Tag: friends

the year of friendship

This is the time for reflection, i suppose, a cultural urge to look back on the past year and mull over the good and bad as we try to discipline ourselves into smaller sizes and better behavior.

For once, i have no inclination to do any of that nostalgic reminiscing or self improvement. The past year was what it was, things happened both good and bad, and i am oddly at peace with it all – every moment my heart was broken and all the times hope returned. As for right now, i am keenly aware that i am doing all i can to make my situation better – no resolutions needed.

There was one remarkable aspect about the past twelve months, though, that is worth commenting on. This was the year of friendship. All illusions i harbored about being alone, about being isolated, about being someone who could just disappear from this world without anyone noticing were vanquished in a flood of help and love. i do not think i would have survived without this outpouring. Truly, though, it did more than just get me through one day and into the next, this experience transformed me.

And, i could not be more grateful.

Mess from Chaos

I have not been dealing well with the chaos of my environment. Mess I can handle, in abundance, but I have to have some semblance of mental order if not physical.  However,  both my home and my studio have been utterly uprooted. The longer this went on, the more agitated I have felt.  It started with moving shelves in the downstairs in the studio. Trying very hard to put things into order seems to increase the upheaval.

Of the many difficult choices I have made lately, closing my studio for the winter was oneDSCN5426 of the hardest.  I love that space.  The happiest I have ever been in my life has been within those four walls, making art.  Although, “closing” really is the wrong word. It is not like I am surrendering my business or the making of art.  However, if this winter is even half as bad as the last one, I will not be able to heat both buildings.  With luck, there will be a lot of heating through kiln this winter – for I should be able to throw and sculpt during the days after the kiln has run and on the days where it is simply warm enough to work in the space.

Between now and when it is becomes too cold to work, I want to get as much throwing done as possible around my other obligations.  I feel a great pressure to get as much done as possible before the weather turns completely. As much as I dislike the logic of this decision, I still believe that choosing to heat one building seems to be the wisest choice.  It gives me the best chance to keep being productive.

Finances are not my only reason. I have been experiencing greater problems managing stairs.  Some days, I feel like I can climb mountains, others I am falling and staggering and not able to walk with any kind of grace at all.  The unpredictability irritates me.  Fatigue has not gotten better, either.  I am forcing myself to work, having to pick what I do depending on how my mind and body are fairing in any given moment.

To help combat this, some friends moved my painting supplies and easels and some furniture from the upstairs of the studio to the house.  The paints and glazes and clay cannot freeze, so they would have had to move anyway.  However, easels and brushes and canvases are not returning to the studio. My ability to make it upstairs is simply too unreliable.  I am hoping that having the tools of my craft here, in the house, I will be able to make art even on my worst days.  patienceCertainly it will take some of the risk out of winter – I will not have to travel over ice and snow.

Tonight, I am tired and sore but I had to write this out before I went to sleep.  It has only been with the help of my friends that I am back into what passes for a normal mess from that painful chaos.  I am so ridiculously grateful to them – they were able to do this work, to help me.  Their kindness makes me want to sing!

With such good friends, I think that I will be able to get through what comes.

Thankful for friends

The past few days have been trying, brimming with more chaos and disappointment than I can easily absorb.  Yet, no fewer than three times, I have wept in gratitude: responding to these difficulties, the universe has stepped up to make my journey better through the timely and wonderful intervention of friends.

danceunderthemoonSometimes, I get caught up in my suffering enough that I forget the wondrous blessing that friendship is.  People who have no duty or obligation to you choose to spend their time talking with you.  When you reach out, they help. They go out of their way to make you part of their life.   How glorious is that?  Really, right now, it feels like the most poignant miracle.

Where would we be without those who reach out a hand to drag us out of the muck?

I will save the narrative of this sequence of difficulties for later blogs.  Lord knows, I can complain later.  I have the skills.

For right now, though, I want to thank those who have called, helped me with the heavy lifting, listened to me whine on the phone or in person, given me advice, shared rather existential conversations with me when the small discouragements lead to ponderous ponderings, and just generally let me be in a close orbit to them for a spell.  Both last summer and this, I have realized that I have more people on whom I can count than I ever knew.  In fact, I think I would have gotten more cause to be grateful if I had not missed a couple of phone calls yesterday from friends down in Virginia while I was selling art at a cooperative up here in Maine.

