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This is me, Kelly Hevel
Tag Archives: Incubating
Don’t let the grass grow under your feet! Or maybe, do.
This is the most important time of year for me—summer break. When I go to a quiet village and sit by the seaside and immerse myself in the sea and try to find that crazy balancing point where you turn off your brain enough that it resets, jump starts, fires up, and takes off.
This year the angels of synchronicity have been especially kind. My vacation coincides with Kristin Bair O’Keeffe’s 38Write workshop which is delivered in such a way that I can participate from the little village of Assos, Turkey. The theme this month is “peregrination” which fits so well with my propensity to wander aimlessly when left to my own devices in a village. Or anywhere for that matter.
After a few days of aimlessness and feeling like I wasn’t even relaxing properly, I can feel the ideas breaking free. My mind is not so much peregrinating as flying over the hillsides and mountain tops in a million directions. My only job now is to try to capture as much of the raw material as I can and store it up for later use. And keep washing myself in the sea.
What are you doing to break free and reset? Do you have an annual ritual? If so, please share in the comments!
I have been mulling over the direction of my business (and life) a lot lately, going through one of those periods of introspection that are so unsettling yet, ultimately, always result in firming up and focusing my path and purpose.
One of the things I’ve been mulling is my life in Istanbul, why it works for me, what doesn’t work for me, having my own little “why am I here? moment. I can never quite put into words why I feel it is necessary to be here, and not somewhere else, but maybe this video sheds some light on that.
Istanbul is for me, the ultimate walking city. There is so much climbing and jostling and so much to look at: the huge spectrum of people, the span of history, layer upon layer, and all piled up together. There are monuments and sea views and skyscrapers and ferries and cats and dogs and tourists and natives one on top of another. There is chaos and there are surprising pockets of peace, right in the middle of it all.
This little three minute video speaks to me. In it, artist Maira Kalman says, “stop thinking, which usually I associate with some kind of problem. Stop thinking and just do whatever it is you think you need to do”. One of the ways she does this is by taking a walk.
Good advice, I think, because I do find that walking and the seeing that goes along with it relieve stress, help me find clarity, and often provide me with the raw materials and ideas I need for art, for writing, and even for making big life decisions. Being out there in that stew of a city provides perspective.
When in doubt, take a walk.
Right now, I am spending most of my time and energy on planning for my upcoming creative immersion workshop Playing Around Istanbul. But I’m also walking the city and plotting new programs and offerings. More on all that soon. Until then, enjoy this video and consider checking out my Istanbul workshop, there are still a few spots left!
Be like a mother sea turtle: lay an egg.
Actually, lay many eggs.
Matthew Diffee, cartoonist for the New Yorker, gave a talk entitled “How to be an Idea Factory”. His method? Sit down at a table for an hour (or however long it takes to drink a pot of coffee) and free-associate with a pencil and a piece of paper. This exercise leaves him with a lot of, ahem, bad eggs. But it also usually leaves him with a couple good ideas.
Diffee’s advice for aspiring creative people, according to an article in Forbes, is this: “Be like a mother sea turtle.”
So what does a mother sea turtle do? She lays a lot of eggs on the beach then swims away, leaving them to fend for themselves. Some of them never hatch. Many of them hatch, only to be gobbled up immediately by predators. But that’s not the mother sea turtle’s concern. Her only job is to keep laying eggs.
Lately have seen the wisdom in this. I have been madly laying eggs for a couple months now. Lots of ideas and opportunities have presented themselves and then faded away. In some cases I have followed the idea through only to let it go then have it resurface a few months later and turn into something fantastic.
For example, in October I was invited to do a workshop for high school students, and immediately sent a proposal. I followed up, but a few months passed with no progress so I let it go. Suddenly, the school got back to me, and very quickly the workshop was planned, coordinated, and off I went to deliver it. Now, unlike the mother sea turtle I do check in on my “eggs” periodically if the opportunity presents itself. But I don’t fixate on one or smother it with attention. I have other eggs to lay!
Many of the egg/opportunities I have laid have led to another, which led to another. In fact, I believe reaching critical mass in the multitude of eggs laid and ideas sown allows ideas to multiply and lead us to new ideas, new connections, new opportunities.
Turkey is a good place to foster and grow the ability to not become too attached to any one idea. All you can do is throw it out there and see if there is a place for it. I am offered a myriad of opportunities. Many of the most enthusiastic ideas/partnerships/collaborators just fade away, and this seems to be normal here. When it comes to new projects, most go nowhere, some become something fantastic, and I have yet to learn to identify which is which in the beginning. So I pursue interesting projects, follow-up once or twice, and then have learned to let it go. Perhaps the project is not meant to be, perhaps the potential collaborator is off laying her own eggs and will get back to me eventually, perhaps we’ll hatch the idea later.
In any case, I still have a job to do. Every day I have to lay an egg.
I don’t have much to say today– I’ve been working hard on business development. It makes me feel accomplished but sometimes leaves me speechless. So instead of words, I’ll share a drawing from my latest series.
And here are some artists I like to visit online:
Sharing her lyrical view of the world: Susannah Conway
Always into something new: The Creative Caravan
Quirky and thought-provoking: Stitch and Tickle