Small Dances Week 7: Set Some Parameters

December 31, 2013

Yesterday I was looking through the list of remaining Small Dances rehearsals, and allocating time for things like recording sound, and full runs of the piece. And, gahhhh, there isn't a lot of time! It's not necessarily a bad thing, because it's forcing me to make decisions-- the kind of decisions that I would mull over for months if we were going to perform the piece in August instead of February. Also: it's forcing me to use restraint, and create some parameters around what I'm working with.

I've written about my love of parameters many times before. I think of it like this: if I walk into an empty room and decide to make a dance, the possibilities are endless. Even if I have a sense of what the work is "about" or a beginning concept, there's still a lot to decide-- the vocabulary, the number of performers, the amount of space it will take up, sound, text, direction, energy... I like to make rules so that I have fewer options. I've been setting parameters for the piece using these starting points:

1) It Is | It Isn't-- As with my last project, I've found it helpful to make a list of what really belongs in the piece, and what kinds of elements (movement, sound, text) can be left for the next project. It's about editing, and simplifying. I can't possibly explore everything in one dance-- unless I want it be a bunch of overly general crap. This allows me to really commit to what I AM leaving in the piece.

2) Original Intentions-- When I'm having trouble with figuring out the above, I think back to my original intentions with the piece. A big goal was to play around with taking a single movement solo, and presenting it in as many ways as possible, varying the performer, the sound, the text, the intention. Another big goal was to fully involve a stage manager in my process. And, with the performances, my goal is to present the project to audiences that might not see a lot of dance. When I'm feeling overwhelmed by the possibilities of the project, I come back to these starting places.

3) Space Is The Thing-- This week I wrote about dance and space for Minnesota Playlist, sharing that I've rarely spent a lot of time tailoring my movement to specific spaces-- an oversight for sure. This time I can't help but consider how space is going to influence these dances. For starters, we probably aren't going to have a lot of space: most of our performance spaces are quite small. Secondly, the audience probably won't have a lot of space between themselves and the dancers, which changes how the movement will feel/register. And lastly, there are a lot of 'probablys' in this equation, because every space we perform in will be different. I want to consider how we can adapt the piece to fit the various spaces, even with just a half hour to rehearse.

We've had a lot of rehearsal breaks to make space for the holidays. I'm looking forward to jumping back into the process fully-- less thinking, more doing.

Small Dances Weeks 1-6: It's a Big Onion
Small Dances: My New Project

13 In 2013

December 30, 2013

My suggested recipe for a really good year:

1) Read some Sugar: After finding this amazing piece of writing, I read Wild, and Tiny Little Things in rapid succession. Few people write about being a human so eloquently, carefully articulating the gunk of life.

2) Listen to Anonymous Choir: Yes, you might be accurate in calling them hipsters, but this Minneapolis-based group singing Neil Young's After The Gold Rush is damn gorgeous.

3) Have a therapy party: For the amount that I write about therapy, it would seem that I've had a lot. It's a lie. This year I did dedicate a lot of time to my mental + emotional health. Two things worth noting: #1-- Many therapists offer sliding scale rates; #2-- I have a lot of loved ones who have hugely benefitted from antidepressants. Let's kick away any shame surrounding mental illness, please.

4) And on that note, let's kick away shame surrounding addiction: This is the best thing I've ever read about having a loved one struggling with addiction. Read it; talk about it; bring someone dinner.

5) Since we're talking about shame, read some Brené Brown: This year I read a lot about boundaries, vulnerability, and resilience. First I read The Gifts of Imperfection, then Daring Greatly. Both are particularly relevant to artists and self-employed folks, because oh, the vulnerability...

6) Eat some food in Seattle: I took a trip to Seattle, but didn't write nearly enough about the food, which is some of the best money we spent this year. Ben and I voted all of these the best Seattle eats + drinks we stuck in our mouths:

--Pizza at Delancey (and shrubs at Essex).
--Oysters and Cod Spread at The Walrus and the Carpenter.
--Chowder at Pike Place Chowder.
--Brunch at Lola.
--Rachel's Ginger Beer.

7) Stay at an Air BnB: People across the country rent out their spare rooms and apartments and guest houses, and you can stay in them! We stayed in a great place in Seattle-- perfect location, great price, and none of the stuffiness of a hotel.

8) Wear a Tattly: Maybe you are like me, and 5 years old in your heart-- or at least a bit noncommittal. I spent this year with fake tattoos of balloons, hearts, and carrots on my arms and chest, and the joy was huge.

9) Make Something: I am grateful I took the 20 minute approach to creating, because without it I'd probably still be overwhelmed and procrastinating. Also: I was reminded that I like my life more when I'm making things.

10) Celebrate Love: Regardless of your feelings about marriage as an institution, I think we can all agree that love is awesome. This year I watched a lot of friends publicly declare their commitment to one another-- especially because marriage became legal for ALL last summer! It was an honor to witness all of that goodness.

11) Do some accounting: Adulthood, people! It's so glamorous. I have to give a shout-out to FreshBooks, a cloud-based accounting system that has made my job doing the number-keeping for our business so much easier.

12) Cook something: Many thanks to my awesome sister and brother-in-law, who bought us this immersion blender-- our new favorite kitchen appliance. Maybe you want to make my favorite salad dressing, or chop nuts, or garlic, or purée soup. The immersion blender is a lot less mess than a food processor, and useful for many things.

13) See some humans: People are awesome. One of the best things I did this year was host a brunch, and invite a lot of people who didn't know other invited people over to our house. Also: Small Art. Ben and I are constantly reminded that we (staunch introverts) are happier when we make a point to connect to other people, see their art, eat food, and (often) discuss the weather. It turns out that hosting can be as simple as making some eggs and coffee, and asking people to bring something.

Happy end of 2013. I hope several of your dreams came true.

[I made a similar list in 2011, which you can read over here.]

Happy holidays: have a solo dance party, take a nap

December 21, 2013

HAPPY SOLSTICE! Some holiday-centered thoughts:

1) I am not feeling particularly festive this year, even with our 3-foot janky Christmas tree decorated in the sunroom with care. It might be that I'm feeling under-the-weather, or the copious amount of appointments with people like mortgage brokers, squirrel trappers, and dentists, or the deadlines I've found myself behind on. Example of lack of festivity: my dear buddy came over for our First Annual Holiday Sleepover Extravaganza, for which we had planned cookie baking, ornament making, and holiday movie watching. What really happened? Frozen pizza, and episodes of Sex In The City. Why? Because we're tired from 2013. My point is: this is ok. Have a solo dance party, take a nap. If you need to skip the holidays all-together, it's probably ok (maybe more challenging if you have small children or family with fancy festivities- sure). You can celebrate in your heart, while wearing flannel pants on your very own couch. Now, I really love the whole New Years/Solstice thing-- at least on a metaphorical, new start/dark returns to light level. But why not start by playing it low-key, with bubbles right out of the bottle? No need for Pinterest-worthy holiday parties. Call me if you need a slow clap for your lack of cute appetizers. 

