Sunday, January 17, 2021

Turtle Steps

I made lists. I had plans. Then, last year happened. And maybe like you, all those lists and plans and goals fell apart. So with this new year, I decided to start out slow. 

Last week, I repaired sculptures that were broken in last year’s final months. I faced the overwhelming task by taking only one piece down at a time. Fixing that one piece. Then and only then, moving on to the next. Even though I went slowly, one at a time, it surprised me how quickly they were all fixed. 

Think tiny. 

I didn’t come up with the idea. One of my favorite writers, Martha Beck did. What is it? She says, “A turtle step, as I define it, is a step that takes you toward your ultimate goal, but is so tiny you could do it easily on your worst day.” 

And in addition to suggesting this as a new goal for the new year, she shared that it was the only way she was able to write her books. Her goal everyday was one paragraph. That’s all. But, of course what she learned was that a paragraph a day(or maybe 1 more on a good day) does become a book. 

After reading this, I took a long look at my big ideas from last year. And my lack of big ideas for this year. And I sighed with relief. 

One snap at a time. 

This week, I needed to revamp my Etsy shop. Although I’ve had an Etsy shop for years, I really never got the hang of it. Last year, I decided it was time for me to take it more seriously. And it worked. My work sold on Etsy. 

With Valentine’s Day approaching, it was time to re-stock my shop with new ceramic pieces. As I started to get overwhelmed, I remembered ‘turtle steps’. One day, I just chose the pieces.

 The next day, I set up my photo booth. 

Then one by one, I took pictures. Next I wrote descriptions, prices, sizes, colors and tags. Another day, I uploaded them onto Etsy

At first, it all seemed overwhelming but doing it little by little, day by day, it was a snap. 

So, if you’re feeling you just can’t face this new year: try turtle steps.

Today, one step. Tomorrow take another. Then day after day, one more.

Maybe we all need to remember the old story of the tortoise and the hare. 

Slow and steady wins.   

One by one. Day by day. Vaccinations can happen. People get well. Smiles return.  

Sunday, January 10, 2021

2021 Word of the Year


What a week. I listened in shock at the chaos, damage and injury happening in our nation’s capitol. After 911 and 2020, I thought I’d seen the worst. I was so wrong. 

Living through such a crazy, scary, turbulent year, I feel so many feelings. Sad. Mad. Confused. Afraid. Alone. Frustrated. Isolated and silenced behind a mask. Watching and waiting for it to all be over, only to see more difficulty and damage all around me. 

New Year. New Word.

Many things seem to have broken this year. I had several pieces broken while on display outside my studio. Some were minor. But some were major damage and so overwhelmed me, I had to put them on a shelf, on their sides, where they lay ‘dead’ for many weeks. I didn’t know if I’d be able to repair them and sell them. Or if they’d always be scarred and damaged. 

I was feeling the same, so I looked to find a way, a word to help me move step by step into a new year. I know I can’t fix a pandemic, the violence and destruction in my city’s downtown or our nation’s capitol. I didn’t even think I could fix my own damaged art pieces. 

I searched for the opposite of all the words that described this year: damaged, broken, sad, isolated. From those came one word: Heal. 

Working to heal. 

So this week, I walked in my studio and faced my broken birds and leaf. I let myself breathe out  my anger and fear. Then I gently took down one piece, looked at the damage and got out some tools. 

One by one, I looked and touched and sighed. I assessed the damage. I sanded and cleaned gently. I glued what I could and waited. When there was nothing left to glue, I gently sanded some more. I mixed paint to match each chipped and broken bird and dabbed and wiped and waited some more. If the color held, I glazed and waited overnight. 

In the light, after days of work, I saw no cracks. Beaks had slightly new angles. Wings chipped were now smooth. One leaf stem was gone and would never be the same, but my work had formed a piece that was whole in a new way.  

Broken and reformed. 

When I look around this last year at all that’s broken and all that we’ve endured, I see that we have also adapted. Of course we are changed by everything that’s happened to us and around us. So many things we could have never imagined fell apart. 

The definition of the word Heal(verb): to make free from injury; to make sound or whole; to make well again; to cause (an undesirable condition) to be overcome; to patch up or correct; to restore to original purity or integrity. 

In the words of William Powell, “The troubles...have not been forgotten, but they had been healed.”

So this year, I will work to mend, recover, rally, overcome and reform.  

And find ways to help us all come back together to heal our hearts and our souls.