I discovered I was a poet by accident. I was six years old and I hadn’t heard my teacher’s instructions to write about a birthday cake. Instead, I wrote:
In the Fall
When the leaves are turning from Green to Red,
You will see the wild honkers fly past our house
in a ‘V’ shape
To a warmer place.
I didn’t know about line breaks, but my mom did. When I showed her my (incorrect) assignment, she exclaimed, “But it’s a poem!” and wrote it in calligraphy on the back of an envelope (we’re true Midwesterners and never throw away scratch paper). It was taped to the wall of the ‘toy room’ until I was well into my twenties.
I think we all have this ability. When I teach theatre and storytelling, I always tell people that really what they’re aiming for is being uninhibited: acting like a four-year-old.
‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once [we] grow up.’ -Picasso
My mom is a visual artist. My two younger sisters and I grew up with our own tub of paints (and a drop cloth). Our house was wallpapered with nudes from her figure drawing sessions (this was a bit shocking and at times ostracizing in our rural community. You can hear what happened when Abbey, then four, revealed our decorating habits to the Lutheran church).
I was in as much theatre as possible as a kid, and attended ‘Arts High’ (Perpich Center for Arts Education) for high school. Sure I wanted to focus on ‘serious theatre,’ I spent my first year of college at Northern Illinois University… and discovered I did not enjoy the competition, practicing acting ‘castable,’ or doing type-cast monologues (I was a Meg Ryan). But we were required to take a storytelling course– and once again I was in love. More than that, I was free: I was every character, I was visible and invisible at the same time. My voice created the set and the lighting. I needed no costume.
I was invited by my roommate’s mom, Tina of Wonder Weavers, to come back to Minnesota and work for her. She loaned me her car and her puppets, taught me how to make balloon animals and do face painting, even sewed me a clown costume. And I began a twelve-year career as a storyteller, character artist– even stilt walker.
Since then, I’ve gotten married (we met while I was in character as Pippi Longstocking), moved to the woods (55 miles from cell phone range), had a child, moved to India (with said child! Uffda!), and eventually returned to Grand Marais, Minnesota where my husband is now the mayor and we run ART HOUSE B+B.
Becoming a mother shifted me back into writing (easier to plan and execute around naps than live gigs are). Now my life is a mix of kid time, making scones for our B+B guests, listening to writing podcasts while I clean rooms, acting in the summer musical… and writing books.
I care deeply about being awake, being connected, being a reflection of the beauty of life. Being a channel for Story is my job. Devotion is my job. If that’s what you’re craving and striving for and you’d like my support as a Creative Midwife (akin to a coach/mentor), or if you’d just like to share your story, be in touch. I look forward to connecting with you.