2) If I was feeling a little more festive/energized, I would go about the holidays like my friends Ashley and Stephen. I'm convinced that they have the most fun holiday celebrations-- and on a budget. They do a great job of avoiding any obligations, staying in pajamas, and eating/drinking all of the good things-- which they stockpile for the holidays in a large basket. They are also amazing at creative gift giving, and keeping secrets. The year I lived with them, they unintentionally gave one another Morrissey biographies. 

3) At the very least you should watch the staff at NPR headquarters shake their hips in Love Actually fashion. Maybe your low-energy holiday should also include a grapefruit and bourbon cocktail, or some karaoke. The nice thing about karaoke is that you don't even have to leave the house-- you can download tracks on itunes, and sing in the privacy of your living room!

4) Do you need some end-of-year reflection? I'm always a fan of Molly and Betsy's 3 words tradition. This year I refuse to analyze or reflect-- I'm saving that for the book that could be written about my 2013. I have been my saddest and my happiest in this year, no hyperbole in that. It is a year that I feel very lucky and grateful for. If you are a person who analyzes the year in a "ACCOMPLISHMENTS" and "BUMMERS" kind of categorical way, I encourage you to think bigger. Sometimes the best and most necessary parts of your year can be those weeks where you ugly cried in your sunroom for hours a day. Showing up to life, especially when its hard, it very worthy of a high-five. 

5) Ben and I had our first official date-- 2 years of friendship in-- on Christmas day, 2007. I'm glad that Emma photographed this cheesy moment back in September, because we are cheesy people. High-five for partnership. Ben has shown up to life + kicked the self-help section of the bookstore down. What does that mean? I don't know exactly, but it's good.

Very happy holidays to you.

Small Dances Weeks 1-6: It's a Big Onion

December 17, 2013

While it's December and we're in resolution-land, I want to get very hippy dippy. Is there something you're really hoping for in the coming year? I encourage you to put it on paper-- as specifically as possible-- and send the intention into the universe. INTO THE UNIVERSE. Yes, that.

Last December I wrote that I wanted to make dance the way a musician makes an album, and guess what? IT'S HAPPENING! In a nutshell, I wanted to make it tour-able and reusable, and I wanted to be mindful of the amount of money, energy, and time I was investing. This was after learning from the experience of making my dance I Like You, which I took 2 years to make, and required a big stage, 3 projectors, and 4 very specific performers, and played for just one weekend. So, Small Dances it is. I wanted to share a bit about my process here, because it really is similar to hacking away at any big project. I keep likening it in my mind to peeling an onion: a layer at a time, over and over and over again, not knowing what the center of the onion really looks like yet. I'm learning a lot about showing up, mentally and emotionally. Oh, and physically, because I think better when I move. So far my best ideas have hit me while on the elliptical at the gym, right next to that really intense guy in his 60's, who makes me a little nervous.

I've been thinking about these tiny, reusable dances all year, and they have been very slowly coming to fruition. I like that kind of speed. Realistically, I balance art projects with a lot of other kinds of projects. I'm able to make this work my big focus for the rest of December and January, but for most of the year it's been a quiet accompaniment to the rest of life. Here's how it's been coming together:

The Timeline
What's a realistic amount of time for creating and rehearsing an hour-ish length piece? I have no idea. I know that limits are good-- sometimes the best work happens with the pressure of a deadline. If I had a year or two, I'd for sure be able to use it, but my goal is to be conscious of time and money with this process (2 years = a lot of money). This piece will get 3 months of rehearsal time (3 1/2 months, with two week-long breaks for holidays). I've helped things along by workshopping parts of this piece back in May, and developing a lot of the vocabulary on my own time. The timeline has been like this:

January-May: Work on a 10-minute piece using some of the movement vocabulary.
March: Grant application submission.
June (late June): Grant award announcement.
September-October: Personal rehearsal time/organization time in donated rehearsal space. Auditions and casting.
October 31: First rehearsal.
February 10: First performance.

Notes From Weeks 1-6 of Rehearsal:
In rehearsals we've been spending a lot of time getting on the same movement-style page. I've taught a bunch of chunks of movement vocabulary, which are going to be shaped into about 10 different short sections of the piece. My dancers are really savvy, awesome folks, and the teaching process is going quickly. Regardless: this is dance, and it takes time to learn and memorize. Other than jazz-handed musicals, this is the most movement-centered piece I've ever made (as opposed to text or character-centered).

On the producing end of things, I've started to schedule February performances (with the help of my stage manager, Zoe) around the Twin Cities. My goal is to have 10 performances between February 10 to March 9. I've been reminded that scheduling rehearsals and performances takes a lot of time-- there's pretty much always some kind of email that I should/could be writing at any given time.

Some Awesome Things:
--I love working with a stage manager. I'm used to producing performances and running rehearsals on my own, and it's so nice to have company (especially smart company).
--Have I mentioned how fabulous my dancers are? I love them.
--Rehearsing during the day has really been helpful for my brain and process.
--We've had lots of generous offers for performance spaces.

The Challenging Things:
--I'm continually shifting between my producer hat and my creator hat, because performances and rehearsals have to be booked. I wish I could afford to ignore my other work and life responsibilities, and only focus on this project.
--Too much thinking. It's easy to get sucked into analyzing exactly how this will come together, when the best thing to do is to start acting. Structuring the piece is a daunting task, and I need to remember that I can always tweak things AFTER I've made decisions.

Up Next:
I have two big next steps: booking performances by January 7, and teaching/creating all of the structured sections by January 17. These are totally doable timelines. I'm waiting to think too much about sound design, guest performers (the original idea was to perform this piece with a guest artist from another discipline), or the placement of each of the sections.

I'm reminded every single day: just keep going, just keep going. Even a tiny movement forward makes all the difference in the world. It doesn't have to be great; I just have to show up. I take it as a good sign that I'm enjoying this process more than I've ever enjoyed a process. That in itself is great progress.

Let's talk about...Kombucha

December 13, 2013

I know-- you woke up this morning and thought, you know what I want to talk about????? Kombucha. I'm so with you. There's nothing that gets me excited quite like bacteria and yeast....

In the Ben and Laura diaries, once upon a time we tried our hands at brewing beer. It went poorly. I mean, we followed through on all of the steps, but we failed in a couple of ways:

#1-- It takes time to brew beer. We had to wait for weeks for it to be ready to try, and Ben and I are not a waiting people.

