A few days ago, I was asked in jest whether I had been sleeping around because I sure was getting a lot of press and recognition for the gallery and myself. I rolled my shoulders back and responded with clarity and kindness and moved on with my day; but the comment struck deep and I finally realized that it was partly true.
Like many small business owners, for the past year I have had my hands all over mine. In early April of last year, as I stood alone in the gallery that encompassed my heart, I had to make a decision whether I was all done or all in. I worked, worried, loved and ensconced myself with the act of coming through this surreal time with a beautiful space that could welcome the weary eyed and bring light to their life; and for the most part I’ve been pretty successful.
As the jest drove me deeper toward introspection I decided to come up with a list of items that I have slinked around with, both day and night and I am finally ready to confess.
I slept with my Integrity; waking up each morning and checking to make sure I was standing deep within it. My own integrity, answering to my own standards and acting from a place of clarity.
I slept with my intentions to consider the angles and undercurrents; those misguided and needing reflection and repair.
I slept with my big dreams of a prosperous art business where the work that I created and those I represented were loved and supported.
I slept with my concerns and hopefully woke to discernment and direction for exactly how to work them to a place of calm decisiveness.
I slept with my husband and my dogs knowing when morning came I would feel comforted and blessed.
I slept with a clear conscious that I did my damn level best at every given opportunity and if I didn’t, I awoke with the full intent to be a better person than I was the day before.
I went to bed with the beautiful mantra that I am thankful for what I’ve been given but also for what I could give.
You see, I’ve been sleeping around like crazy and I do not feel one ounce of guilt or shame. I am imperfect, crookedly self critical and committed to taking responsibility to the life I am incredibly blessed to call my own.
So, dear one, I have been sleeping around the Universe and back again and the best part is, I’m still faithful and slap full of wild abandoned joy to my Life and my calling.
I was young and at the beginning of what was to be a nearly 30 year career as a Massage Therapist. I had been seeing a lovely German woman for quite sometime when, during one session she told me of an experience that she had while living and working as a bank teller in Germany during the height of World War II.
At the time of her story she was young as well. Perhaps in her mid 20’s and feeling the freedom that came along with being out on her own for the first time. She was unmarried, employed and feeling like her life was just beginning.
When she spoke about that time it was with a mix of joy and anxiety. She lived about two miles from one of the largest concentration camps and the talk was uneasy around town about what the German army was doing out there. She told me that everyone in town received a pamphlet. It explained to the fine, hardworking German people exactly what they needed to know. The concentration camps were for anyone who committed a crime. Anyone, including the native population could be sent there. She went on to say that if, upon being found guilty, you would be taken to the camp for a period of time to “concentrate” on your transgressions and then be released back into civilized society once you made reparations for those crimes.
Nothing was said about the thickened, sooty sky; the trains with disused, dirty humans packed in like over proved bread. It was all very simply put to them and they chose to believe it. They actually wanted to believe it. Each needing desperately to hold onto some semblance of normalcy in a increasingly dangerous and debris filled world.
She spoke to me of this while she was in her late 70’s and pondering what she, one small, simple, unadorned German civilian could have done about this. It wasn’t until the camps were liberated that the truth of what was happening came rushing forth like a flash flood in a hot, dry canyon bed. By that time, she had left the country and found safety in this beautiful country of ours. She lived a long, healthy life and while I lost touch with her years ago, I continue to honor her memory and her story as one of the most profound things anyone has ever shared with me.
On this day, and the last few that have passed, I am reminded once again how the public, even our fine Republic of the Free, can find it’s way to overlooking horror for safety; turning our heads from violence for the sake of certainty and letting children run amok in war paint and horns and all the while saying everything is fine.
We are all waging this war in different ways, most of them at odds with one another. My plea for kindness will be unwavering and my determination to stay present with gratitude in my heart for everyday will never be finished.
I just thought this was a story worth remembering.
