q u a l i f i e d

I created a performance based installation in a small Cedar Grove at Smoke Farm in early September.  The piece was born from the desire to be in and honor the intimate natural sanctuary created by the cedars and to connect significantly with anyone who entered it.IMG_6425

I asked festival goers to participate in the performance by spending quiet time in the space and leaving any burdens with me.  I, in return, read the burdens and made offerings of words and tokens in the form of “prescriptions” and “remedies”. The exchanges were anonymous.  I could not see who was in the space and I was in a masked costume.

Image ©Melanie Masson, 2014

Image ©Melanie Masson, 2014

My intention was to make a prescription/remedy for every person who left a burden; however, I received hundreds of burdens and did not have time to address them all.  Someone suggested I bring them home and put the project online. That seemed like an excellent solution.  I brought the burdens home and made replies to several of them (see previous posts), but the process began to feel false.  It is very different to sit in my basement studio and write to anonymous people (who may no longer care or ever read this) than being among the cedars and the people.  I felt like the project had shifted to an Ann Landers or Dear Abby sort of thing.  I also began to feel unqualified to make “prescriptions” for anyone about anything.  I am certainly not a doctor nor am I a trained counselor or in the clergy.

IMG_6430I began to tell myself that the project was over and to let it go – that it was no longer art and I had no business making any kind of suggestion for people suffering with real and acute anguish.

Then yesterday I took a walk with a close friend who is suffering.  At the beginning of her telling me her important things, she said, “This is for your ears only.  Please don’t tell anyone.”  I am someone to whom she does not need to say those things.  I believe she knows this to be True.  I respect her privacy because I want to.  It’s an honor for me.   And I know she honors mine.  Still, she said the words and they ring in my ears because it is exactly that sort of safe space, a measure of intimacythat I hoped to experience with participants in the cedar grove, if only for a moment.

So I may never know if participants return here to pick up their prescriptions, but if connection and/or relief is even a possibility then I am renewed in my energy to see this project through. The question of “Is it art?” no longer seems important.

Thank you for visiting.

 

n o s. 19 & 20

No. 19

“I have a broken, waiting heart.”

DG:  Longing can be so painful.  In longing we tell ourselves stories like “If only ______________, my life would be better, complete.”  This is not only painful but could be untrue.

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s t o n e s k e t c h

Would you be willing to try this on:  “Today I am whole.  I have enough food, shelter and love.  I will find a way to truly be of service to another person.”  For the next 90 days, begin your day with this thought and a brisk 15 minute walk, no matter the weather.  While on your walk, simply notice what’s in front of you. Every time your thoughts wander to yesterday or an hour from now, breath and bring your thoughts back to the colors, fragrance and temperature of right this minute. Collect a stone on each walk.  Save the stones in a clear jar.  When dropping your new stone in, ask to be shown who you can be of service to today.  Let the number and weight of the stones ground you.  At the end of 90 days, continue your walks but return the stones to the earth as blessings.

Token:  Here is your first stone.

 

No. 20

“My neck is stiff and my eyes ache a little from the sun !!!”

DG:  Please.  Come sit in this space.  This shadowy, quiet space.  Close your eyes.  Relax.  Breathe.

Token:  A vial of fresh, Smoke Farm oxygen

n o s. 17 & 18

No. 17

“My heart is a bit sad that I have so much anxiety about introducing the person that I love to this place and he is so insecure.”

DG:  It sounds like you are well aware of and have, perhaps, contributed to the magic of Smoke Farm.  Perhaps this is where your anxiety comes from – that Smoke Farm is a physical manifestation of what you hold dear and how horrible it might be if your love is not sensitive to how special and important this place is.  What would that mean?

I offer this:  Schedule a date to go sit in the travel section of your favorite bookstore together.  Take time to pour through the books that attract you.  Daydream together about going to a place that neither of you have been.  Figure out how you can save and plan to make your dream come true.  This may take several dates.  Once you have a plan, or before, share how you felt at Smoke Farm and that you look forward to creating an “our spot”.

Token:  Here is a small vial of Smoke Farm.  Let it reassure you that this place, and any other you love, are yours and will continue to nurture you always.

No. 18

“I have fallen in love with somebody I cannot be with.  I do not know how to be content in my own life anymore.”

DG:  Could it be that you have not spent enough time nurturing yourself and that has fostered this feeling if ill content?  “Falling in love” with people we cannot be with is sometimes a powerful tool we employ to distract us from our true heartache which stems from not loving ourselves better.  I offer this:  Make a commitment to taking yourself, and only yourself, on a date to your favorite bookstore followed by take out from your favorite restaurant.  While at the bookstore, visit the magazine section. Walk through and pick up any magazine that interests you for any reason.  Take that stack and whittle it down to the ones that inspire you to take some action.  Purchase those.  Take your stack and your take out home, get in your jammies and go through page by glossy page.  Tear things out, ear mark others, make notes in permanent ink – whatever feel good to you.  Now go through the things you’ve marked.  Choose exactly one and allow it to be the impetus for an activity that you will do by yourself, for yourself.  It does not matter if you think you can do this thing.  It does not matter if it seems impossible or too simple or silly or too expensive or shameful or whatever.  Make the commitment that you will see this thing through.  Every step you take toward the accomplishment of this thing is an act of tremendous love for you.

