Inspiration to me is very much following people’s lives who have not gone In a Straight Line. Not only did Lauren not come from a culture of pies, she didn’t make her first pie until about a year and a half ago. She didn’t set out with a grand plan, she just started playing with it, one pie at a time. She worked as an executive admin to finance her life. She didn’t go to art school, she didn’t follow in someone’s footsteps. Design wise, I can’t decide if I want to create prints of these beauties to hang up, or if I just want to stare at this page all day. I swear if I made the edible flower pie at home I’d never leave my home. And I LOVE the Not The Straight Line of her life … I love the joy, the sharing element, I love that she focused on the positive and non-logical hunch of it all, and the beautiful, beautiful designs.
"That Wild Heart is tough and tender and brave and afraid, all at the same time ... "
— Brené Brown
"So much of the satisfaction in life is in taking a risk for the thing you love. "
— Rod MacIver from a Heron Dance interview
This inspiration page is an ode to the spiritual practice of voices/artists who have stood alone, who inspire me in their unique and wholehearted sense of self, and with their relentless persistance. Their wild hearts have had the courage to stand for something bigger than themselves, through their art, stories, films, scripts, research, speeches, memoirs, soliloquies, and most profoundly, their ability to flip a perceived and insurmountable negative into an ageless, spectacular and boundless positive. Also, by 'Inspired', I mean I want to highlight people who know how to 'think' with their 'expanded minds', not just their 'limited' (practical) minds.*
I will be gradually adding to this page, and keeping this "introductory post" close to the top of the page, as an orientation and explanation of what Inspiration is to me ...
*Thank you T.H. for existence of your book, and to S.A. for giving it to me ...
The difference between a career and a calling … What an amazing explanation from Oprah, that I just spontaneously ran into, link here. … I love hearing these pieces of the moment when she knew what her calling was, how she fit in … I love how she names how she was exhausted all the time while she was doing work that she hated … And since that time she never had a problem with energy. YES, of course. And amazing listening to her father and his fears, his small visions of life, ‘who is going to pay a Black woman $22,000 a year? ‘ Or even her own small dreams of “making her age” of $40K at age 40 … I just love how she stuck with her intuition and didn’t let herself be pulled into other’s fears. I know what it means to be filled by the energy of designing …. And yes yes yes, you know if you were meant to do something by how something feels, that God speaks through your Heart, that heart-body-knowledge … How fabulous to find this conversation of her path, intuition, passion, and staying focused beyond the fears.
And then also, this conversation is Oprah being her majestic self: the advice of knowing who you are … the answer is “to fulfill the highest, truest expression of myself as a human being” … Also that service and significance is the thing that lasts … And to fill your life with people who will make your cup runneth over, says Oprah … (Yes!). So for me, I’m not JUST another designer … I’m a designer who also believes in leading with my heart … I’m a designer who wants to contribute to change, I want to change what voice is, what being real is, what connection is, live in the realm of fulfilling not only my dreams but other people’s dreams … It’s a manifesto to build this space to be bigger than “just design” … How interesting to run into these clips today, it’s just what I needed … And another thing … Can you imagine if Oprah had at any point given up? xoox
I’ve been waiting to write about Janne Robinson for a while now and haven’t ben able to find the words easily, and even just the time to read up on all that she has out in the world, or to figure out exactly what was bugging me about her. My beginning point was when S. texted me this majestic poem, as a mutual thing of inspiration, “I Am A Woman Of Distinction”, what an amazing poem. Imagine my disappointment to find that Janne is younger than me, skinner, and more out in the world. It took me five minutes to be competitive and miserable, and that was the space I held with her, about her, for the last weeks … (As G would say, “That’s how I know you are a girl…”)
After her poem I found her inspirational talk, and then her website, jannerobinson.com. I stayed curious and pushed myself to be more open, knowing that the space I was in was a small one, which means she is calling me to grow … Love this part, and I love that I can recognize that the negative feelings as a invitation to grow …
Another reason I find it difficult to recreate that joy-space I initially felt about her poem and who she is, is that I don’t live in that completely heart open space, and I believe that most of us do not … I know I’m always waiting for “it” to come, with myself and with others, and I’m waiting for “it” to happen from others … I try to live in a way that paves a path towards openness and connecting … S calls it changing people energetically, T might call it the expansive mind vs. limited mind spaces … Words aside, it’s a sacred inner space that I recognize when I’m in it, whether it’s here, or with people, my people.
So there were a few succession of things that happened when I found Janne:: I loved her poem, I loved loved loved her transparency, and I hated her for what felt like flaunting her advantage of physical beauty and skinniness as the first thing people notice about her. Within one hour I became a fan and non-fan … How dare she mix the two - being beautiful externally and inwardly? How can you promote authenticity when you are obviously so mainstream, and mainstream approves of you and your body … How can you talk about “inside out” when obviously there is no work to do externally. This is a wall that I created years ago and it has worked out for me spectacularly … Before I knew how important words, my words, were in creating any reality of mine …
Just like I learned that boycotting straight men isn’t helpful to this feminist, boycotting super skinny women doesn’t really help anyone either, especially from someone who is so transparent and real.
The rule has to be to stay curious, go beyond the difficult feelings. Lean in to that discomfort. And so the inner work became mine, as I read up on Janne, trying to find my own grounded voice …
There were many things that resonated for me from the beginning but where she got me ultimately was her article “This one’s for my skinny sisters”. That’s when I finally believed her, because she explained her whole inner process around her body … It’s only that kind of transparency that wins hearts over. Now my heart feels safe. Now I can acknowledge just how beautiful her transparency is, and how authentic her authenticity feels.
Other morsels for me that make her amazing, is knowing that she too learned from a life coach that the work has got to be from Inside Out. That the love source isn’t going to be about anything external, including body shape/size. And that kind of self love can only happen in one (this) moment when we have air, light, sight, movement, and maybe a piece of nature. Whatever the post thing is in this moment that’s where deep great love starts. That Kind of Small is the only way toward Bigger, External, Wider.
