Recovering the Words

February 22, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Posted in Barton's Blogs, Ramblings, Work | Leave a comment
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Since Megan and I completed our manuscript and sent it to our editor nearly a month and a half ago, I have found myself wanting to pause from writing in nearly all its forms and revel in the accomplishment of having a complete manuscript in hand. What has been interesting for me over this last month is not that the desire to write has been absent, but rather I have wanted to find a subject more profound than what I can come up with at any given moment.

It’s almost as if the faculty of my imagination needs a pause for somewhat of a recovery. Almost as though, like a physical muscle just completing a triathlon at some levels, it still begs for the adrenaline and the excitement of the exercise itself, yet on the other hand is totally exhausted and needs to recover in order to grow stronger and express itself once more, yet more fully than before.

These words I write now are the first glimpse of the recovery for that aspect of my creativity, pausing to reflect on a subject worth my time, I am immediately captured by these words and am carried off down the river of what may or may not become a revelation of true artistic talent.

Despite this unknowing, I am somehow entrusted to my own capacity for meaningful writing more completely than before, and it thrills me to know that the longer I rest and trust in the freely developing inspirations, the words begin to flow once again as the time arises. In the meanwhile, Megan and I are still diligently working on other aspects of our book publication.

While perhaps not as creative as the initial drafting, I have found that as we move into these areas, they carry with them the same excitement and hope of fulfillment as the original work did for me. It’s a thrill to know that by the autumn, we will indeed have a book in hand and be able to embark on an adventure of promoting it and speaking in such a way that will serve all those who have the opportunity to listen, share and engage with us.

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Importance of Celebrations

February 22, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Our Love Story, Ramblings | Leave a comment
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Love & support brings us together.

Last week, we were on the go! Love and celebrations kept us moving forward.

Last week was full of celebrations, as February 14th was Valentine’s Day, Barton and I had met on February 15th nine years ago, and Barton’s birthday followed closely afterward.

Yet, not only was it full of celebrations, but it one of our fullest weeks in quite a while. I taught four classes during the week, Barton had a conference with several adjoining events, and a barrage of emails, conversations and other to-do’s filtered throughout the week.

After Barton’s conference, we headed over with colleagues to one local restaurant, Irregardless for a celebration dinner. Owners Arthur and Anya are neighbors, and we see them often walking the path of our neighborhood. Sometimes I’ll be out with the dogs, or Barton will be zooming off to one of his meetings. This night turned out to be especially joyous. We were greeted by Arthur and Anya, students from a local school were playing incredible jazz, we shared desserts, and had a night of great conversation full of laughter. As we were leaving, the hostess asked if Barton wrote for the paper because someone had left a note for him telling him how much his articles meant- later he put it up on his desk. What an evening!

Friday, finally we had a little time on our own, and we found ourselves just being present, sharing pieces of our week, of what we learned and ideas that we had. We chatted about the generosity of others for our Kickstarter project for Ink in the Wheels: Stories to Make Love Roll and talked about how far we could go with our project. It was a delight just to feel the quiet flow of conversation and connection.

Whatever else may be going on, whatever hurdles or craziness of life has creeped up, taking the time out to celebrate, I am learning, is so necessary.

I’m one who uses lists- I have my daily to-do list, project list, creative list- it goes on. And sometimes I have a tendency to see what’s still left on my list at the end of the day, what hasn’t been accomplished. Over time, this can be awfully daunting to only see what’s left undone.

As long as we live, we will have goals and visions, things we would love to do, places where we raise the bar for ourselves, or someone else raise the bar offering a choice on whether we will jump in or stay where we are.

Taking a breath to celebrate what we have accomplished is a vital part of the journey, not to wallow in its glory, but to pause for just a moment, become aware of where we are before moving onto the next step.

There are times when these celebrations are for momentous occasions, to be shared with others, and there may be times in our lives when we need to celebrate the simplest acts, where making it through the day is a grand step, and these private celebrations are not seen by anyone.

What are you celebrating today?

The Fun in Going For It, Our Dreams That Is

January 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Our Love Story, Ramblings, Work | 1 Comment
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Yesterday, we spent the afternoon with our beat-up flip camera filming a clip for our Kickstarter Project. Kickstarter is a way to connect funders with projects, and videos bring the story to life. It’s your chance to pitch your story, and communicate what you need. Don’t worry- you’ll hear more about our project in February, when it goes live.

We had a few hours in the afternoon, and we were determined to get out a version we could use. Mind you, we had spent the weekend writing a script, pieces Barton could say, and others I could, overlapping our voices and message together. So, we began by pulling out the script, and Barton had the bright idea of posting it somewhere for us to look at.

