Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Season's End

Another birthday has come and gone
the morning silence is deafening
a woodpecker breaks the silence
he sounds like a metronome 
readying for an allegro concertino
the crows join in the symphony and cackle 
as they proudly display the bread they have gathered from a neighbor's roof
the mist gently kisses the morning lake as it slowly awakens
it feels like a long awaited ghost town
I welcome the quiet solitude
I am filled with a sense of such peacefulness
The silhouette of the mountains awaiting
the soon to come blanketing of winter snow
boats covered and tucked in for the winter
floats and inner tubes deflated like many summer dreams
I glide across the lake alone in my white kayak
alongside a lone white duck
envying his effortlessness
I follow what seems to be a trail of feathers floating
realizing that they are the first autumn leaves taking their maiden voyages
I feel the warmth of the late afternoon sun caress my closed eyes
I feel the cooling trickles of water as they fall from my paddle onto my legs
The droplets magnify the sunlight
before slowly disappearing as they soak into my pants
The mirror like reflection of trees seems undisturbable
As I bank my boat I wonder
will this be my last lake journey of the season?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Time and Change and Staying Still and Listening

This weekend the eagles have been boldly swooping down over the newly stocked lake to get their catch of the day. I have never seen eagles so close to me before. It is exhilarating! They seem fearless and courageous, unstoppable. It makes me think about the wonderful Finola, former guide dog trainee black lab, our family's pride and joy. She is still battling her body and wagging through it all. She still has lots of love left in her waiting to be shared, so I know she will beat this most recent health obstacle in classic Finny style!

I have also been thinking about creating the next in my series of sculptures. The creating helps me process all that life seems to throw, and gives me a vehicle to flow through. In the act of creating, I am constantly learning about my life and life itself, the things you can count on, the things that really matter and the fine line between knowing what we want and what we need. 

I have already completed "Letting Go of Holding On". Yesterday I finished sculpting "Tunnel Vision". The previous one I completed in the series, is called "Hope Is A Thing With Feathers". The next one I am anxious to begin sculpting is entitled "Veil of Indifference". What comes next is a mystery to me...

As synchronicity would have it, I fell in love with a fiber wall piece called "Reflection & Refraction" at Om Base Yoga, and couldn't stop thinking about it. I knew she had to come home with me!
When I met the artist Vicki Mcardle, who to my surprise works at my yoga studio, we connected instantly in spirit, vision and process. I look so forward to getting to know her better. She is also the perfect fit to be my guest artist, to share the gallery with me for my next exhibit (yes I am already working toward that!) next February. I love when things align and you have your eyes open and seize the moment, recognizing that this is fate speaking.

Right now feels like such a time of change, a state of flux, more turbulent than most. I was discussing this with a fellow yoga practicer Friday, about how there is such a shift in things, both good and bad and in between, at this tumultuous time. Still, I am trying to stay still and listen within. The sun is out one moment, and the rains pour down the next, as if the skies have opened up, to wake us up. There have been many more earthquakes, and things seem to be shifting all around us. Sometimes we feel like we are moving forward, sometimes moving backward, sometimes walking in place and sometimes falling through the cracks.

I am trying to stand strong, rooted, filled with trust and faith that things will soon quiet and settle, until the next shift is upon us. Right now it is pouring outside. It calls for me to stay inside, not only in the house but inside myself, my personal house. It feels yin, quiet, inward today, and I am compelled to read, reflect and be. To refill refuel myself to begin the next sculpture. To allow what is, be. To not put the effort into fighting the flow to make it any different. I am tired of "playing salmon" and swimming upstream, fighting the unstoppable current. Today I choose to float down the river without effort. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could heed that inner calling every day? But wait.....I can! I can make that choice.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Gift of Vision

Waking up slowly to the clear sky, the smell of coffee brewed a few hours ago as the fisherman left to find the catch of the day, I step out onto the deck, hooded and fleeced, looking at the ripples in the lake, wondering how much of the rippling is due to my vision. The fear still lingers, although I am beginning to see clearer but not much more so than before the surgery. Not a distorted but quite blurry none the less. I swat at the floaters, unable to distinguish between them and an insect flying by. I plant some herbs, clean my studio after a day of sculpting yesterday. 
It was a challenging day of sculpting. What began as an introspective sculpture about the process I am going through from the eye surgery when I began this second in the series, this time brought up a lot of rage and drained me quite a bit. The first one I created before the surgery came out very differently than I initially envisioned. I became more about hopefulness than fear. I think it will be entitled Hope Is A Thing With Feathers, an ode to Emily Dickenson. The next sculpture I will create will be called Veil of Indifference. This current one I am making though,  deals with another type of vision, the vision of not feeling "seen" and questioning the way I see others and my relationships. I struggled with it, liking it, hating it, picking at it, trying to make it perfect and then surrendering to it not being meant to be perfect. It is meant to be distorted, painful, misshapen, not what I thought it would be. I allow the "non-beauty" of what wants to come out in it emerge and let it become what it needs to become. I have left it moist and covered, and will see how she speaks to me when I return to it next. It has spent me.

