Thursday, December 1, 2016

People Are Not For Hurting.


This was and still is my parental mantra. From the time my babies were born, through toddlerhood, childhood, adolescence to adulthood, hitting or hurting with words or hands was not allowed. Ever. I am still passionate about fostering non-violent, peace-loving, resolution oriented living all around me.  

Why? Because I learned first hand about violence and abuse.

I was raised in a climate where bullying was standard behavior. Bullies ruled. Bullies survived. And if you wanted to survive, you were taught to beat up the bully. And so, to become a bully yourself. Yes, I was taught that fighting the bully was the right thing to do.  

Maybe it still is.

I did fight, as my children grew up, to keep them safe. On the school bus. On the playground.  I advocated for a strict no bullying policy. I insisted on a non-violent atmosphere.  I refused to let my children be exposed to violent tv shows, video games, or movies and I monitored their internet use as well. I was the one mom who didn't let my son dress up as a violent cartoon character for Halloween, have a 'toy' gun or play 'war'. I did stand up to the pressure from other parents and society to give in to the pervasive culture of violence.  

Violence is not a game.

It's saddens me to says this, but our society, our culture, our children are surrounded by it each and every day. When I grew up it was war and guns and fist fights on the playground. But now it has mutated and multiplied to invade everyday life.  TV anchors spout expletives. Drivers rage on the way to work. Airline passengers threaten other passengers and flight crews over their political beliefs. And it's not enough to be a bully in person, it's expanded to social media. Kids get bullied on Facebook all the time.  

And soon, there will be a cyber bully in the White House.

Tweeting threats, name calling, posting lies.  
Bragging about abusing women.  
This is classic bully behavior.  

A 'bully' is just another name for a violent, aggressive person who uses intimidation both physical and verbal towards other people. People are afraid of bullies. And bullies use that fear to push other people around, get what they want at all costs. They don't care about anyone or anything but themselves. 

And people, THIS IS OUR PRESIDENT?

No wonder there's more violence in cities and on our streets. People are very afraid and for a very good reason. He bullied his way through his campaign, firing and threatening his staff. He bullied his way through the debates, harassing a female candidate. He bullied the media when facts were reported against his wishes. He bullied people protesting against his election threatening to put them in jail. He is a bully. Plain and simple. But soon, he could become a very dangerous bully. All our lives, our children, our grandchildren are at stake here.  We have everything to lose and he has everything to gain. He is not here to help you. He is here to take as much as he can for himself. As Americans, we have a right and an obligation to stand up against corruption and violence.  

Don't let yourself be bullied.  Stand up.  Now.

People. Are. Not. For. Hurting.

We have to stop. Now. We have to look each other in the eye and see our reflection. See our fears and our dreams and our hopes in each other. Look for the truth, the real truth and value it above all else. See our wishes for freedom and safety and comfort and love.

It's so easy to get sidetracked by fear into greed and violence.
Especially by the bully soon to be President of the United States.

But we the people. You. And Me. We all want the right to pursue happiness. And we can all do it. One by one. Side by side. Working together. United. Standing up for the rights for all.

Next time you see or hear bullying in any shape or form,
Remember the mantra:  People are not for hurting.
 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Being Thankful: Food for the soul.


Here's what I know: gratitude works.   On a day when my cat dies, the clay cracks, car battery refuses to start and all seems lost, finding gratitude rescues me.  I know it seems too simple to really work, but when life gets complicated, simple is the real solution.  Hear me out.

The day my cat died, I cried.  A lot.  But as I wrapped her in her favorite blanket and buried her under piles of catnip, I sighed with gratefulness that she was no longer in pain.  She didn't have to struggle to move or breathe or eat.  I miss her everyday.  I still look over to where she slept in the sun in her basket.  But she is at peace, at last.  

Through the sorrow, I am grateful.

When the clay cracks, it's a message.  Respect the process.  Working with clay, is not just working with an art medium, it's working with the earth.  Working with the season, the  temperature, the humidity, even the time of day.  As much as I want to be in charge of life, I have to understand, I'm just one part, one piece of the process.  

For the process and the reminder of the process, I am thankful.

Ok, nobody is ever thankful for a car that won't start.  Not me.  Especially when it was forgetfulness on my part.  I was cleaning my car.  I forgot to turn off the map light.  I went to go to the store and my battery was dead.  But the good news, it was 'only resting'. I called triple A and within 45 minutes, my car worked and I was on my way.   

My car works.  I am very grateful.

In the last few weeks, to many people all seems lost.  Our values, our voices, our beliefs have been trampled by what may be a corrupted system.  Again.  We are mad, sad and scared that our beloved country has lost its way.  I have to hang on now.  In the midst of protests and vandalism and fear in the name of righteousness, I sigh and steer myself into the path of belief.  I believe that all of us really want the same things: love, warmth, food, opportunity, freedom and safety.  Our wise forefathers believed in our country and understood the need to foster freedoms that were so lacking in their homelands.  As immigrants, they saw the need to create 3 branches of government, an electoral college and a bill of rights in addition to the constitution to insure a fair and more equitable place for all.  

For our forefathers, I am thankful.  

They filled their plates on thanksgiving day with the only food that was available to fill their bodies and lift their souls. And right now, I think we could all use a plate full of soul food.

Breathe in the air.  Look up at the sky.  Kiss someone you love.  Hug your cat or dog.  Put your hands in the earth.  Turn on your car and listen to the engine designed by engineers and made by skilled hands.  

Be thankful. Today and everyday.  It's food for the soul.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Creating Courage.



