Tag: stubbornness

It has taken days to write this down…

For years, i have struggled with how personal i should allow this blog to get. It is an odd conundrum to have, given my general disposition. In conversation, i have very few boundaries. No personal embarrassment will stop me from making someone laugh.  As a poet, i am a spiritual and emotional exhibitionist. There is very little that i won’t write about, and have a peculiar lack of shame when it comes to flinging my secrets out into the world.  Think of a chimpanzee throwing it’s feces at random passers by, only substitute poems.  In rhyme or blank verse, i will describe any level of transgression or epiphany, love or suffering, without a thought.

If i appall someone with my poetry, after i am done celebrating my aim, i am quick to add: a poem is to a novel what a polaroid picture is to a movie – a tiny snapshot of reality, of Truth (if done well,) but not necessarily something eternal.  Writing can be an exorcism of sorts.  Once the words are down on paper, they do not haunt the heart.  These words may reflect a moment of profound grief or trauma, but that no longer apply to every moment of my existence.  Likewise, much to my shame, that moment of bliss and understanding might have also been swept away with the tide.  So, this temporary nature of the poem has left me feeling like the nakedness of the soul is appropriate.

Only, i have tried to walk a fine line here, in the prose, in this primary blog, between what i want to write about and what i deem appropriate for polite society.

Many people have told me that i already reveal too much and should back off.  Only, this afternoon, while i sit here waiting for glasses, i have no desire to be cagy or polite or wrap a cloak of denial over the situation in which i wallow.  This journey that i will be traveling for the next six months or so will require everything i have – keeping up a facade, or being vague about my problems, will not work.  Or, rather, it will take energy that i do not have to give, so today i will shed my inhibitions and tell you exactly what is going on with me.

Only, now that my defenses lie scattered around me on the floor, i suddenly feel shy. i have noticed that it is cold.  Perhaps i am remembering the loss of yesterday, twenty-four hours martyred to maudlin moaning and cuddling up in bed with animals.

A lot of what plagues my mind i have written about incessantly: a pitiful lack of courage, an over abundance of anxiety bordering on the ridiculous, continuing problems with my health, financial insecurity. These are all still present and strong – although, maybe, i am doing better against the depression/PTSD/anxiety than i thought, because i am still standing. In the parts of this blog focused on my spirituality, i have talked openly about despair and doubt as much as i have communion and joy.   

At least six months go, i reached the level of overwhelm that made coherent thought and action nearly impossible.  Instead of actively swimming through the currents of life, i have been thrashing, choking on the waves and spray, reacting but not able to move in a coordinated and productive manner.  i know this, so i have kept praying and begging and reaching out; my persistence fueled by desperation.  Only, with one tremendous, mind-boggling, life-altering blessing (the discovery that this world is filled with love and kindness) set aside for a moment, the rest of my troubles have continued on undaunted and undiminished.

What has my guts churning today, though, is my health.  i have to get a hysterectomy as my uterus is horribly swollen with tumors (biopsy pending) and even if they are simply fibroids (please! i have been praying ceaselessly on that score) this will be major surgery.  My right leg, because these things happen in groups, has been having problems working.  Indeed, there are times it will not work at all. Thank heavens i had company over Christmas that could move my leg when i was experiencing one of these brown-outs.  Unfortunately, now that company is back home and i am left swatting at my leg in the morning, trying to get it going. Thankfully, my dog, Darwin, seems to have more sense than me and does a laying on of paws to get me started.

At any rate, that too is surgery and my left leg has the same issue but somehow, magically, still works.

The glasses i am waiting for come because my vision has been steadily declining for the past couple of years – while so much of my hair has gone white that i have been turned into a blonde.  My primary concern, though, even before they hysterectomy and the hip surgery and the collapse of my finances (for with these injuries, no wonder my ability to run my small business has been horribly impeded,) is that i am diabetic.  i have to get my blood sugars under control. Three quarters of my problem is that when i am horribly stressed out, my sugars go sky high.  Once the stress abates, A1C gets better. 

