Remembering Mike

The world lost Mike six years ago today. 

Mike was larger than life. He made everyone feel special. He was one of my biggest cheerleaders . . . and he'd never even seen my pottery. He just knew it was in my heart.

Long before our first daughter was born, I realized I had two big dreams:  to be a potter and to be a mom. By the time Casey went to kindergarten, we had another daughter, a son, and a third daughter on the way. By the end of kindergarten, I knew we had to make a change because that particular school was not a good match for her. So, my husband and I made the choice to be a homeschooling family which meant I needed to put pottery on hold for a while.

In November of 2010, I got the first of several nudges from God and from the universe letting me know that pottery was waiting for me and that the time was getting closer for me to pick it back up. I found out about, and immediately registered for an Arts and Sabbath retreat at Montreat Conference Center in Montreat, NC. The focus of the week would be pottery. I was thrilled and didn't know how I could wait the 6 months until May.

Mike was one of the first people I told after I registered. He was so excited for me he almost jumped out of his skin. Every time I saw him after that, he talked about pottery and how happy he was for me. In early spring, Mike told me he wanted to commission a piece of pottery for Janet, his wife, for their 30th anniversary which was coming up at the end of May. I laughed and said "Mike, I don't think it'll happen this year, but maybe next."

We lost Mike just a few short weeks after that and two weeks before I went to Montreat. He was certainly on my mind while I was there.

I left home afraid. What if the dream I'd put on hold for 16 years had gotten tired of waiting on me? What if I found out that I really didn't love clay as much as I'd remembered? What if I didn't really want to be a potter after all?

I had one expectation of my week at Montreat:  to keep my hands in clay as much as I could while I was there. I figured that since I was only going to be there a few days, it would be more like playing with play dough; I'd make stuff and then ball the clay up and put it back in the bag for the next person.

The first morning, we began with a short meditation. Then we walked down to the stream running beside the pottery studio and collected our buckets of throwing water. The studio has pottery wheels lining its wrap-around covered porch and not only can you feel the breeze, but you can also hear the stream and the birds.

Its beautiful. And serene. 

I threw my first lump of clay down on the wheel head, splashed water on it and said a quick prayer . . . a plea actually. 

"Please!"

The clay began to turn on the wheel and as I placed my hands on it to center it, I knew the truth.

My dream had not left me. It had waited for me. 

I ended up bringing several finished pots home. One was a sweet little slab bowl with "peace" stamped on the inside. It was unlike any of the other pots I'd made.

Over the next couple of weeks, that little bowl kept grabbing my attention. I would pick it up and just sit with it. As Mike and Janet's anniversary date got closer and closer, I realized that the bowl had been made for Janet; it was Mike's anniversary gift to her.

I know I will never heal the world with pottery.

But I also know that pottery, that art, is not frivolous. It moves us. It stirs our souls. It connects people and can make us laugh or cry. It makes statements and makes us think. It brings us joy and becomes part of our memories. 

And sometimes, it even has the power to bring some healing.

 

Someone's Favorite

My favorite ritual of the day is my first cup of coffee.

Listening to the sound as I fill my mug.

Watching the cream whirl through the rich, dark liquid. I don’t stir it. I just get mesmerized by the swirling ribbons of cream.

Cradling my mug in both hands as it warms my fingers.

Inhaling deeply and slowly. The rising steam warming my face. The aroma filling my lungs.

And finally, that first mellow, creamy sip.

Its how I start every day.

In solitude.

With a favorite mug.

My prayer for these six mugs is that one day, they will be someone’s favorite.

 

Seeds of Intention

With the new year just in its third week, I’ve been thinking a lot about setting intentions.

I have many things that grab my attention: family, books, plants, friends, herbs, food, natural healing, clay and learning new things are just a few. But those few are really big and deep and I find that I can get lost in any one of them so easily.

