The Time We Have

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” Earl Nightingale

At this point in my life, I won’t imagine a day without art. Whether my hands are muddy with clay, embellishing work with some sort of mixed media or seeing beauty through the lens of the camera, it’s all art to me. What art and beauty has done for my life is almost inexplicable. Clay has made me a better person. I find a timelessness in the process that creates more space and light around me. I breathe deeper; my smiles are more radiant; my heart is without constraint.

Now, I am not suggesting that if you aren’t creating art, you aren’t living. Far from it. What I am suggesting is that we all must find something of value to pursue in our lives that takes us out of our heads and lets up wrap up warmly in the “other” parts of ourselves. The walk by the ocean, the hike in the woods, the tending of a garden. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the time we have here is precious. Every single second is a round, glittery jewel that has the potential to bring revelation, gratitude and peace.

For me, gratitude can be a short lived parking space. I actively work on daily gratitude, but freely admit that things get in the way. The Jackass who cut me off in traffic, the insistent barking of my little dog when he wants something like food or love or attention or the general hurried nature that I seem to place in my daily life. All of those things can quickly take us from gratitude to grumbly. For me, finding space to create peace within me tends to have longer lasting effects. And all of the excuses that keeps us away from our timeless travels are mostly just super-imposed fears of failure that our dreams will all turn to shit and then what will we do?

Well, my friends, the time is going to pass anyway. NO ONE, that I am aware of, has figured out how to get it back. Whatever it is, please, I implore you, do it. Take a step, however small it is and it might just encourage you to take the next. Because what we have to lose by not fulfilling our dreams, is very simple. We lose ourselves.

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A Thankful Heart

I know a wise woman, living out her life in a quiet home, on a quiet street with a beautiful view. I visit her whenever I can, which for the past four years is rare due to the physical distance between us. And even though are time together is short, it has an air of the sweetly familiar. No time passes – only a page turned in each of our books.

She has been a woman of social standing, with the stool taken away. She has been a working woman who found reverie in her accomplices of beauty. She has been a caregiver of children, a seeker of truth and Mother to many wayward children including me.

Through all of these tunnels of darkness, her folly in the light and her undying curiosity of what lies beyond, she has been Thankful. She has told me on more than one occasion, that with a Thankful Heart, only Love can abide. That through the questioning of her creator, or the absence thereof, she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Love held her close to the precious sweetness of Life.

Though she has expressed timidity regarding her own decisions and a lack of loving others enough, I have never known another person quite like her. She has shown me that the larger questions are worth pondering. That loyalty of friendship is undying and that a simple kindness can change the world. She has taught me to stand up straight, care deeply for grace in this world and Love in the face of doubt.

Rose of my Rose, you have shown me what it is to be of the light. Your stubbornness for independence, even in the midst of gravity taking over, is cause for giggly delight. The love and understanding you show for your fellow passenger in this ride knows no bounds and yet you have shown an incredible knack for personal boundaries. Even your “No’s” are beauties to behold.

With all of life and it’s potential heaviness, you have created light. A light that will shine long after all of us have been blessed with rest. That, my lovely, lovely, Rose, is True Art.

Being of Service

The world is full of possibilities to be “of service”.  Just open up the newspaper or your newsfeed and one story after another will make you want to open up your heart…….and your checkbook.  During this very difficult period that we, as a collective society are traversing, I have spent a lot of time wandering around the creases and folds of my being, searching for answers.  More succinctly, searching for “my” answers.  In attempting to answer those questions, I have come up with the following conclusion…….it’s different for everyone. So, with that in mind, I am listing a few thoughts that might help someone else find out best where there answer might reside.

Flattery could get you nowhere. Being approached for a “service” opportunity does not necessarily mean it will be appreciated.  Check in with your “heart of hearts” and see if the opportunity speaks directly to you.  If it does, go for it!  Don’t let anything get in your way of helping, assisting and generally getting your hands dirty.  It’s good for the soul, your own sense of self respect and someone else’s mission.  However, if the opportunity doesn’t resonate deep within you, gently decline and walk away.  I can assure you there will be more requests where that came from.

Hitching a ride on the “Guilt Train.”  If you have a sneaky feeling that someone is attempting to guilt you into doing something for the “greater good”, they probably are.  Don’t make any sudden movements.  Breathe deep, realize what is happening and find an opportunity to give that doesn’t involve making yourself feel bad to make someone else feel better.

Servitude is NOT being of Service.  Getting a little distance from a situation, even if it’s been a mess and blown up in your face as well as all over your clothes, will give you the insight that you just may have been used.  And it’s ok.  Any loving, giving, kind hearted person has been there.  Some situations hurt more than others – usually because we were unable or unwilling to see the wolf in sheeps clothing.  The take away from these types of situations is this – at least you did something.  Yes, it didn’t turn out the way you wanted but it turned out the way YOU needed it to.  We are given the lesson until we learn the lesson.

If you have to make yourself smaller in order to give – it ain’t giving. The feeling that the situation or person that you’re giving to is just so much more important than you are is mostly a smoke screen.  There ARE important venues and values that are very worthy of your efforts – but they shouldn’t be making you to feel small.  Healthy giving opportunities raise everyone up, not just the recipient.  If you are feeling like a “minion”, yeah you guessed it, you’re probably being perceived as one.

“Give, but give until it hurts.”  Mother Teresa.  Giving, even in the most purely authentic ways, can damage the giver.  It is wise for each one of us to check-in with ourselves, getting very quiet, and realize what are limits are.  You may need to take a break from being a “giver.” And it’s ok.  That break may last years.  And it’s ok.  I can assure you, there will be many opportunities to give of yourself. Time and time again.  The act of giving is best served in Joy – not in obligation.

