Sunday, May 26, 2019

Summer of Fun

I love my work. Although much of my work is creative which is a way to have fun, it also requires concentration, organization and production. Fun with a purpose isn’t the same as fun for fun’s sake. 

Reading Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper this week made me realize that loving my work isn’t the same thing as having fun. She said, “Ask yourself: What’s my idea of fun? Am I having any? What makes me laugh out loud? Who makes me laugh? Can I laugh at myself?” 

What is my idea of fun?

It’s a question I never ask myself. I’m not sure I really know the answer and I find that puzzling. After all, I’m an artist. I create. I imagine. I throw. I paint. And I do love to do it. 

Is that the definition of fun? Is that the only way I have fun? I remember having fun as a child. Like kids playing hide and seek. Or dressing up. Or biking around the neighborhood. Or roller skating. I remember swinging on the swing and tilting up to watch the sky above me. And spinning until the world got so fuzzy I fell down laughing in the grass. 

Obviously, I had fun as a child. Am I having any as an adult?

Do grown ups even have fun? I mean real fun? In this serious climate surrounding us with hate speech and gun violence and fear, there’s not much that feels safe and fun or funny. 

I don’t like to bike or skate or spin until I’m dizzy anymore. I’m not a big party person, in fact big groups make me feel overwhelmed. I’ve been in book clubs and art groups and while that’s interesting and informative, I don’t think I’d call it fun. 

I do like the beach. The sound of the waves. The squish of the sand is fun. Add my husband and my dog, Darby and a day at the beach is a good way to have fun.

But who and what makes me laugh?

My new puppy Darby is sweet and silly. His innocent, bouncy, trouncing, tiggerishness makes me laugh out loud. He’s just so playful and happy and energetic. He may weight almost 70 pounds and be a handful at times, but even when he’s impish, he’s just all joy and light. 

My husband’s droll humor always catches me unaware and caught up in my own seriousness and gives me a laugh. 

Watching comedy movies and shows get me laughing out loud. Movies like Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Birdcage, even the new one called, Book Club are fun and funny.  

But I can see I need to laugh more. As Maria Shriver pointed out, “Yes, there are a lot of issues to worry about and care about these days. But having fun is good for your health, heart and soul.” 

Maybe I need a summer of funny? 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

As the Wheel Turns: Trying

It’s been over a month since I’ve sat at my wheel, rolled out a slab or painted my clay. This week back at the wheel, painting and loading a small kiln load feels wonderful but there are many parts to what I do that always give me things to wonder about. 

Last month as this time, I was glazing and glazing and firing work for a big show, wishing and hoping it would all come out perfect and many pieces would sell. 

Many pieces did come out very well. And pieces did sell. It wasn’t my best sales year or my worst but I did hope for more. Don’t we all? And is that good or bad? My answer to those questions came from a quote I saved for inspiration.

“There’s only the trying. The rest is not our business.” T.S. Eliot

I did try. I do try. I always try to do my very best to produce quality work. I use quality materials from the clay to the glazes. I work the clay in all the correct ways, wedging, centering, rolling, pinching, sealing and trimming to the best of my ability. And I’m always learning, searching out ways to make my work better. 

And I try even more. I bring my heart and soul into what I make with my hands because I want to bring more heart, soul, love, light and creativity into not just my life but hopefully, all the lives around me. 

“You can’t guarantee the result.” 

Robert Redford said about T.S. Eliot’s quote, “It's one of my favorite phrases. Because you can't guarantee where the trying is going to get you. So, you can't guarantee the result. The only thing there is in its place is the trying. That's where the action is."

My Party Animals, I realize came to life to lighten mine. I had lost my sweet dog Jilly, I was lonely and sad. Then these crazy creatures started appearing on my studio shelves. Not only are they silly sculptures, they are rattles, too. 

I never planned to make rattles or crazy creatures. But I tried anyway. They make me smile. And they make others smile too. Everyday, I watched as many people picked them up, shook them and laughed. I’ve sold a few of them and I’m grateful. 

So I remember those words: “There’s only the trying.” I agree, “That’s where the action is.”

Saturday, May 11, 2019

On Mothering.

I always wanted to be a mom. And I was determined to be a good mom. And I’ll admit, one of the reasons I wanted to become a mom was to be a different kind of mom than the ones I observed as a child and a childcare worker. 

I could go into the pain I observed but we all know it’s out there. Media and magazines shine a light on the difficulties and tragedies. While knowledge and awareness is needed, I worry that surrounding ourselves with all of this may bring us even more pain. And we don’t need more pain in this world. 

We need more love and caring and sharing. 

Mothering and fathering is a lifelong commitment. It’s not easy. You need a strong heart and an even stronger sense of self to be selfless in the moments and years to come. Crying babies grow and their bumps and bruises grow as well. It’s impossible to keep them from every fall and cold and social bruise, though I’ve tried very hard. 

But most important is love. Loving them no matter what, even when you’re upset too. Seeing through the developmental hurdles, tantrums, tears, and rebellion to the heart that needs support. Caring by listening to the words of pain and offering presence, arms to hold them and a soft place to land. Sharing your own failures and stories, if needed, to let them know they are not alone in this difficult world. 

We all need to know failure happens. 

This is hard for me to say, not only for myself, but for my children as well. I want them to be happy, healthy and successful. Whether you deny that reality as I have for so many years or you are wise enough to embrace it. Everyone, even best of us, fall and fail and struggle. 

As a mother, I think that has always been my greatest fear. 

Life has handed me many bumps and bruises along the way to teach me not just to avoid pain, but to grow up and out of it. Some of my more epic failures have become my biggest accomplishments later in life. Yes, I’ve lost jobs and relationships and money and health. 

But I’ve also found new work and love. I’ve figured out that somehow I always have enough. And building health and strength is a life long practice best done with love. 

Near or far. Up or down. The best I can do as a mother is love. 

Friday, May 3, 2019

May Days

So many beautiful days to celebrate in May. The blooming of the earth. The warmth of the sun. I love Spring. 

On our walk: New goslings.  

I’m so excited to see any new baby birds at all this year. In the last several years, our park has hired a goose control company. The goal is to keep the goose population down to a ‘manageable’ level. What that really means is cutting the goose poop down on lake front lawns.  While I understand the problem of overpopulation and survival, I hate that they actually go into the nests and kill the embryos in the eggs. That’s why I’m so excited this year to see a dozen new goslings all in a row. 

Lilacs and crabapple blossoms. 

I love my lilacs. The scent is amazing and I can’t help but cut bunches, put them in vases all over the house. Lilacs are the essence of spring. 

But my sweet, pink crabapple has a special place in my heart. Those trailing little light pink petals are so delicate and beautiful. 

New plants settled into my patio. 

I had some mini-carnations show up from last year, I filled in the spaces with a few white impatiens and red salvia. 

Spring is blooming. People are out and about smiling. The light and sun nurtures us all.