Meet Isabel Abbott…Writer, Activist, Speaker

 IsabelI am a writer and activist and speaker. A baker of pies and lover of learning. A feminist and a freedom seeker. An artist of salt water and maps, adaptation and liberation. I work with those crossing thresholds: sex and unlocked voices, birth and death, artists and seekers coming home to the body and holy human.  I am co-creator of In Her Skin and the founder of Writing Freedom Society.
I write for print publications and online and will be writing and studying as a presidential scholar fellowship recipient at Chicago Theological Seminary this year, exploring intersections of embodiment and ethics, gender and presence and cartography of faith.  Check out Isabel at: www.isabelabbott.com & www.listsandletters.com

Wildly Creative: Creativity is . . .

Isabel:  Both a way of being and of doing to me. It is life force, and the human movement toward creation, collecting and gathering from the shards and pieces, the moments and hints of illumination, and placing them together in a way that makes new sense, makes meaning, sometimes makes beauty, makes conversation and connection. It is about connection. And creativity is also about ways of seeing, the capacity and choice to look at a thing in a different way, or from a different angle and perspective, and imagine what before that moment had never existed in exactly that constellation. It is also pure joy. The surrender to the fire and the grief of the ashes and the joy in our own evolution.

Wildly Creative:  What is your advice that you would offer to anyone wishing to design their own creative life?

Isabel: Don’t think so hard, or try so hard. Creativity, a creative life, is not about doing this thing over here, or that over there. It is not a diagram or a chart or a path with neatly defined steps. And so maybe we don’t have to give so much effort to working at having a creative life, and we could just be here fully alive in the ins and outs of things. So I suppose I would say, make a royal effing mess, and then let it burn, and go make another one. Be open to not knowing, to the unknown, to the liminal and the cracks of light that pierce through and how after that the room you always knew familiar, even in the dark, is now a mystery to you. Remain ruthlessly devoted to your own curiosity and compulsions, those threads that tug at you and stitch through all the pieces of your days and life and all these years later you are still wide awake at night, wondering the mechanics of a tractor or the texture of silk or why the women in the statues you saw as a child never had heads. Invite them in and follow where they lead. And then go do as you do, be as you be, and to hell with everything else.

Wildly Creative:  What is the advice you wish someone shared with you about pursuing your passions and feeding your creative self?

Isabel:  Though I’m not sure I would have listened (I don’t like being told what to do), I would say that I wish someone had pressed upon me the importance of having a room and money and body and life of my own. These things did not happen for me until later in my life, and they changed everything, and I would not go back to the other way again. I think for me it is about freedom. To pursue my passions and feed my own creative self is to have the freedom to truly follow where that leads, as opposed to what will be most “marketable” or what someone else thinks I should be creating or doing or birthing. Making my own money, feeding myself in every sense of the word, has allowed me the gift of knowing my creativity and my creations arise from my own Source, and my own heartbeats and my own vocation. I pay for my own space and I have my own space, and it is here where I can write and create and be alone, and for me, this is vital. I suppose the simplest way to say it is, I wish someone had told me that all these things are mine, belonging to me. Because to know this and live this, is to have the agency to be fully alive in my own creative expression.

Wildly Creative: Creatives are usually the ones breaking the rules and little bits of misfits. How are you making sure to hold true to breaking the rules?

Isabel:  Usually it feels more like choosing to just go within and do things my own way rather than follow the program or steps given, and in the process, this often means I’m breaking “rules” and walking on the outskirts or fringe, not fully fitting in with the stronger current of how things are done. I attend to this by choosing to step away for periods of time. To not read or take in any information “out there” so that I might be able to more clearly hear my own voice. When there are so many voices, so much noise, it can be hard to distinguish what is a voice and what is an echo. And I want to know and have a voice. For me this means being in the quiet sometimes. And from this place, when I do return to the wider world, whether I’m following rules or breaking them, it is still my choice, arising and originating in my own self, which is crucial to the integrity of my creative visions.

