Rhythm / Devotion of Maggy Navin
Rhythm / Devotion is a series of interviews intended to illuminate the connection to ritual & rhythm in our daily lives. This series explores the intimacy of routine, the magic of the ordinary, & how these small acts of devotion set the stage for larger workings in the world ~
What is your name & where are you in the world?
My name is Maggy Navin, I am currently based in Pittsburgh.
How do you define yourself & your work?
I am an artist, researcher, friend, accidental bird of passage, and I’m relishing in my hermit era—which has unexpectedly cultivated deeper clarity and connection on all levels. I lead a creative research studio called Regarding Dew where I support sensitive, creative thinkers in owning their creative desires, cultivating their visions, and bringing forth their gifts.
Will you walk us through what a day in your life looks like? Begin with how you greet the morning & guide us until you close off the day in the eve ~
One of the most important practices of my day starts upon waking: I stare at the ceiling in bed and attune to warmth, safety, and newness. It’s nothing formal, but I naturally feel enormous compassion at how much my heart has held and how much my eyes have seen, and this naturally widens into a compassion practice for humanity. I lived so many years in a dull panic, crashing into each day with a swirl of shame around how ‘doing life’ felt complicated and opaque... The last number of years have been devoted to crafting a lifestyle that is attuned to what ~this organism~ needs—with great creativity and without shame—and obsessive-compulsions that have been with me since childhood have faded in a way that I never thought was possible. I credit so much of these shifts to this simple morning practice, paired with lots of loving internal dialogue as I do the little tasks of life.
Then I prepare coffee and kiss the cat. When it’s brewing, I have a pact with myself: this is the time to make the bed, wake up the rooms with light, take my herbs and supplements. In the colder months especially, I sit on the couch with my partner before getting to work.
Mostly creating my own schedule also means that work can bleed into any hour of the day (or night). What works best for me is to engage in introspection and scholarship until around nine in the morning. If it were up to me, I would spend all day here with my enthusiasm guiding the way.
While nibbling on food, I move into my studio and do a ‘needle-moving task’: the one thing that I need to attend to that day. This takes discernment and patience, especially since I have a practiced tendency to task hop and multitask with a sense of urgency. Moving from a sense of scarcity (too many ideas but not enough time! rising cost of living! feeling like a forever novice!) to a grounded notion of ‘how can I meaningfully reach and impact who I’m here to serve?’ has shifted mountains in both my focus and courage.
I generally end up taking a longer afternoon break and use this time to be outside, nap, clean, move my body, and run errands since my brain starts to feel at capacity and things need to brew.
As the day goes on, I try to match the inside lighting with the outside and make sure that I’m inhabiting my space, not just my laptop! My partner finds cooking (and bread-making) restorative, so I take the sous-chef role in the kitchen as we share insights and anecdotes from the day’s projects before sitting down. Just like I linger in bed in the morning, lingering at the table in conversation is one of the rituals that I cherish most.
More work follows, sometimes with creative bursts in the early evening. I don’t have much of a wind-down practice in the evening, even as I sense my need for one. If I’m at capacity with outer facing work, I circle back on my personal study practices. Music is usually playing. I also like to make tea, watch an episode of something lighthearted, rearrange things, and sometimes take a bath before turning in.
You are a creative director, teacher, writer, & artist ~ how do you prepare yourself &/or your space to enter into these practices?
For so long, I’ve lived in small studio apartments with my partner and two cats (if that sounds cramped, it was) and now I have a designated space for work; when I close the door behind me, a creative vitality naturally stirs. The ability to do my work is an immense privilege and responsibility, and sometimes that feels too heavy to hold when that awareness exists next to self-doubt. So courting a sense of wonder is primary to my approach—I feel into how that word exists in my body and give myself permission to dive deep. Sometimes I ‘tune into’ people before starting: tuning into the few people that I care so deeply about serving; tuning into the women in my lineage whose deep creativity was often overlooked, repressed, and expressed in private; tuning into myself as a child (undaunted, whimsical, and fiercely committed to dreams); and tuning into the leadership of my inner mentor: this facet that takes a lifetime to cultivate and trust.
What do you do/not do if you are feeling stuck around your work?
I’m in the stuck/unstuck dance often. It usually means that I’m too close to what I’m doing and need some lemon water and fresh air. I like to invite my stuckness on a walk.
When I feel stuck, sometimes a part of me doesn’t feel safe to be seen, mess-up, or be perceived in a way that feels untrue. I remind myself that we aren’t meant to figure everything out alone, and I ask a friend or beloved if they want to have a mutual brainstorming session.
