Friday, December 9, 2011

Still Waiting..........

After a endlessly long time "waiting" to do the final firing of the remaining chairs for my "Waiting" installation, and finally wanting, needing to be ready to move on to my next body of work, there was more unexpected waiting. I delicately, lovingly loaded the last family of chairs into my kiln in my basement studio. When I sat down on the floor to program the kiln, I noticed that under my shelf, where all the chairs were drying, along with those already fired chairs, was a lone broken chair. It had somehow been knocked to the floor, probably by one of the interlopers that unfortunately sometimes pass through our basement. I looked sadly at it feeling, oh no, not another setback. I am feeling this need to move on in so many areas of my life right now, but constantly feel pulled back by life itself happening. My choices were, change the number of chairs , from my original intent of the auspicious 108

Followers use 108 beads in their malas. They implement the following formula: 
6 x 3 x 2 x3 = 108 6 senses [sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, thought] 3 aspects of time [past, present, future] 2 condition of heart [pure or impure] 3 possibilities of sentiment [like, dislike, indifference]

The meaning of the number 108 has been a resonant voice for me that I did not want to stray from. It did not feel true to myself to change it, even after all the "waiting" for the piece to become. I was feeling impatient but a need to be true to my self. I did not want to take the easy way out. My other choice, was to create another chair, after the fact, so to speak, after it felt finished, to be a substitute for the broken one, but I felt that the integrity of the piece, for me would be compromised.No one else would notice the change, but I would, and I have put too much into this piece to compromise now. Each chair was created in a specific order, with a specific intention and story behind it, representing what was happening in my life at the time. My decision was to pick up the crumbled, broken chair and try to mend it, not an easy task. Two of the legs where broken off. Ironically, this is how I am feeling at the moment, broken, trying hard to stand and support myself emotionally,  and trying to mend my heart, again not an easy task. So this is what I was compelled to do. The chair that broke was ironically entitled Disappointment, from when the Waiting installation was not accepted into the Portland Building last year for their exhibit. So here I was, faced with this wounded little chair, like Humpty Dumpty. I used all the tricks of the trade, vinegar, slip, toilet paper shreds , time and patience. It is now, after a few hours of tedious work, back together again, not the same as it was before. Now it is awkward, unbalanced, misshaped, unable to stand on it's own, and not pleasant looking like the other chairs in the family of Waiting, although they are each a bit unique, and have their own personalities. It looks a bit out of place, and there is no guarantee it will survive the firing. More waiting. I will sequester the chair on it's own shelf for the firing, so that if it shatters, it will not harm the other chairs. I scratched off the title from the back, breaking it a bit again, mending it again, and then carving it's new name on the back, difficult with bone dry clay. It is now named Loss and will now be moved, taking the auspicious  spot of last chair, the final one to be finished in the installation of 108. It will hold a small feather that a bird lost, and that I picked up and saved in Florida, during a rare, brief walk to gather myself, and try to take care of myself. Sometimes, things get broken, and they will never be the same again. Sometimes they can be mended, and will still never be the same either. Part of life, part of hurt, part of being human, part of death. Whether it is relationships that are not what you once thought they were, that you thought you could count on and now you feel deceived, or the people you love break and you have to let go of what they were, and accept what they are, or are not, right now. We have to try to give up all hope of a better past, and try to accept and make peace with what is now. Change is inevitable, suffering is optional, so they say. Neither feels easy right now, but it just is. In a few days, when the broken and mended chair is dry enough to join the others in the kiln I will fire it. I have to give up any expectation that it will not break again, will not survive the firing. I will have to wait and see and know that I have no control over the outcome, but trust that the outcome will be as it should be.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Please Vote to Support the Community Warehouse! (You don't even have to leave your house!!)


Every year thousands of tons of usable furniture and household items are dumped in area landfills by people who don't know what to do with an unwanted mattress, couch, or television. Don't Dump It, Donate It! is a campaign to collect reusable items and redistribute them to families in need.


Community Warehouse collects and redistributes donated household items and furniture to individuals and families working to rebuild their lives. As the only furniture bank in our area, we help those who are resettling after crises such as homelessness. Funds will be used to increase our collection capacity, addressing our shortage of frequently requested items while keeping usable items out of the landfill. This project involves community education and outreach, collection and landfill diversion, and direct human service through redistribution. The gently used goods will provide low-income families with the ability to cook whole meals, eat together at a kitchen table, and enough blankets, towels, and sheets along with beds to sleep on.

One Foot In Front of The Other

"In the darkest hour the soul is replenished and given strength to continue and endure."
H.W. Chosa

As difficult as it might be, I am trying to move forward, sometimes not sure if I have what it takes to propel me forward, yet I try. My art gives me solace and when I got a call from Pammela at Cannibals, it was just the nudge I needed to get myself out there, by putting my art out there. My art is an extension of my soul, my spiritual practice, my self portrait, and the opportunity to let go of some of my creations and put them into the world, somehow creates space to create new work, in response to my life right now. Whether it is in response to the beauty of the colors of Sedona and The Grand Canyon, or the darkness that I feel inside, that loss brings. So I have 6 of my smaller mixed media sculptures on exhibit at Cannibals. They are part of the holiday offering, to allow people to considering one of a kind locally created artwork. The sense of art community that Cannibals offers, is one sense of place that will keep me moving forward now, one foot in front of the other.

"In release, we begin." ~ From The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How To Step Back Into The Dance of Life

Last night I had to push my weary body to take that first step back into the dance of life, by returning to dance. It was not easy and it was exhausting. How strange the struggle is, of going forward with life as usual, when life is anything but usual. How to allow myself to attempt to experience joy, without guilt. How dare I, but how dare I not. It felt like the moving walkway in the airport, that you try to find the perfect moment to step onto, without missing a step. To step back into my old life with the people and commitments and find that opening, because yes, things are not the same as usual. Yet those places of solace, those comforting richnesses are still there, I just have to step into them, to find that opening. How strange to enter the dance space and see the poem that was strewn on the floor, the same poem we were dancing when I left three weeks ago, a lifetime ago. There was a comfort in that sameness. Like in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy awakens from her "dream" to find all is still the same, waiting for her as if she had never left.  It felt that time had somehow stood still, and that the dance had waited for me. In reality, it is the longest Mary Oliver Poem we have danced to date, so I was soothed to see that I was there the first day we started dancing it, and would be present to continue the poem until we were done. The line that chose me last night, did not particularly speak to me, from Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches? My line was, "And I would touch the faces of the daises," but when Winky commented that maybe it meant to be gentle with myself, I felt touched, moved, held, loved. The line my fellow dancer chose spoke to me in a more immediate direct way, the way that I have been feeling but suffer my devotion."  so I know I danced that line too. This is what it feels like right now. How devotion always seems to bring suffering of some kind. The devotion does not feel like a choice, but is the suffering inevitable? I am trying to figure this one out, to dance it out in my life right now with baby steps, the only dance steps I can take at this moment. And the last line of the poem is, "I climb, I backtrack. I float. I ramble my way home."

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Persistence of Memory

There is no one way to let go, to hold on, to give up hope of a better past, and to live in this moment, as painful as it may be, as you let a loved one go. I can't stop being drawn to listen to the song The Persistence of Memory, over and over again. It is so ironic, because it brings me back to a time and place when I was in elementary school, starring as the scarecrow in the school production of The Wizard of Oz, a book that has become my personal bible. I remember going to my teacher Mrs. Snyder's house for a cast party, and as everyone mingled, the painfully shy me, sat on the couch devouring what would be the first art book that would start my obsessively wonderful art book collection. When I returned home like an excited school girl, and told my parents, my next surprise present was none other than my very own copy of the Salvador Dali that I still have today. This book, the luscious gold covered Salvador Dali book, with the melting clocks of his painting The Persistence of Memory on the cover, is still one of my all time cherished books. I became enthralled with surrealism in art and still am, and the way I am feeling right now is surreal. I am sleep deprived and my soul is aching. My legs feel as liquid as the melting clocks, and they feel as they can not support me most of the time. I feel the need for the crutches that are omnipresent in Dali's paintings. I am trying to hold my family and myself up with a liquid body, and hold my mother up as well, because her legs are truly failing, her as she transitions out of the world as she has known it. I am so angry that I keep being presented with lessons on how to learn to live "the new normal". How many shifts in the world as one knows it, can be made, and still feel some sort of stability, rootedness, sense of place? I feel as if as soon as I learn how to navigate a road, the road changes. They have been tarring and paving and rerouting people in this Florida community in which my mother lives for the two weeks (or has it been two months that I have been here?) and nothing seems to go smoothly. Time seems to both stand still, and be endless at the same time. Is it unrealistic to think that life should go smoothly? Apparently so! I finished my 2 mile walk, in the first rain and breeze of this oppressively hot and humid Florida. It has felt suffocating, but not as suffocating as my mother must be enduring, so how can I complain. I can finally open the windows and let a bit of the outside in, but it still feels so claustrophobic. I feel like I am drowning and trying to reach and grab onto a lifeline that I can barely see through the fog, yet I continue to reach, to dig deeply, to find the strength to move through this, knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel, although it seems so dark and elusive in this moment. I have to have faith that light does exist and that "this too shall pass" (one of my father's favorite sayings). Although right now, I find it difficult to feel thankful or grateful, although this year has given me so much to feel grateful for, this Thanksgiving, the greatest gift would be a peaceful dignified passing for my mother. As I completed my walk, the last song to shuffle to my ears was India Arie singing the lyrics "strength, courage and wisdom are inside of me". Have to make that my mantra and hold onto that truth and believe. And then the memories will persist, good, bad and everything in between. I think that must be what we call life...........
The Persistence of Memory
When I’m traveling far from home
On the wide horizon
I can feel you’re still around
And the dream overtakes me
Then I know, you’ll stay in this moment
We’ll go where it’s flowing
You’ll be what you want to be right here, with me 
When I’m out here on my own
And it all cuts through me
I see you’re safe alone
Ah, then it hits me 
And I know, you’re here in this moment
Right where it’s flowing
You are what you want to be
Right here, with me
Stay in this moment
Go where it’s flowing
You are what you want to be
Right here, with me . . . with me . . . with me. . .

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dancing and Falling Into The Longest Poem as the Days Grow Darker

Now that it is truly feeling like the crisp autumn is upon us,
 a time of feeling a pull inward to the darkness, that, however difficult, 
 I feel I must resist against for the moment,
 I danced last night for the last time for a few weeks, 
 as I begin my journey to Florida, to share some richness of family. 
 I take this poem with me, 
 to inspire, to inquire, to explore, to sort it out, to understand,
 to dance the poem in my life, as I did last night to the shortest line,
 I float.
 This poem could not be more perfect for me to delve into, 
 and move through into the darkness the end of the year brings. 
 It offers such richness and depth. Ironic, that this line, I float, 
 chose me last night, since I have not been feeling grounded lately, 
 yet not feeling the lightness of being that the vision of floating
 brings into my mind either. Instead, I need to be grounded, rooted,
 yet I will be flying once again, traveling that does not come easily to me. 
 How does one float and stay grounded simultaneously?
 It seems like an oxymoron.
 I feel like my arms are the wings that are being used to fly, 
 although weighted down with emotions of many sorts, 
 making it difficult for my arms, my wings, to lift in flight. 
 They are heavy with burden, yet I try to lift them anyways, 
 and float, glide, if I can. Trying to gain the momentum I need,
 to propel myself forward into the darkness, 
 and carry my family with me. But for now, 
 I will try to enter the long black branches, to try to become rooted, 
 grounded, and savor every word, every line my fellow dancers 
 began to dance last night with me, and I will continue to dance 
 into the growing darkness, as the longer darkening days of autumn
 slip silently upon us. I will take them all in on my travels, 
 and dance them, however my life shows up at the moment. 
 I will try to gain wisdom and strength from these words, 
 as I carry my family on my wings and still try to reach that 
 lightness of being and be able to soar, and in the words of Mary Oliver 
.............determined to do the only thing you could do 
--determined to save the only life you could save..... 

Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?
                                     ~ Mary Oliver~

"Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of other lives --
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey, hanging
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early morning, feel like?

Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?

Well, there is time left --
fields everywhere invite you into them.

And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!

To put one's foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be afraid!

To set one's foot in the door of death, and be overcome
with amazement!

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the
present hour,
to the song falling out of the mockingbird's pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened

in the night

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,

and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.

Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
     but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe

I even heard a curl or tow of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.

For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!

A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what's coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.

Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daises,
and I would bow down
to think about it.

That was then, which hasn't ended yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean's edge.

I climb, I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home."

Trying to Absorb Our Wonderful Grand Canyon/Sedona Voyage

I have arrived, I can't believe I am here and I am in shock!!!!

I have not fully absorbed and given myself time to embrace my trip to Arizona, since I will be on the road again shortly. I think I have not written about the trip because it is something that words cannot describe. The almost 700 pictures I took , do not even come close to capturing the awesomeness of Mother Nature and the humbling smallness that I felt. Smallness in a wonderful way, as I felt held by all I saw. There were many highlights as I explored the land hiking the Red Rocks of Sedona,
 or seeing the sun set from the balcony of our hotel,
venturing down hiking into The Grand Canyon, 

(well the word Grand simply doesn't do it justice!)

from the air, on the Colorado River

 hiking into Antelope Canyon, accompanied by our Navajo guide playing his flute, a truly spiritual moment for us both,

watching the elk frolic outside the lodge, 

being gifted with a rainbow over the Grand Canyon!,

To say the least, it was the trip of a lifetime, and I feel forever changed for having experienced it and especially for sharing it with my beloved!

 and see the world through his eyes!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

.....was willing to be afraid

As we continue to dance Mary Oliver's Starfish, I continue to explore the depths to which her words take me. Tonight, my line was, ...."was willing to be afraid". I was immediately struck by the knowing feeling, that I operate from a fear based center, radiating outward, yet once again acknowledging the resistance that energetically comes from this way of dancing my life. I am constantly aware of the struggle against my nemisis, fear. My thoughts, as I entered the dance, were, what would it look like if I was willing to be afraid, and surrender to that feeling, without the dissecting and trying to figure it out and understand it, without the resistance that comes with fighting fear? What if I could accept that fear is often an inevitable emotion, but that it does not have to be the driving force? What if fear is just fear, and not a monster to attempt to slay? What would it feel like to melt into the emotion of fear and practice acceptance rather than anger and frustration? What would it feel like to not fear, fear? A strange conundrum. These are all concepts that feel so foreign to my way of doing life, that I don't know what that might feel like. What if the fighting of fear, only fuels its momentum and creates more fear, that creates a dizzying, out of control, spiral dance? I entered the dance, and found myself clutching the raw brick wall in the dark, back of the dance studio. I was moved to reach upward, in an attempt to move forward into and through it, futilely of course. I could feel myself struggling against the rough, uneven wall, reaching with a strangely irrational feeling of hopefulness, although I knew I could never move up or through the wall, yet I kept trying. I began to dance, as though I did not have to accept the futile struggle against the wall, but could dance with the wall, as if it were another living entity in the room. My dance continued to evolve, as I moved and rolled along the wall, and reached until I felt taller and stronger. The texture beneath my fingers became somewhat soothing and familiar with time. What if I could continue to reach up and forward, without the expectation of moving through the inevitably impassable brick wall? What if I just moved along it, feeling it's roughness on my hands, my arms, on my body, through my clothes, without allowing it to irritate me, without the need to pass through it? Without needing and wanting it to be different? What if feeling the roughness, the impenetrable walls that seem to sometimes be at my every turn, are just part of this dance, and that it is essential to my survival to learn to move along it, only reaching as far up as I can, knowing it will sometimes be uncomfortable, and that its roughness will scratch, even hurt my body? What if I can begin  accepting that I cannot reach through it, no matter how hard I try? Do I stop trying? 
What if I "was willing to be afraid"? What if ????????

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Yes It Poured!

Last night, as I made my way to dance, through deep standing water and a sudden, unbelievable downpour, I made my way east, over the river, over the Steel Bridge, to find that half of the sky was shining brightly. I knew intuitively, at that moment, just where to look for my rainbow, that I knew was waiting for me. It was one of the most brilliant rainbows I have ever seen, and alongside it was a fainter 1/3 rainbow! How could the evening get any better? Well, as always, it does, when I enter the dance studio, a sacred space with dim lights, a candle lit altar, a place where I go to fill and be filled. I have been feeling so harried as if I am drowning lately, even before the rain began, and Tuesday night dance is the place I go to dance my life. We drew our lines from the floor and the one wavy slip of paper called to me, since it looked as water logged as I felt. My line could not have been more perfect, unless I had chosen the line my fellow dancer chose. Hers was, but at last I grew peaceful. At first I had "line envy", I wanted that, but then I realized, that even though I had not chosen that line, I could still "have it". Mine for the taking, if I only reach out. My line was, poured its harsh song through the sluices. This Mary Oliver poem, was one that I was not familiar with. My first thoughts were literal, not usually the way I think, about arriving to dance through the pouring rain and through the rainbow. I was not familiar with the word sluice, so we began to discuss it's meaning. It is a place of strength, power, rushing and pressure of the water as it squeezes it's way through the resistance, often between the small space that is created by closely spaced rocks. Is this not how I have been feeling? Yet, seeing that the power and strength that can grow from meeting the resistance and pushing through the tight spaces, is difficult, but necessary and freeing. Once the water makes it's way through this tight space, there is room to expand, slow down, spread out, allow and simply be. There can become a clarity, as the grains of sand settle out of the once turbulent water. What a lesson, as always, yet always a surprise, what I learn when I dance and allow it to flow through me. To not resist, not question or sensor my movement and feelings. As I moved through the room, through and amongst my fellow dancers, with a quickened pace and a swirling twirling feeling and movement, I paused occasionally to engage with another's movement. I often stay in a self imposed smaller dance space, but I felt pulled by the tide last night. We had spoken about the intention of seeing our room as a tide pool of sorts, a world unto itself. It felt that way, as each dancer moved in their own space yet totally aware of each others presence and importance, in this microcosm we create, in this sacred dance space. After a while, the music began to slow down after the animalistic, jungle, tribal feeling it had crescendoed into. I was finally able to settle in. At last I grew peaceful, within and without.


In the sea rocks,
in the stone pockets
under the tide’s lip,
in water dense as blindness

they slid
like sponges,
like too many thumbs.
I knew this, and what I wanted

was to draw my hands back
from the water – what I wanted
was to be willing
to be afraid.

But I stayed there,
I crouched on the stone wall
while the sea poured its harsh song
through the sluices,

while I waited for the gritty lightning
of their touch, while I stared
down through the tide’s leaving
where sometimes I could see them –

their stubborn flesh
lounging on my knuckles.
What good does it do
to lie all day in the sun

loving what is easy?
It never grew easy,
but at last I grew peaceful:
all summer

my fear diminished
as they bloomed through the water
like flowers, like flecks
of an uncertain dream,

while I lay on the rocks, reaching
into the darkness, learning
little by little to love
our only world.

~ Mary Oliver ~

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Featured work on Cannibals website

Check out the Cannibals Gallery Day of the Dead exhibit on their website featuring my watercolor painting! Better yet, come to the gallery and enjoy the exhibit. By the way if you walk past Cannibals on NW 21st my assemblage piece is in the left window!! I'm delighted!

Waiting............... the completion of the 108th chair!

