Tina Welling (Author of Writing Wild) Says: “Some writers in the past have thought that living fully meant drinking heavily, experiencing many adventures, having a variety of lovers, and putting themselves in life-threatening danger. A full life, as many viewed it, was found at the extremes.” “Readers are still desiring reading about experiences that are not easily accessible to them, but that desire has changed from a broader experiences of life to a deeper experience of life, one with intensity and fullness and intimacy uncommon to most of us.”
I wanted to experience nature, I wanted to ravish my senses in her beauty. I wanted to find treasures hidden in the grass and walking in the wood.
I wanted to feel her fresh air upon my face and only hear sounds she makes. I wanted to be wild for a while and forget about emails, lists, and all things work.
I wanted to take in as much beauty as one can and hold it deep in my belly and feel it stir up my truth and my answers. I wanted to be present and intentional.
And so I did. We left for the Eastern Shore just for a few hours of exploring. Because sometimes that is all you have a few hours, a few dollars.
Magic happens when you set your intention and then follow it’s breath with ease. We had the most wonderful time exploring forts and marshes, beaches and woods.
We lived there and then and it was perfect.
Really ponder for a moment:
What experience of life do you want?
How can you create this?
Ask the questions, hold them.
Answers will come.
This one right here. This woman whom I have not met, has changed my life. Did you know that? I took a course at the beginning of the year led by her and it opened me wide. Now this wasn’t my first encounter with the ever lovely Isabel. No I found her long before this year, perhaps in another life. She entered my world at a time when I was working with Stacy De La Rosa a time when I was going through a lot of changes and choice making, Isabel’s words are like a soothing beacon and those words planted seeds for my own liberation to come. It’s small words to say I am excited to have her here today and to introduce you to this being.
Isabel Abbott: I am a writer, activist and speaker. A baker of pies and lover of learning. A feminist and a freedom seeker. An artists of embodiment and salt water, adaptation and liberation. I work with those crossing thresholds: sex and unlocked voices, birth and end of life care, artists and writers coming home to the body. I am the founder of Writing Freedom Society and co-creator of In Her Skin: bringing to light the experience of our embodied truth.
My writing has been published in many places in print and online, and I will be studying as a presidential scholar recipient at Chicago Theological Seminary, exploring intersections of embodiment and ethics, gender and presence and cartography of faith.
Lets start with the most fundamental question why do you create? What do you create?
I create from my life, and with my whole life.
I create through language, through words, through writing.
I create through my work. Which includes activism and art and evolution. Which includes hand mapping: cartography of symbol and story (think palm reading meets personal mythology meets reading the maps of your embodied stories). And In Her Skin Sessions which are seven days of real and uncensored conversations as we enter into illuminating the experiences of our embodied truth through image and words. I create art maps, dream maps, body maps, treasure maps. And pilgrimages to the unholy holy places. And I’m really good at the art of making and wearing wings.
What would you say are the major inspirations for what you create? Just to list a few:
- Curiosity. The tug. The pull. The way some things just have a hold on you, and you can listen or not, but the way they circle back around and call your name again and again, will likely never leave.
- Maps of all kinds. And the old palmistry diagrams and fortune telling cards. And hieroglyphics.
- Medical anthropology. The wandering womb. Humanizing illness.
- New Orleans and voodoo and music that fills streets and late at night, on Frenchman street, how it spills out into the humid air.
- Unanswerable questions.
- Water. Fire. Salt. Bone.
- Stories about women, defining women, but never told in their own voice, from their own perspective. The desire to unearth their voices from within the texts and re-imagine and re-envision, what they might say if allowed to speak.
- Truth. The gods we create and the ones we choose to leave. And the way the night sounds in the middle of summer, thick with heat and locusts and how it’s like waiting for what is already right here, that kind of pregnant pause and honey slow perfection, right before the storm comes and you are laying there in bed with the one you love, mouths and hot skin and fans whirring and lightning crashing and how in that moment this is what it means to be alive.
You write much about language and oh how language is so so much more than words, tell me what language is? What it feels like? How it moves? How do you live in/through language?
I suppose I could say that language is everything. Or perhaps it is more true to say that everything can be language, and it is my love of listening that brings me to the edges of my curiosity, exploring those places where I might become fluent as well as those experiences were I will always require translation, forever wanting to press into the space between the in-between.
I think it began for me surrounding experiences with illness, both mental illness and the breaking down of the body. It felt to me that something in me was speaking, and yet I had not been taught how to listen, and so I was initiated by fire and fury into the language my mind and my cells, my bone and my trauma, my heart beats and my skin. All of it was speaking. Which is not to say that the illness is only language, or that the diagnostic model of health care is fundamentally flawed. It is simply incomplete. What if, in addition to a chemical imbalance or a massive post-traumatic stress response or organs invaded by cancer, there was also a language being spoken in these “symptoms.” And if so, how would I learn to listen? And even further, could listening become a way of loving, of entering into reality with less assumption and judgment, and more curiosity and presence, which is, to me, the deepest loving.
