back from the deep

From the archives…for anyone courageous enough to plumb the depths AND rise….

Sirena Tales

wave after vast wave

crashing down, staggering us

here comes another

\

cannot recover

squelched breath of too many dreams

spectered ocean teems

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deep dark descending

unending fall, now halted

by exalted calls

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distant, haunting tune

insistent, enchanting thrall

sirens’ sweet lagoon

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remember? joy buoys

in the deep rediscover

her magical spell

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we rise with this swell

breach, gasping for life’s inhale

exhausted, wracked, and pale yet

here to tell the tale

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Musings from the Marshlands: When One Way Doesn’t Work….

…another will.

The enormous great blue heron feeding close by on the marsh has been reminding me of that important heron wisdom.  One of the things heron teaches is that when one way doesn’t work, another will.

The heron draws on its determination, resourcefulness, perseverance…and willingness to pounce on opportunities immediately, opportunities others would pass up.  Or maybe not even recognize.

All of this valuable medicine has been on full display as the heron waits seemingly endlessly, often on one leg, to seize its meal.  Adjusting the location, the angle, the timing.  Negotiating the sharp stubbles of marsh grass, uneven terrain, earthy water, watery earth.

I was about to write that such constant bobbing and weaving, and tenacity, are essential to artists.  It’s certainly been my experience as a dancer and choreographer.  Opportunities dry up; inspiration eludes; projects falter or fizzle; rehearsal space evaporates; dancers are injured or move away, funding is scarce….

The list goes on.

But, as you know, being resourceful, flexible and dogged are keys to continuing to craft and live a meaningful life for all of us.  No surprise there, as we are all the artists of our own existences.

Admittedly, I sometimes find it difficult to read the tea leaves. Is the universe signaling to give up on the whole shebang or adapt the initial plan?  Such was the case when opportunities shriveled awhile back.

I kept going, but sought new and different collaborations.  The moment some possibilities presented themselves, I dived in.  As the heron teaches.  Possibilities that are now inspiring, and bearing fruit.

Long story short, I agree with Thomas Edison: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work…Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time….”

And, “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven’t.”

Avanti!

Photo credit: Bottom: Nikki Carrara

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Endings…and Beginnings

As I sit here tonight, once again waiting for the writing muse to smile upon me…no answer. Or perhaps only seemingly so, as I see that this post from the archives that receives so many visits has had another one just now. Perhaps it was the muse? Endings and beginnings, ending and beginnings. The circle, the cycle, the spiral. Kali. May she in her wisdom lead you on many adventures and with much inspiration….<3

Sirena Tales

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No surprise, really.  When I drew a goddess card this morning, I selected Kali.  As always when I see her beautiful, powerful, wise visage, my heart sank and leapt all at once.  Heart heavy from loss and excited at possibility.

As Kali advises, “The old must be released so that the new can enter.” (Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards, Doreen Virtue).

Yes.

I know this.  And yet I don’t know this.  Or want to accept it.

I did know this last night, before drawing the card, as I cleared out file upon file of documents from projects of the past several years that I’m ending, or that have fizzled.  I knew Kali’s wisdom of cleansing “…away the old with natural storms and fires to make the ground fertile for new crops and life.  Kali is the ultimate get-things-done goddess, and she’s a powerful ally….”

Still, even though I exulted, felt lighter…

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More Vulnerability: Life Lessons from Dancing

Being in performance mode again last week highlighted for me that ever present, and often loathed, human condition: vulnerability.  We human types are constantly “exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” Yet, we often forget this–or trick ourselves into believing we aren’t so vulnerable.

That’s where the glorious gifts of live performance come in.

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When you’re performing in front of another person or a crowd of them, there’s no getting around the fact that you’re making yourself and your fallibility visible.  Sure, the threats of harm may not be dire.  But they can be potent and painful.

Failure, rejection, derision, ridicule, shame.  They’re all possible outcomes when we expose ourselves and what is meaningful to us through our art.  And with dancing, of course, there is the possibility of physical injury–never a fun thing.

Last week’s performances of new work threw in a couple of extra wild cards: dancing with people I had performed with only a little or never before;  co-choreographing the work for the first time…and with another choreographer I am just getting to know.

When I look back on what I wrote previously about the life lessons of vulnerability that performing dance has taught me,  I recognize  “…the familiar, tumultuous stew of fear (or terror), nausea, trembling, uncertainty, dread, coaxing, and, ultimately, commitment.” I also appreciate the tremendous treasures yielded when we open ourselves to possibility.

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Perhaps it was due to all of the additional uncertainties and unfamiliar terrain.  Or maybe it’s that I’ve been in this vulnerability practice for awhile.

Whatever the reasons, these performances demonstrated even more clearly for me that when we take the leap our passions urge us to do, we’re so often rewarded with connection with others, inspiration, depth of meaning, exploration on the frontiers of the self, discovery.  I was this time.