Yet, when we began arranging things in our studio, there was no way to post our script without being obvious. So we threw out that idea. Instead, we figured we would just tape as many versions we could and pick out the one we liked the best. Yes, we each had pieces we would say, but we would also jumped if we needed to. And then I got worried about screwing up our quote at the beginning, so Barton started us off right.

The result was a fun afternoon of improv and fits of laughter. Yes, I’m not sure which one of us got the giggles first, but every take after that was cut short; Barton even had me laughing so hard he brought tears to my eyes. When we were done, we were both exhausted, but we had great fun, and hopefully, accomplished what we needed for the project.

So much for being “serious” in front of a camera- but you know, we are who we are!

View our video here!

Writing Through the New Year

January 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Our Love Story, Ramblings, The Nitty-Gritty, Work | Leave a comment
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Over the holidays, a contract is diminishing for me and we finished a draft of our book, all within two weeks of each other. The glass half empty, the glass half full. At the moment, I’ve been sitting in the middle of the unknown- we don’t know what will happen as I am reworking one of my primary contracts, which we know will be cut in half or more, and at the same time sensing the elation of a project in the midst of manifestation after so long of talking and dreaming- it’s been quite a holiday.

Along the way, Barton has been amazing- offering the support to go with the flow, with the genuine and true belief that no matter what happens, we will be okay. And truly, there are many exciting and new possibilities at the cusp of fruition this year. Since our focus for the book has become clear with Barton’s excitement almost surpassing my own, the contagiousness of our energy has bounced off each other to create a momentum that I have not experienced before.

For me, it’s been vital to focus on our manuscript in this time of unknowing, and trust me, there has been much to do. Barton found that he could write much more material by using the Voice Memo App on his I-Phone and could record about a 7-minute piece to then email to me for transcription. I would sit down at my computer, open my in-box to find a string of 5-10 voice memos to transcribe. Since October, Barton has written, and I have transcribed, over 100 voice memos. Wow!

One by one, I would transcribe, typing about the same pace as Barton’s speaking rate, which worked perfectly. I created my own system, putting brackets around words that I could not make out, and leaving spaces between each section since the order I received them in was not necessarily the order that Barton intended.

I would also have pieces of material I was working on, and found myself as I normally do, writing at four or five in the morning to candlelight, and then later in the morning or evening transcribing Barton’s work, finally to put them together as overlapping voices for our story.

We were so determined to make our own deadline to send our draft to our editor that we worked through the winter holidays. In fact, New Years Eve, we were so exhausted we were asleep before any New Year’s celebrations began.

Yet, what a blessing to start the year of with a project that we believe in, have a clear vision for and hope that others will find what they need in their own lives. And so, for all of your inquiring minds- the first draft is done, yet there is much to do for publication this fall. We’ll keep you posted for pre-orders!!

Meeting the Day in Play

October 24, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Posted in Around the House, Barton's Blogs, Ramblings, The Nitty-Gritty | 1 Comment
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Barton training in AL.

All clear for take off: Barton training in AL.

A couple of night ago in martial arts class, we were working on a technique that had a particularly light feel. The person who I was working with was a rather large guy who tends to rely on his muscle to make techniques work rather than relaxation and body mechanics.

At first, I was a little worried about how to make something so light work against a person who appeared to be so sturdy. The first time I did the technique, I felt myself picking up on his tension as I moved in to take him off balance. My teacher came over and watched for a minute. Grabbing a chair and plopping himself into it, he said, “No Barton, try it this way.”

With just as much grace and softness, he dropped the same 200-pound guy with a turn of his head and a bend at the waist. I got a feel for how to maintain that feeling of easy playfulness despite what the attacker was bringing to the interaction and tried again. As I began to incorporate the feel, I noticed that the less effort I put into making it work, the better the outcome.

Toward the end of class, the technique came more easily to me, and what I began to notice was that as I moved and allowed myself to have patience with my own movement, the rigidity and tension in my training partner began to dissolve. There were even a few times where, after he collapsed onto the floor, we looked at one another and wondered, how the heck did that even happen. All we knew was that one minute he had tried to punch me and the next he couldn’t stand and was on the ground.

The next morning, Megan and I were chatting about how busy the past few months have been, and how there was still a feeling that in spite of all we had done, there was still even more to do. And we wondered how on earth we would ever get through it all. Don’t get me wrong, all of this work is dear to both of our hearts and we are completely excited by every facet of it. Yet, the sheer quantity of “to do’s” is at times overwhelming.

