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!!!

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 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.

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.  

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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A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Kiln

As happens with most of my pieces as they are waiting to be fired, I envision what they will turn out to be after the final step.  The building, carving, burnishing, sanding and loving have been completed.  One month of drying has come to an end.  It was now time for the piece to enter the final phase of creation – the slow, low fire of the kiln with a quick exit at 1000 degrees into a pillow of sawdust and smoke.  Unfortunately, for one piece, she never made it that far before tragedy struck.

As I carried the piece out to the kiln, I sat her on a side table to prepare the fire brick within the kiln.  As I turned back around, out of nowhere, my two large, rambunctious dogs, came barreling toward me, running into each other and the table.  Before I could reach out and catch the falling piece, the large carved top of the piece hit the table and smashed into many, many clay teardrops………closely followed by my own.  In the early morning light, I screamed…….and cried……..and cursed the dogs, the timing of it all and most importantly myself.  The “should of, could of, would of”, inner dialogue began.  I started berating myself for everything and anything, as well as my husband for the way he set the kiln up all the way down to the uneven ground on which it sat.

I walked away from all of the emotional mayhem and drove to yoga.  My sweet friend, Anna, was teaching, and I felt relieved.  After class, I went home, and between some tense words and moments with my husband, he set about building a platform in which to create a level firing surface for the kiln and the table.  Meanwhile, I set about with a Dremel tool along with a whole lot of prayer, magic and cussing, and proceeded to transform the piece into something else.  The piece fired the next day, and to my amazement, I am pretty happy with the results.

The reason I relay this story is this………no matter what drama, trauma or invalidation occurs, whether it is given by ourselves to ourselves, from another to us, or witnessed out in the world, there is always a chance to create a new beginning. ALWAYS.  I had to forgive myself for my own invalidations; I did not deserve the treatment that I rendered unto my very own soul. So it is with others in our lives.  If we are being openly criticized, berated or otherwise put down, please, please, please remember this…….You don’t DESERVE it.  Don’t make excuses for the perpetrator of those words, no matter what they call it – whether it be “feedback”, “constructive” criticism or an other shiny, shitty term they want to use.  It’s meant to suppress, control and cage your soul.  PERIOD.  If you believe them then you have shot yourself through the heart and the lesson will come up again and again until one day, you finally stand up for yourself and realize that they are speaking of their own fears, regrets and insecurities.  If they can make you believe that it’s you that needs fixing, their job is complete.  They can take the spotlight of doubt off of themselves and place it securely on your shoulders and in your universe.

We can all be better than we were yesterday……….the question is, “Better by someone else’s standards…….or your own?”  If clay has taught me anything, it is to be kinder to myself and to listen to my own intuition and the soul of the universe.  Everything else will take care of itself………..and with that, we can begin again…….photo

The Power of Progress

I have been sitting at my pottery table for a few hours today.  Lots of other things have gotten in front of creating lately.  A move, work, obligations, holidays, the list has been quite long.  I have had pockets of birthing my “soul babies” during this time, with a very large (literally) success of firing the biggest piece to date.  She is almost 20″H and 16″W.  To me, she is all sorts of big and beautiful.  However, she was followed by an epic failure while carving another large piece.  It collapsed onto itself as I was pushing the envelope of size and structure.  I have a tendency to push my way a lot in life; sometimes it pays off, sometimes is doesn’t.

I have been feeling some anxiety lately – nothing of substance that I can put my finger on, but anxiety none the less.  I realized during a period of “emotional palpating” this evening that I tend to walk myself out onto the preverbal limb a lot, especially with my art.  A lot of people might view me as courageous, or naive, or simple, or delusional.  What others think doesn’t really matter in the long term scheme of things.  However, what I think does.  You see, I have an overwhelming desire to push the envelope in my life as well as my art.  I am quite terrified every day about it, sometimes having to remind myself to breathe…………simply in and then out.  But if I don’t do it for myself………who will?  If I am not the change I wish to see in the outer world as well as my inner world, then who is?

I don’t want  to look back on my life and have regrets of “should have”, “could have”, “would have” and “if only”.  Yes, I hear “no” my fair share; I get discouraged, disillusioned and have moments of great self doubt.  But have you ever met a person who doesn’t?  It comes with the territory of discovery – get used to it.  It doesn’t mean you are not “good enough” – it just means that there is another door, another creation, another discovery just waiting for you to find it.  If you stop looking, your future, your life and your destiny could disappear before your eyes.Image

Show up for your Life……….Yes, it can be terrifying.  But guess what?  I could use a little company 🙂