Sanctuary

One of the wonderful things about being back at Ghost Ranch this time around is with being an instructor instead of a student, I can visit other class rooms and gain insight and inspiration into other mediums.

This afternoon I was graciously given access to the creative writing group led by Pam Uschuk. I spent time writing a small piece about a pivotal point in my life where everything changed from one moment to the next. When she prompted the class to write I could instantly spot where that took place.

………..And he said, “Lucy, there is one thing you must remember…….the clay chooses you.”

I had agreed, to my initial chagrin, to attend a three, 2 hour workshop series on hand building ceramics. After almost 20 years as a massage therapist, I thought that I would have an affinity for clay. With wheel throwing, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I left class feeling frustrated, disappointed and dejected. How could I have been so wrong??? Returning home from these initial classes in North Carolina, I vowed that I wasn’t cut out for clay. I had been mistaken in thinking that I had the touch.

What I didn’t know at the time was that my life long love affair with mud and earth had another as of yet unearthed avenue for me to travel. When I agreed to take the hand building class from my dear friend, Worley, I thought I was helping him out with his studio and gallery. Again, I was wrong.

The simple truth of the matter is that I was waiting to be re-born into an ancient family of potters. With the first coil of my very first pot, I was transported. I was touched. I was chosen. And when he said those fateful words, I knew I was the one. I knew, sitting there in this beautiful, centuries old building, filled with so much past that it wrapped around me like a soft blanket, my clay ancestors had come for me. I, their apprentice, was willing to go.

And so, this evening, for the first time since arriving at the ranch, I returned to the studio; to the clay; to my sanctuary. No matter where I travel or what I choose to do with my time, I always come back to clay. I bring all that I have learned back to this earthy mother and lay the blessings at her feet. Because as much as the clay has chosen me, I have chosen clay.

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Night into Day

Arriving at Ghost Ranch yesterday late in the day I thought that I would pass a quiet evening unpacking, nesting and getting set for today. Well, the adventure started to unfold in spectacular fashion when I tagged along with one of the photography instructors on a night hike into an area called LaPlaza Blanca to chase the light and shadows cast by the full moon.

Walking into this high desert landscape with a super moon lighting our way, we made it to an area where the cliffs surrounded us and as they quietly reached for the sky I was intensely aware of their “gentle giant” stature and presence. What struck me on such a night was how the decision to open myself up to another dimension has brought to it the magic of inspiration without any effort or force of will. Just being present in the magnificence of this quiet, beautiful desolate place was enough. Enough for my mind to unwind, enough for my shoulders to release, enough for my spirit to be gently persuaded to peek out and take a look around.

In stark and equally brilliant contrast, today was finished with a hike on the ranch with this same photographer as well as a few other noble souls. The brilliance of the color set against the New Mexico sky was just the burst of light and depth needed to create yet another masterpiece of nature – all without effort; all without worry; all without any help from me.

As I walked the labyrinth for the first time since arriving at the ranch the message for me came across loud and clear………I don’t have to fix everything. Such a simple message for a complex convocation and occupation. Another softening, another letting go what is not mine to fix, another liberation from my own restrictions and self-imposed obligation. And without fixing everything, I have the treasured space to create without effort or will – just by simply being present and allowing the vision to find me………..but of course, all the while, keeping my hands muddy❤️

YOU Again?????

One year has gone by………..one magical, creative, evolutionary “art” year since I returned from Ghost Ranch; a 22,000 acre retreat center nestled between Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico. A place where paths opened for me that I never imagined possible. A place where I allowed my vulnerability and fear of reaching toward my future to fall away and allowed myself, YES, allowed myself to be gently led into the open air of possibility and tickling sensation that something was waiting on the other side of all of that self regulation and restriction.

One of the questions that I am asking myself when presented with different, divergent, paths is this: “If I can fast forward to the end of my life and look back, will I regret NOT taking the chance? Usually, when I can quiet down my “monkey mind”, I can see the answer clearly. More often than not, the answer is Yes. Take the chance. Breathe into the possibility. Expand past the self imposed boundaries and just create. Get your hands and your heart muddy and then go wash off.

