Happy New Beginnings, everyone! Here are some of my highlights from last year. I'm very glad to be in 2019, but there were some sweet moments to look back on from 2018, for sure, some that I'd forgotten.
Here are my three big goals for 2019 and 2020:
3 Big Goals for the Next Two Years:
2019 is my year of compassion, generosity and gratitude toward myself and others.
Why do you do what you do?
From 2015...still relevant, and I'm still evolving...
I do what I do to find firm footing.
I need art like air to survive and I know others do too.
I seek groundedness.
I write my story so I can speak it.
I share it so others can do the same.
I act with courage, write and speak with courage
so I can stop my constant shame cycle and change that narrative.
I share so others may do the same.
I expose my vulnerable bits to connect with others.
I experiment with empathy so we can find mutual connections
between everyone in a room together seeking how our lives aren't so different.
I'm skilled at bravery. Go deeper into that. Be bolder.
I write to connect my fractured parts.
To put my story into characters' bodies. And physicalize them. Make them seen.
To feel how everybody hurts sometimes and to find strength to move on.
I write to show stories of the silenced, the before-me and others,
to reveal the humanity of people we believe to be unlovable,
impossible to connect with,
a character who fits our definition of un-relatable,.
Can we connect with humans we shut out as the other, as unnecessary, a number?
The homeless on the street, the schizophrenic in the hospital, the jailed in prison, the sociopath with a cause, the kid who has a hard time in the holiday months.
Love them not by showing only the good they do despite themselves,
but by seeing with exactitude all their parts,
the brutal and the beautiful.
Parents, friends, teachers, family of children ages 6-12, would you help me with a bit of research?
I'm starting a play where two 12-year-old kids living near the equator (and some animals in the north and south poles) work together to save their homes, help their planet, protect polar bears from drowning and penguins from losing their land. They'll break impossible odds to accomplish more than the adult humans around them even try to do. I'm not sure they win their fight or even get close, but they do above and beyond what we imagine possible.
That said, would you ask the young people in your life -- if they could do anything to help out the planet, to stop the poles from melting, to slow down the disastrous effects of climate change on all living beings, what they would do?
Before asking, you can find out what they know about climate change and/or share any details you know, whatever they should know to help answer this question, whatever can prepare them.
Then, would you listen and share any answer(s) you're willing to share with me? Click HERE or comment below to share (or tell me in person or over the phone, if we know each other and that's our best method of contact). Feel free to share this request far and wide!
If the young people in your life are a little under or over 6-12, that's okay too.
Magical, superhuman, fantastical answers welcome.
The more impossible the better.
Though I'd love to know what they think by early December, there's no deadline to respond -- I'm happy to hear whenever, even after the play is written. Maybe it will start your first conversations with your children/students/favorite kiddos about climate change and conservation. So much the better!
Again, no answer too big (or small), too weird or outlandish. I want to problem-solve this play for young audiences about climate change like someone who can't reach the top of the refrigerator without climbing onto the counters (or someone who doesn't speak human, but those are harder answers to gather -- however, if your cat or dog or whatever has ideas worth sharing, I'm all ears).
I may or may not use these answers, or parts of them, in this play -- called Polar Opposites: An Impossible Tale. The main purpose of asking young people's ideas is for inspiration, to help me see from their perspectives, shed an adult brain attitude of what's possible and allow in sparks for dreaming beyond my everyday habits and patterns. However, if I end up using your young person's idea(s) and they are not submitted anonymously, I will let you know.
Whether or not I use the ideas tangibly, they are all useful. Moreover, I am interested in hearing these ideas beyond their specific usefulness.
What am I not saying about this request that makes you curious? Feel free to ask me, either by commenting below or clicking HERE.
Thank you! I so appreciate your time and help! And big thanks to the little ones for their gigantic imaginations.
If you're interested in seeing the play and live in Boise, Idaho (or can get there easily), there will be a staged reading of Polar Opposites February 17, 2019 at Boise Contemporary Theater, through their Children's Reading Series.
This is the third play in my Animal Trilogy, a trilogy of plays for young audiences that use animals as a way to work with big subjects like grief, displacement and climate change. If you're interested in reading the first two, Rajpurr: Tale of a Tiger and Slap: A Beaver Tale (and/or Polar Opposites: An Impossible Tale when it's drafted) contact me HERE, or read more about them HERE.
Thanks again for asking, listening and sharing, and Happy November!
