Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Potter does Thanksgiving

I was looking forward to baking with my daughter on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, as a break from making a gazillion ornaments in clay. When we made our sweet potato buscuits, cut out in Star of Davids, I realized that this is basically the same thing as working in the studio, except it smells better baking. And when it came time to put a lattice crust on the apple pie, I couldn't control myself. The potter in me took over, and soon I was cutting out leaf shapes, and hand forming acorns. Then adding a milk and organic sugar coating to make it brown nicely.

Yes, I have always been this way, and so has Marci. I knew that she had the artist's gift when she requested broccoli at age 5. She didn't eat it. Instead, she made a hump of potatoes and stuck the broccoli heads in like little trees.

I guess you just can't take a break from being who you are.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


When I rise from the ocean of sleep, my eyes open with gratitude. Last year at this time we were all so fearful, wistful, hoping for a change, a way out of economic collapse. I did not let that fear climb into the driver's seat of my life nor tell me what to imagine, nor write the story of my year. Everywhere I saw light upon frozen snow, painting a softness, and glowing from the eyes of moths at my window, and shimmering cool dappled shadows beneath the tall trees. I gave my heart to the light, everyday.

My pottery has been a refuge this past year, a doorway into a land where something deep and precious waits to be born. And I've opened my kiln, curious to see who is there.

And so this year, I am most grateful for creativity and active imagining and dreaming and all the attributes that they tell you, in 3rd grade somewhere, you must outgrow in order to memorize endless useless lists of facts.

As my heart and soul have dreamed, so my life has become. Hope has been a winged bird this year. And for this, and the other gifts of grace given to me this year, I am grateful.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

lessons from a woodpecker

My daughter noticed this helpless feathered life lying on its side. A heart beat but a bone protruded from its delicate wing, and blood seeped from its beak. Still, I cradled it in my hands. Marci got a small box with a soft towel, and we laid the immobile bird, a downy woodpecker, to rest in the softness. It looked with acceptance into my eyes and we spoke to it in gentle tones, the language of comfort.

I asked Marci to take it to her room, away from the cats, and warm. The plan was to see if it could rest, and perhaps survive. I wasn't sure if the limp body could support life. About an hour later, Marci burst into my studio claiming that the bird was out of its box and sitting on her rug! We hurried with joy to her door, and the startled woodpecker, with improbable lightness, flew into the closet!

There were a few minutes of comical chase, as I, after catching his tuxedo-ed body in a towel, released him upon command. Just as he understood our soothing, I know when I've been told a thing or two! It occurred to me to open the window, remove the screen, and turn off the lights. It worked! With gentle nudging, Mr. Woodpecker took flight, and dissappeared from our world and into his own.

I think of the lessons from the world, and this is how soothing works. Healing is an unseen ball of light that we pass amongst us, willing all that is broken to mend, and finally, to take flight.

Friday, November 6, 2009


I've learned an interesting lesson over the past year, which is that abundance has little to do with what you actually have, and a lot to do with your relationship with what you have. Abundance is less of a bank statement and more of a state of mind. Abundance is a feeling of having everything you need and just a little bit more, and generously giving from that context of gratitude that you've been blessed beyond your needs.

I was not born into a Norman Rockwell picture, and I did not learn these types of Precious Moments platitudes from my saint of a mother. I spent many years convinced that abundance was something I would acheive if my income went up $50,000 more, that generosity meant calculatingly giving to prestigious charities, and that gratitude was something we faked in order to not hurt grandma's feelings when we opened her gifts.

So this knowledge that abundance is not about money is new for me. My riches are now like this bowl, pictured above. The outside is a soft white, which absorbs all light, and all the beauty is on the inside.