An Ode to a Decade of Mendocino

Sometimes time passes slowly, and sometimes it flashes by in an instant. And somehow it’s often a strange mix of both. Fleeting but infinite.

When change comes, it sweeps through my life like a tidal wave, knocking everything over, uprooting my best laid plans. It is probably because I so carefully lay those plans, over-analyzing every step, that changes have this affect on me. You think I would learn. But I am, after all, a stubborn Taurus…

Recently I took a chance that set in motion a number of big changes on the horizon. I applied for a full-time position at a creative agency. The sort of place I had always wanted to work, but years of working remotely had spoiled me into stagnation. Maybe the isolation is getting to me. Maybe I’m just getting old. But the time seemed ripe for trading in my freelancer freedom, flexible schedule and nonexistent commute for something different. Something more stable and sustainable.

And just like that, I had a phone interview, followed by an in person one. And as this was a connection through my festival work (once again, thank you Tulku and Enchanted Forest…), I quickly became excited and felt like it was a great fit. Last week I received an offer from The Hybrid Creative in Santa Rosa, who was recently acquired by Kush Bottles, a growing company focused on marketing for the new legal cannabis industry. Instead of getting into an industry as the bubble is bursting, I’m excited to be entering a new frontier, on the come-up, in a space that truly allows for some creativity.

This week as I sort through my storage, let go of what I can, see friends and stop by my favorite spots along the coast along the way, I reflect on what my time here has meant to me. And what it has done to me. I am so excited for the next leg of the journey, but letting go of something I love has never been my strong suit, and change is hard.

Today I stopped at a new stretch of the coastal trail in Fort Bragg, on the Noyo Headlands. I walked to the edge as I often do, I sat down on the rocky earth, and I looked out at the ocean. And then, I wrote this…

Now that I know we will be parting soon, Mendo, I have to stop by all my favorite ocean lookouts when I pass by. I only wish I had done it more…

This place is something truly special, a gem of a tiny community I fell in love with instantly and have spent my hardest but most rewarding years. The rugged Pacific laps the rocky edge of the west coast as I reflect on the journey that brought me here and the one that lies ahead.

Luckily I am not going far, but for the first time in my life I am moving somewhere that is entirely based on only my own choices and desires; I am embracing this change of my own creation and running towards my fears. It is both exhilarating and melancholy…

I first came here with someone who had been here before and very much drove our decision to move here. And while everything else about that relationship was toxic and hurt me in ways I am still struggling to understand, I am so grateful that it brought me here. Mendocino, you have nurtured me through the hardest heartbreaks I have ever lived through. The redwoods have stood tall by my side and the community has been there for me when no one else was. The people I have met here have shaped and shown me who I am. The friends I have made are for life. The healing this place and these people have brought me has literally saved my life and taught me more than any other education I have had.

I have never been more excited to start a new chapter even though it terrifies me a bit that it is all on my own and was a fairly sudden decision. I will miss being able to pull off the highway to a beautiful ocean view at random, being seeped in the deepest silence of nature, and feeling truly alone yet supported and whole. The Mendocino coast is a bit hard to get to, and being behind the redwood curtain is isolating. Luckily I really needed the alone time. And now I am craving change. And a bit more diversity and culture. And inspired by those around me and what is to come, I bid farewell to the place and people who have been my home the past ten years.

Thank you, Mendo friendos. You know who you are. You lifted me up when my heart and my world were shattered, twice. You held me as I shifted careers, made difficult decisions, and explored new waters. Thank you Mendocino. No matter where I travel, nothing compares to driving around that last curve before the ocean view opens up or speeding through the towering redwoods with the windows down and the music blasting… hitting the county line and sighing “home.” This place has changed me, carried me through so much pain and growth, and reflected my own magic back to me when I couldn’t see it on my own.

The people here are something else. It’s a bit of a weird mix, and it takes a certain weirdness and tenacity to survive out here. It’s a bit hard to believe this place is even in California. It feels like another planet sometimes. But the people. Wow. You are so inspiring, creative, imaginative and FUN AS HELL. Especially the women. I love Mendo men too of course, but the female friendships I have made here are just what I have needed. You ladies taught me the true strength and resiliency of the feminine. I seemed to be closer to my guy friends growing up, but the women I have met in Mendo have helped me grow in ways I never knew I could. The entire community’s steadfast support, help and reflection has helped me learn to love and heal myself. The friends I have met here have believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself. Thank you.