All of a sudden, the lesson from the night before flashed in my head. I laughed as I looked Megan deeply into the eyes. “What’s so funny?” She questioned.

I told her what had happened at class and said, “I think it’s the same thing. Somehow we need to drop all of these to do’s and just play with what ever it is that we are working on. The to-do’s will always be there, don’t worry about them getting lost. For now, let’s pick one thing and work on it lightly.”

And so we did. As I suspected, it worked itself out just as the technique in class had the night before. No effort required, just a soft touch and a light heart.

Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast

October 24, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Posted in Around the House, Megan's Blogs, Ramblings, The Nitty-Gritty | Leave a comment
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One of my mentors talked to me about how as creative peoples, we have a tendency to go until we drop, especially when we get inspired. It happens to me when I get on a writing kick- I’ll wake up at 2am, writing before a full day of work, and find myself crashing the next day at six or seven in the evening or I get so wound up I can’t go to sleep. I feel that if I don’t get it down on paper at that moment, it’s gone.

And I mentioned about how- no matter how early I get up, ten minutes before I leave the house, I tear through every room finding keys, papers, notebooks, lesson plans, phone, books. There may be times when I am working on two lists- what I need for the day and what Barton needs for the day.

I was reminded to slow down, on a couple of fronts. To prepare for the next day, not just in logistics, but also in projects. I noticed a huge shift when I found myself ten minutes late, and I was not freaking out at all. I moved from one place to another, and I found myself actually on time for the event.

I’ve also felt like I’ve planned projects out better, giving myself enough time to complete them, and while nothing seems to go as I fully expect, I’m able to adapt to necessary changes in flow or needs.

Yet, I’ve completely resisted the notion of slowing down that I know will smooth the day out even more. During this time of planning multiple events, creating new brochures and working on the best ways to reach new youth and families, I’ve been itching to get to the to-do list. It all seems to go too slowly for my racing mind.

On the days when Barton & I have worked together, we’ve been focused and while we may have only gotten one item off of the long list, we know that we’ve done it well, and that has been a great feeling.

Calming the Seas with Laughter

July 29, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Posted in Barton's Blogs, Ramblings | 1 Comment
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A lick and a giggle.

A lick and a giggle.

In the midst of the chaos of balancing our current projects with our combined efforts to revamp the vision and focus of our company as well as an unexpected flurry of external distractions over the past several weeks, I’ve noticed my own emotional energies waning in their natural balance and giving way to greater fluctuations in my state of being. In particular, I had felt my natural abundance of laughter being more easily overshadowed by external beliefs and perceptions.

As this has come more fully into awareness, I have made a pointed effort to uncover the laughter and return it to the forefront of my experience. As I’ve done this, I’ve become aware of several significant aspects that have reaffirmed how vital this laughter is for my own state of mind. At the most basic level, I’ve noticed that it’s dispelled minor annoyances allowing a means for my body to process these energies without having them weigh me down.

As a result of this simple form of processing, I’ve also noticed that the laughter forms a basis for stability in the midst of emotionally charged situations, be they self imposed or created by my external environment. This recognition, in turn, has lead to the most profound and vital aspects of how I implement laughter in relationship to those around me.

With this given stability, I have found that I can bring forth this laughter in situations, be they with Megan or anyone else, where the laughter itself opens the space for another person to process their emotional experience openly and safely, without self-judgment and clinging to the experience. Moreover, it also allows me to be present with them without taking responsibility for their emotions.

Need a little laughter in your day? Watch this clip of outtakes from Hattarras Island. Try to be serious!

Returning to Gratitude

July 29, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Ramblings | Leave a comment
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Moments of Gratitude.

Moments of Gratitude.

For many years, especially in the period after my mother passed away I kept a gratitude list in my journal. Somehow in the years after moving to Raleigh, the practice got lost in the long list of things to do that always ran off of the day’s hours. After a particularly strange week of just odd things happening around us, I found myself steeped in a whirlwind of frantic energy.

Last week, I had travelled to the beach to write for the day and to return to a place of centeredness. While I was journaling, I wrote down a quick list of things that I was thankful for. Since then, Barton and I have started the day or ended the day in dialogue about what we have gratitude for.

The list has included everything from being together, a success of the day, walk in the morning to more general items like being alive (as an incident occurred a few blocks from our house), water, or surviving the budget for one more month.

What I noticed was that being in dialogue with our gratitude was very different from writing it in my journal when I was alone. I found that speaking our gratitude lists to one another allowed us to come into a deeper connection.

