by Maya Stein & Amy Tingle
Maya says: I used to be a writer who created only in the strictest solitude. My best work came late at night, after all of the distractions of the day were over, when it was just me and my quiet apartment and moonlight. There, I let my mind wander at will, my thoughts growing soft around the edges, permeable. And while something of me still clings to that image and that feeling, I have come to realize that the isolation that nourished my work almost always came with a sharp ache. At the heart of my heart, there was a keen desire to belong. To something else. To someone else. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself.
I would have said, then, that the longing was about partnership, about romance and love. And some of it was definitely about that. But more than this, it was about co-creation. It was about true collaboration. It was about having someone to play with, to make with, to imagine with. When Amy & I launched our business almost 4 years ago –and this after a totally unanticipated journey into each other’s lives as romantic partners, which is a pretty wild story in itself — I don’t think either of us could have known how much work this actually takes…or how much satisfaction it would offer. There are times now when I stand back in a kind of wonder and relief – wonder because I know there are things that we are doing together that I simply would not or could not have done on my own, and relief because that nameless, formless longing that floated me into so many late nights has found a place to land. I am learning, each day, how to bridge the distance between the “I” and the “we,” and learning how also to maintain an interdependence of those identities. It’s so important not to lose one’s own voice in service of the collective, to find a way to carve out real estate for both. I think the combination of partnerships that Amy and I share — our relationship and our business collaboration — demands that we keep much better track of ourselves, that we stay accountable to who we are and balancing what we are doing to contribute to the whole with what we are doing to nourish ourselves. There is also a greater letting go — of ego, in particular — that’s required because we want to make these partnerships sustainable, fruitful, successful. It’s not a project we need to complete. We’re talking about building a life together in such a way that we want to continue coming to the table. That’s something we are consciously, choicefully doing every day. And I feel a purposefulness now that I don’t think I ever really connected with alone.
Amy says: The beginnings of our roar together sounded more like a whisper; a blog post with a poem attached, a button pressed, a search for more. Maya was a willowy poet/part-time-chef living in San Francisco and I was a petite soccer mom living in Nutley, New Jersey with two elementary-aged boys. On paper we had nothing in common, but her voice was loud and clear and I wanted to hear more of it. Our first fumbled meetings were missteps and misunderstandings. She mistook my love of exclamation points for, well, crazy. And I mistook the disconnect between the life she lived so loudly on paper and the introverted awkwardness she exhibited in person when she showed up at my house during her Tour de Word in 2009, for, well, crazy. But over the next two years a thread of words connected us and a few overlapping friends connected us and we kept up a dialogue until she was standing in my front yard again, this time with a suitcase full of her belongings in hand. We began creating a life together which in time, became creating a business together and The Creativity Caravan was born. Our passion for and commitment to living our lives creatively and sparking and engaging others to do the same gave our disparate voices a reason to sing together and our whispers became a roar.
Amy Tingle and Maya Stein co-founded The Creativity Caravan, a mobile creativity business based in Nutley, NJ, with a desire to build community through creative action, and to deliver creative experiences to people everywhere.
Their vintage caravan, a 1965 Covered Wagon named “MAUDE” (Mobile Art Unit Designed for Everyone), serves as their creative hub and home away from home when they travel. With a unique menu of offerings for all ages, The Creativity Caravan invites everyone to the table. At the heart of it all, they believe that good communication, honesty, and transparency — and having fun! — are the key ingredients to living well.
The Roar Sessions is a weekly series featuring original guest posts by women of diverse backgrounds and voices. Read them all.