Honoring the Answer

There are times in everyones life that, looking back upon them, we can clearly delineate the “before” and “after” of who we are.  Events that shaped us, people that influenced us, nuances and subtleties that made us change directions without a moments hesitation.  It’s that profound shift, the “Aha” moment, that can leave us breathless, hopeful and full of life.  

Since returning from New Mexico, I have thought a lot about this.  Exactly what part could I look back upon and see where the shift occurred.  I have been undeniably changed by my time spent at Ghost Ranch and yet, incredibly more myself than I have ever been.  And still I ask the question…….”When and how did the shift occur?” 

While talking with a friend today, just by happenstance, I realized the answer. Something that stood by, gentle yet bold, subtle yet incredibly profound, just waiting for my attention. It was the massively, beautiful eroding landscape. It’s like nature took a paintbrush and a steady, gentle hand and removed the rough edges. The softness of color – where each layer of sediment and rock melded into the next without effort.  The fluidity of shape – either influenced by the sky, the light, the weather or the simple passing of time.

One of my greatest aspirations with my work is to remove the sharp, jagged edges.  To evoke an overwhelming sense of movement and gentility with each piece. To simply create something beautiful, without rhetoric but with a sense of kindness about it all.  I realized, with its subtle profundity, that the landscape eased my pace and helped me to finally understand that the rush to complete a creation is a massive disservice to my work and to the clay itself.  Nature didn’t rush the birth of the clay so who am I to tell it that it has to hurry up and be beautiful?

It is with this knowledge that my best work is still to come.  That with each passing piece, I can let go of the fear of finishing and just enjoy the moment of creation.  That no matter what, I will honor the pace of the clay and of the vision that flows through me. Once again, I bow in reverence to those that have come before me, knowing that with a clear heart and a steady hand, I will honor my art.

Letting Go……..

As I enter back into my everyday life, I know there will be many nuances and shifts that occur.  There are events in our lives that can take time to glisten all that has been experienced.  

When I left for Ghost Ranch, I had a few things in my life that needed to be laid open.  I needed distance in which to calm down, breath and listen.  I needed to achieve a level of clear headedness that was required to truly look at my life, where I have been, where I wanted it to go and where it was actually going.

I have realized this truth………that it’s ok to let go. To gently and kindly let go of situations that no longer fit or have run their course.  To know that sometimes “your appointment is just over.” To let go of the parts of my life that have taken me away from my center.  To understand that there will always be people that will be disappointed with my decisions and those that are indifferent and still others, those rare, beautiful individuals that applaud and support me at every turn.  And it’s ok.  

At the end of the day, each one of has a responsibility to ourselves to answer those questions.  The questions of individual purpose, our own higher calling, the song of our soul.  Where will it lead us?  Where will we allow it to go?  The only person that can answer those questions for me is me.  

Here’s what I find to be true………..when you shift from your center, deep down at the essence of your being, you know it.  It may feel different for each of us.  For me, it’s an ache that keeps calling to me, sometimes just out of reach.  But every time I find my way back, I can look behind me and see the voice of my higher self was always there, whispering and sometimes wailing for me to listen……….just listen.

I do not regret any twist or turn in my life for it is those winding roads that brought me home.  For all of this and more, I am Thankful.

Heading Home

We packed all of our belongings and left Ghost Ranch today heading in different directions. I traveled to Denver with Lori and will be flying home to my beautiful mountains of North Carolina and to a wonderful man along three dogs that seem to have missed me almost as much as I missed them.  I don’t have many words to share this evening……..just a enormous amount of love and appreciation for all that I experienced the past three weeks.

I wanted you to see the faces of the people that helped this trip incredibly special.  I see the light in each one of these beautiful souls…….and I am blessed beyond measure❤

At the end of the day, at the end of our lives, what we look back upon will be the richness of our relationships.  How well did we love?  Did we make a difference in another’s life? Did we leave this place just a little better than we found it?  

Thank you all for following along with me on this magnificent journey.  I hope that in sharing this experience I was able to bring just a little joy to each and every one of you.

Love to you all❤

How Do I say Thank You?

Today was my final day at Ghost Ranch.  It was filled with a trip to watch the magnificent dancers of San Ildefonso Pueblo perform for their annual Feast Day.  Although it was cold and windy, the sun was shining and it was a brilliant day to watch this powerful tradition.

At one point, there were two large groups performing different dances in the plaza at the same time. Just for a moment, I was uncertain what I should do. How could I choose which dance to watch? As I stood there quietly the answer came to me……. stand between them, close my eyes and just listen.  As I did so, I began to absorb the power of the drums and the voices of the warriors as each dance progressed; each one feeding on the beauty of the other.  Every dancer and drummer mingling with the wind and sun, raising the vibration from the earth to the sky.  I could visualize the drums as the heartbeat of the land and the voices of the warriors as prayers to the heavens in gratitude for the abundance of the tribe.  The sounds reverberated throughout my entire being and I felt myself lift with the power of the moment.  I knew then, exactly the reason for my trip. To give Thanks.  

