Catch and Release.......

I've been thinking a lot about what I have chosen to hold on to and what I have released back into the universe. The major theme of my life right now is knowing what to let go of and what to keep......possessions, relationships, places, dreams, realities. There are times when it is so damn easy to ease my grasp, allowing my finger tips to unfurl and open to the winds of change, and then there are times when I would rather feel the pain of the comfortable rather than let go into the vastness of the unknown. Sometimes, I wish for certainty, in my own life, with my relationships with others, with the universe.......and then I realize that always being certain can eliminate the joy of discovery, not just with life but with the creative process as well. We don't get to have it both ways. Letting go does not mean laying back and being blown around like a late autumn leaf. No sir - it means you let go of the conclusion - moving toward your desires and future with activities that align with your intentions and wishes. In the Alchemist, written by Paulo Coelho, he writes, "when you really want something, the universe conspires to make it happen."

So, in the spirit of the new year, when I am to be letting go of the old and the universe of things that no longer serve me and my evolution as a person and an artist, I will honor the newness of life and the conclusion of my past. I am moving toward something greater than I have been and that is something to look forward to even if I don't know what it is.

Setting my intentions, my desires, and releasing them into the universe one breath, one step at a time.

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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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Keeping My Word

As a long practicing Massage Therapist, whenever a client wouldn't schedule after their appointment I would always say, "I am here whenever you need me." And I meant it.  Fast forward 22 years, and I am now standing on the precipice of my own move and evolution as a person, a therapist, an artist.  I am the person who isn't rescheduling........... In a very vulnerable way, I have gone through the emotional tumult of feeling as though I'm not keeping my word.  I have always been a loyal kind of girl; once I call someone my friend they are my friend. Period.  As a lot of us do, I never thought things would change.  I thought that I would always be here for my clients and I could be, at times, the one stable place that they could come to to get out of the chaos of daily life.  And then............things change, life happens and we either recognize it, readjust our sails and lean into it or we resist it and allow the friction to envelop us.

Clay has taught me that, as in life, there are more things in motion than I am aware of.  I may have a "fixed" idea of how I want a piece to turn out and honestly, that just sets me up for either disappointment or revelation, and it's all about how I view it.  With our impending move to the mountains of Western North Carolina all of the seats of the emotional roller coaster are available to me.  It's my choice which one I sit in.  Should I sit in the front seat leaning into the wind, the change and the excitement?  Or do I sit in the back with a look of abject terror strewn across my face, hoping and praying the bird that just flew by doesn't crap in my face? The position I choose changes on a daily basis, sometimes hourly.  But, in a beautiful, messy, sort of way, that's what the freedom to choose is all about.  Our emotional "being-ness" isn't supposed to be a final destination, it's a journey.

As I say Goodbye to all the clients and friends that I have made over the past few decades, I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I will STILL be there whenever they need me.  In this chapter, it may be a phone call, a thought, a wish of light moving toward them, but I will hold them in my heart wherever change takes us all. And I know, just as the sun rises tomorrow, they will be there for me.

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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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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

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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