A Special October

The water's edge in Bromma, Sweden 

The water's edge in Bromma, Sweden 

How are you, friends?  Opening up to new energy? Calming and releasing old stories?   

The year is entering its final sixty days - hard to even imagine.  The days are shorter, the shadows longer.  The air is crisp and the leaves are whirling in their final descent to creating next spring's fertile ground for new seedlings.  

It has been an intensely emotional month for us on so many fronts.  So many things have happened, and this weekend I'm taking time to simply put all of the impressions and emotions into a place of calm and rest.  

I  traveled to the south of Europe, visiting Italy.  The vendemmia or harvest of the grapes in Serralunga d'Alba was extraordinary this year and we walked for miles, tasting the sweet nectar of the prized Nebbiolo, absorbing the last truly warm rays of the season, allowing ourselves to be caressed by the beauty and magic that only the bel paese can offer. 

I traveled to the north of Europe, visiting Sweden.  The hint of winter was not far away, although it was mild and sunny and beautiful.  We spent a few precious days in the company of close friends, trading stories and eating beautiful food on white table cloths lit with tea lights in Orreforrs crystal candle holders - as beautiful and as cozy as you might imagine.  

Between those two visits to the south and to the north, we lost a most precious family member.  My mother in law, Ingeborg Baur, transitioned in peace at the wonderful age of 95 years old.  She had been struggling for months and although we will miss her beauty, her tenacity, and her warmth,  we are grateful for the amazing years we had with her and know that she is far better off. We feel her love every moment. On the morning she left this earth plane, I was standing by the window in my dining room thinking about her when a small yellow bird appeared and landed on the sill.  We looked straight at each other, and then she turned and flew away.  Inge's spirit is free now, and it's exactly as it should be.

Her love makes me a better person.  I will carry her with me all the days of this life and beyond. 

Through all this, I have felt compelled to create. First of all, I am taking on the Diva of ALL Divas - porcelain clay.  I have to admit, this has never been my favorite material to work with but I am determined to see what kind of role it will play in my creative life.  I have started making some organic platters, and a few have just come through the bisque firing process.  Although they will need their glaze firing, I find them very interesting.  I am using the technique of stamping the clay with textured fabric.  

One fabric in particular is close to my heart.  My father, after returning from World War Two, took a job in Brazil laying electrical lines.  From there he brought back for my mother (who had been waiting forever for him to come and marry her) a group of lace table linens.  I used those table linens at my B&B - the first person to actually use them - and decided to try making a free-form platter out of imprinted clay.  Here it is so far, after the bisque firing but before the final firing: 

The next platter is simply a piece of ancient burlap I found in the attic of the house we are living in now.  I like the thought that the burlap comes from one of the farming families who lived here at one time, therefore giving continuum and depth to the design. 

I am not settled on how I am going to glaze them yet.  

I find myself wanting to add layers of history and meaning to creative projects such as these and am pushing hard out of my comfort zone to see where this all takes my art.  

I want to create in that tangential space where meaning and substance connects to personal style and design.  And I have made a commitment to myself that I will exhibit the results of this process at some point during 2016.  This involves not only planning, but my stepping out into the public arena in this new place that I live and introducing my work.  That scares the living crap out of me but it is what I need to do to move forward with my art.   

 I am so intrigued by this concept:  that personal spiritual growth is enhanced by creating beauty, and that beauty is created through spiritual growth.  

So now it it is about taking in all of the impressions and deeper meanings of a very complex and emotion filled month and allowing the spirit to heal.

And it seems there is no better time to do that than at the end of the year, when the days are shorter and the shadows are longer. 

Be well my friends.  Let me hear how it is for you.  

Darkness, Light, Truth and Art

Stoneware bowl, thrown and altered, exterior glazed and interior raw black. 

Stoneware bowl, thrown and altered, exterior glazed and interior raw black. 

These days I find myself worrying less about creating things to please others, and thinking more about creating things that express my point of view now. 

Stoneware bowl, thrown and altered, interior glazed and exterior raw black. 

Stoneware bowl, thrown and altered, interior glazed and exterior raw black. 

Exploring creativity in this way enables me to work more freely, unaffected by anything more than my own desire to move forward with my own process.  

What this requires is honesty.  Honesty with myself.  And digging deep into a place where technical understanding, artistic ability and creativity join to produce the best of what I am able to produce.  

But more than that, it is about the work.  I am feeling my way through this stage with curiosity and a good deal of trepidation.  

Because everything about the creative process and about growth and about facing who you really are and not being afraid to stand up and be that person is full of vulnerability and trepidation, isn't it?   

Stoneware vases, burnished and glazed 

Stoneware vases, burnished and glazed 

 

Creativity is enhanced by vulnerability.  Vulnerability comes from understanding one's own authenticity and living it as fully as possible.  Authenticity comes at a price - and that price usually involves, in one way or the other, living - and feeling - the way through darkness. 

