Snow Day

I don’t follow the weather, so I was surprised to see my backyard a flurry of white this morning.  Surprised, and excited.  Born and raised in Indiana, I’ve been conditioned to love a snow day. Though I had things to do at the studio today (of course I did, there’s always LOTS to do at the studio), there was nothing really pressing.  Plus, the roads were bad and the community kilns wouldn’t be running.  Today was a great day to stay home.

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Now this isn’t the kind of winter weather that would shut things down in my hometown, but here in Middle Tennessee, the possibility of accumulation sets the school closings in motion.  Roads get slick quick and those hills can be treacherous.  And so very pretty.

So I decided that in addition to catching up on some paperwork, I’d fill my day with little luxuries.  First, a very long soak in the whirlpool tub, complete with a good book, essential oils, and one of my favorite candles.

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Next, deliciously decadent candies.

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Followed by reading in front of the fire.  An all time fave.

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This day has been a celebration of simple pleasures and I’ve relished each one.  Now for some air popped popcorn with Amish butter and sea salt. And probably some hot cocoa with marshmallow fluff. Then more reading. What a happy ending.

Mugs on Monday

For the last couple weeks I’ve been working on making mugs in my studio.  In the past I’ve used a speckled stoneware that’s a grayish brown, so the mugs end up looking really earthy.  Like this:

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My most recent mug making has been with white porcelain clay, which is SO PRETTY! It’ll make glaze colors more vibrant and looks more refined.  I’ve had fun using different shapes and handles.  I’m still waiting for the pieces to fully dry so I only have pre-glazed photos for now.  I can’t wait to share the final results!

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Sisters

One of my favorite things about working for myself is the flexibility it gives me in my schedule. I am sure you’ll hear me talk about this a lot because it is vital to my creative life. I am able to prioritize each day as I see fit, attending first to the people and things most important to me. In this case, it is my sister. This is a picture of us at my wedding.

Mel & Michelle

Mel & Michelle

Now, you may be thinking we don’t look much alike. We’re not related by blood, but we became sisters when my mom and her dad got married a few years ago. We were both in our early twenties when we met and neither of us had a sister before. What a gift we have been given. I couldn’t possibly love this gal more if I’d known her my whole life.

On November 1, 2013, Michelle was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. For the next few months she has chemo therapy every other Friday, so I made a trip to my home state of Indiana to be with her during one of her sessions. We talked non-stop for three hours and it was so good to catch up. Afterwards, I drove her home and made supper, then took her beautiful daughters with me for a slumber party at our parents house. These days are full of precious memories.

Mel and Michelle at Thanksgiving

Mel and Michelle at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

If you’d like to read more about Michelle and her journey, check out her blog here.

Ringing in the new

To celebrate the new year,  my husband, some great friends and I took a trip to Asheville, NC.  The five of us had never taken a trip together and I’m happy to report it was a roaring success! We rocked out to a variety of tunes as we drove and laughed the entire time.  I guess I should have known that such thoughtful, fun folks wouldn’t be able to help but have a blast.  It’s just how we roll.

We did some shopping in the artsy downtown area then ate lunch and tried new brews at Lexington Avenue Brewery. We got some sweets at Kilwins and visited the Grove Arcade where we took this awesome picture.

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Then we headed to Biltmore Mansion to see it decked out in holiday finery. Wine tasting at Antler Village, dinner at the Stable House, lights and decorations galore in the mansion and a bottle of Biltmore bubbly to ring in the new year.  What a great start to 2014.

Studio One

My first studio at the co-op was referred to as the “sweet spot”.   It was in a corner on the first floor and was outfitted with a borrowed wedging table, a flimsy shelf from my attic, a found desk and a squeaky rolling chair from my dad’s basement.  The wheel and stool were on lease from Mid South ceramics.  It was bare bones basic and I was thrilled to have a place to work!

