why we do what we do
A story from Fia...
In 2012, I journeyed to South Africa in search of interconnectedness. While there, I met an artist from Johannesburg who lives in a glass house. An anomaly in a city where every home is protected by high spiked iron gates and barbed wire. This woman's art is not a reflection of the violence in her world, but a celebration of the beauty and humanity which exists alongside the fear. In her reach to vision beyond the struggle, her life became her art. And this reach for serenity extended into her space of living.
On this same trip, I drove alone along the tip of what I thought was someone else's continent, irrevocably altered by the juxtaposition of human poverty and stunning natural beauty of places I never knew existed. I witnessed extraordinary kindness and aligned so deeply with the yellow sun that I lost my sense of belonging to anyone and to any place, as I focused on the things that connect us as a human race rather than those that separate.
This changed the stories I'd come to believe and triggered a life-long journey of daily creating space for profound questions about my body, my life, and my work.
A Hundred Ways North creates spaces where we can breathe together and remember what it is we're here to do. It's where we remember the fullness of our natural voices and the exquisite abilities of our bodies. It's where we meet together to align, partner, and create towards the lives we wish to live, in a world we're honored to be a part of.
who we are
Most people know me by Wendy Saver/Mortimer...
In 2016, to align with all the other big life choices I made, I legally changed my name to Fia Jack Skye. It's not a mid-life crisis. It's clarity. A stepping in... (Having been through all the paperwork of a name change twice already, I can tell you this was not a light decision).
As 'Wendy,' I balanced a life in theatre & academia for almost 20 years. I am a member of Actor's Equity Association, VASTA, and P3/east. My MFA is in acting from the University of Washington's Professional Actor Training Program. I was a barista & baker at the Honeybear Bakery in Seattle & then a chef at a small catering company in NYC. I've been on faculty at Marymount Manhattan, UConn, Wesleyan University & Ball State (where I was tenured); published articles on cross-culture storytelling, beginner's mind, and balancing analytical with with kinesthetic learning principles; traveled three times to teach & direct in the Gauteng Province in South Africa; worked in regional theatres across the country; been married & divorced.
Everything I was teaching young artists: to find their light, how to partner, how to take and give space, how to speak with clarity and conviction, how to believably compel an audience of strangers, and how to align so deeply with another's set of life circumstances that you willingly widen your own opinions and feelings in service of making space for someone else's story... is wildly useful in every day living... I left higher education in order to further pursue passionate inquiry about balancing physiological, physical and architectural spaces, partnering, and working with others to experience how access to your whole body and whole voice enriches healthy, positive, daily living.
I've come to believe that with each decision you make, you choose your life & what you consume matters. Ripple effects. So... I empowered myself to take a hard look at each aspect of my life, took full responsibility for my own joy, and remembered I only go around once in this body and form so if not now... when? So here I am... choosing a new path in life where nothing is at half.
I've been fortunate to work with extraordinary teachers along the way... influences of my process and way of working include: Patsy Rodenburg; Cathy Madden (with whom I am currently studying Alexander Technique); Robyn Hunt & Steve Pearson. Sources of deep inspiration include F. M. Alexander, Christopher Alexander, Yoshi Oida, Natalie Goldberg, Susan Griffin...
A lot of people know me as the writer & artist behind StoryPeople. Which has been quite a ride. With thousands of stories & prints created over the years (or maybe because of all that) it made it pretty easy to write the 13 books I published at StoryPeople Press. Two of them were even nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry which was kind of a fun side benefit.
There’ve also been other books along the way, like my collaboration with photographer Lorne Resnick, “Cuba: This moment, Exactly So”. (This one turned out to be the winner of three independent book awards. See what happens when you just keep writing & making art?)
& now, there’s this whole new adventure of A Hundred Ways North. To those of you who know me, it’s actually not much of a leap to see how I’m moving into the creativity & life workshops that I’m doing with Fia. Or to see how my writing is changing. All of it has a simplicity & clarity that’s informed by loving the world (which is something that seems to come with the territory of how I see things).
Born in Iowa, raised in Chicago, I went to Luther College for my BA in Theater and English. Later on, after I figured out what I really wanted to do (HA!) I got my MFA in Fiber and Mixed Media from John F. Kennedy University in the Bay Area of California. Fibre? you say. I thought you told stories. Well, if you must know, I’d answer, my degree is in Stories As The Fibre of Human Community. (Notice how that’s all in caps because Stories are a Very Important Thing in my world.
That said, my real education came from being in the world: short order cooking at Denny’s, apprenticing with a French chef in Chicago, running operations at a high-fashion mannequin factory in L.A., doing contract archaeology in the summer heat, dabbling as a tennis pro after college, writing plays for a small theatre company in Minnesota. I speak six languages, with my favorites being the Romance languages (not surprisingly) & that gave me an excuse to travel all over the world, so I could…umm…practice. Yeah. That’s it.
I’ve lived for longer chunks of time in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota & California. Even though we’re in Iowa at the moment, somehow I keep being pulled West. (Just so you know, Fia has that same pull, so don’t be at all surprised when you find out we’re somewhere entirely new in the very near future…)
Yoshi P. McStorm
A Belgian Tervuren with the alias of Mooseboy, the Windherder. In defiance of his breed, he is a healthy 80 lbs. and regularly enjoys stomping about in fresh water streams. He is our guide & reminder of what it is to be entirely yourself & perfectly present.
He was up to his thing (as the internationally celebrated writer & artist behind StoryPeople. Author and illustrator of 13 books...) She was up to her thing (balancing life as a professional actress and professor of voice & acting, a recipient of national & institutional teaching awards...)
We met at a dinner in Indiana. On April Fool's Day. And that was it. He left California. She left Indiana. Within 6 months of being together, we published our manifesto, Creative Anarchy; took a 6949 mile road trip through 14 states in 72 days in the middle of winter; and began the collaboration that became A Hundred Ways North. (This makes it sound romantic... Walking away from perfectly fine lives wasn't easy. It was disruptive, and a catalyst for change not only for us, but also for those whose lives we touched. But. Once you know something, you cannot un-know it without a violence to the spirit that is eventually more corrosive than the fear that tempts you to forget.
We originally created this company because we wanted to work together in a place that would allow us to do the things we want to do in the ways we want to do them. That place didn't happen to exist, so we made it. We thought we could just put everything we do into one site: fabulous fonts and beautiful photos, all Brian's new work alongside Fia's passion for teaching... and 6 websites later, we're still figuring it out! Right now, you can find all of Brian's new work at Brian Andreas Studio, while A Hundred Ways North is all about the ways to work & walk alongside us - it also carries some items that are useful and unique to our workshops.
We love natural spaces (as you can tell from our photos). So, we make a concerted effort to work with national & international vendors who use sustainable & earth-friendly materials & processes in all of the products we offer. It matters.
Why the name? We decided to call it A Hundred Ways North because life is not a direct route. There are turns along the way we have no way of anticipating. Yet, these unexpected routes grow us towards the life we're here to explore.