Art is Magic

Dear Friends,

I wanted to tell you about the Wizard of Oz themed gala I attended last weekend, how it was a gorgeous and magical experience, but I got a bit tripped up editing and thinking, “Yes but what’s the point? What am I really trying to say here?” I started telling myself that I don’t know enough about art to have any business writing about it. Forget, of course, that I am an artist, as is my sister, that I grew up in a creative household and have been practicing some form of art at all times for essentially all of my life. I don’t have a degree in it … oh wait. Yes I do. But I don’t have the right degree? In the right kind of art? Whatever. The ways I can come up with to undermine and disqualify myself are too many and nonsensical.

What I want to tell you about the gala is not a whole run down of the event like a magazine review. My intent is not to make you envious but to memorialize a certain magical experience. Okay, and maybe to brag a little bit. I got to wear a red sequin dress. We danced. There was art and champagne and free food and the most gorgeous drag queens I’ve ever seen. We got to tour the studios of resident artists, see works in progress, smell the pure joy of art supplies wafting on the air. It reminded me of when I would visit my sister when she was in art school. The combination of wet clay, oil paints, and the inevitable dust of creativity at work — it’s one of my favorite smells, and I had all but forgotten it. Even though the studios were crowded with both artists and audience, all carrying food and drinks, many perfumed for the occasion, still the dry, earthy smell of art being made got into me. I won’t soon forget it again.

And, my friends, there was a funk band — Jonathan Gilmore & The Experience. They blew my damn mind. I only stopped dancing because I had to pee, and then we got caught up talking to some friends, then stopping for a drink, then considering a last minute bid on the art auction, then being swept up by the drag show … The evening was a truly beautiful experience. I felt as though I’d been temporarily transported into a world where all the people are kind and magical, where Dorothy is a good girl flaunting a bad streak, and even the Wicked Witch is a magnificent queen who just wants to be accepted as her authentic self.

I’m as reluctant to bring this letter back to real-world topics as I was to leave the fantasy world of the gala on Saturday night. Since I failed to purchase any art at the auction (I will come prepared to do so next time), what can I bring back from that night besides a couple selfies? After the weekend, I had a bit of social hangover as I’d spent far more (and more intense) time among strangers than usual. But I keep thinking of the band leader asking us to close our eyes on the dance floor. “Art is magic,” he said. “Just close your eyes and feel it. Let’s see if we can experience a little magic here tonight.”

He was right. Art is magic. Magic is creating your life and your reality. Art is doing it your way, adding sparkles, singing a song about it as you go, living as though life is more than just a series of difficult and terrifying events. We are all too familiar with the difficult and terrifying, and I for one, needed a night of glitter and magic and art. I needed to be surrounded by the smiling faces of diverse strangers. I needed to dance in a room full of people pretending to be in an Emerald City disco. I needed candy in my champagne, a sparkly dress, men in rainbow suits and fluffy Toto costumes. I needed the stunning older woman with her grey hair whipped up on her head like a tornado. I needed the breathtaking art work of the resident artists, to be so close to its creation, and to be in the midst of the living, breathing, walking, talking, singing art of all those people. It was magical to be able to be there.

Over the years, I’ve become the kind of person who likes a lot of privacy and quiet nights at home. But for one night, what I needed was to open myself up to experience the magical flow of people and music and inspiration all in one place. I feel at once washed out from the flood of sensory experience and saturated with the residual creative energy. I need a moment to integrate it. I keep closing my eyes and feeling it again. Art is magic. Go make some.

xoxo~

Mary

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Good News and Bad News on Project Derby

skating-with-kiddo2

Happy Saturday! It’s time for another derby update!

We’ve become regulars at the roller rink. The manager knows us, we recognize most of the employees, and last night, I think I got hit on by a 14-year-old. Jenn and I brought her cousin and daughter skating, and while I was out doing a couple laps on my own, a group of three boys skated up behind me. I heard one of them say, “Do it, man,” to his friend, who then skated up and surprised me be by grabbing my right hand. I gotta say, for an eighth grader, homesauce was pretty suave. I wasn’t sure whether to scold him for being inappropriately forward with an adult or encourage him to try again with someone his own age. It was very weird, but then it was over, and I rejoined my friends in the middle of the rink where we helped kiddo practice her balance and I learned to skate backwards for the first time. Gotta admit — I was pretty proud of myself for skating backwards, and it’s easier than I expected.