I had a very valued artist say to me recently; “Don’t be concerned with going out on a limb creatively. Whatever you do and wherever you go, you will always bring back the knowledge that you learned while you were dangling.” That, my friends, is the power of inspiration. That is what Life can contain if we allow it. The ability to scoot out further on the limb – create, fail, succeed, expand.

I am headed to Ghost Ranch once again. This time, as a teacher and a student. There are other mediums that I want to incorporate into my work and this opportunity will give me the chance to say Hello to them.

It is my hope that you will once again allow me to express into words and visual photos how much this abundant, sacred space affects me. See you at the ranch ❤️

Personally Ours…..

If you are an artist, a creative or simply a living, breathing real life person, I bet you have had someone say to you, “You can’t take things so personally”.  Whether it’s your relationship with another person or a recent rejection, I’ve heard more times than I care to think about, that phrase which is supposed to be a salve to my heart. And yet, every time it is spoken I wonder to myself……..how in the hell do you do that?  How do you “de-personalize” something or someone you have invested part of your soul in?

Let’s back up for a moment.  When I am in the flow of creating, when a vision magically manifests in my head, I “see” it floating around, just waiting for me to acknowledge the fact that this vision was meant for me.  I quieted my mind and my own thoughts enough to allow my Muse to show up, to gently speak to me and am able to recognize that I had been singled out to bring this vision into the real world.  In that moment, I feel chosen, an individual blessed with a connection that is so intimate, so incredibly personal that I can’t wait to touch clay again to bring it into the physical universe before I lose the magic.

Taking things “personally” is, for me, what creating is all about!  If I am simply producing work, without a connection to its soul and it’s essence then I am not fully invested in the outcome. Yes, I take my art personally; and there are times, that I take rejection personally.  Well, most of the time, I take rejection personally.  I always wonder what I can do better, what edge I didn’t push, or did I push it too far.   But here’s the kicker………this is all part of the dance of life.  Being truly invested in my life means that there will be times that it ain’t all sunshine and flowers.  Fantasies don’t smell……….sometimes reality does.

If I allow the criticisms, the rejections or the apathy to take over my soul, I would not be able to create.  That choice is up to me. Now, I’m not suggesting that we should wallow in the misery of rejections or base our creative “mojo” on someone else’s opinion of it.  What I am leaning toward is that taking our lives personally is part of being an authentic individual with an authentic voice.  To be able to move through the struggles and disappointment and be able to come through it with even more passion for your art…..well, for me……..that’s the seat of the soul kind of love. I will continue to take my creativity, my art and my life personally, because, with all of its hiccups, travails and joys…….it’s mine.  Every last, personal drop.

 

 

 

 

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 🙂

Back Burner Consequences

Before touching clay less than 10 years ago, I spent the preceding 18 years as a licensed massage therapist, learning the art of therapeutic touch. In that time, I have heard many, many stories from clients that could either break your heart, make your heart stop or at the very least, have it skip a beat. The physical labor can be exhausting at times; however, it can pale in comparison to the amount of emotional and healing energy it takes to “hold the space” for another person to tell their truth.

I am almost always honored and humbled that people would want to share their vulnerabilities with me. It has never been my training or within the scope of my practice to “fix” them. My job, other than working on their tired and strained muscles is simply to acknowledge what they are saying. In other words, to just be quiet and listen.

Looking back over my 25+ years as a massage therapist, I can clearly see patterns in many of my female clients as they navigate their way through all of the changes that take place in their lives. While reading the book, Women Who Run with the Wolves, I realized what a large majority of these women had in common.

For many of us, living has a tendency to get in the way of having a LIFE. Let me repeat that…….LIVING has a tendency to get in the way of having a LIFE. What that means is that all of the day to day things that we “should” do, necessities of others, obligations (whether real or imagined) for our loved ones, can demand precedence over free flowing creativity and intuition that almost all women are born with. It’s the stifling of these virgin ideas and replacing it with the grocery store list; the basketball, football, ballet, music lessons and practices that come before the magic, ethereal forms of life. No doubt, there is a time and place for everything. All of those things that we fill our days with can be given our undivided attention and that’s ok!! However, as in many facets of life, we can take it too damn far. The competition to win, succeed, make progress on the bills, can really take their toll on a individual. What we lose in the process of all of the temporary, short term gains in this “living” business is the magical moments of creative endeavors where time stands still and the birth of an idea can have room to come to light.

What can happen, if this is taken too far, is that deep inside, we can build tiny seeds of bitterness and resentment. We can brush them off as just bad moods or a selfish heart. I mean, we have been told so many times that it is better to give than to receive. But, with enough self admonishment, we move on. On to the next duty, the next chore, the next loving kindness and everything is fine…….until we turn our back on our creative pursuits once again………and then it builds a little bigger. The fire of resentment with the a cold side dish of bitterness.

After years of putting others before ourselves, we can have a tendency to unconsciously move toward an outcome we never saw. An outcome of an inner world of disappointment, disillusionment and exhaustion.

We have the ability to recognize, at any given moment, that we have a choice. We have a choice to take five minutes to breathe, an hour to take a walk by ourselves or to simply just allow ourselves to “be”. I don’t know one woman who wants to be in a state of bitterness. I do know a lot women, who slowly, without resistance or a persistence to find their own “voice’, fall into that pattern. Each one of us not only has an obligation to the other people that we have chosen to have in our lives, but to our own life as well. Whether it is conscious or unconscious, every time we make a choice to do for another, we sacrifice time to do for ourselves. I am in no way suggesting anyone should become a “microcosm” unto themselves. What I am suggesting, is that we take time to put ourselves into the equation. To create more of a balance of giving to others as well as giving to ourselves.

In watching my clients, friends as well as myself traverse this path, I can clearly see who has taken the time to nurture their creative spirit and who has either been squashed by their own beliefs or by the beliefs of others and devolved into a state of locked down living without the hope of a life. The signals are undeniable – more bitterness and resentment, the more out of balance a life becomes. It is so damn easy to fall into the pattern of an un-created life – the only effort is the “not doing” for ourselves.

The beauty of breaking this cycle is simple……….until our last breath, we have an opportunity to write a different outcome. Every moment of every day is a chance to start again – to choose to give ourselves the gift of tenderness and kindness. To allow our intuition and creativity to peek out of the recesses and help us create the life we so dearly deserve. In that simple yet profound way, we all have the opportunity to become whole once again. 

The Finish Line………sort of

It’s been almost a year since I decided to “climb that tree and venture out onto that limb” by registering for a three week stay at Ghost Ranch in Abuiqui, New Mexico.  With a much needed grant and a surprising emerging artist award, I was able to fund my trip and relax into the exploration of my artistic boundaries.  I had no idea how my experiences would influence or inform my work.  All I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, is that it would.  

Fast forward to today.  I just returned from delivering 24 new vessels, 3 wall sculptures and 13 pendants to The Gallery at Flat Rock, located in Flat Rock, North Carolina.  My one person show, “Sacred Ground, Bringing New Mexico Home”, opens on Friday, July 14th.  All of these pieces have been inspired by my trip – most of them created using micaceous clay which is indigenous to New Mexico. 

There is an overwhelming sense of satisfaction, accomplishment and sadness in the completion of this grand adventure.  I have been so ensconced in the flow of the work, the evolution of my artistic voice and wanting to make those that believed in me proud.  It filled every waking, and most sleeping moments.  I have had revelations and disappointments, moments of “creative” orgasms and periods of obstacles that are all part of the process.  What I can tell you, unequivocally, is that it was all worth it.

I have learned more, pushed through fixed conditions, ventured into almost every “what if” moment with action and determination.  Did I make worthy art?  Did I do clay proud?  Honestly……..I have no idea.  That really isn’t for me to say.  What I do know is that, to this point in my life, given all that I am, I did my very best.  And that, my dear friends, is enough ❤️

Please visit my website for more information on the upcoming show and artist talk – http://www.lucyclarkpottery.com

The next adventure awaits!!!