Tell me about a time you were seduced….Seduction & The Road to Creativity

A personal story by one of the Wild Ones, Shanta Lee

“Tell me about a time you were seduced?”  My friend asked during one of our many ongoing conversations.

e8fed80983d3750f4e669e2d26c6a4b6It was one of my friends across the ocean, this time in Pakistan, asking me many questions about life and culture here in America.  As we traded stories about our different realities, somehow we landed on this topic of seduction.    I had a hard time answering this particular question because of the way I once would’ve answered as an adolescent hungry to launch into adulthood versus my understanding of things after some life experience.  You see, this question carried me to the first time I set the goal of wanting to become a seductress beyond any of the tales that were spun about Cleopatra.   But as I matured,  the concept of seduction became more about creativity more than anything else.

Let me explain.  I was a overly sheltered child and as I grew into teenage-hood,  I became more curious about the world inhabited by the adults.  In between my studies, I found ways to  kidnap my mother’s historic romance novels.  I used my weekend nights to dive into the pages of these various stories of desire and faux-romance as told by these various romance authors.  Somehow, I thought these authors (along with any other bits of information I could pilfer from various sources) were spinning incantations for how I could step into the role as a seductress.  Upon hearing the footsteps of my father or mother just outside of my bedroom door, I would throw these various romance novels under my bed thinking that they would remain as my undiscovered treasure.

When-is-the-last-time
I squirreled away my fascination with these stories and others that nourished my budding thoughts that I wanted to become one who seduced the world.  But in my 15-year-old mind, this was tied largely to using intelligence, sexuality and physical attributes.  All of the things that I did not yet grasp nor understand as a young adult.  My stockpiled information of half-cooked theory was soon married to my non-existent experience of my chosen vocation (as a seductress) in life.  This later became great material for many strolls down memory lane which included many stops at what once was naivete avenue.

As I gained some life experience, the art of seducing and being seduced became tied to my drive to create and was more about invitation than anything else.  How could I invite individuals into my world or transport them through my dance performance, my words or photography?  What were the things that woo’d me in such a way that I temporarily forgot myself?   When my friend asked this question during our conversation,  I thought about my 15-year-old self and then about all of the things in the world that seduced me:

The images in various documentaries  I watched as a child of distant places;
The stories shared by Margaret Mead from her work as a cultural anthropologist;
A melody or piece of music that brings me further into a present moment;
The unanswered questions that I had about the way various things worked;
The way the sky looks on top of a hill when it appears as if diamonds have been tossed upward.

Seduction became less about the famous Cleopatra story that involved her unrolling out of a carpet to get a man’s attention.  While there was a string of creativity within that story, I further evolved my thinking by looking at seduction beyond the realm of physical but as a vehicle for transporting the spirit.  In other words, when we allow ourselves to create and when we witness the things that have been birthed through the creative process, we are seduced and simultaneously invited to journey away from the mundane.

I am still working to achieve my goal of seducing the world and perhaps transporting individuals through ability to create.  However, I think it has expanded beyond anything that could’ve been contained within my 15-year-old consciousness!

Why Street Cats ?: One Artist’s Vision to Start a Record Label-Part 2

Street Cats postAs told by Mynah Marie, Singer, Songwriter, pianist, accordionist, composer, and Street Cats Records Founder.

Now with the story.

It was in January 2015, I was in Mumbai trying to fix my broken heart after the break up of a 2- years relationship (yes, I know, it’s a classic). So one night I decide (for the first time after the breakup) to go out at this very cool club called the Blue Frog. So I’m sitting at the table with a couple of musician friends and this amazing woman who I had just met, waiting for the show to start. Fifteen minutes later, guess who shows up at the bar? Of course, the last person on Earth I wanted to see, my X (it’s Murphy’s rule every single time, when you don’t wanna see someone, that’s when you’ll run into them, for sure). As I could see him coming up to the bar and inevitably to our table I felt my blood turn cold. I just knew I had to get out of there, and fast. Right away, this woman who we were with felt my deep discomfort. She looked at me quickly and said under her breath so that no one else could hear: “ Do you want to go for a walk?” I was so grateful at that moment to have someone feeling some compassion for my pain that, of course, I accepted right away.

