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

Balance and Flow

There have been times in my life that I was absolutely sure that I needed, damn well deserved, balance in my life.  I focused on attaining it everyday.  I willed myself to have time for all of my duties and obligations, my wants and desires, and all of the other things that I was just sure that made up the ever illusive quality of balance.  Guess what?  Not only did I fail miserably at achieving it, I also added on the caveat of reprimanding myself for not being strong enough, smart enough or evolved enough to make it happen.  This cycle started as a struggle and turned into lose-lose on all sides. Before I knew what was happening, I had found myself with a first class ticket to Crazy town! Today, while taking a yoga class from my masterful instructor, Mary Lyn, a light bulb went on in my head between Crow Pose and Leap Frog.  It's not balance that matters to me...... it's the "flow".  As there is a flow in yoga, so there is in life and art.  We all know when we are in a state of grace and flow.  Whether through our chosen profession or the art form that chooses us, we can keenly sense the sweet spot when it appears.  You see, trying to balance work and life just creates a big fat "zero" in the end. We are running so hard between the two extremes that we gain nothing other than a lot of exhaustion and failure.  There really isn't any lasting growth.  However, being in the flow of the moment, the task, the touch, the beauty of creation......well that's the place I want to live.  To give ourselves completely to who or what is in front of us, to "Be Here Now" gives us the opportunity to be fully present.  When we enter this state of grace, time ceases to matter or exist.  Yeah, I want more of that.  So how to get it?  Make conscious choices about who and what we bring into our life.  Everyone and everything can take a little piece of you.  Make sure that it's worth the cost........and then open up, be present and breathe.

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The Soul and Grace of Art

In my day time profession as a Licensed Massage Therapist, I am always working to get spasmed muscles to release, stressed clients to relax and my day to develop an easy flow.  As it is in my living so it is with my art and my life. When I touch clay, after just a few minutes, all the sharp edges of my world start to soften.  I can audibly hear my breath slow, set to the rhythm of my hands.  In this simple rote act of building a piece of pottery I find myself.  Not someone who has an agenda or any earthly idea of what I am doing, being, having, controlling, manipulating or planning.

There comes a time in everyone's life, whether we like to admit or not, where either the masks come off.......or they harden onto our being like concrete.  One can slowly lose themselves to ideas, personalities, groups and rigid ideas that they think is them.  And yet it isn't.  The belief system that we set in place over the years, whether it has manifested through family, religion or friends was put in place to guide us until we could raise ourselves up enough to think for ourselves.

Just think of all of the lovely people, places and experiences we are holding off by wearing all the old stuff that just doesn't serve us or the higher good any longer.  By releasing that which does not work any longer, we can open ourselves up a brand new world of light and creation.  Honestly, this is how I found my art.  I had to release the hurtful past which I allowed to hold me back.  The painful relationships that were continuing to create negativity and darkness in my life and find what my soul needed.  It may sound simple to say that clay did that for me.  You see, clay is a lot like yoga.  You just do the same things over and over again with your physical body, never really noticing that subtle yet profound changes are occurring until, one day, you wake up and everything just seems more..........available and alive.

I once had a friend who said that "you have to take out the garbage before anything new will come in the door."  For everything that we release it leaves room for the fresh air of new growth and opportunity to come a' knockin'. Doing this with soul and grace by your side makes for the most beautiful kind of art.Image