Today after acupuncture, I took a stroll in the Hollywood neighborhood where my acupuncturist has her space. The houses on the street seem like sanctuaries that their owners have lovingly created, with outdoor installation art on their front lawns and the areas beside the street, vegetable gardens alongside the sidewalk, spots for children to swing on trees, paint rocks at their mini picnic tables and lounge on their mini adirondack chairs. It's like stepping into a fantasy Lilliputian land, a site one doesn't happen upon often in the city, but maybe it does, in this city! On one lawn, is a frame enclosing a poem that changes from time to time, and always beckons me to linger and read it. Today's poem, Lost , was particularly beautiful and engaging, and it really spoke to me about life; the lessons to be learned through the spirituality of nature; the pause; noticing and being; especially being where you are at this moment, this perfect moment. It seemed like a "custom made for me followup" to my treatment. It was a gift. As I write, I long to leave the unusually hot city and head out to the lake this weekend, under the umbrella of trees amongst the songs of my songbirds as they munch the food I have left for them, but for now, this moment that I sit writing, is the one perfect moment that I have, right now. If you would like to have the lovely poem read to you by the author, here is the link: Lost
"Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here, And you must treat it as a powerful stranger, Must ask permission to know it and be known. The forest breathes. Listen. It answers, I have made this place around you. If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here. No two trees are the same to Raven. No two branches are the same to Wren. If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you, You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows Where you are. You must let it find you."
Seems like an easy enough task, knowing what is working in your life and what is not. Not so! Even more difficult is taking it to the next step, and deciding and implementing the letting go. I sit on the dock. I am the only one on it at the moment, with the non-stop cries of the many crows drowning out the subtle songs of the Towhees, Flickers and the Goldfinches, who have been gobbling up the feast I have set out for them. The other noise that is not so welcome, is the noise inside my head. I am recuperating from an intense bout of migraine, and the cloud has finally lifted. What better time to evaluate what is working, and what is not. The chronic varying pain that I have been dealing with the past months, has been so debilitating, that it has gotten in the way of my life, my dancing, and my creating. I have felt stunted in the quicksand, and the harder I try to get out the harder it becomes, like trying to catch the proverbial tail. The past few days I have been pondering the sculpture that lay drying and cracking in the studio. It is clearly not working for me. I have been unable and uncompelled to work on it, yet not able to let it go, move on, create space and begin a new piece. It grows heavier by the day, as I struggle with throwing something out, that I have spent countless hours creating, and accepting the fact that it is a struggle, it is not going to work and I need to let the process of creating, it be enough. I need to let go of the constant struggle. As I held the crumbling piece in my hands, I knew what I had to do. The piece is about balance/unbalance, feeling broken and unsteady, almost falling, and creating it, has been that and more. The struggle was no longer fun and satisfying, so why keep at it, fighting, knowing it will never emerge in one piece from the kiln, if it is already breaking in my hands. It is just not going to work and I had to have the wisdom to let it go. It felt like the more I struggled with creating this piece, the more I was holding onto struggle in my life, and for what purpose? Throwing it in the trash was not as difficult as I thought, although I coddled and caressed some of the crumbling bricks in my hand. Then I hit the wall, like a pinata, with one of my clay paddles and the wall totally fell apart. I guess there where treasures of wisdom, lurking inside the "pinata" I placed it all in the trash, broken head and all. I thought about creating some ceremony around it, but why honor struggle. Although I do honor the courage it took me to throw it out, to let it go. This is something brand new for me. It is over, it is done, but the learning has to begin. I look up at this moment, how did I know to look up from my writing, but something called to me from above, as a bald eagle flies right over the lake and over my head with a fish in its mouth!!!! I am absolutely awe struck! Amazing, what freedom! This must be a sign. I feel like he came out just for me, and I am humbled and moved beyond words, yet I go on. I am faced with the questions that forever reside in my head, that I have some of the answers to, yet for some reason, do not move forward and implement the change, even though I truly believe that things will change if I do. So I sit..... I try to "be". I am committed to begin a yoga and meditation practice again,(I have begun to listen to meditations on my hammock), I am committed to move and exercise more to release some stress, (I have been walking 3 miles a day). I am going to create some work that is not pulling from the depths of my emotions for now, and not focus on this aspect. I have to just create for creations sake, and let it flow without needing to feed the turmoil inside through my work. I am going to try to "do one less thing a day". I am going to practice awareness of the breath more. When the noise and unrest rear their ugly heads in my head, I am going to stop and shift and breathe, think of purple, a healing color, instead of letting the destructive thoughts pull me under in an attempt to drown me. And I am going to give myself permission to be kind and forgiving to myself if I falter in my actions, as long as the intentions are there. I believe that all this will not only create space in my head, my body and my life but create a greater quality of life, and I love my life. It is hard to feel joyful when you are in pain, but I have to believe I have control over this. It will create space for creating. And so I reflect on the initial impetus for my sculpture, and the inspiring quotes which are even truer today than when I began it, and reaffirm my decision to let go, to throw it away:
"Don't you think you'd be safer down on the ground?' Alice went on, not with any idea of making another riddle, but simply in her good-natured anxiety for the queer creature. 'That wall is soverynarrow!"
"In that case we start afresh," Humpty Dumpty went on.
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