Make no mistake: my life is possible because of friendship.  These good friends have reminded me that no matter how lonely I get, I am not actually walking this path alone.  I am thankful.

Thank God for friends.

I am always grateful for my friends.  They serve many of the functions of family for me, for which I am daily thankful, but every once in awhile a few go above and beyond.  In these cases, gratitude can come on as powerfully as a lightening bolt.  This past weekend, once again, I realized how truly wondrously rich I am.

Bells by Lara Max
Bells by Lara Max

Lara Max of Eskerridge farm (one element of her marvelous artwork is to the left, freaking awesome hand-hammered bells – go buy her work at the Belfast Harbor Artisans, Lincolnville Maine Artisans, Art Space in Rockland and Boothbay Harbor Artisans ) – spent Friday and Saturday painting my studio for me while I watched Boothbay Harbor Artisans for her.  She was joined by other friends, Meghan and Drew, on Saturday.  When I got home that night, the results of their collective effort left me crying tears of joy.

Already, I have been drunk with happiness over a new friendship, that has given me hours of conversation and much laughter and warmth – so much so that the studio being finished and the work Lara did on my house felt like this marvelous gravy on top of what was already a substantial meal of gratitude.

Tonight, I had dinner with my friend Shawna Mayo Barnes – an artist in her own right who started as my student but whose business gifts far eclipse my own.  Every once in awhile, it helps to talk to someone who faces challenges much harder than my own, transcending them with much more grace and confidence than I have ever been able to muster.  She gave me much needed advice and a kick in the pants to get myself working on a few things.  I felt that lightening bolt of gratitude again.

It has always struck me that I might be more aware of this blessing of friendship than a lot of people.  If I am, my understanding comes from my place in the universe.  This is not something I can take for granted.

I have this solar system theory of social relationships, which I have probably mentioned on this blog before.  But, just in case:

We are all our own suns (let’s be realistic here!) and most people have their children in Mercury’s orbit, their spouses in Venus’, parents and other relatives in their Earth’s, and often times friends – when they are lucky – start at Mars or even wind up past the kuiper belt.  Indeed, there are a few individuals that I believe truly like me and enjoy my company, but I don’t even make it inside their heliosphere.  This does not mean that the love – like light from the sun – is less true for those further away, but by definition it cannot be as sustaining.  Precious energy has to go to those in the inner orbits – which is as it should be.  If I grieve my position in someone’s personal solar system, then I am denying their love – and I have finally learned not to be that foolish.  However, many of my inner orbits are taken up by friends, meaning they are much closer to my sun’s rays than I am theirs.  The intensity of my sunlight can be a little out of proportion to what they can give.  I know that can be off-putting, but it is what it is.  I invest.  I love my friends.  I try not to be weird about it.

That said, there are moments when I feel like I am in a dozen kuiper belts, taking whatever sunlight I can to keep myself from freezing.  I can get greedy for light, for warmth, for any sign that those twinkling stars in the distance know that I exist.  And then, like magic, like the greatest gift from God, someone turns and beams such wondrous light upon me that I am warmed all the way down to my fingertips and toes.  A friend spontaneously hugs me in a restaurant.  Someone from out of town tracks me down and we talk for hours. A friend gives me the gift of understanding when I need it most, or gently scolds me when I need to be put right.  Someone says they love me, and I believe it.  Friends give of themselves selflessly and wondrously and I feel more human than I have in weeks.

That is what these people have done for me in the past few days.

And, oh, I am so grateful!

burbling with excitement

Let’s see if I can get a whole blog entry done in ten minutes!  That’s how long I have before people arrive for my Clayful Evening event at the Studio.

Hopefully, they are the type of people who like happiness, because I am positively burbling with excitement.  I met a good friend for lunch – a totally impromptu affair, taking the place of a meeting I was supposed to have – and we spent nearly the entire three hours brainstorming about one of the books I have going.  If only I could write them one at a time like a normal person (wait, are writers ever normal people?)… but no, I do a few chapters of one, then a flurry of activity on another, then go back to the first. It helps that characters tend to overlap from story to story. Anyway, I had been stuck with this particular work and she rolled up her sleeves, tinkered with the engine of the tale and got us going again!