And after that, it came to feel like the whole world was language. The language of coffee in bed in the morning, dark and pooled with cream. The language of uprising. The language of loss. The language of the wheel of fortune, and of the unknowable mysteries, and of compulsions. The language of lust and of want and faith.
Language is fluid too, with meanings changing, and context or situation informing the story being told. Even words are this way, how sometimes I will find a word and I love it madly, as if I stumbled into the secrets, and then it becomes a word used often or by many, and the meaning fades or alters into something unrecognizable. Devotion was this way for me. My first context for it was many years ago, being on religious pilgrimages as a non-religious person. I loved the seeking and the walking and the celebration and the questions, always the questions. And I would be there among people who had a kind of love for Mary that I can only call devotion, and to witness this was to understand the relationship I wanted to have with life. They called it God. I called it Life. But the devotion. . .it was the way of loving that which was messy and hearts exposed, human and aching in its articulation of hunger and restless want and the belief in being filled. And so the word became one that guided me, that felt like unearthing whole languages in just a few letters. And then, for reasons I don’t even really know, I began to hear the word more and more, from other artists and writers, and so the word itself, in its prevalence, came to have less meaning or a different meaning. All of which is to say, I love that language is a living thing, and if we are present, we know the distinction between hearing the echoes of something versus hearing the voice. And the voice is the one that is always alive in its language. So it wakes me up, again and again.
So, because listening is so present in this point of view, I suppose I could say that language feels like intimacy. That it moves quiet like snakes, and like bricks being laid one after the other, and like the feel of certain words and feelings as they come to settle on your tongue, and though you just found the language, it feels like being found.
Tell me how you rise up in fullness?
By honoring my shadows, that which is below and beneath, and in this, choosing wholeness over goodness. To know and live from my wholeness, is to then breathe deep the clarity of ascension in the rising up when it happens. And when it happens, oh wow. It is glorious, yes? The choosing to take a stand. The choosing to speak. The choosing to not shrink or diminish or pretend protection of not taking a risk. There is a line in Rilke, “to rise up rooted, like trees.” That is what it feels like, I think, when above and below are united, whole.
What supports your authentic self? Your true expression of yourself?
Time spent laying on the hard wood floor, naming what is here, or just listening.
Being willing to let go and shed skin and be awkward in the unfolding of the next incarnation of my work in the world and ways of being.
Remaining ok with being wrong, with learning through doing, with not knowing, with not needing to have all the answers.
Being in love with the woman who is the place I call my belonging. It is the first love I’ve known where I get to be all of me, bring all of me, and am not asked to contort, to bend myself to fit another’s form. And in this, I learn the love and freedom are not at war with one another, and I am more true by loving and being loved by her.
The ocean. And protection beads. The music and streets of New Orleans. The sounds of trains. The first sight of lilacs in spring.
Tell me about the love you give to yourself, to the world?
There have been the big acts of love I’ve given to myself. Fighting for my life. Saving my life. The kind that required radical sacrifice and was expensive of psyche and body both. Somehow in this, I earned my own trust. But mostly, especially lately, loving myself has been what I would call kindness. Being my own good friend. Having my back. Staying, just staying with myself, instead of rushing in with rescue. “Self-love” can almost become a way to beat yourself up, another measuring stick at which to judge yourself for having failed. And so these days, the love I give to myself is presence, full and complete, regardless of what I’m doing or how I’m doing. I’m here. Moment after moment, I am here.
The love I give the world mirrors this too. I show up with love in my activism, in my writing and art, in my ways of being with my familiars and the loves of my life, in my ways of engaging with the world in the daily doings of things, choosing to pay attention and not create further violence with my presence or lack of thereof. And often times, in my work, it means the simple presence of showing up without agenda or ideas, a need to take someone to another place or bring them any kind of resolution. Just being here, human and alive, together.
Body, embodied, sanctuary- all glory- all holy hallelujah! You write about this sacred vessel of ours, you believe in it. You write with the conviction of the saints.
How do spirituality and sexuality relate for you?
For me they are not separate, and so they do not relate to one another, as much as move like the in and out of breath. I don’t tend to use the word spirit or spirituality, though I am aware that much of my writing and work circles around and swims inside themes or questions surrounding their nature. As a word, it is not something I can claim as my own, but there are many times when I hear other people speaking, and I think, “I know this too. We are calling it different things, but I believe the experience is the same.”
