Wish You Were Here

It has been a little less than 90 days since my husband and I, along with our 3 dogs and 3 large UHaul's worth of stuff landed in the mountains of North Carolina. I return to Florida once a month for four days to maintain a long standing massage practice and am asked by almost everyone if I love my new home. Well.......here are the answers I have come up with so far.......1. Beginnings are full of magic, hope and lots of heavy lifting. How did I ever think that we didn't have too much stuff??? The velocity of wanting something to work helps for it to work - it just takes more time than I idealized. 2. Endings are painful, emotional, cleansing, cathartic and involve more heavy lifting. Damn! Some of the people I thought would be with me forever have just upped and disappeared........some I never thought would give me a second thought have been the support I didn't even know I needed. And the stuff.........cleaning out is a beautiful thing but requires fortitude and lots of upper body strength :) 3. The mountains are my muse and I am their bitch. No two ways about it - they are in my DNA and they own my heart. I, in turn, work diligently to honor them in my life and in my art. 4. I miss my tribe, my community and my girlfriends. Sometimes, there is no substitute for spending a few hours with a girlfriend that just "gets you". They don't need to fix you just the way you don't need to be fixed. To hear the words, "me, too!!", is so damn comforting that it makes me want to cry tears of joy knowing that I am connected with another person. 5. I'm a whole lotta of me for new people in my life to take in. A girlfriend called me "formidable" yesterday. I finally understand that it's not for me to decided whether I am too much or too little.........I just "am". 6. I am stronger than I thought. Putting one foot in front of the other can be an incredible challenge at times but moving through is the best way I know how to get to the other side and find progress and peace for my soul. 7. I am more vulnerable than I thought. Ohhhhhh, this is a tough one for me - Ms. Strong Enough. I am fragile and prone to self doubt and ridicule. It's nice to know that there are people out there who inspire me to be gentle with myself. The discovery that in all the change I have encountered the past few months - what matters most, to me, are the treasures of friendship. I bow In gratitude to you, my friends who make up my heart.

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Leaning into Now

My husband and I, packing up our little band of misfits and all of our worldly possessions, moved exactly one month ago, to the mountains of North Carolina.  A dream of almost 20 years realized, we have gone about setting all the details of our lives in place. There have been many moments of chaos, anxiety, fear, worry, joy, apprehension, grief, sadness, excitement and calmness.  These "moments" never come with any order or warning.  They just appear from thin air, and when they have had a whirl, they tend to leave just as quickly.

I haven't wrote much about it because I don't like to be off balance let alone appear like a staggering drunk.  But here's the truth.......this simple decision of picking up and moving has had subtle and profound affects on me that I never even thought of.  The good, the bad and the sheerly different details don't really matter.  What does matter is the fact that I am creating more than I ever have - even through the confusion of stability and emotional centeredness.  I am fragile, vulnerable and unbalanced at times, and yet with that melee' has come incredible moments of inspiration and creativity.  Go figure........

I stand in this transition realizing more and more what very little we actually have control over. As I do with clay, I must let go of holding on so tightly, to the old, the comfortable, the familiar and start to embrace the next chapter of my life.  May it be beautiful........IMG_4585

