Is it Ours?

There will be many situations in life that you might find yourself wondering in the words of the Talking Heads……..”This is not my beautiful life…….how did I get here???

I have found in my own life, there have been situations within relationships that have developed so slowly that I didn’t even see the shit storm coming.  I was so damn busy being flexible and making myself smaller to get along with another that I was unaware that the relationship was out of balance until it was too late.  I had been “had”;  not only by the other persons agenda but by my own delusions.  How could I have made myself smaller, once again? With clay, I can move slowly, releasing control and just sit, for the most part, in the back seat. Clay is easy to trust;  life situations are a little trickier.  When there is more than one person, there will always be more than one intention or agenda.  Most of us meet people where we are – not where they are. It takes time to allow a relationship and our personal motivations to surface.  Below are some of the questions that I am beginning to ask myself when dealing with personal relationships.  They are a way to give myself clarity, clearing the decks of my delusions and to assist in getting to the truth more quickly.

1.  Is this an experience that I am not only learning from but evolving? Not every relationship or situation can be rosy all of the time.  A lobster has to be damn irritated by the shell that they are outgrowing before they decide to be vulnerable and shed it for a larger one. It’s wise to figure out whether you are growing and evolving from your present situation.  Can you see it as a gift for future relationships? Is so, than persistence may be in order.

2.  Is everyone winning? Not just me or the other person – but God and the Universe as well.  Well, that’s pretty damn clear.  If all parties aren’t winning, time to stop playing. Period. I, personally, want no part in a relationship where there has to be a loser.  Leave that to the ball field.

3.  Is this experience or relationship making me a better person?  One of the greatest lines in the movie, As Good as it Gets, was spoken by Jack Nicholson.  He looked at Helen Hunts character and said, “You make me want to be a better man.”  If a relationship is creating ill will, bitterness, resentment, you may want to look and see inside yourself and ask “Is this the person I am meant to be?”  Being around another that inspires you to be a better person every day is a friend worth having.

4. Is the problem mine to fix or is someone laying it at my feet?  Manipulation – such a sneaky game. If others can get you to believe that the problem is solely yours, then you will be fixing a problem you don’t really have the answer to.  Not a good plan.

5. Am I bringing light to another or onto a situation?  The light of one candle can abolish the darkness.  If you aren’t the light bringer then look closely at your intentions and motivations.  Bringing darkness to another persons life is just plain shitty.  Don’t do it.

6.  Is this a game of control and suppression or one of liberation and freedom? If all that is happening in a relationship or situation is an attempt to gain control over another person, then you may want to check your motivations.  If you don’t experience a sense of freedom and liberation when you are around the other person, or there is no sense of play, is it healthy to have in your life?

7. If it is indeed a shit storm, is it MY shit storm?  Be really honest with this one.  Step back, take at least 10 deep breaths and get clear about who actually owns this particular storm.  It is a rare person who accepts responsibility for their own shit and does something about mucking out the stalls. If it truly isn’t your shit storm, refer to #4.

Now, you may be asking yourself the question, “What in the hell does this have to do with creating art?”  Well, here’s the deal – if you fill your life with storms, you will never get to a place of peaceful quiet where you can listen to your Muse.  There will be no room for the ethereal, divine moments where the light of authenticity shines through. Yes, please………….more of that 🙂

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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.

Well…….HELLO Learning Curve

In every artists life, failure and disappointment can be lurking around each risk we take.  One of the  best parts of  this evolution to me, is the thrill I get when I try something new.  Sometimes it works out…….other times I introduce myself to my next learning curve.

Today was the day of the big pit fire we have all been working towards for over two weeks.  The pieces were bisque fired and ready.  The  pit was built and slowly prepped for the stacking of the work. With this type of firing, no one ever knows which pieces will come through the fire more beautiful than when they went in and which pieces will become lessons for the future.

My lesson for today?  Losing four pieces to the fire……..my first lidded bean pot, two large wall carvings and a beautifully simple pot.  Did it hurt? Oh HELL YES.  Am I disappointed?  A little.  Will I do it again?  ABSOLUTELY!!!

I have spoken about frustration and fortitude before.  This is simply part of the learning curve.  I have been humbled by the fire once again and I can assure you it won’t be the last time.  

Clarence suggested that I take the pieces that didn’t make it through and place them around the ranch as a way of giving back. I took one of the broken pieces and walked to the Labyrinth, sitting it on one of the rocks with the mountains as a backdrop.  I have been given so many moments of clarity walking this path that I wanted to give a gift of gratitude back. I will place the other pieces in the coming days before I leave.  Although my heart hurt today, I realized that by doing this, part of me will always be here……..giving Thanks.

 Authenticity

I have willingly and passionately been in the studio creating a lot since I arrived two weeks ago.  Today the last kiln load was started, the tables and tools were wiped down and there was nothing left to do other than wait for the pit fire event tomorrow.  