And so it comes as no surprise to me that Janne gravitated towards “The Sunshine Coast”, this beautiful West Coast. I love her “I take slabs of my heart and share them” …
I am careful around her dishing out advice as she speaks about her path, because I’m all too aware that people are hungry for answers, and that what worked for Janne may not work for us, in fact, I’m pretty sure that what worked for Janne can only work for Janne. We, meanwhile, need to do our own work, our own journeys, our own truths and answers. I do love that she is available for the conversation of our expansion …
Where I love her is her transparency about her path. She made decisions, she changed her thoughts. She had a spiritual guide (life coach). She took risks, she embraced vulnerability. She seemed to know that following anyone else’s path or some external grid would never work for her ….
And what I love most from her curvy life path is that things started happening for her that she could never have completely designed or controlled.
There’s the full beauty of being authentic and sticking with it … And why she’s such an inspiration to me.
Thank you, Janne.
I Am A Woman Of Distinction — You Will Feel Me When I Walk Into The Room
I am a woman of distinction.
Recklessly beautiful and untamed–my heart is splayed wide open for I not only trust the process, but I trust the force in which each one of my feet hits the ground and my ability to maneuver through the joys and grief I face each day.
I walk tall, taller than an old cypress tree because I am at home in my skin — my self worth lives in each nook and cranny of my spine.
It is not attached to exterior what have you’s like money, a piece of paper, a house, a car, this world approval, a ring or success.
My success is in presence.
I am present in the humans I stumble upon like heart beats at first light and in the night.
I salsa dance bare bummed with bronze skin and white cheeks — let the music sway and bend and dip my spirit with the grace of a dozen fire flies drunk on the Moon’s wine.
I am dripping in salt, browned from the sunshine, and barefoot in my beauty.
I am not afraid to tell you I am beautiful because I have done the work to be at home in my soul’s skin.
I do not shrink to accommodate the insecurities of those around me, but stand tall to remind them gently, why crouch?
My body may be a meat bag, a vessel for the magnificence I hold inside but I cherish each scar on my chin, each freckle, each voluptuous sun bleached curl, each inch of my breasts.
I walk with my head held high when I walk into a room because I know there is space for me in this world — however I may come.
I show this world my tears and my laughter, unashamed.
I know better than to try and fix or heal the suffering of this world.
I know that by healing my suffering, I heal this world.
I am a woman of distinction and I am not afraid to love you before you are ready.
I am not afraid to move faster or slower than the expectations we lay on vulnerability and opening.
I open at my will.
I open at the first drop of a breeze, at a smile from the man sitting with a green top hat that I pass in a taxi cab.
I open fearlessly and sweetly and ferociously with all the might I can for what good is living if we are not loving?
I am here to love and love I will.
I am a woman of distinction, and I am not a victim of circumstance — I feel when things are out of alignment and I move from them with as much grace as I enter.
I show up for this world.
I set boundaries with ease that honour me.
I understands that no is self love and everything after no is unworthiness.
I am worthy, darling — oh so deliciously worthy.
I am authentic as all hell and can taste bullshit from a mile away.
I spit out societal Koolaide laughing and write my own bible.
I ground — ground through movement, through dance, through the sea.
I drink the ocean for breakfast and kiss the red dirt for dessert.
I do not keep my freedom in a cage that requires six whiskies to be let loose.
I dance and shimmy and shake and love through my life.
I am a woman of distinction — you will feel me when I walk into the room.
I grew up listening to sermons, and the thing I have always loved is that moment when the sermon transcends into something larger than life … There’s always a moment when a gifted sermon writer - like my father and so many other pastors in my life - can create something that opens up a bigger space to the listener … And it’s a more expanded space, a space that brings out the best in us, unifies us, and even heals us … This kind of opening and healing is what happens for me when I listen to the two Brené Brown TED talks. In fact, I want to spread the word just like one would in a church community … And so I will, here.
What occurs to me today after listening to both talks is one of the main reasons I adore this woman: she comes to the table with her full self. She is totally authentic to who she is, she swears, she is real, she is honest, she tells her stories of her process, of how something came to be. Not her “stories” as in “scripts” that may or may not be true, but her “stories” as in her process. She brings in her sense of humor after she clearly spent time in her mental “swamp land” … Because she lets herself be seen, she creates this tremendous connection among us humans …
I am so proud (careful, my ego!) that I was the person to introduced the books by Brené Brown to two of my friends years ago, including a pastor, and that the culture, values, research and voice of Brené Brown expanded within that community, including one church … This week I feel like a teacher sending to two friends - even new friends! - “homework assignments” with links to Brené Brown’s TED Talks. Also, for those of us coupled up with left brained men, isn’t the idea of creating a date around watching one of these Ted talks FABULOUS? Of course G and I haven’t done it yet, but it’s one of my ideas to set into motion.
There are so many amazing concepts in her talks, (and books and blog) and the TED Talks are always lovely for me to revisit, as fuel for my engine. (Brené even uses the phrase, vulnerability is fuel for our lives … ). The most important concept to me, which I want to put out in the world is this:
‘Vulnerability is not weakness.’
Here, Brené Brown’s most beautiful opening ::
“There's two things that I've learned in the last year. The first is: vulnerability is not weakness. And that myth is profoundly dangerous. Let me ask you honestly -- how many of you honestly, when you're thinking about doing or saying something vulnerable think, "God, vulnerability is weakness." How many of you think of vulnerability and weakness synonymously? The majority of people. Now let me ask you this question: This past week at TED, how many of you, when you saw vulnerability up here, thought it was pure courage? Vulnerability is not weakness. I define vulnerability as emotional risk, exposure, uncertainty. It fuels our daily lives. And I've come to the belief -- this is my 12th year doing this research -- that vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage -- to be vulnerable, to let ourselves be seen, to be honest.”
It’s been a journey for me but I know now, more than ever, in my deepest knowing, that I actually equate vulnerability with courage and strength, and this is the kind of alignment I want to live in. A base, living value. Not just between me and my heart but me and my world. And this page is one of my spaces to constantly feed that value … So here, more of it ::
It's funny, G and I started our day SF city hike out at the SF MoMA and then by the end of the day it was really more about the city murals that pulled us in emotionally. For me especially, Inspiration wise, this is a little ode to the Women's Building in the Mission of SF, that it's still here after all these years, with beautiful murals on the building intact, and I think the side wall is totally new art since I first saw this building eons ago .... To think now that there was a time when feminism was new to me and how it opened up my entire world. I love that at age 19 and 20 I knew that becoming a Women's Studies minor in college would feed me with a life time's worth of poetry, books, novels, strength and examples of voice ... It's really hard to catch up on that kind of reading outside an academic setting, so for me, those financial aid loans which supported me then, paid for making my core values more solid. I love that I live with the Inspiration of fighting for something that's based on the importance feelings, self worth, inspiration and justice for all ... And in a way, feminism was the original teacher to me of what it means to connect, in a really authentic way. Controversial to others, but true to yourself, the early feminists taught me that most important lesson ... Ironic because so many people still believe it's girl vs. boy stuff, but really, it's about connection, which ultimately makes everyone more inspired. I love I made the return to this city so that every now and then I can pay homage to this building, the art and everything feminism represents .... Super grateful, xo
And yet again, another women whose life and career was not a Straight Line, she followed her own intuition, stayed with herself, through the struggle and formed something amazing out of the perseverance of it all. Thank you KD for sending me this TED Talk of Janet Echelman and her Art.
