People often ask how I started The Hivery…where I got the idea, how I knew I wanted to do it.
I’ve got my short answer, but the real answer is complicated.
The Hivery came from lots of things…like any creative process, it was informed by anything and everything. Let me try to explain.
When I was 27, I wanted to open a dance studio in San Francisco. I worked tirelessly for months on a business plan, seeking seed capital from nonprofits for artists, looking at potential studio spaces in the city. I saw lots of cool spaces with urban grit, high ceilings, and great light, but never did I see the space that said, “This is it. This is your dance studio.” What I did see in many spaces was an idea like a little voice in my head that said, “This would be a cool place for women to work. A sort of women’s collective, or creative lab.”
Huh? Women’s what?
Anyway, back to looking for dance studios. The idea would sail by in a flash. Luckily there were no smart phones back then, or I might have checked Facebook and missed it. I noticed the idea, but life had other plans for me. One of my potential business partners got pregnant with twins and wandered off from the dance studio concept. I got busy. Life got busy. I got pregnant, too. Dance studio, who?
Fast forward a couple years to stroller walks with babies and new moms. I was living in the Mission District, a self-proclaimed hip mama, with my new mom’s group, talking about sleep training, swaddle blankets, marriage, and the best mommy-and-me music classes. As I strolled with my friend Julia, I told her about my "little" idea.
"Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a place women could go to work? On their work, on themselves, on creativity?"
“Interesting. Tell me more. What is it?" she asked.
“I have no idea.” I told her. "But, it’s a thing, a place, a space, and it’s for women... Anyway, back to nursing. Do your boobs hurt, too?"
Keep playing the tape. Life keeps going. Lots of things happened. We left the city and moved to the suburbs. God, Mill Valley is beautiful. Man am I lucky to live in this town. But, those first years as a mom were lonely. I missed my old life…the city, the creativity, life as a dancer, urban noise, and weird people…I really craved the energy. Life had gotten quiet. Busy, sleepless, but quiet on the inside.
There was a rustling, a yearning, a something I couldn’t put my finger on, but it was about me, my identity, an unrest, a stir, a question.
And then there was grief. I’ve told you before about my Mom. But, I haven’t conveyed here or to you, the depth of my love for her. How could I in a few blog posts? I’m willing to be vulnerable, but this is bigger. My mom and I were really close. It was just the two of us until I was about seven, when she fell in love, and married the man I would call my dad. When I was a little girl, I remember holding her hand and knowing in a very clear way that we had enormous love. We ice skated together, we laughed together...she scolded me and said to mind my manners, and absolutely “no shenanigans”. I knew that she had sacrificed a lot to have me and raise me by herself, and I knew that our love was special. I felt lucky, even then. I knew that we were different. My Mom’s dear friend told me after she died, “Your hearts were knitted together."
I also knew at a very young age, that she wouldn’t be with me forever. I don’t know how I knew, or even why I thought about it, but I knew that someday I’d have to live without her. And that seemed impossible. So, when it came time to live without her, I fought, and kicked and screamed, and died a bit, too.
I was enlightened by her and my love for her, and deeply shattered at the exact same time.
On the one hand, I would walk around thinking how lucky I was to have her big, golden love in my life. And on the other hand, I couldn’t see any light. I was mad, and sad, but acted like everything was fine. I parented my kids, I hung with my sweet hubby, I had amazing friends. And, I worked a lot, for a company that only sorta’ noticed. I spent most of my grieving days working from home, and felt the quiet isolation that comes from spending everyday in your home office (yep, that’s a little foreshadowing for you).
The thing about losing someone’s big love, is that when you’re all by yourself in your thoughts, you worry that the rest of the world doesn’t give a shit. About you, or your broken heart. That’s not true, by the way...
The world does give a shit. But, grief is a lonely job.
I felt stuck. I inspected and reevaluated. I would wake up in the middle of the night hearing what she told me when she was dying…”I’m not ready. I’m not done yet.” I was scared. I was scared of not feeling done. Scared of feeling the weight from the loss of her, forever. I made lots of calls…priests, monks, coaches, acupuncturists, therapists. I got sick. I wrote. I walked. I danced sometimes; and sometimes, I couldn’t.
I started to see a light in the cracks. I followed it.
Feeling stuck is not actually being stuck. Feeling stuck is an energy...a chaotic bundle of thoughts, emotions, questions, burdens, gifts, insecurities, ideas. I could picture my stuckness…it was a mess, but kind of an arty one.
Here, I’ll show you…there in my brain...a dimensional collage of sticks, branches, nails, and pointy edges, with a few antique pearls hidden in the brush and graffiti colors splattered over it.
The energy of stuckness builds and pushes and contracts, and pulses, and explodes like a bomb that goes off.
When my bomb went off, and my heart was broken from loss, and all the pieces fell…I looked around at the mess, and picked up the little shards, and pieced them together the best I could to create something new. I took all the colors, the questions, the feelings, the yearnings that had built up and I glued them together. I made The Hivery from my heart.
Was I inspired by many things, people, and places? Hell yes. Was I specifically inspired by women, art, companies that believe in real stuff, sunsets, mountains, dance performances, books, yoga, dangling my feet in the lake, and my journal. Yes, yes, and f$#% yes.
During that time, I started to make stuff. I made a dance film on top of a mountain for my mom. I made an essay that I read at a theater in the Mission. I made a lunch discussion called “Women Inspiring Women”. And eventually, I made a Hivery. How?
I kept going. I followed my stuckness. I stared at my fear, and it stared back.
I looked at the pieces, held them up to the light, and said, “This is my expression.”…I tried my best to act on what I believed in. I meditated. I accepted that I’d never know or understand what the end-goal was. I just kept making something, and I showed it to you, before I even understood what it was. And then one after another, you raised your hands, and said, “I feel an energy of stuckness exploding in my body, too”. And, “I want to make something.” And, “I want to speak up". And, “I don’t want to do it alone."
So, when you come to The Hivery in search of something, and I tell you that you already have it, and I see it, and that I love you. It’s true. I made The Hivery for you. And when you’re feeling stuck, or unworthy, or unlovable, or lost, or whatever…do me a favor, and kindly let your stuckness explode. And make something. What will you create? What is your “Hivery”?
This is the story of how it started. I’m sure I’ll keep adding to it. It’s a never-ending story, a process, a discovery. Just like yours.
I leave you with this poem, Last Night As I Was Sleeping by Antonio Machado, written in the early 1900’s. He was stuck, too. And when his stuckness exploded, this poem came out.