Scary?  Absolutely.  Essential to a vibrant life?  Absolutely.

To vulnerability!

Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity….”~Dr. Brené Brown

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Photos: Chloe, Linalynn Schmelzer, Marisa Valdiserra–Spectrum Art Gallery

 

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The Treasures of Collaboration

nik_6134Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”~Helen Keller

The images in this post are the product of my collaboration with the multitalented photographer Nikki Carrara.  Sure, I had some movement prepared that I wanted photographed.

But that served only as a springboard that launched us on a tag team adventure. The ideas of one of us–whether verbal, visual or kinetic–ignited inspiration in the other, resulting in many evocative images, most of which never would have been produced had Nikki and I not cooperated in the creative process.

I hadn’t recalled all of that experiment when I sat down to write this.  Yet, it helps me realize why I am so passionate about collaborating: in most areas of life, and particularly with other artists.

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My unforgettable experience with Nikki merely reinforced my conviction that we are nearly always–always?–more powerful when working together with others.  The old adage got it:  Two heads (and hearts and souls) are better than one. Which brings me to today.

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about my decision to take a leap of faith and dive into co-choreographing a performance in a few weeks with a choreographer I have never set work with before and whom I don’t know well.  Oh, and with 3 other dancers I hadn’t met before or had barely worked with. The prospect seemed risky…and exciting.

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Today, at our first rehearsal, I think we were all a little anxious.  And, why not?  New faces, new movement, new process…making it up as we go.

And, as I’d sensed it would be, it was so inspiring! By the time I left the studio several hours later, I had such an abundance of ideas, my head felt as if it would explode…in a good way :).  Most of them would not have been born had I been creating solo; most of them were in response to the other choreographer’s movement and ideas, or to one of the dancers.

So, we are on our way!  Excited to see what unfolds and to cultivating our connection. Opening up to others’ visions and expanding our own.

Yup: better together.

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Compassion: Something We All Understand…and Need..and Deserve

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Here’s the poster I made to carry in a local event to support the Women’s March today in Washington, D.C.  For compassion is a gift we all need from others and from ourselves at some point, hey, at many points in our lives.

The sympathy, care, concern, warmth, kindness, tolerance, sensitivity, love that compassion entails–they are essential to us and the well-being of our palnet.  As the Dalai Lama wisely advised: “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

Indeed.

While there were many other posters advocating for more specific goals, the signs all really reflected at their core a call for compassion.  In one form or another.

So, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the crowning moment for me at today’s inspiring demonstration.  It flowed from my sign and its message.

As people were slowly dispersing at the end of the event, a couple of women shyly gestured to me.  I thought they were pointing to my phone.  But the lovely lady who spoke English more confidently asked if they could have their photo taken with me.  Of course!

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As they stood next to me, putting their arms around my shoulders, I inquired why they had wanted a picture with me. She responded by pointing to my sign, and saying: “Why, because of compassion!”  They wanted to capture the moment and share the picture with faraway friends and family.

I discovered that although they are originally from a distant land, we are neighbors.  They live in my town and have family members who know one of my children.  While we parted soon after we chatted, we will always be connected by the luminous filament of compassion. May its potent radiance continue to flow and flourish!

The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.”~Mahatma Gandhi

 

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The Courage to Experiment: Life Lessons from Dancing

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Life is trying things to see if they work.”~Ray Bradbury

Heh.  Well, after my previous post, trumpeting the importance about cultivating courage to venture again and again out of our comfort zones, fast forward to today.  When I need to put my money where my mouth is.

The invitation to skip outside the zone of the familiar came in the chance to choreograph for a dance performance opportunity that just popped up.  It’s happening very soon and, delightfully, will involve several dancers I haven’t created with before.

So, when the other dancer/choreographer with whom I am coordinating the event asked whether I’d rather have each of us set a piece or collaborate in choreographing one piece, I immediately reached for the familiar, readily achievable option: each set a piece.

[loud buzzer noise here] Wrong!

As the words started forming for the predictable answer, an enticing voice whispered to me to go for the co-choreography adventure.  Mostly because it seems like that–more of an adventure.  Inviting both of us to get to know each other, and ourselves, better through a close collaboration.

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Is it potentially riskier?  Absolutely.  There’s no cozy comfort zone here, no road map. Especially as we haven’t even performed in a choreographed piece together before and don’t know each other, and each other’s process or dancing, well at all.

Yet, as I sensed when I said “let’s choreograph together!” the ideas and excitement have already been flowing with each of us feeding the other’s inspiration.  Yes!

Rehearsals start this weekend and although I feel jittery with the usual daunted sensations, I also feel the electricity of experimenting with a new process and some new dancers.  Pursuing my passion for increasing human connections.

No matter what happens, I am on the path.  The path of expanding the possibilities.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”~Anais Nin

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Photo credit: Top-Nikki Carrara

 

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