Hi Lovelies!

I last wrote in early April. There’s been so much I’ve wanted to say between then and now. It feels like so much has happened!

I’ve been through several complete cycles of dreamy visions (that is to say, creative projects), philosophical fixations, wins, losses…so many things!

Many of my little (BIG) obsessions have been garden-related. I’ll have to tell you more about this later, but it’s just bringing me so much joy to design and play with colors and shapes, form and function, all sorts of textures, and so much more.

I’ve just finished planning new curriculum for one of my college classes, and I’m PSYCHED about that, too.

Wedding season is in full swing, but [knock on wood] I’m feeling fairly on top of it at this exact moment. By the way, at this exact moment I’m at a Super 8 in Montpelier, ID. I have an event in Jackson Hole tomorrow, and decided to do part of my drive a day in advance. Fun facts!

My family trauma causes me fresh grief every got damn day, it seems. But I just started a new book (recommended by a friend), and it’s THE BEST. It’s giving me words for so many things I haven’t yet been able to articulate, or understand.

I’ve taken a bit of a break from EMDR. I just needed to catch my breath a bit! But I’m starting to feel a little more balanced again, and am about ready to jump back in. Onward we go toward a healthy nervous systemmmm! 💃

And of course, this lovely little podcast. It is such a treasure to me.

The final episode of Season 9 dropped this past Tuesday, and I only have one more episode to record for Season 10 (just between you and me…what that means is that I’ve conducted nearly TWO HUNDRED interviews).

I’m a month behind, as is sometimes the case, but I CANNOT go any longer without sharing some thoughts from these April episodes. What gifts!

My April guests all spoke about what creativity means for them, and/or what creativity does for them. I’ve certainly seen some oft-repeated answers to this line of questioning, but if I’ve learned anything in these ~200 conversations, it’s that there are bound to ALWAYS be new angles here, new things to consider. I love each-and-every fresh perspective. Increasingly, I’m learning that art and creativity serve each of us in ways bespoke to the individual. It’s a beautiful thing to understand.

In illustrator Casey Drake’s experience, art is often a way to communicate something you (the artist) understand, and want others to understand. She says, “it feels like you have a really good story that you wanna tell somebody…you need other people to see it, and understand it. And that feeling when you make something and someone gets it, and it touches them – that human connection is what the end goal is.”

I agree, wholeheartedly. Naturally, when we work SO HARD to take those little stories and wisdoms out of ourselves and into medium, we can find ourselves full of doubt if others fail to receive them. It makes all the sense in the world. But, as Casey and I discuss, the answer is to remember that of course our work won’t be for everyone—especially when the things we need to say are complicated. When our stories are complicated, they will reach people who are complicated in the same way.

And speaking of “complicated in the same way,” omgeeeee did I find a surprise kindred spirit in Jen Cuhna. We had so many strange things in common!

Let me also say, if you missed this episode, go listen NOW! Or, at least, check out Jen’s work. She blows my mind. What does she do? … she teaches parrots to READ. You heard me, to READ!! Here’s a little feature in the New York Times, but be sure to get to know Ellie the Cockatoo (and many other feathered, furry, and fishy friends) on The Parrot Kindergarten Instagram. I can all but guarantee you’ll fall in love.

What I really mean to say is, this conversation deLIGHTed me. I’m so grateful to Jen for agreeing to speak with me, and for being so generous during our chat.

Jen had some gorgeous things to say about creativity. She spoke about a period of her life during which creativity was difficult to access in the wake of many years of trauma.

She reflects, “[creativity can be] your lifeline to happiness, and also can be a space for working through trauma…My god, thank goodness for the way that creativity holds us together and helps us process, helps us connect, helps us to do so many things that we need for nourishment, and we need for healing…it’s ongoing maintenance for the soul, at least for me. And doing that for ourselves, the self-care that comes through creativity, and the gentleness we give ourselves – I think that puts us in a space where a gentleness for others, some empathy for others [becomes possible].”

Amen, amen, amen! I’m so all about it.

My final April guest is sculptor Jordan Sprigg, all the way from rural Western Australia 🦘🤯. Jordan gets something altogether different from his creative practice. He says, “it’s very hard to force creativity with structure. I just find you gotta go where it takes you. In my sculptures, it’s almost like it’s free-flowing. It’s almost like you can escape the mind—which is why I like it, it’s like therapy.”

In this way, Jordan is an improviser!

I have to go on a little tangent here…As a person who has an advanced degree in jazz studies and who is NOT a natural improviser, I have opinions about this. I think it can be so difficult to explain improvisation to someone for whom it is not intuitive. It’s a difficult process to pin down, and I often find myself struggling to convey a deeper level of understanding to my students.