Yes every sense of the word. I am filled with so many emotions right now that I was not anticipating, as I completed sculpting the last of the 108 ceramic chairs that comprise the installation piece Waiting aptly as I await turning 58 years old in a few days. Completing them feels like a landmark to me in many ways. Sometimes, it felt as though I would never finish it. I have ridden the roller coaster of life during this span of time that I was waiting and working and experiencing the creation of this piece, as it paralleled my life. I began sculpting the first few chairs left handed as I awaited the third surgery to repair the torn cartilage in my right wrist. I continued to create chairs in waves and spurts of energy and momentum, many times being side tracked by things happening in life, as things often do. Sometimes I felt as though I was derailed. I used the chairs as outlets of sorts, a voice for some of the things I was going through. Each chair, and sometimes groups of chairs, have names on the back, commemorating what was happening at the time, both trying times and times of joy. It feels satisfying, cathartic, sad, empty, proud, grateful and some other emotions that I can't quite put names to yet. I suppose I was more involved in the piece than I even realized, although I felt very connected to it every moment of the way. Often a love/hate relationship of, "how many do I have left", "isn't it over yet", "I don't want it to end", "what comes next" , and "wow I can't believe I stayed with it and actually did not abandon it when it felt like I wanted to give up". Sometimes it felt tedious and sometimes it felt like solace. There were times that I questioned myself about why I felt compelled to created Waiting. I felt self doubt about whether or not  I could actually follow through with it and not just give up. I am proud of the discipline I had to see it through to the end. I still have to fire them and find a place to exhibit them, but as I put the last finishing finger stroke on the last of the 108 chairs, I felt like crying. Dumb huh? But that is how I felt. Butterflies in my stomach and a bit shaky, or was it too little sleep last night as my mind raced at full speed or too much coffee? Or am I just feeling the completion of a piece that I set out to do, to birth, not really knowing where it was going. I am still feeling a rush of emotions. Just having finished it feels like almost enough, although I know that once I fire them and collect all the found objects that I have been gathering all this time, which will each find their proper place on the throne of each chair created especially for it, things that I have collected that have marked my time, it will feel even more complete and satisfying. When I install it, in its to be decided gallery home, once I find one, and see it in its entirety, I know I will once again feel weak in the knees from pride and emotion. How was I to ever anticipate the feelings that creating and finally finishing this work would gift me? I finished the last three chairs today in my studio by the lake, and now I sit here writing as I look at the still reflection of the trees in the water, with the air filled with the chill of autumn and cacophony of birds echoing through the quiet. I feel so small as I sit in the shadow of the large Washington evergreens, yet so full inside, despite my shakiness. I suppose I did not believe in myself enough to think that I would follow through with Waiting. I suppose that is what waiting is partly about. Not knowing what to expect, not knowing what comes next, not always understanding what and why things are happening now, or why things have happened in the past, but knowing that this is all part of the ride. I will pack these last chairs carefully and lovingly like cherished china dolls, as they make their ride back to the kiln in Portland, to enter into their next incarnation. Someone last week was telling me about salmon, and how they signify the life cycle and returning home at the end of their journey. The last three chairs are entitled, Returning, Upstream, and lastly, Home. I pick up a dark soft feather that just fell from a bird that has passed overhead. I suppose the birds are gradually beginning their journey south as the winter will be soon approaching. I am sitting with my fleece hoodie on the dock feeling it too. Beginning to feel the call inward. The water looks like glass, yet the things reflected in it seem distorted anyway, yet I recognize them. I look for clarity. I continue on, not knowing what the next piece of clay will become or reveal, or what the future holds for me, as I continue to return upstream home, to myself. Once again, I hear the words of Mary Oliver pulse through my mind. They seem to have taken up permanent residence in there and I am happy for that. I hear the words of Journey, which seems so appropriate to me today, so I visit it once again. Each time I read it with anticipation, as if I am hearing the words for the first time, although I know them like old friends. I never tire of them. I welcome them, as they create a place of comfort for me, as sense of coming home to myself.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save. 
~ Mary Oliver ~

