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where it all began

Really, the journey of my creative life began years before I actually did any creative work for a living. What took me decades to figure out was that art wasn't just something I enjoyed doing since I was a little girl, Creative is actually the core of who I am. As I look ahead to the changes in my work that are taking me in new directions (really taking me full-circle, back to my roots), I've spent a lot of time looking back at where I have come.

Someone once said nothing is ever wasted. This, I believe, is so true. Here is part 1 of the journey.....

Fear Wakes You Up

In earnest, my creative unfurling began the day I posted my very first words onto my blog back when hardly anyone knew what a blog was. What it gave me was, permission to truly begin exploring myself, my desires and wishes, my creative heart, and what I now recognize as my direct line to spirit. It woke me up... the curiosity, the connection, the fear of hitting 'publish' but doing it anyway, the people I began to meet, and the meaningful inspiration I shared along the way. In the beginning I was looking for like-minded community. In the end, I actually found Myself.

2004 | Under A Pink Sky 
After stumbling upon Kerry Smith's, The Wish Jar Journals, I fell heart-first into the shiny new world world of creative blogging. It felt like being Alice, stumbling down the most wondrous and exciting rabbit hole. I met so many wonderful creative friends all over the world, and it was there I began to tentatively share tiny bits of my life as a mom of a one year old, which had also reawakened old creative longings.

2005 | A Mother's Wish Nonprofit
While I was working full time as a children's clothing designer, I was also working on a side passion project, a nonprofit organization called A Mother's Wish. It was a nonprofit organization I created dedicated to help provide free clothing and other baby and childcare goods, to families in need. At its culmination, I operated a free, donation based boutique in Salem, MA, for clients referred to us through local social service agencies serving underprivileged women and children. Instead of simply receiving random donations, moms could "shop" for whatever they needed, emphasizing autonomy and personal choice when it came meeting their needs. I wanted to make a difference AND do it in a dignified way that created a positive experience of community support. For me it was a crash course in social activism and social entrepreneurship. I finally completed the two year project, serving hundreds of women and children, by merging goods with another local organization, Cradle to Crayons. All of my work previous to my design job (which I loved!), had been in the nonprofit sector and the human service industry. In another life I could have become a Social Worker, but traditional paths were never what worked for me. Ever. Something I still have to remind myself of.

2006 | Wishstudio at Red Brick Arts Center
A Mother's Wish needed a space to process donations and gather support. Alongside this venture was my growing desire for in-person creative community as I continued to blog and explore my own creative passions online. I was slowly meeting new creative people in my own neighborhood, and so an early version of Wishstudio brick and mortar was born. I wasn't completely sure what this space would be used for, as it was long before I was teaching my own art, but it was when I discovered my work as a gatherer and spaceholoer. It was collaborative place where I was able to bring lots of different creative-living offerings together under one roof. We had kundalini yoga classes, gallery shows, art fairs, knitting and creativity circles, Ladies Who Launch meetings, author events, and I remember very clearly wanting to offer henna before ever having experienced it myself -- which finally happened many years later, and now recognize it as an early spark of the embodiment part of my work! The studio was another passionate learning and growth experience that ultimately had to be put on the back burner as we were about to make a move to a new town.

2007 | Hello, Plum Island
This was a time of huge transition and change. Leading up to, and moving to the house on Plum Island in November of this year, was a both a surprise blessing and an enormous challenge. Though we only moved about a half an hour north, there were a lot of big shifts to navigate both as a family and as part of a new community. Ultimately, this sanctuary saved me. Anchored by the ebb and flow of the tide outside my window, my life grew in unexpected ways over the decade we lived there.

2008 - Wishstudio Blogzine
The first home studio was in what would become my yet to be born, second son's bedroom. I remember during this time, as my community was growing, I was really struggling with limiting beliefs about my own creative path. While I was curating a collaborative blog that was growing in popularity and scope, one that I envisioned to be like a fun online magazine (hence the awkward name), I was wondering more and more about what I had to contribute. Much of the creative inspiration I offered was in shining the light on the work of others who inspired me. I was still making and creating, but it would be a while until I really claimed the word Artist for myself in any way. I was still deep in the process of growing my own creative wings.

2009 | Motherhood Redux
Some of my biggest creative growth happened in tandem with the arrival of each of my sons. There was something about the generative life-force running through that expanded my capacity and had me gestating big dreams and wishes while growing into motherhood. This played such a huge role in so many of the projects I participated in and the community I was creating during these early years. I was connecting with other creative moms who were trying to juggle their own soul work alongside the role of mother. I was inspired by so many women doing amazing things!

2010 |, Wishfull Virtual Art Retreat
This was the year I finally made the leap to trying to take on Wishstudio as an actual job, and was born. Up until this year, I had always been thinking about work as something separate from what I was doing creatively, but this was the year I went all in on my own creative dreams. It was also the year I came up with the harebrained idea of an online art retreat - one of the first of it's kind! It felt so big and crazy, that I reached out to someone who I really admired in the online creative world for support, even though I didn't really know her. I'll never forget that conversation and how she believed in me and my idea. She, along with bloggers like Susannah Conway, taught their first online classes during this retreat, which was inspired by my longing to attend Squam, years before I'd make it there.