I'm listening to her speak for a third time, not just for the details and curves of her career, but also the magic of the way she describes her art, what spaces her art create for her inwardly ... Her wonderful humor of calling one of her first pieces a self portrait and titling it "Wide Hips". The utter and sheer irony that she applied to 7 art schools after college and was rejected by all seven of them. I see and hear this again and again, this story of waiting for convention or conventional rules or other successful people / successful artists to approve you in order for you to do what you have a burning desire to do, how it's completely irrelevant. And quite possibly Janet's art became that much stronger and more beautiful and daring because of the pain she went though.
"This story is about taking imagination seriously. Fourteen years ago, I first encountered this ordinary material, fishnet, used the same way for centuries. Today, I'm using it to create permanent, billowing, voluptuous forms the scale of hard-edged buildings in cities around the world. I was an unlikely person to be doing this. I never studied sculpture, engineering or architecture. In fact, after college I applied to seven art schools and was rejected by all seven.
I went off my own to become an artist ...."
And to all the beauty, inspiration, truth, wonder, awe of this woman and her art, I feel my own brand forming more strongly. This is what I want to promote. Yet another woman who dreamed of something, imagined it, and then created it. xo
I've been so hesitant about writing this post about another gift I was given as part of my July Birthday Month that here it is August and I'm finally finishing and posting. My youngest sister gave me a one year subscription to the Calm App and the first thing that popped up on the Masterclass option was this Masterclass by Elizabeth Gilbert called 'Creative Living Beyond Fear', and I was hooked almost instantly. The one hour talk, in fact, I could not stop writing notes about it, it's profound.
The hesitancy also comes from so publically waving around my lavish number of meaningful and heartfelt gifts ... The comparing that will happen, the distancing that will happen, the idea that some people will think I'm flaunting, that I think I'm so special, or not sensitive enough to other people's suffering. The lavishness that I am feeling in my life that is and is not material, when I was raised knowing about starving children and other injustice in the world. My contribution should just be to be grateful what I have and be quiet. There are rules, one of them probably is that some wealth is okay as long as you do good things with it, and really, do it silently. I remember being completely fascinated with Muppies in the 1990's - my first acquaintance with a wealthy group of Mennonites (who were also new to me) but Mennos with money, Wow. I remember watching their shame, and how carefully they maneuvered ...
And then at some point I realized that these are my fears. The hesitation, the resistance to write this post about another gift I was given ...... those are my fears. Oh right, I allowed them to drive, which is precisely one of the things Liz talks about not letting Fear to do. Have it be with you but not make decisions or even touch that radio or heat button. I've been having boundary issues the last 7 weeks with my fear, what it gets to do and not do.
This birthday gift and my writing this post has everything about Showing Up for Me. It's okay to have people actually show up for me in ways that are meaningful to me. It's okay to get the meaningful gifts that I actually want, it's okay to be inspired by red objects, it's okay to be this happy, it's okay to be this fulfilled and it's okay to be this loved. This is me becoming more expansive of heart, and growing wider ... That's what it means to me to have everything be about me. Not "selfish", just bigger, such an important distinction. That's why a birthday month is spectacular. It's a compact mini journey of more intentionality required, asked for and seeing who will step up for you ... Not really a test with grades - A's and F's, but definitely of creating something meaningful for my life, this life. Living it, writing it, living writing about it and watching who is feeling with me. I love that part. I when imagine my energy space like a focus, my living Anne Womb, pink and orange and a big circle, because colors help me feel things, not think things - this energy field is not going to shrink YOURS unless you let it.
Initially I was skeptical and decidedly un-curiuos about the paid version of this app, I don't really need more sounds in my life, my creativity comes out of selective sounds, words and silence. I've been as little aware of Elizabeth Gilbert as I have been the zen buddhist concepts surrounding her until very recently. Anything I've been learning about Zen Buddhism I've been learning without labels, for which I'm grateful. I don't need another Bible in my life. I just need air.
The first five minutes of her talk were Air. I listened to her (this class) one hour once 7 weeks ago and knew she would be a game changer for me. I immediately asked G if he would listen to it with me sometime. G is also careful about what words he lets into his being, and five minute later he was in too. It prompted him to buy her book which we are now reading together.
The only time I heard Liz speak was a spectacular talk, some version of a Ted talk, about women's voices, and I did know about Eat Pray Love the book, and I did enjoy the movie a LITTLE, but was irritated by it. And do you know WHY? Because at that time, I compared. Elizabeth Gilbert's life fell apart, and she wrote a wildly successful book which became a wildly successful movie. All I could do with my envy is shut her away and down, shut me down and well, shutting down just creates more shutting down. That's what it is to compare, and that's what happens when hearts are not open, but egos are alive and in control.
I love that Liz never stopped - my boycott didn't work, :) - and eventually my ego got back to the duty of simple survival so that my heart could continue it's work of expanding .... We won't mention the number of years that went by.
I'm not sure my sister knew this particular Masterclass was in the subscription, but no matter, she was onto the overall value. This one class makes the entire year worth gold. In fact, I have not spent time on the app since this ... What we have in our minds and hearts changes our reality, so to receive a gift that is actually feeding my thoughts with inspiration, originality, truth, this is an amazing gift to give your sister. Thank you E-est for marking my big decade birthday with your own beautiful intuition in action. (xo)
Now. Do I paste in the entire contents of that Masterclass? Because it bugs me a little that it's kind of an elite not free item on Calm, not open to the general public, although apparently Liz does write directly on Facebook ... So far her book is not exactly the same thing as the Masterclass. I typed up the entire Masterclass for me and G to have a reference to in my journal and to keep the Exercises near my heart knowledge.