Literally, the waitress at the restaurant kept avoiding us – either because we were taking so damned long or because we must have sounded crazy, both of us totally steeped in this fictional world, discussing it as though it were completely real, playing the parts of characters, describing the structure of scenes. Mel provided me with the context for actions that kept happening in the writing that I had not anticipated and could not interpret.

The whole ride home, the entire time spent cleaning the studio for the event, I have been speaking out lines of dialogue – probably sounding like I have a very strange multiple personality disorder – and simply pretty much dancing from the thrill of this glorious world in my imagination.  Sitting in the restaurant, during a pause in the conversation, I leaned back, closed my eyes (putting my hands over them for good measure) I could see the world in which Abby and Einar and so many others were walking – it was as clear as if I sat in the room with them, staring at Abby’s artwork and eavesdropping on their conversation.  Each of the characters we fleshed out walked and talked in my mind as though they were fully fleshed – and there is nothing more exhilarating.

Of course, now I have to show people how to play with clay – something else that makes me joyous – and afterward, I am racing back to the house to write.  I need to spend time with these characters, to put onto paper the scenes that we discussed.

If only I could stop bouncing and squealing with delight between now and then – eh, on second thought, why bother trying to stifle this happiness?  If my gratitude makes me obnoxious, I’ll just beam out a smile of apology.

Thanks Mel – although I wonder if it doesn’t suck to be friends with a writer who is also an external processor…

The blog, it is complete with THREE MINUTES TO SPARE!  WOO HOO!

another planet

This may wind up being a strange little blog, but this topic has been buzzing around in my mind for days.  Indeed, ever since two people – in random, unsolicited instants of kindness – told me that I’m not a freak, nor even that unusual, I have wanted to write this down.  Tonight, I have finally run out of excuses to keep me away from the keyboard.  Or, rather, writing this blog has now become my excuse to not do the dishes.  (It’s strange how that works.)

In an earlier blog, my fiction gave voice to something very real in my psyche: a sense of separation from people. A dissonance exists within me on this subject. I have known deep and passionate love and total, excruciating rejection. Those memories war within me, both positives and negatives wanting to project themselves onto the future and all of humanity. Simultaneously, I crave solitude for my work and I chafe at my isolation. The dissonance continues on a more abstract level.  Philosophically and spiritually, I know that we are all connected and part of Creation.  I have experienced this in my meditation. We are all human, united by the shared limitations of our flesh, our souls drops of an endless ocean. However, in a practical sense, I have always felt like I don’t belong even among those I have loved most. I imagine that being part of society is a suit that fits me badly, warping and shifting all around me, exposing things it shouldn’t with alarming frequency.

I know that I am not the first to feel this way – in fact, I have read over and over that this is a sensation that plagues people who had unhappy childhoods.  Becoming an artist, with all the false separation that implies, has only made the perception worse.  Many do not understand my priorities;  others do not value my work.  However, even there, I am not alone, because the artists I know suffer the same.  When I swell up with insecurity because I have been testy or irritated or angry at someone’s behavior, I only have to remember the times friends have cried on my shoulders with fear and anxiety that they have lost a relationship – been severed from love – because they dared to react to someone else’s actions.

It’s ironic that I have such company in this sense of separation, and yet the sensation remains.  I give thanks (with obnoxious frequency) for those moments when the veil disappears and I feel like I am fully human – that I both belong and have value – in the company of others.

For the rest of the time, at least I am used to the feeling of being from another planet.  There are moments when I actually enjoy the perspective.  People are endlessly fascinating, even if I’m just observing them from the outside.



My mouth keeps moving…

Just a quick note of gratitude.

conversation10Pain has been exhausting me and making life a little more difficult than usual the past few days. I am not sleeping well, which causes more back pain, tighter muscles and  increasingly bad headaches, which then makes me not sleep well the next night, all of which repeats again at increasing amplitudes.

Tonight, a friend of mine met me for dinner, helped me with errands (carrying my stuff for me), and generally encouraged me to laugh until I cried several times.  My mouth kept moving, and frankly the urge to distract myself with words remains (hence the blog), but to have someone so willing to listen and put up with my talkativeness – well, that’s a true blessing.  I am very lucky to have the friends that fill up my life.