#2-- It didn't taste like Surly. Why would you go through the mess of brewing beer, only to find out it doesn't taste like Surly?

Well Ben no longer drinks beer, and he wanted a beverage that was delicious to drink, but less sugary than soda-- which led him to try kombucha for the first time. I immediately frowned upon kombucha, stating that it tastes like vinegar, or something rotten-- you choose. Here's the thing: kombucha is expensive. Like, $4 a pop expensive, so you might as well be drinking beer, right? I eventually tasted a kombucha that felt palatable, and then I started thinking about brewing it-- because it's pricy stuff, and I am also a savings-loving person!

A couple months ago my friend Phil supplied a SCOBY, and Ben jumped into kombucha brewing. And here we are-- so far with better results than with the beer. I wanted to share Ben's brewing methods (so far, my role is mostly as consumer). Maybe you have kombucha suggestions of your own? Or maybe you recognize that it's brewed from a gelatinous-like creature, and stay away entirely.

Let's start by talking about supplies:

You need---
               A kombucha mother (SCOBY).
               A gallon-size glass brewing vessel (we use a glass pitcher from Target).
               Leftover kombucha tea.
               Black or green tea bags.
               Flavoring agents (Ben juices ginger and lemon).
               Pint-size ball jars for storing.

The News About Making Kombucha:
Right now we're brewing 2 batches at a time, with 2 SCOBYs and 2 gallon-size brewing jars. The recipe that Ben uses is from TheKitchn, but he's been playing with less sugar, switching to all green tea, and also messing with various flavoring agents.

The timeline looks like this:
1) You brew your tea (with sugar and leftover kombucha) and place it in the gallon-size brewing vessel with your crazy looking SCOBY.

2) You wait 10-13 days.

3) You take the kombucha (sans SCOBY) and add any flavoring (for instance, fresh-squeezed ginger and lemon juice), and then strain it into pint jars and close them.

4) You wait 1-3 days for the pints to carbonate, and then refrigerate them.

5) You peel off your second SCOBY (if it's a good one) and give it away to a friend, or start another one. You begin the process again!

Ok, so this is Ben's 3rd or 4th batch. So far I highly recommend the flavor of the green tea-only blend, versus the green and black tea blend. Also: fresh ginger juice is really good stuff. We've been consistently brewing, but some websites have notes for taking a break with brewing. Also: important precautionary things, like what to do when your SCOBY molds.

Do you have any advice or resources for Ben's kombucha adventure? How do we get more carbonation? Do you want our extra SCOBY?

Balance: probably not so balanced at all

December 12, 2013

It's the season of reflection, and I've been reflecting on creative business-related shizity. Particularly: this thing called balance, which is a pretty zen-sounding word. On the other end of the spectrum from 'balance' we have overwhelm. I once was so overwhelmed that I purchased a book about how to deal with overwhelm....and then naturally felt more overwhelmed. So there you have it. But this year I realized that I don't have to be in one camp or the other-- somewhere in between is just fine. Like a lot of artists I know, my commitments are pretty varied, and I try to make time for a little of everything. I could break most of these commitments/activities into the following categories: 

1) Creative projects I do because I love them.
2) Creative projects/jobs I do because they pay well.
3) Household + family responsibilities.
4) Quality time with the people I love.
5) Quality time with myself.
6) Actions that insure that I will have more projects I love and/or more big bucks in my future (updating my website, applying for a grant, continued education).

That is a lot to coordinate, and I don't have a magical solution to doing that-- I think it's always at least a little challenging, and slightly un-coordinated and messy. What I've been realizing this year is that some chaos can't be controlled, even with better time management or a carefully arranged to-do list. And for me, a little chaos is worth it if it's making me happy, and it's making me happy if it's moving me in the direction of my long-term goals. So maybe the biggest balancing act then is between:

 The things I need to to do today to meet deadlines and pay bills and be happy and healthy and sane
(the short-term)
 The things that plan for and move me towards the future dreamy things/projects/life I'd like to have
(the long-term).

Looking back on this year, this particular balancing act was fairly successful, and I wanted to share what helped. Three particular things come to mind:

First: Choose A Focus (Micro vs. Macro)
Just like it's impossible for most of us to create and analyze at the same time, it's difficult to think about the long-term and short-term at the same time. By nature I'm a big picture, long-term thinker, and sometimes this sucks a lot of energy and time out of my schedule and the project or task I'm focused on. For instance: I know that at some point in the next year Ben and I will more than likely be moving into a new house. It's easy to get fixated on how and when this is going to happen, and what that's going to look like. But meanwhile, I have a client deadline and a rehearsal to plan for, and a few emails to respond to. The long-term things are made easier by focusing on the task at hand and getting the little sh*t done every single day. It's nearly impossible for me to show up fully to what I have to do TODAY if I'm fixated on six months from now. 

At the same time, the big-picture stuff is important. I try to sit down about once a month for a couple of hours to think about the long-term stuff so that I avoid fixating on it every single day. I attempt to break down some of my long-term goals (say, updating our website) into smaller actions (writing a new bio) so that they seem less daunting. And it just feels good to know that I'm not ignoring the long-term. Also: this means that when I'm reminded of a grant deadline, I don't need to start from square one to think of a project and proposal-- I already have some idea of what ideas would serve my long-term goals

Second: Stop The Inspiration and Act
My friend and brand designer Kathleen wrote a great Letter For Creatives (sign up for them over here) called Less Thinking, More Doing. It turns out that many of us are waiting for just a little too much inspiration before we act. So, stop reading the blogs and books, and start taking a step towards something you want to create. There is no perfect time, and all the planning (or inspiration) in the world will not make it perfect. I started this blog space roughly 2 1/2 years ago, and I continually tweak things. If I'd waited for it to be just right, I never would have started. If I were to let myself get focused on perfection with this post, I'd never hit publish. Kathleen offers up some great suggestions for acting, like setting a timer for 15 minutes and seeing what you can get done in that time, or tweaking one thing on your website that's bothering you. The point is to take some kind of action-- even a tiny one.

Third: Go For Grey 
I think most of us are trying to bridge the gap between where we are (the job or clients or creative projects we have right now), and where we want to be (the job or clients or creative projects we want to have in the future). I've realized this year that there's a lot of grey area between the two, and that's great-- it's not a clearly cut, magical transition. And even when we get to these future, dreamy-sounding projects, we'll probably just dream up new ones-- there'll always be future goals. Even during weeks that aren't filled to the brim with work that I absolutely love, I try to make sure that there's daily space for some of it. Again: small but regular actions. For instance, maybe I write an email asking someone to perform at a Small Art, or work on a chunk of a blog post, or tweak the exercises I use with clients. Maybe I don't have time to spend the whole day rehearsing, but I do have time for 20 minutes of rehearsal in my living room. 