What I loved and love about her Masterclass is knowing that she did actually transform her life, design her life into something she wanted, from something that she didn't want. It's that transparent transformation process that made me create this "Inspiration" page. It's that she stayed with herself through it all. It's out of the whirl of her life that she shows up to us and writes about amazing concepts, at the risk of being criticized she stays out here with us ... She could have just stayed secluded in her golden tower of success and enjoyed her realm, her massages, her lavish life, but she seems to want to continue to engage with us on a real way.
So here ... This amazing idea she talks about that we all have a pre-rational voice ... a voice that is not the filtered fear based answer. Yes yes YES.
She makes the distinction that Creating Living isn't just for creatives who make a living at their art, like an opera singer or a designer. Creative living is a universal voice and expression. Creating living is that inherently sacred space we all have inside ourselves, when we stand in our own truth and go with it. It's everyone's birth right. Yes yes YES.
What I love about Elizabeth's talk is hearing (not for the first time) that we ALL are connected that creative source ... We all have intuition, voice, inspiration ... If one person has, like Elizabeth Gilbert, it doesn't mean that someone else has "it" less. Yes yes! The only thing that makes the difference is what you decide to do. And how self aware are you willing to be. Or are you going to shut it down.
The reason I originally wanted to post the entire feed verbatim is because it's just one big fat affirmation of everything I'm feeling, thinking, doing. A friend of mine and I have regular phone talks to connect us between Coasts, and one of the ideas we struggle with is wanting affirmation to feel alive. Because of course any kind of affirmation just taps into our egos with a Yes, that is SO ME. And we all want to be Seen. In fact you can have the entire world "see you" and make you FEEL seen, but it's STILL not the same as seeing yourself, affirming yourself. My hunch is that this is what went so wrong with. Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. And why S's words are always, it's an Inside Job. That is the work. That is the healthy affirmation coming from this masterclass - forget the external affirmations, just know that we all belong in creative space.
But here, let me just try it. This quote from Liz's session, Wow it's SO ME! :
"Creative LIVING: is any life where a human being routinely as an almost spiritual practice, chooses the path of curiosity over the path of fear, because at every instant in your life you will be standing on that cross road, a cross road that never ends, where on one side you are invited by curiosity and on the other side you are blocked by fear. ... This is about how to open up the pathway towards the curious and away from the fear."
In my Truer heart, I know it's not about the affirmation of me, it's having the signs tell me that I am actually "Participating in that curious creation of the universe". It's having an almost tactile piece of my heart in the palm of my hands to see that I AM in "the highest alignment with the original source." That it's not ego feeling, that's my body heart truth, and that's the part we all have. My ego ...... my ego can get back to protecting me from the bears, rain and get me quinoa and blueberries for breakfast.
Also, then too, after I finally squeeze an affirmation out of someone like Triffany Hammond she will say things to me like, "And you know what? You already knew that". I then feel the relief and release of it, I already knew. Well okay. Same with S.A., who has STILL not responded to the Essay she requested from me and I know she is teaching me to be deeper with my intuition. Just as an aside. But it's the point so it's not an aside. I don't need Elizabeth Gilbert or SA to affirm.
I will say, I DO live within this society that listens to you more if you quote someone LIKE Elizabeth Gilbert, because who the hell is S? We can't seem to function if there isn't some huge stamp of approval from someone ELSE. And that someone else has to be big. Courage happens not just in individuals but in groups, nations, collectively. I even had to cringe a little when Liz name drops Martha Beck … If we can say “My friend Martha Beck”, we’ll listen more, right? If I can say here and now, “My friend Elizabeth Gilbert", you will read me more, right? Oprah, Ellen, too ... So ja ... cut that shit out.
Still Liz and Martha are friends and I DO love the line Elizabeth reads from Martha Beck, "Magic is the thing that wants to happen next", and that "creativity is innately linked into magic because it's constantly feeling for what happens next" ... Yes yes YES.
For me and my life and this new Anne-brand I play with, this poem Liz reads from Mark Nepo, Breaking Surface, my soul is fed with these lines:
Let no one keep you from your journey .... No voice that tells you in the night, it can't be done. Let nothing dissuade you from seeing what you see, or feeling the winds that make you want to dance alone or go where no one has yet to go. You are the only explorer. Your heart the unreadable compass, your soul the shore of a promise too great to be ignored.
This is why anyone ever read a book, or watched a film, or loved opera, those expansive and true ideas, and full blown emotions ... The Arts, emotions and expression are the ONLY places and spaces that heal, what's why they are sacred, like wombs.
In my life I don't understand more than my inner nudge ... I used to try to nudge other people to be more open and connecting and since that totally didn't work, here I am, Being More Open and Connecting with myself. And so what resonated with me next is Elizabeth describing how she can recognize when other people are in fear, because a large part of my life has been following my intuition with fear and vulnerability as my inner guide, even at the expense of getting hurt, or things not going my way. To value this a living guide ... It's fascinating to listen to her process with this.
Let this paragraph from Elizabeth wash over you like it did me, explaining what happens with Inspiration and Fear:
That when Inspiration hits us - we want to make something, we have a larger idea and then Fear hits :: Fear is the thing that says, nobody needs this, or wants it, maybe it can't be monetized, it's precious time lost, and no body asked for and doesn't solve any problems in the world. The reason fear asks these questions is that fear comes from a different part of your brain than the creative response and fear doesn't understand creativity .. because it doesn't make sense, fear is old and reptilian, creativity is new and enlightened ... We've had fear in our nervous systems a lot longer than we have had creative response. Creativity is essentially weird, its a thing we do in conjunction with invisible inspirational forces, it doesn't necessarily reward you in the ways that our culture teaches you that a reward is.
at the end of the endeavor you will be a different person than you were at the beginning of it. Regardless of the outcome, regardless of the product, regardless of if anyone every reads it sees it buys it cares about it approves of it, you do it to see what it does to you. The big benefit of creativity is how it shapes and changes your life, rather than what it gives you in the end the process itself is its own reward.
