“To define is to limit”

“To define is to limit”… said Oscar Wilde.

And yet, for years… I have been trying to to define what it is that I do.

I wanted a box that I could fit in.  I wanted a lable that I could wear on my forehead.  I wanted an easy answer that I could deliver when strangers asked me the inevitable “So… what do you do?” question.  I wanted an elevator speech.

An elevator speech (so I’m told),  is one’s personal marketing monologue which shouldn’t exceed the amount of time it takes to get from the ground floor to the 10th.  It’s your tiny window of opportunity to provide your fellow passenger with a cohesive, coherent, concise little speech that would make it crystal clear who you are – and what you do.

I am told that one’s website ought to deliver the same result.  I’m told that landing pages absolutely must make it crystal clear to the visiting clicker:

  1. Who I am…
  2. What I do…
  3. How I am able to enrich their lives or be-of-service…

And they must understand all of this within – like – 5 seconds or something.  Or they’ll wander off and click on someone else’s page instead.

I must be the stuff of nightmares for marketing consultants and brand experts.  I just can’t do this 3-points-to-crystal-clear-explanation-thing.

Mostly because – well… because I’m just NOT consistent.

I wake up a new person every day. 

On some days, I’m writing deep, philosophical poetry… researching dark, mythical practices… and drawing pictures of skulls.  On other days, I’m pinning kittens and fluffy things on Pinterest, composing musicals and illustrating colourful, happy inspirational posters.  Some days, I’m ranty… and I’m attacking door-size chunks of wood with paint, chisels and knives… pouring out all my hidden frustration into large art pieces (ominous and grim enough to raise eyebrows and make people worry about my state of mind)… and, on other days – I’m writing long letters to tribe’sters… and connecting with people from around the world who have read my book and who resonate with my story.

Sometimes (and especially recently)… I work on dramatic, contemporary art pieces (most of them large)… and sometimes, with all kinds of stuff added… like nails, wire, pewter, copper – even gems.

And sometimes I wake up so in love with nature, gardens, breezes and butterflies… that I spend the day photographing them, documenting them, drawing them, pondering on them…

Now – how the hell am I supposed to explain this in an elevator speech?

So… I’ve given up.

I don’t have an elevator speech.

I don’t have a clear, concise way of explaining who I am or what I do.  I can’t even tell you about my influences or inspirations (because every day, I’m inspired and influenced by different things)… and I can’t even tell you my preferred style, methodology and techniques (because every day, I experiment with different styles and techniques).

So, I’ve decided to take comfort in Oscar Wilde’s lovely quote and to stop limiting.

Still want to know who I am and what I do?

Well, brace yourself for a long-journey-across-the-Atlantic-in-a-plane-speech… rather than an Elevator Speech:

What I do…

  • I make art.  I draw, paint and illustrate… using all kinds of materials on all kinds of surfaces, large and small.  I make art and the art I make is never the same.  It’s different every day.
  • I write.  I write stories, poems, scripts, letters and blog posts.  Sometimes my writing is deep, intense… philosophical.  Sometimes it’s light-hearted and fun.  Sometimes, I write about myself and my own, personal journey.  Sometimes, I write about the world and the Bigger Picture.  Sometimes, I share my writing with others.  Sometimes, I keep it to myself.  I write in many styles about lots of things.  It’s different every day.
  • I make music.  I compose, I write songs and I sing songs.  I play the piano and the guitar… and I’ll eagerly experiment on any musical instrument I’m allowed to touch.  I play with tunes, sounds and rhythms.  Sometimes, I write songs that are deep, personal and intense.  Sometimes, I write songs that are quirky and irreverent – poking fun at systems and institutions.  I enjoy and am inspired by a very wide range of musicians and styles of music.  There is no single style, theme, structure or story that I gravitate towards.  It’s different every day.
  • I think.  I think a lot.  Probably too much.  My head is constantly churning with ideas, philosophical ponderings and questions.  I question a lot of everything.  I want to understand the ‘why’.  Why we are the way we are.  Why we believe what we believe.  Why we live the way we live.  Why we choose what we choose.  I’m deeply interested in the workings of my own mind and in the workings of fellow humans (maybe I’ve missed my calling as a social scientist or anthropologist).  I’m a people-watcher.  And I don’t just watch what’s portrayed on the surface.  I am more interested in what lies beneath the masks we wear.  I have a deep need to be *got* and understood… and, simultaneously – a deep need to *get* and understand others.
  • I collect and curate.  I document experiences.  I collect stories, thoughts, ideas and various snippets of information and inspiration from a wide range of sources.  I take photos, collect paper-paraphernalia and I’m constantly sketching out thoughts and ideas.  Much of these collected thoughts reside in my art journals but I also keep little boxes of ‘treasures’ and curiosities that interest and inspire me.
  • I tell stories.  The stories come in different formats.  Books, zines, blog posts, film scripts, poetry and songs.  I’ve shared some of my stories… others are still waiting to be told.  Sometimes, I’ll share stories with groups of people who invite me over and say:  “Share a story”.  And – like everything else – the stories are different every day.
  • I make creative contributions to my husband’s films Nick is a cinematographer but is best known for his editing skills.  So far, he has edited 9 feature films (and a bunch of doccies and other stuff).  These days, he’s moving into directing (we created a short film together called “Starry Night”).  I hope to work on a feature-length film (that we write together) in the not-too-distant future.