Out we went, roaming the alleyways around the club, me frantically smoking cigarettes the way I do when I get very emotional and letting out some steam and frustration of the whole situation. After roughly 20min of this I got a bit tired and decided to just sit on a little concrete platform (basically sitting on the ground). I told my newly made friend that she shouldn’t sit with me (for those of you who never been in India, let me just say this to put you in context, the streets of Mumbai are in general extremely dirty. It’s usually really not a good idea to sit on the ground in the middle of a dark alley at night, if you see what I mean). She was dressed so nicely, with a beautiful sexy dress and high heels and all that jazz, while I was dressed as usual, with torn jeans, tank top and flip-flops. And that’s when it happened. As I sat on the ground she just came and sat right next to me. I tried to protest saying, “Honestly you really don’t need to sit down with me, I’m just feeling a bit tired and want to finish smoking this… I’m a bit of a street cat that way.” And she replied, “Oh that’s ok! I’m a bit of a street cat myself and loads of my friends are stray cats so I really don’t mind.”

At that moment something hit me. Being a street cat wasn’t a common expression for me or for my friends at the time. Yet, at the other end of the world, someone very different then me instinctively knew what it meant when I said it.

A few weeks later, I was flying back to Canada with the purpose to establish my own record company. When I was faced with the hard task to choose a name for my label, I remembered that moment in the alley. The connection we both felt towards one another coming from this feeling of being recognized, understood for who you really are in a world where we usually go undercover. The vision became clearer and clearer as I was slowly understanding and processing what it was that I was truly trying to accomplish. Meeting other street cats out there and making bridges to cross for the ones I knew already: people with amazing lives, amazing stories and dreams, artists living in the outskirts of society with something interesting and meaningful to say. People who recognize each other in that way of life made of craziness, art, strange people, beautiful stories and with the power to follow their instincts, the creator in them, always. Build bridges between all of us around the world, unite forces and then shoot for the stars, together.

I know in my heart I will always be some kind of a street cat.

What about you?

Mynah M.

It is Okay to Listen to the Rules…..As Long As You Remember to Break Them

There are all sorts of clichés around rules.  In fact it was the  Dalai Lama XIV who said  “Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”

However, when it comes to feeding your creative spirit you may choose to set fire to the rule book as you create your own rules.  Or perhaps, you walk the line ignoring the creation of anything that one would call rules or restrictions.

Whatever the scenario may be for you, we want to share some inspiration through this Bibi Lou video and perhaps encourage you to

go ruleless
go wild
go create without boundaries…

 

Why Street Cats ?: One Artist’s Vision to Start a Record Label-Part 1

Street Cats postAs told by Mynah Marie, Singer, Songwriter, pianist, accordionist, composer, and Street Cats Records Founder.

When I started working on my own company, Street Cats Records, I remember talking to my friends about it and being all excited and full of promises. I consider myself extremely lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful human beings. As I was sitting there telling my story I could see everybody getting excited with me, wanting to contribute or be part of it in any kind of way. Still one question remained…. “Why did you call your label Street Cats Records? Why Street Cats?” One of my friends even told me (and I say this with all the love in the world) : “ I thought you would come up with something more creative…” Ouch! That one hurt a bit. But feedback is important, especially the comments you don’t necessarily want to hear, and the people who know you well and still dare giving you those comments are even more precious then the comments themselves. At the same time, that comment pushed me to tell the story and as I went further along the lines of past events that pushed me to call my company Street Cats I saw his opinion about the name change. So maybe it’s worth it to write the story down, in case there are other people out there who are wondering (or will maybe wonder one day) why.

