Saturday, February 9, 2013

Out of the Box

Cargo Box Stock Images - Image: 3664214
So, it's been awhile.

Over a year since I've written anything.

And what have I been doing? (Outside neglecting this blog and ignoring the occasional request for a post?)  I haven't been making pots. I haven't been posting on Etsy. I haven't been building my business.

I have been fixing the house. I've been going to work. I've taken some time to visit with friends. But mostly I've been re-examining myself.

Yeah, I do that a lot.

And what have I come up with?       Boxes.  And labels.     I'll explain.

You know those people who've always known what they wanted to do with themselves? The hairdresser who cut Barbie's hair and did all of her friends styling for prom? The musician who picked up piano by ear and scored all the leads in high school musicals? I have friends who seem to know in every fiber of their being that they are teachers. Or artists. Or entrepreneurs. Some of them describe it as their calling. Or sometimes their purpose. Even my husband has a little bit of this. Farming is clearly in this man's heart and soul.

I remember recognizing this in some of the kids I grew up with. Sally carried around a sketchbook and drew all day: Artist. Bobby was the captain of every sport: Athlete. Sam and Ben and Stephanie excitedly talked together about math and science: Academics. It all seemed so simple for them. Neat and tidy. They could be packaged, boxed and labeled. No muss, no fuss, no wondering. All of their questions already answered. What do you want to be when you grow up? Where do you want to go to college? How do you define yourself?

No problem. Just read the label on the box.

It didn't feel so straightforward for me. Sure, I had some talents. I sang, but I was no show-stopper. I liked to draw a lsome, but I could only do it from life, not from imagination. I was smart, but I was no scholar. To me, it seemed the only box I clearly fit into was the one marked damaged goods.

I spent a good chunk of my youth in that box. Maybe even some of my adulthood. I closed up the flaps and rifled through the detritus, eagerly scrutinizing every chip and crack I could find and occasionally chasing off intruders with shards.

I wasted a lot of time in that box until, fortunately, a series of college electives lead me to stumble over another one.  Sturdier.  Marked "Potter". "Ceramicist".             An artist after all! 
And over time I found more packaging, other boxes I could climb into. One that said "wife". One that said "homesteader" or something close to it. One that said "family member". Each box with it's own label, it's own set of characteristics to define myself with. It's own set of parameters. And then something happened.

I began to feel claustrophobic.

The same boxes that I had been relying upon for structure now felt like six sides pushing in. And I had been shrinking myself to fit inside them, snipping off the bits that seemed to counter my labeling. Putting aside parts of my personality that couldn't be well categorized. Making myself smaller.

I've tried to think of other boxes that might better fit me. Again, hoping to discover my true calling. Find my real purpose. But the truth of the matter is that maybe I don't have one. And whether I'm making pots or making pickles or change my last name it still doesn't define me. And that's okay.

Because I've realized that I still have a label. And it's actually the one I've had all along. The only one that really describes me heart and soul:

"Incredibly capable".

And those boxes? I'll hold on to them. Because now I recognize what they're really there for.

They hold my tools.

Friday, November 25, 2011


The day before Thanksgiving at my job-type job is kind of a big deal.

In fact, it's THE big deal.

And after all of the hustle and bustle, the planning and prep, the checking and rechecking and then checking again, I'm often left feeling a little dazed, a little directionless, a little confused come the actual holiday. It would be easy to simply let it pass by in a frenzy of activity. But I like what this holiday stands for, and now that I've regained my bearings I'd like to take a moment to look back. To reflect.

And to give thanks.

Truly I am one of the lucky ones and have much to be thankful for. But this year in particular:

I am thankful for the change in seasons. For the chance to reset, re-assess and shift pace.

I am thankful for wood heat and cold storage.

I am thankful for a strong cup of coffee, a slow cup of tea, and a good bottle of wine.

I am thankful for family. Old and new. Blood, in-law, or otherwise. You continue to make me the person I am today and I am so grateful.

I am thankful for good neighbors.

I am thankful for raw milk and fresh eggs.

I am thankful for this old couch. Where after a long day C. and I can relax and sleepily say silly things to make each other giggle.

I am thankful for wool socks and down blankets.

I am thankful for cheese.

I am thankful to tears for good friends, no matter how seldom I see you. You hear my complaints, offer me wisdom, and call me on my bullshit. I am honored to be able to explore life in the company of such talented, entertaining and insightful people. So thank you.

And for my husband C,
I am every minute thankful for you.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sign Says

I have a sign hanging in my kitchen reading: SIMPLIFY. It's one of the few things hanging in this house, and by way of commenting on our decor a friend of mine likes to joke that it should read Simplified instead.

It's not particularly pretty, and it's certainly not original, but for me it's less of a statement in design than it is a convenient reminder. To take a step back. To focus. To prioritize.

I've been looking at this sign a lot lately.

Remember  this past Spring? I was practically aflutter with plans for the summer season. Nothing too grand - some gardening, some jam, a little paddling around in our kayaks. And how much of that came to fruition? Very little.

There were the weddings of course. And pink dress notwithstanding (You know I love you H), they were WONDERFUL. But the rest of it? Fallen by the wayside for no other reason than I was busy.  Just busy. The kind of busy that only begets busy. Busy doing all of those things that we convince ourselves need doing before we can go do the things that we would be doing already if we weren't so darn busy.

Now, as far as problems go this one doesn't merit much complaint. And I won't paint this too dark a picture. Compared to a year or so ago things look much rosier. And generally speaking, they continue to look up. But all of this busy? I wonder.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I met a woman this summer who's family has been vacationing for generations in a town close by that I've always considered being half way between here and the middle of nowhere. When I asked her what could possibly bring her back year after year to a property with no lake access, no ocean view, no grand mountain vistas, she smiled and told me that "it was The Best Place to watch the clouds".

I'm trying to remember to watch the clouds more often.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Well On Our Way

Spring can be hit or miss in New Hampshire and I think most of us would agree that this one has been mostly miss. Fields flooded, farmers worried, and if you took your car down our dirt road earlier this season you were likely to sink out of sight. After almost two weeks solid of rainy weather it's a wonder we didn't all just declare the whole weekend a holiday (and yesterday too!) just to sit and soak up some well deserved sunshine.

But now it's here (can you see my fingers crossed?). The cows are pastured, the gardens are planted, the switch has been flicked and we are well on our way to a beautiful New England summer.

And I am sooo looking forward to everything this summer will bring!

There will be fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and strawberries. Jams and jellies and pickles. Hot days on the hay-wagon, and thunderstorms watched from the front porch. There will be bike rides and boat rides and ice cream. There will be pots pots pots. And weddings! There will be the weddings of some of the most wonderful people I know.

What can I say? I'm tickled! And I can barely hold my excitement.

Can you?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Back on the J.O.B.

Picture this: Sunny summer morning, hot coffee in hand, I stroll across the street to the barnyard. Cross-legged on a hay-wagon, I  soak up the heat seeps into the valley. I feel free, I feel unfettered, I feel totally at peace.

This was two years ago. I had recently begun to pursue ceramics full time. This was a BIG deal for me. I answered to no one. I made my own schedule. I was relying solely on my own creativity. I was validated. It would take lots of work, but I was going to make it. In some ways I felt that I had made it already.

This past summer was a little different.

This past summer I spent the better part of a day virtually paralyzed by the fear that I had been exposing myself to toxins. And that these toxins might someday reach levels that could harm the unborn children that I might someday accidentally conceive.

This past summer wasn't really any fun.

It wasn't all quite that dramatic of course. Thankfully, I 'm unable to sustain that kind of paranoia for very long. But that peace that I had been feeling? Gone. And if this was where I had made it to then I had definitely taken a wrong turn somewhere.

It's a difficult state of mind to describe. And I still haven't quite sorted all of it out, but it was marked by confusion and frustration and the feeling of a special kinship between myself and Elizabeth Gilbert as she begins her journey in Eat Pray Love (me and the rest of the world apparently. What is with all of the angsty 30-somethings?). I was spending more time worrying about the marketability of my work than actually making it. I stared at the computer more and created less. I had allowed myself to become increasingly isolated and anyone who's seen The Shining knows where all work and no play lead. I had little routine. Rather than answering to no one, I felt like I now had to answer to everyone. I felt tethered. I felt weighed down. I felt claustrophobic. And all of a sudden I found myself deeply concerned with The Checklist.

You know The Checklist, it's that list you keep of accomplishments that you're supposed to make in your life. And it's kept on the same clipboard as The Time-line, which of course, tells you when you're supposed to have made them. Together, they tell you things like when you're supposed to be married, when you'll buy your first home, what kind of career you'll have, when you'll begin it and how long it will take you to climb the ladder. It doesn't include all of the pesky details like who you'll marry or why, or whether or not owning a home is really right for you. It doesn't take into account that your interests may change or that sometimes things happen beyond our control. It doesn't really concern itself with the life of life at all. It's simply a schedule. And the farther off schedule we get, the more disappointment we know to feel. In our circumstances, in the hand we've been dealt, in ourselves.

As it turns out The Checklist, or rather the realization that I was measuring myself against it, was the catalyst for me. Because this is one idea that I don't subscribe to. I know this. In my heart of hearts even. Life just isn't that linear. At least mine isn't. Nor do I want it to be.

So I made a change. I took a J-O-B. A get up in the morning and go to work -day in and day out- job type job. Somewhere where I can go and worry about something other than how much SEO I know, or how marketable my personality may be, or weather or not what I want to make is gonna be the same thing as what someone wants to buy. Somewhere where I can get out of my head and interact with honest-to-goodness people in the actually-actual-real-world. Somewhere Off of Owl Brook five days a week.

And it's true that I don't get to make my own schedule anymore. I have to fit my own business around the business of someone else. I have someone to answer to again.  But as a consequence I find that I actually feel less constrained. Freer. More like myself. My priorities have come back into focus and I'm reminded that I don't have to have the rest of my life figured out. And I'm no longer so concerned with making it somewhere. I'm just enjoying the ride.

Monday, February 14, 2011

For You, Valentine

Valentine's Day.
Out of all the Holidays, this one might be my favorite.

I know, I know. It's all hogwash, right?. A conspiracy of florists and chocolatiers.  A Hallmark holiday. 

But who cares?

It's a day to celebrate love. And who doesn't love love? 

So great big hearts to everyone. Lot's of x's and o's. To friends and family - Thanks for being you. I love Yous Guys.

And To C- What can I say? Except:.

You're my favorite everything.

Happy Valentine's. <3  <3 <3