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

Resurrection

A few months back, a piece of art was stolen from my tent at a local art show.  To say that it was a surreal experience would be an understatement. After my initial emotional response of betrayal, shock, grief and anger, a very quiet calm settled over me.  It's almost impossible to explain - it was if I intuitively knew that this event was larger than myself or my art.  It has turned out to be the start of a very poignant and profound phase of my life. As a person, I tend to fall into my thought process.  Getting out of my own head can, at times, be quite a chore.  However, the more I thought about this event, the more I gave it up to the universe.  Somehow, this experience has allowed me to reach even further than I thought possible just a few short months ago.  When we lose something or someone we cherish, there are a number of ways we can respond.  I decided to respond as if I had nothing to lose.  I read a quote recently that said something like this......"Enjoy your life but don't become attached to it".  Letting go allows us to loosen our grip and ease into our future - not as a leaf blowing in the wind but as a person with intention and clarity who simply decides to acknowledge that there is, in fact, a flow to life.

Since I started touching clay just a mere 4 years ago, I have never attempted to recreate a piece.  My motto is to Let Go......Let Clay.  I simply start a piece and the clay takes if from there as long as I step out of the way and let the process unfold.  However, since all of this occurred, I knew Floating Lotus would reappear.  It only took 2 1/2 short months but she is sitting on my table, smiling at me.  She has been resurrected a little larger, a little more bold and confident, her petals standing a little taller and yet with more grace of movement than the original.  For that, she has earned the name Dancing Lotus.

I will have to wait one month before I can fire her.  If she makes it through the fire, I will post an "after" photo.  I am leaving that up to the universe.IMG_1344

The "New Age" of Me

I saw an old friend this weekend while selling my art work at a local show. It had been awhile since we last spoke. As it is in life, people can move in out of one's circle not so much with drama but with a quiet separation of time and space. It was good to see him. He had bought a piece of my pottery a few years back and was now interested in acquiring another. The joy that it brings me to see someone connect with a piece of my work is, at times, overwhelming. I actually have to hold myself back from simply giving it away.

He said something during the course of our conversation that has stuck with me. He told me that I have gotten "new age". At first I felt myself become defensive and then, as I was processing the statement , he added, " not that it's a bad thing". I have never thought of myself in these terms and it set my mind to wander what that actually means. My response was something like "I like to think that I have become a kinder and gentler version of me."

We talked a little more. He picked a piece that suited him and then he was off with a warm good-bye.

As I have thought about this, I looked back upon the years that we had known each other which added up to well over 25. I realized that, in some ways, he was correct. If being "new age" is becoming more aware of myself and my life; becoming more tolerant of my fellow man; of being comfortable in my own skin; doing what brings me joy and sharing it with the people I love then yes, absolutely I am "new age."

In my profession of massage therapy, all too often, I see people become bitter and resentful of their lot in life. Unrealized dreams, unspoken desires and fear of failure hold many people back from a life they love. I don't want to be one of those people. I move forward fully knowing that I have the choice to settle or reach beyond. I have only myself to blame if I allow my self imposed obstacles to stop me.

When I touch clay, all I can see are the possibilities - of creativity, of growth, of life. If this new age then so be it :)

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A Response to Violence

As most people with a heart, I have been incredibly troubled by the events in Boston.  A few days ago I read a quote from Leonard Bernstein which states, "This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before". This statement has resounded in my thoughts since.  

It seems the easy way out would be to just lay down and allow shock, grief and apathy to steal from us our light, our peace, our gifts.  I, for one, will not go quietly into that dark night.  All of us have a duty and an obligation to shine even more brightly simply due to the circumstances.  Call me an optimist or a pollyanna, it won't hurt my feelings.  Life, art, beauty, light and love are the true calling of us all.  To allow dark, misguided, evil purposes to drive that out of us would be a travesty.

Creation and destruction can not occupy the same space.  Creation comes out of destruction.  It is our choice what we create.  Choose life, choose art, choose music, love, beauty and light.  

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The Birth of a Pot

I recently had the opportunity to create some awards for a wonderful organization that supports the arts in my community.  I rarely create "for" someone else.  I usually just begin and let the clay universe take it from there.  My motto is to "let go and let clay".  The more I release control of the outcome, the more the piece shows up. But creating for someone else is a very different mind set.  It takes getting into their space a bit - figuring out who they are, where their "essence" shows up.  I spent many hours contemplating before my hands even touched the clay.  I simply asked the universe to show me the way........and it responded.

After the pieces were finished, dried and fired the time came for me to hand them over.  I did it with a "business as usual" attitude but soon fell into a well of sadness.  I couldn't for the life of me figure out where the blues were coming from - the pieces turned out well, they were handed over in one piece and I had completed the goal I set out to achieve.  And yet......there it was, staring me in the face; a deep sense of sadness and loss.

I pulled up my "big girl panties" and went off to yoga.  One of the best remedies for me when I am faced with depression is exercise.  So, there I was in the middle of a particularly challenging class with my favorite instructor, Jess, when it dawned on me.  As I quieted my mind of all of the external noise and put my focus on my mat and my physical being, it freed up my space and my spirit to wander.  I realized that the sadness and loss I was feeling was for handing over my "soul" babies.  Those pieces which I had put such thought, time and love into, were gone in an instant and off to their forever homes. After a day or so, I was able to acknowledge my emotions, cry for their leaving and be liberated from my dark cloud.

I created these pieces, not for myself but for others that had taken their passion and purpose and turned it into an art form.  They were never mine.........they were meant for these special peopleImage and I was only a conduit to let them take shape. I can only hope that the individuals who received them felt the love..........