But, when will the stress abate?  Sometimes i think that letting my life fall to pieces without a struggle would be less stressful than trying to get myself to change and be strong, fierce and fearless. Surely accepting powerlessness and submitting to the crappy things that have happened like they are some kind of judgment would feel more peaceful than demanding things from life (a living, health) that it seems so unwilling to give.

Yet, of course, here i am, pushing against the wall with all my might and demanding that it magically become a door. One of my friends – for these delightful people have been the awesome blessing that saved my life during the past eight months – keeps syaing that she knows i will be okay because i am the most stubborn cuss she’s met.  Part of me hopes she is right.  However, every time i push forward, doing something that i thought was impossible for me, i feel a quiet wave of pride and a huge inundation of WHAT WAS I THINKING?

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Twenty four hours have passed since i wrote these words.  Glasses have made my world have sharp, clear edges again.  A seminar about selling your work at trade shows has taught me much.  But mid way through the class, i had an epiphany:

my path must be different than that of my classmates.

Simply put, i do not have the health to do major shows yet (or create the stock i would need) – perhaps in the summer or fall, but even then, by not applying for them now i will not be accepted into them.  Moreover, i am still substantially hampered in what art i can make.  So, i will have to forge my own path – taking advice from everywhere i can, gathering inspiration from the stories of artists who can pay their bills – but finding my own way. 

At least, as my heartbeat quickens with that realization, i can take comfort in the fact that i can finally see clearly again.

8-9 January 2015

Things must change

I am writing this during my last day sitting in an artisans’ cooperative this year; Christmas Eve, 2015.

This marks an end of an era for me. A huge amount of the galleries in which i began this year are either moving, closing (or already closed) and a few others have had sales bad enough i have to make disappointing decisions. Most of my plans for the next twelve months remain purely in the realm of the  hypothetical. What i know i will do is make pen and inks, finish at least one novel, write as many poems as i can coax through me.  Soon, i will have another surgery, and afterward i have to dedicate myself to healing and transcending whatever comes.

Never before has it been so glaringly obvious and desperate: i have to reconceive how i move through my days, even as i acknowledge that my heart beats out art as much as blood. The question remains how to do this.  How do i walk that fine line between financial need and spiritual/sanity needs? As i wrote in a poem posted fairly recently, and the haiku below that i put on twitter, art is a fickle mistress.

Art is a lover
who keeps me chained up tightly
and would let me starve.

Starving is not a viable option for an irrepressible sensualist like myself. Giving up on art, which so many have told me is the most sensible option, also seems to be impossible. Yet, i fight against incredible anxiety and fears. As much art as i create, as much as i deepen my abilities in different mediums, i have been hoxed by this relentless worry. This cannot continue. One or the other has to surrender itself – either i continue making art and become relatively fearless in its dissemination, or i surrender to my fears and live a life painfully diminished.  i do not think i could survive the latter.

So, i have to find a way. There is no other option, really, this long succession of freelance and piecemeal jobs can be the stop gap, the way to keep going, until i find a way to make art consistently pay for bread and butter.  But i must keep my focus on that far off mountain top, where the work that gives me the deepest bliss and aligns my energy with the world so well actually maintains me.

One of the miracles in my life is that this past year has brought a slew of people who believe in me enough to help me get through some terribly difficult times. When i thought i might never throw again, my friends listened to my grief; they celebrated with me when i got back to the wheel.  Gifts of food, money, time, compassion and kindness kept me afloat. As i wrote earlier, this was the year of friendship. Perhaps that is how i can find my courage – to remember that there are people who don’t just want me to succeed but see it as something that will happen, with enough patience, stubbornness and resilience.

So, this blog is a bit of a shout out to the universe at large, steeped with both prayer and intent: help me change things. Help me find a way to make this work with the blessings and limitations i have. i cannot change the basic DNA of my being, so i have to find a path that lets me keep making art AND eat.

Things will change.

Things must change.

i am apparently too stubborn to surrender, so i must find a way to be courageous and maybe even a bit wise.