I have been having a conversation with this beautiful Deity for almost 2 years now. I would occasionally drive to one of my favorite locations in Asheville where I first laid eyes on him just to see if he was still there. Always, still there. Always, ever peaceful. Always, patiently waiting.
I couldn’t “pull the trigger.” Chastising myself with the internal conversation that “it’s too expensive; I really shouldn’t; it’s a luxury I don’t need”; and yet the feeling that there was somehow a deeper connection continued to return.
Finally, a couple of weeks ago, when my husband asked what I wanted for my birthday, this Statue, this gentle, humble beauty instantly came into my mind. Bobs resistance to the piece was the same as mine. Must be practical, pragmatic, sensible. Blah.Blah.Blah.
And so, with much ado about nonsense, we made our way to the location that had been his home for countless dusty days . My heart truly beating insensibly in my chest; hoping beyond hope that he was still there. Still waiting with the benevolence you could only imagine in your most peaceful dreams.
To my delight and relief there he was; still standing amid the clutter; careless of placement. Hiding in plain sight of a million other things and still, oh very still, singing to my heart.
As I picked him up to lay him on the cart I was surprised to find what I initially thought was a cement statue turned out to be one of hand carved wood. Internally delighted and with a smile stretched across the whole of my soul, we wheeled him up to the counter along with a cement stand for him to reside on, happily paying the price and quickly making our way to the car.
Onward to home, I placed him by the covered entry against a backdrop of stone and wood thinking he looked rustic but lovely. However, as I was making the final adjustments to his stand I decided to get a duster to gently remove what I thought was just a slight layer of the fine stuff. And then, I realized that the fine layer had a bit more heft to it. So, out came the wet cloths soaked only in water and more was revealed; and my eyes sparkled wide open and tears started brimming from the corners.
As I was bathing him, he in turn, was blessing me. A reverence in that moment overtook me and I was flooded with gratitude for the beauty lying beneath all of that dirt and debris and for the intuition all along that I was the intended recipient of the love offered from a long, lost time; it was I that needed what this moment of service could create. The kindness and compassion of that simple act of washing away the dirt and care from him also began washing it away within me. That is the gift, the true gift that has been given me. The reminder that we all, everyone one of us, needs the care and tending of our own souls, in our own way, to make this a Life worth showing up for.
It can take so little time to mindfully wash away the dust of a day poorly minded or a year creating inertia that could rival the concrete monoliths that we hold dear. A little kindness, a little water and the presence to know what we need in this very moment.
I present below the Before and After Photos taken without filters to share the treasure revealed. May the beauty of whoever or whatever you hold dear and sacred seep through and bless you always ❤️
Last evening I listened to two Native American potters speak about their life and work. Both had seen challenges in their life that could bring anyone of us to our knees. Their words and experiences had such power in them – not in our normal “western” way of cultivating power through sensationalism. No, it was more like a deep moving body of water which is quietly intense under the surface along with the enormity of heart break and resurrection that brought light to their life.
One potter spoke of her son’s suicide and the tremendous weight of grief that she felt for years. She turned to clay when nothing else was working to relieve her of the darkness that had descended to her core. She spoke about an experience that she had while making a large, coil built vessel, the largest she had ever attempted, and the moment as she watched it collapse on itself back into a big pile of clay. She sat there in her grief and was transfixed by yet another failure. When she spoke about this to her teacher, his quiet words brought about a transformation in her heart. He said that what had happened was this; the clay had taken her grief and collapsed in on itself to lift the weight that she had so long been carrying. Powerful, transformative grace.
We so often see our failures as negative experiences that need to be shunned or run from. Believe me, I get that. Too often I see my own as bad chi that needs to be smudged away. But what if we took a little time to loop under the failure; around the corner of heart break or look above the insurmountable mountain of pain and disappointment? Taking ourselves out of the moment and into the meaning. Perhaps we would see those that came before us, telling us that our failures were only “soul stripping” because we are allowing them to take away our own power and ability to see the gifts that lie within them.