2011 | Wishstudio Co-op
With my online community growing, I felt the tug to gather in person again. This time, I had the vision of a community cooperative, similar to a food co-op where memberships pay for full access, as I was trying to build a creative model that felt accessible and sustainable, because so much of what I wanted to attend or take part in was never financially possible. I wanted to offer a new way of offering more for less... definitely seeds of my non-profit roots. I offered both online and in-person workshops as part of the co-op, as well as artist residencies, gallery and trunk shows, and collaborative opportunities to help other creative women and artists grow their businesses and followings. Inspiring and amplifying others has always been a primary value and love!

2012 | Painted My First Series "Written on My Heart"
This is the year I started to explore and make my own work and when I began to really get more brave with my art and with being seen in general. I was just beginning to find my true creative voice.

2013 | Wish-Makers Circle, Wishstudio Life, Exploring Your Sexy, G+G, Gone Wishing, First Brunch, Slutcracker
It was a pivotal year. I stepped more fully into important aspects of myself and was beginning to see how all the work I've been doing fit into my identity and how I was showing up in the world. I wasn't just sharing artful inspiration anymore, I was sharing parts of who I was which was creating new and very real connections. I was growing intimacy with my own self by being more vulnerable with my work.

I invited others into my home for the first time since moving to the island (Brunch was born!). I hung my handmade sign that shared my identity as a wish-maker with my neighbors, which at the time felt so huge. I painted a body of work and lived like an Artist. I published a zine. I could feel an enormous tug to start telling more of my story, and changed my website to Wishstudio Life. I started writing about and integrating sex-positivity on my blog, which I had been exploring behind the scenes for several years by then. A post I wrote about the Slutcracker burlesque I was involved with, really blew up, and I started noticing a curious thing happening -- people were reading my posts more than ever (by triple!), but no one was engaging in the conversation. Crickets. Ultimately, I lost almost half my email followers in the process as I went from Artist to Truth Teller, but I felt more in alignment than I'd ever had before, so I kept going knowing people were really listening.

2014 | Inner Alchemy Cards
At my spring Brunch we got together and made inspiration cards. Right after, I was up at the lake to help make signs for Squam and got the download for my first Inner Alchemy Circle while driving home. It felt like the clearest channel. I was deep in the alchemy of my own life: art and creativity + desire + truth = magic. Years of Alchemy Card and intuitive Inner Alchemy Collage making kicked of that summer!

2015 | CSPH, Wish Alchemists Circle, Truth + Dare, Life Unabashed
This is the year I went all in on talking about my sexual exploration at the intersection of personal growth and sex advocacy. Frustrated with the wide gap between all that was being championed as "authentic living" and what was glaringly left out of the conversation, I began publicly sharing with my readers about my transformative sexy adventures, my open marriage, and my shifting role and revelations within the sex-positive and kink communities. It was a huge period of growth for me, one of the most vulnerable times of sharing but also hugely rewarding.

Mainstream discussions about sexuality started to come more and more into the fray. I was more interested in the gritty parts of human desire, rather than the medical, goddess or feminist perspectives on sex, but soon it was clear these all traced back to one underlying truth: so much of our who we are and how we move through the world is founded in the primary relationship we have with our bodies - and THIS was the relationship that so many of us had challenges with. I started to get very curious about the broader context of women's bodies with regard to pleasure, trauma, sexuality, movement, self-love... all of it. So much to explore and unpack. All the while I was trying to use my creative practices to bridge the tricky gap of fear and make this kind of exploration seem a little more more accessible.

2016 | Studiofemme, Rainbow Wishing Tree, Tiny Revolutions
While working in these complex realms of the body, I rebranded Wishstudio as Studiofemme the day after Trump got elected. I was fired up, angry and honestly a little afraid. I knew it was time to for me to stand up for what I truly believed in... women's empowerment, LGTBQ equality, sexual freedom, and inspiring activism. I began to really did deep into the relationship between women in their bodies and champion expression that was not only permission to embrace some of these more vulnerable conversations, but to inspire work that directly addressed our connection to our bodies through creativity, mindfulness and awareness. The body, and all it's politics, was becoming central to all my work.

2017 | Embody Love Facilitator Certification, Studiofemme Nbpt, LUSH Embodied Arts + LUSH Embodied Life
At the beginning of the next year I became a certified ELM Facilitator, which validated an entire system of beliefs I was already weaving into my work. It gave me a new foundation on which to build upon, and had me thinking about my work and business in new ways. I was beginning to see the limitations of just working within the realm of 'female empowerment' brands, and things began changing and expanding. First, it took me out of my house and into a community studio, a move that I now realize was the first step in a huge personal shift in my life while also creating space for the big shifts to come. Through my offerings, I tried on different hats as a teacher, a healer and artist, and began to see the synergy between all that I'm passionate about and all that I offer. I took me while to discern what was working and what I really wanted to be doing, but things were becoming more clear with every different direction I stretch myself into.

2018 | Change Makers Series, Embody Love Arts, and my Nonprofit Work 
This year is has been about coming full circle, back to my work in human services, in face-to-face community, and in the nonprofit sector. I realize this is where my work feels most aligned, and where I hope to make more of an impact. It has been mostly an internal pivot and change of mindset in how I operate. My passions and offerings are going to stay mostly the same, but I'll be doing more with offering my work to underprivileged/underserved women and girls, and creating empowerment with a broader  purpose. It's still all coming into sharper focus, but I know I'm getting closer to where I want to go. I want to have more thoughtful conversations about hard things while supporting others to be right there with me for the betterment of everyones life... more love for all. We shall see how the rest of this year shakes out.