Saturday, November 17, 2012

Rainy Days Are Conducive To The Creative Spirit

I have been enjoying the rain in the SF Bay Area. It is conducive for me, my creative work, and my current inward feeling of soul. Today I feel contemplative, like resting, writing, reading, or watching a movie. I would like to go on a hike off of highway 13 on a trail at Joaquin Miller State Park in the Oakland hills. It's one of my favorite hiking trails in the East Bay. I hike on a loop trail that takes me about 45 minutes to an hour to hike. There is a spot amidst the Redwood trees and rocks where I like to sit and simply be at the beginning of the hike. It is off of the trail and it's a comforting spot. One of my special natural areas that I go to regularly. A space/place like that is comforting and grounding for me. I enjoy being in areas that are familiar for me and also exploring and discovering new trails and natural areas. I like the consistency, safety, and comforting feeling--like a familiar kind of tea to enjoy when that is what I need. Yet, variety is the spice of life. I definitely enjoy new adventures and spontaneity. The dichotomy between comfort, what is known and consistent with newness, variety, the unknown, and adventures is what I intend to balance.

Balance in all aspects of my life is in continual motion. There is no possible way for me to grasp a tangible hold of it. It is moving, flowing, and this movement is life. My creative work, my thesis is moving along at an organic and sustainable pace. I am learning a lot about my creative process as an artist/filmmaker. It is a helpful reminder for me to trust in my creative process. How I work, live, and am in the world, is guided by my intuition and my inner knowing. Recently, clarity arose around my time-line for my thesis. It has its own time-line and I'm attending to the project and guiding it along. Currently, I'm working on the performance of the poem. I am utilizing the tools and skills that I learned in the Directing class that I took with Scott Boswell two years ago in the MFA program. Judith Weston's book has been helpful and useful to remind myself of active verbs when going over each line of the poem for Change Over Time. I'm working on figuring out how to perform this poem. Change Over Time is a process piece. The film is based on time--a year of my life. I intended to plough through my project so that I could finish it as soon as possible. Yet, my film is like a creative pregnancy and I feel pregnant with my creative work. This view and perspective of my creative work is in alignment with the organic and natural pace of the Earth, the seasons, and thus natural timing. From what I've experienced many creative time-lines and dead-lines are based on productivity and capitalistic modes of production. There is such an emphasis on product rather than process. Every creative person has their own style of working and structure. Through the thesis process, I've been discovering and clarifying mine.

I am interested in the creative process. There is so much to learn through this journey, during each phase and stage of the filmmaking process. Films for me, regardless of the length have their own time-line. Once a script is well developed and funding is in place, a narrative film can be sped through at a fast pace. A documentary, a personal film, animation, or experimental work may take longer. In reference to my thesis, I feel it does take longer. This is one reason that I feel it is helpful and useful for me to have short-term creative projects that I do regularly and a long-term project, such as Change Over Time that I continue to work on consistently. Short term projects for one being this blog, writing in my journal, drawing, cooking projects, gardening, etc. Any project that is creative, where I flex my creative muscles, and have a consistent practice is important. I feel that any short-term creative project or pursuit is beneficial and nurturing to long-term creative projects. For example, cooking a delicious and nourishing meal is creative, full of discovery, and is satisfying to me on many levels. For one, I have a connection and intimacy with my food and I'm nourishing my physical body. I enjoy the creative process of chopping up vegetables, experiencing the different colors, smells, tastes--all of those sense perceptions are wonderful and soothing to me.

I've been living with the question(s) before I began the MFA Cinema graduate program at S.F. State and continue to live with my questions. I'm at the cusp end of graduate school and on the bridge as an emerging professional. The questions of what areas of filmmaking to focus upon? Yes to, creative development, writing, directing, and producing. Yet, what technical skills to focus upon so that I can promote filmmaking skills that are marketable? A week ago, clarity arose for me during my appointment with my friend/facilitator Riza Baker. I have some clarity of areas to focus upon in regards to services that I can provide to filmmakers/creative professionals. What brought me to film/media overall, is that I am a storyteller and I love stories. That is the nucleus and core of my passion for filmmaking. My tools and skills of having a discerning eye and awareness of the overall vision, the big gestalt of a project are gifts that I have and can contribute to the overall story. Thus, I intend to focus and hone my tools and skills to gain experience as a story consultant. Also, I aim to be a creative coach for film/media makers and other creative professionals.

