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.
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 🙂
There have been many “firsts” on this trip to Ghost Ranch. Hand building my first functional mug (the handle looks like it was made by a five year old and it makes me laugh), my first tribal dance, my first view of the beauty that is New Mexico.
Today, I walked a Labyrinth for the first time. I sat in silence for a few moments before I began and simply asked for clarity and wisdom. It’s not so much that I am searching for answers, it’s that I am looking more for the appropriate questions to ask. In my daily living, I tend to get distracted with searching for answers to other peoples problems, thinking that if I could help them, I could somehow help myself. There are definitely times that that holds true…..and other times, when it is not only a disservice to them but to myself as well.
I walked slowly, mindfully, stopping frequently to look up and around me. I breathed deeply into the present and thought of nothing else other than the next step. When I reached the center, I sat for awhile. As I was gazing up toward the mountains, the moon was rising clearly in the late afternoon sky. A bird was flying effortlessly in the distance and as I was watching this majestic creature, I realized that what I was really in need of was stillness and space. Stillness and space to breathe, stillness in which to create more space and space to create more beauty.
I think I will be walking this Labyrinth again……..
The type of pottery that I create is based in the Pueblo tradition of hand building. One of the reasons I wanted to take this workshop was to learn new traditional methods of creating and firing. I never imagined that I would be able to peer into the traditions of the people as well. A great gift was given to us today by our instructor, Clarence Cruz. We loaded up in the van early this morning and drove to the Okhay Owingea Pueblo where he was born, raised and continues to live with his family. Today the tribal dances were held to celebrate the new elected leaders of the community and we were invited to observe.
To say that this was a powerful experience for me is a monumental understatement. The respect and love for the tradition was prevelant on all of the faces of the dancers and the onlookers. It made me realize that through honoring tradition, we can grow and create something brand new. The birth of creation is founded on the stable, sacred ground of our past.
As an artist who continues to strive for perfection – Wabi Sabi has been a challenge for me to embrace. Brother Thomas, who was a Monk and a very accomplished potter once remarked that his longing to create a perfect vessel was instead a need to create a more authentic self.
I realize, with every piece that comes through me, not only is the vessel imperfect – so am I. And in that realization, there is freedom. My work will never be finished. It really isn’t about that. It’s about the undulating and seemingly disconnected and beautifully broken twists and turns life’s journey presents us. The fluidity of my work is Wabi Sabi. No straight lines or preconceived notions to get in the way. The spiritual path to authenticity……..one coil at a time.
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.
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……..