Thank you for the memories, the trips to Usal, the BBQs and dinner parties, the music and dancing. Thank you for the sunshine and the fog, the amazing climate and the rich soils that have helped me find my green thumb and fed me. Thank you for the learning, the medicine and magic, the growth, the conversations and adventures. Thank you ocean waves who drowned out my tears and the friends who stood by me as I put myself back together again and again. Thank you for the connections, the smiles, the parties, THE FESTIVALS and the sunsets. Thank you for challenging me, and for changing me.

Thank you Mendocino, I am so grateful to have called you home. I’m not sure when exactly it will be, but I know our upcoming goodbye will not be forever. Sonoma, and since it’ll be so close, Bay Area, I’ll see you soon… 🖤🌅🌊

The Flow Must Go On!

Mendo Flow Dojo at CircusMECCA's Halloween Party. Photo by Keith Wyner.
Mendo Flow Dojo at CircusMECCA’s Halloween Party. Photo by Keith Wyner.

It turns out that fall is just as busy as summer, if not more, and the changing seasons have certainly kept me on my toes. After our final festival trip of the year to Pacific Fire Gathering in September, we got right back to busily working our little tushies off. Weekends have been full of picking up extra work, jam jamming, and staying local, which has been so nice! We started October with a camping trip at Usal on the nearby Lost Coast for a friend’s birthday, and finished it with two shows in the bay area and then a kickass fire performance with our local circus school, CircusMECCA, at their Halloween street party in Mendocino.

I’ve started canning for fall, cleaning up from one season and preparing for the next in the garden, and enjoying a little more time to catch up on things around the house. But after the busiest year of my life, the to do list is still long as the holidays approach and the festival production season kicks off again soon with Lucidity (tickets are just now going on sale at 9am 11/3… which means another cycle begins and I will be quite busy). And the bills never end, so crush mode must remain engaged!

Fire Hoop at Once Upon a Festival. Photo by Zac Krohn / Clapping Porpoise Studios.
Fire Hoop at Once Upon a Festival. Photo by Zac Krohn / Clapping Porpoise Studios.

With a bit more time on my hands, I’ve finally gotten around to creating a Facebook page for my flow arts performance persona, Twisty Pixie.  Since James has had a page (Flicker) for a while now and we often perform together, I needed a place to gather photos & videos of my flow arts performances. I wanted to create something I can promote with and use as a contact point to get new performing gigs. Hopefully this is just the beginning. We have some pretty big dreams and it’s awesome to be getting such a great response when we share what we love doing with the world.

Our Halloween performance was a lot of fun, and we busted out more props and a longer set than ever for our third year performing with the amazingly talented folks at CircusMECCA. We dressed as fire ninjas and James made a mix of kung fu inspired music, and though we’ve both been so busy that we didn’t get much practice time in before the show, we got a great response from the crowd and hopefully got some new locals interested in the flow arts. We continue to host spin jams in town on most Thursday evenings, and perform together under the same name as our spin jam group, Mendo Flow Dojo.

Performing at Paige & Trent's Wedding in May.
Performing at Paige & Trent’s Wedding in May.

We even made the front page of the local paper, Mendocino Beacon, (and page 5) with fire photos from our Halloween performance and Mendo Flow Dojo got a mention! Granted, Mendocino is tiny so making the front page isn’t exactly difficult, but still, fire spinning on the front page! Fancy pants!

Our fire performance on Halloween made the front page of the Mendocino Beacon!
Our fire performance on Halloween made the front page of the Mendocino Beacon!
James got a photo on page 5 of the Mendocino Beacon
James got a photo on page 5 of the Mendocino Beacon

We only had a few official gigs this year (when we do so many things it’s hard to focus on practicing and our performance business as much as we’d like) but life is good when you can do what you love and actually get compensated for it! It gives me hope to see that the world still values art and creativity enough to support some pretty talented and amazing artists, and I am so grateful to have met and know a few of them personally! The flow life is the good life, and I am super excited for the next chapter in this adventure…

Hopefully lots more fun gigs are in our future, a promo video, and a web site for fire performance and flow arts education. If we know any photographers or videographers who are interested in capturing fire performance and going on a few flow arts photo shoots in beautiful local locations, hit us up! We are hoping to collaborate on a few photo shoots and we’re always looking for help capturing our shows. Thanks so much for your support!

