Friday, November 29, 2019

Believe More

It’s been a hard year to believe. I know when I chose believe as my word of the year for 2019, I saw it as a way to move forward while surrounded by backward motion. I didn’t know then, of course, how far backward things in this country could move. 

Finger pointing.  Bullying behavior. Lies. Sexual harassment. Hostile work environments for high level officials. More lies. Refusal of people to work together for the greater good and not just the good in their checkbooks. More finger pointing. 

Worse a ‘leader’ who is only interested in his own ego. Who has no idea or caring about the great democratic country in which he lives. Who is only out to ‘make a deal’ for himself. Who almost succeeded in bullying to cheat his way through another election. 

It’s hard. But I can’t give up. I won’t. 

Believe in truth.  And truthful people. 

I believe in the whistleblowers. I believe in the career public servants who know why and how and what to do in their jobs at home and away. Without these dedicated professionals employed in our military, diplomatic and justice service, we would be in even graver danger. 

I admire their courage in spite of hostility thrown at them. I’m encouraged by their courage to stand up, speak out about the unethical and illegal acts happening around them. And I admire their dedication to their jobs that involve keeping so many people safe here and around the world. 

Believe in goodness.

I believe in the goodness of our beliefs. The rights that are written into our Bill of Rights. The ideals of our constitution. And I believe there’s only one way to truly show my belief. Voting. We must maintain our most precious right with better security and support. 

I believe in the goodness of people. People who adopt stray animals. Donate food. Clean up our world. Build homes for others. Give clothes and blankets and toys. I see people who embody all that is the best in America. I do my best, even as little as it is, to make our world a good place. 

Believe in love and kindness. 

It’s there. It’s in you and me. It’s how we all not just survive but truly thrive. Together. 

I believe it. 
I believe in you even more now. 

I believe the truth will shine out through this darkness. 

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Get Up On Your Feet

I work hauling 25 pound bags of clay from studio inside to wheel outside. I throw clay in a cold garage with my small space heater and my sweet pup, Darby. I lift pounds of clay up and cut it and wedge it and roll it to make vases and sculptures in my inside studio. 

There are some days when working means waiting for the kiln to finish firing, for bowls, vases or cups to dry. Sometimes it happens all at once and the days are so busy I worry I won’t get it all done.

There are days and weeks and months standing, walking, lifting and throwing in solitary silence. And days of noise and packing and unpacking and hauling and setting up displays. And days sitting in a gallery hoping someone will come in and buy something they love. 

At your age?

Yup. And even more so ‘at my age’, it’s important to be working. Whether that means writing my blog or throwing bowls or building new vases. This work is more than love, it’s life saving. 

When I was in college, I took a course in gerontology. 

One study in particular, made a big impression me. It showed how retirement and/or not working caused a significant downward trend in the health of the retirees. Comparing this study to another where people of a ‘certain age’ were still actively working in, around and outside their homes clearly showed an increase in their overall health both mentally and physically. 

It was such important news, I was asked to do a TV spot for the university. The message  of keeping active and NOT letting retirement lead to endless days in a chair doing nothing. That getting up and out and working was the way to live a longer, healthier life. 

The TV spot I did actually won me an award and the encouragement to go into advertising. 

So, yes, I still work. 

Sometimes I sit and throw and others I’m up and moving.  I know many people who are retired at my age. And many who expect me to be retired, too. They say to my face that, I’m retired with a ‘hobby’. They used to say, I was a housewife with a ‘hobby’.

Both comments are wrong. Both are demeaning. And both are unnecessary and detrimental to your health and mine. 

So. “Get up on your feet.”

I’m going to listen to some older and younger musicians like Gloria Estefan. 

“Get up on your feet
Get up and make it happen
Get on your feet
Stand up and take some action”

Friday, November 15, 2019

Words of the Week

“Be Open to New and Unexpected Ideas.”

