Sunday, December 10, 2017

'Tis the Season.

I don't know about you but this time of year, my long, lost child peeks out from under the bits of gray hair and giggles. "It's time! It's time! It's finally time for sparkle and twinkle and tinkling bells." Oh, my!

I do love decorating for the holidays. 

My first job is sweeping the usual items off the tables, bookcases and shelves. It gives me a clean slate to create vibrant vignettes. I don't move everything. I decide each year which places around the house will change. I want to bring color and sparkle, not cluttered chaos. So somethings and places change dramatically and others are just tweaked a bit. 

In the nook off the kitchen, I always take out my Spode Christmas china. I started collecting these pieces in high school. I love the 30's tree design with Santa on top and presents below because it brings back childhood memories of wonder and delight. 

In years past, I've created a Santa shelf in the bookcase over the desk, but this year, I decided to do it differently. It used to be a place to showcase all the holiday theme books we read to our children but as they grew up, it became more of a memorial to Christmas past. This year, we have a wonderful, sweet 2-year old granddaughter who loves books. So the non-breakable Santas and books are all at her level to be enjoyed once again.

The Christmas tree is a little lighter this year, too. All the ornaments that 'Santa' delivered to my children's stockings are now hanging on their trees. I added ribbons to fill in and create a new flow to our new 'Mom and Dad' Christmas Tree. 

I always re-decorate my coffee table as seasons change. But again, this year is a total change from our adult decor to one that honors not just my granddaughter, but my children's childhood. For years, we gave Brio Trains to our two children. For birthdays and Christmas, new parts, tracks, cars, trees, trucks appeared to add to our Brio Town. This year, we got the box out of the attic, dusted it off after 20 years and set it up for everyone's Christmas enjoyment. Who knew it would bring out the child in 3 generations. 

Creativity for me is always about heart and home. 

In fact, truth be told, I love decorating. You can call it home decor, fixing things up, moving furniture or interior design, I don't care. I still love it. And I've been doing it as long as I can remember. As a child and teenager, I moved my room around many times, painting and repainting furniture, making side tables out of boxes and creating frames from cloth and paint. I've made window coverings from bed sheets and valances from tablecloths. I've stenciled basketball players on my son's walls and leaping gold figures in my bathroom. 

I now create and make functional and sculptural work for the home. Bringing nature and color into my home and yours is a passion for me. So adding my work to my own family traditions just feels like the right way to celebrate any season. 

So here's my wish to you this holiday: Celebrate. Sparkle, twinkle and shine with hope and health. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

No Apologies.

Back in my 20's, I vividly remember another female coworker bumped into her chair and said, "I'm sorry." I also vividly remember being appalled because she just apologized to HER CHAIR! It was just so ridiculous to me, really think about it, the chair has no feelings so why in the world would she apologize to it?

Unfortunately, many decades later, I understand. 

As a red-hot, young feminist, I saw her behavior as a flaming example of what not to do. But after years on this planet as a woman, I have to admit, I've done it too. Ok, maybe not to a chair. But I've said those words to plants, dogs, cats, spiders, and strangers everywhere. 

Just this week, I caught myself apologizing for: trying to get down a crowded grocery store aisle, needing help to reach items on a high shelf, a dirty window, silver glitter on a store conveyor belt, getting a parking space in a crowded lot. In NONE of these situations did I do anything to 'wrong' anyone else. I was even told by a cashier that the conveyor belt was already littered with glitter from OTHER customers. 

In other words, I had no need to apologize at all. 

Here's something I'm asking myself now: What would a guy say? What could I say instead? Or better yet, do I need to say anything at all? Really, how many times do you or I really do anything that needs an apology. 

If I've decided to do or not do something that is in my own best interests for my health, wealth or well-being, I do not need to be sorry. Just because someone else wants me to choose otherwise, I do not need to apologize. I need to remember making a choice that is good for me, is my right as a human being on this planet. Even when it comes to simple things like getting a jar of peanut butter in a crowded grocery store aisle. 