I'm happiest when I stop giving energy to some made up idea of perfect balance and absolute-- all of the puzzle pieces in their place at the same time. Instead, I've been shown time and time again that the messy, grey area is the place where most of life happens, and that in this area things still get done, and forward motion still happens. I'm aiming for a 2014 with fewer lists and less micromanagement, and more comfort with this middle ground. Truth: it's a lot more fun and less overwhelming in the middle. 

And they called it Winter

December 9, 2013

It's only December 9, so I don't want to use up my winter enthusiasm prematurely. That said: we are in the midst of our first big chunk of sub-zero, snowy, icy days here in Minnesota, and I'm loving it. We had our first snow emergency of the year-- when those of us without the fortune of off-street parking quickly study up on our neighborhood night plow routes, so that we avoid getting ticketed or towed. I woke up early to move my car, only to discover that both of my car locks were frozen. Two extension cords and a hairdryer later, and I reentered my home VICTORIOUS, as only a Minnesotan can understand. I have a hairdryer, long johns, a tiny snow shovel for my car, and a soup pot--- and I am basically unstoppable!

The thing about winter in Minnesota is that we're all in it together. I love seeing neighbors while shoveling, and the mutual respect that bubbles over-- a friendly person yielding as I slide through a red light, for instance, or open admiration for one another's layering skills. We all have the same mildly oppressive element in our lives. Winter becomes a metaphor for something much bigger, perhaps. It provides instant conversation material, and fuels dozens of tweets and bitchy facebook posts. We are going to make it through these 5 months, people!

Anyway, I look to it as a good excuse to dig into projects and work. We're quickly filling up February 10-March 9 with Small Dances performances. If you live in the Twin Cities and want some living room entertainment for your buddies, go over to our website to check out the details.

Lately: November edition

December 4, 2013

In November I saw a lot of performance-- probably the most I've viewed in months. My favorite show of the year is always Choreographer's Evening, which takes place annually on Thanksgiving weekend. It's a huge celebration for the Twin Cities dance community. There are around 10 acts, curated each year by a different dance artist. This year's, curated by duo Chris Yon and Taryn Griggs, was assembled to feel like a mixed tape. It was a great mixed tape, each act showing a very different picture of the possibilities of kinesthetic language. I watched works featuring some of my very favorite dancers and choreographers, and basically felt lucky to be a part of such a great artistic community.

I am not a dancer dancer. When I went to college, my dance background was basically limited to musical theater jazz hands (and jazz squares), competitive Irish dance, and the occasional beginning modern class. I went to school to study music, fell for theater, and transitioned to theater directing when I realized I was a shoddy performer. But when I went to direct plays, I realized I was sick of words. It seems that it's too easy to make words linear and straightforward, and life is anything but linear and straightforward. The kind of dances I like embrace the grey area. They make their own rules, they create their own reality. They bring to life the moments of our experiences that can't be articulated, but are somehow written in our guts. My life has been littered with those kinds of moments, and yours probably has been too. What to do with them? Take a look, embrace their strangeness, make something.

All of this to say, I'm having a really terrific time with my new project, and I look forward to sharing more about it. October and November were full of time sensitive projects, and went bam-bam-bam, so I almost forgot that I quit my part-time job. I have no idea what my self-employment routine looks like, which is probably a goal of mine for December. Other goals include making lots of soup, seeing dear buddies, and enjoying my dance making-- you know, savoring....relishing. These opportunities are lucky ones.

[Photo of Charles Campbell, Tom Lloyd, Erika Hansen, and Lazer Goese-- taken in rehearsal by Ben McGinley]

Words from Maurice Sendak

November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving eve!

I was so glad to come across this Illustrated Talk with Maurice Sendak again recently, and loved it as much the second time as the first. Prepare with kleenex. Sendak speaks eloquently about life and growing older. It also features my very favorite Terry Gross.

I am feeling especially fortunate this year for about a million things. On the top of my list is 'impermanence': the truth that life is constantly changing and evolving, never staying the same. Even a year ago, knowing that change was inevitable terrified my control freak self. Today I count it as the best thing ever-- an opportunity to stay awake and present, and a good reminder that even the hard stuff eventually passes. Live your life, indeed.

Monday Motion: Where You've Been

November 25, 2013

Last week I was lucky enough to be in rehearsal for at least four hours of every day. It was awesome.

It was especially awesome because I got to be in my problem-solving element. Anyone who has either 1) made a performance or 2) planned an event know that the week before said event will inevitably be filled with a good handful of obstacles: things you forgot about, technical challenges, unexpected outcomes. I love this about tech week, and I loved this about the entire Blueprint Project process: it was a good puzzle.

(I don't actually like real-life puzzles with cardboard pieces, but I love a good project puzzle.)

Now, I was thinking this week about how tempting a total career change sometimes seems to me. Sometimes I think: maybe I should study graphic design. Or business. Or maybe I should become a teacher. These fields feel so certain and defined when it comes to building a career. Creative careers are more ambiguous. They are tough to talk about. Take the word 'CONSULTANT'. What the h*ll does that even mean? Or, 'movement artist'-- many people at last weekend's performance complimented me on the movement, but my approach to most performance projects, as Candy or anyone else who has worked with me knows, works far outside the realm of movement.

It's tricky: what do I call myself? A dot-connector? A puzzle solver? A guide towards solving creative dilemmas? A business coach?

I've been thinking about this a lot, because my primary interest is in helping creative folks talk about/share What They Do, and I believe that the key to this is in getting clear about Who You Are, and Where You've Been. And for me, past experiences like the Blueprint Project really help me clearly see what I'm good at, and where I'm going next.

And sometimes past experiences help us see where we DON'T want to go next, or where the gaps in our abilities are. Invaluable, all the same. I think of these experiences like passport stamps, if I'm going to stick with the whole mapping metaphor. Sometimes talking how your past experiences inform your career is harder than, say, talking about how your graduate degree informs your career. But I insist that the real-life experiences are just as valuable: they allow you to get a clear read on your skills, your interests, or even WHY you do what you do. Good stuff.
What past experiences inform your business or creative endeavor? What takeaways from these experiences can you use in your long-term plans?

Call for Contributions

November 18, 2013

Today I'm heading into the final week before the BLUEPRINT workshop-- the project I've been collaborating on with Candy Simmons, Ruth Weiner, and Zoe Michael. Collaborating is the shit, because you don't have to make decisions alone! (I especially love it when someone talented and organized like Candy is heading up the process.)