The Exercise of Life

I have issues.....most of us do. Keb Mo, a masterful blues artist sings, " I got a suitcase, I take it wherever I go". Well, packed in my little red sports car of a suitcase is periodical dances with depression. I inherited the ability to visit the darkness from my Dad. He was, for the most part, unable to find his way out. I watched him as well as other people close to me suffer from this and it hurts to see what it does to their light.We all have are own way of handling our emotional dance partner. My own brand of medicine is daily encounters with exercise and creativity. Regular bouts of both soften the hardness and bring light to my life. When I run, I tend to let my mind wander around the universe. During one of these runs I had a revelation and it was simply this....I am loved. Now, I'm not talking about a religious deity sort of love, although that's pretty incredible, too. No, I mean I actually realized just how much love flows towards me. Love from my friends, family, clients, dogs and yes, dare I say, even clay. It was such a bitch slap sort of cognition coupled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I actually started crying, sobbing really, right there in the middle of the street with my dog Daisy looking up at me like I was full of crazy. Now, the admittance of my depression and the realization of being loved may seem disjointed but hear me out. If I can focus and draw upon the fact that I am loved whether by a two legged animal, a person or a seemingly benign product such as clay during these somewhat dark periods then what happens next is indisputable. This simple act of changing the direction of my thoughts instantly makes the heaviness subside. Darkness cannot withstand the light of one candle. And there's more! Creatives know that when we let go of trying to control the outcome of our creation, Magic and life have a chance to show up. In a beautifully weird sort of way, being creative on a regular basis brings forth more creativity and more creativity keeps the boogeyman away and then the whole Love thing shows up and before you know it ....You ARE Love. I just love it when Life shows up and teaches us how to see the light........

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The Beauty of Trust

Many times in my life, I have come to a crossroads.  Whether it was with a person, situation, direction or in a moment of creation, I felt I needed to reach out and trust someone other than myself.  There are a lot of folks that would LOVE to tell me what to do!  And, there are sometimes, I do so desperately desire to give up control and let someone else run my life and make the decisions.  But, having lived through a few of these experiences, I have learned a few things.

1.  When you ask someone for their advice, opinion or viewpoint, be ready for the answer.  It may not be the answer you long for or one that you expected.  But, if you have chosen that individual for their insight, be prepared to receive it.  

2.  Check your own agenda, and their motivations.  Not everyone has your best interests in mind; they have theirs.  Whether it is unconscious or not, they are speaking from what they want and desire.  It's human nature.......sort of. Which leads to the next point.......

3.  Ask an expert.  If I need help with a financial situation, I will ask a financial expert.  If I need help with creativity, or relationships, or cooking........I will ask someone who has a much higher level of expertise than I possess.  I want to grow, not have somebody else agree with me.  

4.  Having a few people you trust is priceless.  How many people do you really need to trust?  One, five, twenty?  In my experience, I have a couple of people that I trust with my life.  I also have a few people that I trust with certain areas of my life.  Sometimes trust is only needed per subject area.  I am happy to pay someone for their expertise because it is an even energy exchange.  If you truly want to learn, pay someone for their knowledge.  You will walk away with fresh new insight, and they will walk away being compensated for their brilliance.

5.  Trust your own voice.  If you are in doubt, ask someone for their input.  Listen, acknowledge what they are saying, process it, but if it doesn't fit for you and your life, it doesn't fit.  So many times we KNOW the answer, we are just looking for validation. That's fine, but to constantly rely on other people's input about your own path will lead you to dependency and, one day, you might look back and realize this isn't your beautiful life.  It's everyone's idea of your beautiful life.

6.  Trust that the Universe, God and your higher self "has got your back". This has been the most difficult for me.  I'm a "can do" kind of gal.  I never want to feel indebted to anyone.  But here's the secret.......if your intentions are clear and true, what you are working to bring to life will happen. The higher powers that be - they want you to ask.  Life breeds life.......beauty breeds beauty.  

7.  Get clear........really clear.  By asking for someone else for their viewpoint, you are sometimes getting clear on what you don't want in this world and that's just fine.  Most of time, I have figured out what I do want by figuring out what I don't.  Finding your own voice is sometimes messy with a few failures thrown in for good measure.  But the question is,  What else is worth doing?  Every day is a new chance to figure it out.......

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The Simplicity of Change

There are times in our lives where change is not only possible, it is inevitable. As I grow, the things, relationships and general "stuff" that once brought a smile to my face now weigh heavy on my shoulders. A friend once told me that "sometimes.....darlin'......your appointment is just over." I have thought back on that many times and realized there is great truth in that simple wisdom. We, as a general rule, don't like change. It makes us feel uncomfortable in our own skin; perhaps it's the unknown that makes us nervous, or the fear of making a wrong choice or never wanting to appear less than certain about our direction in life. But here's the kicker.........life doesn't come with any guarantees. One day you could wake up and realize that your appointment is over with this world. Yes, change can be overwhelming, especially when it's unbidden and unwelcome. But somewhere, along the line, most of us have secretly wished and dreamt of a new day, a new start, a new lease.

