3 Things

July 30, 2015

I read 3 things in the past week that I particularly loved:

For starters, this interview with my former boss lady Sarah Schultz conducted by writer Lightsey Darst for mnartists.org. Lightsey- one of my favorite arts critics- is, per usual, amazing at asking great questions and offering insightful observations. Sarah's responses are smart and funny and thoughtful- because she is. Her thoughts on work particularly resonate with me: "I'm feeling a pull to figure out what my 'work' should look like-- you work at a job but you also work in the garden. You work at problems. You work in a studio. You 'work-it-out'."

I love this onbeing blog post called Where the Earth is Most Torn: On Staying with Discomfort. This year I've been thinking a lot about how to get comfortable with discomfort, because, let's face it, we probably all spend a lot of time in this state. Transitions are uncomfortable, growth is often uncomfortable, the best things in life are uncomfortable. I particularly like this quote: "I give myself this advice as a resource: become intimate with discomfort. Pull it closer. Mend nothing first. Don’t say, 'I will allow discomfort to teach me when I have finally done XYZ.' Take to discomfort now and feel the sensations in the body that correspond and feel how alive you are." I'm going to practice.

And finally, an email newsletter from Sarah J. Bray, one of my favorite people from the internet. I spend a lot of time deleting mass mailing from my inbox, but Sarah's is delightful. Last week she discussed reading Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things for the first time- one of my favorite books, of course. Here's part of what Sarah wrote: 

"I was struck by how Strayed can take any horrendous, gut-wrenching human problem and apply empathy and wisdom to make you feel like even this is something you can deal with, and even use to make you a better person. 

I thought, how amazing. And then, I want someone to do that for me. And then, maybe I can be Dear Sugar to myself. 

So I did. I wrote a long letter to Dear Sugar about all the things that are bothering me, and then I wrote Dear Sugar's response back to me. 

It was amazing. Exactly what I needed to hear. Because you know what? Everything we need, we've already got. We just need to give ourselves the empathy and wisdom that we are so willing to give to others."

Everything we need, we've already got- I'm hanging onto that thought this week.


July 24, 2015

I've been thinking about this article, awesomely titled Everything's Awful and I'm Not OK: questions to ask before giving up. Everything in my life is certainly not awful, but I am still adjusting to some pretty significant life changes that sometimes leave me feeling confused and even panicky. I get worried that I haven't found my new normal yet. I start to think that there's something really wrong.

Then it turns out that I just need to eat something and get more sleep (and be patient). This is why these questions are so helpful. Don't give up, just drink a glass of water. You know, Maslow's hierarchy of needs: you have to make sure that you have food and shelter and sleep before worrying about the more nuanced aspects of life.

This is probably key for every life transition. Sometimes feeling more even-keeled comes down to the basics.

So, this week I went to bed a little earlier. I did a few things that reminded me I can still be productive. I bought a few shirts so that I can wear something that isn't stained with breastmilk. I ate more frequently. I took a few deep breaths.

I felt a whole lot better.

Related: Peter.

In the Body

July 22, 2015

photo by Gene Pittman for the Walker Art Center
I'm very interested in body...interested in how my body and other people's bodies are in the world, and I have been since I was a kid. There can be a purity to [dance] in that it's this tactile thing. It's almost...it just feels like in our world, where everything is fighting against the body, it's a statement. It's like being an anarchist or something. --Angharad Davies on making dances via Justin Jones' podcast TALK DANCE

Lately I've been convinced that most of the smarts we need for pretty much every challenge in our life reside in our bodies. I don't mean brains (yeah, those are important too). I mean body wisdom: the memories and intuition that live in our bodies, that can't be accessed unless we slow down and breathe and listen. I've realized that I can go days without any real awareness of my body, other than knowing that I'm hungry or tired. I can go days without fully feeling or paying attention. 

I listened to this podcast interview with badass local choreographer Angharad Davies, and have to agree with her sentiment: there's something rebellious about focusing on the body. There's something necessary about it, too, which is why I continue to be curious about making and watching dance. Making dance forces me to tune into my body and its needs and emotional intelligence in a way that little else does. 

Days and Weeks

July 14, 2015

Fox is 7 weeks, and we are in the trenches of newborn: a sweet and disorienting place. People ask me what I'm up to these days- besides baby things. The truth is, learning how to make life work with a new baby is an all-encompassing process that consumes my days. Figuring out breastfeeding and sleep and baby gas and then adding in a layer of adult things- eating, going places and seeing people, paying bills, maybe cleaning a house or showering, and eventually working- takes time. These things don't make for exciting adult conversation (even for me). And yet, there's a lot happening beneath the surface of banal daily occurrences like figuring out how to combat excessive boob leakage, deciphering baby cries, and working against the urge to destroy my partner with sarcasm after one too many nights of not sleeping. Maybe this all sounds horrible, but there's actually been a beauty in such a simple, utilitarian time. These days contain metaphors and life lessons applicable to all of us- not just parents. I am, however, usually too sleepy to properly absorb and apply them.

One thing that seems particularly notable right now is the strange, contradictory way that time works: the days are simultaneously long and short; a million things have happened, but I'm not sure what. Sometimes it feels like nothing is happening, and I will always be in a sleepy haze and whatever challenge I'm facing will never change. This isn't the first time I've encountered this feeling. It's happened when I'm undergoing any kind of big transition- a move or job change or big project. Anything where getting perspective is difficult because I'm so in it. 

I've been trying to reserve a few minutes of each day for perspective. I don't have the energy (or desire) for diary entries or that kind of thing, but I do have a notebook that I scrawl a couple of bullet points in. An incomplete sentence about one or more of the following: something that was good; something that was hard; something I'm totally excited about and hope to someday follow through on; something I want to remember. There's a lot I want to fully relish in these strange, slow days, but I still need reminders that they won't last forever- that things are changing and shifting and finding motion. I'm reminded that 'motion' was my word of the year, knowing that this year motion would look differently than it has in the past. I like to go, go, go, and right now the challenge is getting comfortable with slow motion and endless transition. 

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