And so I would say that spirituality (what I would call love in the presence of that which is unknowable) is alive in the experience and claiming of our sexuality. I don’t practice or preach what some call “sacred sexuality” or sex as communion with divine. Again, I think this is because it implies to me that there is holy and unholy, mystical and mundane, and yet another way to prove our worth, instead of just showing up for the full spectrum of this being human thing. Which is so fantastically magnificence, and painful, and throbbing with meaning. Sexuality for me is about being in this body, and yes, it is here that we can say “yet in my flesh, I shall know god.” Not in a fancy way or a special breathing pattern way. But just because god isn’t separate from this. For me, it is the very meaning of god.
How do you most like to celebrate your body?
Heat. Cold blackberries. Bare feet. Returning to Mexico. Sex.
And dance. Always, dance. I have said that art is my religion, and dance is how I pray. And this is true. It is medicine to me. And it is the most alive celebration of the gift of getting to be embodied in this lifetime.
What does pleasure mean to you?
I’m a hedonist at heart, so pleasure is sort of essential for me to live alive.
And it means opening to something. It means feeling good (which can be really scary, if we’re honest.) It means the hardest laughter even when and sometimes even because of how dark the day has turned. It means living in my skin, and eating what I want to eat and loving who and how I want to love and not making apologies or excuses or explanations for my life as if it requires justification. It means really hot baths and cold lake water and wings. It means vulnerability, and how sometimes it is hard to be in states of pleasure, because it’s all exposed and open to chaos.
And I believe pleasure is your birthright as it is mine.
Lastly, tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
To show up, and love harder, with conviction and intimacy intertwined. To be present to all that is most human, which is for me what is most holy. To show up.
I believe Isabel is a space holder maven. A few months ago I took part in her down right incredible course Writing the Womb (which you can still sign up for the self study version!) It literally unlocked me, unfurled me, opened me wide!
So I whole heartedly say these offerings are worth it.
In Her Skin-Unfurl- Reclaiming embodiment through image and words.
Come join us for seven days of exploration and conversation, real and uncensored.
We are mad with magic and just a bit drunk on spring’s possibilities.
We are aching in our bones and restless in our want for a great unfolding.
We are asking questions, where embodied truth is illuminated and shimmers in shadow and light.
We are feeling the ache and hunger and sweet release as the embodied voice emerges,
ready and waiting to expand roots and wings.
To speak true. To know where we stand.
To occupy our own space fully and inhabit our skin wholly.
Bringing to light the experience of our embodied truth. Join us April 13th! Register Here!
Anytime throughout the year if you are looking for something that can support us in making meaning, unearthing symbols and connecting the stars into constellations, offering insight into our ways of doing and being in this world. Hand Mapping may be your answer.
Hand Mapping: The lines on our hands speak a language.
They are etched into our skin like rivers and roads,
stories and myth, waking dreams and moments when everything changed.
They are arrows and roots and direction and memory.
They are maps.
Maps you have created and lived and are forming even now.
And they are waiting to be read.
Discover more about it Here!
I first came across Jeanne Oliver‘s work on Pinterest, I had pinned a few of her Feminine Portraits. Then as I often do when I am moved by an artists work; I typed her name into google, in this way I discovered the plethora of goodness she had to offer. From E-courses about painting with the masters to home schooling. From connecting with a tribe of woman to purchasing really lovely hand made bags. She really makes it her mission to make every aspect of her life an artistic expression.
Jeanne Oliver is married to her dream maker, Kelly, and the mother to three funny and creative kiddos. She home schools her children even though she has tried to get out of it a few times. You can often find her hiking in her state of Colorado, making creative messes in her studio and finding an excuse to have another cup of coffee. She speaks and teaches all around the country and sometimes she even gets to cross the pond. She was told that she needed to find that one thing but she doesn’t like listening to directions so she embraces many loves and that has given her a sweet mash up of family, art, decorating and fashion. Connecting with women and sharing that each of us has been creatively made is one of her passions. The Lord is showing her each day to trust in him.
Lets start with the most fundamental question why do you create? What do you create?
I create because it is like breathing to me. It is a part of who I am and when I don’t create and make time for it I don’t work as well. Creating for me has never just been the time in my studio. Creating is how I put our home together, loving on guests and making them feel welcome, the music playing in the home, the way I put my outfits together, the garden bed out front, fresh flowers in the home, the books I read, the meals I create…
All of life is art.
I guess what I am really trying to say is that I want my whole life to be my art. I want to live a creative life and to authentically have that resonate with those I love and myself.
What would you say are the major inspirations for what you create?
I love texture, a specific color palette and vintage ephemera. These three things are usually the jumping off point for me. Throw in some good music and a hot cup of coffee and I am ready to go! I am just like all creatives… The whole world is inspiring and sometimes you see something in nature, in a museum, words in a book or a conversation with a friend and you have to come to the studio and create. So many times the major inspiration for creating is that I just NEED it. I need to get into the studio and do something and it doesn’t matter what comes of it.
How has nature played a part in your life? When you work within nature how do you feel?
