Film Stories: Famous Enough

I try to check in and notice when and where ego creeps into my work--I'm always scanning to check for it even loitering around the edges. 

This includes my concern about whether the work is good/bad, or if people will like/dislike it (really: me) and even that competitive voice that wonders if it is better than/worse than what someone else is making. 

These are not concerns that I am interested in working from or standing in. These are thoughts I usually send packing. 

Except for this one day. 

I don't remember anything happening to trigger it--just me, standing in my kitchen and thinking of my friends and colleagues.

We all have this in common: aspirations of fame are not the engine driving our work. There is a sense of calling, a sense of serving the work which we have been given to do, and a sense of surrender and trust around what should happen to the work when it leaves our hands. 

At least on our best days. 

We create exquisite offerings for niche audiences or communities that gather alongside us. 

And usually, I'm fine with that. But on this particular day, these thoughts came: What if we don't ever become famous enough to attract the attention of the right person to recognize and tell this story--this important, beautiful story--of how we are creating together? It needs to be a documentary. 

And I will confess to a moment of despair, with things like Odds and How Things Are Likely To Go looming large. 

I've never really written any kind of DIY credo, but that doesn't mean one hasn't been forming internally through the years. One of its tenants could go something like this: You don't have to wait for someone else to see what you see, to send you and invitation or stamp their approval.

If you see something that needs to be made, make it. 

That was my solution. I would tell the story myself. As ludicrous as that sounded to me, from that moment on I could not shake it. 

"Finished" is so hard to say.

Photo by Liz Kalloch

Photo by Liz Kalloch

I finished my film yesterday afternoon, and I couldn't even tell you. 

Partly because it happened as everything happens over here these days--swirling and in the midst of so much else happening all around. There was a painting to pick up before the thunderstorms hit, a daughter to take for our weekly coffee shop date, then a spontaneous afternoon and dinner with our beloved friends and neighbors who are moving back to Germany today. Then as they descended down the stairs, another neighbor climbed up to watch the girls while my husband and I went for a night out at BAM with Neil Gaiman on his publication day, including a surprise visit by his wife Amanda Palmer, and hosted by my dear friend, Peter Aguero.

If you're wondering why I haven't written more lately, it's probably because this is almost typical of how my days have been flowing, one momentous or intense or emotional thing after another with scarcely room for a breath between.  

The moment has required much of me. 

It was also hard to say because my nerves felt raw and I was afraid that the minute I played the final cut back I would find more errors. I watched it this morning in that way you do when you've been looking at a work too closely and for too long and all you can see is every shortcoming and flaw and you've forgotten how to step back and to just let it happen to you, as something whole and complete and enough. 

It's hard to say "finished" because you realize you could tweak and change the damn thing forever, if you let yourself.

It's hard to say "finished" because I collapse that with "perfect", and this is far from that.  

It's hard to say "finished" because that means opting out of the striving and trying for something that might polish over and shine up my shortcomings and limitations.  

It means letting you see me just as I am. 

A woman with a swirling, twirling life, who spends an astonishing portion of her days cooking and washing dishes and brushing little girl hair up into "Rock Star" ponytails--who squeezes out this story around the edges of everything else.  A beginner, a DIY addict who loves doing every part herself: the shooting to the editing, even if it means steep learning curves and countless imperfections.

My only peace this morning is to rest in the humility of this work. I have long known that it would not be a film shot with a whole crew and fancy equipment. I have always understood it would not be technically perfect. From the beginning I have trusted the heart of this project to carry the day--the love and intention beneath and behind it to shine something through that impacts people on a deeper level than technical execution  can do alone.

And today I am trusting that still. Indie Kindred is a love letter to the music I love, the artists who inspire me, the community that carries me and so much more. It was created around the edges of a beautiful life and as an act of fierce faith and courage, the likes of which I have never attempted before. 

I can already tell that on the other side of some rest (and a few hours of Masterpiece Mysteries), it will feel like about 90% of my brain capacity is freed back up again. I have a list of film stories I'd like to tell you before our summer tour begins. I share the first of these stories in the June issue of Kindred Magazine, which is now available for pre-order

But before I sign off today, I want to thank you for believing in me. For being patient and understanding as I've had to let so many other things go to make space for this dream to be born. For being at my side all along the way.  