Guilt free, new words. 

Here are a few phrases I'm going to start saying instead of, "I'm sorry."

"Hi, there. I need to get the peanut butter."
"Oh, look at all that glitter."
"Look out, coming through!" Or better yet, just navigate around the crowd. 
"Oh, look. A great parking space!"
"Oh, it was a miscommunication."
"Hi, I have a question." or "I'm looking for ______. Do you know where it is?"
And most of all, "I can't make it." Or "I can't do it." Or "I'm all booked up."
Or, "No."

I know, the 'n' word is scary especially for women as we are not trained to say it so boldly or simply. But, let me be bold, and say it's time to stop saying sorry. Say No. No apologies necessary. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Creating Thanks.

I don't know about you, but this last year has been filled with unthankful events. All it takes is a quick look at the daily news to get filled with anger, disappointment, embarrassment and fear. My mind reels with the ignorance and greed exhibited in government that causes such suffering for children and adults in my own neighborhood and the world. 

That's why I decided I had to do something about it. 

Now I can't personally slap a certain person's hand and take away his Twitter account, even though we'd all be better for it. But I can stop my mind from going down the sinkhole with him. And so can you. 

Right now as I write this, I'm staring out at a sky full of clouds. It's been dark and rainy but now, the clouds are moving, slowly revealing slivers of light, bright blue. It helps me remember that beneath all the muck and darkness, light exists. 

And we are all light. We are all filled with electrons, which are light bearing molecules. So even on our darkest days, when we feel all is black and lost, there is light right there inside me and you. I'm not the best at getting in touch with this, I admit. It's sometimes takes hard work to find that light but knowing it's there, helps. 

And so does slinging mud. 

Yup. There is nothing better for my soul on dark days than putting my hands in mud. I forget this over and over, so please, don't see me as enlightened. I'm just desperately in search of a way to feel better. 

My way is to create with clay. No matter how mad, sad or fearful I feel, putting my hands in clay clears out my soul. I can't explain it. And that's a good thing, because explanations are based on thinking which is using my mind and that's not a place where thankfulness resides. While I may start out in my head, my body takes over. My hands take the lead, feeling the texture of the clay, coming together to center it, pulling it up and out. Then, voila, there's a bowl in front of me instead of a lump of mud. 

Creating thanks may take a completely different form for you. It could be words or numbers or paint or flowers or flour or keys on a keyboard. It doesn't really matter where it comes from as long as you allow it to lighten up your life. 

As I've been busy on my keyboard, the sky has changed again. Like life. The blue is gone, the clouds are darkening as the day ends, but in the 'in between' there is a sliver, a space that is rosy and soft and still light. 

So right now, I'm thankful to nature for creating that small piece of light and hope outside my window.   

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Thoughts of the Week.

While I don't usually know what I'm going to write about until I sit down to write, I usually have a concept, an idea, a theme. But this week, it's just not there, so I've decided to just jot down a few free flowing thoughts.

On Home. 

Home is a place, a state of mind, and a soul destination where, hopefully, your breath rises and falls and sighs. I know my physical home is my comfort zone. My studio is my sacred space. But I'm learning that my body is my home, too. While I take care of my house, work in my studio and feed and exercise my body, I have for years, taken my body for granted. 

I've had a few wake up calls along the way to remind me to take better care of the body in which I reside. But I admit to seeing my body as a vehicle I use to get where I want to go instead of a place where I can truly live. 

I wonder what it would feel like to stop driving my body and sit inside it instead. 

On Creating. 

As one of my children's very young friends said, "You're always making something over here. Why is that?"  Very good question for which I had no answer. I don't even remember what I was making then that caused her to ask the question. 

I do know, I like to make things. My earliest memories are of making an entire town out of mud and sticks in my backyard. Grabbing my brother's pencils and writing before I knew how to write a word. And using my mother's red lipstick to draw on the dining room wall.