What excites me about the idea of being a story consultant and creative coach, is that I can contribute and express my creative and spiritual selves in both of those capacities.
Spiritual and personal growth skills such as compassionate communication, co-counseling, mirroring, meditation, intuitive guidance, etc. I feel excited and happy that I have this clarity. I do enjoy the collaborative process of filmmaking. I intend to also work and do other areas of film/media work such as editing, being an assistant director on projects, etc. for work. I also like the idea of working at a resonant film/media production company in the SF Bay Area. Working on documentaries and resonant narrative projects. These are my ideas that I'm mulling over and continuing to question/ponder on my journey.

These are my thoughts as I continue to carve my unique creative path, living in the SF Bay Area. I'm doing my best to be present, to take one step at a time, to trust in myself and the path that I am on. The only certainty I have is in the present moment. The only real known is what I have experienced, in the past. I'm continually stepping out into the unknown, exploring, being, experiencing as a creative being. Discovering and truly living. Feeling alive and proactive in my life. Balancing stepping forth into the unknown, with the comfort of the loop trail at Joaquin Miller State Park. Especially, the Redwood grove off of the trail. That familiar comfort, safety, and groundedness of that area is nourishing to me. That area is one of my sanctuaries in the Bay Area of familiarity and what is known. Like a familiar cup of tea, sometimes it is what I need during these times of accelerated and rapid change.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Life is for the living

I recently went on a short walk to look at the waning moon and to see Jupiter just above the moon. Jupiter is clearly visible tonight. My mom sent me an email today with an image of the moon and Jupiter. It's a bright planet in the night sky. I don't remember the last time that I gazed at Jupiter or if I've ever intentionally went on a walk to look at it. I am feeling the inward pull during the beginning of the darkest half of the year. This is a time of regeneration, renewal, and to recharge. A time to turn inward, the summertime of the soul, which is a line for this week in the Calendar of the Soul by Rudolph Steiner. Here is the whole verse for October 27th-November 2nd

Thinking's fruits spring ripened in the sun
That shines within the soul;
Into the certainty of self-awareness
All feeling now is changed.
And I can sense with joy the wakening
Of Autumn's spirit;
Winter will arouse in me
The summer of the soul.

-Rudolph Steiner

The verse was translated from German. Some of the translations in some of the verses sound awkward at times to me. Nonetheless, I like to recite the verses out loud with intentionality and presence.

I really like the last line, Winter will arouse in me, the summer of the soul. The Autumn/Winter time-the darkest half of the year is a time of soul richness for me. I intend to carve out time to be, contemplate, and to honor this natural inwardness. Yet, it is a balance for me living in the hustle, bustle of the SF Bay Area. There is always a lot to do! Yet, simply being intentional several evenings a week to carve out this time is possible. I intend to do my best to balance my work, rest, and play--to experience the soul richness of the season.

I've been thinking a lot about my ancestors. No surprise since the veil between the worlds is very thin right now. During Samhain and El Dia De Los Muertos, the Day Of The Dead it is a wonderful and auspicious time to re-connect in thought, feeling, memory, reading out loud to the dead, meditating, ritual--solo or in community (the Spiral Dance), through art, making altars, etc. This is the time of year to honor and to remember our beloved dead and ancestors.

I am a quarter German, a quarter Chicano (that is always a surprise to people), and half Eastern European Ashkenazi/Sephardic Jewish. My mother's side of the family is from Russian/Romania. Her parents were first generation Jewish-Americans and both were born in NYC. My grandma Shirley and Grandpa Bernie. From NYC, they moved to Miami Beach, Florida. My mother was born in Miami Beach. Aunt Heidi and Uncle Joel were born in Miami, Florida.

My Dad Mark is half German and half Chicano. His father, Ruben, my grandpa is Chicano. Nani, my Dad's mom is German-American. My great-grandpa Duarte, my Dad's grandpa fled Mexico during the Mexican Revolution and traveled to California. He settled in Fresno, CA. Thus, I'm the 4th generation from Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley.

I've been thinking and feeling a lot about my Grandparents, Bernie and Shirley. They both passed away when I was a child. My Grandpa Bernie passed away from Melanoma when I was 6 or 7 years old. My Grandpa Shirley passed away when I was 10. I remember my Mother grieving immensely during those years.

