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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Joy Project

Here is the truth:
The waters of my soul have been anything but smooth lately.  Swift currents have kicked up and left me speechless, gritty waves have threatened the light of hope I hold tight against my sternum.  There is no one tidy answer, no magic pill, just a determined plunking of one muddied boot after the other.  There have been days filled with so much light and goodness that I've had to shade my eyes, but also days where the fog has rolled in and I've wandered in silence through the river beds.
But if I can tell you one thing about me it is this:
I am a fighter.
My name, my birth name, is Kelly Nichole which very directly translates to Victorious Warrior.
And there is something deep within my heart that is shifting, some hidden mortar crumbling, some tectonic plate of soul that is stretching and ripping as it moves in exactly the way it was meant to move.
It's uncomfortable to say the least.  But I know that somewhere, some hold on my life is being wrenched free and that when I emerge on the other side a brightness will spill from my chest the likes of which I've never seen.
So until then, I'm finding all the small joys I can gather.  Purposefully acknowledging the slightest things that move the corners of my mouth, marking them as GOOD, as a GIFT and holding on to them for dear hope. 
And here is where I'd love for you to join me.
I've just begun a new Flickr group.
It's called The Joy Project.
The idea is simple: take a photo, it can be a self-portrait (in the broadest sense), a snippet of your home, a snap of your daily view, WHATEVER you feel a sense of joy in for that day, for that moment.  Upload it to the group with a short caption of one thing that you have taken joy in that day.  And that's it!  Safe, easy, no huge commitments to months or years, just a gentle sharing and fostering of like-minded community.
Would you like to join me?
Pop on over to the group, The Joy Project, right HERE.

And while we're on the subject of joy, I need to express just how much the rhythmic thrumping of hammers and soft glow of metal has bouyed my heart lately.  I can't stay out of the studio!
My sketchbook is stuffed with ideas and my bench is covered with works in progress.  So much so that I think there may be a very official shop update in the works shortly...
But for now a little sneak peek:
Ten Thousand Small Histories No 2
Sterling Silver and Northern California Beach Pottery 
To learn about the inspiration behind this piece, click here
(Can I tell you one thing about these bits of perfectly sea-weathered pottery?  I've carried these two  slices with me for years now, in a tiny mason jar, pulling them out every once in a while to admire and roll about in the palm of my hand.  The off-white piece features a beautiful bit of illustration - I believe it was a branch at one time, but now is a lesson in the perfection of abstraction.  Sigh.  I even remember the squeal I let out when I found it.)
(Lastly, I'm planning a shop update for next Monday, December 5th - whoot! - however if this necklace speaks to you before then, it is absolutely RESERVABLE!  Just drop me an Etsy convo HERE.  Reserved!)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Short List

I spent a great deal of time driving this last week; well, to be honest, BC spent a great deal of time driving while I sat in the front seat and did the "mom smacking hand thing" behind me whenever the pups got too rowdy in the back.  We trekked down the coast and into the central valley to spend our time with BC's family, playing Apples to Apples, talking about Chinese skin analysis, and running the dogs in the back forty.  The weather was temperamental but the wood stove cranked and we fell into home.
The Oaks...
This is Pure Joy
All that to say, Thanksgiving may have passed in a gentle flurry of homemade cranberry sauce and bread pudding, but I still have gratitude to give.
Valley Gifts
So today, as I watch the clouds roll in and the furnace grunts and lurches, I am thankful:
for two fully functioning hands
for espresso
for living with the redwoods
for the love of the best man I know
for whiskers that tickle my face in the morning
for copious houseplants
for a clear mammagram (just got the most recent results last week!!!)
for beasts who make me laugh day in and out
for T, C, J, K, A, M, you know who you are
for a studio
for families who honestly love each other
for letters in the mail
for sheepskin boots
for communities across the globe who inspire and encourage me
for pomegranates
and for you.
SO much for you my friends.
I am grateful.
An Autumnal Cascade

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On Wings

I don't think I will ever tire of metaphors of flight.
Of spreading wings a little wider ever day.
Of finding space in our hearts for the love of others, to open up and realize our hearts are huge.
Of finding courage to soar into territories new to us, regardless of how far they seem or intimidating they may be.
Of feeling currents brush past our skin as the freshness of each day greets our lungs.
Last week I sat in my studio with a delicately pressed feather and one of the last turquoise cabochons from the buried treasure stash.  I thought about flight, just how far I've come, just how far I have yet to go.  How rich the story of my life could be.  And as I thought, I wrote it out in silver.  And found this ring on the other side.
She feels so good on.
{and she's in the shop now}

Monday, November 14, 2011

Morning Breaks

In the pale gray light of a brisk Autumn morning, all before the tea kettle whistled.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Guilty Parties

This used to be more than just a rabbit head.

