Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Out of the Darkness comes Light.

As I sit here, tucked under a cozy throw,  watching my granddaughter slumber in sweet peacefulness, I wish and want and hope. 

I wish for her to live a life in a world different from the one I have lived in. A world where all people are safe and respected in body, mind and soul. A country where everyone understands that everyone has the right to live free from abuse of any kind.

I want her wonderful, brilliant mind to be embraced, encouraged and utilized. A system of education and work where her talents and dreams are seen as not just valid but invaluable. A place where work and health and life are an integrated whole for everyone. 

I hope she will never know the pain of abuse. I hope she will be seen and heard and encouraged not to just do well, but accomplish more than anyone else before her. I hope she will have the power to choose her own path, her own life, her own love based on her own guidance system with the support of a good education, healthcare and economic system that values people over product and bottom lines. 
Enough now. There’s been enough darkness. 

While she sleeps peacefully on this cozy afternoon, I read the news and shiver, not from the cold but from the darkness growing across our nation. 

I’ve lived in a very different kind of world. (Yes, #metoo) A place where power meant pain. Physical punishment was not only accepted but encouraged. Where on Fridays, the nuns would use a belt on the week’s worst child and broadcast it over the school public address system. Where little girls were to be quiet, sit still and listen more than talk.

Graduating at the height of the feminist movement, I thought now, everything will change. Finally, women will have power over their own body, mind and life. Finally, there will be no more abuse or pain or inequity. I worked and got paid more than my mother did, but there was no big change. Yet, I was encouraged by even those small steps forward. 

Forward or Backward?

It seems with every news story, we are moving backward instead. Why? I’ve been asking and asking myself that question over and over in a desperate attempt to figure out how we are now where we are in this country. 

I thought, when I was 20, that the world was changing for women in a good way. Twenty years later, I prayed that the world would finally change for my daughter in a much better way. Now, I look at my granddaughter’s sweet, sleeping face and I see that the world hasn’t changed very much at all. 

And I’m angry. No. I’m pissed. This was totally unacceptable then and even more so now.  

Here is the truth: Those patriarchal men know their time of power and evil is ending. That is what these men really fear. 

Now it’s time. Our time to see beyond this darkness. It is our time to step into the light. 
And create a different kind of world. 

Look to the horizon:
The sky is dark and the stars blink bright. 
Softy, the celestial night lights dim as the world slowly turns from night to day.
The deep black sea turns grey as light pink dabs the clouds and blue fades up. 
Birds silent in the dark, begin to speak up and the first boat jets across the waves. 
Good morning, world. 
A new day has begun.

Thursday, September 13, 2018


As I sit here in my comfy chair staring out at a calm sea, I wonder. 

From here, the world could look endless or limited. I see where the sea meets sky in a definite line. I can also see why people before me saw the end of the earth, the edge of life as they knew it. Of course, now we know that the world is round, the ocean rolls on and that horizon isn’t the end but another beginning. 

Our oceans are so deep, we still don’t know everything about them. Storms rise up to threaten us and then just disintegrate and move on. Yesterday, there were dire warnings of Hurricane Olivia. Schools closed. Boats stayed in the harbor. Flood warnings rang out. 

We were encouraged to stay in, shelter in place and wait for it to pass. We did not. 

As Oregonians used to rain, we were unfazed by a few sprinkles turned to drizzle. We put on our shoes and walked 4 miles from one end of the beach to the other. The beach crowded the day before was almost empty. No snorkelers. No boarders. No swimmers. 

But we weren’t alone. There were other brave souls out walking the sandy beach or the boardwalk. After a few hours, more people headed for the beach and water as well. I heard other phones sounding the alarm for flash flooding. We walked on anyway. 

I didn’t see it as brave, just letting myself live life. 

Sitting on the patio overlooking a lush green lawn, I noticed a little lizard. 

This little creature, not more than 3 inches was perched on a the patio cover. This wood arbor portico is made of boards set 4-5 inches apart. Sitting on the edge of one board, she looks out, over, and under her world. I watch as she hesitates at the edge of the 10 foot drop. What will she do? This, from her view, is like the ocean horizon. Is it round or is it flat?

There are choices: go under, go around or jump. 

There is a moment, I can feel the little lizard tugging at all the choices.  There is a small rocking motion in her tiny body and then, she makes up her mind. She jumps. After the first jump succeeds, you’d think she would just hip-pity hop across the patio roof. No. Each time, she sees, evaluates, gauges and decides to jump. 

Life is like that. 

We are all like this little lizard. We look always, from our own horizon. And, as we grow, learn and change, our horizon changes too. And that is where true courage comes in. 

Like the little lizard, you and I must dare to jump without knowing where we’ll land. 

Sunday, September 2, 2018

“Stop Second Guessing Yourself”

I was panicking. In the first 3 hours of a group show, I saw other work sell and concluded my work was not good enough to sell, so I should lower my prices.  

My fellow potter, a long-time teacher and artist knew exactly what was going through my head. And that’s when he said, “Stop second guessing yourself.”

Did I listen?

No. I went and lowered my prices on several bowls. In the end, they did sell. And I lost money that I could have made because I didn’t believe in myself. I let my mind talk me into believing that my work was worth less. 

My mind still keeps telling me the same thing, every time I go to price my work. I worry. I fret. I measure and try to use a formula that multiplies inches by dollars. One artist uses $6 an inch for vases. So a 5” vase is $30. That seemed fair to me, especially since my thrown vases were never very tall. But now that my lily vases have reached 14” tall, that makes the price $84. 

Again, the voice. The second guessing. The worry about worth. 

Even though my very first lily vase sold for $75 right out of the kiln. I’ve since sold out of all the lily vases and spent a month making more for new venues coming up this fall. But again, I worry.

I measure. I do the math, multiplying by inches to dollars. If I use the ‘inches times dollar’ method one artist uses, I come up with awkward prices like $38, $42, $79. Another artist uses a ‘by 5’ method which means her prices start at $20 and go up from there. I like the ease and evenness of doing everything by 5’s. It just feels better. But again, I worry: are my new little wine cups worth $20 each or should I price them at $15?
Here’s what I decided today: Math can’t measure creativity or heart. 

I love detail. Texture. Sculptural elements. Color. And every piece I make comes not just from my hands but from my heart. I want design and function, yes. But I want more than that. I want each piece to feel good to the touch, delight the eye, bring whimsy, delight or mystery. 

Even so, it still comes down to value. To you, yes. But maybe, more importantly to me. I need to stop guessing what is a good price or a fair price or a price that will sell. 

And see instead, the value of my work, and of my own worth.