Lately, I’ve been feeling like I can’t find words for things. It’s not because I don’t have any ideas to share—it’s actually because I have too many. My mind is busy and full. I have all these projects on the go, all these things I want to do and read and write and paint and learn. It’s been somewhat overwhelming and so this blog is me trying to get a handle on how I’ll approach these projects over the next year, starting in August. (Basically, I'm going to do an enormous new project that captures them all).
In one sense, being full of ideas is a good thing. It makes me happy that I have a lot of things I want to create. In another sense, it’s exhausting because it can make it difficult to know where to start and how to finish projects. But finishing projects and sending them out into the world is exactly what I think I need to do to clear up space in my mind to create new things come the fall.
To help me with prioritizing work and making dedicated time to finish ongoing projects I’ve been reading a lot about productivity and focus. One of the books I read most recently was Cal Newport’s Deep Work. Reading it helped me understand how to dedicate time to work on my various projects and also helped me understand how to begin prioritizing the work I most want to do at this point in my life.
In short, I want to make comic books, children’s books and graphic novels in both English and the Cayuga language. I want to write them and I’d like to illustrate some (definitely not all) of them. Wanting these things means I have to spend more time making art and learning Cayuga. I am currently working out a schedule that will help me do both of those things even more come September.
I also want to write more novels and stories. Most of all, I want to reflect on the stories and novels I’ve already written. I want to examine them and grow from them and talk about the things that I learned through writing them (and the things that I'm still learning).
This whole desire stems from a process of reflection that I find myself engaging in more and more lately and that I want to keep doing so that I can be better in all these different roles that I’m fortunate enough to have; roles as a mother, a wife, a writer, an artist, a creator of programs, a researcher, a language learner. And in doing this work, I am finding myself trying to really define what ‘better’ means to me. I think this work could also be referred to as healing, decolonizing or reconnecting. It’s difficult work to do because colonization has impacted my life in so many ways. But it’s also awesome, wonderful work because so many of the things that have come into my path to help me are so amazing. Writing. Painting. Learning language. Family. All of it has helped me so much. Helped me to have challenging conversations with myself and others. Helped grow my capacity for empathy and compassion. Helped me respect the fact that we are all at different places in our journey. Helped me learn and ask questions. To read and think critically. To pass what I learn onto my daughters. To try and use a good mind.
And it's this concept, the concept of using a good mind that I find myself coming back to again and again as something to strive for. To be honest, it’s not always been an easy concept for me to practice. Every day I find myself reflecting on what it means to use a good mind and to carry peacefulness. Or trying to figure out how I can practice goodmindedness more consistently in my immediate relationships. I've started to consider how concepts of goodmindedness might weave together with teachings about treaty and attempted to ground this knowledge by spending time with creation and the natural world. Creatively, this has meant finding words and images that help me convey what I’ve discovered with my daughters, so that they have another example or narrative to turn to when they need it, and so they don’t feel alone when they have to grapple with hard questions about existence, purpose and spirit. In so many ways, this topic has begun to consume me in the best possible way. I want to spend more time with it.
And so. This is the project that I’m going to be working on for the next year. It's new and for the most part mysterious—even I’m not entirely sure what form it's going to take. It might be a series of blogs. An article. A collection of art. A collection of short stories. Perhaps also a collection of interviews with other people who are trying to think about these same things and apply these teachings in their own life. The possibilities are endless. All I know for sure is that It’s going to be exciting and different and important to my own learning—a way of synthesizing and sharing all of this research I've been doing that doesn't seem to fit anywhere but seems so perfectly at home here. I'm really looking forward to it.
But! Before I do any of this work—I have some books to finish writing and editing and sending out into the world, two of which are coming out very, very soon! So please stay tuned for that, and as always—happy writing!