Here is the second astrology interview, this one with Magnificent Gemini, Marlee Grace. I see Marlee as a beautiful expression of Air + Earth (Gemini, Capricorn, and Virgo, among other things). She is a connector of people and ideas (Gemini!), endlessly curious, and a practical business person (Capricorn), a humble learner and improver/improviser (Virgo), supporting artists with an (earth) space and community (air) for creativity and idea exchange! Visit her on the internet and/or at Center, in Inverness, California.
Marlee Grace is an improviser and writer living on the rural coast of California. She works with improvisation as a method for navigating being alive and making work through movement, quilting, writing, and podcasting. Marlee also runs a community space and public studio in Inverness, CA called CENTER.
1. When do you experience the most joy?
When I am teaching dance class. It is truly my favorite thing on earth to be improvising in a room with other bodies, to watch people show up to themselves when it's scary and uncomfortable.
2. It seems that a lot of your creative practice includes nurturing other people's work. Is there ever tension between your own creative expression and your nurturing of others' work? If there is tension between these, how do you resolve that tension or bring these two aspects of your work / life into balance?
Wow yes, this is huge for me right now. And it comes up for me in many different waves. Between my creative adivisng clients, CENTER, teaching, writing books : these all in many ways exist to serve others - which IS indeed A PART OF my creative practice.
But I also have MY OWN practice - dancing, writing, collage making, zines, my podcast - and these sometimes definitely feel like they do not get as much attention when I am putting all of my attention into nurturing others' creative endeavors.
The lifting up of others really is the root of my practice though. I tried to remove it from my life and felt lost without the container of a public space and a way to encourage others. But coming out of just opening up a public space which is indeed a BUSINESS I am feeling a lot of the BUT I JUST WANNA BE AN ARTIST.
Can I be? We'll find out. Or, yes, it just take patience and floating and riding the wave and asking for help and turning my gd phone off.
3. Related to that question, what advice do you have for others about balancing community and individuality in an art practice?
I'm really trying to find this answer myself, in this exact moment. In many ways I don't believe in balance. There is no balance, there is really just choice making. I have to choose to put time into my individual art practice. I have to choose to put time into my community space. I have to pause and breathe and think - what needs to get done today/right now. And : what can wait and what would actually feel good. Often times it's my own art practice that feels good, and also hint hint : if I am feeling fulfilled in my individual practice that is the only true way I can be available to my community or self.
4. How do you deal with the (typically Gemini) problem of indecision related to curiosity about everything? Do you experience that problem and if so how do you manage it?
With all things Gemini I really try to see where they are complete gifts. I would much rather be wildly curious then be bored by everything or only have one focus. The managing it results in self-forgiveness. How can I forgive my book writing self when I am hyper-focused on my dance self. How can I tell my business self it's ok to make a collage today. How can I tell my podcast interview self that today I need to finish my accounting for the business. I don't really know HOW to possibly be another way. So I think that's part of the accepting of it all. This is how I am, so instead of fight it how to ease into it.
5. Will you talk about dance and embodiment for a minute? Maybe describe a recent experience of this that was fulfilling? Or anything else that comes to mind here.
As a dancer I think it's an interesting observation that just because I am dancing doesn't inherently mean I am embodied. While many people use dancing as a way to become intuned with their bodies, dancing for me is the same as someone who has a college degree in graphic design, or painting. It is my art practice, my path to composing. So it's interesting that by sharing my dances so publicly it inspires many people to search for their own embodiment practice, even though I might APPEAR to be embodied because my BODY is moving in front of them in real life or a tiny screen, I could be completely floating above my body watching it move.
Alas, when I am truly embodied I am usually in a yin yoga class where we do like 5 poses and have to relax our kidneys. And of course, as someone who has for almost 3 years committed to dancing every single day, it hugely adds to the experience of being an embodied person. But it was my friend Sarah Fontaine who once reminded me I have feet and they are on the ground. I can dance every day and still forget I have feet.
ARIES | March 21-April 19
Question - When are you comfortable not knowing?
Meditation - not knowing.
Assignment - Practice not knowing. "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." Suzuki Roshi said this, and you've probably heard it before because it's famous, and also true. Aries, you're the first sign of the zodiac, you are all about beginning things, and you like to be the boss. Beginning things involves not knowing! So you have to talk to your boss-self to remind it that not knowing is the only way it's possible to create something new! Practice noticing when you are not-knowing / uncertain about something, and how it feels in your body. Then practice telling yourself that everything is actually wonderfully fine when you are in not-knowing. That the more comfortable you can be in not-knowing, the better you can be the boss of your mind, which is your most important job.
