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I recently went on a job interview that was conducted with a considerable degree of gravitas. It was an affair that required metered parking, a conference room, and an entire assembled committee present to ask questions. This is exactly the sort of thing I have been doing my best to avoid for the last decade of my work life. Yet, there we all were sitting at the table with all the questions. One of the questions posed in the interview was an unexpected delight:

How do you do the work?

That’s it.

That’s the whole vague and fantastic question.

At the time it was posed, I was confounded. I had never given voice to my process. How I do the work has been a very long and winding road across time and country, over the river, and through the woods. While the answer I gave summarized that journey, there is something about that question that has been revving and honking (with a Klaxon-like “AHOOGA!” sound) at me ever since it was posed. That question feels like a tiny clown car that I could get inside with twenty friends, and we could go anywhere in it.

So today I am here still mulling over that question with the intent to share some thoughts and scenes from my everyday work life that may help shed additional light on the answer as it continues to unfold. As Rainer Maria Rilke has written,

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

How do I do the work?

First off, there is a generous supply of silliness in my work, and that is by design. I have to do quite a bit of work on myself on a regular basis to get my mind-set right. That work begins with Shakti-building exercises and intentional goal-setting to keep me a happy, healthy human. I guess other people would probably call this “planning” or maybe “self-care.” Anyway, the way I do it looks like this:

Big plans

Having the right mind-set prepares me to deal constructively with the obstacles and menacing hindrances that inevitably present themselves as I’m going about the work, whatever that work may be…

Laundry Day Impediment

When working through problems and I get stuck, allowing time for conscious play, or blending the lines between work and play does wonders for unsticking the stuck.

The Building Blocks exhibit at the National Building Museum

A lot of the work I do is setting the stage with the right props and providing the space, time, and encouragement necessary for other people to play and learn and express whatever it is they want to say. Serving as a witness for this self-discovery is one of my favorite things about my work.

there were so many story starters in this little friend’s mind

It isn’t all fun and games. Yesterday morning’s work was a frenzied internal battle to get idea from brain to paper. When the dust settled this was the scene that remained:

Shrapnel from the War of Art

There have been times I have been crushed by the work and fellow passengers pulled me from the wreckage. Other times, Good Samaritans have come along to fluff me back up when I’ve gotten deflated. Never underestimate those singing spirits of the world who hide right out in the open.

~*~

How do YOU do the work?

What questions are you loving and living?

bullet journal goal tracker

…a great deal of real art is made under the radar. We barely know we are working. We just suit up and show up and grab what moments we can, and it is only in cozy retrospect that we can see the level of skill we were able to muster. It is humbling, the degree to which we are like automatons. Our art moves through us despite us.

–Julia Cameron, Finding Water

The most important thing creators do is work. The most important thing they don’t do is quit.

–Kevin Ashton, How to Fly a Horse

Today’s retrospective analysis of the last 10 years of My Little Spacebook revealed an overarching theme running through many posts.  Since the beginning, that theme is showing creative work – my own work and other people’s work that I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with or to witness.

In the last decade there has been a lot of work shared and a lot of shared work!

There’s been knitted work, decoupage work…,

dec2012 022

…messy work in progress,

Mess

…incredibly weird work,

hypertufa planter head

Herman the Hypertufa Planter

outside work…

midsummer 2013 001

messy inside work…,

june 6 012

mosaic work….,

August 2012 064

…and exhaustion from the work.

Picture1

 

(You know, because accessorizing is soooo important!)

mask and bolster

Here’s a study showing home-made masks reduce exposure to respiratory infections to some degree: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2440799/

And here’s the tutorial I used:

I made a couple changes to the design to improve the comfort and aesthetic. I used a couple of soft pipe cleaners for fitting around the nose bridge. I used torn-up t-shirt material for the ear loops because they are more comfortable and durable than the elastic kind.  Mine is also handsewn because machines are complicated and noisy.

 

When she appeared swaying

The beauty of my lover infatuated us.

No one can relieve my suffering from my love sickness

But the queen of beauty.

Lamma Bada Yatathanna, Translated to English, Author Unknown

The celebration of creativity continues.

Some songs and stories are so powerful they grab our imaginations and bodies and continue to reverberate through us. Today, I’ve been wrapped up in a song that’s drifted across centuries and oceans and I’m pondering the notions of songlines and stories of the Dreamtime.

In Braving the Wilderness, Brené Brown describes art as a “shared expression and a deep collective experience.” The performance video below fits the bill.  In it, the lovely Jasmine performs an improvisational dance to Joe Michael’s modern instrumental twist of the classic Lamma Bada Yatathanna.  Enjoy!

 

blue yoga sock

The last few days have been full of silly.  A few highlights:

Grown up girls playing dress up with lace, leather, feathers, sequins, masks, buttons, and baubles;

Dreaming up costumes;

Continued choreography development with silken raven’s wings;

Experiments with the iPad pencil:

ipad drawing 1

 

 

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