I was reminded recently of Eric Carle’s book, The Tiny Seed. It describes a plethora of seeds that gets scattered by the wind. One gets burned by the sun. One lands on an icy mountain top. One drowns in the ocean. One gets eaten by a bird. But most land together to wait for spring. Some of those feed a hungry little mouse during the winter. And finally, when spring comes, some of them sprout. But only one grows into a strong, tall flower feeding many bees and butterflies before spreading its own many seeds in the fall.

I’m working hard on defining my intentions for the new year . . . on naming the most sacred and beloved parts of my life right now . . . the few seeds that will get all of my attention and care and nurturing in the coming season.

The seeds that will feed me and those I love.

 

 

The Invitation

Finally having a pottery studio at home with 24 hour, round-the-clock access is my dream come true!

Having a pottery studio in our garage with 24 hour, round-the-clock access in the dead of winter is . . . frustrating.

My new pugger is a Kitchen Aid mixer for potters.

My new pugger is a Kitchen Aid mixer for potters.

And discouraging.

Its cold out there.

The air is cold. The floor is cold. The clay is cold.

The clay is freezing cold. Which makes my wet, muddy hands freezing cold.

Today, the second day of this promising new year, brought mild temperatures. Mild enough to coax my husband and I into the studio for a few hours. We turned on the pugger for the first time and mixed some new, fresh-out-of-the-box, cold, stiff clay with some (c)old, sloppy scraps to make a big batch of perfectly workable clay.

And what I learned is that my Peter Pugger not only turns out beautifully hydrated clay, it also turns out wonderfully warm clay.

What an invitation.

Art and Pottery ALL DAY

For three months, my calendar has had "Art and Pottery ALL DAY" written in big, bright red letters on today's space; essentially carved in stone as there is no negotiating with a Sharpie marker.

Since mid-July, not only have we been transforming our garage into a pottery studio, we've also been sprucing up our yard, refinishing furniture, painting the deck, power washing the house, deep cleaning kitchen cabinets and planning a beautiful wedding for our oldest daughter and her beloved.

To say we've been busy is an understatement.

But Saturday was worth every single quarter ounce of busy.

Truly pausing and being able to see our daughter and new son-in-law look at each other with such love was breathtakingly magical.

And then it was today.

No cleaning. No calls. No appointments. No polishing.

Just art and pottery all day.

Muddy Fingers

Sometimes, my dreams and aspirations frighten me.

I expected an onslaught of fears surrounding the birthing of this dream to come rushing in by now.

Surprisingly, and happily, they haven't.

But the fear of the fears is ever-present.

I suppose the timing is right. In my heart, I knew that already. The universe has been sending me signs for quite a while, but I haven't been ready to listen.

Until now.

In time, I'll share these messages with you.

But for today, I wanted to share the joy of opening a bag of clay and getting muddy.

It was sheer delight!

Today, I got the chance to open some clay and get my hands muddy!

Today, I got the chance to open some clay and get my hands muddy!

Synchronicity

Synchronicity.

Coincidence.

Luck.

Serendipity.

Chance.

Answered prayers.

We have a fantastic local art gallery in our little town and over the years, I have had some great conversations with Gwen, the owner. She has a knack for pairing contemporary fine art with folksy craft in a way that makes them feel so natural and comfortable with each other. She also has a gift for linking people in her life with each other; people who may otherwise remain strangers.

And so, on an ordinary July day, one of her magical connections happened to me.

My mom was in town for a visit. She and my youngest daughter took an afternoon excursion to the gallery and when they came home, they had a message for me from Gwen.

She wanted me to come see her.

And so I did.

Gwen handed me a business card from a local mother-daughter potter team and said “call them.” Turns out that after 32 years of potting, they were interested in different adventures and were ready to close shop.

I was ready to open shop.

I called their studio and made arrangements to visit the next week.

It seemed that we had known each other for an eternity; that we had the same blood flowing through our veins.

How could it be that 4 miles apart, the end of one pottery studio would feed the beginning of another?

How could it be that such a monumental event for each would be happening at the same time and they had never met until now?

Answered prayers.

Chance.

Serendipity.

Luck.

Coincidence.

Synchronicity.