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.  


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? 


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.


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
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

At last