James at our Mendo Flow Dojo Halloween performance. Photo by Keith Wyner.
James at our Mendo Flow Dojo Halloween performance. Photo by Keith Wyner.

Performance is not something I ever thought I would do professionally or even get into at all, especially with dance, silly shapes and dangerous fire as my medium. But sharing what I love with the world, engaging people in playful performances, and inspiring others to dance, move, and explore themselves has been a beautiful journey and I am so grateful that I can share this passion with my partner. It was, after all, a fire performance we were both asked to do at a Halloween party a few years ago that started our friendship and our love story. And this fire is still burning bright… because the flow must go on! <3

Performing at Paige & Trent's Wedding in May.
Performing at Paige & Trent’s Wedding in May.

Sweet September Summertime Magic

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s late September already. This year has truly flown by… I suppose that happens when you’re living the dream!

This weekend James and I embark on our last festival adventure of the year, and our second flow arts retreat this year, Pacific Fire Gathering. We went for the first time last year and it was one of our favorite weekends ever. I am so ready to finish up a packed festival season with one final family reunion ~ an intimate, flow arts focused retreat of our spinnerd flowmies on the beautiful Oregon coast. We can’t wait!

We are still recovering from Enchanted Forest… Wow. My heart swells with the memories made, the hard work and little sleep, the bonds cemented and the family found. I am so ridiculously grateful that even thinking about it brings me to tears… Just… Wow. Thank you.

Flower of Life at the Dance Temple

I have truly busted my ass this year, but it doesn’t always feel like work, even when I’m going from one job to the next to the next and staying up late working. Some of it has been familiar territory, but most of it has been completely new to me. It’s been a steep learning curve and I still have so much more to learn and explore. Thankfully I have been able to work with inspiring people and branch out to social media marketing and event production while keeping my part-time web design contract with PETA, providing some stability while I expand my skill set in new areas after hours. But quite honestly, I’m ready to hibernate for the winter and catch up on my web design training and flow arts practice again! After a decade of doing design work, getting into a new field and getting involved with producing some of my favorite events has been a breath of fresh air to my life and I am so excited to keep doing ALL THE THINGS!

Enchanted Forest marked the culmination of working on three consecutive festival production cycles with three (somewhat overlapping) really amazing teams. In addition to social media and marketing support, I also helped co-coordinate the Flow Zone at EF this year, one of eight workshop areas focused on flow arts and spinning. We had a small workshop area near the main stage shaded by beautiful oak trees, and every time I walked by, the area was full of happy people learning new moves and props. I was SO proud to see so much play and joy happening in that space, well attended workshops and lots of beginners trying flow arts for the first time.

EF Flow Zone

 

There was a moment on Sunday afternoon that completely made my weekend… I was hanging out with friends dancing to Chali 2na and behind us, in the flow zone, we saw a toddler wearing nothing but a diaper and ear protection rocking out with his dad, both with shiny new flow wands they’d gotten from Aileen Lawlor’s workshop. The dad was practicing his flow to the music while the little guy held his wand in the middle, dancing around clumsily and waving it in his hand with a huge grin on his face. They rocked out together all afternoon in blissful moments of the most adorable flow magic. Just one of many magical memories…

We were posting to social media throughout the event, but since the wifi hot spots onsite were painfully slow, Jonah and I had to drive into Laytonville each day to get posts scheduled, check messages, and update our networks to rally the family to our gates. We still have quite a bit of space at Black Oak Ranch to fill, but we had a bunch of on-site ticket sales especially on Sunday. We had a huge media team, a big expansion of offerings with 8 different workshop areas, 4 stages and a variety of music programming, awesome performance artists, a sexy sauna and bathhouse, and a brand new beautiful venue to enjoy as the fruits of our months of work and organization, so there was a LOT going on and I was running all over the place working on a little of everything (and playing too – one can never be too busy for an impromptu photo shoot).

Photo by Edward Clynes
Photo by Edward Clynes

Though our fire spinning performance time was cut short, I got to fire hoop on the main stage with Liquid Stranger and James and I even got to meet him afterwards. We also got to watch Koan Sound from backstage, get our minds melted by Ott, get serenaded to sleep from the nearby Dance Temple, and we had sound in our camp with Acacia Beats and all kinds of guest DJs playing throughout the weekend. The performances were top notch, the music was amazing, but it was the people I shared the weekend with that really made this one memorable.