As for the rest of the week … let’s get the bad news out of the way first: The $10 consignment store skates totally are not gonna cut it for derby. I took them to Department of Skate (a derby-girl-owned skate shop in DC), where an extremely cool chick named Raptor (Velocityraptor — awesome name!) literally begged me not to try and skate in them. I asked her to tell me why, not because I didn’t believe her but because I needed to be educated. She explained in detail the difference between these adorable but totally impractical vintage skates and a derby skate. Key point: the $10 skates had wheels made of plastic, like a Rubbermaid trash bin or a Tupperware dish. Raptor skated around the shop in them and a little bit of plastic actually broke off. There was absolutely no way those skates would survive a derby practice, let alone a bout.

The good news is that I ordered skates, and they should be here Monday! Raptor was super friendly and helpful, even though her teammates were arriving for a meeting in the store as she was helping us. I was actually starstruck as I recognized some of the women from the previous night’s bout. Even though it got crowded, warm, and noisy very quickly, I loved the atmosphere of all those awesome chicks in one room.

So, while waiting on my skates, I’ve continued to practice. Skating with Kiddo last night was particularly fun because even though she had a hard time, she really tried. I admire the adventurous nature of little kids. This girl believes she can do anything, but she got frustrated watching glide around effortlessly while she had to hold someone’s hand or lean on something to stand up — I relate! It was fun to encourage her and see her learning even in the short time we were at the rink. We spent most of the night going slowly to help her learn, but that gave me lots of chances to practice going forward and backward without picking my feet up.

All in all, I’m feeling kinda confident right now. Taking on a new challenge has been really rewarding so far, and it’s fun to make little bits of progress at a time. I feel certain that if I keep skating regularly, I’ll keep getting stronger and better at it. Part of me is chomping at the bit to try out for a team right now, but I have a ton to learn, so I better value the practice time!

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A Farewell Kiss to 2012

Hello, dear! Happy New Year!

MWAH! (I was going to put an actual kissy face photo here, but I don’t feel like putting on makeup right now.)

I love New Year’s Eve. I love new beginnings. I love looking back over the year I’ve just been through and realizing how far I’ve come.

2012 was a big year for me and my husband. We both made huge career changes, for one thing. This is me right before I quit my job.
My last business trip.

Then I published my first two books and started working on the next one (or two).
My books!

We went to our friends’ wedding in Canada and shared a hotel room in Niagara with ALL the bros.
Team @ Hotel

I finally met Ellie Di (and took a really awkward, super fast self-pic of us in a parking lot).
Ellie and Me

Went to San Francisco and the UK both for the first time.
London.

Had an epic Halloween party with old and new friends.
Amy and Doc

And so so so much more. It was an amazing year, and I’m truly grateful for it.

Tonight, before midnight, I’ll take some of my sadness from 2012 (there’s always a little of it, you know), some regrets, some disappointments and tossing them into the fire. I’ll be letting go of those things I didn’t get exactly right. Instead of letting them hold me back in 2013, I’ll burn themfor fuel to build me up.

Tomorrow morning brings a whole new day and a whole new year. Adventure lies ahead, my friends. Are you ready?

See you on the other side!

xoxo,

MissDirt

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Welcome to the New Creativity Blog

Much of my life, people have said things to me like “wow, you’re so creative!” I always thought that seemed a little funny. Sure, I’m a writer and have always thought of myself as a writer, but I’m no more innately creative than anyone else. I just do what’s fun. I like things to be colorful, and I think life should be an adventure.

Recently, a friend of mine was telling me how all her friends are really creative except for her. She has friends who are painters, musicians, writers and all kinds of interesting folks. She is an up-and-coming attorney with big dreams and brains to spare, but she doesn’t think she’s creative. That, my friends, is nonsense.

Before quitting my day job to be a full time writer and yoga teacher, I spent my days in a cubical doing work that was not particularly fulfilling to me, but it paid the bills. During that time, I managed to keep my creativity alive in a variety of ways, but I noticed that many of my colleagues didn’t. Like my friend, they had decided that they just weren’t creative. That always just seemed really sad to me.

I’m starting this blog now for people like my friend who wish they could be more creative, and for people like myself a couple years ago, who know they need creativity in their lives in order to truly thrive.

Over the coming year, I’ll be sharing my own creative goals with you, posting weekly creativity-boosting assignments, and sharing musings from people who inspire me in every aspect of life.

For more on why I’ve started this blog, check out my mission statement, and don’t forget to come back soon to get started cultivating creativity and vitality with me.

Namaste!

Mary

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