TAURUS | April 20-May 20
Question - When do you forgive yourself?
Meditation - forgiving yourself for everything.
Assignment - This probably won't be practical enough for you but it is much more practical than you might realize. Start or restart a self-forgiveness practice this week. Just a few minutes each day - to give yourself a chance to notice when you are being critical of yourself, and then try out forgiving yourself for any hardness, toward yourself or others.
GEMINI | May 21-June 20
Question - When do you practice heart opening?
Meditation - heart opening.
Assignment - Do upward dog, or some other body practice that opens your heart to yourself, to your life, this week. When you feel disconnected from your intuition, your knowing, reconnecting to your body and especially your heart, which is your feeling center that is different from your gut. When you make decisions and move from this place, you will feel better, even if the outcome isn't what you were wanting. Whatever physical movements help your heart center to feel more open (which is different from exposed, I'm not suggesting that), do those. Put your phone or screen down and try it right now, for 10 seconds! Imagine if you did that many times a day for just 10 seconds!
CANCER | June 21-July 22
Question - When do you let yourself feel it all?
Meditation - Let yourself be fully sensitive.
Assignment - Venus is still in Cancer this week and I bring this up as a boost, to encourage you to just be as sensitive as you feel. What if you were? What if you just let yourself? And didn't worry about what other people were feeling or thinking about it? Or weren't worried if people were saying you were sensitive? What if you were? What if sensitivity was very needed on the planet? What if that was an important role you could play? Let your feelings be information, like a recipe, guiding you back to yourself and what you need.
LEO | July 23-August 22
Question - When are you tired?
Meditation - body sensations as vital information.
Assignment - Pay attention to when you feel tired this week. What is draining your life force and what is energizing it? Take notes on what you find so you can adjust things based on what you find! Vitality, physical energy is so important for you. When you don't have it, that means something is up in your life. What is caging in this lion of yours? What can set it free?
VIRGO | August 23-September 22
Question - When do you let yourself play?
Meditation - fire.
Assignment - Let fire be your archetype guide this week - fire as inspiration, existence and play for its own sake, not for any sake of productivity. If you have to work, try to find the play within it, the pleasures of it, however small they might be. When you aren't working, give yourself as much time to play as possible. Remember that children don't reckon with complicated justifications for why they should take time off or why their play is productive. They just do what comes to them, for the joy of it, without needing to earn anything.
LIBRA | September 23-October 22
Question - When do you let yourself have what you need?
Meditation - gifts to yourself.
Assignment - What are the gifts that you are really wanting in your life? Why don't you have them? What can you give yourself, as a gift, right now? What about later today? What about tomorrow? What about tomorrow night? Keep it on the daily, keep it manageable. What do gifts to yourself have to do with getting what you need? Ask yourself about this relationship.
SCORPIO | October 23-November 21
Question - What is your relationship to your phone?
Meditation - a lightening.
Assignment - Phones these days can be locations where we act out our fixations. What is happening between you and your phone right now? How does it connect to what is happening emotionally for you? What connections can you make between your phone use and your emotional life? How can you gently shift one or two ways you use your phone this week, to better serve your emotional life?
SAGITTARIUS | November 22-December 21
Question - When are you emotionally loud?
Meditation - emotional quietude
Assignment - Take note of when your emotional life is taking up a lot of space. What might be causing this? Is it because you aren't taking time to listen to the emotional, which doesn't come first in language? Do you need to balance your perspective with hearing other people's experiences? Sometimes listening to others, what they think and feel, can infuse your own with more balance.
CAPRICORN | December 22-January 19
Question - When is your head in the clouds?
Meditation - visioning new possibilities.
Assignment - Let yourself dream more. Devote some time to it and call it productive, because it is. What dreams do you keep at bay? How does this affect your vitality? What would happen if you let them into the foreground more? How would that affect your vitality?
AQUARIUS | January 20 to February 18
Question - When do you choose a middle way?
Meditation - in the middle!
Assignment - When making decisions this week, choose a gentler option whenever it occurs to you, whenever it is possible. When things seem either-or, when the options seem very few, take note. Reconsider. Choose a less full-on option. See what happens!
PISCES | February 19 to March 20
Question - What seems uncouth or distasteful to you?
Meditation - desires.
Assignment - Sometimes Pisces doesn't want to bother with pesky earthly, bodily desires, like eating, or sex, or the mess of embodiment. They often want to live in the idealized dream land of love, or not be bothered with embodiment and its details and slow movement. Choose one thing to embody or embrace about earthly living this week, and do it all the way. Get into the mess of it. Experiment with your real life body. Let it happen, and see what happens.