Reflections from Ashland, and things to come
 

(Edit: Abundant gratitude to patron Cam, who fished out the original text of this post when it disappeared into Patreon's netherworld. Thank you, brother <3)

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It's a sunny summer day in Ashland, Oregon ~ a sweet, sleepy, creative small town about an hour north of Mount Shasta.


I love this place, on deep levels. I have found myself spending intense quality time here, every summer, for the last three years.


In mostly conservative southern Oregon (remember the stand-off?), Ashland is the fairy wonderland. It's home to indigenous sacred land, healing hot springs waters, pagan sites. It's the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival ~ a hub of hippies, pagans and high Anglo-Saxon culture.


On a single day visiting Ashland, one could conceivably attend a Shakespearean play, grab a pint at a local pub, experience a Goddess circle, attend a West African dance class or an ecstatic dance gathering, discuss philosophy at the local independent bookstore, or sleep in a tent at the local hot springs.


It is, in short, one of those magical places. 


I blew through here twice on summer tour, performing at a local pub with Firefly and then with Laura. I landed here again two weeks ago, hitting the ground running to produce and train at the third annual Social Artistry Odyssey. The event was a success ~ 100% the best Odyssey yet. This year, the team adopted a teal leadership model, and created an event where an as-yet-unformed tribe of changemakers could assemble, dive deep into themselves, and amplify or begin their work of service to the world.


My heart is humbled and awed by the feedback we've gotten so far. And, there's a lot to attend to and improve. Changes and expansions for next year's Odyssey are already underway (more self-integration time, better music, Odyssey for kids/childcare, the continuing merge of Social Artistry & Storybridge, a new generation of trainers) ~ mark your calendars now, folks. It's gonna be good.)


Odyssey ended on Friday, and since I've been in supreme self-care/hibernation/moment-by-moment mode. A space both amazing and strange to occupy.


My whole life, I have struggled with overdoing it, with packing my life ~ usually with wonderful things, but often to the point of exhaustion and burnout. "The Both Girl," my mother named me, watching me respond to the choice of the sandbox or monkey bars with an assertion that I didn't have to choose, that doing both was possible.

 

And I would do it! Back and forth. To and fro. Always chasing the next best thing, frequently leaving other things behind.


This mentality, first noted in a sandbox, has followed me everywhere in my life. Until I was twenty five, I didn't really know how to say no to something or someone without having a mild panic attack. In college, free time was a dirty word; while studying in Tibet, I decided that declaring a second major in the middle of my junior year was a good idea. (It was, and it also really wasn't.) Years of chronic, life-altering depression followed.


For the last five years, I've found and built home and tribe in 2-3 different cities. Spreading circles ever wider, full of both the love and the loneliness entailed in having a home in so many places. "Jack of all trades, master of none," the old saying goes, and in this moment I feel the truth of it.


In the year since I totaled my first Fit, bought this one, and hit the road, I've driven 30,000 miles back and forth across the country. (It's hard not to judge myself for the gas I've been burning.) During that time I've been learning, writing and sharing music; leading Authentic Relating games; teaching and learning Social Artistry; connecting with activists, artists, and people working to build a better world; sharing presence and breakdowns and love with hundreds, maybe a thousand people throughout the country.


But always on my way somewhere else. Never fully occupying a place.  Not taking a moment, anywhere, to sit down and breathe. 


Until now. 


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Since Friday, people have been asking "So, when are you leaving? How long are you around?" I've reveled at this question, and enjoyed saying, for the first time, "I don't know." And truly, I don't.


I'm heading up to Portland in an hour or so, for music/band things and general chilling. I'll be back in Ashland at the end of the month, to be part of the music team at the last-ever Social Artistry Institute (note: without context, it's hard to understand, but rest assured it's not a small thing, and an opportunity I am overjoyed to have). I (and maybe The Seventh String) will be opening for Sky System at the Jackson Wellsprings on August 10 (and possibly Kellianna in late September, aaaauuuughhh!!). I'll be heading to Burning Man at the end of August, and playing at Guava in the Bay September 10. 


But other than these scattered dates, the rest of my summer is free and open as the Ashland sky.


I am taking space. Learning, for the first time, how to experience a life lived slow. In the free flow. Day by day, moment by moment. One breath to the next.


At a time when so many people have no room to breathe, I exhale into this blessing with gratitude ~ and a fierce determination to put it to good use.


So far, I've just been existing in it. Being with the not knowing.  I've had time to sleep, and journal, and build gardens (see above). 


I have been going, going, going since the day I was born. 


It feels really nice to stop.


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Changes are in the works around here, too. I'm working on a per-thing, not per-month, structure and schedule. Still not sure in this moment how it will look or work, but it WILL result in more frequent content updates, so get excited. :D I plan to post once or twice a month, and capping your contribution is easy. I want more motivation to finish and record songs, and tweaking the structure of my income generation ~ so that it maximizes both my creative output AND my funding ~ seems like the good, next step to take.


I feel excited and challenged. I imagine it will be very worth it.


I'm also working on my branding and long-term planning. Sitting down with Laura post-tour to celebrate our tour success (for real y'all, it was good) and dreaming and planning the next six months with the band. *The band.* I have a band! A dream I've been working on for 5 years. It's amazing and joyful, and also a whole new world. I feel ready to jump to the next level with it (and accept some of the managerial/back-end strategizing and organizing that my friends have been encouraging/offering for awhile). 


I've also been writing lately. A lot. So many unfinished songs, poems in want of a melody, spoken words in progress. I'm in search of a place here in Ashland where I can record what I'm writing for free or low-cost, and then share them on here.


And I haven't listened to it yet, but our friend Loxley got some high-grade audio of the Seventh String show at the Jackson Wellsprings on Saturday, and one of my goals for this week is to release some of those songs on here. 


And of course, the world lately has been crazy, violent, unraveling, hard to handle. I've been trying wherever I go to be a vocal ally for Black Lives Matter, and help people hold onto their hope through the mythological, ominous clown circus that has been America's journey with Donald Trump. A good portion of my writing lately has been political in nature. 


It feels good not to be silent, anymore. 


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In the meantime, thank you for your patience with my radio silence.


I've been mega out in the world, doing the things y'all support me doing.


Major shifts are afoot, all in the best way. Some tangible results are getting closer and closer to being actualized reality. 


And we spin on this round ball, lost in space, but hopefully finding ourselves in each other, and in the earth, and in our breath.


Stay tuned, fellow artists, creators, magic makers, and supporters. 


I am full of such grateful for all of you. 


Love,

Stellar

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