I think about the way the universe is made up. And what I heard on an NPR break the other day, with a scientist an astrophysicist I think, saying this is how he is going against the grain--
I believe we matter as human beings in the universe.
Not a popular opinion, after Copernicanism.
The universe with its stars, all of them,
more and more discovered to have planets,
and it gets more likely that these planets have life.
And so we matter not because we are different,
because we are unique and the universe revolves around us,
but because we are part of the tapestry of life.
Beings who can protect life.
And we matter,
our responsibility in mattering is to take care of life.
To keep it. Protect life and guard it.
That is huge responsibility.
One we are forsaking.
(A paraphrasing, original source forgotten.)
looking back on looking back
From September, 2015 (and I'm still working on becoming)
Feel how the emotions change now, heart rate and face tension, after reading the entry I wrote the day after Dad's spinal surgery. Time is all now.
I feel the tingle.
When I'm in lows, I focus my writing less on process and why I do what I do.
I think less about the big picture.
More about what's happening on my insides.
Less about sensory detail.
More about raw emotion.
Usually the right here right now vague feelings and cyclic thoughts.
And I record. And I process. And I sit. Observe.
And I think -- at the core, this is why I do this.
To take care of me.
To get the notes out about what it's like right here right now.
To get more exact, articulate and less desperate.
To trust my mind. To let go and share.
There are big picture thoughts that go with it, that have to do with audience and what I'm trying to communicate why with whom for what purpose. But at the base, this is the foundation. I write to connect with me.
It doesn't always make me feel better, but it gets the howling more manageable.
When I do this every day, it makes me stronger, more powerful as a human.
Yes, I don't make much money as a writer.
I have to think a lot about how can I squeak by.
I spend a lot of time doing this practice, completely financially unpaid work.
Yes, my logical brain tells me it's important: to practice as an artist, and then my panic practical brain says but so much? It's important to get financially stable and how can you with this? And what are you contributing to the world?
But in a larger term scope,
in taking in the truth about my history and my trajectory,
I see that this is what it takes for me to get through the day.
The alternative, I see, is me in hospital, me medicated, me living dependent, me out late every night making bad decisions. That me is contributing a whole lot less and spending more. Or...Here.
I need to write and I feel it these days
when there is burning in my chest
and I notice the tension build and fall in shoulders.
When I see the weight. And hold it.
And it draws my mouth downward.
When the throat and the gut and the head dive.
When I open up my brain to exposure and I get caught wrestling inside.
When I read about the day Dad's results came back,
detailing all the organs where his melanoma spread:
brain, spine, liver, lungs, kidneys.
When I notice how panic and overworking shielded me from feeling for years. Everything task oriented. And now I'm unleashing.
When I got back from the M.E. experience of homeless abuse and un-me-ing,
I didn't want to show any awful side of myself.
I wrote about it yes, but didn't speak about it.
The way I wrote about it in pieces I released veiled the truth enough
that yes I felt exposed but the art felt separate from me.
There was my work and my private life. Fractured. Compartmentalized.
This left me cold and armored, still denying myself.
Now this, this is hard too, this pure feeling, but it is real. Unmasked. Familiar.
And this is my reason to write as much as any lofty ones.
I can only get to the point where I am opening up connections,
speaking to the silent if I allow myself to speak and listen, too.
I exist. I matter.
And so do you.
When in a crisis, look out for someone you can help.
I am working on listening.
On asking questions and listening for understanding,
not to teach or show or judge or show contention, show how smart I am.
This listening is difficult and requires attentiveness, energy and effort.
It requires an attitude that wants connection and empathy to build,
even when I have something to say that will mean something right now.
Stepping back and truly observing.
This space is white.
Workshopping How to Hide Your Monster in the Creede, Colorado mountains, the spirals opening up this play during this development process are revealing the guts underneath each character's story. I'm glad I spent a year away from this script. Grateful to be working on it with artists who've never touched it before (the amazing Jeni Mahoney [director], Manuel Zarate [dramaturg] and a brilliant cast), whose questions and observations help me find the core heat inside and trace the strongest throughlines, tracking the outpourings that crack through the floor.