There is nothing that darkness does better than clarify things.  The pinpoints of light that present themselves in our darkest moments are the lights along our path to authenticity. 

So when you fall, and when you are down, and when you think you might not be able to get up again, realize that the earth around your poor and tired self is the most fertile place you can be. 

When you are down on that ground, the truth presents itself to you.  The cold, hard ground is not a place you can run from - not when you've exhausted all of your escape routes.  It is there that you will learn how critical it is not to stand up and move on, but to look up and to see.  

To see exactly where you are.

And to see exactly why you are there and how you came to this point. 

To see truth and to see that if you can forgive yourself for everything that got you there, the tiny points of life that you know are all around you in that darkness will get brighter, will get stronger. 

You will be able to understand better what you need to do to move forward.  

And then, just then, when you forgive yourself, you can take those baby steps to move yourself in the direction of those points of light. 

And you can start creating what you were meant to create and you can stop pushing to do things that will make everyone around you happy except you.

Simple place setting, glazed and burnished

Simple place setting, glazed and burnished


This is what this new art is about for me. 

It is about finding a way out of darkness, about forgiveness, and about learning to create straight from the heart.  

This is resilience at its most personal and vulnerable place.

You can find pieces from my new collection in my on line shop.  


Resilient Joy

Joy is of the essence.  

Once we tap into our own resilience we see that our suffering level is related to our ability to allow joy.  Joy does exist even when we feel it doesn't.  Feelings are deceptive.  Often, they don't reflect reality.  They more often reflect our exhaustion, our momentary concerns, our scattered synapse responses. 

If we can learn to stop at the moment when joy ceases and regather ourselves outside of our feeling world rather than as a victim of being inside of it, we can call on what we know to be true.  Once we've been knocked over and have gotten up, we know it's possible to get up, and so getting knocked over becomes less terrifying.  It feels more like part of the process.  

These mechanisms,  available to us when we are in the throes of change and pain and hurt, can keep us balanced enough to remember to connect with the source of all energy.  If we can manage to connect with energy, we won't completely contract and we will have a shimmering thread of light to grasp on to. 

That light is joy.  Love.  

Man, this is important work.  It's so needed.  Bouncing back is a learned behavior.  It's possible even in the most difficult of circumstances.  When I started putting together ideas for this course, it amazed me to learn about resilient people and their habits.  Their focus.  Their drive.  For some of us, resilience feels like a distant dream.  For others, it's second nature.  

These are the processes that are the core of the upcoming course on Resilience.  You can find the course description here.  There are 13 days left to register for the course.  

If you feel this course would be good for you, or if you know someone who really needs this information, please register yourself or pass it on.  I've priced it in a way that everyone who really needs it should be able to afford it; I did that with intent, because I know myself how I could have used this kind of course not so long ago.  

Being resilient is very much part of living a happy, healthy, self-determined life.  I look forward to your joining me on this journey. 

Authentic Shifting

Lately my world has been inundated with all kinds of energy regarding authenticity. Experience brings a deeper understanding of my own work. Sometimes it's really shocking, because I strive to be true to myself.  And then I find I've been doing the opposite, albeit unwittingly.  I've allowed myself to get caught up in someone else's energy and then masquerade it around as if it's my own.  At some point, my awareness kicks in (normally through some kind of eye-opening event) and I have a chance to bring myself back to my own center. When I manage to do this, I am equally shocked to find out how much I've learned from the process. 

It's continuous, the shift toward authenticity. 

Sometimes, we sell ourselves a bill of goods.  We see our authentic selves as a static state of being.  We should find ourselves, we should know ourselves, we should be ourselves, end of story.

But it's not like that.  Authenticity is like trying on clothes at your favorite store.  Some things feel right immediately.  But sometimes, we convince ourselves that something works.  We buy it, we take it home, we convince ourselves to wear it, but then find we just don't feel that great in it.  It doesn't work for us. Sometimes we get stubborn and keep wearing it.  But if we're smart, we give it to someone for whom it works, and make space in our closet only for things we love.

That's a bit how authenticity is.  We try something, we put it on, we decide how we feel with it.  If it works for us, we take it into our spiritual inventory.  If not, we're better off letting it go.  

This shifting and trying is all part of change and growth.  It keeps us from being judgmental and stagnant. It makes us pliable and keeps us in touch with our own vulnerability and inner strength. 

 

Resilience: From the Ashes of Woo

You may know that I have been, for quite a long time now, preparing to teach a course called I Am Resilient for an intuitive online learning concept called Woo School, created by a woman named Tracey.  

Last week, for reasons of her own, Tracey chose to pull the plug on the entire project.