Her teachings are astounding because what I think she did is after she became this huge success from her first book, she spent years listening to us ask her for advice. Because of course that's what we want, have her success, be like her. She read it all, she took it in and sat on it, carried all our fears and tears and synthesized it in her body and instead of caving with intolerance of that burden, she dug deep and came up with real answers, conversations, exercises ... Which if we use are actually life changing.
And what if this self-educated woman had not followed her intuition?
This masterclass is not ego-food, it's soul food and I'm writing about it because I value soul-spreading more than I do counting my amazing birthday gifts.
Thank you Elizabeth Gilbert.
I was so drawn to this episode of Breaking Big about Roxane Gay on PBS. The main reason I fell in love with feminism after reading Gloria Steinem's books was the relief to hear Woman Speak Her/Their Truth. For me it was less about the short comings of men and had everything to do with women's Voice. And so here, listening to Roxane Gay speak her truth, is the same exhilaration I felt so many years ago when I first started experiencing feminism and reading feminist literature, and decided to Minor in it at college.
Voice. Through Roxane's unpaid writing years, to her current well paid writing life, it is incredibly refreshing to absorb this mini documentary that is a wonderful character development according to her literary people, parents, and directly from Roxane. How she never stopped writing through all the pain of her devastating childhood event that changed her life. She read books and wrote, read and wrote, read and wrote. And for her to write from within the pain and out of it, to a public presence, which is to me a healing presence because it's owning her pain so that we can feel less alone, less isolated, more connected.
Wonderful questions by the host of Breaking Big, Carlos Watson .... what resonates with me deeply, is how the he describes her courage to be so transparent with her readers - it's because she is so completely real and direct and open that her readers connect to her. For her literary agent Maria Massie to know at what point Roxane 'gave more of herself' - in the book Hunger - being open with a new topic more than she had been before ... And describing her books of essays "Bad Feminist" as relatable because Roxane so openly writes about how she 'is messy, there are no clean lines about how she thinks about things, and how she personally related to this, that there can't be this one narrow or rigid way of thinking or being' ... It's Roxane's realness that is the connector to our hearts ...
There is the fabulously interesting Tagline of the PBS show 'Breaking Big' : "What makes people successful? What are the unexpected turns in life that propel people to greatness? Carlos Watson, Editor of Ozy - I am out to uncover the real secrets to Breaking Big."
And YES, how Roxane's mentee explains that when people read about Roxane's self revelations, they realize they are not the only one going through this thing, they are not the only one who feels this way ... This is the Beauty of Being Real and this is the Beauty of Feminism.
I keep reading and hearing what my intuition says is true, that the world is just starved for Realness, and I'm so eternally grateful for Roxane's courage and voice, boldness and truth, steadfastness and vulnerability.
The book is The Book of Awakening.
The poet and spiritual philosopher is Mark Nepo.
The birthday gift comes from KD, a package with book and Things of Meaning that make my birthday month truly expansive.
The weekly gift is SuperSoul Sunday with Oprah interviewing him (today).
The synchronicity is that this interview is happening today just days after I received the book as a gift.
Mark Nepo's every sentence is dripping with poetry, it's like oxygen. So here ... His struggle with cancer was a near death experience, and he explains so much, powerfully and gently, beautifully:
I went though a door and when I went back to find the door, it was gone. I this idea of how we transform, and anyone who has gone through transformations knows what this is ...
It's not the loss in life - it's what the loss opens ... Whatever opens us is never as important as what it opens.
The field that it opens is what matters...
No experience is wasted ...
Instead of running from task to task it's the learning the rhythm between the two things, not to run from task to task ...
The fear of pain was worse than the actual pain ... Mark talks about cancer, but we could use this for life ...
He believed he was open before, but he was really much more in his head (!), he was not opened until the cancer made him desperate to Be Here ....
It took him three years to learn how to live from his Heart ...
He was scoured by the experience to be a more elemental being ...
He lost his drive from the cancer experience and instead went into "being drawn" to things ... Such a fine line between the two but Yes ... One is from the Heart and the other is from the Head ... He describes how it was disorienting ...
He describes this as being in a loud and noisy river where there is effort ... That his experience brought him to the Mouth of a Greater Sea ... Yes, I understand what it means when he says this place is is more still and the current runs deeper ...
To be broken is no reason to see all things as broken ... When Oprah breaks down in tears, how this is a sacred space, this conversation, this connection ...
That it was when he was at his most ill, his former wife sort of accused him of "where is god now?", like the brokenness is proof that there is no god, and his small answer in that hell moment was 'right here'. Yes.
He knows that we are all continually asked to ask for what we need, only to practice accepting what we are given ...
He says he needed every effort ... every spiritual tradition and it was ultimately cancer that broke him open ... If we think we are open, we need to double those efforts ...
All things are true - not right, or fair, or just .... Only the Open Heart can start to make sense of HOW ... (Which I remember my father explaining to me about God when I was a teenager, so great to have this memory come up now ...)
We spend our energy sorting life rather than living it ...
At some point he had to ditch "being a poet" (the drive) and just Be the Poem (go to what draws us in ) ...
To stay as close to our Aliveness as possible ...
Our society says if you love to sing, become a Singer. We are being turned into a Noun, when the Aliveness is staying in the Verb. If you love singing, JUST SING ...
Stay close to what makes us alive without worrying about the labels for it ...
Another piece from Kris Carr, as Oprah includes a beautiful interview of her in this session, whose story could be a whole post of its own because her spiritual story is so profound ... Acceptance is different than giving up ... When we truly accept that is when our body exhales and our bodies start to heal ...
So thank you K for this beautiful book for my birthday month and the joint deepening of our joy currents ...
I always try to find ways to convey all that I am learning with my Spiritual Guide, and as I go out into the world and take the material to see what resonates with me, from me, and use what new life comes out of it for me, here, now, this space ... There are so many single concepts that seem simple, but the practice of them is a totally different level ... This one minute clip from Herbie Hancock encapsulates so many beautiful concepts that I've been learning ... The main thing is that there is no wrong note, wrong move, which connects to life not being a straight line.
First, the realness that he has to tell it like it was ... That part alone is delicious. The artistic moment of Herbie playing a note that was to him, "wrong" ... This voice of our inner critics, yes? I love the idea of this kind of collaboration, what Miles Davis did with that note. Miles took a breath - the thing that changes the chemistry in our bodies into a wider space - and he "made Herbie's chord right" ...
