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 🙂

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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!!!

A “Dear John” letter to my fears

Dearest Fears;

We have been together for such a long time.  I have found common ground with you.  I have found comfort with you.  I had you when no one else would listen, especially me.  We have had our share of dramas, conflicts, arguments and truces.  I thought we would be together forever……..but…….I have a confession to make;

I’ve met someone else.  I never thought there would be anything else in my life.  What’s their name you ask?  Well, um, it’s kind of awkward and strange, but, um, you see, their name, well there name is Clay.  That’s right – I’m leaving you for the stuff that comes from the earth.  The rich, earthy, slightly grainy and oh so fundamental part of life.  Grounding and comforting in a way that I never felt with you.  Where you would rile me up, twist me around, create worry and trembling, well, you see, clay just loves me.  It whispers to me that I can do it, whatever “it” is.  Apply to that show, submit for that exhibition, call that gallery, grow bigger, brighter and better than I ever thought possible.  Clay has released me from you – my beloved fear of failing.  It has released me from the painful fear of rejection,Natures Mantle from my self imposed chains of taking a chance, of taking a risk, of reaching for freedom.

Sweet fear, I have really enjoyed our time together.  You know my most intimate insecurities and self doubts.  Leaving you will be one of the hardest and yet bravest things I have ever done.  Believe me, I have cried many times over this decision.  I have reached and then withdrawn back into the comfort of your arms. But, if I am to grow into what I have only dreamt of, I have to go.  I have to learn to live without you.  I promise I won’t talk badly of you or put you down.  You and I have had a beautifully tragic relationship and I will, in a very odd way, treasure it.  I can do this because of what you have taught me.  Hard won wisdom has been gained by knowing you and I thank you for all of the lessons.  I don’t think we can be friends…….it just wouldn’t work out.  I would start calling too much and you would start answering.

So, I am setting you free.  I have to go now……..Clay is calling and I mustn’t be late.

I will miss you……..for awhile.

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

My Love Affair with Clay

Although I have only recently begun creating ceramic art in the past 4 years, I have long since had a love affair with clay.  I remember as a youngin’ living in the mountains of West Virginia, sitting by the creek, scooping up mounds of mud in my pie pan and shaping it high until it fell back to the earth.  What a luscious feeling it was; the grit, the consistency, the earthiness of it all.

Even now, every time I open up a new bag of clay, I stick my head way inside and breathe deeply the smell of it……and realize that what I am smelling is not just the dirt and earth but the possibilities of what it will become.

All of us have an opportunity, every day, to move into our next greater self.  We have the endless ability to create something new and beautiful to share with the world.  The longer I am in this body, the more I realize that the power to radiate life has been within me all along.  Through all of my trials, struggles and challenges, the constant thread was me.  I get to choose every day how I see my world and the world around me.

Just as it is with clay, it is in the world.  To let go of control enough to allow life to happen and still be present to the possibilities. The choices we all have to create a life we dream of, a life we, as our higher selves deserve to step into. That’s a life well lived.Image

The Energy of Art

Every artist that has ever created anything has done so with Energy by their side.  Whether they were aware of it or not makes no difference.  Wherever we are in our own life reflects upon our creations.  However, over and above this, is the true essence of each artist coming through each piece.  It’s like with each new creation we are reaching back to our beginning and finding the ethereal thread that holds our life and our purpose together.  Everything we are, that we have ever been, culminates into the next piece that shows up.

As a society, we tend to dwell on the bottom third of life.  The drama, the violence, the power of it all.  Since most of the artists I know are incredibly sensitive a lot of art tends to reflect the jagged energy of that environmental turbulence.  Even if we are not experiencing the imminent threat of those heavy energies, we tend to pick up on them and create around them.  There are times when we may think we are creating what’s inside of us when in actuality we are simply being influenced by the collective.

To be able to detach from the “agreed upon” reality and to express one’s own true essence is the sweet nectar of art and life.  To move through the commotion to our own sense of sanctuary where we can be still, envision and put forth our highest, truest art………is a testament to life.  Image