Artist residency in anything

What I love about my artist residency in motherhood is, it helped me to see the creative energy that was already pulsing through every moment of my life. By calling it an artist residency, I put a frame around it that made things visible, and gave me a reason to create for the sheer joy and necessity of it.

Have you heard of Sister Corita Kent? She has an exercise that’s the physical version of this – you find a frame and hold it up anywhere in the world. That’s art.

This was like that, except the frame was time.

It helped me to notice the poetry in my everyday life, like this:

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River plays piano with his feet

And this:

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A sea cave for sleeping

Being more attuned to noticing these moments made it okay that I had much less time to transfer them into … you know, actual poetry.

There is a poem to be written about the feeling of piano keys on a newborn baby’s feet, and I don’t know when I will get around to writing it. There is also poetry in just noticing it. For every fully formed piece of creative expression, I have ten that are half jotted in my journal or my iphone notes or deep in my subconscious. And somehow, that becomes part of my practice. Like scattering wildflower seeds – the beauty is in the scattering.

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It only takes one roll of toilet paper (and four minutes) for your four-year-old to lay down a path to adventure

It helped me see patterns.

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It helped me step out my frustration and see the genius in my four year old’s chaos theory:

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An accidental collaboration with my young child leads to a new exercise: let your kid draw all over your planning chart, then interpret the ink blots — what do they tell you about your now/next/future plans?

My artist residency in motherhood could have been an artist residency in anything. In activism, in gardening, in mountain climbing. It could have been focused on summer itself, and maybe I’ll do that someday — focus all my creative energy on savoring sunshine and river swimming and garden harvesting and dancing by the light of the midnight moon.

Will I continue my artist residency in motherhood throughout the year? Will I have time / space / capacity to hold it while running the creative magic workout? I don’t know. I also want to do an artist residency in dismantling white supremacy (starting with myself) and the world seems hellbent on convincing me that now is the time to start that one. I’ll keep you updated, and I hope to hear about your residencies too, wherever you are.

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remember growth comes from doing impossible things

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self confidence, world building, creative muscle building

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banish or embrace the boss bitch

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reaching out touching you touching me

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To make this happen, who would I have to be?

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Ready, dream, action

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green devil thrill

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to create to improvise to build to make rules to destroy to be every day humbled and exalted

 

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Artist Residency in Motherhood

Hello, dear friends.

For the last 3+ months I’ve been in the newborn dreamtime, remembering the things that make it maddening and miraculous. I have been thinking of you and the work we are all doing in the world to keep the flame of creative healing and revolution alive. I’ve been crafting manifestos in my head, while I’m cradling a tiny human in my arms.

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In some ways this has been much easier than the last time around, when it was all unknown and I groped forward guessing at the unknown. A lot of beautiful, hard-won truths emerged from that unknown, and I am surprised to find that this time around, even on the hardest days/nights/days, it’s a lot easier. This time it’s a known challenge. It’s looking down the path and being able to see a bear coming towards you and reaching for your bear spray, versus listening to grunting in the darkness and wondering what it could be and letting your mind race to all the worst possible outcomes. (I’m not sure why I’m drawn to bear metaphors when it comes to motherhood – something to explore in a future creative time).

So many things seemed impossible the first time. The fact that some of those things now seem easy helps keep me going when I hit a snag that feels impossible (like how to handle bedtime with two small children, or how to figure out childcare, or how to take a shower).

I tell myself: right now this seems impossible, but soon it will be possible, and then it will be easy.

Which is not to say that it is all sunshine and rainbows over here. (Obviously, since last week it was toxic wildfire smoke for all of us in the Portland area). There are plenty of times when I am feeling grumpy or edgy or full of self-pity or exhausted or coming down with mastitis AGAIN or taking my baby to the emergency room because his fever is too high or waking up with a four year old’s foot in my face. Trying to go out into the world with both my children is total madcap chaos and it takes all the good humor I have to laugh at myself as I chase my four-year-old across the park while clutching a tiny baby to my chest.

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A moment of stillness

It feels impossible, but I am doing it. Doing it badly, sure! But doing it!

And I have tools to help me when I feel overwhelmed. I can take five minutes to draw out my feelings or put my hand on my heart and breathe or pull a tarot card or text a friend or go on an imagination walk.

The beautiful thing is, when I use these tools, my kid picks up on it and dives right in. I’ve gotten so many great ideas for exercises from him, like stomping around the room pretending to be the bad guy, or building yourself a literal safe fort space, or scribbling all over your (or your mother’s) five year plan.

This is a whole different way of seeing myself and my life and my creativity. Motherhood isn’t the thing that keeps me from practicing my art: it is the practice. The challenges are impossible to separate from the rewards. This time around, though of course I do need breaks from being all mom all the time, I am feeling less of a need to escape from it and more of a desire to dive into the mess.

This has been my artist residency in motherhood (an idea I first heard of from this brilliant artist/mother, Lenka Clayton). Mothering my children makes my creative work stronger, and creative work makes my mothering stronger.