The whole engine of my heart and imagination manifests this transformation.

i wish you all the best for your coming year – may all people find greater peace, kindness and love in our worlds.

poem: the easy one to hate

i am the one,
the easy target for hate.
After all, i am alone:
who would defend me?

Divorced,
without the children
which appear to be
the only coin currency
that gives a woman worth,
leaves me devalued
in the eyes of many.

How often do they see
a smartass,
a sarcastic brat,
and even worse,
someone following her heart
despite external logic
that demands surrender.

This entire existence
seems
ridiculous
to the critic’s eyes.

i am so exhausted,
pain brimming
from every limb,
but i am stubborn enough
to hide it,
to wash off the ashes
and change out the sack cloth,
so i present to the unsuspecting
a fiction of success.

But still, fools call me lazy,
point to my fat
and my awkward gait
to justify their cruelty;
they claim i am crazy
because i do not conform
to what they want me to be.

And i find,
i do not care anymore
if they judge me,
or hate me,
or insult me,
for i have you
the sympathetic,
companion in otherness,
the heart willing to read these words

25 september 2015

the madness of poetry

Something strange accompanies this kind of inundation. This crisis has been going on for so long that i have lost track of its beginnings and my ability to see endings long ago vanished.

But i am like a cork, bobbing in a sea of failure, but still fighting for breath, still treading water. Either from stubbornness or stupidity, i refuse to surrender completely.  When i can open my eyes, i see so many others fighting the same currents i cannot complain of solitude.  For the first time in my life, i am surrounded as much by love as i am anxiety, which is a greater blessing than i can express.

12309914_10206910370509278_3227795177658048976_oThings are changing, although i do not quite know if it will be in time to save me.  However, this hardly matters in the face of tremendous glories.  Seven weeks after surgery, i can throw again.  My novel, long stalled by pain and exhaustion, has begun to reform in my mind and on paper.  A new collection of poetry gathers itself together, much to my delight.  There is an abundance of art, queued up in my imagination, ready to leap forward from my hands.

Most glorious of all, i am starting to notice world beyond the rim of my own navel.  The tucking in, the wounded hiding, that i needed to do most of this summer and right after surgery has begun to ease off.

i am opening up.

Slowly, i am beginning to see a use to me, despite this precarious position.  Such grace came, in this case, from eight pots, at least half a dozen massive pen and inks and over thirty poems.  Anchored in art, everything else becomes either more possible or more ignorable.

For the rest of the year, i am anchoring myself in poetry, painting, pen and inks and pottery. It is the best defense against melancholy and stress i have found.  To encourage this plan, i have challenged myself to post something new every day, and so far i am off to a good start.  A decent line of posts has formed behind this one.

And for today: this poem, while short, is at least filled with madness and joy.

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It can only be madness12304443_10206894248626241_7047647740143388939_o
that brought me up here,
giving words a chance to flow
when other things
should be done.

Yes, i was breathless.
Of course, i was exhausted.
Undeniably, the words
had to flow,
or i would not be here
ten minutes and three poems later,
wishing that there was a purpose
behind my actions
other than primal need.

One word following the next.
It is a flow
as essential to my life
as the journey of my blood.

Inside these patterns
of language and silence
inexpressible joy sings.

This is a supplication
for connection,
a prayer
to be heard,
an offering
of hope
in open hands.

i throw myself
into the madness of poetry
and pray it brings me
a soft landing.

28 November 2015

poem: interventions

Two interventions
brought to me
over the course
of a week,
served with plates full of food,
delivered by friends
filled with concern.

Those who spoke
of wisdom and surrender
could not know
how deeply their words
drove like knives
into my heart.

How i bled
as their pickaxes
of advice
chipped away
at the edifice
of petrified steadfastness,
protecting
my most tender soul.

The bottom disappeared,
the soles of my feet turned to ice
as they stood on the frozen vacuum
of what my life is not.

All of my arguments
in defense of my dreams
sounded like excuses –
each impediment
i mentioned
was dismissed,
hands waving,
for to them,
i presented
capabilities and strength
to the world
that made my protestations
of uncoordinated, confused weakness
and wild, howling pain
lies.

