The word ROOTine came up for me the other day when I was texting with my daughter who is on a life-changing journey, travelling in SE Asia:
Looking back on your life from a mom’s perspective as to when you have felt the most happiest is during developing an idea and planning transitions. When you have gotten “grey” is when things settle into routine. Your core competencies are definitely on experiencing and facilitating those transitions… what’s beautiful is that by identifying that this trip is about making space for change, that you yourself have the power to facilitate change, has opened you to also embrace DEVELOPING ROOTS.
As long as where you land, where you you work, who you love, fosters that change power in you– you will be happy. Some people need routine and no change. Predictability. You- no. That’s why you will love being a mom as it’s all about facilitating growth and change in your children. The routine or ROOT-ine in that and in loving a partner is not at all suffocating- as long as you continue to develop yourself.
The word ROOTine made sense to me as it came up in my text to her. When I personally feel the angst of being disconnected from the predictability and routine of home (like this past Friday when I headed over to the island for 5 nights to work and and spend time with friends), I know that is the time for self-reflection and mindfulness. In the way that works for me.
I don’t seek sameness in my life- that is certainly why I immerse myself in the creative process- it is about CHANGE.
My psychological or even physiological makeup is not one that suits the routine of a 9 to 5 predictable schedule.
I find a rich sense of freedom in the uniqueness of my personal routine. In what makes me relax IN MY WAY.
So, I guess the angst that arises is when the flow is disrupted? I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Is it ROUTINE or ROOTS? I am fully rooted in my purpose- blessed to have found it.
My niece Emma just sent me this poem and it seems fitting:
What to Remember When Waking by David Whyte
In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake, coming back to this life from the other more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world where everything began, there is a small opening into the new day which closes the moment you begin your plans.
What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough for the vitality hidden in your sleep.
To be human is to become visible while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world is to live in your true inheritance.
You are not a troubled guest on this earth, you are not an accident amidst other accidents you were invited from another and greater night than the one from which you have just emerged.
Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window toward the mountain presence of everything that can be what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you to grow and spread its branches against a future sky?
Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?
The ROOTine is where I find my flow. And when the flow is disrupted, I feel uneasy. And that’s OK.
To feel the anguish of waiting for the next moment and of taking part in the complex current (of affairs) not knowing that we are headed toward ourselves, through millions of stone beings – of bird beings – of star beings – of microbe beings – of fountain beings toward ourselves.
– Frida Kahlo
I had a real awakening in 1986 when I took the CREATIVE PROCESS class at (what was then called) Emily Carr College of Art and Design with Kitty Mykka. It was a LIFE CHANGING CLASS that introduced me to the theory, practicality and universality of the creative process.
Beware! I now know a language so beautiful and lethal
My mouth bleeds when I speak it.
– Gwendolyn MacEwen
Kitty also took my journaling work deeper than I had ever gone before, opening for me a safe personal space in which to process my work and my life.
And as three decades have gone by since that Fall of 1986, I continue to embody the creative process. I often tell my students that process for me is much more important than the end product. That is why I love street art- I put it out there- it will (de)volve as it will. The ongoing process is what intrigues me.
As I approach age 55 in a few weeks, I feel a renewed sense of peace at my core. Not only is my creative process not attached to the outcome- my life is not attached to the outcome. These days, if I feel a sense of angst rise up as I try to juggle all my projects, or look at my bank account, or worry about family and the future, or fall into saudade, or feel guilt for deciding not to pursue certain projects so that I can commit fully to certain partnerships, as I worry I am not prepared for a session, or as I plan the road ahead and feel overwhelmed looking at the to-do list, or as I think think and over-think, or as I work on my graphic novel worrying if I am on the right track, or if I feel helpless to help someone in need- my heart releases and my mind is reMINDed to not be attached to the outcome.
And it is a lesson I try to instill in my art students. It is a way to quiet the inner critic without stifling it. To not be attached to the outcome sets us free to create.
I don’t mean to sound dismissive, but START WRITING. There is NO SUCH THING as “too late” in the arts. Trust me. START. – Patton Oswalt
Is that Self Compassion? Is it maturity? It is PROCESS. TO STAY and LIVE IN THE MOMENT- to (try to) ride it, no matter how difficult that moment might be.
Let your indulgence set me free. – Shakespeare, The Tempest
There is no doubt that art has saved my life. And I am not attached to its outcome.
I am workshopping my graphic novel through a weekly online serial.
we have been witnessed a crime:
Looked at the original headlines:
I’ve introduced my involvement (more to come):
And travelled to Ireland to get our first glimpse at the main character:
Molly’s and The Babes in the Wood timeline are now starting to twist around each other.
