Somehow, today, this speaks instead of words.
Somehow, today, this speaks instead of words.
I’m proud and honoured to announce that I’ve been selected as ARTIST OF THE WEEK at Be You Media Group, an outlet dedicated to art,wellness and expression that has shone a spotlight on many other beautiful and inspiring artists! It’s taken me a long time – in fact, it’s really an ongoing process – to come to be able to to consider myself an artist, and really own the artistry within, to think, “Why can’t I be and claim what I spend the vast majority of my heart-time doing?” I’m so grateful to editor Brandie Smith for her wise and attentive work, and for gently nurturing this piece into being!
You can find the article here. I’m also including the piece below, though it’s more fun to read it with the accompanying photos of my artwork!
BYMG: How did you get started with your artistic endeavors?
TS: Since I was a little girl, I’ve always sought ways to express the rich, vibrant and confusing things happening inside me, and to give shape to the breathtaking experience of being in the world with its infinite, inherent creativity.
My most natural instinct was to write. I’d fill pages and pages of diaries, notebooks and journals, the content always shifting, from who my best friends were, to teen crushes (they always felt like more than crushes!) and angst over feeling alone and misunderstood, to thoughts, observations and feelings that could be quite violent, and also soft, filled with wonder.
Articles, essays (both academic and personal), short stories, novels, screenplays, poems—my existence revolves around so many forms of writing.
But there are times when the words disappear and my desire to communicate takes different forms. I turn to photography to see or frame the world both at home and during my long travels abroad when I’m not writing to reflect on my experiences.
Painting, and also art journaling, are more visceral experiences for me, ones I engage with when I need to pull the lens closer in, so to speak, to hover over a piece of paper or canvas in an attempt to formulate emotions on the brink of spilling over. Sometimes they want to stay hidden, and I let the creative process guide me inward to find them.
There’s an idea percolating out there that we can only be great at one thing, and that exploring our other passions is somehow whimsical or indulgent. If we are writers, we can’t also be accomplished painters, or photographers, or singers. It’s okay to have hobbies, we’re taught, but at some point we have to get “serious” and “focus on something.”
I’ve always had trouble with this idea! It’s potentially limiting for those of us who feel deeply committed to creative exploration.
BYMG: Who or what influences your work?
TS: My absolute sense of awe for the natural world we inhabit, and the beings that inhabit it inspire me at every turn.
I rarely leave home without my camera, and I always have my journal or a sketchbook on hand. I also owe a lot to my dad, a prize-winning amateur photographer, for putting my first camera into my hands and giving me a new way to see the world; and to his mother, my grandmother, who had a great gift in this area—there was nothing she couldn’t sew, crochet or knit, though I don’t remember her ever making “art for art’s sake.” She did pass along her love for crafting things with her hands to me, and in the years after her death, both my love and need for weaving this part of my heritage into my artistic practice has grown stronger.
My parents often took my sister and I to art museums when I was growing up, and my mom always let me “secretly” read under the covers after bedtime. These were great gifts! They helped surround me with art and cultivate my passion for creativity and imagining multiple possible worlds.
BYMG: Do you have a particular time of day that feels the best for you to create? A specific space? Or do you just get to it when and where the mood strikes?
TS: I try to create something everyday. I find it really helps me to ground, to return to myself and tune in to how I’m doing at a given moment. When I’m not feeling terribly motivated, I’ll just jot a few words down, maybe dream fragments or a line or two for a poem, or do a rough sketch.
When I’m working on a larger writing project, I usually return to it many times throughout the day, and try not to stop when I’m feeling stuck. It’s great to get through that sticky moment and look forward to the next writing session.
I also usually have a larger sewing project in the works, so if I’m tired and need a break from thinking, I can happily pick up the needle and cloth, and get to it. This is a very meditative part of my day.
BYMG: What is your process like? Do you typically finish a piece in one day, or take breaks and come back to it?
TS: It depends. If I’m working on a drawing or painting, I usually feel an obsessive need to finish it in one sitting. Even if it starts going in a direction I don’t like or didn’t anticipate, I work through it until I’m satisfied (enough!).
I’m constantly taking photographs, but I usually wait until I have time to work on them and group them into various themes and ideas for projects. When it comes to sewing and especially writing, I multitask. I usually have at least three or four writing projects going, if not more, though if things are going really well with one of them, I’ll start to focus on it more exclusively.
Going back and forth between various media really invigorates me.
YMG: What is the big message you want readers to take away from your work?
TS: Our battles against and striving for a greater kind of love, the wonders of nature, our capacity and desire to awaken and to feel and connect as part of the daunting human experience—these are some of the things that drive me, and that I hope I can reflect and share with my words and images.
With each mode of expression, we just might discover, together, new ways of seeing the world, and ourselves. There is so much joy and freedom in that!
So if I could inspire anyone with even the tiniest tickle inside to create, than it’s worth giving it a go—picking up a paintbrush, or pen, or camera, or sewing needle or music
sheets—I’d be thrilled and awash in gratitude!
BYMG: Favorite creation so far this year?
TS: I don’t think I can answer that!
A few years ago, I decided I wanted to try to write a novel loosely based on and following the order of actual dreams I’d been writing down for about a year. It was hard! I had no idea where it was going, and I let the project slide.
A few months back, I felt compelled to bring it back to life, and finally finished it! I haven’t read it over yet—there might be something there, or it might just be a time capsule for me to enjoy someday.