I still like to make things and write things. Does that make me an artist? A writer? I don't know.  And I wonder, does it really matter? Do I need the title as some form of validation? Or does society need to classify what I do and why. 

All I know is in the end, the little girl's words are true: I am always making something over here.

On Freedom.

Creative freedom is on my mind this week. As an artist many would think that I have all the creative freedom in the world but I've learned that freedom has a price. Making art and selling it means smacking up against juries, art galleries and consumers who want specific colors, shapes, and types of work. 

I didn't realize that working in clay would put me in a creative box: potter vs artist. I saw them as the same, but they're not. Potters specialize in producing large bodies of identical, functional pieces. Ceramic artists usually produce work that is sculptural, figurative, which may or may not be functional. 

I like to make both. I love making and using my vases and mugs as much as I love making masks. But over the last few years, I've been told by other artists, "Oh, I gave up producing functional work because I just couldn't compete with the potters." By a gallery, "We only want your functional work, in certain colors." 

It's a bit mind boggling to open myself up to creating both functional and sculptural work in an effort to offer more to the world only to have people putting labels on my creative freedom. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Surprise Moments.

I walk to the park everyday and I love it. Moving at a brisk pace, breathing in the fresh air around me, I feel energized and powerful. I want to say that I mindfully pace myself taking in the life teaming in and around me but I'd be lying to you and myself. 

The truth is: I really want to be calm and centered. I want peace and quiet in my mind and soul. I do yoga. I try to meditate. But most of the time, my mind just won't shut the F.... Up.  

Here I go but where am I?

While my feet and legs propel me around the beautiful lake, my mind races backwards, forwards and, sometimes, sideways. I shrug against the rain and while I see the leaves at my feet, my attention is in my head. I'm listing my to do's, planning dinner(while it's only hours after breakfast), worrying about my kids, grandkid, husband, dog and home. Will my art sell at the show I just signed up for and will I like what I'm now creating when it gets done? And then, there is the ever creeping holidays just around the corner.  

I almost missed it. 

This week, Mother Nature decided to shock me into the moment whether my mind liked it or not. 

As I walked up to one of the bridges over our neighborhood, man-made lake, something white caught my eye. On the shore of the creek was a bright, white egret. I was taken aback, for sure, but Mother Nature wasn't done with me. 

Right there, 4 feet away in a tree, was a huge, blue heron. I've seen many herons at the lake over the years, but this one was so close and so big and so still.


I got busy clicking pics on my phone, of course. Trying different angles. Moving slightly to get a better shot. Zooming in and out and in and out. Just as I pocketed my phone, turned to cross the bridge and get up to walking speed, something else caught the corner of my eye. Mother Nature had another surprise, knowing that an egret and a heron might not be enough to really make her point. 

An eagle swooped above my head and flew across the bridge.

I stopped. My eyes moved and my mind, finally, was surprised into silence. 

I'm grateful to the egret and the heron for showing me stillness. But the eagle soaring above helped me see that surprising moments fly by swiftly all the time and if I don't stop and look, I'll miss the wonder of truly living my life. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Creating Inspiration.

There are many ways and many places to find inspiration. In and around our beautiful earth: sunsets at the beach, fall leaves in colorful piles by the sidewalk, snow covered mountains, are just a few ideas. Then there are museums, books, music, dance, performances where art and artists create and inspire. Even a well planned and executed dinner entree can give me color and texture and shape ideas.  

The very act of creating can be a way to find inspiration. I get creative ideas from all of these places and more, but this week, I got my inspiration from a tissue box. 

"Never Stop Learning."

I was just gathering laundry and refilling the tissue box, when I saw it. I stopped all my busy work and just stared at the wise words coming from the most mundane place: an empty tissue box. 

I have studied and learned and worked at many things over my lifetime so far. And, I'll admit to my own failings for sure, along with some successes. But I'm reaching a certain time of life when society expects me to know all I need to know, to stop learning, working and creating. 

I know it's ageist thinking. And I know in my heart, it's not only wrong thinking, it's a ticket to an uninspiring life. What do I do? 