More amazingly, Herbie owning that he judged the note, but Miles didn't. Miles "accepted it as something new that happened". Herbie explains that any jazz musicians should do this, but really it's for all of us, "try to take anything that happens into something of value ... " And of course it doesn't matter if it's a straight line, let life happen ... See what beauty comes ... And remember that beauty is subjective, that all is beautiful ...
Wow ... when I think of not only my resistance to change / but also how other people respond to my changing ... Miles made something beautiful out of that chord, this idea that together more / other beauty can be created, that's an amazing kind of creation, and it's not up to me alone ... In one live musical moment Miles heard The New, Adjusted to it, Responded and Made it beautiful.
I wish this for all of us ...
I also love what MasterClass is doing in terms of bringing the great artists of our time and having us learn from them, and at the same time am aware that our ego/head minds still give power to people who have made it ... That their success is what makes them appealing and more wise. Successful people are safe, make us comfortable. We want to be that. I want to push back against that a little and know that wisdom, creativity and truths are in all of us, all the time, not just after we get that public stamp of success-approval. Success makes us feel secure, we want to be secure. Yes, we need the inspiration and artists can give us that, but how can we bring this into our lives here and now?
Something else that occurs to me about this is that the courage it takes for one person to take a risk, there's another component to that person which is the Miles Davis type person, a quality, who/which has the courage to engage with that new idea, new person, the change, the risk taker ... It's almost like an equal kind of expansiveness ... Engaging on a heart/body level, not an ego / head level. Working past the petty competitiveness that artists can have "against" the new ... How to find the people who can be more like Miles ... Not the Miles who is successful and brilliant, but the Miles who knows how to LIVE that courage to make new, real and dynamic art ... And make it all wider, more expansive ...
I do love how what resonates for all of us about this tiny clip is really, all the big and beautiful things that are in it, that's the inspiration ...
It’s been a few years since I’ve read Shonda Rhimes' autobiography “The Year of the Yes” so my post isn’t a fresh memory, and, my experience of her book is fresh in my heart's mind. My intuition has been pushing towards Voice since my world broke open when I found the feminist community in college, and it was so transformative for me that I decided to pick up a Women’s Studies’s minor knowing that shaping some kind of a career out of German and Women’s Studies would be a mystery, both career wise and financially. I love that I didn’t perceive this as a problem back then, that I was just going to follow the organic process of this first part of my life. Apparently, this is just how I function, Anne With Great Trust. I knew it then, I know it now.
I knew very little about Shonda Rhimes when I was given the book for my birthday. A book about a hugely successful author and screenwriter during a time in my life when I was not hugely successful according to my wish list of the time, and I was looking at another birth year, too. There would have been other books I would have wished for. The only piece I knew about her was that she was the writer of Grey’s Anatomy, a show that I absolutely loved. I started watching the show years after it was new, and was amazed by the character development, and my emotional involvement, and the crazy sense of humor, joy …. the re-watching I would do of individual scenes ... There was an incredible honesty and realness to each character which almost erased the less interesting medical background. I love how it was the medical story lines that felt forced at some point, not the character’s emotional lives, although I am not watching it anymore and and just wanted a different focus at some point.
And so with that, I started her book with solid skepticism, maybe something along the lines of "here is this book, yet another way she is going to make money from us fans … “
I remember liking that she wrote about her school times when she was so broke that she had to choose between a bottle of red wine and a roll of TP and usually the wine won. I remember being fascinated that she went on about this for about three pages, kind of script screenplay style, not prose. I remember being judgmental about the style. I remember feeling that piece of honesty out, trying to determine if she was using it as a marketing shock value thing to get the book to sell, or if she was just being real about it. I determined that I felt manipulated, that the shocking things she would fess up to were less about being real, and more about getting those popularity ratings, getting the book sold.
I remember reading for the longest time thinking, "this chick can’t really write. It’s just so chatty." I remember sticking with the side of the rules I come from, that you don’t get to be a voice in public until you are perfect or profound or graduate from that top school, or most importantly, deemed amazing by someone else … Which is one of the reasons I became a women’s studies minor, I needed to tap into the real stories, not the pursuit of endless tapping of each other's egos.
I remember thinking - in spite of my feminism - who do you think you are? Why YOU? I remember having an emotional wall between me and Shonda's book because her vulnerability was not true vulnerability, since she was not risking anything financially. If she had written something like this early on, like Anne Lamott with Operating Instructions, before she “made it”, I might have felt myself be more open to Shonda's book.
It could be my German heritage that thinks this way, the skepticism and disdain of America, Americans, American success, American big money, and watching what American big money does. Namely, make things - society - cheap, including this book. Where was her hardship? Shonda's example of being nervous to the point of sweating for a TV talk show, does that count? Whatever happened to true suffering. Or more specifically, mine. Why wasn’t mine getting this much attention. I have taken on scarier fears than her highly financed ones.
Disdain. I had absolute disdain to the point of wanting to stop reading ...
I wish I had known then about this concept about how when we absolutely shred someone else to pieces, it’s a reflection of ourselves, that I was actually shredding myself to pieces, but that, is a different post, and another one of the lessons of my Spiritual Guide. During that time, it was a huge gift while I had my own harsh feelings about myself, and my less than perfect life, to be able to have this reading experience, because:
a the beautiful thing happened. Her voice, book, life story opened me up. I kept reading and about a third of the way into the book I fell in completely radiantly platonic love with Shonda, the book, her voice, her intelligence, perseverance, feminism, intuition, truth, knowing, humor and realness. And success. At some point I was proud of her success, because I had felt her process. I had finally felt her risk, her openness, and just allowed myself to connect with all she gave us of herself to connect with.
It’s the same thing that always happens for me whether it’s women’s studies books, or Maya Angelo reading, or G opening up his inner world to me, or anyone authentically opening up their inner world to me, I know why I was born. Just to BE in that space. That whole space. That healed, whole emotional space.
She/her Voice felt like Tribe for me. Enough resonated with me by that point to know and trust that she was being absolutely real, and that for every event and story, there was an emotional process, whether it was pushing past the fear of a current challenge, or connecting who she was when she was little to why her success as a writer felt like having a birthday every day.
The big piece was that for years I had listened and connected emotionally to her TV show Grey’s Anatomy characters, (not other shows) and now that I knew more about Shonda, I understood why that show was so emotionally fulfilling. Also important to me, is what a warrior she was in creating new space and voice for black women and feminism in a still white male dominated field of screen writing.