The reality from within,
behind these downcast eyes,
bore no weight
in the face
of their insistence.

They are not wrong,
i have failed
spectacularly;
oh, but,
i cannot give up.

i keep plodding forward
knowing my foolish stubbornness
has cost me their support,
but i lack the ability
to stop trusting
in my purpose
as it pours out of me.

5 april 2015

fighting for courage.

You can't tell, but I carved her name on the bottom left corner to give her credit.
You can’t tell, but I carved her name on the bottom left corner to give her credit. So not selling it, though.

I made a little plaque for myself, a few weeks ago, after I had shown some little children what to do and had empty time while they just painted pottery (and themselves).  It uses the quote from Maya Angelou that I talked about in an earlier blog – and now rests prominently in my studio, a ready reminder.

Oh, how I need those words today.  For all the world, it feels like I am still fighting even though the war was  lost long ago.  I keep trying to get up and throw, but I simply cannot make myself grab the clay.  My limbs feel too weak and heavy; I cannot fight the sense of futility.  Sales have been apocalyptically bad for May and June, making it impossible to dig out from this past winter, my health has not been much better and I have begun to wonder if persisting in my dreams is just a new form of madness.

However, I am caught. Giving up is not an option. This is not so much bravery as self-knowledge. There is nothing else for me – every time I have tried to deviate from this path, my situation became so much worse. I know down to my core this is what I am meant to do.  Also, I am aware that without the solace of art, I have nothing to give.  I become an irredeemable burden to those I love.  Therefore, I must persist.  Trudge forward step after step, no matter how it hurts.  Eventually, I will fight the futility and pick up the clay.

So, I must exercise courage, particularly now when everything seems so bleak.  Usually I am ebullient whenever I have a chance to write or throw or paint or sculpt – just having the opportunity to make art feels like such a blessing.  Thank God, experience has taught me that this drive will overwhelm me eventually, breaking through whatever sorrow or weariness or pain it has to in order to manifest itself.  In the meantime, I have to stoke the coals of faith that my work will eventually turn around – even though all my plans to stay in business have failed and I have come to realize how foolish some of my decisions have been. There could be a silver lining: by surrendering my plans, by burning them up and letting their ash mingle with the wind, maybe I will clear the way for something glorious and unexpected.

 

changing definitions of success and failure

My definitions for success and failure are changing.

For the second time, I have failed to deliver a commission on time. (The first time involved pots for children’s classes that were stalled by my kiln getting struck by lightening – an act of God – I felt immense guilt but could not take full responsibility.)

This should be a failure, but I cannot quite see it as such. This is a real shift in my worldview. Years ago, I had a customer who hated the glazes on a series of mugs – even though they were what she asked for – and that was alright, I took the pots back and refunded her money.  There is a kind of magic that can happen with pottery, and not everyone appreciates it.  While I did regard that as a failure the afternoon I gave her a check and bundled the mugs into boxes, I have made more money selling the pieces individually than I would have with that contract.  Right now I have another outstanding commission, for huge casserole dish and platter and pasta bowl, but they had no deadline. So, even though I have had to make the pieces a few times, it was not a hardship for the customer. I kept working at them until I got pieces beautiful and intact.  Again, not a failure, just an inconvenience. All in all, I have been fairly proud of myself for five years – the lingering sting of these setbacks has been soothed by many many prompt deliveries of pots received with joy and celebration.

This commission, for two rectangular casserole dishes, to specific measurements, hand-built, had a specific deadline and I missed it.

The project required me to learn new things and the process has lead to several unsatisfying attempts. Even though I sculpt, I am much less comfortable with hand-building than throwing. Four pieces unfit for salemoresurvivors now serve as molds for other casserole dishes, a perceived reversal that has left me indecently pleased.  I found myself grateful for the failures – because they have lead to an easy way to make more pieces. (Two examples are to the right, above the chip and dip.  The one on the left got bent at leather hard, but still turned out gorgeous.)  Finally i finished three casserole dishes, and the forth will be late but has already come into being.  The picture of the first three is to the left, in my car, ready to head to their new home.  I gave her the extra small casserole as compensation for my tardiness – along with a massive porcelain bowl.survivors

As I struggled with this project I realized that my definitions of success and failure have changed over the years. These setbacks would have totally demoralized me, making platter after pasta bowl after casserole, just two years ago. I remember having a lot of failures with plates in the early months of the business that did exactly that to my fragile mood.  It was nearly a year before I wanted to throw a plate again. The thought of plates filled me with waves of grief over my shortcomings.

However, my definitions of success and failure have changed.  Success, now, often means that I just keep at it without giving into negativity or self-pity or doubt. It means I have celebrated my small triumphs – even if it was just learning from a mistake. I make the piece as many times as I need to and then I have the satisfaction of it being done.  I can be remarkably stubborn.

Failure, then, would be giving up.  Failure means allowing my outrage over my mistakes, misdeeds, misfortunes and missteps to seep inside my soul and start to corrode it.

However, there is one sticky problem to these shifting definitions: I can try too hard.  Perhaps, at some point, I should accept that I cannot go on, there will be something that I cannot complete no matter how many times I go to the wheel or canvas or computer. I am simply too stupid or stubborn or obsessed to know when that moment has arrived.

and againMaybe there are worse things in the world than not having enough sense to give up.

Another casserole is in the bisque kiln right now, as I type, firing.  I immortalized it in a photograph to the left, in case of catastrophe.  Although, I hope it comes out of the heat intact and flawless.  Then i can glaze it and deliver it a bit late.

I send up a quiet prayer for the kiln.  May nothing explode, crack, warp or rupture… or experience any other failures on which I do not want to dwell.  I want to have good dreams tonight.

sculpting fire

The past few days have not been overwhelmed with joy.  I’m struggling (still!) with my energy, stamina and pain, my coordination has been terribly off and I have felt wildly alone. The latter sensation kept getting stoked by a lot of events that were canceled (the weather really hates my social life) and the business stresses that make the ‘sole’ in sole proprietor cut into me like the edge of a broken pot.  For just an extra bit of rejection, someone I really wanted to get to know better told me in two quick emails that I wasn’t worth the effort – which is his choice, and something that didn’t come completely unexpected since the lags between his emails kept getting longer and longer.  Although as I read his words, I couldn’t help thinking that he had been thwarted by circumstance.  The email coming today blunted the impact of his gratuitous rejection, like someone pushing me away me while I was too far down to fully notice.

A few melancholy poems wandered from my pen along with an angry letter to God. I kept trying to edit pictures on my turgid laptop before I gave up in despair. I painted gesso on a few boards.  In a fit of determination, I started hand-building because my back balked at the wheel.  Only, again, I couldn’t make anything.  An entire slab of clay – half a bag worth – wound up on the floor, impaled on shards of dead pottery.  A small box managed to come to life out of the remains.  Then, with great difficulty, my hands birthed a tall, towering vase.  I even instagramed a picture of it, I was so proud.

before the fall
before the fall

I didn’t want to stay here in the studio until 2 or 3 in the morning, though, so I went to use the heat gun to stiffen the vase so I could safely remove the armature.  While the vase was in a delicate spot, I raced over to get the heat gun.  It looked like it was on the shelf, ready to use, but I found out someone had left it plugged in underneath the wheels (there are times I whine about opening up my studio to other artists.  They have all been told leaving that plugged in is a fire hazard, a trip hazard and a damned inconvenience for the next person who needs the tool.  Then, I start wondering if I was the one who used the heat gun last…)  While I struggled to free the plug – ouch! the  bending! – I heard the vase fall, splat, onto the ground.  The one truly lovely thing I had made today, decimated by a freaking plug.

