Last night, I was in a migraine fugue, this one brought on by the chill of an artist’s loft where the borders of Brooklyn and Queens blur. There were seven of us one male and six femme gathered to create our own vision board for this new year. For those who don’t know, a vision board is meant to guide the mind towards clarity around a specific life goal. One tunes out the logic of the left-brain and allows the creative expression of the right brain to discover and identify through visually mapping out dreams and aspirations.
The session was held at Fleeting Dream Art Collective, a raw art space in the industrial bowels where East Williamsburg and Bushwick intersect. The surrounding neighborhood is a mishmash of brick and mortar, circa 1950s. The only sign of modernism, written on the warehouse signs half in English half Chinese advertising for cell phone supplies. The entrance is at the top of a long alley way, part driveway, part parking lot, the type of place one would steer away from in the dead of night.
Kate and I ring the doorbell and Andrea Kirk the location facilitator meets us outside and leads us up a back staircase and down a short hall to their space. They’ve just moved in, so the space is unorganized with workshop and art materials juxtaposed to bookcases and a beautiful wood and tapestry shoji screen. It’s a corner space with casement windows on two walls, a utility wall painted with creature art, in yellows and blues. There is a heater is suspended from the ceiling, at the entrance of the loft, counterproductive in the repurposed use of the space as the heat rises and stays above, rather than heating the humans below.
Sara Nowlin the lead facilitator is seated on a furry turquoise pillow, she is wearing a scarf and hat. There are four others: Ben, Christina, Teresa, Patricia. Once introductions are complete, we settle onto our own pillows, an array covered in furry pinks and blues, neon orange that conjures Alice in Wonderland’s caterpillar genie and the Cheshire cat. I choose the least colorful, a taupe floral floor pillow with fringes. Ready to take flight on this journey, surely a magic pillow would be just as adventurous as a carpet?
Sara walks us through how the afternoon activities will proceed, starting with a cast-off meditation where we shed all that prevents us from accessing our creative selves—the frustration, the inner critic, the martyr, the unknown into the center of the circle and light it on fire (figuratively of course). Andrea and Sara then fill the center of the with a small mountain of magazines, and for the next hour we’re guided to select a magazine, flip through and rip out (or cut) the images and words that resonate with or touch us most.
I find myself pulling images of light and fire, women in pensive poses, looking outward some more direct than others. The colors are muted in neutral shades of orange, gold and gray. As I go through the pile, I find myself whittling away the words and the images of predictability, leaning toward the bolder representations of who I am, who I want to be. The mapping is cathartic, therapeutic; as the possibilities of what this year could bring become clearer in my eyes as my vision board takes shape.
By the close of the workshop it is nearly done, perhaps 60% complete, with a river of white space flowing around the images and words. There is still work to be done and I find myself thinking of books and magazines that are in the house, ones that I’ll have to buy to fill the blank spots. For the time being I am satisfied, and feel that it is in a good place.
Catching my breath. It’s a thing that I do sometimes. I find myself in the midst of a creative project and then I find myself in limbo. This happens (or is that I allow it to happen) often: I begin in full force, luminously charged by the energy coming from the work, from my heart and then, I not so much as stop but halt, pause. Sometimes it is in the timing, as I often get a creative surge in the late evening (which is most detrimental when one works a traditional 9-5). At times there may be a concern for my well-being, i.e., sleep deprivation, in a zone where I forget to eat or the worse of it is the onset of a headache (which for most people is simply cured by aspirin and a caffeine pill)--for me it is almost often a catalyst to something far worse; where a simple headache explodes into a full-blown migraine.
Yesterday afternoon I felt the pulse on the back of my head, and took an aspirin, a drink of water, a bite of a granola bar. It was snowing outside, and I remember thinking to myself that I should take a picture. The snow was iridescent in the sunless gray light. I was trimming a sunburst gold and pearl pin, an image from a copy of W magazine for the vision board. Something about it triggered a memory, the Field of Dreams—an early Kevin Costner movie about building a baseball diamond in the middle of a corn field. The spirit of his father telling him “if you build it they will come” – the ghosts of baseball past. It makes me wonder how much of what we vision comes from the past, the remembrances of who we wanted to be when we were younger?
I can’t shake the chill and excuse myself to use the restroom. It is at the end of a winding hallway of white walls and steel gray doors, the numbers written in black Sharpie. The cold snaps at my heel as I dash through the corridor. In the dark silence of the ladies, I rest my forehead on the cold tile to soothe the pulsations; I try a meditation to control my breath to control the flow of blood with my mind. It sounds almost mystical as I recant the memory but it’s pure hell, the minute by minute torturous. If anything has taught me about patience, about leading oneself back to the calm center, it is this.
Sara Nowlin, Life Coach
Fleeting Dreams Art Collective