Who I am…

  • Wife to Nick and mom to Morgan & Joah.  These are my three-preferred-people or Threeples for short.  My family means the world to me.
  • Multi-dimensional creative creature.
  • Generator of ideas.
  • Shape-shifter.
  • Laid-back and easy-going (it takes a lot to get me to panic).
  • Lover of diversity.
  • Risk-taking and impulsive (although I think I prefer the word ‘spontaneous’).
  • Adventure loving explorer of the world (and most happy when my Threeples are exploring with me).
  • Messy… a bit scatterbrained… easily bored… pretty sucky at things like admin, money-management and selling.
  • Hate being told what to do.  Also hate telling other people what to do.
  • Somewhat irreverent.  Somewhat potty-mouthed.
  • Peace-loving loather-of-conflict (and will do anything to avoid it – even if it means shooting myself in the foot).
  • Rebellious (but never in a confrontational way).  Somewhat stubborn.
  • Don’t want to lead.  Don’t want to follow.
  • Full of paradoxes and contradictions.
  • Full of crazy dreams and big ideas.
  • INFP (if you’re in to Briggs-Meyers).
  • Scorpio (if you’re in to stars).
  • Cat person (but Nick has allergies and our semi-nomadic lifestyle isn’t conducive to keeping pets – so, no cats for me).
  • Deep appreciator of good chocolate and good coffee.
  • Questioner, ponderer, (over)thinker, philosopher, ruminator…
  • Sentimental.

My core values…

  • I love and celebrate human diversity.  I am fascinated and inspired by our differences… our different beliefs, different cultures, different ways of living and being.  I kick against conformity, control and burdensome, meaningless expectations.  And fear.  I kick against fear.  Especially fear of the new… fear of the different… fear of ‘the other’.
  • I’m a peace-maker.  I’m for conversations… I’m for reconciliation… I’m for openness and honesty… I’m for thoughtful inaction (rather than rash, angry retaliation)…
  • I believe – passionately – that every person has value and that every person has unique strengths, talents or ways that they can contribute towards the Greater Good (and be more personally fulfilled in the process).  I also believe that there is such beauty and strength in the diversity of who we are and what we have to offer.  Because of this, I have never wanted or expected people to be more like me… but I deeply yearn for them to be more like themselves.
  • I believe in questioning… everything.  Questioning the status quo.  Questioning the systems that raised us.  Questioning our beliefs and behaviours.  Questioning what we were taught and told by those in authority.  Questioning our choices.  Questioning God.  Questioning those who claim to speak on God’s behalf.  Questioning ourselves… going deep… lifting the carpet… facing our fears, doubts and insecurities.  It’s not “answers” that we seek… nor singular “truths”.  Rather – it’s a resonance… a response… a deeper understanding… an awakening to what truly matters (and what doesn’t).
  • I believe in honesty and open’ness.  In all of it’s unvarnished, tainted rawness.  I want to meet and connect with real people – not neatly-polished-masks.
  • I believe in freedom.  Freedom of thought.  Freedom of choice.  Freedom of expression.  Freedom of speech.  Freedom of movement (both literally and also with regards to the exploration of new ideas).  Freedom to be who we really are.  I kick back against any system of control that attempts to rob me (or anyone else) of those freedoms.
  • As for my views on God;  please revert to the Oscar Wilde quote at the top of this page.

I have a lot to say about:

  • Transformation, change and living life on our terms.
  • Learning to embrace our unique’ness and celebrate our strengths.  Learning to love and accept ourselves – exactly as we are right now.
  • Escaping “One-Day-When” land.
  • Freeing ourselves from the burdensome expectations placed upon our lives by other people (and oftentimes, ourselves).  Learning to discover who we really are and what we really want from our one, short, precious life.
  • Overcoming fears of what-other-people-might-think-about-us or what-other-people-might-say-about-us.  Refusing to allow these fears to prevent us from living authentic, deliberate lives.
  • The Default-Dualistic-Defense… (the incorrect assumption that my love of coffee is a direct affront on your love of tea).
  • Removing masks and exiting all of the dark closets that we hide ourselves in.  Having the courage to step in to the light, to shine, to be seen for who we truly are.
  • The things that shape us (society, community, family, church, school, media, etc) – and how we can learn to accept and embrace the good lessons… and disengage from the toxic.
  • This quote:  “It’s not who you are that holds you back.  It’s who you think you’re not”.
  • I have lot to say to women and girls about the whole “beauty” thing.
  • I have a lot to say about marriage, relationships, self-harm and low self-esteem.
  • I have a lot to say about religion and spirituality.  But I won’t speak of these things (unless somebody asks me personally)… mostly because it’s such a deeply personal journey.  For everyone.  And I have zero interest in attempting to proselytise or convince anyone of anything.  My spiritual journey is mine… and yours is yours.
  • I have a lot to say about art.  And how it’s for everyone.  And how it can help us heal.

And so…

So… there you go.

A messy-mish-mash… of SOME of the stuff that makes up “me”.

And if we ever get to meet-in-the-flesh… I’d love to hear what makes up “you”.  🙂

H@