BYMG: Where can our readers connect with you?
Thank you, Tammy, for sharing your insight and pieces of your beautiful, creative soul.
September is typhoon season in Japan, and the weather is wildly unpredictable, and also rather rain-heavy. Nagoya is a fairly moderate place to live, climate-wise, so our rain is usually a steady drizzle – my heart always goes out to those affected by the eye of the storms …
I was honing my lens in on the beautiful raindrops on this nearby tree (as the tree begins to withdraw into itself, this autumn …) when my peripheral vision caught the woman walking into my frame. I love that we can see her figure, and that of the umbrella, as she ambles down the street with her shopping carriage.
A DANCE WITH ONENESS
A secret rises to our lips, beguiling and unnamable, lush and mysterious, alive with the potential to liberate us in a beautiful act of revelation.
One of the most special qualities we possess as humans is that we can explore the hidden and bring it to light; we can know the illumined from the shadowed, and we can seek out those deepest secrets without and within. These are the secrets of nature and the cosmos, which are only obscured from us as long as we have not yet found our pathway there.
These are the secrets and truths of our very own souls, and we have the power to bring them into the fiery brightness of day.
It is our birthright to dive with full abandon into the life we have been given, and to thrive amid the most intimate communions, where secrets have no need for conception. Yet in many ways, we are still a world divided, and so secrets are made, and forged deep within our crevasses, along the fabric of our collective being.
Perhaps our secrets originate in forces of suppression vast and deep, or maybe we’ve been taught to believe that we are not free to acknowledge and express what blooms within. We may have come to take this as Truth, and found ways to live around the promise of our souls’ deepest wishes.
But then, the time comes when a burning need overtakes, a calling, and we are humbled and ecstatic before the urge to lay our secrets bare, so that they transform into beautiful manifestations of the fierce uniqueness of our being. We discover that secrets burn holes where wholeness should dwell. We find the words to convey the reservoir of creativity we’ve been harboring since the beginning of all there is.
The unleashing of our souls’ secrets is nothing less than an act of divinity coursing through us, a dance with sparkling oneness within pristine and eternal Time, as we find true homes in our bodies, on Earth and beyond.
Who among us doesn’t walk the earth with the songs of our souls waiting to emerge? And so we carve a space for silence, and we remember what has been forgotten. We surrender so that enchantment may come. We take refuge in Mother Earth, under the moon, in the stars above. We revel before the sun as it casts its last embers of the day, in the bud of a seed bursting into new life, in the ineffable moments of life that flow within us like cosmic breath. The mysteries do not only inspire questions, but penetrate on levels we cannot glimpse with our conscious minds; they hint to us in our dreams, and gently evoke our expressive powers.
With this, our gift of expression, we hold space for the dreams and stories our soul secrets reveal, and awaken as a life unified and divine.
May these beautiful poems voicing soul secrets illumine us all.
This is the introduction I wrote for Chapter 7: Voicing Soul Secrets, featured in our new poetry book: Where Journeys Meet: The Voice of Women’s Poetry, edited by the brilliant Catherine Ghosh and published by Golden Dragonfly Press. I’m also thrilled to have five poems published in the book! You can purchase your copy at Amazon.com, here. All proceeds go to WriteGirl, a nonprofit organization empowering girls to find their voice through creativity and the written word. It’s been a true honour to be a part of this project!
The river carrying
Sounds of self, inviting
This is my new haiku up on The Plum Tree, a great site devoted to ecology and nature – and the written word! – thanks for checking it out along with other great works here!
But spring has announced herself and the flowers are blushing at the peak of their sensuality, all but spilling their scented secrets forth for the world to hear.
And the pigeons come to lounge next to me, even though I have nothing to feed them, satiated, eager and happy to be under this tree, in this spring air.
The threads are unraveling but as they come loose, they catch the luminous rays of sun, taking on hints of the sacred. When they sparkle like this, even my full effacement, looming sure and strong, isn’t a threat, but a truth pacified by the purity of day.
The threads are unraveling but imagine a bird at the moment of emergence, and how it is blinded and terrified as shafts of light angle in and its warm home starts to crack and fall away.
And then the tiny, fluffy bird discovers it can walk, and then fly.
To say nothing of the Monarch, that beauty queen of colour and shape that waits on the other side of collapse.
Today a dizzy awareness floods in—it’s porous and all-encompassing, first tinted and then overwhelmed by nostalgia, for sunny days like this, but on mountaintops, and in the thinnest, most dazzling air.
The sensation is so great, I fear I will drown in the waters of what was, of the all-that-has-been I’ve since spun into gold.
But today, I can’t see into that space that takes me to emptiness and clear thought.
The sun doesn’t wash me back into wholeness.
Instead, my stomach, busy with the work of trying to digest a lifetime of things-shoved-down, cries out in alarm and keeps me rooted in a body that shakes and feels clingy and unsure.
My stomach, keeper of dim old memories, comes with me for a walk and watches the pigeons settle in around me, and accompanies me as I observe children learning how to play catch.
They throw and receive, shriek with joy, and fall and bounce back again.
And then I stop resisting this great undoing.
I watch the frayed edges catch the yellow light of the waning afternoon sun.
Leaves hang overhead, a green awning that would be a trusted cushion if I climbed up there.
I allow myself, at least for now, to be warmed.
*This article was first published in Some Talk of You and Me.