To give thanks to the people that I love and love me in return, to the clay that I cherish and for the lessons I have learned.  All of this has made me who I am in this very moment.  

Whenever I am feeling drained or powerless, whenever I am uncertain of the road ahead, I will remember this moment in my life.  I will call upon the power of gratitude and thankfulness of my time spent in this wonderful place and know that all is well.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you❤

The Gift of Giving

The beauty of kindness never ceases to steal my heart.  While in Santa Fe for one of our last trips as a group, our Program Director, Layne, had a lovely idea.  She asked three of us who had accompanied the kids if we wanted to go to Starbucks, purchase four large “Joe to Go” coffee jugs and head over to the Plaza.  You see, the Plaza is where all of the Native Americans line up, roll out their blankets and sell their beautiful work.  It was a cold and windy day and the gift of hot goodness in a cup just might hit the spot.

We brought all of the condiments with us and started asking each artist if they wanted some hot coffee.  We were met with so many smiles and gratitude – their bright faces will be emblazoned on my heart for the rest of my days.  Only one gentlemen asked what we wanted in return.  When I smiled and said it was simply a gift, he decided on two cups………:)

As we headed back down the row to top off everyone’s cup, one of the artists called us over.  She insisted that each of us choose a pair of earrings in exchange for our kindness.  My pottery instructor, Clarence, who is a full native from the San Juan Pueblo, had told us a few weeks ago that to refuse a gift from a Native American who offers it is a great insult.  I graciously accepted her gift, thanked her and moved on.  As I stopped  at a leather smiths blanket to purchase a belt for my husband, he also insisted we each choose a gift.  Honestly, you could have knocked me over with a feather. 

What started out as an act of kindness on our part turned into a receiving of a precious, priceless moment.  Each one of us were transformed by this simple and yet profound event.

In all of these disturbing times, there are people simply choosing to be kind.  This place, these people, have entered into my heart and taken up residence.  Layne, Lori, Terry, Clarence, Ricki, Pam………..I bow in gratitude for your friendship and your wisdom.  I am changed.

Straight to the Heart

“You must speak straight so that your words may go as sunlight into our hearts.”

  Cochise (“Like Ironweed”), Chiricahua Chief

Tonight was the final show at Ghost Ranch for the January Term.  All of the students presented their work and spoke about their process.  There were photographers, potters, writers, poets, beaders and archeologists.  Even though some of the kids were less than enthusiastic about the idea of being on a ranch for three weeks and all of the restrictions that it implies, they came together and were incredibly proud and creative in their final work.

They spoke straight and with great clarity, each one of them exposing their shared vulnerability.  The space was safe enough for each one of them to step into their own voice and share it.  Even if it was just for a moment, and their fear and uncertainty returns, they will remember what that freedom felt like.  They can call on it when they are in need of courage and strength for what the future may hold.  

I am walking away from this experience knowing that I have not only deepened my skills but have also found a place within me that needed to speak straight.  Not just to others in my life, but to myself.  My Life IS my Art.  Everything I do, everything I am deserves that level of light – the sunlight that goes straight to the heart.  

More……and Less

If you have read any of my posts since I have been staying at Ghost Ranch these past two and a half weeks, you will quickly realize that my trip was not just about studying a new way to create within my medium of clay.  I had many things back logged in the “I’ll think about that later” file.  

The act of daily living can take up a lot of time.  Moments of slowing down, breathing and introspection can easily be cast aside when there is internal resistance. I am a self admitted “Do-aholic”.  Having a big giant to do list is a perfect excuse to avoid the big questions. However, while being away from my routine, I have been made more vulnerable to my need for clarity.  

Today, I realized that I have been giving myself away to other peoples problems, causes and emotions. My intention has always been to be of service to others.  Believe me, I find great joy in this; however, in doing too much of this, I have sacrificed my creative abilities and have struggled with my own evolution as a person and as an artist.  This act of self disregard is not a good move if you want your Muse to stick around.

It is my sole responsibility how much of me I give away – no one else has to carry the burden of this little nugget.  Now – here’s the other, more wonderful part…….I get to choose who, what, when, how much and for how long.  You see, we are all in the drivers seat when it comes to our gifts.  It’s ok to keep some for ourselves – it truly is.  When we keep a little of our own goodness, just for us, it actually creates more goodness to go around!  

I also realized that in working through my grief of yesterdays pieces lost to the fire, I failed to honor and give love to those that did.  Below is a photo of one of my favorites.  The mica, the heat and the smoke made her shine like the night sky 🙂