Include yourself.  There may be long stretches of time that giving to others is just not an option.  We all have a right and a responsibility to handle our own lives.  Sometimes, that means a period of self reflection is warranted before any additional “outflow” can occur.  If the well dries up, the possibility of water doesn’t exist.  Fill-up your own soul, whatever non-malicious way that means for you, before you go trying to fill someone else’s heart. Giving while in a state of resentment, lack or anything less than whole heartedness isn’t just unwise, it’s a crime against oneself. Perhaps you may want to look at it this way; if you take the time to truly give to yourself, you are not the only recipient of your graciousness.  Everyone you touch, talk with, work for or love will be the beneficiary of that grace.  You will not be able to contain it.  It will seep out of your pores and encompass those that you hold most dear.

And then, you will be ready to give again.

 

 

Stardust and Light

A couple of nights ago, I was fortunate enough to see the New Mexico night sky as I had never witnessed it before. A night when the sky, with barely a Moon in sight, was full of stardust. It was as if a giant bowl was turned toward earth and all of the planets and stars were spilling luminescence over everything they touched.

I went to a place on the ranch where I could safely lay down, look up and become shrouded in the metamorphic deep, dark, brilliant space of the never ending night sky. Have you ever seen something so beautiful, so ethereal and touched by the divine, that it physically caused pain within your body? Such a gift from a governing heart.

As I walked dreamily to bed, filled with all things of inky lushness, I decided I wanted to wake early to see the transition from night to dawn. I will tell you right now, it was worth the brevity of my sleep and dreams.

From moment to moment I was chasing the fading of the night and the birth of the morning, hoping for just one more moment of magnificence to carry my spirit into another day. One more chance to inhale the ending and look toward the beginning.

Wondering around since this event, I have been trying to figure out the lesson, looking for the message in all of this. There must be something I could retrieve from such beauty, such transition, so routine for the natural world and yet so transformative for me. And then, without warning, it became clear: everything must end and yet, with the sadness of this, there is this undeniable eagerness for another beginning. Another chance to love, to create, to be present in my life for the transitions that are coming to us all.

No matter where I go from here, I go there taking these memories of stardust and light with me. Without the light of the moon, the stars can shine. With the Sun comes another chance for us to shine.

Ode to Joy

For each person in our lives, there seems to be an emotional “meter”. A certain amount of emotion that we can expend for one another. When we feel tapped out or drained, usually it’s due to over giving, while not holding enough in the container to feed and support ourselves.

I have this vision that each emotion is a tiny little seedling. With the exchange of support between two people, the sprout grows; tended and cultivated it can result into a blessing of a harvest, the basket always full, always multiplying . A solo dance with the life giving force headed in only one direction creates depletion and the meter runs low. At some point, that blessed tank hits empty. Good luck attempting to manufacture anymore. The seedling dries up, curling into itself and gently blowing away like the last puffs of smoke from a busted muffler. Unless balance is restored, the relationship is doomed to end up in the trash bin of misery and discontent. The capacity for love, understanding, acknowledgment, compassion and kindness are seeds of fortune just as stark in contrast to the seeds of discontent, judgment, violence, hatred and greed.

An Native American elder explained to his grandson that we all have a dark wolf and a light wolf living within us. When the grandson asked which will one will win the battle, the Grandfather replied, “the one you feed.” So it is with our emotional and spiritual lives. We will always be challenged by others as well as our dark side; to be less than we are, to fall into judgment, to take more than we give. To be conscious of our ways marks the delineation point between our reactionary dark side and the light of awareness. Whether are thoughts and actions are from being fully awake or sleepwalking, we are making a choice with every touch, every turn, every word, every deed.

Allowing others to find freedom, even if it means we lose them; allowing yourself to find joy in your everyday life is no small feat. Yes, it’s scary…….but the lighter your touch, the more gentle your grip on the steering wheel, the more freedom we give ourselves to just breathe, the more room there will be for Joy ❤️

The Exercise of Life

I have issues…..most of us do. Keb Mo, a masterful blues artist sings, ” I got a suitcase, I take it wherever I go”. Well, packed in my little red sports car of a suitcase is periodical dances with depression. I inherited the ability to visit the darkness from my Dad. He was, for the most part, unable to find his way out. I watched him as well as other people close to me suffer from this and it hurts to see what it does to their light.
We all have are own way of handling our emotional dance partner. My own brand of medicine is daily encounters with exercise and creativity. Regular bouts of both soften the hardness and bring light to my life.
When I run, I tend to let my mind wander around the universe. During one of these runs I had a revelation and it was simply this….I am loved. Now, I’m not talking about a religious deity sort of love, although that’s pretty incredible, too. No, I mean I actually realized just how much love flows towards me. Love from my friends, family, clients, dogs and yes, dare I say, even clay. It was such a bitch slap sort of cognition coupled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I actually started crying, sobbing really, right there in the middle of the street with my dog Daisy looking up at me like I was full of crazy.
Now, the admittance of my depression and the realization of being loved may seem disjointed but hear me out. If I can focus and draw upon the fact that I am loved whether by a two legged animal, a person or a seemingly benign product such as clay during these somewhat dark periods then what happens next is indisputable. This simple act of changing the direction of my thoughts instantly makes the heaviness subside. Darkness cannot withstand the light of one candle.
And there’s more! Creatives know that when we let go of trying to control the outcome of our creation, Magic and life have a chance to show up. In a beautifully weird sort of way, being creative on a regular basis brings forth more creativity and more creativity keeps the boogeyman away and then the whole Love thing shows up and before you know it ….You ARE Love.
I just love it when Life shows up and teaches us how to see the light……..

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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.