Start from where you are, again
I started zoëlab 365 as a blog, as a way to track my personal happiness project. As a way to get back to my inner life after motherhood. As a commitment and challenge to my faith in creativity. But then zoëlab blossomed into something much bigger, more complex and longer lasting than just a blog, it became, simply put: a process. A process I fell in love with. A process in which I could share my most intimate enthusiasm for artmaking and in-love-with-ness of life and a place where I could be honest about my darkness, revealing of my heart, and a place where I could develop my point of view. It became a place where I could catalogue, and at the same time discover patterns in my past artistic explorations and musings. Starting with my early childhood—I unwound an improvised, non-chronological autobiography, or artography. I saw that the person I was trying to become was the same person I was as a child. I was self-revealing, but I was veiled, too. It was satisfying to experience the tension between exposing myself to a potential public, while at the same time feeling so hidden, unseen. Living on a raw piece of desert, building a life from scratch, and trying to find myself, as a woman, as an artist, and as a mom. I saw how not only was my role as mom was a creation, just as our family—was a creation. My dedication to my philosophy of life as art--taught me that everything in our life, if we approach it with love, humor, and creativity is art. We could decide how we wanted to create our life in a way that best suits all of us. Living in this way takes lots of compromises, and things are quite, yet deliciously, imperfect. We live a life that skids on the edges of camping and homemade comfort. Garbage and art. Off the grid, yet plugged in. We live a life in between—in between two cultures, in between two languages, in between two worlds—first and third. We live a life that is exciting and feels right even when it goes wrong, which it does often, because we are living from a desire to grow and develop and learn everything we can, everything we are fascinated by and enamored with. Everything that will help us become better human beings.
This new process brought me to a new place in life—or rather returned me to something that had been dormant but present since I was a little girl. For the first time, I truly believed in myself. Not in the sense of Rocky or Spiderman—well a little bit in that sense—but also in the sense of my self being something that was always changing, ever creative. It wasn’t the small self, the ego self, it was the larger SELF that I had encountered. This SELF is not a thing in itself, but rather, a potential (a potential that we all share as humans) and that all I needed to do was face my fears, laugh them in the face and then keep going, keep making, keep digging down deep enough to find compassion and humor and courage to live a little larger than I was used to. The self that emerged was bigger than I could hold in any one picture in my mind. And thus a blog is a perfect place to collect such a kaleidoscope.
This process is, in itself, a testament to process, itself. It is a celebration, investigation and navigation of process—of what it means to be in-between the polished products of life, of how we make meaning of our life, how we develop into our destinies, while at the same time empowering ourselves to act upon the life that flows out of us. It is a study in how we reclaim the parts of ourselves that we have not wanted to see. It is an explanation of how we get crazy loving and curious and childlike and grow ourselves up enough to be responsible for our choices and yet, irresponsibly committed to the magic of life—sometimes putting it above strict bedtimes or careful expressions or logical spending or any expectations the outside world may have on us. I am learning how to question unconscious values while at the same time upholding the often unmirrored values that I have held (until recently) secretly, inside my heart. Values like kindness, compassion, creativity, tolerance, expressiveness, generosity, forgiveness, honesty, grit, upholding the feminine principle, kick-assedness, embracing opposites, beauty, and grace.
I trained myself to be more disciplined, I challenged myself to be more alive. I awoke myself to the mysteries of natural life. I dared myself to share what was shameful. I flirted with exposing parts of myself to the public eye. I got curious about what it was like to take my art more seriously and myself less seriously. And, most of all—I let myself be. Anything was okay to share if I wanted to share it. I gave myself permission to be or express or share whatever/whoever I was in the moment. The combination of that freedom with the daily commitment was a magical potion. It worked for me in a way that no other project had ever worked for me before because it provided continuity and visibility--two aspects of my life that have been particularly lacking.
And ever since it ended I have wanted to get back to it. But somehow, I didn’t know how. And then I figured it out: 358 days later—all I have to do is get back into the process. I had lost sight of what it really was, and what had made it so magical for me. This is the raison d’être of the blog—why it was invented—as a way to track a process, and yet to be able to return to it over and over in an easily searchable fashion. The only problem was that my last blog was missing a search feature--as well as a tag feature. This fact frustrated me to no end. And then I realized I would have to start over and do a new blog on a new platform with new parameters. I would have to learn a new interface and new design skills. I would have to get better internet at home. I would have to get a computer that actually worked. I would have to get our electricity hooked up. I would have to quit my job. I would have to return to music. (Well that was just something I needed to regardless.) I would have to get organized. I would have to build up the courage again. And now I have done all those things, a year has gone by. And I still felt blocked/blogged. I didn’t know how to start. Or re-start. I couldn’t just press unpause. Or could I?
At various times thought out year this past year of bloglessness a voice inside me told me this: “After a whole year has gone by, you need to catch up your readers (if you still, or ever, had any) to the latest events in your life.” “You have to transfer all 360 posts to the new platform. This could take months, maybe longer.” “You should create a clever graphic recap time line of the past year.” “You have to make a video compilation of all the posts of 365.”
And then I consulted the Tarot Cards—which I only just started studying a week ago, (after having just received my first professional reading.) I am always looking for signs from the kind and playful universe. And the tarot cards told me this—a message which I gleaned from several different readings over a few days: even if you can’t publish everyday, go back to your commitment to be in the zoelab process everyday. Find your way back to the work by going back into the work. You are a the second stage of completion and you are about to embark on a new journey. September will be a month of success for you. And then another sign, this time from the-universe-via Lucas: he showed me a piece of video he had downloaded earlier of Ron Sexsmith and friends singing the Elvis Costello song: “Everyday I write the book.”
As poet/astrologer/musician/pronoaic prophet Rob Brezsny (whose book has been inspiring/affirming me lately) would say, with welcome "rowdy blessings" from the universe, I am re-committing myself to The Process that this blog started two years ago to this day.
p.s. I have transferred all the posts for the first month of ZOELAB 365, and will continue to transfer the rest of the 11 months of posts here.