So Far Beyond My Dreams

New clothes arrived, not just for summer, but that fit this new season I find myself in.

New clothes arrived, not just for summer, but that fit this new season I find myself in.

There is a long list of things to do today, and I know before the day begins that they will not all get done. It's raining out, I'm brewing a second cup of tea and wanting more than anything just to write a note to you. 

A few days ago I was catching up with an old story-telling, film-loving friend whom I hadn't seen in a couple years.  He asked me how I came to make a documentary, and I proceeded to tell him a string of about twenty short stories that somehow link together to get me where I am today. It was so awkward and bumbling, in a way, that he joked, "Don't worry--I'm not judging your storytelling," and we laughed.

I feel like I've been cocooning, as if the strands of a hundred moments and memories and longings have been weaving together something new. And not just a new work, but a new way I get to know myself in the world that is so far beyond anything my young self ever dared to dream that it catches up to me in unexpected moments and steals my breath away. 

My eyes brim with tears when the Red Hot Chili Peppers come on in a cafe and I am at once on a hilltop in the park with my friends and a pile of bicycles, the last year before we all got summer jobs, blaring the same song from a boom box. (Remember those?) I am that girl again, but I am also this woman sitting in Tribeca across from a peer who inspires and ignites me and my companion is sharing something so deep that I have snap my attention and presence back to right now and tuck the tears into my back pocket for some other moment.

A moment like this one, when the house is quiet and the rain is falling, and I'm wearing new clothes like a new skin I grew into when I wasn't looking. There is just me, and the quiet, and a hundred moments and memories that I long to pull into focus, to tell you, and to even understand for myself. How that girl who once thought an artist was an occupation for one special person in town got to be this person living in this place with these amazing people all around and work that makes her weep with gratitude.

The story is so hard to tell while I am still living it, but I am tucking every memory, every twist and turn into my back pocket for some other moment.

For some day to come.

In case you missed yet, yesterday I posted a short video on Being Seen and Finding Kindreds. Check it out! 

Ritual & Rhythm: Interruptions

Hello friends! I'm weaving three different threads over here--the last round of edits for the final cut of Indie Kindred, details for our summer screening tour, and some apparel and accessory options to offer in conjunction with the film.

At times like these I need my self care rituals and rhythms more than ever, so I asked Caren McLellan Gazley (Ritual & Rhythm: A Guide to Creative Self Care) to send us some letters from the road as she takes good care during her own international adventures. Take them in like advice from a dear sister or a most kindred friend, and stay tuned for more Indie Kindred news and announcements to come.

Photo by Caren Gazley

Photo by Caren Gazley

{From Amsterdam}

I find it not too difficult to weave some practices of ritual into my daily life. At first, perhaps, there is the initial awkwardness of making something routine. Especially if it is not health related. But overall, once I realize the powerful impact it will have or the emotional stability it will reward, then I start working on implementing it straight away. 

Where it becomes a challenge for me is when my routine is interrupted. And this may sound crazy, but when my children were quite young, it was easier for me to have less interruption in my daily life because they had to have routine. Now, I am often all over the place with a routine. And so the challenges for keeping my rituals are sometimes tricky. 

I've had to come up with some strategy for problem solving those times when I get off balance and need to recover a sense of well-being, wholeness and health. I confess, I am still learning some of these moves.

The most important thing I've learned about challenging times when my rhythm gets knocked out of place is: DON'T STRESS IT!! This only makes things worse for body and soul. It might seem an obvious choice, and the more relaxed types amongst us figure these things out quickly. For those like me, who aren't naturally attuned to their takes recognizing and choosing the opposite.


Caren McLellan Gazley is a soul care specialist and human rights activist whose work has led her to places like Mauritania and Albania. Still and L.A. girl at heart, Caren has deep wisdom drawing from her rich personal experiences about caring for yourself in the midst of parenting, partnerships, community and passionate work.

Indie Kindred: The trailer is here.

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Are you ready? The Indie Kindred trailer is here, along with a website. And the Coast to Coast Summer Tour is coming together, with dates and cities coming soon.

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