"All things share the same breath - the beast, the tree, the man... the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports." - Chief Seattle
After a wonderful holiday spent with family in San Francisco, we return home to the comfort and quiet of winter's beauty. I feel truly blessed. I now patiently await my scheduled wrist surgery on February 19 with the hopes of a healing winter and a spring awakening.
To honor the Solstice and that quiet, dark and restful place that dwells within me, I walked on the Labyrinth at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral last night. Walking the labyrinth can be a way for the psyche to connect with the soul, a way of seeking our higher spirit. It may be a symbolic pilgrimage or a means of seeking clarity, vision, focus, healing, discernment, peace, or spiritual insight. The labyrinth is a spiritual tool. There is no right or wrong way to walk the labyrinth. Trinity has a beautiful inlay wood labyrinth in the parish hall. Trinity’s Labyrinth Guild provides its walkers and seekers opportunities to strengthen and deepen their spiritual connection by walking the labyrinth. It is a wonderful, symbolic ritual of meditation, clarifying the teaching: Out of the journey in and deep surrender comes an opening awareness of new life.
The stones I chose from the basket to hold in my hands while I walked were "Peace" and "Resiliency". I reflected upon those words and their personal meaning to me as I journeyed through the path of the Labyrinth.
I meditated upon the gifts that fill my life and the gifts I have that fill others. I meditated on the possibilities of accepting what is as being "enough"..........surrendering, allowing, being. I thought about the conundrum of what it would be like to do less and in doing so, be more. To surrender to the fact that my hand is in pain, needs surgery and cannotdo much of what I want. To surrender to and accept what I can do and see the gifts that are hidden within.
Inside that dark quiet place of winter the potential grows...........
This weekend was filled with many wonderful openings. Now that I have seen them, I can begin to realize I have the choice to enter into these openings. Jumping back a bit to last Friday Dance Playground, there was a shift. During the pairings and changings between our six dancers, I felt a new opening into trust and safety and fun while in dance and relationship with "the other". I was able to let go and enjoy without all the work that fear brings with it. A breakthrough for me in the dance, the movement, the relationship, the dance..........fast forward to this friday and the 3 hour Reflective Dance Practice.
The very sweet small intimate group of the four of us was beautiful.Dancing in silence, how aware I became of the music of each others breathing, footsteps, clock ticking, bodies moving through the space followed by the quiet sitting meditations that came between the steps. Jen gave me the "permission" in her suggestion of the time of the season and I realized that right now I am in my own "Personal Winter". I am going to try to embrace that now.That quiet time of inward darkness that makes way for spring light. Like a bulb planted, I need the quiet slowness to heal both my hand and my spirit with the hopes that there will be a renewed blossoming of my hand that will be healing after the surgery, but making room now for the gathering of the creativity during this time of darkness that will also blossom anew in the Spring. I brought one of my old sculptures that felt dead to me right now and created an alter of sorts for it before I danced not so much to breathe life back into it, but to honor that for roght now, it too is in its dormant personal winter that needs to rest with my other sculptures until the time is right to re emerge. Time..........Patience...........Quiet..............Darkness.
Now to Sunday morning dance. For the first time I gave myself permission to dance as part of the whole rather that on the outside looking in. In the past, I actually placed myself on the outside of the circle not really looking into the circle and the other dancers, as much as looking into myself or sheilding myself from the other dancers by always gazing inwardly. I opened my eyes, I moved through the space, through the other bodies! Winky gave permission to dance with "the other"even if there is no physical contact, that you can dance with each other by merely being aware of the space you are both inhabiting at that moment. I found a way to take care of my body and myself in the mass of moving bodies. The energy that I allowed myself to fill up with from the others was amazing, and I acknowledge that I too must be contributing to filling others as well. I felt so free and alive and truly a part of the community. I do give myself permission to still step outside the group dance and into the private quiet dance of the self whenever I need to, but that will be out of choice rather than out of fear. Yet another breakthrough for me!
The weekend was also filled with wonderful jazz/funk music shared with Michael on Saturday night and then rounded out with an amazing performance of the Aurora Chorus joined by the fantastic Jamie Seiber on Sunday. The voices of the 100 woman singing about peace in many languages was so inspiring and uplifting. It truly filled my soul to hear the 100 voices sound like one voice and the ethereal electric cello added just the perfect touch.
The finale of the weekend was to meet and celebrate the Solstice and holiday season with my Art Circle for dinner. Wonderful friends and rich time.
Now, today marks the Solstice and I plan to try to create some enriching rituals for myself that will not only celebrate the Solstice but honor my own Personal Winter.
Well believe it or not in a manic burst to finish my chair for the Chair Affair before my surgeon's appointment in one hour, I did what I thought was impossible. What began as a lonely chair that had no identity, she joined us as the Thanksgiving table, then waited to become......At first her working title was Finding Home. On this journey, she became Pieces of the Past. I love my narrative chair and will post a picture soon. I am proud of myself for working through the pain, and using my left hand as much as I could, being disciplined at a time when I was in emotional turmoil which culminated in creating my chair. It was a collaboration that was at first uninspired, but the relationship grew into a chair that I am proud of. I hope she raises a lot at the Auction in April! Now I am off to the surgeon to create a plan to heal my hand. Now I am waiting to become whole again.
"We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time."
Loss makes artists of us all as we weave new patterns in the fabric of our lives.
Greta W. Crosby
After a very difficult weekend accepting what is, rather than what I want things to be, I struggle to complete the Chair Affair chair before my surgeon's appointment tomorrow night. I do not know what lies ahead for me and my wrist in the coming months so I want to finish it. It hurts to work on it, but I need the discipline and sense of satisfaction that working provides to keep me going. I am trying to simplify my original plan for the chair. Editing the elements but keeping the narrative hoping less can be more. I will continue on it this afternoon.............
"There is more to life than increasing its speed."
Now that I have given myself permission to not make the chair if I can't, and instead mount the layered glass piece that I did printmaking on as a back up, my ideas have begun to flow. It is amazing to me that when you let go, space is created. I will approach the chair slowly, thoughtfully, and simply. I will try a bit today, since I now have some inspiration about where I want it to go and the narrative has finally begun to take shape. I will only create it IF I CAN! I am giving myself permission to do it in small increments. It is about Finding Home.
I am now thinking about the beautiful Rumi piece Guest House.
"This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond".
The meeting of our Portland Women's Art Circle on Wednesday was just the medicine I needed in light of my current hand situation. After much conversation about my frustrations and with the help of my very wise fellow artists and friends, I now see things a bit differently. The project of 365 chairs that I saw as being already unsuccessful, I now realize set myself up for immediate failure because of the pressure I put on myself. I have done 3 small clay chairs and that is all for now.I had been beating myself up about not being disciplined enough to stay with this rigid and difficult left handed project. I am now collecting the wax molds that I remove from my hand after my daily soak in hot paraffin wax. I will collect these daily until my surgery and hope to mount these lovely cocoons and back light them. This is a manageable and soothing piece to be working on. It is healing, creating with the best of what I have to give right now and it nurtures me, which is what I really need most now. The three clay chairs I have completed are the first chapter........Waiting. The wax hands are the second chapter...............Nurturing. The third chapter remains to be seen............ I am so grateful to these supportive women and feel so blessed to have them in my life.
"Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop."
Now is the time to plan ahead to for 2010 and to think about getting involved with the Community Warehouse and in beautiful artwork. The main event will take place Thursday, April 8th, 6 - 9 pm. Each week year the Community Warehouse recycles gently used household furnishings to over 60 of Oregon's neediest families at no cost to them. The needs for families is unfortunately growing while donations of household goods have sharply declined. Please consider the Community Warehouse when you are cleaning out your own home and looking for a wonderful place to give your belongings a new good home. Please check out the websitewww.communitywarehouse.org for more information and please consider joining me at the 2010 Chair Affair for a night of fabulous fun, food and artwork made by artists in our community, many who are your friends and colleagues such as myself. It is a great way to both give and receive. For more info see the attached invitation and check out the website. I know there are a lot of organizations to support in our great city, but you can be a part of the Community Warehouse in so many ways even if you cannot attend The Chair Affair. I will keep you posted.........until then thank you for your support!
I am feeling quite discouraged with my original clay chair installation project. I was so excited about the potential and the disipline but I am just not ready to follow through full steam ahead right now. The holidays are always emotionally draining and with the abrupt change in the cold weather I am again feeling in hibernation mode. I am also stressed by the decision that I will have to be making whether or not to have surgery on my wrist so perhaps I am expecting too much of myself right now. I just don't have the creative emotional energy right now. The problem is, considering my wrist issues, I have basically "set myself up" for failure unless I re-examine my intentions, my parameters and my capabilities. I am in quite a creative funk and by counting the fact that I have not made more chairs than I have made, I feel like I am failing. I have to think about the way I can approach this installation without feeling unsuccessful before I really begin to emerse myself in it. I have to pause...........and see the possibilities of what can be, rather than what cannot.
"Time, like life itself, has no inherent meaning. We give our own meaning to time as to life. Don't fight against life, let it be. Life has its own rhythm, its own time. In most cases, you simply create stress and suffering for yourself whenever you attempt to hurry the course of history or to slow it."
Well I have my chair for this years Chair Affair, in fact it played a roll as a stand in on Thanksgiving when we came up a bit short so she is already a member of the family. I will post pictures of her soon but I am not sure what she will become yet considering the current condition of my right wrist that might be facing a third surgery.I may have to get really creative in my thinking outside the chair and also have to be pretty open and flexible about the expectations I have on myself in regards to my creation. More to come.................
I am a collaborator with nature, often using found objects in my clay sculpture. My greatest inspiration is my motherhood and nature. Working with clay is a tactile, spiritual interaction. It's a dance as the image emerges and takes on a life form of it's own. The story gradually reveals itself and not always upon completion of the piece. It is a gradual unfolding.... "What the caterpillar thinks is the end of the world...the butterfly knows is only the beginning!"
I keep my spirit vitalized by creating mixed media sculpture, sculptural drawings, exploring narrative photography, writing, participating in collaborative art projects, volunteering for various Portland organizations, walking in the woods and along the Oregon coast collecting the next sculpture inspiration that nature offers me, enjoying the solitude of the Lake in Washington, kayaking, camping, snorkeling in Hawaii, making my voice heard as a quiet activist for various humanitarian issues, appreciating live theater and music in Portland and enjoying the vastly rich life that Oregon has to offer me, but especially spending time with my family. I am savoring my new journey as I explore the middle road of Buddhism. I try to live an "intentional life" every day with "Jo Y"! I feel like a square peg who has finally found her square hole!
I am an artist/partner of The AIR Gallery