I don’t include nature in my paintings but nature has influenced most of what I do. Walks bring me clarity and direction. Creating outside makes me feel like I did when I was a child and I would pick the shade of a good tree and lose time with sketching or writing. My whole The Living Studio series and retreats is all about getting outside your studio and making the whole world your studio. There is so much waiting for us creativity when we step outside our front door.
For me your home dance between comfortable and intimate as well as magical and elegant. You have an amazing gift to fancy things up and yet it still looks like I can build a fort right in your living room. The same with your art, It feels like Jane Austin. Perfect!
Can you tell me a bit about this balance, this dance?
Thank you so much. What a sweet view of our home and life. I would like to give credit for this to my Grandma Jeanne. She had a profound impact on my love of art, music and entertaining from a young age. She was southern and much more formal than I am but I learned a few key things from her. Her home was filled with beautiful art, floor to ceiling. But she would say never to buy art because of who painted it but because of your connection to it. Because of this she had everything from a Picasso; to work by local college students. When we came to visit she never put away the beautiful things in fear that we would break them (and she had a ton of grandchildren) but showed me that anything you have out should be enjoyed and used. I once broke a glass sculpture and she didn’t shame me even though she could have because of my carelessness. I come from a large family and when we would sit down to Christmas dinner she would set a table with mismatch china and crystal and create such casual elegance. I learned early on that things don’t have to match and that you should use what you have. Music was always playing in her home because she was a composer herself. Her life was art. She wasn’t perfect and I learned as many things from her about what I didn’t want to do or be but she was a creative force and showed me to make your life beautiful.
What supports your authentic self? Your true expression of yourself?
I would have to say my faith. My whole life is based upon my faith and from there is goes out to impact my marriage, how we raise our children, our relationship with friends and family and how important it is to honor the gifts and skills that you have been given. My faith is my touch stone. It is what directs me and grounds me. My faith helps me to see that I have been given this life to make everything a part of my creativity and the things I love.
Tell me about the love you give to yourself, to the world to your students?
When my youngest was a baby I was in my laundry room folding clothes and honestly feeling sorry for myself. I am sure I had not done something for myself in days (or longer) and I was having one of those conversations that we can all have in our heads. Mine went something like this, “I have to do everything. My whole day is around other people. What about me? I just want to get into a car and drive…”. I was having a moment. Let’s just call it that. I was feeling sorry for myself and then I was gently reminded in my spirit that I have everything. EVERYTHING I had ever wanted. I had a beautiful home, a loving faithful husband, healthy gorgeous children and so much more. If I didn’t have them I would be searching for them and my life would be about making them a reality.
Life is busy and complicated and messy.
Sometimes we are our own worst enemy in not seeing the beauty of the day to day and changing HOW we live.
That day was a turning point in my thinking and I hope I never forget that. I may not always get to have coffee with a friend, or have a clean house or even have all day in the studio. I do get to choose how I treat those around me, show my creativity in the day to day, fill our lives with the little things that make me happy, the books I read and the conversations I have with my children. This is my stage in life right now and if I was focused on what I wasn’t getting to do I would miss it all. Miss it all.
Don’t miss it.
Make it prettier.
Make your life your art!
All of it!
Our stages in life change quicker than we are ready for but if your heart and mind are focused on what matters your life will be so much more lovely. Have your eyes open, make a few changes that help to make it easier to create and never feel sorry for yourself that in the midst of the day to day it is not just about you. My friends that no longer have children at home would be the first to tell you that days all about you are not all you think they are going to be.
Young creative moms…don’t miss it. Make your whole life your art and it will change your heart.
Lastly, tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Love! Love my husband, my children, my friends, my family, my creativity, my Lord.
I have a lot to learn and lots of ways to grow but I want those around me to know how deeply they are loved.
Looking for E-course heaven? Look no further than Jeanne Oliver.
Have you ever taken an online course, gone to a retreat, purchased an art technique book and were taught an artist’s techniques and mediums? Have you ever been worried about what is your style and what is “their” style? Have you ever been afraid to create art that was inspired by another artist? This course is for you!
Studying Under The Masters III: There is a lost art of studying the works of others to find your own style. All of the “masters” were first apprentices.
Join six artists as we become the “apprentice”. Through discussion and technique videos, each artist will share their week with a “master”. (This will be the LAST ONE. So sign up while you still can.)
I signed up for The Living Studio Series: Join her for a FREE art video series! In The Living Studio you will have the opportunity to watch technique and medium videos from some of your favorite artists. Once a month you will learn what practices different artists use to make their art a daily practice and how they create their studio wherever they go.
You can find many more HERE.
So then there is this beauty. She has a yummy selection of bags and jewelry, but I am maybe just a little bit in love with this one! Check out more bags and other goodies HERE.
Connect with Jeanne Oliver on Pinterest, Facebook , Instagram, her shop and her blog!