davanzo.

Photo by Justin Davanzo.

Christine Mason Miller and I were fortunate to become friends at just the right time in both of our journeys. She is a friend and support of artists: mentoring them and championing their work, all while creating her own work in the world with steadiness and grace. 

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Liz Kalloch's friendship continues to be a hand that reaches out and grounds me, and I wish I had a hundred merit badges to give her for all the times she has laced me back up and helped me find my way. 

This week Christine and Liz and I will gather for the Indie Kindred screenings in Santa Barbara and Santa Monica, but I'll be celebrating the togetherness we've woven all along the way and letting their love and belief restore my weary bones. 

It will be more than good to be together. 

To see if we have tickets left for these screenings or others in Vancouver, Brooklyn and Melbourne, check here

Indie Kindred Debut at WDS 2013

All photos by  Justin Davanzo . With moderator  Michelle Ward  and featured artists:  Jonatha Brooke ,  Jolie Guillebeau ,  Liz Kalloch ,  Christine Mason Miller  and  Liz Lamoreux .

All photos by Justin Davanzo. With moderator Michelle Ward and featured artists: Jonatha BrookeJolie GuillebeauLiz KallochChristine Mason Miller and Liz Lamoreux.

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Usually when we finish a big project, my friends and colleagues are still scattered across the country, exchanging words of congratulations by phone. But not on this day. 

On this day, so many of the people involved in the project were there with me, and it was an unveiling of epic proportions. We sat close by each other near the front of a full theater and balcony, and every time someone near us appeared on screen (or her artwork did), hands reached out from all around her to touch her shoulder, give a hug or squeeze her hand. I got to be there to see the tears in my friends' eyes as they watched their story unfold.

I have nothing but gratitude for this day, for everyone who made it possible and who came to bear witness and celebrate the introduction of Indie Kindred.  It really was a dream come true.

Big thanks to Justin Davanzo for being our event photographer. You can see more photos from the debut and other events in the Indie Kindred Flickr group.  

Next up: Seattle and then we're back for a public screening in Portland! Our fall schedule is filling up--check out upcoming events here

The Anatomy of Discovery, Part Three: The Story and Wisdom Within You

This week features a series of posts to unpack and unfold the anatomy, so to speak, or design of The Iconic Self Online Experience to give you a window into how it works and why it is such a distinctive offering. But these elements are also core elements of all of our Soulful Journey offerings, and things my friends and collaborators looks for as hallmarks in our own journeys of resources that we trust and ultimately rely on. Our own experiences of powerful discovery all have these things in common--so whether or not The Iconic Self Online Experience is your right thing at your right time, my hope is that this Anatomy of Discovery will regardless help light your way.


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Part 3: The Stories and Wisdom Within You (A Guest Post by Phyllis Mathis)

If you’re like us, your soul is always on the lookout for good nourishment. But in this world of instant access it’s easy to fill up on superfluous noise and empty opinions. Finding what we really need, knowing what we really need, takes more than just a few clicks and a Google search. And once we get close to what we’re looking for, sifting through competing ideologies, quick fixes, and pop-psych jargon often leaves us feeling empty and exhausted.

This kind of hunger is what led Jen Lee and I to accidentally create The Iconic Self.

We weren’t looking to cook up the Next Great Thing. We simply told our stories to each other. Simply because we were friends.

In the context of deep conversation and soulful friendship we explored the threads of our own lives: 

  • We found that we shared a strong need to find spiritual nourishment free from the trappings of religious ideology. 
  • We discovered a mutual longing for wisdom beyond the psychotherapist’s couch. 
  • We realized we were both determined to dodge the cliches of pop-psychology and make our own path.

By honoring our own experiences in the context of kindred conversation we literally stumbled into a wealth of wisdom. Wisdom that had been there all along, embedded in our own lives, ready and waiting to nourish our souls. So we took our stories - and our friendship - into the recording studio to produce The Iconic Self, with only an inkling of the power and beauty we would be unleashing:

  • Embracing the stories our bodies tell
  • Finding the courage we need in unlikely places
  • Learning to honor all our ways of knowing
  • Making a place for all our parts and pieces

The Iconic Self is powerful, not because our stories are extraordinary, but precisely because they are not. The stories themselves are merely things that happened along the way. What’s extraordinary is the way our conversation made it possible for us to see the threads of meaning in our own lives. By creating the space to listen deeply to our stories, we created a space - and a way - for you to listen to yours.