The first appearance of these words came in an email from Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper. And although I was raised Catholic, I don’t share her faith in the church organization, officials or outmoded misogynistic concepts. But reading her words left me feeling pleasantly surprised, uplifted and informed. This was unexpected. 

I’ll admit, the word unexpected makes me want to get a blanket and a hot cup of tea. But what if the unexpected is a good thing? What if life is meant to be a series of unexpected events that lead you in a new and better direction?  

This week has brought some new and unexpected events and ideas. In the studio, I loaded 4 porcelain maple leaves into the kiln and opened it up to find 3. One had cracked right down the middle. It happens. But this time instead of blaming myself, I was glad for 3 good ones. 

An unexpected call came mid-week and a local arts organization bought several pieces of my work for their annual auction. The best part, by being open, I met a new local artist who truly values other artists and their work. 

“Loosen Up.”

Leaning on my tree this week, these words came loud and clear. At first, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was supposed to ‘loosen up’. But the energy directed itself right into the tightness in my calves, knees, thighs, back, arms, neck and jaw.

But, I thought, I’m strong and to stay strong I need to tighten my muscles. Quickly the reply came, “No. Muscles held too tight, get tired and weak. Because you are strong, you can loosen your hold and trust your muscles to carry you.”

As I move around now, I’m grateful for the reminder. 

“Life gets very quiet before all the doors open. I’m learning that what can feel like loneliness is actually grace. Rest. Find your strength. It will all change soon.”

Life does get quiet as fall turns into winter. Daylight gives less time for studio work and the world seems to hunker down. Working solo in my studio, I do worry about loneliness but these words brought me back to the truth. The solitude can feel satisfying and restful, like grace. 

Sometimes, things happen around me to upset that balance. Like the gallery closing or pieces breaking or sales falling through. In those times, I need to find my strength knowing it will all change soon. 

Perhaps, these are important words not just for this week, but all the time. 

Remembering to staying open to the new and unexpected.
Trusting your strength to give you the ability to loosen up in tough times. 
Believe in restful grace. And believe doors will open. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Turning Darkness into Light.

In the northwest, this is the time of year we ‘fall back’ by turning our clocks back one hour. It’s an old law that was meant to give farmers more time to work in the fields harvesting crops. It made sense then, it makes no sense now. And yet, we are still stuck in lock step, turning our clocks back the first Sunday in November. 

No one seems to like ‘springing forward’ or ‘falling back’. We all complain about lack of sleep and it upsets our body’s own natural rhythms. There’s evidence of more accidents and health issues around each time change. Which is why I’m glad the west coast has voted to stop these time changes. 

Why do we try to control time?

Because we are just one species on one planet in a vast universe. We’re afraid. One of the most elemental fears is darkness. As children, we all wake up in the night afraid of the dark. We fear monsters in the darkness under the bed or shadows in the corners. 

And we all know many reasons to fear the dark. There are dangerous animals outside. Violent people on the streets. More accidents happen in the night. So it makes sense to want to create more light when the days grow shorter and the nights last longer. 

Light is essential to our body, mind and soul.

We need light to survive. Sunshine gives our body what we need to make Vitamin D. Seasonal light changes affect our need for food and our moods. More light, well, just helps us feel lighter, too. 

That’s why we turn on the lights all around us 24/7. We want to feel safe. Protected. Healthy. With all these lights, and screens and daylight savings time, could we be missing something?

Maybe we need to honor the need for darkness too. 

Just like the earth needs the change in seasons, so do we. After the blooms are gone and fruit is picked, the trees need to rest. Leaves fall to the ground and create fertilizer for the next years  growth. 

Darkness cools and soothes and cradles new seeds and sleeping babies. Perhaps seasonal light changes not just trees but our very nature, too. 

We can slow down. Tuck into bed early. Rest by the fire. 

Let ourselves look up at the darkness as a place to imagine and dream. 
Bringing possibility out of nothing. 
Finding new ideas in the blank canvas of night.