Sunday, December 28, 2014

On to the next one!

Dear friends, family and colleagues,

2014, I’m glad to see you go. Twelve months of overwhelming transition and hard-learned lessons. A year filled with all sorts of highs and lows, admittedly the most difficult of my adult life. My goal for the year seemed simple enough, it was to slow down, motivated more by necessity than choice. I had been fighting knowing I needed this for a long while. Fighting so hard my body actually began to fight back until finally, inevitably my body won. This is when I was forced to admit to myself that mind over matter was not working and I had no choice but to take a step back. Many steps back, in fact. I simply could not keep up with expectations I had placed upon myself. Unfortunately I could no longer ignore the chronic pain moving through my body, a result of recently diagnosed medical conditions either. Now it’s clear I was slowly and steadily sinking deep into a hole of denial. 2014 was the year I finally acknowledged I wasn’t actually moving one direction or another; I was knocked on my ass. 

As a result I’ve made massive adjustments to my daily routine. The most challenging element was the release of my habitual fast paced workaholic lifestyle. This has been hands down the most counter intuitive thing I’ve ever done. Retraining my muscle memory for self-care, for survival by challenging myself daily to sit still, relax, and breathe. The clarity that rises within this stillness is terrifying. This process was slow moving and before I could even begin to learn this wild thing called self-care I had to hit restart. 

In order to begin this healing journey it took those first slow steps of being able to surrender to the pain and exhaustion from going non-stop for too long. Admitting to myself and [now] to others it was affecting my mental, physical and spiritual health. It feels real good. Real REAL good. I have a new perspective on what feeling “normal” can mean, what a day without pain can feel like, and how liberating it can be. 

I did a lot of my restarts quietly this year to avoid questions I couldn’t answer. I didn’t officially announce I moved away from Milwaukee, a place I called home for the last 13 years. I have temporarily relocated to Birmingham Alabama- for how long I don’t know. I am currently living with other artists and exploring the South, letting myself get inspired again. There are no plans to start production on a new film any time soon but I am slowly working on a book research project. As I move forward I plan to continue doing creative educational programing and other freelance work. I’m also humoring wild new ideas like moving to a rural southern location and enrolling in college for the first time ever.  No pressure. It’s all subject to change! 

Part of my life practice is striving to make connections between those creating beauty in our world and those who appreciate that chaos manifested in art, through outlets like painting, music, writing, building, performing, growing food, etc.  I will continue to invite this meeting of the maker and observer swirling together into my life. This is where I find myself. This is the community I want to nurture as I move forward into unknown territory with my creative practice, my career, and my personal life.

My friend Amanda sent me a text this week that perfectly articulates the message I want to convey as I let go of 2014. She sent this to me in the context of discussing taking downtime for oneself, “We are generating strength for something powerful, which might just be the act of being, as we are now.” I shed a skin this year and it feels amazing, it’s a reminder to be gentle to myself as I get up off my ass and move forward. 

If you are interested in my current adventures and unfolding projects I suggest following my Instagram feed @faythelevine

Photo: "We Are Thankful" captured the evening of 1/1/2014 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Jessie + Joel // The Message Is Clear

"We arrive here each of us to become forever a part of this commitment between Jessie & Joel. We arrive here each of us to act not only as witness but as magician. We arrive here with active responsibility. We arrive here to impact our gifts of friendship. To lend a portion of our memory to the event of this weekend - a portion of our memory to the conscious bond made between these two persons on this day."

Michelle Embree read these opening words on July 26th for Jessie & Joel and the hair on my arms stood on end. My eyes welled up with tears and I looked around feeling nothing but gratitude for my family, my community at this place in time. My gift has always been to attempt to capture that love we have for one another at these rare times we all gather in one place to celebrate and rejoice be it for the ceremony of love, music, art, performance or just to sit and watch our gardens grow.

For those of you who were there that these images recap the amazing vibes of this weekend. For those of you who couldn't make it that you can glean the magic that was generated and for you who don't know these folks that they conjure inspiration for nurturing love of those you hold close to your heart. I suggest listening to this song while checking these out.

If you want to dive deep into the weekend there are over 500 photos to jump into.

July 26th 2014

Michelle Embree

      We arrive here each of us to become forever A part of this commitment between Jessie & Joel. We arrive here each of us to act not only as witness but as magician.
      We arrive here with active responsibility to impart our gifts of friendship.
To lend a portion of our memory to the event of this weekend - a portion of our memory to the conscious bond Made between these two persons on this day.
      We arrive here to make ceremony in service to the body of love. To seal a bond of union with our presence with our faith that this union will act as an expression of love. 

      Love is the highest knowledge and when two people commit to love one another they commit to living in service to love through the actions they make toward one another.
      Love is the highest knowledge. It comes before any of us, it comes before any of this.           
      Love is the highest knowledge and some are called to serve this knowledge through union with another. Some are called to create a union that serves as a living expression of love. 

      Love is the highest knowledge and it is the purpose of those who serve through union to see the other in their highest worth- to see the other as their greatest self. To see the other as healed. As whole, as complete.
      Love is the highest knowledge and it has summonsed all of us today. Each and every one of us has been called here to work as magicians to act as witness to the highest worth of each of us.
      Today we are called to act in service to the body of love. To see one another in their highest worth is to see in love, in wisdom, in truth.
      Look around you- see one another as healed- see one another as whole. 
See each in their highest worth.
      See each as healed, as whole. This is your work as magicians.
      This is your gift to give.
      See each of you and you and you as whole.
      This is your gift.
      It is your power and today we all—each of us—are called to use it. To use our power. Our gifts in service to the body of love. 

      Today we make ceremony for the union of Joel and Jessie. We offer ourselves in friendship. We see you both in your highest worth. We see you as healed. We see you as whole. This is how we know you.
      Today we stand with you both as witness and as magician. We commit a portion of our memory to this day evermore and act to seal this bond in time.
      Today we see as the highest knowledge must always see. Today we see as the body of love. We see the most beautiful of all things.
      We see life.
This glorious pulse.
      This ineffable ache.
      This valiant struggle to become closer and closer in love.
      Today we stand in our highest worth. Today we know ourselves as healed. Today we acknowledge that we are whole. 
Today we witness union in service to the body of love and by the power vested deep in our beating hearts through the blood of life we bestow our bonding magick’s upon this alchemy of soul. Today we see with love and know that it is more than enough. 

      Love is the highest knowledge and today is lived in its honor. Today we see ourselves and each other in our highest worth. We see ourselves and one another as healed, as whole.

      Today we thank Joel & Jessie for their commitment to serve the body of love in union. And we thank you all each and everyone of you for being exactly who you are.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Paradise is a Garden // Joe Hollis

"Paradise is, first of all, a garden. A garden in which everything we need is there for the taking." 
-Joe Hollis

It is a little surreal to be sitting in France looking at these photos I shot last month in North Carolina. Although my current goal is to be slowing down my summer has been non-stop with incredible experiences. And the timing was spot on with my annual North Carolina visit to see my friends who live in the Smokey Mountains. They are in their first year of an apprenticeship program for their herb school and arranged a day trip to visit Joe Hollis at Mountain Gardens. Joe is a friend of theirs with similar outlooks on living who has had his land project since 1972. It was beyond inspiring to hear the history of this land and hear Joe talk fluidly about the species of plants as he gave us a tour.  Equally important for me was to be reminded what we can create.

Everyone should read Joe's essay Pardise Gardening.

Thank you Joe for your time you shared during this visit and what you have created here. And to Janet + Dave for making this day happen.