Saturday, June 30, 2012

Designing a Life

I was just given an amazing experience, Whidbey Island Center for the Arts put on a production WOW -  Women on Whidbey. They asked 14 interesting women to share their stories and passions. I am honored to be one of them.

Here is my presentation:

I would like to share with you an exploration of my current state, which is wonderfully all over the place. I don’t have it all together, but I better by the time I’m 18. : )

Since I was a kid I have been intrigued with fabricating a life I want to live. I have been working towards this on many levels. Mentally and emotionally, but also physically. For the past few years I have been obsessed with the dream of building not just a house but a home. I have immersed myself in this project and am creating my tiny home exactly how I imagine it. There is a story and connection behind everything in or on it. That is what life should be like.

We have become so disconnected from the immediate world that surrounds us – be it our homes, made with maintenance free materials manufactured in unknown locations. Or be it our communities where communication has to often shrunk to Facebook or texting.

And so I began to observe my world and wonder… Where did this chair, this table this shoe come from? What are their stories? Who is that person who lives down the street? What is their story?

I recently went to a talk Ross Chapin did on wholeness, and the main thing I went away with was that, “The best thing you can do for yourself, your community and the world – is to follow your passions. And by diving in to that pool, your ripples will inspire others to do the same. Thus creating an inspired, fulfilling life, a diverse community and many wonderful stories.

Some of you may have read the recent article in the South Whidbey Record on the little house that I am building. It was a beautiful article, well done. The title of it was South Whidbey teen builds tiny transportable house. Now when the article was published all I had resembling a house was this – 

 The article could have been titled South Whidbey teen acquires rusty trailer chassis.

So you see what I had was an idea that I was and still am passionate about and as I work towards it the interest it generates is incredible. Many generous people have given me their time, shop space or knowledge. Without them I wouldn’t be even close to where I am now, and I thank them. One of the main reasons I have been able to focus my energy on the things I love is that I have chosen to unschool myself. –

I use the word Unschool to explain to this culture that I learn through life experience. - I do nothing related to the public school system at the moment. Instead I am creating a life for myself where learning is not work, and work wears play clothes. I am deep in my interests and the ripple effect is apparent. Example, I was asked to do this presentation.

I have discovered that money is not the limiting factor when it comes to transforming dreams into realities. In my experience it is often limitations which aid creativity, though this is not necessarily the most comfortable path it has pushed me further than I ever would have gone. Here is an image to solidify that idea –

I spent six months in Europe with my dad and sister. We traveled with very loose plans, staying in 50 homes in 17 countries and teaching dance in schools. The experiences we had were extraordinary. For example, we ended up rowing 22 miles through the grand canals and around the perimeter of Venice, Italy with some Hungarian friends and two thousand other boats from around the world.
Our six months in Europe cost less than renting a house and living on Whidbey Island, and my learnings were profound.

Some of you may know my dad because he is who I live and work with, but I would also like to acknowledge my mom and all she has done for me. She lives in a nursing home in Port Townsend with Multiple Sclerosis, and has taught me the art of gentle strength, she has shown me that your time here in this functioning body may be short so waste no time and do what you love.

My problem now is that I love so many things and finding a way to do them all has proven challenging. I want to be a portrait photographer, a dance teacher, a natural cosmetic chemist, a chef, farmer, and for a while now an architect.

After one wonderful evening with a group of aspiring designers -- where we philosophize about life and design -- I was sitting in my kitchen, with my dad eating left over savory sweet potato waffles, talking about the future and I said; “ Daddy, I don’t want to be an architect – I want to be a designer of life. I want everything I do to be beautiful.”

I would like to share one more quick story: through a serendipitous set of circumstances I have recently become an apprentice to an Armenian shoemaker. We make beautiful custom dance shoes; through complex processes I am learning to transform leather in to functional works of art. This new knowledge has opened my eyes to many possibilities. You see, clothing seems doable; you can make clothing. But shoes you have to buy them in a store – honestly I had never given a thought to how shoes were made.

But now every step I take brings me closer to the life that I want to live, literally.

Hope you enjoyed, I sure did : )