Tracey asked me to become part of the project last spring, when I was recovering from the tumultuous events of the prior winter.  I felt an entire energetic world open up; she had faith in my ability to be part of what I saw as a beautiful concept.   As she gathered smart, intuitive women to be part of the process, I moved my life from one country to another, continuing a phase of seemingly endless transition, knowing in the back of my mind I would at some point be coming back to creating, and knowing that there would be a format for me to create into.  It was a good feeling.  

The months flew by and eventually the group was formed;  lovely women from different time zones and perspectives,  all brought into the flow by Tracey.  She worked endless hours and invested so much of herself into creating something absolutely stellar-level beautiful.  I felt so fortunate to be part of the entire concept.  Deeply grateful and fortunate. 

I saw the potential of something beautiful and decided that I would dedicate something big to the school.  In December, I blocked out the entire month of January to create a course called I Am Resilient - combining science, psychology and spirit to help people who had undergone change and trauma understand how they could best move forward with new information, energy, and realities.  

In creating the course I interviewed experts, read several books on different aspects of the subject, and meditated.  I learned about my own process while doing the research, and found it incredibly interesting.  

While this was happening, there were indications that the actual process of Woo School itself were not going so smoothly.  In my need to be part of the group and to create my way forward, I ignored these signs. 

I know better than to ignore signs.  I am, after all, a soul caller. 

Instead, I got bullish on the project, doubled down and worked twice as hard.  This is a bit of a pattern for me.  If I just trudge forward, everything will work out.  It really hasn't worked well for me in the past, and this time would be no different 

Around the beginning of February, I started to have backaches almost every day.  I tried to walk the pain off.  The only thing that helped, temporarily, was going into my pottery studio without any Internet devices.  I felt such a level of inner spiritual disturbance that I could not identify.  

I tried to communicate about what I saw as issues with the marketing of the concept. I should have known, when I couldn't get my message across, to stop investing my own energy in a concept that wasn't mine to begin with.  

My back pain continued to grow.  The energy was so off.  I was drowning in something I did not understand.  All I wanted to do, in good conscience, was produce a beautiful product.  To collaborate with other women.  To have a vehicle for my work.  To give something to a person, a lovely person, who had given me a chance that I treasured.  

I didn't see it falling apart until it fell apart.  When the plug got pulled,  it released the disappointment of what I actually already knew:  that Woo School was over even though I had given it my all.  I was a combination of angry and hurt and tired.  Angry at myself that I had invested so much, albeit it on my own.  Sad that the plug had been pulled before it had ever been given a chance. Tired because beyond the creation of the course, the whirling confusing energy that came before the pulling of the plug was terribly draining.  

I expressed my anger and hurt and exhaustion. We had a confrontation of words, the only one we had ever had.

We seemed, in my mind, to leave the conversation in a friendly and conciliatory way. 

The next day, I woke to find that Tracey blocked me on Facebook, cut me off from communicating with a Woo School associated Facebook group to which my private friends and clients had been invited, and seemed determined to forget about my existence.    

I've chosen to meet this with love.  It's the only way for me to make sense out of it. Love and gratitude for having had an experience to teach such deep, soulful lessons.   

All weekend, I pondered the irony of having to call on my own resilience skills that I gathered during creating the course.  About accepting this new normal.  About moving on in a different way.  Maybe this was the lesson of the whole thing?  Quite possibly. The story of Woo School itself has become a case study in resilience. 

In the wild ride of emotions over the past few days, my back pain has all but disappeared.  I feel the burden is lifted. There were other energies at work that had nothing to do with me.  I chose to work so hard at creating content because I was so thrilled to have been asked.  Now that I don't have to bear the burden of trying to hold up "my end of the deal" anymore, I feel lighter.  

I've learned a wildly important lesson about being aligned energetically and professionally before starting any kind of collaborative work.  That lesson alone has been worth the price of this experience.  

You know, woo is a funny word.  I suppose that people use it to describe things that are not of this world and energies that are spiritual in nature. We each have our own idea about things like woo.  At this point, I'm distancing myself from the word and refocusing on my very pragmatic approach to spirituality.  The one where compassion and forgiveness top the list.

That, I must say, has always worked well for me.  

I am letting the entire story go with compassion and forgiveness. I will always be grateful to Tracey for including me in her group of wonderful women.   

As far as my course goes, I am repackaging it.  It's way too good to let it crash and burn!  In fact, I am adding to it and making it even more definitive than it was as a WS offering.  It will be available here on my website and through selected friends' websites - people that I know and have strong personal relationships with. 

I've renamed the course.  It's now Resilience:  The Art of Moving On. It will cost you a third less than its original incarnation!  It starts on April 27th.  If you are interested and need more information, just shoot me an email.

And with that, I'm moving on, unencumbered and with a spring in my step, letting my own resilience lead the way.