We're slowly heading into winter-- some days I can feel it more strongly than others. My plan for thriving (different than 'surviving') this winter is a combination of time in the gym sauna, and creative projects. In fact, the whole point of Small Dances was to find a way of connecting humans together during the lonely winter. Are you looking for a way of finding some connection with other humans this winter, or even just a creative outlet?

1) You can answer the weekly question over on the Small Dances blog. 
We are collecting text that will be a part of our piece. I've just posted the first question. You can even answer anonymously!

2) I'd love to hear about something you've made, be it a theater company, a blog, a recipe, a book, a picture, a project, or something completely unartistic. (You can see an example of this kind of post over here.) Write about it in under 500 words. Tell us what was surprising, and what was hard. What pushed you to make what you made?

I'm also excited to be posting new mini-interviews next month-- just 5 questions answered by local creative folks that I admire. Do you know someone I should interview? Shoot me an email (LMholway[at]gmail[dot]com).

3) Come to the next Small Art-- Wednesday, January 22. 

Or maybe you have a different idea for thriving in the winter time. I'm going to start by fixing the zipper to my winter jacket. What are your ideas? 

I'm excited about your excitement

November 13, 2013

Hi. How are you? It is mid-November (!) and I am feeling a little overwhelmed, but purely by my own expectations. Do you know about your own expectations? Pretty much since middle school I have dealt with a bad case of perfectionism, which makes life seem extra daunting when my schedule is full, and there are lots of things to attempt being great at. I'm working hard to remember that it's enough to show up and do my best, and make a few mistakes along the way. When I expect perfect, I'm always disappointed and overwhelmed.

So I was starting to feel the overwhelm come on as I was driving in the car last week. And just then, Terry Gross' Fresh Air interview with Stephen Colbert came on the radio. Did you know that Stephen Sondheim cast Stephen Colbert in the 2011 production of Company, after Colbert sang him a Send In The Clowns spoof during one of this shows? I happen to love Stephen Sondheim, because there are few people who can articulate the icky hard awesome stuff of being a human like he can. And somehow listening to this interview got me out of my head, and helped me remember that this life experience is a real treat-- that it's good stuff.

I was lucky enough to read and watch some other pretty wonderful things last week, all coming from excited/passionate/nerdy people. Let me just say: I AM EXCITED ABOUT YOUR EXCITEMENT! The world is nicer because people are making and doing thing, and loving what they are doing. Heck. Yes:
  • My friend Megan Mayer made a dance show that I just love. It has one more performance on Saturday. It is full of nuance and gesture, gymnasts, cub scouts, astronauts, music from the Shangri-Las (awesome), Lawrence Welk-like nostalgia, and love pangs. 
  • I met Nancy Rosenbaum at a Small Art, and I'm such a fan of her persuit of traveling, people, and ideas. She's been in South America for the last few months, and I've been following her journey via Instagram (@NRKB). Nancy takes photos documenting the people she meets, and writes these great little mini-biographies to go with them. I just love them. 
  • Karen Sherman might be the most badass dancer I know. If you live in the Twin Cities and missed her latest performance, I'm sincerely sorry. If you enjoyed her show (or are bummed you missed it), you can kickstart her performance awesomeness
  • Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in Italy for a year? My friend Junita Bognanni is living in Rome while her writer husband is on a year-long fellowship. She has started a blog-- Cannoli Pepperoni-- detailing her experience. And it turns out that she is a really fabulous writer, and I'm grateful to live vicariously through her words. 
Happy Wednesday-- I'm off to rehearsal, and that. is. fun

take a bath, eat an orange

November 6, 2013

The Rumpus writes great horoscopes-- something I don't subscribe to or regularly check, but still enjoy when I stumble on them. This one felt like a timely stumbling. I'm giving my best energy to a couple big rehearsal projects, and to do good work, I have to SLOW DOWN. Creative time is not something that can be smashed between checking twitter, and organizing my accounting. It requires spaciousness, depth, and time for my mind to wonder. It requires living in small moments, and that's a huge challenge for me, or at least a muscle I have to remember how to exercise each and every time I've stepped away. 

Virgo: This week is a week to live in very small moments, it’s a week for living in the smallest units of feeling you can find, in smells or tastes or moments of warmth on your skin. Try to let your plans rest, for a little, try to stop looking out for the future, try to slow your insides down, for now. Take a bath, eat an orange, listen to a sad song played on the piano, listen to your best friend’s voice. Let your smallest moments sing you to sleep, let them carry you home, let them make your world livable.

Monday Motion: Get An Outside Perpective

November 4, 2013

My Giant Steps workshop was called Crafting Content: Sharing the Story of What You Make & Do.
What is content? I defined it as 

The images and words that tell your clients/audience who you are, where you’ve been, what you do/make, what you stand for, and how to hire you, buy you, or connect with you-- the bits of information that, together, tell your story.

I wrote a bit about this topic over here, and realized from the response that talking about what we make/do in a way that captures who we are is something that most creative entrepreneurs struggle with. The 30+ workshop participants I had seemed to agree: deciding what to share about ourselves (and how to share it) is a continual challenge. And it's not something to try to figure out on your own-- it truly necessitates an outside perspective, even if that person is your best friend (or a buddy you swap business building help with).

A large part of our workshop time was spent in small groups so that everyone could get this outside help. I gave participants a list of questions. The goal? 

To uncover some of the details, experiences, training, strengths, successes (and failures) that shape who they are and what they do-- their Suitcase Contents

I wanted to share some of the these content-uncovering questions in this space. Some of them are really easy to answer. Others take more thought, and can lead to feeling uncertain and stuck, which is why that outside person can be really helpful.

What the heck do you do with all of this gathered information? 

1) Use some of the specifics in your website copy, your social media, a grant proposal, or a conversation about your creative endeavor.

2) Use it to get clearer about what you do, and what you don't do-- your defined expertise.

3) Use it to get more specific about who your audience is and isn't.

4) Use it to create some long-term goals that are in-line with your endeavor.

In a nutshell, find a buddy and get specific. Although we didn't have a lot of time, I loved hearing the energetic conversations around me, and I highly suspect that everyone felt better by sharing some of the thoughts & ideas buzzing through their heads.

I'd love to hear from you: What are your tips for taking about what you make & do? 

Thanks to Diana from 5 By 5 Design for sharing bits from my workshop on the 5 by 5 blog!

Looking for additional help getting clear about what you make and do, and how to grow your creative work? I offer 1-on-1 coaching for artists and small business owners. You can read more about how we can work together over here. Wondering if I'm a good fit for you? I offer 30 minute complementary intro sessions via phone or skype, or in person at my home office in St. Paul. Contact me at laura[at]mcginleymotion[dot]com for more information.