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My first studio at the co-op

First Studio 1

The Clay Lady’s Co-op

Just before leaving for Burma, I secured a studio at the Clay Lady’s Artist Co-op.  I had taken a couple classes at the Clay Lady’s Studio and was excited when the co-op opened to the public. There you’ll find dozens of working artists in their studios and galleries of their work throughout.  It’s a supportive and exciting community of creatives, all in one awesome space.   We share kilns and other equipment and the co-op is connected to Mid South Ceramics, which makes purchasing clay, glaze and other supplies as easy as walking out the back door. If you are ever in Nashville, come by the Co-op to see it for yourself. Check out the roster here!

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Burma and Back

Another gift I was given during my sabbatical was an opportunity to travel to Burma (Myanmar) with my friend Brandi and an amazing non-profit organization, Uncharted International.  After several pre-trip meetings to talk about goals and meet the entire team, I boarded a plane for the 10/40 Window.  Since I was the only one coming from Nashville, I met the team in L.A.  Then it was on to Taiwan, where the cultural transition began.

From Taiwan, we flew to Burma.  We arrived during rainy season and I have never experienced heat like that in my life! We spent time in orphanages, teaching, building, singing, dancing, and playing with kids.  I was humbled by the love I received from the children who adopted me those days.  Basic necessities I take for granted were scarce, but smiles and affection were poured out in abundance.

It’s impossible for words to express the impact that trip has had on my life.  Being totally disconnected from the familiar with the sole intention of serving was nourishment for my spirit.  Experiencing it with one of my dearest friends is something we both cherish.  My thoughts and prayers surround my Burmese family and I hope one day to return.

Restoration

After returning from vacation I embarked on what I refer to as a season of extreme self care.   For the first time in my life I had the freedom to fill my entire day, week, month(!) with endeavors of my choice.

So what did I do? I took walks, slept, met dozens of friends for incredible conversation, read, slept, took a pottery class, spent time with family, got into some great counseling and slept. Man, did I sleep! Amidst the beauty of carte blanche, transitioning from a “human doing” to a “human being” wasn’t as natural as I had envisioned.

Still, I could sense God’s purpose in the unwinding.  I was learning to be still and know He is God.  I was listening for the next steps instead of barreling ahead. I began finding joy in the very simplest things.  In fact, I had to keep myself from laughing out loud one morning at the grocery store because I was so GIDDY to be there, solo, buying food at 10 am with absolutely no other care in the world and no other plan for the day. Seriously. Happy.

I was given the gift of time and finally, gratefully, I accepted.  The fog began to lift. Life was starting to feel fun again.  Full of possibilities.  God was restoring my soul.  He had something new in store for me…

Forget the former things. Do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a NEW THING! Now it springs up! Do you not perceive it?”
Isaiah 43: 18-19

Days of Rest

Just a few days after leaving my corporate job I went on a much needed vacation with one of my dearest friends, Brandi.  A trusted confidant and kindred spirit, she’s a fellow creative, looking to live a life of faith to the fullest.  We spent time talking, laughing, shopping and soaking up the sun on the amazing Marco Island, FL.  Our only standing appointment was the daily happy hour for half priced pina coladas.

 

The trip served as an amazing time of restoration for me and allowed me to begin clearing my mental slate for what was to come.

Something different

In January 2011, I decided to do something different.

After much deliberation and wrestling in prayer, I left my successful corporate career to pursue my dream of being a full time artist. Armed with a bit of savings,  fierce determination and LOTS of ideas, I took steps of faith to pursue my hearts desire. Until now, I’ve blogged mostly about card making, which I really enjoy.  However, my first artistic love is pottery.

I was blessed to have a wonderful art teacher named Mrs Dowhie for most of my elementary education.  She encouraged my creativity in so many ways! One very memorable day,when I was nine years old, she set up a pottery wheel outside and had me and another classmate stay after school.  This is what I made-

My first piece made on the pottery wheel.

My time on the wheel that day and the resulting little purple pot sparked a lifelong desire in me to create with clay. Now, over twenty years later, it’s what I get to do each and every day.  I am so blessed and excited to be doing something different.