Easy? Absolutely not. Necessary for soul retrieval and new beginnings? Imperatively so.
“Blessed are the experiences that bring us to grace.” LC
There are some days where grace is desperately needed and none can seemingly be found. Days that challenge our courage; that work to grind us into little bits of resentment and sorrow. The days, where grace has taken a hiatus without even a backward glance.
With challenging days we can resist to look for grace as well. We want to hole up in our self righteous pj’s, hunker down and growl, just tempting grace to cross the threshold of our self constrained pity. And, believe me, I get it. I have traveled down that soulless pipeline one too many times without an exit plan only to find myself snarling at my own reflection.
But today, I found a small, hard won wisdom. I was traveling back across sleet, snow and high winds with a van full of enigmatic, courageous, complicated and lovely college students after a day of spitting into the wind of small rain clouds. While holding my hands tightly to the steering wheel, at the least expected moment, I received a light. Blessed our the experiences that bring us to grace.
These experiences aren’t always of the idealistic, rosy type either. They can be down and dirty, wallowing, mud soaking events that knock the wind from our lungs and the spirit from our soul. And yet, there is grace to be found. Whether it’s from reaching with outstretched hands toward a solution, a hand reaching toward us for comfort or the solace of silence, grace can be found. It could be coming to the end of a road we knew so well, fearing the future; and yet grace has a way of walking with us, letting us know, if we just hold on a little longer and love a little deeper, we will step into the light.
For me, grace is simple. It’s the kindness from someone that sees the beauty in you, even when you can’t. It’s the community that helps raise you up, whether it be for one day, three weeks or a lifetime. It’s the partner who knows your dark side and yet knows that once you remove the chains you tied to your heart, YOU are a bright and shiny love totem. All of those simple, profound moments that make up a Life are where grace resides. Let if find you open and vulnerable to its touch. For if you look for grace, grace will, in turn, be looking for you.
I am honored to have spent these past days with this messy, lovely, slightly crazy tribe. With you, all of you, I have found grace.
Can I tell you something? I’ve been in a bit of a fog for the past few weeks. I can tell you it’s because of the rainy, snowy weather. Or, I could tell you it’s because of the second virus that I have endured in as many months. All of those things are true. But they are also just a place in which to lay blame without taking responsibility for my inner fogginess.
I create. That’s what I do. I love it – I breathe it – I take it deep within me and ingest my gratitude pill everyday because of it. But sometimes, that isn’t enough. I can get so interiorized into the next creation that I forget to look up, check out and expand. When I don’t take the opportunity to look around and gather up space it can make my sphere of creativity smaller. I start choosing from a shortened view – not taking chances and risks; only a higher level of reproducing and regurgitating the last blast from my Muse.
Heading back to Ghost Ranch to help with Jan term again is just the medicine I need. The soul enveloping, fog releasing, expansive salve that I find within these 22,000 acres time and time again.
I’m hoping you will once again, take the steps with me. I promise to try and not bore you, make you roll your eyes or generally dismiss my musings, but I can’t guarantee it 🙂
We packed all of our belongings and left Ghost Ranch today heading in different directions. I traveled to Denver with Lori and will be flying home to my beautiful mountains of North Carolina and to a wonderful man along three dogs that seem to have missed me almost as much as I missed them. I don’t have many words to share this evening……..just a enormous amount of love and appreciation for all that I experienced the past three weeks.
I wanted you to see the faces of the people that helped this trip incredibly special. I see the light in each one of these beautiful souls…….and I am blessed beyond measure❤
At the end of the day, at the end of our lives, what we look back upon will be the richness of our relationships. How well did we love? Did we make a difference in another’s life? Did we leave this place just a little better than we found it?
Thank you all for following along with me on this magnificent journey. I hope that in sharing this experience I was able to bring just a little joy to each and every one of you.
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 ❤