Notes From a Sabbatical

Notes From a Sabbatical

Photo Credit: Sonya Lea Mostly it’s the time I’m after. The slower mornings, the lingering cup of coffee, pajamas sometimes until 10 am. It’s waking up and trying to remember what day it is. It’s paying attention to my stomach – where the anxiety lives. It’s noticing how even though I’ve given myself some time to take a breath this fall, the stomach still gets tight and I ask myself, “What is that? What am I afraid of?” It’s the list I made back in June where I wrote down all the things I could do during the sabbatical; take the online photography class, travel to Greece, get in my garden, complete a draft of the book I’ve been working on for three years, create that piece of art I’ve been seeing in my mind.  It’s noticing right after I made the list, that I moved toward none of those things – it’s how I got curious about that. The reluctance to fill empty space. The reluctance to get busy, to make another list. It’s how a friend commented that if I have nothing to show from these four months off – no draft of book – no piece of sculpture – no pictures from Greece – that I may have actually, I don’t know, accomplished something. It’s spending time with my 24-year-old daughter who has moved back home to find new work. It’s making coffee for two in the morning, then juicing celery because my friend Lisa told us it’d keep us alive. It’s doing jumping jacks in the living room together and making obnoxious faces as we...
Lost in a Sea of Humanity

Lost in a Sea of Humanity

A few years ago I found myself running alone down a trail in the Himalayas, Nine Inch Nails playing on my headphones, rain lightly falling around me. I’d left my friend Sunny and our Sherpa, Raja, on the trail behind me. We’d been hiking for five days on a route that took us to a town called Namche Bazaar – which is on the way to the Everest Base Camp. Curiously, the landscape smelled and looked a lot like the Sierras back home in California; the dirt under our feet was rust colored, the trees smelled like pine, and there was a fast flowing, white water river a thousand feet below the trail. My arms were stretched out like wings as I flew down that trail in the rain – just because I could – just because I was completely happy, and because I’d come to love the freedom of being on my own so far from home. Travel has been an incredible surprise to me in the last bunch of years. Almost immediately after the kids and Mark left, I started getting invitations to go places – but really far flung places like Nepal and Bali – which is funny because up until then I’d been a complete home body – didn’t travel – loved nothing more than making a nest on the couch all weekend surrounded by paper and books. If you asked me where I dreamed of going, I had no idea. And then overnight I’m running the streets of Ubud, in Bali, at sunrise – running through early morning markets where I’m the only Westerner...
Workshop in Mexico with Laurie Wagner + Andrea Scher!

Workshop in Mexico with Laurie Wagner + Andrea Scher!

Join us in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico January or March 2020! Great news! Andrea and I sold out our 2019 workshops in a hurry! So we decided to offer two different session dates for 2020! The dates for this workshop will be: January 5th – 10th, 2020 and March 15th-20th, 2020 If you’ve been following me for a while, you already know that San Miguel de Allende, Mexico is one of my favorite places in the entire world! It’s full of beauty and art, warm + friendly people and incredible architecture. It’s my favorite place in the world to collect color…. and is now my favorite place to bring a group! The city attracts artists and lovers of art because the light there is magic. It is that painterly sort of light that exists in a handful of places in the world and it always fills me with awe. It’s a place where you want to drink in the terracotta walls, walk for hours on the cobblestone streets and peek into hidden artist studios. It’s a place where you want to create.  My dear friend Andrea Scher and I are taking a small group of creative folks back to San Miguel this January and March 2020 (January 5th-10th, 2020 and March 15th-20th, 2020) We will be exploring, writing, storytelling, taking lots of photos and having one of the most creative and delicious adventures we’ve ever had! Our days will be a perfect blend of Wild Writing, creative photography exercises, storytelling and exploring this magical city together. We’ll learn from local artisans, take a food tour of the city (total foodie paradise!), take photo walks during...
The Radical Sabbatical

The Radical Sabbatical

“It’s important to stay busy.” That’s what I said to my 24-year-old daughter the other day, and as the words were leaving my mouth, a wave of sadness swept through me – as though I was giving her very old, very crusty survival tips – pretty much my lifetime prescription for how to stay on the right side of things – how to stave off sadness and loneliness – how to respond to feeling small or adjust yourself when you have no idea what you’re doing, when it appears that the rest of the world is having a lovely time and you are back in your house on a Friday night surrounded by silence. “Stay busy,” I warned. Marie Howe, the beautiful poet, once told me in a class to never use clichés, but what is another way to say “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water?” Maybe if I said it in French it would sound more exotic. Because getting busy, being busy, putting one foot in front of the other, making sure you’ve got your list and you know what your priorities are has really served me all these years, and it’s not a bad thing at all. I make shit. I’m a mother of a manifestor. Give me a shovel and I’ll dig. Definitely more of a do-er than a be-er. There’s a huge identity around it, can you feel it? Much pride. But still, this wave of sadness I felt as I spoke to my daughter – my daughter who has recently been through heart break, my daughter who doesn’t love her job...
Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Badly

Anything Worth Doing is Worth Doing Badly

A couple of weeks ago we had a party at our house for our dear friend Garner, who had just turned 70. Garner made it happen, handled all the invites and the food, the set up and the cleanup. All I had to do was open my front door. He even left me with house cleaning money to soften the blow of 85 sets of feet coming in and out of the house, 85 sets of feet on the living room turned dance floor. The party was bustling. People bumped into each other on the porch, little pieces of quiche flew from plates, there were lots of kisses and hugs, people who love Garner, who is one of those people who, when he sees you puts down what he’s holding to give you the biggest hug you’ll get all week. A lover, a builder, a friend – 85 of his friends seemed like a mere slice of his big life. As we like to do, we pulled all the living room furniture – the couches and chairs – out into the yard and set them around the fire pit, which we lit and tended late into the night, and where Garner and his drummer friends did their hubba hubba drumming thing around the flames. At one point a woman in the crowd started singing this rap beat song to Garner, and as she came to the end of her song she invited people from the group to join in, to make up a song and sing to Garner, but no one did. Silence. 85 people who love this guy...