Wednesday, July 30, 2008

SharedBliss: Interview with Connie from Dirty Footprints

Connie, creator of lovely, hip grocery bags.

Listening to: A real hip and booty shaker for Connie.

Today's Bliss Formula: I start training for my new library my very own office. How I love having my own space to decorate!

Connie is someone who often comments on this blog. She always has something amazing to share, something insightful, and she is one of those people I feel I know without even meeting her in person, someone with whom I think I share much in common.

When she talked about her hip, cloth grocery bags and why she makes them, I knew she belonged in one of these interviews. And the more I get to know her, the more I know my instincts about her were right.

She is a caring and mindful and working-hard kind of person. She knows that the quality of her life is all about her own choices.

She is truly a blisschick (and her own delightful blog can be found here.)

Describe the PrimaryBliss of your life. How did you come to know that this was your PrimaryBliss?

Creativity. This Primary Bliss has lived with me since I was a child. I could escape my reality by simply drawing or painting a better one. Through the years, Creativity has never released her grip on me but rather our dance together has expanded and evolved. I lose all track of time and space when I am creating; it doesn't matter if it is with a paintbrush, crayons, lump of clay, piece of fabric, or with words written by hand in my journal.

What types of choices and sacrifices did you make to be able to craft this bliss-filled life?

I love and am completely grateful for the beautiful life I live now and have lived in the past. I have an abundance of blessings in my life. Every choice I have made in the past, either wise or foolish, has led me in the right direction and brought me a more intimate and clearer understanding of my Primary Bliss. The only sacrifice I can think of is sleep. I have spent many evenings lost in painting or writing only to be granted a couple hours of sleep before having to get ready to go to work.

How does your PrimaryBliss radiate out into the rest of your life?

I teach. My official job title is "Art Teacher,” but I feel that Art and its elements are only a tiny fraction of what I teach. I focus on cultivating and nurturing Creativity in the individual. I work in a Kindergarten through eighth grade school, where the sad reality is that now, more than ever, children desperately need someone to cultivate and nurture their Creativity. Young people's life-lines to their own Creativity are being numbed by technology, lost in society's fast paced race to nowhere, and devalued in public schools because there is not a paper test attached to the outcome. I strive to provide my students with an environment where they can begin their journey of self awareness and experience the internal rewards of manifesting their own creativity.Along with teaching I use my Creativity, my Primary Bliss, to help Heal Mother Earth. I strongly believe that by simply being more mindful in the most trivial tasks of our existence we can create an enormous impact on our beloved planet. A year ago, I learned how those free plastic bags we receive as parting gifts for shopping were quickly polluting our Earth. I had no idea that they were not biodegradable. Instead, those flimsy little pieces of plastic are photo-degradable--meaning they break down into smaller and smaller toxic pieces, thus contaminating our soil and water. Eventually, we turn around and use that same soil and water to raise and grow the food we put back into our plastic bags and take home. Doesn't make sense to keep mindlessly perpetuating the unhealthy cycle. This bit of knowledge is what fueled me to create my own reusable grocery bags out of cloth. I am on a mission to spread the news about the harm associated with using plastic bags, and to share my own funky, reusable grocery bags with others.

What are some other activities that also give you this sense of bliss? Things that make you lose track of time?

First and foremost is Yoga. Yoga has been my best friend, my caretaker, my greatest support, and my biggest challenger in my life. Yoga has taught me incredible things about myself, including my own Creativity. I am truly blessed to practice Yoga and through this practice to meet other wonderful souls traveling on the same path.

Along with Yoga, I find great bliss by simply being in nature. I love hiking, mountain climbing, and camping. I live in Arizona and visit the beautiful Sedona at least once a month. Nature has a wonderful way of realigning the soul, heart, and mind back in the same direction, if needed.

What is your daily or weekly spiritual practice?

I practice Yoga daily. This is a constant spiritual practice in my life. My Yoga asanas are always a prayer in action. I also consider the moments I spend creating as meditation. Before I begin in my studio, I have a ritual of lighting a candle or splashing some essential oils in a burner, then I begin.

What music is your bliss?

I adore music, especially the kind that makes me want to move my hips and shake my booty!! I am lucky to live with my partner Hansel who was born and raised in Costa Rica and brings so much Latin music into our home...perfect for hip swaying and booty shaking!

When I'm in my studio I love to listen to Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, Beth Orton, Thieverary Corporation, Norah Jones, and Katie Melua.

At night, when I'm in the kitchen cooking, another bliss of mine, I tend to listen to Krishna Das and other sacred chant. This always brings my day to a reflective end. I nourish my body as well as my soul through these two beautiful acts of offering.

Name books or authors/poets or people who are your bliss, who influenced your bliss.

Reading itself is definitely a bliss. Most of the books I read are on Yoga, Spirituality, Creativity, or travelogues. Every single morning, even when I travel, I read an excerpt from the book "Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga" by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison, and every evening before going to bed, I read an excerpt from "How to Be Happy All the Time" by Paramhansa Yogananda. These two books offer great inspiration and sincere moments for refection.

In my studio, on my night-stand, and on the living room coffee table there is always a book of poetry by the Sufi poet Hafiz. One is always guaranteed a smile when you read any of his poems!
What advice would you give to someone who feels they have not yet discovered their PrimaryBliss?

Do what brings you great joy and you are on the right path.

Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share?

I love quotes. I have them posted all over our home and in my classroom at school, but the one I reflect on each and every day, the one that I have taped to my bathroom mirror is by Deepak Chopra and it says this:

"The life you know is a thin layer of events covering a deeper reality. In the deeper reality, you are part of every event that is happening now, has ever happened, or ever will happen. In the deeper reality, you know absolutely who you are and what your purpose is. There is no confusion or conflict with any other person on earth. Your purpose in life is to help creation to expand and grow. When you look at yourself, you see only love."

I love how Connie talks about Creativity with a capital "C," treating it like the living and breathing entity it really is. I am going to think about this more over the next days and months and see how it changes my own approach to my own creativity -- oops, I mean, "Creativity."

And I respect how Connie takes full responsibility for her beautiful life. Sometimes in our quest to be better, stronger, smarter, "more enlightened," we forget to look around and give ourselves credit.

Thanks, Connie!


carlikup said...

Thank you, thank you, Christine!

Isn't Connie just amazing? Again, you used the perfect combination of words to describe a situation, in this case, an amazing person ~ you have described her just the way I portray her. She radiates and somehow, people who are regular visitors to her blog, seem to feel like you ~ they instantly connect with her.

She not only cares about mother earth, and creativity, but she seems to deeply care about the people she connects with. She has sent kind word my way, and let me just say that they are kept forever preciously in my heart :0)


Sandy said...

I totally agree with Carla- Connie is one of a kind. I adore her. She has the insight of an elder, and has such passion for life. Always has a kind and inspiring message. Did I say I adore her??? Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher that has had the joy and blessing of Connie teaching art to my students in my classroom. She is a true teacher of life and inspires many. She loved each and every one of my "monkeys" and each left with a piece of art clinging to their soul. Be it someone, or something she taught them about or be it something she showed them they had inside them all along! Thank you Connie I miss your 45 minutes of enlightenment.

nollyposh said...

YeY! Connie X:-)

Jennifer Hugon said...

Love that Connie. She is a constant inspiration to me. Thank you for this interview! It made my afternoon!