Camp Higher Porpoise Peeps

In between running around everywhere and working, I did get to enjoy some of the festival. It was awesome getting to hang out with friends from Lucidity, Once Upon a Festival and other festivals, flowmies from flow fests, local friends, our Enchanted Forest and Camp Mendoland families… but seeing us all coming all together and creating Camp Higher Porpoise this year was simply mind-blowing and heartwarming. James’s DJ crew Acacia Beats and a bunch of our Mendo friends joined forces with the fine folks we camp with at Raindance (which was canceled this year) to create the most amazing glampfest I have ever been lucky enough to be a part of. We rented a huge tent, had power and sound, a yoga swing, carpet and squish, lights and a badass lounge area in our camp just behind the Dance Temple. So many friends from various parts of our lives collaborated on a theme camp that was so plush, we had people asking what part of the festival we were and producers and musicians coming back again and again to hang out, play music, or get buffed with the car buffer on the massage table. SO GOOD. My friends are such badasses and DAMN do we know how to have a good time. Camp Higher Porpoise / Mendoland, we fucking rock!

The Raising of the Porpoise

The weekend went pretty smoothly but of course it flew by way too fast. As we worked, played, learned, connected, and danced, my heart swelled. This is where I was meant to be. These are my people. And I actually helped make this magic happen! Like I said, WOW.

But Enchanted Forest was not the last of our summer adventures. For Labor Day weekend, James and I drove up to Boise, Idaho to hang out with my family. We stayed at the family cabin in the beautiful mountains of McCall with my grandparents, parents, aunt, and my sister, her fiancé, and their adorable dog Bisbee.

We ate well, caught up, did a little planning for my sister’s wedding next summer (!!!!!), took a boat ride around Payette Lake and rode bikes in Ponderosa State Park. It was a long overdue and really nice visit, but I’m glad we’ll be going back for Christmas because it wasn’t quite enough family time. James got to meet more of my family and he really bonded with our fur-niece, he and Bis are SUPER tight now. 😉 She was a bit terrified of the boat though…

Family Time in McCall

As we’ve been decompressing and preparing for one last hurrah this weekend, I have enjoyed being home, cooking delicious food from my garden, and playing catch up after a whirlwind production season. I am SO looking forward to this fall, when I can stay home for a while, catch up on design and flow training, clean and purge our house so we can look for a new one, hibernate with my babycakes and just RELAX for a bit. Thankfully the next trip after PacFire will be for Thanksgiving, when I finally get to meet James’s mom in Southern California.

Whew! Life sure has been amazing lately. Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am to be living it. Thank you all so much for being a part of this magical journey!

And now I leave you with some inspiring words from Prince Ea, whose videos I’ve been digging lately:

 

 

 

Building Community, Mendo Style

On Beltane, halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice, a few Mendocino coast ladies have been organizing a Maypole dance and ceremony on Big River Beach for the past several years. This year I got involved and we had perfect sunny weather to ring in summer with!

I had never participated in a Maypole dance before, and it was quite an experience, as you can see. It’s chaos at first, but eventually everyone gets in the rhythm and as the colorful pieces of fabric weave together, you circle around and around, seeing familiar faces with each rotation and weaving over and under each person you meet. The result is never perfect, but somehow more beautiful for its imperfection and texture. Each person’s piece of fabric is an interconnected part of a more beautiful whole, individual pieces grow difficult to distinguish but what they create together is far more interesting. Beltane reminded me what a vibrant, varied, fun, and loving community I live in.

We finished off the ceremony with a potluck, drum circle, music and, of course, fire spinning. What a beautiful evening! I am so grateful to live in a place that nurtures community and gathers to build beautiful things together. It was a wonderful demonstration of building community and expanding social circles, what a lovely gathering. I can already tell that this is going to be an amazing summer! Beltane Maypole Dance - Mendocino 2014 Beltane Maypole Dance - Mendocino 2014 Beltane Maypole Dance - Mendocino 2014 Beltane Maypole Dance - Mendocino 2014 Fire Spinning on Beltane, May 1 2014