So I need to celebrate
I am 95 pages in— 95 pages in 4 weeks! Or looking at it another way, 95 pages in 13.5 years. Yes, I must celebrate this. But instead, I am struck with creative insomnia! A buzzing, busy brain. Is it excitement to keep going? Is it fear? Is it a
Of course it is. Holy shit. I am putting it out there, doing it for me, for Molly, for my supporters, for storytelling. Holy shit. I am doing it. And accurate to the way the creative process works and the inner critic whispers, I am struck with nervousness. I have been struggling so long after so much life change to just live a day a time. And now here I am, planning 46 weeks of instalments. Planning my life. Professionally, creatively. Thinking ahead… thinking past tomorrow…
I’m past patiently waitin’. I’m passionately
Smashin’ every expectation
Every action’s an act of creation!
I’m laughin’ in the face of casualties and sorrow
For the first time, I’m thinkin’ past tomorrow
After years of 5 minute living, a way to get through the rollercoaster of life-
I am sitting here with a full calendar and giant lovely to-do’s and I admit, I am a little bit scared. But loving it. Deep into it. Experimenting. And trusting Molly.
THE FIRST 95 PAGES:
What Lies Ahead?
Next week (Feb 12) we dive into the 1998 DNA test results.
On Feb 19, Molly’s mother is front and centre.
© Katarina Thorsen 2017
Touch me life. Not softly. – Maya Angelou
And my GOD, life has touched us this year.
Here’s to us crawling to the finish line, scraped, bruised, hoping. Here’s to our successes and our fucking failures, to finally resting and to re-entering labour.
Here’s to the vigil keepers, the rent seekers, to the quiet and the loud speakers. Here’s to those giving up, to those still trying, to those still living and to those busy dying. To the lost and the found, to the travellers and the homebound. To the newborn and the demented, the clear thinking and disoriented. To the laughing and the scheming, to the weeping and the grieving.
And I celebrate us all, trembling.
Strip it down and focus.
Entering 2017 like…
All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.
― J.M. Barrie
“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”
― Sylvia Plath,
What am I trying to convey in my work? Is it of value? Does it matter?
I remind myself that it doesn’t, that it CANNOT MATTER how I “fit in” to current zeitgeist or if my work has “value.” I just do it.
PROCESS is my art form, obsessive ongoing process, either when teaching it, facilitating it, doing it.
So there in lies what MATTERS. The PROCESS.
Process art is an artistic movement as well as a creative sentiment where the end product of art and craft, the objet d’art, is not the principal focus. The ‘process’ in process art refers to the process of the formation of art: the gathering, sorting, collating, associating, patterning, and moreover the initiation of actions and proceedings.
Process art is concerned with the actual doing and how actions can be defined as an actual work of art; seeing the art as pure human expression. Process art often entails an inherent motivation, rationale, and intentionality. Therefore, art is viewed as a creative journey or process, rather than as a deliverable or end product. – Wiki
I have come to terms with the fact that my particular imagery is a stream of consciousness process. I suppose I am interpreting text in my illustration projects, but it seems more that I land on a particular word or phrase and play from there. So the resulting image becomes a type of riff or image play.
I have tried other ways to work, but only my personal stream of consciousness expression makes me feel authentic.
I am thoroughly enjoying Caroline Spurgeon’s book, Shakespeare’s Imagery- and what it tells us (1935) as she contemplates the evidence of Shakespeare’s thoughts in his imagery.
The bare fact that germinating seeds of falling leaves are actually another expression of the processes we see at work in human life and death, thrills me, as it must others, with a sense of being here in presences of a great mystery, which could we only understand it, would explain life and death itself.
For me, drawing and embroidering the drawings is to lie down into life and take time to look at the PROCESS as it slowly unfolds. It is about TRUTH.
I would actually argue that the current art period is PROCESS.
… the permanent analogy of things by images which participate in the life of truth… – Percy Bysshe Shelley
And which is what I think the thing that we call the Arts contains something that’s kind of alive. And I, I think image is the right word for it, and what the biological function of this thing we call the images or the arts might be. Because my argument is we wouldn’t of dragged it through all our evolutionary stages unless it had a biological function. So, that’s kind of what I’m going to be talking about. And then, work that I’ve been doing with students and scientists about this very thing. Weinman so I think, you know, when we’re little all of us are really connected to our inner artist and then the majority of us, as we get older, cut that off. – Lynda Barry
April 28, 2015
What happens when you open yourself up and share some painful truths? Say that you are with a (safe) person and the door opens to have the conversation.
What happens first?
The heart beats a little faster.
And your breath gets more rapid and shallow.
Perhaps the bile rises a bit in your throat and the stomach feels a bit acidic.
The gut speaks. Trust that gut.
Does the door remain open?
Perhaps the (safe) person gives some reassuring yet challenging feedback.
Will you keep the door open?
Allow the bodily sensations?
Trust that it was OK to expose yourself to sharing those deep truths?
Or will you restitch- unfinished? Unresolved?
Or allow the healing process some time- some much needed new infusion of wisdom?