November 1, 2013

Happy Friday! It is November, and that's tricky to wrap my mind around. Tomorrow I have the daunting task of finishing up a 10 minute play I'm making with elementary school students-- a group of 17 kids that still hasn't been all together after five classes. We are supposedly mostly done with the play, but one of them asked me if we can put a scavenger hunt in it: "A short one." If you have an idea for a thirty second scavenger hunt, please let me know.

Here are a few things that caught my attention this week:
In other news, I'm fairly thrilled to announce that my project, Small Dances, will be performed by Charles Campbell, Lazer Goese, Erika Hansen, Tom Lloyd, and April Sellers. Zoe Michael will be stage managing/assisting in all things. I'm humbled to be working in this group's talented company, and sure that they'll teach me a lot. A big part of the project- as I see it- is openly documenting it, every step of the way. I've been fully transparent about everything from performer pay, to auditions, and will continue to be open about the process as we continue. In December and January we'll be asking for your ideas and contributions! I couldn't ask for a nicer way to pass the winter months.

That One Soup Experiment

October 30, 2013

This week I've been upping the vitamin D, because, sunshine: where are you? This might be the year that I invest in a happy light, although the one I want is pricy. Until then, I will coast on endorphins from the gym, and attempt to be Embracing Of The Season. Which means, open to and excited about the things that make late fall/early winter delightful: warm beverages, leaves, soup. Especially the soup. Ben's been in LA this week, working on a project for TNTP (pretty much the same as shooting a hollywood film), and I've had the temptation to split my solo meals between pizza, and the leftover curry from the weekend-- all eaten in front of some electronic device.

But last night I fought the grey weather blues, and went to the grocery store. I concocted a soup that combined the spicy coconut milk base of this chicken chili with the Caldo Verde (Portuguese kale soup) featured in this month's Cook's Illustrated. It was one of the best soups I've ever made (which a photo cannot do justice to), and definitely made me feel better about the weather.

Curried Coconut Chorizo Soup-- serves 4

(Feel free to adapt these based on what you have on-hand. For instance, I used a diced chicken breast, in place of a 3rd chorizo sausage. You could use tofu, or even additional veggies in place of a protein.)

2-3 large chorizo sausages, diced up

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 sweet potato, cubed
1 onion, diced
a bunch of collard greens (you could also use kale), stems cut off and sliced
3 carrots, diced
a 1-2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced
1 jalapeno, diced (I used seeds-in, but remove them-- or use 1/2 the pepper-- if you like less spice)

4-6 cups chicken or veg stock (or water)
1 can coconut milk

1/2 t. curry powder
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. paprika
(Note: I don't actually measure spices. Season to taste.)


1) Sauté the diced chorizo (or whatever protein you're using) in 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil (or some other high heat oil) over medium heat. (I used chicken chorizo, so I needed 2 tablespoons of oil, but if you use pork--which has a higher fat content-- you probably won't.)

2) Add the onion, and cook until slightly soft. Add all of the diced vegetables, except for the greens. Cook for 2 more minutes. Then add the chicken stock (or veg stock, or water), and spices, and crank the heat up to high. (You might need more liquid-- the stock should cover the veggies.) When the soup begins to boil, turn it to a simmer and cover it for about 10 minutes.

3) Add the collard greens and let them simmer in the soup for 10 minutes.

4) Add the coconut milk, and stir. Poke veggies with a fork, and see if they are tender. Continue simmering until everything appears cooked.

This was all very improvised last night, and maybe you can think of better methods (or even different ingredients).  I even tried baking the squash first in the oven, and then spooning the rest of the soup mixture over it, which I don't recommend. The best part of the soup is the ginger/jalapeno/coconut base, which you could pretty much put anything in.

What's your favorite soup? And have you used light therapy with success?

Let's Be Resilient

October 29, 2013

I prepared for my workshop at Giant Steps like a boss. You know?

It was all a bit manic: throw some information together...consider if Power Point really is the best for that graphic design midterm (because there are midterms when you commit to a class)...prep the house for a guest...have callbacks and cast the dance...maybe practice speaking, even if it's just to your cats.

Practice speaking: Hm... Now that I think about it, I'm not sure if I've presented in front of a group of adults (other than when teaching dance, or directing a rehearsal) since college, other than that monologue I performed in 2007. So, although I feel very pleased with the information I presented in my workshop (and happy that so many people have reported it useful!), my next goal would be to learn to present without turning into a nervous crazy person. You know, the kind that speaks quickly, and almost aggressively in tone, and gets a little rambly at points. It's sortof like that time, years ago, when I waited on Josh Hartnett and his family. I was determined to avoid getting sappy over the sighting of a celebrity, but instead I got just a little bit aggressive and "so what will you have?" with him. Very undeserved, Josh.

There really was nothing to be nervous about, as I was surrounded by buddies on Friday-- people I've met via this blog, the twittersphere, and coffee dates. Oh-- and my lovely husband, who was wearing a tie! Minnesota is filled with exceptionally creative, big-dreaming, brave souls. I watched many of them in action (in awe of their calm, articulate, slow speaking styles), and was almost tricked into believing that bravery is a piece of cake. Then I had a flashback to last year's Giant Steps, during which I socialized little, kept my head down, and mostly felt like a creative freud. A total waste of energy, hey? But that's not the point. The point is: HEY! I'M FEELING WAY BRAVER! Having this flashback made me burst with pride for at least 30 seconds, realizing how far I've come. The panelists made the risk-taking appear easy, but I know the truth: it's damn hard work, every step of the way. Also: it's worth it. I insist that the more risks you take, the more the stakes feel a bit lower. As in, it's not all going to end if you fail. Also, what is failure anyway?

As speaker James Faghmous pointed out, labeling a result as 'failure' is "a shortsighted view on life. It might just be a steppingstone."

I completely agree. My failures have been immeasurably valuable. It's all about resilience: a willingness to get back up. Which brings me to my greatest entrepreneurship lesson-- the one I slid into my talk, regardless of how unrelated to content and storymapping exercises it was: 

The greatest gift you can give yourself is to learn how to separate your failures (and even successes) from your worth as a person. 

Learning how to do this will make you more resilient, because you will learn to avoid equating 'failure' with 'being a shitty person, who probably shouldn't have tried this in the first place.' You'll be more likely to spring back up and try again. Your endeavor is related to you, but it's not YOU, and when you realize that, the risk-taking feels less daunting, and more like a great possibility-- whether it's a first public speaking gig, or full-time self-employment. 