Friday, September 30, 2011

return of the wild geese

After the disappointment of missing the Catch The Light retreat in the Gorge, I had to try to come back to the dance, healing back and all, and learn to listen to my body, dance gently and begin to move again. The movement comes from within and without and is vital to my existence. Inquiry seemed like the perfect class to attend since it is more gentle and combines my love of movement and writing. Winky so beautifully said that dance is the sign language of the divine, and that truly spoke to a place deep within my soul. Before we started I told Winky that I wondered which Mary Oliver poem is our dance inspiration this week and she asked me to guess. Without hesitation I said I think we are revisiting Wild Geese. We were both flabbergasted. I could feel the pull of the poem. It is truly probably one of my top two favorite poems by Mary Oliver, the second being The Journey. We sat for about a half hour and wrote in response to our line, mine being perfect, as always, "in the family of things" but when we went around the circle, I couldn't help but have the other's lines weave their way into my story, my dance. The more I wrote, the more the words created openings of understanding for me. In "the family of things" "you don't have to be good" and "you don't have to be lonely", you can be yourself, and fly high like the wild geese. You can be free to be yourself. "In the family of things" you make sacrifices, but you don't have to give yourself away. How does one let go of expectations, to be comfortable with ones self, and resist the need to fix things "in the family of things"? How do we learn to let go of the resistance? The place in the family is not of "things", it is a deeper place of being, that transcends all other relationships. It is the place you go, to go home. That place of home is also the self, in this body, at this moment in time. That home is always waiting for you. It is safe.
The next night I danced the line "you only have to let the soft animal of your body" and that brought me thoughts of quieting with the equinox, the yin time of the year where you want to nuzzle into yourself, to enter into the cocoon and rest, and begin to learn to practice self-care. You can care for others and not have to sacrifice self-care. It is a constant learning. In this family of things, in this body, I will soar and as Mary Oliver so beautifully stated, "love what it loves", the family and the self.

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your bodylove what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~ Mary Oliver ~


I am delighted to be a part of the Splendorporium exhibit Pets & Portraits. I have two sculptures that will be on exhibit from October 7 through the 30th. The First Friday opening reception is from 7-9pm with music by The Sam Adams Project. The gallery hours are weekdays 11 am-5 pm at 3421 SE 21st Ave. It is an especially fun and funky place to exhibit, and what makes it truly special, is that it is a gallery space shared with The Art4Life Children's Gallery. This is a non-profit art and cultural enrichment program that Jenni has just begun her newest venture with, teaching at two Portland schools before and after school. How wonderful it will be to have my work along side the present creative minds/future artists. How essential it is to provide the enriching outlet of art as a vital means of self expression. I am grateful to Jenni and The Museum of Contemporary Craft's Gaby for encouraging me to begin to be a part of Splendorpoium. Stay tuned for upcoming exhibits as well. Swing by and you will be certainly amazed at the uninhibited zestful work of artist young and old!

Friday, September 23, 2011


Yesterday I dropped off two pieces at Cannibals Gallery for their Dia de los Muertos exhibit. I am delighted that they will be featuring my painting "Till Death Do Us Part" (below) on their website for the exhibit next month. I am also now on their list of artists so check out their website and my artist link at the bottom. It is filled with exciting, innovative and unusual artwork by some really creative artists. I am honored to be amongst them! It feels good to be getting out there again. I look forward to hopefully exhibiting many more pieces there in the future. Check out their website and better yet, come into the gallery to experience the entire environment of mostly three dimensional work, which really needs to be seen in person to be able to be appreciated. It's like stepping into another world when you enter the gallery. The above piece is entitled "The Stage". Hope you can stop by and see it at Cannibals Gallery at 518 NW 21st Avenue. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Disappointing Setback

Saturday, Sep. 17
Real life isn't always going to be perfect or go our way, but the recurring acknowledgement of what is working in our lives can help us not only to survive but surmount our difficulties.
Sara Ban Breathnach

Well, there was no choice but to listen to my body, although I longed for it to be different. Longing doesn't change the reality of the situation though. I threw my back out at dance last Tuesday night and the following days of pain and spasm told me that I would not be able to attend the Catch the Light dance retreat in The Gorge this past weekend with my dance community. I have been so heartbroken about missing yet another event I was counting on, and so tired of feeling betrayed by my body once again. I keep trying to "figure out" what I did that hurt my back, but the fact remains that camping out or sleeping in my car, and then an evening and morning of dancing in the meadow, was not going to be in my best interest, no matter how much I wished the pain away. I try to remain grateful, knowing this is a temporary setback, something small in the big scheme of things, yet giving myself permission to feel disappointed. I am not being left out of the event, I am just learning to choose to take care of my body, myself, in any way that is necessary at this time. I longed to be amongst the other small group of dancers sharing community and dancing like moving sculptures in prayer to Mother Nature and moving in the meadow overlooking The Gorge, in the morning mist and chilly drizzle, as if they were rooted and growing from the land, a part of the moving ever changing landscape. But I know that The Gorge will be there next year, and I can dance there again, for the first time. I was there in spirit this time. The Gorge will be different, as will the dancers, as will I. It is a moment to moment dance in this life we are moving through. Sometimes the most important thing you can do is bear witness to the movement, the stillness, the change, no matter how much you want to be an active part of it. There is always so much to witness day to day, moment to moment, but in our hurried, harried days, we miss so much. Now, not by the choice I desired, I witness Catch The Light from afar and trust that some of that Light was emitted and dispersed from the lovely dancers in The Gorge, and a bit of it trickled down on me in Portland. That I too am a part of that dance just in the awareness, the witnessing, the being, from afar. Next time, I hope I will be able to touch it a bit closer. I can only hope, but for now, it is what it is, and I hope to move later this week, consciously and carefully at Inquiry. For now, I will try to take it moment by moment, and day to day. I think that now, as I see the almost autumn trees that are beginning to turn outside my window, glistening in the early afternoon sunlight, that I will take a walk. Today, that is the best dance that I can do, and I accept, that this is enough.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