I think about this quote by John le Carré: “Sometimes we have to do a thing in order to find out the reason for it. Sometimes our actions are questions, not answers.” Sometimes we also have to do a thing alongside our fear, without the need for it to subside, to know that we can be daring and sensitive at once. I get stuck when I forget this. Thankfully, this is at the center of my contemplations, so I consider myself knee-deep in the curriculum of my work whenever it gets stirred up.
Do you have a movement practice?
I like to take long walks to both be delighted by novelty, hopefully coming across a cat here and there, and to see how decrepit the empire looks these days. It’s important to me to witness how life plays out from the sidewalk, to talk about the built world, and what we’re noticing coming into form.
My rebounder, something I’ve wanted for years, makes me feel free. When I feel resistant to moving my body, I’ve been relying on Richard Simmons for levity and fun.
What does structure mean to you, or what is your philosophy around ritual/routine?
Rituals and routines have always been a point of both struggle and security for me… Sometimes I imagine that my inconsistency is the location of my creativity! And maybe it’s true… so I try to focus on reliability over consistency.
I lean on Paulo Freire’s words to help: “If I am not in the world simply to adapt to it, but rather transform it, and if it is not possible to change the world without a certain dream or vision for it, I must make use of every possibility there is not only to speak about my utopia, but also to engage in practices consistent with it.”
For years now I’ve called my schedule and routines ‘frameworks for blossoming’, with long lists about this approach. One part reads:
I do not keep up with the Joneses.
I slow down to remember what I know.
My weeks are mine and mostly offline.
Time loves me.
My energy stretches long and far to serve myself, others, and future generations. I am at home in my gifts, I honor my gifts, and I let these gifts flow freely in service of liberation and healing.
I am my safe harbor.
These thoughts help to give me permission to carve out and fall into my own rhythms, but it doesn’t come easy.
What are you listening to, reading, or watching these days?
Listening to: When I’m working on my computer and writing, I listen to "Disintegration Loop" by William Basinski on loop, and have for years. At almost any given moment, including this moment, this is what I’m listening to. When I’m in studio-mode, making things with my hands, I listen to Neu and lots of Dan & Drum to stay in a creative groove. Sometimes a podcast here and there, but I’ve been practicing stepping out of constantly learning/being entertained and trying to stay closer to my own energetic space.
Reading: Mindful by Mary Oliver, Lighthouse by Rilke, and some SARK.
Watching: A newly instated ritual of ‘Sunday night movie nights’ (I say both ‘nights’ because it feels jazzy) has been rocking my world. We set up the projector and choose something at random to see what it’s like. Recent favorites are Taxi Tehran, Big Night, and Sliding Doors.
Any last words of wisdom?
Your deepest visions are not incidental.
How can we find your work?
The best way to connect with my work is through my publication, Regarding Dew Letters: regardingdew.substack.com
I’m plotting my leave from Instagram, but there’s still lots there: @regardingdew
Thank you so much, Maggy, for your beautiful work in this world & for sharing your rhythm devotion with us ~
I connect the essence of Blueberry as a beautiful companion to Maggy Navin, her rhythm/devotion, & her work in the world.
I made my Blueberry (Vaccinum ashei) during twilight on the Vernal Equinox of 2020, while the sky was the same dusky pink & white as the blueberry flowers themselves.
This essence was made with blueberry flowers, leaves, & twigs from my gardens here in Raleigh, NC. Blueberry essence is subtle & yet quite pronounced all at once & has a beautiful ability to connect us to the vastness & changeability of the open sky & all while feeling the solidity of the earth at our feet.
Blueberry asks us to be truly present, reminding us of the abundance available to us when we are in presence & the perfection of timing. So often, we only want the fruits, the end result, the answer, the manifest or finished product but don’t want to engage with all that it takes to receive that gift: the presence & patience & curiosity of being with the process.
Blueberry helps us to bear witness to & be part of that process, to fully open to change, reminding us to stay with it, to get down into it, to listen because that is how we grow. Change is constant & we might have to do something again, or do it over a thousand times, but blueberry takes us by the hand & encourages us to be generous with ourselves despite it all, to find even deeper layers & ways in which we can be our most authentic selves because change makes these opportunities available to us. This essence playfully grounds us into the earth, into our bodies, into the soft round spaces within us, & into our own, unique energy--inviting us to truly relish within the cup of ourselves. This essence invites us to take up more space in ourselves & in our lives, to expand into possibility.
Blueberry helps us to converse with the unique language of the body—so that we may honor our bodies by simply listening. When embodied, it is easier to make grounded, nourishing decisions for ourselves vs. letting the head/ego take the reins. When we are embodied, we find solidity in our selves & our own energies, & we can better tune into trust, love, & gratitude for our humanness--all the many phases, needs, desires, & facets of it.
Find a bottle of Blueberry essence for yourself or a loved one here ~