Thanks to everyone who took the time to introduce themselves at Giant Steps. In the next week or two, I'll be sharing more information from my talk. And, special thanks to Laura Brown for making me feel like a full-fledged adult with my fancy business cards-- they are hot!

Busy & Sane

October 21, 2013

Happy Monday! Today is the first day of my self-employment adventure. It's also a short week because of Giant Steps (Friday), and a mid-week visit from one of my best old friends. There also happens to be a silly amount of things that need to be pushed into my 3 working days.

Being very busy has always been a source of anxiety for me-- I never know how to enjoy it all when there's so much crammed on my plate. And that's the point, yes? Enjoyment? I'm thinking so, because I happen to love most of what's filling my days right now. I don't want to wish it away, or decide that life will be better when it's calmer. Two weeks ago I taught a residency that had me traveling to a new school in a different suburb each day. After my first couple of classes I thought, "only nine more classes to teach this week!" And then I self-corrected, because if I'm walking around with a continual mental checklist of what I need to accomplish before I can chill out, there's a good chance that I'm not going to be present for my own life. I might miss it all, and that would be a bummer, to put it mildly.

So that's what's been on my mind: being busy, but staying sane. Some thoughts that keep running through my head--
  • My anxiety around busyness is way worse when I don't allow enough time to avoid being late to meeting and rehearsals.
  • Commutes are a great time to listen to podcasts.
  • Although it's tempting to work all the time when busy, it's a lot more enjoyable when I leave a night or two unscheduled, or take the time to meet up with a friend for an hour.
  • A new motto: Discomfort isn't necessarily bad. It's easy to get anxious when my abilities are being pushed. But the best stuff comes from being pushed, yes? It's not all comfortable, and that's good.
  • Eat 3 meals a day, no excuses. There is nothing worse than being stressed and having low blood sugar.
  • Breathe. Listen to some Queen. Remember that this is fun. It's fun, right?
In other news, Laura Brown has made us beautiful business cards just in time for Giant Steps! I'm going to stand up in front of some adults and give my presentation. Kids are easy, adults are scarier for me. Maybe I will imagine everyone as their 6-year-old selves.

Also, a question:
What arts/creativity-related blogs should I check out? What about blogs from performing artists? Visual artists? Point me in the right direction, please.

I'm taking the week off of posting here. Have a great one!

Money, Honey: Part 1

October 17, 2013

Last week I attended one of Springboard For The Arts' Business Skills For Artists workshops. The topic was particularly exciting (drumroll please).....


Honestly, most of the workshop was a pretty good affirmation of the work I've put into having a clue about self-employed finances. This will be my ninth year of filing as self-employed, so I sure hope that I'm making progress on learning about tax rules. For six of those years I did my taxes with Quicken. Now I have an accountant at Fox Tax, where they specialize in working with artists and small businesses. I am so grateful I made the switch, because I want someone else in charge of the numbers. I like being advised on when to take a particular deduction, or who gives me gentle advice about future planning, and quarterly tax payments.

This will be our second year filing as an LLC, and second year paying quarterly taxes. I've learned that taxes necessitate a very noticeable amount of our income. And, I've learned that there's a lot I don't know about money. As I mentioned before, I'd like to know more.

I wrote about preparing for tax time over here. I was raised with self-employed parents, and I've learned a lot over the years watching them. Namely: save your receipts! And, keep good records of most things.

But there's still a lot I don't know about money management. I've never had a job where they put money in an 401K for me, or pay my health insurance. (OK-- I take that back: for brief periods of time I worked for restaurants where they paid my health insurance. Honestly, I'd rather pay my own: if they drop your hours, you lose your insurance.)

But the point is: how do I make future financial plans on a fluctuating income? How does money feel less daunting? How do we get ready to buy our own house (we currently live in one we co-own with family) or make having a kid a financially viable option (if we decide that's what we want) or plan for retirement or even plan for the repairs that my janky automobile requires?

So that's why I'm thinking about being money savvy-- because no one else is going to do it for me. I've decided to work towards knowing more about money. I'm channeling Tara King's advice: Do whatever it takes to befriend money, even if it means logging one receipt. I know from the past few years that this is a process. Going to the Springboard workshop reminded me that I've learned a lot in the past few years-- also, that I still have a lot to learn. We've all got to start somewhere, right?

Here are a few steps I took in the very beginning of my money journey:
  • Deciding on a good way of tracking everything I was spending: I really like
  • Opening a business checking account: It makes it easier to keep track of what we're spending for the business, and what we pay ourselves.
  • Keeping a millage log for my car and an expense diary-- a calendar where I keep track of meetings, etc... that might relate to expenses.
  • Saving receipts. 
  • Checking in at least quarterly with our business (and personal) finances.
More Recent Steps:
  • Deciding on a business accounting/invoicing system: We started using Freshbooks (a cloud-based accounting system) for all business invoicing and income tracking. I love it-- I can see when clients have viewed invoices, keep track of sales tax (new for digital delivery of video in Minnesota), and organize business expenses.
  • Reading about money: Suze Orman looks pretty cheesy on the cover of The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke (oh, that title makes me cringe), but the information is great. I mean, I don't know anything about investing. Money therapist Bari Tessler is sharing money memoirs on her blog-- people sharing openly about their relationship with money. 
  • Meeting with savvy money people: My accountant is smart. In the past, I've always just met with him at tax time. I was reminded today that he's way more helpful before tax time. I've also entertained meeting with a personal financial planner. Do you have one?
  • Checking in with my finances on a regular basis, rather than dodging it and crossing my fingers.
I've written before about money and art. In the past I've looked for income solely outside my personal artistic projects, and sometimes gone into significant debt. My upcoming project is the first art-making I've paid myself for in 10 years. Depending on how you look at that, that's really gross or really exciting. Why would I work for good money for other artists, only to pay myself nothing for my own work? It seems problematic.

Future Steps:

Last year at Giant Steps, Kate O'Reilly taught a workshop that discussed pricing. In it she reminded freelancers/business owners to charge 40% more than we would if we worked for a business. For instance: if I work for a business, they pay for my computer, office supplies,  health insurance, etc... When I work for myself, I front that cost. So I guess my future goal is to excuse myself from money guilt. And to keep reading and setting goals for myself. I'm going to set one now: to create a new budget in the next month based on my income trends from the past year. That's been really hard for me, with the whole income fluctuation thing. I plan on posting monthly about my progress.

How did you get money smarts? Did you parents-- or some other role model-- teach you about money? Do you have a favorite money book?

Make & Enjoy

October 15, 2013


Last night I worked my last Monday serving shift, and attempted to be patient as I waited for tables to show up. This eventually led to scrolling through feedly, where I read a most exciting announcement from The Jealous Curator-- news about her to-be-released-in-January book!