Token:  Here is a pen to take some notes.

n o s. 10 & 12

No. 10

“It is so so hard to remember to stop and listen to my heart.”

DG:  Indeed!  Self-care generally is difficult for a lot of us.  To create a new dialog (habit), I recommend you commit to a 15 minute brisk walk every single day, no matter the weather, for 90 days.  Alone.  On these walks, pick up something that makes you smile.  When you arrive home, place your items on a tray that you keep in a place where you can see it but no one will disturb the contents.  After 90 days, examine your treasures.  Select your favorite and write a simple poem about it.  Send the poem to someone your heart longs for.

Token:  Here is a stone from Smoke Farm.*

(*Had you gotten this prescription at Smoke Farm, you would have received this token also.  If you would like directions on how to get this token, please email me at info@wylyastley.com for directions.)

No. 12

“brain in the way of my heart”

DG:  So typical.  Our heart holds our truth – our truth makes us feel vulnerable.  Our head often wants to protect us from feeling things it labels confusing or uncomfortable.  Occasionally our hearts are so loud that our brains have no choice but to follow. I suggest you take your heart on a date.  Just the two of you.  Take your heart to a really good newsstand – one with tons of magazines and newspapers – and scan for anything that tickles your interest.  Anything – no judgment allowed.  Buy every single item and take them with you as you continue your date.  Pick up your favorite take-out and head home (or have your favorite snacks and warm drink available (no alcohol) there).  Get in your most comfortable clothes, play your favorite music and flip through all the things you bought.  Make notes about what you like.  Tear things out.  Tear things up.  Do you want to try that?  Do you want to go there?  Spend some real time doing this.  Once finished, take your pile of notes, tear outs and what-have-yous.  Clean up your food and any mess.  Take a shower then meditate for a minimum of 5 minutes.  When you are finished and relaxed, select the item that most excites you then go to your calendar and make another date to do, see, taste, make and/or experience that thing.  Don’t schedule a companion to do this with you yet.  Your heart is directing you toward something it wants to do.  Honor it with sincerity and time.  Do these dates monthly for 6 months and you may find that your brain will begin to insist on hearing your heart because it will feel so good.

Token:  Here is a pen with which to take notes.*

(*Had you gotten this prescription at Smoke Farm, you would have received this token also.  If you would like directions on how to get this token, please email me at info@wylyastley.com for directions.)

n o s. 2 & 9

No. 2
“I have lost all of my self esteem.  I used to believe in myself, but not anymore.”

DG:  In my experience, self esteem is gained by doing esteemable actions.  That could look like living in your integrity and with great compassion for yourself – especially and particularly when you feel most unlovable.  Please commit to a 15 minute brisk walk every single day, no matter the weather, for 90 days.  On these walks, pick up a stone and put it in your pocket.  When you arrive home, make a mark on it.  Use a Sharpie or some other permanent way of marking.  Collect them in a jar that you keep by your mirror.  At the end of 90 days, continue your walks except put a stone in a place that calls to you.  On that 90th (180th) day of walks, deliver your last stone to someone who is suffering.

Token:  Here is your first stone.*

No. 9
“Feeling unsure about an upcoming major career change. Afraid I won’t be able to be good at something new.”

DG:  Think back to a time when you were brand new at something and completely failed and/or felt embarrassed or ashamed.  Have it?   First, take comfort in knowing that this question could be asked to absolutely anyone, aged 5 or older, and they would have such a memory.  That pain and fear connect us.  Please hold that memory – that pain – and then take the hand of the you you were then.  Invite that you indoors into your most favorite sitting place.  Is that you very young?  Offer your lap.  If not, offer him/her a cup of something delicious and get one for your current you, too.  Are you warm and comfortable?  Now what will you say to your earlier you to comfort him/her?  I bet it’s kind and encouraging.  Compassionate.  Listen to your own words.

On a day not too long from today, take yourself, by yourself, to one of your most favorite place.  Take with you a small spade or spoon and a clear jar with a lid.  When you arrive  at this special place, say out loud, “I am new again.  I feel afraid, but I am courageous.  Thank you fear for trying to protect me, but I got this.”  Plunge your space into the earth then place its contents in the jar.  Put the lid on the jar and carry it home.  Once home, put the jar by the place you sleep.  Let the soil of your special place help ground you.

Token:  Here is a vial of Smoke Farm.  Carry this magical place with you and allow it to comfort and ground you.*

*Had you received this prescription at the farm, you would have also received this token.  If you wish to have this token, please send me an email at info@wylyastley.com for instructions on how to get it.   Thank you.