But Still I Stand Under The Trees

As I sit by the lake listening to to rooster's call to morning echoing in the distance, I contemplate the richness of Tuesday's dance. It could not have been a more perfect poem or line that chose me this week. I had just put out my hummingbird feeder, at the beckoning of the hummingbird who visited me last week. I have not seen her yet this weekend. I hope that she has not given up on me! The words of Mary Oliver resonated on two levels for me. At first, I thought of all the fulfilling work I accomplished last weekend, under Mother Nature's awning of trees. I sanded and painted the old bench overlooking the lake a new and vibrant deep green, to provide a place for me to BE under her arms. The work for now is done, until I move on to the next project, but as I still stand under the trees, can I stand STILL? Therein lies the lesson, the practice that I embark upon. How do I learn to still stand under the trees and remain still with the silence, with the non-doing? How easy the doing is for me, the finding sense of purpose in the projects, the accomplishments, that I can stand back and admire and feel, yes, I did this. Defining myself by all that I have DONE rather than all that I can BE, by standing still under the trees in the moment. To be able to touch the silence, that quiet place that I know lies deep within me, waiting to be unleashed. Then the being can begin. The trees are not going anywhere. They are still, they are being, they exist and have their purpose and importance by remaining rooted, by bending and swaying with the wind, reflecting their grandness in the lake as the breeze ripples  and distorts their shape, yet they remain unchanged. They surrender, and it cannot be any other way. I look out and up at their arms, at the shade their canopy creates. I feel protected and held. A seagull flies by, swooping and skimming the glass-like surface of the lake, looking for breakfast. The crows and other birds sing and echo in the morning, as the fog burns off. There is more clarity now as the sun awakens and makes it's presence known, burning through the morning clouds. Time for me to begin the day. How will I be today? Will I be able to learn to be? Baby steps once again, back at the beginning to start anew. To still stand under the trees and stand still under the trees. I welcome the sun as it yawns and does it's job of burning through the blanket of morning fog that hovers over the lake. I want to bask in it today. Just that and no more. We will see. Yes, permission for baby steps and room for a bit of doing, but creating more room today to allow the being to begin......

The Hummingbird

~~ Mary Oliver~~
"It’s morning, and again I am that lucky person who is in it.
And again it is spring,
and there are the apple trees,
and the hummingbird in its branches.
On the green wheel of his wings
he hurries from blossom to blossom,
which is his work, that he might live.

He is a gatherer of the fine honey of promise,
and truly I go in envy
of the ruby fire at his throat,
and his accurate, quick tongue,
and his single-mindedness.

Meanwhile the knives of ambition are stirring
down there in the darkness behind my eyes,
and I should go inside now to my desk and my pages.
But still I stand under the trees, happy and desolate,
wanting for myself such a satisfying coat
and brilliant work."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Don't Go Back to Sleep

As I sit on the deck sipping my coffee, fleeced and hooded, I watch the morning mist hover over the lake, just as the steam rises from my cup. The crows sing loudly and it echos through the quiet. A hummingbird buzzes in my ear reminding me to fill and hang the new feeder I bought. I am reminded of one of Rumi's poems that I am so fond of. I approach the day.............

  ~ Rumi~

"The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep."