November 30, 2010

reflection: from california to the new york islands

on thanksgiving morning during the macy's parade a float went by that had arlo guthrie and sarah lee guthrie on it singing woody's famous song This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land. My little one ran across the room and picked up her copy of the children's book that carries the words to that beautiful song and stood in front of the television with it open like this, silent and serious and filled with pride. It was a really beautiful, touching moment to witness. amidst of all of the glitz of the parade and the holidays in general she attached herself to the simplest message out there, "this land was made for you and me".

November 27, 2010

seeds of gratitude

seeds of gratitude, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

you see the seeds in the light? they are seeds of gratitude coming your way. pass them on. (pic taken on Thanksgiving morning while walking through the field at the end of the road, a beautiful day)

November 22, 2010

reflection: saying grace

lucky, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

in honor of this week of thanksgiving I wanted to shine light on what I am grateful for and the ways in which I feel lucky, as I imagine so many others are doing as well. the theme of the soul collage and yoga workshop I attended here in asheville yesterday was gratitude, which set the stage perfectly for taking time to reflect on the bounty in our lives. there have been some tough challenges in this past year, but here is a starter list of what i am grateful for today, a hodgepodge of things great and small, random and obvious:

1)my health- never before have i been so acutely aware of what a gift this is, each and every day.

2)the curve of the driveway leading up to my cabin- i fell in love with it the first time I came to look at the place and i love the way it welcomes me home upon each return.

3)living in a place where the four seasons of the year are distinctly marked- the anticipation of rituals that take place connect me with the cycles of life.

4)the opportunity to rediscover the world through the eyes of a two and a half year old- this past week she has been singing to me "he's got the whole world in his hands" repeatedly, though she changes the words to things like "he's got all the hula hoops in his hands" or "all of the scissors in his hands", whatever she is appreciating in that moment.

5)the wonderful care that family and friends provide for our daughter now and then so that my husband and I can have moments to ourselves free of worry, in order to reflect and connect.

6)the incredible blogosphere that i discovered this past year. how i can jump from one lily pad to another and discover so much beauty, insight, and creativity with just a few clicks.

7)the resilience of the human spirit and the trust in the cycles of our psyches that comes with getting older.

8)the way that our family is what we each define for ourselves and that it can transcend blood and marriage (and additional thanks that my family is filled with adventure seekers!).

9)the clients I have had in the past year through Mountain BizWorks. their trust in me to share their dreams and their fears. the chance to sit with them at a time of change and unknowing.

10)the path that led me to creating this space, revelry and grace, and the joy that comes in wondering where it will lead me and who I will connect with along the way.

I would really like to hear something(s) you are grateful for this season. if you are reading please feel free to share with us. happy thanksgiving to you!

a close up

wish paz luz be, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

creation: first batch

creations: first batch, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

here is my first batch of pottery. i had such a wonderful time imprinting each of the words into the clay and the little chicken and rooster imprints came from some small handcarved wood blocks my mom passed on to me a long time ago. lots of fun.

November 21, 2010

November 19, 2010

reflection: little vignettes of play

playtime at grandys, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

so much of my time is spent trying to combat the messes that collect around the house. being in my mom's home for a stretch of time this past week allowed me to let go of the urge to clean up and to see the areas of mess for what they truly are- signs of play, imagination, discovery, fun. i know i will miss these sweet messes one day and all of the little characters and plots that inhabit them.

November 18, 2010

reflection: snapshots

snapshots, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

the next few entries will be photo snapshots from a beautiful fall week in the triangle- filled with creative time in the studio, walks in the woods, explorations of unique haunts in this area, and time with family. heading back to the mountains today, grateful for this time in which all four realms were entered- a time filled with opportunities for restoration, reflection, creation, and connection.

November 17, 2010

connection: breakfast at scratch

scratch, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

cafe au lait, a macchiato, potato onion egg tortilla, and a chocolate and sea salt pastry at scratch in durham, nc. an exceptional treat and wonderful time with my father.

November 15, 2010

reflection: holding space

give light, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

i am giving myself a little bit of space for emotions to rise and release at the moment. i will be back soon- maybe a day or two, maybe a week. for now, I have posted this image as a way to honor the creation of light-filled space that we all owe ourselves from time to time- space for the healing process to gather breath and momentum.

November 10, 2010

creation and connection: meet angelique

I have just finished up a pottery class with angelique tassistro and was so impressed by her, and her unique sense of style, that I wanted to feature her here. I asked her to look at her life and work through the four lenses of restoration, reflection, creation, and connection. If you are in the Asheville area this weekend make sure to stop by her studio and meet her yourself during the River District Studio Stroll. In addition to her remarkable collection, she will be serving up PBRs and cupcakes.


R&G: how does your work restore you?
This is a hard question for me, I’m not sure if my work restores me as much as it completes me. It is the way I express myself and with out it I feel not myself. Clay work in a way is “needy”, having it in my life gives me a deep focus.

R&G:what do you do to restore yourself so that you don't experience burn out?
For me it’s about constantly being aware of the balance (or the lack of) in my life. Clay is so time consuming and can be all encompassing, it is very easy for me to lose myself in my work. Days, weeks and even years can fly by without any thought to the other things in life. Setting a work schedule and forcing myself to do other activities I enjoy helps me create balance. I find I am not only more productive but my work is stronger and I feel happier. After years of telling my self “I will only work like this until this show is done or this deadline is meet”. I realized there will always be another show, two more applications and yet another deadline. I had to create a firm rule for myself...I find creating balance is much more difficult that creating art.


R&G: When you reflect on your journey, what moments stick out as turning points?
Moving to Asheville (from Atlanta) was a huge turning point for me. I had no doubt I was moving to work with clay but really had no idea of the details. I had a studio offered to me but had to relearn the process. It’s so different from being in school. There are so many things we take for granted. Having a studio to work in sounded amazing but I quickly realized that I no longer had access to that amazing studio with endless supplies and generous people willing to feed you information. It took me a good year to get my bearings again. I spent two days throwing cylinders and cutting them in half to see how thick they were. It’s what we did in my very first pottery class. I think I mentally had to start over to remember all I had learned.

R&G: what mistakes have you made that you would want other creative types to know about so they can prevent them?

Art can be a career and a successful one at that. Just because one decides to take art as a career does not mean you have to work three jobs and sacrifice things that are important in life.

R&G: what has surprised you?
The amazing support I have received from my friends, family & the community.

R&G: where are you headed?
I’m not sure. Art will always be apart of my life but I do feel the need to help people in a way I’m not doing now. I have toyed with the idea of being a life coach for emerging artistic individuals seeking creative jobs but am not sure how to do it. I think I would be good at it and it would be very rewarding.


R&G:think about your creative process, what steps do you have to take in order to be able to generate a new idea/line of work/etc...?
I try to just let things happen naturally, not just with clay but also with life. The best way to explain it is by using an example: I make flower scalloped dinner plates, I still make them and love them. One day I decided it would be cool if they hung on the wall so that they can be used for decoration when they are not being eaten off, then after that worked out I decided I should make three different sizes, connect them and add some wire. It never occurred to me that I was making a new line of work, but it happened and now I make functional flower dinner plates and decorative wall flowers.

R&G think about your most creative moments- what are the factors at play?
Traveling is a huge passion of mine. I am such a visual person, seeing new places stimulates my mind. I always return to the studio with fresh ideas and lots of energy.

R&G: does your creativity show up for you when you want it to or does it visit on its own schedule?
My most creative moments often come in the form of problem solving. I always strive to make things better than before, so things just seem to evolve into something new. It is a struggle to be creative on demand but I just try to be gentle on myself. I don’t have to recreate the wheel everyday, some days it is perfectly acceptable to just make sure it goes around and around. … meaning busy work is still work. A clay studio has many things to do that require zero creativity.

R&G think about how you are connecting to the world around you.
who is inspiring you?

Recently I have gotten slightly obsessed with business and find myself reading success stories of young entrepreneurs. Tony Hsieh is pretty high on my list currently, what he did with Zappos is super cool. Not just how successful it is as a business, but the model itself, and how employees are treated. I love that by empowering employees they want to be & do better.

R&G do you reach out for help? for ideas? where? how often?
OMG… I ask for help daily. My friends and family are amazing and endlessly come to help. If not painting numbers on tiles, creating a post card or some other computer hick up I’m having then it’s making cupcakes for a studio stroll. With out my “support” gang I’m not sure I would have a strength to push through the hard times. I am so grateful for the people in my life.

thanks angelique. i will post some photos soon of what she helped me to create in her class. i will say, it isn't as easy as it looks! can't wait for the next class though.

November 8, 2010

restoration and reflection: full circle

full circle, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

standing on the other side of the one year feels good. the edges soften when a full year stands between you and a painful memory. however, it was harder than I thought it would be to return there. i got tripped up by flashes of physical pain and emotional quivers. the trees on the island are so distinctive in shape, so beautiful really, and on day one of the trip it was grey and chilly and the trees were haunting me, driving me crazy actually- very hard to describe it and it was not something I was prepared for. When my husband wheeled me out of the hospital last year I instantly looked to those trees for some sort of reminder of the natural world I love-and yet in that pain their shapes etched themselves into my psyche and somehow the memories of the pain hid in their leaves.

but that ocean. to walk with a pregnant friend alongside that ocean, to hoop and practice yoga by that ocean, to chase my daughter alongside that ocean, and to be revisited by the dolphins of that ocean- this is where the real healing took place. to know that 12 full moons have pulled its tide and carried so many cares far and wide since then- it's effect on the heart similar to its effect on shards of glass.

yes, it is true. a rebirth comes with the closing of that first year, whatever that "first year" is- i have heard this from friends who have left marriages, faced tragedies, and come out of their own darkness in numerous ways. new memories are created and while the painful moments are still there, they are seen in a more gentle light, with a softer gaze. oh, how we all look better in that softer, gentler light.

beach elf

beach elf, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

November 2, 2010

reflection: one year later

reflection: one year later, originally uploaded by AnnieLaurel.

tomorrow we leave for our annual trip to the beach with dear old friends. it's a time we look forward to every year and yet this year i go in with a bit of apprehension and a need for reflection and fortitude. it was on this trip last year that i wound up in the hospital with meningitis- the very experience that led me to the long healing process that then led to the creation of this space.

as I go into this trip I am reflecting upon what steps I have taken towards self-care in the past year and the love and support of others that have helped to ease the burdens. i am calling upon the open arms of compassion, presence, patience, gratitude, and faith to carry me through these days.

what i struggle to abandon are the etched memories of the physical pain and of the day to day life that exists in a hospital setting- the 24 hour sounds, the sterility, the endless waiting. I am also battling the persistent fear of allowing myself to get too run down or unconsciously "set the stage" for such a calamity to recur. any sign of drastic fatigue or the slightest illness sends me into a tizzy.

what lies within an anniversary can fill us with such pleasure or such pain. we can instantly transpire ourselves back into that defining moment- whether it is the marking of a birth or a death (either physical or metaphorical), a celebration, or a tragedy. a certain irrationality exists since the actual occasion is not recurring in our present space and yet the emotions that rise are as real as anything else around us.

and so all I can do is breathe and hold dear what is here. today. and offer a huge thank you to any of you reading this who have offered your hand to me on this path of recovery- you know who you are, near and far. as i stand oceanside this week i will be sending waves of gratitude your way.

(the dolphin above swam alongside my father, husband, and I the day after I was released from the hospital. earlier that day a beautiful deer had come to the window of the house we were staying in- both messengers indeed.)

November 1, 2010

reflection: "it's nice"

We didn't have a name for my daughter to call my father, although I just assumed it would be grandpa. instead, she has come to name him "papa walter" on her own. this name comes from the fact that he does look rather similar to his dog "walter" and he is walter's papa. who would have thought.

when he was here visiting a few months back my daughter asked papa walter what was on his face. Instead of responding with "its a moustache" he stated "it's niiiiiiiice" while he stroked his finger above his upper lip. It's a trait that he has managed to pull off rather well over the decades, I must admit.

This picture of my own grandpa, his two sons, and their three signature moustaches resurfaced today for me and all I could say upon first glance was.... "niiiiiiice."