All week we've splayed open the skin to dig out the meat (every time we make that reference in the rehearsal room I imagine Han Solo slicing open the tauntaun to save Luke from hypothermia). In these last days before this version's first public reading (there will be a second in Pagosa Springs on Monday) it's about finessing the edges, sewing up this monster after its surgery to see how it moves with new life. But what else is burrowing inside this play? What other questions are driving me and what other interests, curiosities, visions? The revelation at the end is much bigger now, more Ancient Greek, Sam Shepard in its twisting. What will that unlock, and what questions might that discovery bring?
Such focused time on this play, without having to bother much with other work or responsibilities, or even my normal routine, boy it is a godsend. And this area, remote enough, these San Juan mountain surroundings and the energy here from other playwrights and artists at work...
I hope you all get a chance to get away soon, to dive into the work that you've been itching to scratch in a magical environment with smart, kind, inspiring people, too. I'm feeling quite lucky to be here now. Thank you Creede and HBMG Foundation!
We journeyed south and west.
Spent two weeks in California.
Explored San Francisco art, sport, places, faces.
Camped on Central Coast beaches.
Soaked in ocean, bathed in waterfalls.
Waved hello to sea otters, seals, dolphins, hummingbirds, sunsets.
Stayed with friends in hostel, attic, living room.
Reclaimed a haunted city, transforming rocked memories with lovingkindness.
Reunited with friends, family.
Found clear thinking, renewed tenderness and joy.
Spent a week back in the normal routine.
And now I'm off again, to the north and west Washington Coast.
To individually and collectively build community.
To transform space through egalitarian teaching and learning.
Puget Sound Workshop Workshop, let's make us grow.
Grateful for all these summer goings.
I've been slow to post these weeks. Erratic on this blog and on social media.
This is intentional, so I can focus on my work and life with more attention.
Today I head out on a two week adventure with my life-love to California.
San Francisco and the Central Coast.
I plan to be even more erratic in talking about what I'm doing and how I'm doing it.
So I can do (and not do) with more fullness while I'm away.
It's funny, that desire to apologize for not being present everywhere, everywhen.
Available to talk about all the things I'm doing as I'm in process.
But now, as I'm working on a new play, continuing a larger screenplay, co-creating a new performance with Migration Theory and teaching teaching teaching and preparing for a new job where I'll be teaching teaching teaching, all my social media activity, including this process blog, is getting in the way of my process.
I'm not pulling out completely from everything internet (except over these next two weeks), but now and come future I'm allowing myself to be more sporadic. And I'm all the happier for it. More productive, balanced and sustainable.
I look forward to sharing with you what's happening (and how and why I'm doing what I'm doing) when it feels relevant to my work and life. When it feels helpful to me and maybe to you. I will likely find more of an Anne Bogart blog posting schedule than an Austin Kleon newsletter schedule.
Thanks for understanding, for reading, for being, for doing what you do best.
Whatever that best may be for you, keep doing it in the way that suits you best.
With kindness and gratitude at the heart of it all, perhaps.
Which is what I want to send you.
All my gratitude,
I found this in a notebook I kept a couple years ago, writings during a fantastic workshop by a teaching artist specializing in Hip Hop Foundations for youth classes.
Shine the Light
I find the more I teach, the more I learn.
I like what comes from the word facilitator.
I don't like to call myself a teacher.
The closest I get is teaching artist, teaching writer.
Because of how much I learn from my students. My friends. Colleagues. The world.
I love this act of discovering,
Learning something new every day about space, time, me, you, family, us.
I don't always like what I learn but I like the light shone on this new bit of globe.
I want to share my process,
As much as I want to share my work,
As much as I want to travel and make new work.
If I could bring in that journey, my journey, learn yours,
We can share space together
In an attempt to figure out what we as an us have to say,
And what we can do about the struggle,
About the ugly, and find the beauty,
And mirror each other on this path to deeper understanding.
Slash. Span continents. All the self.
As knowledge as possible.
We as in us have to say.
I like that comes out.
Space time me you family.
What good is telling them about
My love if I give love.
So that someone can give it back to me.
Keep an open mind.
Allow yourself to be excited.
Pretending that you know what you're doing.
It's a big teaching summer for me, one looking forward to brand new teaching experiences in the fall (to be announced soon...), so I'm glad to find these words now. Whatever they are -- process writing, poetic material, working notes, they pull me back to the core of what makes teaching a fueling part of my creative process.
Process notes on a work in progress. This page serves to invite you into the way I work, with intermittent posts to show you the hows and whys on the whats I make, as well as prompts and ideas I bring to certain workshops. There will also be some raw, rough content found in notebooks written years ago, previously posted on: