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. 

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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!!!

 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.

Leaning into Now

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……..IMG_4585

Keeping My Word

As a long practicing Massage Therapist, whenever a client wouldn’t schedule after their appointment I would always say, “I am here whenever you need me.” And I meant it.  Fast forward 22 years, and I am now standing on the precipice of my own move and evolution as a person, a therapist, an artist.  I am the person who isn’t rescheduling………..

In a very vulnerable way, I have gone through the emotional tumult of feeling as though I’m not keeping my word.  I have always been a loyal kind of girl; once I call someone my friend they are my friend. Period.  As a lot of us do, I never thought things would change.  I thought that I would always be here for my clients and I could be, at times, the one stable place that they could come to to get out of the chaos of daily life.  And then…………things change, life happens and we either recognize it, readjust our sails and lean into it or we resist it and allow the friction to envelop us.

Clay has taught me that, as in life, there are more things in motion than I am aware of.  I may have a “fixed” idea of how I want a piece to turn out and honestly, that just sets me up for either disappointment or revelation, and it’s all about how I view it.  With our impending move to the mountains of Western North Carolina all of the seats of the emotional roller coaster are available to me.  It’s my choice which one I sit in.  Should I sit in the front seat leaning into the wind, the change and the excitement?  Or do I sit in the back with a look of abject terror strewn across my face, hoping and praying the bird that just flew by doesn’t crap in my face? The position I choose changes on a daily basis, sometimes hourly.  But, in a beautiful, messy, sort of way, that’s what the freedom to choose is all about.  Our emotional “being-ness” isn’t supposed to be a final destination, it’s a journey.

As I say Goodbye to all the clients and friends that I have made over the past few decades, I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I will STILL be there whenever they need me.  In this chapter, it may be a phone call, a thought, a wish of light moving toward them, but I will hold them in my heart wherever change takes us all. And I know, just as the sun rises tomorrow, they will be there for me.

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The Beauty of Trust

Many times in my life, I have come to a crossroads.  Whether it was with a person, situation, direction or in a moment of creation, I felt I needed to reach out and trust someone other than myself.  There are a lot of folks that would LOVE to tell me what to do!  And, there are sometimes, I do so desperately desire to give up control and let someone else run my life and make the decisions.  But, having lived through a few of these experiences, I have learned a few things.

1.  When you ask someone for their advice, opinion or viewpoint, be ready for the answer.  It may not be the answer you long for or one that you expected.  But, if you have chosen that individual for their insight, be prepared to receive it.  

2.  Check your own agenda, and their motivations.  Not everyone has your best interests in mind; they have theirs.  Whether it is unconscious or not, they are speaking from what they want and desire.  It’s human nature…….sort of. Which leads to the next point…….

3.  Ask an expert.  If I need help with a financial situation, I will ask a financial expert.  If I need help with creativity, or relationships, or cooking……..I will ask someone who has a much higher level of expertise than I possess.  I want to grow, not have somebody else agree with me.  

4.  Having a few people you trust is priceless.  How many people do you really need to trust?  One, five, twenty?  In my experience, I have a couple of people that I trust with my life.  I also have a few people that I trust with certain areas of my life.  Sometimes trust is only needed per subject area.  I am happy to pay someone for their expertise because it is an even energy exchange.  If you truly want to learn, pay someone for their knowledge.  You will walk away with fresh new insight, and they will walk away being compensated for their brilliance.

5.  Trust your own voice.  If you are in doubt, ask someone for their input.  Listen, acknowledge what they are saying, process it, but if it doesn’t fit for you and your life, it doesn’t fit.  So many times we KNOW the answer, we are just looking for validation. That’s fine, but to constantly rely on other people’s input about your own path will lead you to dependency and, one day, you might look back and realize this isn’t your beautiful life.  It’s everyone’s idea of your beautiful life.

6.  Trust that the Universe, God and your higher self “has got your back”. This has been the most difficult for me.  I’m a “can do” kind of gal.  I never want to feel indebted to anyone.  But here’s the secret…….if your intentions are clear and true, what you are working to bring to life will happen. The higher powers that be – they want you to ask.  Life breeds life…….beauty breeds beauty.  

7.  Get clear……..really clear.  By asking for someone else for their viewpoint, you are sometimes getting clear on what you don’t want in this world and that’s just fine.  Most of time, I have figured out what I do want by figuring out what I don’t.  Finding your own voice is sometimes messy with a few failures thrown in for good measure.  But the question is,  What else is worth doing?  Every day is a new chance to figure it out…….

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The Simplicity of Change

There are times in our lives where change is not only possible, it is inevitable. As I grow, the things, relationships and general “stuff” that once brought a smile to my face now weigh heavy on my shoulders. A friend once told me that “sometimes…..darlin’……your appointment is just over.” I have thought back on that many times and realized there is great truth in that simple wisdom.

We, as a general rule, don’t like change. It makes us feel uncomfortable in our own skin; perhaps it’s the unknown that makes us nervous, or the fear of making a wrong choice or never wanting to appear less than certain about our direction in life. But here’s the kicker………life doesn’t come with any guarantees. One day you could wake up and realize that your appointment is over with this world. Yes, change can be overwhelming, especially when it’s unbidden and unwelcome. But somewhere, along the line, most of us have secretly wished and dreamt of a new day, a new start, a new lease.

Since I am one of the many that have mixed emotions regarding change I am paying attention to the state of being of “simplicity”. I ask myself everyday, do I want, need, desire or feel obligated to whatever is in front of me. I have a grand tendency to make everything way too complicated. So I am taking a simpler approach. If I am wrestling with something, I take it into myself and see how it “feels” in my body. If I instantly become anxious, nervous or filled with despair, I realize that this may not be the wise choice for me. If, instead, I take something in and feel a sense of calm, clarity and instantly, without recognizing it, take a big ol’ deep breath, I get a sneaking suspicion I am onto what works for me.

Life is going to happen no matter how much I try and hold it off. So, as with life, so it is with clay. There are times when only the simple IMG_3276approach works. I have a funny feeling it’s that way ALL the time…….