I set out in my kayak, onto the quiet lake that seems to be all my own. There is the sound of the occasional mower or the sound of chatting being carrying across the lake, but the lake is all mine. After a brief while of paddling, I paddle with my eyes closed, feeling the breeze, hearing the splashing, just wondering what it feels like to "see" the lake, feel the lake, with eyes closed. I wonder if I can "feel" myself paddling straight on course without the vision that my eyes give me, but instead the vision of intuition. We take so much for granted with our vision. 

After coming back to the dock, I  climb onto the hammock anxious to read the yet to be released copy of "Parentheses". It has been so long since I read a "book" and not my Kindle with the enlarged print, and high contrast of black on white. I have a magnifying strip that I try to read through, but although it enlarges the print, it distorts it, something that is all too familiar and quite unwelcome. As I read, two deer come meandering by, I pause, I watch. I savor their gentle peacefulness.

 I move onto the the dock to soak up the sun as I continue to read. More floaters appear in my eye and I feel the strain as I look out over the water, but I cannot stop reading. I am pulled into this world of life, death, birth, a ride that I cannot get off of, and don't want to leave. I am compelled beyond what I have ever experienced. There is so much that feels familiar, so much that is revealed, so many emotions that lie beneath Fred's surface, that created a buoyancy for my own emotions. I must stop, digest, try to see more clearly, both through my thoughts and my eyes. There is an increased cloudiness when I look up over the water. I told myself I would read in short spurts, as my eyes adjusted and healed, but I cannot seem to stop. 

So I stop to write, hoping that this process brings me more clarity. Writing in the sunlight makes it difficult for me to see the contrast on the keyboard, so I touch type, I will correct it later. Instead I am allowing myself to "feel" the words and emotions that this time of reading the first 80 pages evoked in me. I was told by another woman who has already had the gift of reading the book, that her life has been forever changed. I can see why. I welcome the journey into the remaining 300 pages as I learn more about Fred and in doing so learn more about myself. Quite a timely gift has been bestowed upon be. I will savor it. My eyes are telling me it is time to rest and digest, and I will listen to them and listen inward. A new vision.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Delphinium and Hope

I want to share these words of inspiration that a very wise person who is in my life shared with me to help me get through this ordeal. I feel quite blessed and wanted the power of his words to be put out into the universe. 

 "Ever since I was a little kid I have imagined gardens, places I could plant some tiny seed or bulb or root that would at some future date bring me great happiness in what ever spectacle they would become.  This started when I was 8 and my mother brought me across country on a bus and we moved for a while to what I thought was the most terrible looking of houses, it was a tiny house that had been converted from a chicken house.  A woman told me, as we moved into it one night that I was lucky because on Monday the school bus would stop right at the front door to pick me up....horrible thought of waiting for a bus and having a load of kids from a new school who all knew each other looking at me and then at this terrible shack that I lived in with no plants around it and junk all about.   

On Saturday I walked to a farm store and I saw a seed display and on one packet were tall stalks of blue delphinums.  I bought the pack of seeds and once home immediately planted them all around the front porch: the ground was hard, covered with fir needles, and shaded by evergreens.  Monday came, and the flowers of course did not, but I looked every day for weeks, looking hard and close for the seedlings which I was to learn had decided to grow elsewhere in a more needy spot.. Didn't know that at the time and never gave up on those seedlings and years after, when I had a car of my own I would drive past that shack and expect to see tall stalks of blue delphiniums.

  Moved away to other states, moved back, became older and over the years have driven back past the house (which was turned back into a livestock feeding shelter).  The delphinium garden over the years has become magnificent in my mind, I see them when I shut my eyes in tough times, at moments when I am afraid of being judged by others or when I have to face the unknown.  I see them when I am afraid and anxious and they remind me of the potential of the power I have over almost anything that scares me, the power of a garden I once planted in my mind.

When I came home from the hospital I was terribly afraid, couldn't imagine what my life would be like not seeing very well and pushing a walker around and being dependent upon other people. First thing I did when I was able to work outside again was to buy a pack of delphiniums.  Never planted them, but keep them on a shelf as a reminder.  Held them in my hand in those early days when I didn't see so well, feeling the rough little hulls in my fingers and visualized the best delphinium garden that had ever been planted and relished the fact that it had been planted by efforts, my hopes, my dreams."

How synchronistic that I should happen to find a 109th chair, even though I thought I had only made 108 for the installation. I suppose this one was meant to be mine!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Art of Sitting Still

