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.

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