 

n o s. 1 & 1

Dear Participants (and Anyone Else Who Cares to Read Them),

Following are “prescriptions” to ailments/burdens that were left with me in my ad hoc apothecary at Smoke Farm on September 6 – 7, 2014.  My ambition in offering these prescriptions was (and remains) to connect with people who were willing to become vulnerable with a complete stranger – to be witnessed and figuratively held by someone who cares deeply.

Please know that I am not a trained counselor or healer.  I am an artist.  I created a space and circumstances that I hoped would elicit an exchange of trust and connection between strangers thus creating a significant relationship, an “us”, if only for a moment.  I found that a majority of participants were willing to be incredibly forthcoming in sharing pain.  In my own experiences and in the feedback I have received so far, it appears that this experiment was successful. Connections were made. IMG_6436

I was not able to fill all the prescriptions I received during “office hours”, therefore, I brought the project online. While I did not write prescriptions in numerical order at the festival, I will do so here until they are all filled.  You may note that many numbers are missing and that there is a pair of identical numbers (1).  The missing numbers represent prescriptions that were picked up during the festival.  In the prescriptions offered at the Farm, I gave a token “remedy” to be used in the prescription.  I am happy to offer tokens to anyone who wants them. Please contact me at info@wylyastley.com for instructions on how to receive one.

Thank you participants.  It is a joy to connect.

Love,  Wyly
(aka Dr. Good – “DG)

No. 1
“My heart is being smothered by my head. I need to be able to reach it.”

DG: Your heart is a magic, sacred place. It holds the truth. Your head wants to protect your heart. It despises pain and all things it doesn’t understand. Fear often masquerades as Protection. See the truth. Courageously take the reins from the fear. Take this [a] feather to the [a] river, hold it in your right hand and recite, “Fear – thank you for your energy. Your services are no longer required.” Release the feather (fear) into the river.

No. 1
“I am feeling left behind. Friends are marrying and moving away.”

DG: Now is a wonderful time to reconnect with yourself – to relearn what you enjoy and want to learn. Think back to a time when you experienced great joy when you were alone. What were you doing? Seeing? Tasting? Schedule a date with just you and try that thing again. Also, schedule a daily 15 minute walk with yourself. Do this for 90 days no matter the weather. While on your walk select and pocket a special rock you find along the way. Collect these rocks in a jar that you keep next to where you sleep. Let the weight of the stones help ground you and remind you of your commitment to befriending yourself.

b u r d e n s

 

Last weekend I built an apothecary in a cedar grove.  IMG_6433I dressed myself in silk and wool, covered my eyes with a mask of branches that limited my vision downward and played the role of a shaman named Dr. Good.  “Patients” participated in the process by writing downaches and pains of the heart or mind – spiritual burdens.  Once they finished writing, they removed and pocketed IMG_6429a numbered portion of the chit and deposited their identically numbered burden in a jar.  They had instructions to return in a few hours to receive a “prescription” and remedy for their heartache.  Many people visited me in the grove as the installation was part of the LoFi Festival at Smoke Farm in Arlington, WA. When I started this project last spring, I had no way of knowing how much more connected I would feel to the grove and to so many people who began as, and remain, strangers.  I am altered.

In my typical habitat I teach young children, volunteer quite a bit and generally look for opportunities to be helpful.  These are my ways of connecting.  As a jumping off point for this work, I wondered if I could be useful, if I could deeply connect,  by making an offering of time, tokens and undivided attention (if only for a few moments) anonymously with strangers.

I found that I felt profoundly connected to people in the space and to the space itself.  Though I could not see outward, I could see light, my writing and feet.  I could see that people stood in the space quietly with me even after they had given me their burdens. I could hear everything.  I heard how people quickly become silent in the space.  I heard slow shifting and breathing.  I heard people collecting their prescriptions.  I strongly sensed that we were mingling our vulnerabilities and each longing for connectivity while trusting this remarkable place to keep us safe and allow this exchange – this connection.

I was and remain overcome by the candor expressed in the burdens.  I hoped participants would bring me heavy woes, I specifically asked for them, but I felt surprised nonetheless by the outpouring.  IMG_6430I was also overwhelmed by the sheer number of burdens and the time a considered prescription and remedy required.  I originally thought I would make short replies, attach a remedy and quickly move to the next burden.  Not the case.  In fact, I was able to answer and return less than 50 prescriptions during the time I had at the festival.  I actually quit taking burdens for a while with hopes of catching up but it was quickly apparent that I would not be able to.  Someone offered the good solution of taking the burdens home and making prescriptions available on my blog.  It was an excellent solution as the anonymity (on my side) stays fully intact and that, I believe, was an essential element to the success of this project.

IMG_6436And so, for the next couple days, I will post the remaining burdens and prescriptions.  If you were at the festival and hoped for the token remedy to accompany  your prescription, please feel free to contact me at info@wylyastley.com for instructions.

Thank you for visiting and for participating.  It was magical.

Love,

-Wyly (aka Dr. Good)