Tonyehn Verkitus

Earliest Joy

My earliest memory is more of a sensation than an experience.  I believe I was 5 and when I awoke in the morning there was a feeling of magic in the air.  My curtains shifted on a slight breeze and the air smelled of warm grass, fruit on the vine and worn wood.  The sunlight eased around the edge of the curtain in dappled rays causing the air to look like it was filled with dancing waves of shimmery glitter that appeared then disappeared in the broken light.  It was as if the world was calling me out to explore and the day ahead held secrets and enchantments.

Favorite Artist

I have to choose two and both because they moved me to experience and create in a new way (no particular order as I can’t recall who I came across first).  The first is Andy Goldsworthy. His site specific organic works invite viewers to ponder all the mysteries of nature while also accepting and respecting the temporary nature of life and I love the impermanence of it.  Second, is Rebecca Horn. Her large scale installations and tactile art made we want to create pieces that gave the viewer a mind, body soul experience. Her work inspired me to create a piece that explored that childhood sensation of a snowy day.  The sound as it crunches under your feet, the feathery feel of it sliding off your face, the slight chimes of the cracking ice in trees and the ethereal quality to the air… sorry I digress :). Basically, they both made me look at the world differently and from different perspectives.

Music

This one is super hard for me.  The questions should be which song moves you TODAY lol.  As I’m writing this I’m thinking of a song from my childhood (maybe because I’ve been thinking a lot about childhood) that was popular on the radio in Liberia when I was seven.  It is called Angelina by Sweet Talks. What moves me emotionally definitely depends on my mood but a few songs that I love every time are A Case of You by Joni Mitchell, C’mon Billy by PJ Harvey, Angel from Montgomery the Bonnie Raitt version, Happy by Sandra Nkake and soooooo many more.  I’m a bit of a music junkie and not all of it is good lol. If you want to know what’s moving me now drop me a note.

Journey

Explore and eat!  I think I would plan a tour of Southeast Asia.  The culture and history I find mesmerizing, and don’t even get me started on the food.  I would want to experience some spiritual magic, see amazing architecture and eat foods I’ve never had before.  Most importantly I like to try to immerse myself in the places I visit by getting to know the locals and going to the places they go.  I hate being a tourist.

Five Friends for Dinner

Food, wine, more food and great conversation!  For me food is love and there is nothing I enjoy more than feeding my friends.  My middle name, Nymali, means village entertainer and I am very aptly named.

Change Playground

I’ve always wanted help and heal people.  As a child I wanted to be a doctor, in college I studied psychology, after college I worked for nonprofits.  I have always been someone that people feel comfortable telling anything. Even people I’m meeting for the first time.  I genuinely want to hear everyone’s stories and I always give honest feedback. I first started doing this type of work, prior to teaming up with Gabrielle, in workshops for nonprofit professionals to help with work life balance and it grew from there.

Life Changing Moment

I’ve had a few, but I’m going to focus on the one that pertains to the work we do here.  November 2014 I unexpectedly landed myself a 12 day stay in the hospital. I went in with extensive kidney damage, my body was not making new red blood cells and I was diagnosed with Lupus.  Prior to this when my body tried to share the signs something was wrong I chocked it up to being lazy AND somehow saw it as a sign that I was being a bad mother, lover and employee. The point is I had worked myself into illness,  was not caring for myself as I should have and even after leaving the hospital with the best of intentions went back to my old ways. There was no specific wake up call, but rather a realization that all I was putting out for others was not coming back to me and that I needed to put self-care and a little selfishness first and as part of that I wanted to bring more joy into my life and the life of my children.