Since I am one of the many that have mixed emotions regarding change I am paying attention to the state of being of "simplicity". I ask myself everyday, do I want, need, desire or feel obligated to whatever is in front of me. I have a grand tendency to make everything way too complicated. So I am taking a simpler approach. If I am wrestling with something, I take it into myself and see how it "feels" in my body. If I instantly become anxious, nervous or filled with despair, I realize that this may not be the wise choice for me. If, instead, I take something in and feel a sense of calm, clarity and instantly, without recognizing it, take a big ol' deep breath, I get a sneaking suspicion I am onto what works for me.

Life is going to happen no matter how much I try and hold it off. So, as with life, so it is with clay. There are times when only the simple IMG_3276approach works. I have a funny feeling it's that way ALL the time.......

A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Kiln

As happens with most of my pieces as they are waiting to be fired, I envision what they will turn out to be after the final step.  The building, carving, burnishing, sanding and loving have been completed.  One month of drying has come to an end.  It was now time for the piece to enter the final phase of creation - the slow, low fire of the kiln with a quick exit at 1000 degrees into a pillow of sawdust and smoke.  Unfortunately, for one piece, she never made it that far before tragedy struck. As I carried the piece out to the kiln, I sat her on a side table to prepare the fire brick within the kiln.  As I turned back around, out of nowhere, my two large, rambunctious dogs, came barreling toward me, running into each other and the table.  Before I could reach out and catch the falling piece, the large carved top of the piece hit the table and smashed into many, many clay teardrops.........closely followed by my own.  In the early morning light, I screamed.......and cried........and cursed the dogs, the timing of it all and most importantly myself.  The "should of, could of, would of", inner dialogue began.  I started berating myself for everything and anything, as well as my husband for the way he set the kiln up all the way down to the uneven ground on which it sat.

I walked away from all of the emotional mayhem and drove to yoga.  My sweet friend, Anna, was teaching, and I felt relieved.  After class, I went home, and between some tense words and moments with my husband, he set about building a platform in which to create a level firing surface for the kiln and the table.  Meanwhile, I set about with a Dremel tool along with a whole lot of prayer, magic and cussing, and proceeded to transform the piece into something else.  The piece fired the next day, and to my amazement, I am pretty happy with the results.

The reason I relay this story is this.........no matter what drama, trauma or invalidation occurs, whether it is given by ourselves to ourselves, from another to us, or witnessed out in the world, there is always a chance to create a new beginning. ALWAYS.  I had to forgive myself for my own invalidations; I did not deserve the treatment that I rendered unto my very own soul. So it is with others in our lives.  If we are being openly criticized, berated or otherwise put down, please, please, please remember this.......You don't DESERVE it.  Don't make excuses for the perpetrator of those words, no matter what they call it - whether it be "feedback", "constructive" criticism or an other shiny, shitty term they want to use.  It's meant to suppress, control and cage your soul.  PERIOD.  If you believe them then you have shot yourself through the heart and the lesson will come up again and again until one day, you finally stand up for yourself and realize that they are speaking of their own fears, regrets and insecurities.  If they can make you believe that it's you that needs fixing, their job is complete.  They can take the spotlight of doubt off of themselves and place it securely on your shoulders and in your universe.

We can all be better than we were yesterday..........the question is, "Better by someone else's standards.......or your own?"  If clay has taught me anything, it is to be kinder to myself and to listen to my own intuition and the soul of the universe.  Everything else will take care of itself...........and with that, we can begin again.......photo

Letting Go.......