So, imagine my surprise when a beautifully succinct description of improvisation comes not from a jazz bro, but from a lovely Australian friend who sculpts larger-than-life animals with recycled farm scrap (again, this podcast really is such a treasure for me).

Jordan begins, “when people say –  ‘I don’t know how you can picture that in your head!’ – well, I can’t picture it either. That’s not what I’m doing. It’s like Lego. Every piece is a process. I don’t even know what is going to happen.”

He further explains that he begins with a toy model of the creature he aims to sculpt. He uses the model for proportions, the internal skeleton…

“It gives the sculpture its stability. And usually that gets covered over with dirt or concrete, so you don’t see that, but it gives it all its strength. And I guess people see the external shell—which is the improvised part. I don’t know specifically what the pieces will be, but that’s where there’s more freedom and creativity involved.”

This feels like a PERFECT analogy for musical form, the chord changes and larger formal structures living below the improvised melody. This gives the improvised solo, in Jordan’s words, “its stability,” and “all its strength.” That structure, form, and strength allows the improviser to experience freedom and creativity as they play above it.

It’s just…so beautifully put. You better believe this quote will make appearances in my university classes, come fall.

And I suppose this really wasn’t a tangent, at all. Improvisation does something wonderful for the minds and hearts of those who gravitate toward it. Other creatives find deep satisfaction in understanding a meticulous and well-defined process down to the minutia. For some artists, self-expression is the balm we’re after; others are after a more physical, energetic release.

Increasingly, I believe all artists (aspirationally, all people) are employing creativity in myriad ways to satisfy, honor, regulate, and otherwise care for the unique bodies and lives we inhabit—the curiously individual beings we are.

Increasingly, I see creative people behaving creatively in all facets of their lives, solving all manner of problems, summoning all sorts of wonder.

I find so many lessons here.

Now, this ^ has been a Deep Dive for April, but I am a month behind schedule…and I’m deciding in this very moment to go ahead and check my notes for May’s guests! 😲

Ok. This is really real-time now…

Unsurprisingly, Tommy (see his jewelry work here) also has thoughts on what creativity does for the artist. And it’s something brand new, here!

He says “I think it’s kind of empowering – this idea that you have this special gift to turn nothing into something.”

Oof! This hit me in the moment (when I interviewed Tommy in November 2023), it hit me again when I re-listened on May 6 (when I took these notes I’m now reading), and it’s hitting me right now in this Super 8 in Mont-fucking-pelier, Idaho.

Yes. This empowering little nugget got me through my childhood. 100%.

The truth is, it powers me, still.

Darling Scotty (singlehandedly keeping “Big Toothpick” in business 🤣). I so loved our conversation. He says, “when I’m making a piece, it’s so exciting. I’m completely enthralled, and I lose sleep…it just consumes me! And then when it’s done, I’m actually sad, because it’s over. That whole saga from beginning to end – that adventure is my favorite part.”

Scott is really speaking my language with this one. And again, here’s another gift creativity offers – adventure! I live for this. I call it “getting dreamy.” I’ve spoken about this in plenty of other writing, and in many past episodes, but it’s an ever-present drive for me!

I literally texted my phenomenal bestie Olivia (shoutout Ep. 15) at 3:12pm TODAY…“I’ve really been neglecting my creative expression. I think it’s why I couldn’t sleep last night. It was maybe a little anxiety, but moreso mania from a build-up of ideas demanding my attention.”

…P.S. I got like 90-minutes of sleep last night because I haven’t spent enough quality time being creative in the last week or two.

It’s honestly everything.

Which brings me to one final note. In my conversation with Dave, he expressed something that will ring true to artists of all ages, in all mediums, everywhere – the regret of being pulled to art, creativity, wonder, magic, but spending every resource into the practical, “safety net” sorts of choices, instead.

If my work writ large is taking me anywhere succinct, it’s here. We have been sold SUCH a lie that creativity is frivolous, that it is NOT “practical,” that is it extra, superfluous, or dispensable in any way. Creativity is one of our most valuable tools. Art is the most human thing there is.

The end!

Wish me luck lugging a shiiiiiiit ton of heavy gear to the top of a mountain via gondola tomorrow. #RendezvousLodge #IYKYK



P.S. Another thing that happened since I last wrote…we lost my baby Bear. This breathtaking creature who lived in my house, and let me be his person for the last 7 years of his life. Whose fur always smelled inexplicably like clean laundry. My little pumpkin loaf. He was so loved, and is so missed.

The Most Human Thing There Is