I stood there buzzing with anger because I had been defeated by so much lately.  I can’t fix my financial stressors.  I can’t make someone like me.  I can’t rush along the changes coming to my life just like I can’t guarantee that all my efforts aren’t in vain.  But, damn it, i don’t have to lose another half a bag of clay just because it catastrophically fell over and crumpled into itself.  Very carefully, very slowly, with stubbornness burning in my ears, I picked the clay up and straightened it out.  I grabbed dowels to stick down the bifurcated piece, determined to make something tall.

In the end, and this is probably where I should have started this blog, I sculpted defiance.  Tears streaming down my face, my body complaining vigorously about standing that long, I kept working.  She became the fire of stubbornness, the refusal to be destroyed even though she could not regain her original configuration.  She looks incredibly rough right now – but she has arms and a head.  In a little feat of irony, I’ll be here in the studio until 2 or 3 in the morning, making sure the dowels come out.  I don’t dare leave.  If I go to the house, the siren call of a steaming hot shower, the heating pad and bed will be too strong.  Instead I might write some more melancholy, self-pitying poetry. Perhaps I’ll draw on the iPad.  Maybe I will let myself work on my book.  It would be nice to lose myself in someone else’s trials and tribulations.

I wish I had more words of strength and resilience to end this babbling, but right now I’m just hanging on by a thread.  All I have to get me through is obstinacy.

advertising and obstinance

eagle altered 4 copyThree human interactions left me feeling more unsteady on my feet this week. Each time i fortified myself and wound up on better ground after the spasm passed, but each incident left a deep impression.  They echoed the dance we all perform: balancing on the delicate wire that slides between hope, confidence and optimism on one side and despair, vulnerability and surrender on the other.

The first interaction: a nice couple walked into the studio and found the range of work that i do a little overwhelming.  The husband, in particular, laughed with some combination of delight and doubt as i described the book i am currently writing (in response to his question, “What is the writing part of the Pottery, Art and Writing Studio?”) and asked that i prove that i write poetry.  That is easily done – i have a few memorized and when pressed further could call up on my computer the file with this year’s poems.

“Do you ever finish anything?”  He laughed, “Because this is too much for one person.”

While i instantly provided him with poetry collections, paintings, sculptures and pottery to purchase – all finished – i had to hide my deepest reactions.  Internally, i wobbled. He hit a large vein of insecurity in me.  Sometimes projects – paintings and writing in particular – must wait until i have the time and the right energy to finish.  Some stories are not meant for bright, sunny days. Pottery can be a bully, demanding my time to the detriment of other forms of art. If my mood is good, i am not going to edit a hundred poems about despair.  Unfortunately, i am not always in the right mental space to create a large sculpture of a joyous, loving angel.

However, describing my process began to sound like a list of excuses or some form of laziness.  So many pieces sit undeniably unfinished, perpetually in progress, scattered throughout the studio.

flying After he left, i felt vaguely uncomfortable in my skin.  Suddenly, i was the unfinished project. Could the vast swaths of pieces in the mid-point of creation mean that i am not truly an artist at all?  The thought itched my brain until i was in bed, curled up under covers, feeling woefully incomplete.  So, i made a list of all the things i’ve finished in 2013 (not counting the pottery, because there were hundreds and hundreds of pieces in that category).  i have finished a business plan, restructuring my finances to make the business more viable, drafts of two novels, three collections of poetry, and hundreds of poems as yet uncollected.  Even my house has been reorganized and purged.  By the time i got ten items into the list, i fell asleep inside a wave of contentment.  Things do get finished.  i awoke the next morning feeling more at peace with myself as a creature being constantly created.

Fire breather The second interaction: i was talking to another artist.  She is in a very different place than i am economically and physically.  This is really all i can do effectively, in part because my mind and heart are aligned to art and writing in a way that makes other jobs almost painful. Quite literally, there is nothing else i would rather be doing.  While i long for love –  a relationship and a family –  more than i can say, if i had to give up my art for those things, i would be unable to make the sacrifice. This drive continues even as i struggle with my health and my body’s ability to function.  Working for myself is one of my better options –  i can moderate my activity depending upon my energy, pain and inspiration.