With the work complete, I started looking at my body of work to this point. There is such a strong sense for me that with every piece that moves through me, I’m a little more revealed, a little more myself, moving toward and embracing my authenticity.  Being able to immerse myself in the process has only created more longing within me to continue this calling – and for me – it is indeed a calling.  There is a lightness that occurs within me every time I touch clay.  It’s as if with each piece, I am letting go of a little fear, a little self doubt.  Stepping into my own light and trusting without hesitation what clay has in store for me.

When someone is truly aligned with their higher purpose, it just pours out of them.  There is a light that emanates from those that our following their joy and even if they endure setbacks and frustrations, they breathe, stand up and keep going. Being around people just like this the past two weeks has been incredible. I see and honor the light in them knowing that following our higher purpose is a path worth walking.

For me, creating beauty is not a luxury…………..it is a path toward the light.

“Now” would be a good time…….

Drama made an appearance at Ghost Ranch this morning!  The majority of the January Term students and faculty were primed and ready to load into large passenger vans and head to Santa Fe.  You could feel the excitement running through the college kids.  They had enough of being on the ranch and wanted some free time to roam the city streets and maybe drink a little beer.  My friend Lori and I were ready to lay down a few dollars to help out the local economy because we are generous like that 🙂 However, Mother Nature had other plans. A storm was rolling in and the program director had to make the unpopular decision to scratch the trip for very sound reasons.  The weather could turn on a dime and though we may have been able to get to Santa Fe, getting back would be a completely different story.

Well……..the younger crowd was pretty upset.  My first thought?  Let’s spend the day in the studio!!  We had loaded the kiln last night and it was cooling down and calling our name.  Our instructor Clarence, Lori and I made a bee line and started working on pieces – sanding, slipping and polishing was occurring at a fast pace.  Although we were slightly disappointed, we all knew that this was a new “now” that was happening and we were happy to be there doing what we love to do.

Past, present and future all deserve our attention at certain times in our lives.  In this instance, we all had a choice how we could respond to the present.  Some decided to be immature and indignant; others moped about without purpose and still others took the opportunity to dive into something we found enjoyable.

To have an entire “free day” to focus on pottery was absolutely priceless.  It lifted me up, twirled me around and set my heart to dancing.  I spent this day with people that I enjoy, ate chocolate, laughed at silly jokes and quickly forgot all about the drama of the morning.  I gave myself the gift to Be.Here.Now.  We all can allow grace to happen and flow – we just need to be present enough to recognize the opportunity.

The Gift of Permission

As I was wondering, just ever so slightly lost on a hike today, I realized that I hold off my joy. I make a huge  “to do” list that just has to be accomplished before I get to start playing in the mud. My internal dialogue goes something like this…….Just as as soon as I clean the house, wash the dog, pay the bills, do the laundry, organize my desk, clean out my car, exercise, stretch, eat……….I can give myself permission to spend time in my studio working.  Sound familiar?  Just a tiny bit?

We took a field trip today to Abiquiu Pueblo. We listened to a gentleman who is the caretaker of at least 150 years of oral history of his people.  As a child he would sit and listen to his father, uncles and grandfather tell stories of the past.  Some tragic, some intense, some incredibly funny.  Listening to this man today, I am sure he never thought about giving himself permission to take the time out of his daily chores to do this.  He found great value in listening to his elders, asking questions about their heritage and honoring the past. He is now conveying these stories to his offspring and to those that visit his Pueblo.  He has incredible passion for what he does and it shows by the light in his eyes and the excitement in his voice.

All of us have a song of our soul that needs to be sung.  For me, it is clay; for others it may be painting, writing or woodworking.  Whatever it is, if you find that you are a better person for doing it – that your heart starts humming just at the thought of it – than by all means possible, make time to do it.  It doesn’t matter if you sell your work, give it away or put your words in a drawer.  What truly matters is that in the act of creating, joy is unleashed.  

The Heart of the Matter

There are areas in our lives that only the heart can give counsel.  A perfect example of this for me is my love affair with clay.  Every damn time I let my head rule my heart it ends in a broken heart and sometimes broken pottery.  It is so easy to convince myself to create inside a box of conformity – to make only what sells or would appeal to a mass audience.  Now, let me tell you, I can make a strong case for that.  I could talk about money, bills, obligations and dog food.  I could make my heart believe that it doesn’t know what it wants to create by restricting it to live by all of the rules set forth by my mind. Talking down to it, trivializing its desires and generally making it feel less than worthy.

But here’s the deal……….when I allow my head to make decisions for an area that only my heart has mastery, it works out about as well as going to my accountant for a cold.  Realizing that each part of us has expertise for certain areas of our life is a profound wisdom.  My heart can handle matters of the heart beautifully; if I listen carefully, my body can tell me exactly what it needs; my nervous system can tell me when to take a break and my mind can do the budget.  All seamlessly, with complete clarity, if only I honor their expertise.

And when I truly let go and let clay have her way……..well that’s a magic carpet ride❤