In fact, for 11 months, this was a full and floppy thing, gummed up for certain, but loved well.  Now, like one of Henry's wives, this head has been neatly separated from it's body and I could place money on which set of puppy teeth is at fault.

I'll give you a hint:
"Milk teeth"

Signing off from the land of more-toys-needed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Two Short Stories that May or May Not have Anything to do with Each Other

(also, I sometimes sporadically and spontaneously capitalize words)
Today I suckered BC into grocery shopping.  After a decade of marriage, we have fallen into certain household roles and the general category of "food" has my name written all over it.  I do not mind this a bit, but about once a quarter, I coax him into the car, carrying my canvas bags and back up water bottle with a promise of a meal out.
Today it was sushi, and plenty of it.  I must have spicy tuna with too much ginger and he must have hamachi nigiri with lots of wasabi and if a tempura yam roll shows, well so be it!
I think the bargain is a good one.
One of the great loves BC and I share is dinning out.  Some might even call us "whores for eating out" and I would not be able to correct them.  When we first moved out of Seattle and back down to California, to this sparsly populated county on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, with the "biggest city" weighing in at under 30,000 people, we thought our days of eating out would be numbered.
I can now tell you this is not the case.
The last time we went out to breakfast our server, Lilly, finished my order for me (fruit instead of hashbrowns, right?).  Last month, at Pak India, the adorable man who does everything asked if we were models because we were so tall.  He told us he had been wanting to ask for months.  At Big Blue, they ask after Sancho and show us new tattoos.
And I must confess: we love it.
* * *
These tights?  Or, as you may have been thinking, these "incredible, awesome tights?"  They finally showed up and I'm pretty certain I'll be wearing them non-stop this winter.  I ordered them months ago, way back, I do believe, before we moved and before I had adjusted the shipping address on my paypal.  At the time I was not worried, as we had our paperwork in for the postal forward but then some strange glitch in the system took over, and we've been trying to track our mail down for no less than three month.  We heard stories of our mail being held in a mysterious box that made its way through the various post offices in the county, somehow always eluding us.  I could have cared less about our water bill, but these tights!  My hope was starting to wane.  But then, like a blessing when you need it most, a flurry of mail and one rumpled package finally arrived and now my legs are complete.
Thank God.
Life is good, no?

Monday, November 7, 2011

After the Quiet

This afternoon I took myself, Sancho, Pierré the Canon and a two percent Latté into the forest.  Winter made a great show of arriving and we sloshed through deep mud and wadded in ferns rib-high.  I've had a quiet week, the kind where so much time was spent digesting the beautiful aftermath of the yoga weekend, that I had little to say externally.
I found something so glorious within that I could not be bothered with banal duties.  I sang aloud and let the laundry sit.
I fell down the well.  Sancho, beautiful beautiful soul came and laid his jowlies on my knees and gave me everything in his soulful eyes.  Thai velcroed himself to my lap and purred with all his might.  These canine hearts, these feline souls are some of my dearest confidants and best friends.
I gained courage in a painting I'd set off in a corner of the studio, one that I've not been ready to face until now.  I started it several months back with a ghost of imagery playing in my head; when I began to paint in earnest, I found the meaning, what I would need to confront within in order to paint in utter honesty.  And I was not ready.  Not until this week.
I found a window flung wide open, after months and months of feeling my way in the dark, looking for any small fissue to gain a way forward but finding only solid rock.
I started three new paintings (PINK! Oh my god, it's so pink, an internal cavern of anatomy, deep and pulsing.  But somehow, so exactly right).
I've listened to so much wordless music.
I feel like last week was one of those existential birthings, one that I've been carrying for a long long time.  It was perfect, it was rocky.  Thank god I have a good man and some sturdy running shoes.  And that I know the secret to a great 6-layer bean dip (it's Fayeh yogurt in place of sour cream.  Come on.  So delish) and this salad, because it was all I could carve time to eat.
But tonight, before I take on my womanly duties (there are approximately one hundred and twenty pounds of beast waiting to be fed - daylight savings is throwing them off and the bitch session is incredible), I want to share this with you.

"Everything is gestation and then birthing.  To let each impression and each embryo of feeling come to completion entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one's own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born; this alone is what it means to live as an artist.
In this, there is no measuring with time, a year doesn't matter, and ten years are nothing.  Being an artist means not numbering and counting but ripening like a tree which doesn't force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward, summer may not come.
It does come."
- Rainer Maria Rilke
If a heart falls in the forest, does it mean it's made of lichen?
Peace be with you tonight.
~ Umber ~