I am starting a new series here about women: their creative processes, their foundations, the things they use to hold themselves up when things around are crumbling down. A series to explore middle age and art and how we survive, and thrive. I reached out to my friend Dahn--a mother, wife, actor, writer, all around magical being--to see if she could share with us. A beautiful and creative soul, I am honored to have her here.
I am outside, kneeling in the dirt adjusting a cumbersome potted plant in my side yard. A little to the right, I think as I turn it just a tad bit, trying to be careful not to snag my clothes and break a nail in the process. It's my third time outside and my pooch looks on lazily from the couch and yawns, not even bothering to use the open door as a chance to dart outside. She's used to this kind of behaviour from me, as her eyes track me moving back and forth, seeking to get it just right. I think three times the charm, as I dust off my knees and head back inside to check. Yep, it's perfect. I love the way the branches and blooming vines unfurl, catching the light and glisten, blocking the view of a dilapidated half painted brick wall. That tiny twist brightens my sightline when I look out the window while making dinner. I smile and get back to my day..the yummy is restored.
I have this hunger, this desire, this need that pulls at me like a child sucking from a straw lapping up every bit of the dregs of their strawberry milkshake, not caring that it sounds obnoxious only that she gets every last drop. That's how I feel about beauty, order, rhythm and in my world I call it "the yummy."
I have to have it. I call it out by name to my husband, to my babies, they have to understand me. This is the thing they must know about who I am and how I function and live. I need this yummy to be present in my everyday life and without it I begin to become unmoored, agitated, lost. They have seen it and have jointly decided it ain't pretty so they collectively seek to always help me restore it. Beauty, order, rhythm. These words to me are all verbs. Beauty is active, it's doing something. It's the routine of waking, meditating and hydrating. How beautiful. Stretching, reading, journaling, Ahh the rhythm. I look for this beauty, this yummy in relationships in food, even in cleaning, arranging and sorting just ask Marie Kondo. I look for it like painters look for the light and photographers seek to capture the shadow and contrast. Imbuing their work with their eye, their art the way they see the world. This for me is the tool I use in the crafting of my life.
I want beautiful conversations and interactions. Words, pictures and yes deeds. Yes, even in the struggle. What a beautiful struggle it is to seek and strive for identity, justice, for a place in the world. I find the sign waving, the stance taking the push of it, the passion, the force, the courage incredibly painful needed and yes beautiful.
I used to try to curtail this ravenous hunger for beauty and yummy by shaming myself. I would judge and scold and squint and side eye myself away from this primal want. I thought it unseemly and not becoming of a deep thinker, a serious writer, an actor of measure. I felt it didn't match the environmental, revolutionary activist that I saw myself as. But then one day a few years back I heard this amazing Ted radio hour podcast that forever changed my view. It was an entire show devoted to just this very thing...BEAUTY. For one hour I was transfixed, transported and uplifted as each story vignet told of another reason why we should recognize, laud and respect beauty.
They spoke of beautiful music calming the schizophrenic mind. Of beautiful design uplifting the inner cities underserved youth. They talked about how things of beauty brought hope and stability to those who behold it. Whether you are looking at a beautiful building, train station or school or interacting with a beautifully designed object such as your phone or an amazing new kitchen gadget. Whether you are looking at wild beauty, like nature or the ocean or a new baby, just gazing upon it gives you space to breathe to think. They spoke of beauty in revolution as the women in a particular Gaza Strip holding camp defied the inhumanity done to them by the careful application of makeup sealing it all with scarlet red lips. The women said they did it to remind those that wanted to "other them" and disrespect and marginalize them that they were doing these inhumane things to humans; they were doing this to someone who was beautiful. I was in shock. The idea of defiance in beauty took my breath away.
Beauty is everywhere! From the song that makes you wanna dance, cry, laugh or sing along. To art and nature and yes even sports. Even the most manly man would confess to the beauty of a well executed lay up in basketball or a football pass so gorgeous in it's spiral that they want to cry.
I realized that in actuality my pursuit of this yummy, this beauty was in keeping with my heart's desire with my joy and my purpose.
And so now I lead with it. Leaning into it and pressing my face to the glass of this beauty. I credit it for the flourishing of my kids my marriage my home and yes me. It helps me know when to dig in and heal when it is not present. It's like a north star a compass in my life. When yummy, is not around I take heed and put in the work needed to restore it. This yummy this knowing that beauty matters makes me strive makes me grow and makes me glow.
And I hope this hunger lasts a lifetime...