I was still designing and wholeheartedly looking to deepen my design career, when I heard about the Master Class with her for screen writing. I think it didn’t matter what Shonda was teaching, I knew I wanted to be in her class. Why not screen writing? Film, movies and TV of a certain emotional level are my first love, so why not do something that is a more powerful source of inspiration than pottery or more flute lessons?
So I took the Shonda’s MasterClass in Screenplay Writing, she instructs that she wants to care when she reads a potential script or memoir, and I am amazed by just now many movies are out there with huge budgets even where I just don’t care, and how Shonda made me care in spite of the (GA) hospital setting.
I still am processing the amazing experience that was her class, and still recuperating how completely annoying it was to meet that many humans who wanted To Write, or maybe just wanted that kind of cash. People who have ambition, headshots, and egos. Wading through all that to find some true people ...
Shonda was the real deal. Everything she said resonated with me so deeply as truth and to my own sense of knowing. I was totally and completely engaged. Shonda operated out of her heart/body, expansive mind, much much less from her head/ego, her practical mind. Or maybe what is more correct is that her writing is out of her expansive mind and her practical mind does the business side - connections, pitching, feeding her business.
So why take this class? It's an unknown to me, as I trust and feel it out ... I know what I have in me, and I know that I needed to experience these slices of Shonda giving lectures about writing, speaking from her intuition and watching someone build a life and career from that. Even listening to her process about romance in her life is life giving because it's so real and it's a work in progress - I say in progress because she is the most romantic person who I (don't) know ... I know I needed to hear truth, see strength and most of all be inspired, be opened up. Be curious, be challenged to do something completely new.
It was a way for me to break out of more conventional rules too. Why not do this? Just because it came out of the Blue ... What I’m left with is a wealth of ideas, homework assignments, notes, designs, a bigger soul and a sharper eye for really seeing ... things. Sharper than before. Because now, on top of seeing things, I write about it. I write about what it looks like, feels like, smells like, tastes like … It’s another place where I can feel out my expansive mind, that large heart of mine … Creating more and more connection with myself and outward every day. Shonda’s book was a huge source of inspiration towards being more authentic and not hidden. My own version of saying Yes.
I love this guy — Dominic Wilcox :: It's not just that he's totally creative and expressive, and that he's completely silly and playful. Of course we want to zoom in on this and sheer number of ideas. The part that gets me - resonates with me and inspires me - is when he shows his underbelly for a few seconds. He explains “creative block” which prompted him to set up a personal challenge to create one thing a day for 30 days and blog about it. How can someone “like” this have a creative block? Oh, right, because we all do, because we are human, only except I love the moments when we are real about our struggle and the process. The Voice part. It creates connection and inspiration which solve everything. :) The output and the process. So here’s me appreciating all that Dominic is, expresses, shares and inspires. To come out of the creative block and Be all this. Now he’s changing our lives on a higher inspired level … Can you imagine if he had not dared himself. If he had not pushed past that pain that is a creative block. He explains that "quiet shy children who do a lot of thinking and observing in their heads", and if he had not given himself the push to bring all this out of his head. I feel lighter because of him.
This idea came from a beloved of mine ... It was such a wonderful idea that together we make it bigger, which is the best kind of Inspiration and so it has to be here, on my Inspiration page. Wouldn't it be amazing, we mused, if as part of our schooling as kids, we had a class every day that was about emotional intelligence, emotions, being aware of them, how to have them, how to not push them down, break the gender divide, let boys HAVE emotions early in life, and not be condescending about girls who DO more naturally have them, teach girls to be proud of their emotional life, teach that it's okay experience anger, and rage, sadness, despair, shame, what to do with them ... Could you imagine what all could change? Everything. And for it to be in all schools, public and private ... The kind of baby foot work we take later in life to learn new and more healthy ways of being and expressing, we could shape our communal footwork into satisfying, whole-hearted living if it were more out there when we are all little, and not just tucked into the sidelines of life ... This the world according to My Heart. Still, I am super grateful to where my feet have been, and where I am, spiritually speaking.
I wish I had kept track of every piece of beautiful design work I've ever seen in Film or TV or PBS (isn't that it's own category?) but I suppose my Heart has kept track ... So that's Safe, :) ... Film design work goes under this Inspiration page just for the pure inspiration of it, but also to acknowledge that as part of being a designer, sometimes the pain-curve that is built into it, and you have to learn how to stay with it to flip it. When maybe your instinct is to give up. For good original design work, there are times for me when I know I haven't reached 'the point' yet ... I love that I know how to just trust the process, that it always comes for me ... But I'm SO curious to hear the stories from other designers ... !
I'm also just kind of sad (?) that we don't know who these designers are, the same way that we know about an author or musician ... I think Graphic Designers get ONE credit line after a film, way towards the bottom. I don't know, but I wish I did.
One of my all time favorites is the art in the 1990 'The Thomas Crown Affair', the remake of the 1960 version, which had design art too, but it pales compared to this ... Here are the stills of that, they look like vector art, but animated ... Is it time for me to play with After Affects to see if I can recreate this? It really just affects me to my CORE, inspiration wise. Love love love love it.
Last night I convinced G to watch 'Auntie Mame' with Rosalind Russell, with me. (That experience is a whole other post about scripts and progressive social change). The evening kicked off with my needing to go back to the beginning Credits because the several times I've seen this, I have never noticed the opening art sequence ... OMG. (G again claimed that he is never letting me go near pot).
The concept of her arm holding up a kaleidoscope fits the script beautifully, the liberal and extremely playful and openminded Aunt vs. conservative 1950's 'establishment' ... The designs are outrageously beautiful and the metaphor is how you can't predict what shape comes next, which is how Auntie Mame lives and how she is trying to bring up her nephew, to be that opened up, full of color and JOY.
The untold stories of the designer or designers ... How many concepts did you go through? Was there a period of frustration first? Did you get it the first time?
I know how fun it is once you arrive at the concept and there is an agreed upon idea - like floating on air - and then you can just fly with it ... So getting to this point where you know all you have to do is create 75 (?) different stills that create THIS animated scene of a kaleidoscope ... Just heaven.
I would just LOVE to know what the process-stories are ...
