Sunday, September 20, 2020

“Still, I rise.”

 



Again and again and again. 2020. This week my inbox and social media is crowded with messages like yours, I’m sure. We are all feeling and seeing and reeling from fires, viruses, deaths and disasters. 


One email focused on letting it all go. Jen Louden made a great point, “There’s a profound difference between surrendering to what is vs. falling into the grubby kind of “why bother? I’m learning to navigate between the two. I’m learning to feel my disappointment and heartache while dropping my stories like, I suck because __________ didn’t work or never happened.”


Inspiration and work. 


I admit, I’ve been in the ‘let it all go’ giving up phase. I also admit, I was heading for ‘why bother’ land. Louden’s email helped me feel the difference and steer myself back on the road.



I found a quote from Maya Angelou’s poem, “Still, I rise” and I read her strong, beautiful, determined words over and over. My heart ached for her pain, saw her courage and felt my own small world rise.


Her words were the inspiration for a new piece. And I delivered it to a new gallery this week. Somehow the birds I’ve been making, Maya Angelou’s wonderful poem and the gallery’s 12x12 square all came together like magic. 



Being useful to the world. 


In the wake of Ruth Beader Ginsberg’s death, an email from Maria Shriver, Sunday Paper arrived with a question of how to turn despair into action. Asking everyone, “how you can be used right now. This is not a time for despair. This is not a time to bow out or go quiet. This is a seminal moment for each of us to dig in and dig deep.”


As an artist, how can I be used right now? I throw and hand build bowls, teacups, vases and birds in clay. This is not a revolutionary thing to do. My pieces don’t shout or march or protest. 



But, I realized the other day, they do make a statement. A friend came by my studio to buy one of my red ‘cup of love’ teacups. 


In the process, she loved and bought a bowl with the words, “Believe Love”.



And smiled happily at my Caterpillar/Butterfly with the words: love, joy, true, act, brave, kind. 




So maybe in letting it all go, I steered myself into new work that helped me rise. And maybe it will help my friend and others to rise, too. 


Despite the fear, death and smoke, I can hear Maya Angelou’s wonderful, brave words: 

“Still, like dust, I’ll rise”, “Still I’ll rise”, “Still, like air, I rise”, and “I rise. I rise. I rise.”



Friday, September 11, 2020

Perfectly Overwhelmed

 


I don’t  see blue sky outside my window. I see orange fog. Smoke. And gray particulates falling through the air. Just when I was getting used to wearing a face mask, cleansing everything with sanitizer and accepting a pandemic, my part of the world started burning. 

I am scared. I worry about all the people I know in danger and their children and animals and homes. I thank the brave firefighters and responders and want them to all come home, safe. And there is nothing I can really do to help stop any of this. What can any of us really do?



All I see on social media is pictures of the smoke, orange sky, flames outside everyone’s windows. I keep reacting to each and every one the same: shocked emoji. And I’ve taken my own pictures as well, but it just seems hard to post them. 


Sharing. 


Here’s a post I did see on social media this week and I found it very helpful.

 

This is from Lisa O’ Baire:


Dear West Coast friends, if you’re feeling anxious or unsettled by our orange, smoky skies, please remember that your animal body is responding *perfectly*. 



Your nervous system is so smart. 

You’re biologically wired to feel afraid.

Your body is prepping for threat that is not yet here.

What can you do to feel more settled in this moment?


1) Self-Touch

2) Self-Talk

3) Reach Out for Connection

4) Remember Impermanence


Self-Touch


Massage your body, even if it’s *just* squeezing your own arms. Take a shower with cool water. Ask a loved one to lay on top of you or use a weighted blanket. Sitting up with your feet on the floor, ask a friend to slowly press down on the top of your feet (it works!). Take a moment to smell something lovely. Connecting to our senses is one of the quickest ways to get “unstuck” when overwhelmed.


Self-Talk


Speak aloud what you most need to hear. Pretend you’re a loving parent and speak to your younger self: “Thank you, body, for reminding me that this is a scary moment. I am safe right now. I am resilient and prepared to act, if necessary. Until then, I am completely safe — even if it doesn’t feel like it.”


Reach Out for Connection


I appreciate every picture of an orange sky on FB right now. I see it as a bid for connection. You are not alone. Write to a family member or friend who lives in another area. Ask them to send you a photo of a beautiful blue sky. Call someone who delights you! Friends are our lifelines and can help us co-regulate. It’s likely your call will make their day too. 


Remember Impermanence


Our sweet brains need help remembering there is a different (better) future ahead. In times of strife, the body’s job is to keep us alive at all costs. Chemicals flood the body to “help”, but you may find yourself frozen — or desperate to flee or fight. 


Remind yourself that this WILL end. 

This WILL shift. 

Blue skies WILL come again. 


And finally, please remember that none of this anxiety mismatch is your fault. Nervous system regulation and resiliency was not taught in school.  Self-regulation and somatic awareness are the most important skills you can gift yourselves and your children. You’re worth it. 



Thank you, Lisa for helping me understand that feeling overwhelmed right now is perfectly all right. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020



Hours tick tock into a day. Days flip like cards into weeks. Weeks fall into months. I’m always amazed by the amount of time passing through my life. Time feels like it happens around me instead of through me.

Lost in minutiae, I don’t see the minutes marching by me. I have to admit, I like being lost in the flow most of the time. Throwing clay on the wheel. Rolling a slab for a vase. Mixing and painting a teacup or bird. Creating is my way to be lost and found in time. 


Summer is gone and it’s September?



It’s hard to believe. Covid has turned everything upside down worldwide causing so much pain, sorrow, anger and fear. Fall is coming but not with schools starting or harvest festivals or art shows or open studios.


I remember how excited my children were to go back to school. I think of how many will not even be able to go kindergarten. They won’t be able to run into a freshly decorated classroom with their names on cubbies, new paints on easels and sharpened pencils ready to use.


Bye Bye Birthday parties and hello Birthday drive byes. 


My grandson’s 1st birthday was in late August but with Covid restrictions, a traditional birthday party was out of the question. But my lovely daughter came up with a creative way to give her baby his first birthday anyway. 


With The Hungry Caterpillar theme, we went to work making clay ornaments. 



A caterpillar made of cupcakes. 



And a flying butterfly from clay. 




Luckily, it was a nice day for an outside, drive-by party. And everyone did a great job of staying safe, enjoying cupcakes and celebrating baby Cieran’s first year on our planet (in spite of Covid).

    

Lost time. 


Six months. I can’t believe that Covid has been here that long already. I spent many days, weeks and months between denial and fear. As a self-employed person, I clung to my routine. I threw and rolled and painted and fired and glazed and fired again.



Even as my shows were cancelled and galleries closed, I filled my studio shelves with bowls, birds, vases and teacups. I did social media promotions, online craft fairs and opened an Etsy shop. I worked and waited and hoped it would all end soon. 


 A season of change. 


Yes, Covid is still here. I’m still creating and working. But I’m still worried and wondering how and when will all this end? Will my granddaughter ever get to run happily into her classroom? How can we all change and recover together?


As I leaned on Mother Cedar this morning, I felt a sliver of warm sunshine and heard a message. “Take this small slice of light and let it into your soul. Let it warm you and lift you and heal you. And give it to everyone around you.”