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.

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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❤

For the Love of Community

For the most part, I create in solitude.  Oh sure, there is an occasional “drive by loving” by one of my dogs or my husband, but in general I am left to my own devices.  After being introduced to the art of hand building pottery by the Worley Faver, a master potter in Florida, a lot of what I have achieved over the past eight years has been from the “fly by the seat of my pants” school.  Honestly, it has been my preferred way of learning.  The trail and error, the joy of success, the pain of setbacks, all have mostly been witnessed either alone or by my husband, who never fails to be kind and understanding. 

I was a little anxious, to say the least, to enter a three week workshop with another instructor and with even more trepidation, a room full of other students of the craft.  The noise, the commotion, the randomity……..all a backdrop for my concern.  

What has transpired over the last 10 days has been quite profound.  The one other student who is my age, is not only my roommate but has become a kindred spirit.  Along with her friendship and the stellar instruction of Clarence and his assistant Ricki, I have quickly understood the importance of community.  In addition to that beautiful band of misfits are a few other instructors and students who have come into the studio at night to touch clay and share space.  There is an ease of community that I simply didn’t expect.  A coming together of ideas, inspiration, trust and openness that I wasn’t aware that I even missed.

Being an artist can be a lonely road – lots of hours are spent alone in the studio, sometimes in a vacuum where we tend to ask the question…….”Does this suck?”  It has been a true blessing to be around these beautiful souls from different walks of life – authors, beaders, poets, potters, storytellers, jokesters, photographers, ranchers and yes, even those damn college kids.  What a wacky, wonderful, crazy community that I have walked into.

Below you will find my instructor, Clarence Cruz, master potter and resident funny man who happens to be wearing my very first hand built lid. He keeps us laughing and creating all day and sometimes into the night………..he is a true gift to the craft and to his students.  I am one incredibly lucky girl 🙂