Here's a beautiful one. This took courage. This came in from a Beloved of mine who heard Tahera Rahman speak at an interfaith event in Arizona:
"She is an American born Muslim who bucked the system that told her she would not be hired to be on the air reporter if she wore her hijab. She worked behind the scenes gaining enormous respect for her capabilities and kept applying for an on air job over and over and over to achieve her long time dream of being a tv reporter. She is now the first full-time reporter who is a Muslim woman to wear a hijab on mainstream TV news in the United States. These 'firsts' give me hope for women ... and our nation ... so we can break free from the current hate filled rhetoric AND the the 'how-you-look-or-whorship-matters-more-than-your-skills'. She Persisted!"
Yes, yes, yes, yes ... I think the part that gets me is when she reaches her limit and explains how it's her mother to tells her to keep going, to pick yourself up and get back out there ... That there was that flipping point ... For these marathons, we need those supports that come in so many forms, and people, silent and spoken, and ultimately your own strength ...
What Positivity this Tahera story means for our country politically, and Voice. It occurs to me that she doesn't yet know how she will affect others ... That she did it because it was HER dream, HER inspiration, but she will affect so many other people because of her courage. She will inspire people to do similar acts of courage, and has already ... She will make people look at their own behavior and reflect ... Maybe even get through to the hearts of conservatives ... That is this is what they are fearing, what is there to be afraid of .... Who knows ... I just have huge admiration for her strength and visibility ....
Here's the interview.
I would not have known about Louise Bourgeois if it had not been for the SF MoMA and my sister, who did know about her. Hence, she is my favorite date to the SF MoMA, with her own musings about art, artists and and her own particular observations on life woven in between the chatting ... Walking into this exhibit, and the playfulness of the font design, I think it was one of those moments where I follow my sister anywhere, a kind of sister-trust. ("Huge metal spiders? Okay if you say so.") She was read-up and curious about Louise the artist and artwork, if only I had taken notes of her story telling ... Since then I’ve run into more articles, including this by Karen Kedmey, (here), and am trilled to learn that Louise left behind art and writings about her process.
My ‘emotional entry’ into Louise and her art come through these pathways ::
In this first photo she is only 71 years old (lived to be 98) holding a 2 foot metal sculpted penis, which I’m guessing she created in her home studio, where she created her spiders. Photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe. And yet (and yet? is this my puritanical upbringing?) there is a dignity, elegance and humor about her. Sure, French culture has more of a sexual permissiveness to it than does puritanical America, but in any case, I’d love to read more of what she thought when she made this … Her process and inspiration, her sense of rules or social parameters. The smile. What a fantastic photo and moment in time, the humor, the collaboration, and maybe most of all, that she didn’t let age define her, or stop her from making art.
Reading her idea that “Art is not about art, art is about life”. ! Yes. What a relief. This gave me the inspiration that my logo and brand has to be connected to my life. I knew a few years ago that my “art project” is my life, and that at some point an overall thread of meaning became more clear to me. Not just my life path - creating beauty out of mess, or that there is beauty in the actual mess, and renewal after deconstruction - but in general this ‘life according to anne’, which is now my website, a holistic view of me, including my design work, works in progress, photography, the stories connected to what I see, my blog, with more personal stories of what I feel, my cooking world and this inspiration page, which are the solo people who have followed their own inner compasses to an unusual extent, and/or unusual circumstances.
Reading more about her and her spiders, through Sarah Roberts, I’m searching for information beyond the facts, the emotional layers … The courage it took to depict maternal bonds as something more complicated and dark than beautiful unconditional love. The courage it took to portray the negatives, not just the positives. Louise was connecting the life of s spider with the construction and destruction and renewal of a web, to her own creative process.
The perfect ending words from the article, that Louise made her "experiences and and emotions tangible." Okay, now, I understand the spiders. I love that I am / we are inspired from her life and art even beyond her death. I didn't miss it ...
Thank you Tony for sending this as a source of inspiration for my logo design-in-progress. I love listening to Tom Geismar's thought process, it absolutely resonates with me, which feels harmonic. This liquid universal process that is being a graphic designer. What good and inspiring company to be in, in this moment. Really great to see the process sketches for PBS, too ... Fabulously intelligent questions asked ... My absolutely favorite is Tom Geismar's push for the abstract mark for Chase, in 1961 it was the first of it's kind. A kind of standing alone, yes, to create modern design over conventional art. Here, the audio interview of this design journalism.
There just aren't enough words to describe how profound the stories, research and voice of Brené Brown are to me, but I will try. My sister told me about Brené years ago and that prompted me to get into Brené's first book The Gifts of Imperfection, and then continue on with Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong ... My own life's story then and now had/has a new running companion and guide to my intuitively generated acts of courage and vulnerability, my own wild heart. Everything made so much more sense, my own internal values became more loud to me.
The realness and truth of her two TED Talks "The power of vulnerability" and "Listening to shame" ... Both head- and heart-smart ... Combining research and soul ... Learning smaller details that one of the books that rocked Brené's world when she was younger was the same self help book that completely opened me up when I just got out of my teens - Harriet Lerner's "The Dance of Anger" ... This created such a deep sense of recognition, connection, tribe and happiness.
Here, then, is a seriously profound interview between Brené Brown and Krista Tippett from On Being and about Brené's latest book Braving the Wilderness (thank you, sister mine, for sending me the link):
On Being with Krista Tippet: Brené Brown - Strong Back, Soft Front, Wild Heart
There are too many amazing topics packed into this, but that fascinates me most is the idea of sometimes having to stand alone, as the beginning point towards belonging, being able to belong to yourself, first. What incredible inspiration there is by the spiritual practice of voices who have stood alone, in their unique and wholehearted sense of self, their Wild Hearts who have the courage/vulnerability to be authentic and Speak It. I love that collectively, this value is becoming more real in the world ... Here a few highlights from Krista's conversation with Brené:
"Belonging is a spiritual practice .... of believing in ourselves and belonging to ourselves so fully, that we find what is sacred ... not only being part of something - like our DNA calls us to be - but we find sacred, the need, on occasion to stand alone, in our values, in our beliefs, when we are called to do that as well. True belonging is a type of belonging that never requires us to be inauthentic or change who we are. A type of belonging that demands that we be who we are, even when we jeopardize connection with other people .,.
Your level of true belonging can never be greater than your willingness to be brave and stand by yourself."