The cover is particularly gorgeous.

I'd known Danielle was going to write a book, and I was mostly pumped because, although I know very little about visual art (save that one art history class in college), I really like Danielle's taste. We have similar jealousies. But now I'm REALLY thrilled about the book, because she announced that it's about my favorite topic: creative blocks. Danielle is showcasing the work and ideas of 50 artists, and their tips/exercises for working through creative stuck-ness. Holy awesome.

OK. So, I know a thing or two about stuck-ness, because that's why I started writing in this space. I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to create and enjoy the process. My little 10 minute dance back in May was the first thing I'd made for myself (meaning, not as a part of someone else's project) since June of 2011. I took a long break from making things, because it felt exhausting: it made me broke, lonely, tired, and generally frustrated. Gross.

Luckily I realized that most of my artistic struggles were about ME and my approach to creating, rather than actually being about art making itself. My spring project used a very different approach, financially, energetically, and mentally. I had so much fun! I felt really good about the work.

But that piece was 10 minutes, and now I'm making a 40 minute one that will be presented as its own evening. This brings me to my second point:

#2: I Started My New Project!

Well, a little bit. I'm halfway through the audition process, and I'm having a great time meeting new people and imagining what this project could look like. Reading about Danielle's book made me think a bit about my hopes for the next few months. Specifically: hopes that I can stay flexible, patient, and trusting. Even more specifically: hopes that I can enjoy the ride, apply my process from the Spring, and not get too caught up in the world of self-perpetuated pressure. Which brings me to a particular mindset:

#3: It's A Great Big Experiment

I loved working on Alison Anderson Holland's project because she totally embraced the 'It's A Great Big Experiment' mentality, which I think is essential to most art-making. With Alison's project, she never knew how many community members were going to show up to meetings or contribute ideas. She remained flexible, and open to different outcomes. I like this approach because:                   
  • Some things are outside of our creative control. --and--
  • Why not enjoy that/learn from that, instead of pushing against it?
  • It allows us to focus on the things that ARE within our control (like showing up to a rehearsal prepared).
  • It sets up expectations that are less...personal. The success or failure of said experiment isn't related to whether or not we're  smart/talented/capable/good people. We show up and do the work, and keep an open mind. 
This reminds me of when I make my six-year-old students raise their right hands and solemnly swear things regarding good classroom behavior. I, Laura Holway, do solemnly swear to enjoy this mysterious artistic process for the next five months...

What makes for a successful creative process for you? What have you made and enjoyed and not been tortured by? Why did you enjoy the process?

[Photos from making our dance film Tuesday.]

The Plunge

October 10, 2013

I've written here and here about my love of money jobs that support freelancing or a growing small business. Since 2005 I've supported my freelancing with serving and bartending at seven restaurants, a couple of nannying gigs, and an interim position as a middle school drama director. Before Ben started working for himself full time (at the beginning of 2011), he worked at a restaurant as well. I've loved working in restaurants because I've met awesome people, observed lots of different humans, and learned more about food. I like shaking a mean cocktail, and I adore talking about the perks of truffle oil-- it's worked out well.

But it's been my for dream for 2 years to transition to working for myself full-time. I've continued to wait for THE PERFECT TIME, half expecting a gigantic thunder clap from the universe when the move was deemed safe. I didn't get a gigantic thunder clap, though. Instead I got a feeling in my gut, which is much more ambiguous than a thunder clap. It was persistent. I asked myself a lot of questions before I trusted my gut (and checked our bank account and incoming invoices, naturally):

#1- What do I expect this change to look like? What will I be doing with those 10-15 extra hours? I got really specific, a la Kathleen.

#2- What do I need to do to make it successful? I know I need to make sure that I see/work with other humans on a regular basis, because I get a lot of creative energy that way. I also know that I need to avoid trying to work all the time just because I can. I will burn out really quickly.

#3- Am I expecting this to fix challenges that I'm facing? If so, what challenges, and how? I have a really realistic (unglamorous) idea of what this will look like, and how hard it will be. I think this is healthy. I do know that working 35-40 hours a week will feel more manageable than trying to fit in 50-6o hours a week, especially once I start more rehearsals.

#4- Is missing that extra income going to add additional stress to my life? Only a healthy amount. I think it will force me to take some risks that I might not otherwise.

#5- Will I feel huge amounts of shame if I have to take another part-time job in 4 months? Absolutely not. I can only do my best, cheesy as it sounds.

I'm reminded of my interview with Emma Freeman, when she talks about deciding to take The Plunge into working for herself. She said that sometimes you just need to throw your whole self into something in order to know if it will work. That's exactly how I feel-- I've grown tired of dipping my toe into the pond.

In all honesty, something that's really helping me make this move is that I've had a hella intense 6 months of life. The beauty of dealing with lots of big, scary shit is that sometimes you feel more willing to take risks-- the fears start to feel less daunting. And today I'm grateful for that, and for the opportunity to try a new adventure.

Growth Opportunities: Giant Steps 2013

October 5, 2013

I moved to the Twin Cities in the fall of 2005 after 7 months of living and working as a nanny in Wales post-college. My time was split between waiting tables at a failing wine bar, taking all the dance class I could fit in my schedule, and teaching at the Arts Guild in Northfield. Soon I started making and showing my own choreography. Soon I also felt really tired-- working too many restaurant hours to get health insurance, writing grants and applications at night, committing to too many projects, and feeling a little jealous of my old college classmates who had immediately gone to the security of full-time, salaried positions. It felt really lonely at times.

Eventually I began to find a community of other freelance artists, and eventually I got into the swing of piecing things together. I've learned that it requires a certain amount of reaching out-- that I only have to be as solitary in my work as I choose. Attending Giant Steps last year was one of those reaching out moments. I learned lots of helpful information in workshops, and took detailed notes from panel sessions. I met gobs of smart people, and felt jealous (in a good way) reading bios. But the most valuable thing I took away from Giant Steps were tons of great big 'ME TOO!' moments-- realizations that I had a shared experience with other creative people, and I didn't have to try to have it all figured out on my own. Simultaneously I felt proud of how far I'd come, and anxious to ask my peers for their wise opinions, because I was sure our collective wisdom could figure it out. The Giant Steps folks make flexibility, open-mindedness, and connection their approach, and it feels like there's an endless amount of possibility from that place.

All to say: you should be there this year on October 25th. Their early registration rate goes until the 11th. Information is over on the Giants Steps website. I highly, highly recommend it.

You can read what I wrote about last year's event over here. This year I'm teaching a workshop about Talking About The Work You Make-- for artists and creative business owners equally. I hope to see you there!

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