With The Iconic Self Online Experience you now have the opportunity to enter into our circle of friendship and honor the stories that have been waiting for you deep in your own soul. We’ll help you listen, help you spot the gold, and help you find the courage to be the soul you were always meant to be.

Please join us February 4th through March 1st at Live it to the Full.

When Being Seen Is An Inside Job

Photo by Bella Cirovic, shetoldstories.com

Photo by Bella Cirovic, shetoldstories.com

Almost two years ago I sat in the office of a wise woman whom I had never met with my friend Kate by my side. When she asked what brought me there, I said, I'm a girl without a mirror. And then she told me who I am. It was so uncomfortable and unbelievable to sit under her gaze and hear her words that I squirmed in my chair and tried not to let her words just roll off of me like raindrops on an umbrella.

I tried to receive her words and tuck them into some pocket of my heart so I could carry them with me as a small reassurance or reminder until my vision could catch up to hers.

There are very few of us who can't use a good mirror from time to time--people who see us and tell us the parts we have difficulty seeing for ourselves. That day something transpired with Kate as my witness that felt almost holy, but it was really the beginning of a journey and not an arrival point. Since then other people have seen me quite clearly, and their words have been a balm to me.

It's true.

But taking on and using the words of others has not been true. Not because they weren't good words or they weren't the truth, but because I wasn't ready to be seen that way. Because I wasn't ready to see myself that way.

And this is the part of my journey that has been most arduous--the part for which I've needed companions who are not afraid of the dark. Companions who would be mirrors not once for me, but for months and for years.

When who you are becoming breaks all the rules in the world from which you've come, the job at hand is not just to have words for who you are but to construct a new interior world in which who you are can be welcomed and not feared.

And that is not a one-day job. That is a two-years-from-being-seen-to-writing-a-bio journey, at least for some of us. Even with the best of friends and soul care professionals.

This has weighed heavily on me in recent days, as websites and people pop up around the internet promising big things in the way of sexy web copy, skyrocketing sales, and the kind of just-around-the-corner success that will Finally Make You Feel Okay as a Human Being. ThIs I know: Those who bathe their web copy in super-steroid adjectives like bodybuilders who can't stop flexing are not my people. And it's too bad, because some of them share some helpful material from time to time, if you can, as Phyllis says, duck the hyperbole.

I woke up one day last week at 5:20 in the morning with words pouring into my head. I sat up and grabbed a piece of paper on which to transcribe them, and that's how I was able for what felt like the first time to express clearly what it is I do.

It didn't happen because I hired a copywriting rock star. It happened because of all of the hundreds of parts and pieces of this long journey, which strung all together finally landed me onto a safe shore.

It happened because when I told my friend Aaron I wanted to make a movie, he didn't look at me like I was a crazy person. Because my NYU film-prof/mom-friend-from-school thought it was really amazing that I'm a self-taught artist and not really ridiculous. Because my therapist says I haven't really fallen from grace, just because I've fallen out of an old paradigm which had nothing to do with real grace. Because Bella caught something in her camera that I could finally see as something real outside the fantasy of my mind. Because my friends take me seriously even when I don't. It's the mysterious and divine way in which a hundred moments combine and converge to knit your heart together in the places in which is torn.

There is no 3-step formula for this kind of transformation. The kind that says I will let myself be remade, I will say good-bye to something past and raise my head and open my eyes while I step into something new. There is only encouragement and guideposts and inspiration and companions along the way, and this is the bedrock foundation of everything my friends and I make and do together.

In commercial terms, it's like the worst marketing ever.

So we don't even try to make it fit through the commercial machines. We do it our way, without hyperbole and promises. And we invite you to come along.


Check out what's new on the site about what I'm up to right now. And if you want, drop me a line and tell me what you're up to. I won't think you're a crazy person--I will think you are amazing. Really.

Saving Graces, Freelancing and the Power of Place with Liz Kalloch

Photo by Bella Cirovic, shetoldstories.com

Photo by Bella Cirovic, shetoldstories.com

My friendship with artist Liz Kalloch is one of my life's great pleasures. Her story, her journey, and who she is in the world teaches me every day. I'm thrilled to share her with you in the latest in-depth interview on Retrospective.

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.