These differences lead our conversation into uncomfortable terrain.  She visualizes her path forward much differently than the road i am traveling.  And, she is having remarkable success.  i admit that she might have a much better sense of how to sell art and how to structure a life in general than i do.

dreamsThat said, i could not accept her dismissal of my ideas and change course. i am continuing down the road i had marked for myself.  i have begun to advertise, focus more on the online store, to treat my art as much like a business as i can without completely surrendering my own ambitions for what i create.

Keeping myself in the position where i can continue to make art requires a certain amount of magical thinking.  i believe advertising will help because i am an artist doing good work.  The complete and obsessive stubbornness that i focus on my artwork becomes a benefit, because i believe success will only happen when i pour my heart into this endeavor.  While her certainty that specific things i am doing are not useful shook me, it did not cause surrender.

At this stage in my life, i’m beginning to realize that it can be a good thing for someone to question my plans, my assumptions and my determination.  Being shaken up can help me see things more clearly.  Not every piece of advice can be taken – although i try to give each consideration.  A few times i have been inspired to change direction and others i have become more comfortable continuing on with the choices and plans i have made.  This time, her strong opinions had the latter effect. What is right for me is not for her, and vice-versa.  The difference does not make either of us less determined or less of an artist.  In a very real way, neither of us is wrong and neither right; we both move forward using our individuality, determination and circumstances as our guides.

The third interaction was with a doctor.  It shook me by reasserting something i know all too well:  this life i lead is a gift.  My ability to make art is not a given, it could go away.  My mobility could get worse; my health issues more of an impediment. i have already gone through spells where my brain hasn’t worked well enough to write.  As we spoke, gratitude shot down to my bones. My entire thought process became protective: how to keep myself working, how to create as much stability in this chaos as i can. i am so grateful for the ability to do what i love and knowing it could change makes it all more precious.  It makes my drive to work even more profound.

i continue on – making art, marketing the art, believing magically and praying that my efforts bring success.  blue, black and white bowls

While i was in the middle of this entry, a customer came to the studio.  She fondled nearly every bowl and nearly wept at not being able to buy them.  At no point did she complain about my prices; she talked about how they were just.  i work as hard as i can to have my prices be reasonable while not actually putting me out of business, so her understanding gratified me.  Alas, she is being hit hard financially.  She asked if i had seconds, damaged pieces, anything that might be in her price range.  And at that point i realized, i will never be a great business person.  She got a discount much bigger than i should have given.  But, i was feeling grateful for all i have.  There are hard times all around right now – and i know that bowl is going to a good home.  Just the smile on someone’s face can make me realize there is a purpose to all my adverting and obstinance.

 

she waited

She waited, hands folded upon her lap. Open for business, she only needed customers. Staring at her own long, tapering fingers, her hair cascading down past her shoulders, she seemed like the eternal embodiment of patience. Neither optimism nor defeat had etched themselves on her face; quiet stillness resided in those lines and curves. i want to sculpt her to remind myself of how i should be: not demanding, not expecting, just content with what is.

If only i felt such equanimity as i wait for customers to come to me. The nature of my studio and showroom means that i’m working instead of quieting myself. The interruptions are both blessed and difficult. My emotional state would be so much better if my heart did not leap every time i heard a car pull up and if i didn’t jump every time my dog barks to announce visitors (it has happened a thousand times, but he still startles me.) Normally i am deep within a project – throwing, or sculpting, or writing, or painting – and the new arrival pulls me out of my creating. Only, the energy that floods through me when i am at work does not immediately dissipate. From the inside, it feels like i linger inside the bliss and focus that the art creates. It often projects outward as i start to talk about the products of my hands and the gifts of other artists. My customers can resemble deer caught in the headlights of my intensity.

My passion for what i do cannot be hidden.

i am convinced that my work matters. That others will feel that way is not an assumption i make. Only, after seeing that lovely woman waiting for her customers to come, i realized i have to change from eager anticipation to sublime patience.

Right now. This instant.

 

Here are two poems to soothe impatience:

peacefulness

silence and stillness