Learn from a tissue box? Yes.

Because somewhere out there is a designer or art director who needed help. They'd been given a problem: to think outside the usual tissue box, to create something different. And maybe, just maybe, they were a little lost and lacking in inspiration. Maybe they told themselves that designing something as mundane as a tissue box, could be a learning experience. 

Even though you and I have lived quite a few decades of life on this planet, life is still one big learning experience because I've never lived in this exact time before. Neither have you. I've never been this age before and neither have you. 

So therefore: I, you, we are all still learning. 

Now some people out there will sigh and pull back and deny any need to learn anything new. They'll say that there are no new ideas. Yes, I actually had an art director tell me that decades ago.

But since then, there have been many new ideas in my life. Computers, email, laptops, iPads and smart phones, just to name a few. So I'd say he was wrong, but maybe, he just lacked inspiration and he didn't know or care to find out how to get it back. Maybe he thought he'd learned all he needed to know. 
I know one thing for certain, I  don't know all I need to know. And I can't see a life worth living without creating. So I need inspiration.

This week, I got it from a tissue box designed by a fellow creative traveler. So thanks, whoever you are, for creating the inspiration I very much needed. 

"Never Stop Learning."

Friday, October 27, 2017

Creating and Changing.

Our world is constantly changing and so am I.  Even so, I don't always like change even when it winds up to be a very good thing. Whether change happens in a day, like wham, or over many years, it's still scary. 

I rarely see change coming or if I do, I hide under the covers of what I know to be normal. I act as if everything, and especially that thing I fear, is business as usual. When my first baby was born, I kept telling myself for nine months that this was easy, nothing would really change and I'd just pop that baby out and go right back to work. Right? Wrong. 

Like the monster under the bed, change is a giant, scary unknown.

All our life we change: babyhood to childhood to teenager to adulthood to parenthood and beyond. Some changes seem easier than others, or are they? Maybe I've just decided to remember it that way. 
When I look back on most changes, whether I wanted the change or not, it seems like a natural progression. Moving through grades in school looks easy to me now but at the time, I'm sure it wasn't. Getting my first job in radio had a few bumps looking back, but I know it was terrifying then. Breaking my wrist was a change nobody wants, but again, looking back I see how it made me more aware and focused and, yes, stronger. 

Growing stronger. 

At this time of my life, when everyone all around me is talking about aging and wrinkles and aching bones, I cringe. I want to run and hide from the fact that I am older. It's scary to even consider the possibility of my time running out.

But the fact is, death and birth are givens on this planet at this time. Sometimes death happens near birth and sometimes, with any luck, death happens many decades later. The fact is, I don't know and you don't know when it will happen. That's the real monster under everyone's bed, all the time.

I could refuse to see change, ah, denial is a wonderful tool. I could cling to my soft, comfy beliefs or bitch away in fear. But what if I see change as a chance to grow stronger. I can take what I've learned from the changes I've already gone through and use it to live better, smarter, stronger, kinder and, yes, happier. 

Breaking free to wonder.

When I took art classes in college, it was just an elective, I didn't allow myself to see it as something I really wanted to do. After my first child was born, I bought myself a sketch pad and pencils just to 'doodle'. My first studio was a drafting table in the corner of my bedroom with watercolors and now I have a studio all my own, a pottery wheel and kiln. Sometimes, change happens so slowly over time, I don't see all the creating I've done in my life. 

I've seen and done and liked and disliked many things in my life so far. I've worked for good even in groups of people who were bad. I've soldiered on in spite of the greed, hate and dishonesty around me, doing a good job, hoping I could change the situations and people around me. I've struggled to accept there are things I can't change. 

But what if I allow my knowledge of the world around me to change my choices? What if I change my views on change? What if I choose to change? What if I make choices based on love and fun and wonder and freedom?  

I wonder, at embracing living a longer life as a chance to create more life in my own life.  
I wonder what kinds of change I'd create.