Lessons in “The Goat,” a 6-part Series on Artistic Collaboration

Part I: Before we go.

The Goat is a term of affection for our campervan. Get OuttA’ Town…We will embark on our first of many road trips inside what I imagine to be the belly of the goat. And while we are out there roaming the American west for an initial venture, visiting numerous sites and a few beloved people, my husband Bob and I will be collaborating on a book project.

Collaboration is not entirely new to me, as I have teamed up on countless creative projects and programs as a teacher, writer, editor, with community start-ups, as a mother, a neighbor, many an event’s host, and serving on various boards. Teamwork always brings both the challenge of compromise and the comfort of comrades in the trenches. It requires a lot of conversation up front. What are the rules of engagement? What will be the purpose; who will be served, and what issues will be explored?

Much of this will reveal itself as we go. Artists understand that projects evolve, with necessary troubleshooting, the need to shift, and a flexibility required. But we have to begin somewhere, right?

The trick in working with others is to surrender my willfulness again and again.

I am not in charge. I am not in charge. This is my mantra. There is no greater challenge for me as a natural born leader, independent and highly motivated woman. I must work at how I communicate my thoughts, so as not to present them with the tone of tyranny.  I must soften my approach with phrases like, maybe, or one way to, or perhaps, or I wonder if, and what do you think? I must be clear that I am open and interested in another’s view. I have to listen and take time to think. I must remember he is sometimes smarter than me.

I also have to trust that, on occasion, I will get my way too.

Inventory of Combined Strengths

At the outset, we knew this was an opportunity to mix artistic passions and see what we can do as a team, as opposed to what we can already do on our own. Bob’s passion is taking pictures. He is Bob Day of Dayhike Photography.  My passion is writing and creating for Isa Glade, LLC.

Bob and I have spent a lot of time experiencing each other’s work, giving each other constructive feedback, slowly building knowledge and a sincere respect for each other’s art form. Thus, a picture book with thoughtful content seems like a natural fit. We are considering a year-long meditation book with a daily dose of beauty and wisdom.

What We Bring to the Table

Bob and I recognize how our personal experiences can speak to specific subjects: We have both lived in large families filled with chaos and love, and the trials of imperfect homes. We are in our 50’s, so surely we know a thing or two. We are empty nesters with plenty of parenting stories, but still newlyweds ourselves, so romance is deeply appreciated. We are also conscious seekers of spiritual fitness and balance.

We have made a choice to expand our lives, to relentlessly create, and to take the risks we are now free to take – letting our parents, siblings, and children live their lives at a greater distance for a while.

We are both familiar with addiction and recovery. We do not question the existence of a higher power. We know we are walking miracles. We are fascinated with people and a hope for universal love. We don’t think anyone is either good or bad. We are each a mix. We love to explore the outdoors, to hike, to garden, to witness the gorgeous and ferocious wilderness. Oh, there is so much to discuss! Our book’s contents will be generated with intentional chats in The Goat!

Sharing Common Ground

We agree that in order to truly live, which is the epic universal dream, humans must face the simple fact that we will each one day perish. We are not escapists, deniers, or idealists. We don’t avoid our own natural cycle. We are explorers, brave and simple. Traveling, for us, is not a vacation, nor an escape, but a new, interesting experience. Carpe’ diem, my friends! For tomorrow, we die! We will not wait for a terminal illness or a fierce grizzly to set us straight on that point. Therefore, our little book  intends to remind you of the wonder and the wild within.

Come on back each Friday, where Parts 2-6 continue on Lessons in The Goat!


One comment on “Lessons in “The Goat,” a 6-part Series on Artistic Collaboration

Molly says:

The trick in working with others is to surrender my willfulness again and again.
So true and something I am trying to master myself. It’s good to know others have the same feelings of worry that things just won’t go right if they aren’t done the way I imagine they should have been done. When I let go of the control, it is often done better by someone else than I could have imagined it being done.

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