As I gazed out the window, trying to "plan" the day, as I deal with a headache, I catch a glimpse of an eagle perched in a large evergreen tree. He sits so still and regal, as the gulls and other birds fly tumultuously around him. He remains undisturbed and still. The formations of geese are flying by, returning, as spring is upon us in a few days. Each day the buds are opening more fully on the cherry blossom tree, as if spring ahead has put them into fast forward mode. The birds have practically cleaned me out of suet, and the air is alive with birds. The crow, the flicker and the stellar jay have all been vying for a spot on the feeder, as they comically try to balance, knocking off their smaller feathered fellow birds, who are no competition for them. And the eagle remains still. I am not ready for the fast forward of spring yet. I still feel like I am trying to settle into the dark, quiet, yin time of winter. My exhibit was like a bulb being forced to blossom for spring too quickly, not a natural feeling. I still crave the darkness, the quiet. I rejoice, when I awaken to the rain and grey skies, whereas others celebrate sunlight, longer days and spring. I still need my personal winter. Ironic how the "Waiting" continues to be a reminder, there will always be the waiting. The eagle glances around, but remains steadfast on his branch. The wind is blowing and gusting and he remains undisturbed. Spring make me feel as if I have to be doing, rather than being. My clay awaits me in the studio, waiting to become. Today I feel sluggish and the creativity that flows through my hands, feels as if it is in need of hibernation mode today. Yet my head tells me I should "do", I should "make", I should move forward, get it done. The eagle still sits and subtly moves his head and glances around him, waiting. As the wind gusts, the reflections of the trees on the lake begin to ripple. What was once a mirror image of the trees, now becomes distorted. It looks like my vision feels to me. One eye remains crystal clear, while the other is rippled like the wind blown water. I worry that the work won't get done. I fear the eye surgery, that is less than a week away. I feel as if I don't sculpt today, it won't get completed. I want the sculpture to reflect the fearful vision I have right now, yet it seems to have a mind of it's own, not wanting to be molded into that vision. Who knows what it will be? Maybe the clay needs to sit a bit today and solidify. Yesterday, I had so much energy, and worked so fast that the clay began to cave in on itself. The clay is a good teacher, always has been, if I listen to it, like I am called to listen to the eagle. I glance down at my computer, and when I look up, the eagle is gone as quickly as it came. I never noticed it arriving or leaving. It remained still and waiting, until it instinctively knew when he needed to move forward. Another lesson from nature. It is all around me if I only listen. But I resist listening to the frenetic birds, the quickly blossoming trees. Sometimes you have to listen in to your own rhythm of nature, your own inner clock, and sometimes you have to look toward the stillness of the eagle to hear the message. My head pounds this morning, and it is distracting me from the work I feel I need to do, planned to do today. How can I not listen to the pain? The eagle did not get distracted from his rhythm by the swarming birds, but instead stayed steadfast in his stillness until it was time to move. That is what today is calling to me to do today, but can I listen?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

So May It Begin Again

I read this while listening to Pat Metheny's "So May It Secretly Begin" from Still Life Talking and it all felt very synchronistic. Perhaps it is also because I am in the midst of reading the book, Embracing Coincidence: Transforming Your Life Through Synchronicity by Carol Lynn Pearson.

"Now and again, it is necessary to seclude yourself among deep mountains and hidden valleys to restore your link to the source of life. Breathe in and let yourself soar to the ends of the universe; breathe out and bring the cosmos back inside. Next, breathe up all fecundity and vibrancy of the earth. Finally, blend the breath of heaven and the breath of earth with your own, becoming the Breath of Life itself." ~ Morihei Ueshiba

It was such an amazing experience having my first solo exhibit, "Waiting". It was more than I could have ever imagined it would be. It will take me some time to digest it all and begin again. Hopefully the next two weeks will help me to immerse myself in the feelings of this intense roller coaster ride I just got off of, and integrate all that it has meant to me. The support through the "snowpening", the 2nd Thursday re-opening reception and then the closing artist's reception, made the work feel complete, and that it came full circle. Knowing that people wanted to not only come to experience my work, but for many of them, take home and be a continuing part of the installation of 108 chairs, made it that much richer for me. Now that most of the work has found a home with someone else or it's new living space in my home, I feel a need to quiet the chatter and energy, sink inward and then begin making new work. I have given myself permission to create space to create. I am beginning to envision my next sculpture which will deal with the upcoming retina surgery I will be having at the end of the month; the fears the hopefulness, the new "vision" so to speak, whatever that looks like. For now, I know my vision is literally and figuratively "cloudy and distorted", and I trust it will all change for the better. I have to surrender to the outcome, but envision it positively. Why not? So here I sit, grateful for the experience that "Waiting" brought, and now, waiting again, for the next chapter. I am incredibly grateful for this time to reflect and move forward. I have to deal with the fear that I will never be able to possibly have an exhibit quite as special and rich as "Waiting". It will be different, a new vision, but isn't each day, each experience, each sculpture? As it is said, "you never step into the same river twice", and so it goes....

Friday, January 31, 2014

This Poem and Drawing Couldn't Have Been Given To Me At A Better Time!

There is a good kind of waiting which trusts the agents of fermentation. There is a waiting which knows that in pulling away one can more wholly return. There is the waiting which prepares oneself, which anoints and adorns and makes oneself plump with readiness for love’s return. There is a good kind of waiting which doesn’t put oneself on hold but rather adds layers to the grandness of one’s being worthy. This sweet waiting for one’s fruits to ripen doesn’t stumble over itself to be the first to give but waits for the giving to issue at its own graceful pace. 2014 © Toko-pa Turner ( | Illustration by T. Dylan Moore