“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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
Tonight, in an open forum, the faculty of the January term were each asked to answer one question – how their story informed their creativity and inspiration. Some of their stories were incredibly poignant, some sacred and others were laced with wit and humor. In listening to them, I realized that I have not honored mine – at least not completely.
My mother was one of the most creative people I have ever known. She came from a long line of Italian tailors, being taught by her mother. Her skill with a needle and thread was masterful. Although I could never find a love for the craft, she never ceased to amaze me at what she could create. I know that the dedication that I have for clay can be partially attributed to her.
We also endured a very difficult relationship. My mom struggled with many hardships in her life and though I had great compassion for her, there came a time where I couldn’t be the recipient of the fall out. I simply ran out of understanding. I felt a great need to protect myself from the pain, and in doing so, created great distance as a way to save my heart. Since her passing over 8 years ago, it has taken a lot of time and thought to get to a point where I could not only forgive her but also forgive myself.
As I sit here tonight, I want to let her know just how thankful I am for every single gift she gave me. The hardships, the pain, the creativity, the determination, all of them. Without those events in my life, I’m not sure I would have had the fortitude and passion for the creativity that resides deep within me. Through these events, I have become clear about my purpose and my path. No blame, no excuses, just a deep sense of gratitude for the story she told.
Thank you, Mom. Safe passage on your journey home ❤
Life can be very messy at times. Drama happens, tempers flare, egos roar and imbalance can set in. OH how easy that road is to walk down. I can tell you, I am not an innocent. I have made many mistakes and taken the road well traveled. I have been lured at how easy it can be – it takes almost no strength at all to wind yourself into the pushing and shoving of words and energy. Sides are taken, lines are drawn…………for what? Control? Power? It’s an empty and lonely road in the end. Nothing good comes of it – you are left feeling drained and empty – never really gaining anything other than a hollow victory.
We all have a choice. We can choose to join the crowd and feel justified and comfortable within the numbers – losing ourselves to the power of the group. Or we can choose to think for ourselves and what is appropriate for all sides of the situation. In almost every instance there is room for kindness.
When in doubt……..create a little beauty. It could be a small thing – a smile, a kind word, a gesture of gratitude or a simple loving thought toward another. It doesn’t require money,force or directions. It simply requires you to step out of the what is “wrong” with another and, just for a moment, think about what is pure.
So from me to you – I send you Love ❤️……..and just a little beauty from the fire today :). These lovelies will be placed in an open fit fire on Thursday……..stay tuned!!!
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.