First off, for those of you who are asking what the F$%k is the connection between street cats and music, let me answer to that easily, there is none. Absolutely no connection. Have you ever read a list of Indie labels? A lot of Indie labels have absurd names, some even border ridiculous (for example I think the name Dancing Ferret is quite funny, nothing against it don’t get me wrong). So I thought to myself, is there was ever an industry or a business where I can choose a name that is completely personal and artistic it has to be the record business.

Shanta Lee

Shanta Lee

“I liked playing with fire as a child.  As an adult, I still have a love for fire and turned to cultivating the life-fire within myself as opposed to walking the edge of burning down a building.  Each of us has within us anything between a flame or a bon fire that drives us to creativity and is the overall fuel for our lives.  I feed my wild fire with many of the people, places and things in the world as my eternal inspirations.”

 

More About Shanta:

Shanta L. Evans-Crowley is an artist and multi-faceted professional in areas of marketing, management, event planning, and other areas.    As an artist, her endeavors include bellydance, writing prose/poetry/articles, and photography.  Shanta’s current projects includes a photography collaboration, Perfect Imperfection (storieswetellphotography.com), with photographer Liz LaVorgna (www.lizlavorgna.com) and organizing the Slow Living Summit.

Shanta has an MBA and an undergraduate degree in Women, Gender and Sexuality and serves on the Women’s Freedom Center and Arts Council of Windham County Board.  Her writing has been featured in Rebelle Society and on the Ms. Magazine Blog.  Shanta has regular featured writings on her Reformer 802 Real Talk blog and weekly segments of Ponder This featured on Chris Lenois’s Green Mountain Mornings on 100.3 FM/1490 AM WKVT.  “The more I feed my creativity, the more I unzip my wild and become more me.”

 

Meet Carline Gumbs…Accessory Artist & More!

Carline GumbsCarline Gumbs is a personal development facilitator, life skills coach, accessory artist and cool idea generator.   See more of Carline here: http://www.facebook.com/tiziktizik

Wildly Creative:  When did you start nurturing your creative life and why?

Carline:  I started nurturing my creative life from a young age (as far back as I can remember) by drawing, coloring, painting, taking things apart to put them together in a new way, being crafty. I did this partly because I think the gift is passed down in the genes-my mother is very creative; my dad is the math/science/fact guy but I didn’t get those genes from him, unfortunately.  My mother did a lot when we were younger to encourage and nurture that in me (and my sister).

Wildly Creative:  How do you define living a creative life? How important is that for you?

Carline: Living a creative life is liberating for me, not just in terms of expression but in terms of breaking all boundaries, categories, limitations. You are beyond definition, words, colour, shape. It is boundless and infinite. For me, it is also takes me to a spiritual space because I believe that when you create, what you create Is and there should be no judgment in that – It simply is the beautiful or not-so-beautiful thing that It Is (acceptance) and if you are not pleased with what you have done, you always have the idea to create a closer, better Idea or let it go (forgiveness).

Carline Gumbs Wildly Creative: What is the advice you wish someone shared with you about pursuing your passions and feeding your creative self?

Carline: Sometimes, often at the worst possible time, you will experience a wall (not unlike the Great Wall of China), a block (in your mind), or a barrier (in your heart), that will frustrate you to no end. Sometimes even the most patience, surrender or acceptance can’t begin to help you break through it. Sometimes you just have to keep creating, even if you are not happy with what you have created because whatever you have created will serve a purpose for some occasion, some time or some person. Wish I not only knew this earlier but that I remember it when it is most important.

Wildly Creative:  Creatives are usually the ones breaking the rules and little bits of misfits. How are you making sure to hold true to breaking the rules?

Carline:  What rules?…. To consider breaking the rules, you have to acknowledge that there are even rules in the first place. So don’t.

Wildly Creative:  Your favorite muse or inspiration is…

Carline: At this point in time, Nature and Sacred Geometry.

 

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