I remember going to the Sierras with my Mom, Dad, Uncle Joel, and I'm not sure if Aunt Heidi was there or not. We went to the Sierra mountains, East of Fresno to the foothills. We went on a hike and scattered Grandpa Bernie's and Grandma Shirley's ashes around a tree. I remember seeing a pensive photo of my Dad and I that my mom or another person took. It was a great picture and in a frame. My Dad with his hand on my shoulder. I had red hair down to my shoulders and a pink Lands End jacket on.

I remember when my Grandma Shirley died, Isa--my sister and I were allowed to accompany my parents this time to Miami Beach, Florida. When Grandpa Bernie died, Isa and stayed behind in Fresno. My grandparents were political activists and often were philanthropists to causes that they believed in. I remember being in my Grandma's house in Miami Beach. The doorbell rang and I answered the door. A sanguine and upbeat woman stood there smiling and asked if Shirley Hutner was there. I said, no, she was dead. The woman's face turned into a look of horror. She became emotional. My mother stepped in to explain that Shirley had recently passed away. I remember the house in Miami Beach. There was a mini-tropical storm that blew off a part of the roof. Uncle Joel went to get fresh carrot juice someplace close by and I accompanied him. Fragments of memories like scrap pieces of paper. I want to remember. I want to remember it all exactly as it happened from my perception, my awareness, from my life. It was at Shirley's remembrance ceremony, I spoke in front of everyone and said what I would miss most about my Grandma. I know that this is definitely on a VHS tape. I recently went to Clovis to visit my parents and I helped my Dad sort through boxes in the garage. We found a box of VHS tapes. I will definitely transfer this tape to DVD. I know that it will be illuminating for me to see.

During the Spiral Dance this past weekend, I thought about my Grandparents. During Samhain yesterday in my meditation, I communed with my grandparents. What I enjoy most about being human is being embodied. I enjoy cooking and eating delicious, nourishing, and yummy food. Food is love! I enjoy thoughtful, heart-felt conversation, all of my sense perceptions, colors, textures, landscapes, the Earth and all of the elements. I enjoy being alive and I am grateful for my life. Recently, I've been so aware and feeling so poignantly that it almost hurts how ephemeral life truly is. The loss and letting go of my childhood/adolescent maroon, Pearl Export Series drum-set! It was a dream come true! I played on it for years. I loved and still love that drum-set. Yet, in my life right now I do not have the space nor commitment to devote to this beautiful kit. Thus, I am letting it go. Releasing it, passing it on so that another drummer can enjoy it and appreciate it as much as I did. All of these little deaths or big deaths. All of the completions, endings, conclusions. It all just adds up in the chapters of my life.

The releasing, the letting go, the endings. The loss of friendships, romantic relationships--those that concluded on their own. Some were successful and lived their time-line and life-span. Others felt unfair or short lived in duration. We each have the day and the night. Letting go of dreams fulfilled, dreams lived. A cabin at Huntington Lake, a drum-set, the lives of my ancestors, my Grandparents, my childhood, teenage years, early twenties, and entire twenties, the completion of chapters of my life. Letting go of Rachel and integrating her, letting go of Pre-T Ewan and integrating him, becoming who I am now. Wearing different clothes and shedding them like snake skins throughout the years. Always learning and growing older in temporal time. Simply being. All that I truly have is the present moment. Is this moment. As I go through books and make piles of what to keep and what to give away, it is difficult for me. This attachment, these attachments. Yet, all of us will ultimately need to let go of our bodies, of our lives. To surrender when it is our time to go. Thus, giving back to the Earth so much of what she has provided for us as living beings.

Life-Death-Re-birth. The circle, the cycle, the seasons, the day shifting into night, it continues. What a process. Life. I feel so blessed, so grateful for electricity, for heat, for clean water, for food, for a stable housing situation, to be on my path, for work, for the area that I live in. So many people on the East Coast do not have these necessities right now. My prayers and intentions and thoughts go out to them. Friends, family, humanity. May all beings have their basic needs met, receive the holistic support that they need, survive and thrive.

I do miss my grandparents. If I had a time-machine or if they could be embodied in their physical form I would love to have a delicious meal with them, a wonderful conversation, to take a walk in a beautiful natural area, or to go to an art/music/cultural event with them. I'm grateful for my bones. My bones remind me of my ancestors, my family tree, my connection to the Earth. To know one's roots is to know parts of oneself. I intend to begin to do research on the life of my Grandma Shirley. I feel called to make a movie about her. I feel that it will be an enriching process of discovery for me to interview her friends who are still alive and family members about her life and who she was.

Thank you for reading,