what are your foundations?

This month I turned 32. Three years ago, I began a journey that has shifted and expanded my existence as I knew it, a journey I'm still on and one that I'm still integrating.

In many ways, I feel like I am 3 years old, learning how to walk in the world again. In a new city with an interesting set of career options, I feel very much at the beginning of a new phase.

These past few years have dissolved most of what I thought to be true about myself and the world. I have no knowledge to share with you at this time, only what I'm actively practicing:

1) Gratitude :: Amidst all this transition, gratitude is grounding. One of the fruits of this journey has been appreciating love from my family that's been there all along. I'm thrilled to be celebrating this week at home in Chicago with my parents, family, and two closest high school friends. My foundations.

2) Surrender :: In my romantic life, I'm practicing surrender. Partnership is such a vast, multi-variable equation, a dance with the forces pulsating through all of humanity, that this area of my life is not 100% up to me. I feel a deep longing for connection, yet I don't identify and judge myself about this anymore. This surrender gives me peace.

I'm trying to apply that same level of surrender to my career. I have a growing amount of compassion for the life choices others have made, and cultivating compassion for my own.

My growth has blasted past what's convenient for my LinkedIn profile or an industry's promotion cycles, and resembles more the phases of tree growth, where +/- 1 year is irrelevant. The tight fences of Life Timelines are dissolving, revealing a lush, fertile expanse of (what I hope to be) decades ahead.

3) Patience :: Surrender is the opposite of helplessness: whether it’s work or love or life, it’s showing up to the process, over and over again – without judgement, without grasping. <3

To the next step,

then the other,

Bernadette


take a walk through your year

This guided visualization takes an embodied approach to reflecting on the past year.

The holidays are a sensitive time. In the liminal space between this year and the next, there’s more time to think and to feel. For some of us, this time is full of joy and connection. For others, it’s a more difficult time – perhaps the dull soreness of old scars, or an absence laid bare. For many of us, it’s some combination of both.

How might we bear witness to all of this, for ourselves and for one another? To hold it all, without trying to fix any of it.

The word “solstice” comes in part from Latin, to "stand still.”

Take a walk through your year

The days are getting longer, one minute at a time. But before jumping ahead to 2019, I hope you have a chance to hold still. To acknowledge all that you’ve moved through this year – the highs, the lows, the lights, the shadows.

We’ve all completed another perfectly messy and beautiful revolution around the ever-spinning pottery wheel of life. Before diving into the year ahead, how might we take a step back and see how far we’ve come?

Through all the ways we’ve broken open and all the ways we’ve healed apart, this year has shaped each of us into who we are today and what we bring to the year ahead.

I’d like to share with you this guided visualization, a more embodied approach to reflecting on 2018. This brief adventure (7:49) is best enjoyed with a journal, a pen, a blanket on your lap, and mug of hot tea :)

Thanks again for walking with me on another year on this incredible journey. Under gallery lights on the Bay, among the redwoods of Mill Valley, and along the waterfronts of Williamsburg. From your phone and your computer, in all the places you are in the world – thank you.

Have a restful + festive holiday, and best wishes in the New Year!






are you my people?

I came to an event to check out the space. I was surprised by what I found.

“Untitled (Grit/Bowery MTA)” Photo by Bernadette Cay

“Untitled (Grit/Bowery MTA)” Photo by Bernadette Cay

As an artist, I’m always on the lookout for interesting places to show my work or to host events in the years to come. I’ve always wanted to visit A/D/O, a trendy event space (owned by MINI) in Brooklyn. One of the artists I admire had a massive sculpture installed there this past summer. Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for an excuse to visit the space, trusting that the right event would come in due time.

A few weeks ago, I met a guy at a cafe who mentioned the space, which reminded me to check out the website. I found a seminar series on Design and Research. The next event? “Pray for Me: On Religion and Spiritual Fictions,” the last event of the year for that series.

Intrigued, I bought a ticket.

The event was more glam than I expected. Red velvet curtains and candles along an industrial chic stage – very Madonna. Coupled with smoke machines for an other-worldly look, this was way more of a production than you’d ever see in SF for a panel on a Monday night.

Happy to note the look and feel of the space, I had accomplished my mission for the night. Then the panel started.

The panel, moderated by an egregious French lady, included a hipster Christian pastor, an academic, an architect of religious spaces, and a software engineer.

Over the past three years, I’ve been poking my head into more creative communities than I can count. Like the Ugly Duckling searching for its mother, I’ve been implicitly asking of each group, “Are you my people?” As I’ve become clearer on who I am – and as my Inner Compass has gotten stronger – it’s easier for me to tell.

As soon as the panel began, I *knew* I had found my people. The audience, the panelists. The questions, the stakes. The panelists (especially the pastor and the academic) for a hot second inspired me to go to graduate school, perhaps to study philosophy, history, and world religions.

Of all the conferences, conference rooms, book signings, poetry readings, art openings, art classes, talks, retreats, workshops, eye gazing, holding hands in circles with strangers, Bali, and even Burning Man.... what was different this time?

So clearly recognizing that my interests are not just in creativity and personal growth, but also in the big “s-word”: spirituality.

I walked home that crisp November night, chilly yet feeling fully seen.

“Love and Belonging.”   Acrylics and permanent marker. From my 2017  book ,  Something More: A Working Professional’s Search for Creativity, Purpose, and Peace

“Love and Belonging.” Acrylics and permanent marker. From my 2017 book, Something More: A Working Professional’s Search for Creativity, Purpose, and Peace

#VenusOnMars Artist Talk

Show notes

  • Gaia Toscano, Art Advisor at SFMOMA Artists Gallery, welcomes the audience and introduces the gallery, the artist, and this body of work.
  • Space travel has captured our imaginations as a blank canvas for a better world. “Is that canvas really blank? How might we paint a different future?” [3:40]
  • #VenusOnMars is a metaphor for balance–within ourselves, with one another, and with the world. [4:47]
  • Zooming out and looking at the future from a different angle, starting with the question, “How do you want the future to feel?” [5:30]
  • How I explore that question through two groups of paintings: The Geometric Group and the Kinetic Group. [7:15]
  • Sharing the creative process behind these works. How #VenusOnMars is a constant state of rebalancing. [12:45] 
  • “How do you want the future to feel?” Leaving the audience with this powerful question towards a softer, stronger, and more beautiful future. [14:45]