IMG_2875There is something that I just recently realized about myself and I have to say, I'm a little embarrassed.  If you have known me for any length of time, you already know that I LOVE to touch clay.  Actually, if you have only known me for about 5 minutes, you would clearly get it.  For the past 5 years, since I was first introduced to hand building, I have been obsessed with the process and eventually I became hyper vigilant about getting my work out into the world for others to see.  To see another person connect with my work is a sacred event in my world. Having said that, I have held something back........something that has created an obstacle to my own prosperity.  Sometimes, well most of the time, I fall in love with my work - usually the newest piece is the object of my affection.  This is not to say, that I, above anyone else's eyes, see every flaw in my work.  I sometimes over analyze the mistakes in my work, picking at them like a scab until I create a wound that takes too long to heal.  However, what I have uncovered is the fact that I attach myself to my work too much.  With all the love, thought, care and attention I give to each piece, I have forgotten the process of letting go.  I now realize that if I want to share my work with others, I must first learn how to let go of it so that each piece has a chance to find it's new home.  My fear, of course, is that with each piece that moves on, I have a little less creativity to share.  Well here's the kicker........just the opposite is true!! With the release of each creation, I am able to "declutter" my physical, emotional and spiritual space which in turns gives me more space to create.

Just as we all need to declutter our home to create more opportunity and growth so it is with our art.  I'm letting go........one piece at a time.

The Addiction To Which There is NO Cure

I touched clay for the first time less than 5 years ago.  Since that glorious, destiny filled day, I have been addicted to it.  What part of clay, you may ask, is so intoxicating? Well, to make order of my addiction, allow me to take this from the top. When I first open a new bag of earthenware, I plunge my head deep within the bag to take a big deep breath of all things earthy.  The scent of the clay is something akin to that beautiful sweet smell that happens just after the rain in the mountains.  It is at once filled with dirt, water, grass and sky.  The scent is so heady to me that I lose myself for a moment, lost in memories of all the hikes I have taken in my heaven which goes by the name of North Carolina.

As I roll out the clay to fit it into a bowl for forming, I marvel at it's movement, the way it's smooths out onto the canvas and the feel of it beneath my hands.  As I take the time to mold the clay, it is taking it's time molding me.  I know, for certain, that clay has made me a better person.  A calmer, more patient, loving individual.  Earth has a way of doing that, if we just open up and allow it to do it's work.

When I roll out each coil and sculpt it in to the body of the piece, I love the feeling of anticipation, never knowing where the process is taking me.  I always feel like I'm just along for the ride - never in control and, for once, not only enjoying the feeling but embracing it.  The stress of living is long gone by this point; it's just me and the clay.

Next in my long list of addictions is the carving and burnishing of a piece.  This can sometimes takes hours, days or weeks.  I used to hurry through this step, impatient to see the finished product.  But you know what?  It just doesn't matter anymore.  I have heard 1,000 times that the journey is more important than destination.  Now, I finally get it.  Each piece is a journey of it's own as well as a pathway to the next creation just waiting to be born.

The firing, smoking and polishing of the clay is another step that is full of excitement knowing that the piece is never, ever finished until it comes through the fire.  Kind of like all of us.  We must all go through the fire to become tempered, smoothed, soothed and wise......

Who would want to find a cure for that?

The ART of Choice

In any given moment we have a choice. It may be as simple and mundane as what to eat , where to go or whether or not a nap is in our immediate future :). Whether we realize it or not, every choice we make, whether conscious or otherwise comes from us. We all have the tendency to blame our condition on something outside of ourselves, and to a certain extent, this might be true. However......more often than not, it's ALL us doing a fine......or not so fine job of "driving the bus".There have been a few events in the past two weeks that have rocked me to the core. They haven't happened to me personally but to friends that had taken up residence in my heart long ago. I hurt for them, my heart aches for them and there are clouds in my soul. If I sat in this pain long enough, it would swallow me whole. This is where the essence of my creative being must rise and make a choice for life, to create something beautiful in response to the sadness and tragedy and to hopefully help the ones I love in the process. All I can ever hope to be is this......to be present for the people that I love and care for, to listen and acknowledge their pain and to create life in the midst of it. I owe it to them, I owe to myself and I owe it to Life.

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