When the going gets tough, I throw.  Slap.  Roll.  Or paint clay.  This is not just a way to process feelings, it's my way to really live.  With clay in my hands, I connect the earth in my hands to the earth under my feet creating a flow of energy that sustains me.  You may not feel the same way about clay and that's fine.  Because my way to live is only one way, we all have to find our own way in this world. 

The way isn't always easy.  Especially lately with so much anger and sadness surrounding me.

Creating is my retreat.  I do it, not to hide from the world but to see the world in a clearer light.  Wedging clay helps ground my turbulent feelings.  Rolling out a slab disperses distressing thoughts and brings a different clarity.  I can hear my true voice and feel my real strength through my fingers. 
Courage takes many forms.

In my studio, as the music plays, the clay works with me.  Together with the earth, I work through the outside pressures bringing me closer not just to my heart but the heart of the earth.  I know this may sound far fetched to some.  That's ok.  I just ask this one question: when you stand before a piece of art work, how do you feel?  If you don't feel any kind of connection, it might not just be you,  It could be the art.  Art that is true, and I'm not talking beauty or technique or media.  I'm talking about the energy from which the art was created.  I've always felt that true art comes from true hearts.    

A true heart is a courageous heart.  Listen.

We all have our own truth.  Some of us know what that is, others blindly follow others truth.  In a world where shouting is heard above whispers, I think it's important to listen.  Turn off the TV.  Close your computer.  Turn down your phone.  

Now.  

Listen in the quiet to the earth, to the rain, to the leaves fall.  
Listen to yourself, to your stories, to your own work, to what you know you know.
Listen to your heart.  

When you listen and work and create from your own heart, you don't need courage from anywhere else.  Your creativity is your courage and your bravery and your value and no one's shouting can ever take that away.   

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Peace and Curiosity.


It's been a long week in America.  Much has changed and I am one of many reeling with feelings long held captive in my soul.  Feelings so deep, words fail to describe them as they surface in waves.  Thoughts whirlpool.  What? How? Why? 

Breathe.  

As I calm my children in their panic and fear.  As I shake my head in disbelief.  As I try to assure my children and their children and myself that somehow good will prevail. 

Breathe deeper.

There is a fog over the lake today.  It a lies thick over the water and deadens the sounds of the ducks and geese.  But just as I let the fog shroud me, too, I turn the corner and there 4 feet away, close to the edge of the lake is a great, blue heron.  Majestic and still in the cold water, waiting with patience undisturbed by my presence, the heron is focused on what is most important in this moment.  Only.  

Breathe again.

The fog hovers still over the water but up above, there is a halo forming in the sky.  The gray shroud is shimmering as the sun gently and pushes its way through.  A light.  A beacon.  Hope.

Breathe.

I wonder as I wander through the woods.  It is the trees rooted below the fallen and decaying leaves that give me strength.  Below the decay of this year's leaves is fertile soil bringing life to the roots of the tree.  I know that no matter who or how or what winds blow through these woods, my tree is safe and strong and growing.

Have you ever noticed that even on a shrouded, foggy day, there is gold?  The yellow, golden leaves that have refused to fall, shine forth.  Anyway. 

Breathe anyway.
 




 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

To Terra, the Terrible.

She was sweet
At first
Cuddling in hoodie pockets
Purring on pillows

But then, she grew

To do great feats
Hiding 
in plain sight 
Atop a 10 foot armoire

Even to those she knew

Her meet and greet
Could be a hiss 
Or bite
Or spit 

Across space she flew

She was not neat
Sculptures, drapes broken and torn
Couches slashed
Plants toppled

And time, in time, took its payment due

Age and injury meet
Slowing days  
And sleeping in the sun
purring on pillows

Until
At last
Peace.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Two Steps Forward. One Step Back.


This is the dance of life.  I read these words years ago and, obviously, never forgot them because they struck home.  This simple thought goes right to the heart of the problem of living on this planet.  Caught up in societies march of success, I had spent many years pushing myself to move faster and work harder only to find myself slowly losing my way.  

I didn't know how to dance.

So I tried it.  I started on one side of the room and made myself take two steps forward and one step back.  Again and again and again.  I made it across the room.  And that proved progress is possible without running faster or working harder.  

Now and then, I still forget to dance.  

But this week, when the peaceful, quiet house got drowned out by my fears, I remembered.  Two steps forward and one step back.  I smile and look up at the sky.  I look around my studio and see beaded art treasures from long ago got framed. 

New bowls were thrown.  Vases and platters were made and stamped with leaves and lace.  

Small delicate porcelain lilies got mounted into a new black frame.

All while I was dancing...two steps forward and one step back.  My art and my heart moved forward together.  



Thursday, October 20, 2016

This Week is a Walk in the Park.



Last week was a whirlwind of activity getting ready for my open studio.  I made new work and got two demos ready for visitors.  I cleaned my studio from top to bottom, arranged the shelves neatly while my daughter staged some of my work around my home.  It was a wonderful weekend.  I met wonderful people full of curiosity and great questions about how I do what I do.  And I watched my work find new homes.  

It's hard for me to take it easy without feeling lazy and unproductive.  But after a weekend of meeting and greeting and show and tell, I need a little walk in nature.  

Nature nurtures my spirit.

I walk everyday.  Rain or shine.  And where I live, it rains more than it shines.  But I actually like walking in the rain.  The ripples in the lake.  The drips on the leaves.  The soft sound as the rain lands on the hood of my coat.  I drink it into my body but even more deeply into my soul.

One thing I've noticed again and again.  There aren't many people walking in the park in the rain.  I think that's a shame, because they're really missing so much.  Although, I like having this wonderland all to myself, I want and need to share the wonder.  

Wonders from my walk: Spider webs with bejeweled rain drops, a birch tree figure, the eyes of birch bark close up, a garland of spider webs on the bridge.