In partnerships or relationships, it’s easy to identify the things that aren’t done, the empty fulfillments, the statements of- you need, you should, or you haven’t. After years of being together, it’s still important to acknowledge the things a partner has done and fulfilled. I’ve noticed that when we’ve exchanged these bits of gratitude, there is a deeper appreciation for each other and our journey together.

What do you have gratitude for? Share it with someone this week!

The Importance of Togetherness

June 14, 2011 at 1:35 am | Posted in Megan's Blogs, Our Love Story, Speaking Engagements, Work | Leave a comment
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Tuscaloosa, AL

There is nothing that can prepare you for seeing house after house affected by the tornadoes in April.

This past week, I’ve posted updates about our travels to Tuscaloosa in my creative blog, Writing 4 Wellness. Yet, in taking a moment to step back, I am utterly taken back at how profound the time in Tuscaloosa was- because Barton came.

Originally, I was going to pack paintings and photography up in our little white Honda, cart it down, set it up, have the reception and drive home, and because of our budget, I was going to do it alone. But when Barton and I began discussing how we could support Tuscaloosa beyond the reception for the art show, it was clear that both of us needed to go.

I wasn’t prepared for how our trip would be a time of reflection and of honored time between us. Even as we drove into Tuscaloosa, we got off the highway at the normal exit I took to go to my mother’s old house, and as we made our way into town, Barton asked me, “Are you ready for this?” In that moment, I am so thankful I was not driving alone.

As I held a photograph up to the wall, Barton would give me directions- a little to the left, a little to the right. He was also keeper of the hammer, and in times where our energy waned, he provided comic relief as the hammer flippantly dropped out of his hand onto the floor and I became the character out of an “I Love Lucy Show” trying to hold the picture while reaching in vane for the hammer, just out of reach.

As the patterns of my photography and my mother’s artwork emerged on the walls, I found myself excited that Barton was present, able to witness the artist peeking out behind my written words. And to see how my mother’s creative spirit was very much alive and at work in my own life.

Even in the work outside of the art exhibit, as Barton and I led three creative expression classes and walked around my neighborhood with care packages to hand out, we bantered back and forth, playing off of each other, building off of the other.

Friday, the day we left was the most dramatic and intimate space held between us. It was the time where Barton and I were driving through the neighborhoods of Alberta (one of the hardest hit areas) alone- it was the time where we grieved the destruction and recovery work that lay before us in this town where we had been married and I had lived. And at first, I did not see the pile of children’s toys, until Barton took my hand, and we sat in the car a moment, crying together.

There are times when we must walk our own path set before us, and there are times when walking with another gives us strength, determination, and encouragement. I am honored enough that this time, this experience, we could share it together.

Observing the Dance of Mother and Daughter

June 13, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Posted in Barton's Blogs, Our Love Story, Speaking Engagements, Work | Leave a comment
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Megan's Art Show, Bama Theatre.

Megan's Art Show, Bama Theatre.

Traveling to Tuscaloosa to support Megan in both the opening for her art show as well as the unexpected opportunities to work with the Tuscaloosa community in the wake of the April 27th tornado, I found myself extremely grateful to be able to share such a profound experience with my wife.

As many of you may know, Megan was originally going to travel to Tuscaloosa and set up her art show without me, but in the weeks after the tornado, we felt it necessary that I join her simply because we both wanted to offer a sense of hope and possibility for whomever we may meet while we were down there. Naturally, the synergy between Megan and I continually seems to be a source of inspiration to others. Our intent in both of us going together was to offer the spark amidst all the trauma and loss. What I experienced, however, was much more intimate and profound than I had ever expected.

Sitting in the gallery amidst it’s empty walls and the partially unraveled boxes of Megan’s artwork, I watched this love of mine transform herself from one who was once hesitant to acknowledge herself as an artist to a robust and inspired creative who with each piece hung took increasingly profound ownership of her photography, and with it, her whole essence as an artist.

Two days we spent hanging her photography side by side with a legacy of drawings, acrylics, and abstract glasswork by her mom. While I never had the pleasure of meeting her mother, I felt as though through observing this transformation of Megan’s recognition of her own artistic talents, along with the physical space of the gallery, I came to know and appreciate a deeper aspect of their relationship that I had never known before. I could see in spirit the pride of both a mother and daughter supporting one another’s talents and came to understand the beauty that her mother, Anna von deBardeleben, came to bestow on my amazing and talented wife. And for that I am ever thankful.

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