Write-ins are a new experience for me, but I’ve been to two in the last couple of months and they’re lessons in letting go to create without overthinking (or judging). Our write-in leader gave us prompts, a certain amount of time to write, then time to share what we’d written and give feedback.
I was scared to participate, but the group of writers and makers that joined in all created a safe place where I felt comfortable enough to share. Listening to hearts who are such gifted story-tellers and weavers of words was inspiring rather than intimidating.
So, here’s what I wrote at this month’s write-in. They are both very lightly edited.
Not all who wander are lost,
or so the poem goes.
This is the anthem of hearts who need to explore
But give me a man who knows how to keep
his feet steady on the floor.
Who in his wanderings has come to know
the beckoning beauty of home
and the magic of mundane days
A soul who abides hand-in-hand with the crazy adventure of me
I’m not one of the wonders of the world, breathtakingly majestic
but he tells me I’m the wonder in his world
and that’s all I need
Now, I’ve got a man who knows how to keep
his feet steady on the floor.
“Listening is a gift, baby,” my momma told me once.
I can still smell the Youth Dew Estee Lauder perfume she wore and see the light twinkling off of her glass beaded necklace.
She had a habit of giving kernels of wisdom to my brother and I in the middle of random conversations. It wasn’t until I was much older that I understood the gold she offered us amongst the dross of everyday life.
She told me that listening was a gift we possess and give away at the same time. We learn when we listen. Our worlds expand and our capacity to understand more about the souls around us increases exponentially.
She said being quiet while someone else was sharing was only a part of the gift, that I’ve got to pay attention, too. Then, if I really wanted to put a bow on it, I needed to keep my judgements to myself.
Listening was about love and she gently reminded me of how precious little there was in the world for some people.
My momma showed me that ears aren’t the only part of ourselves we listen with. So she taught me about body language and eye contact.
She would say that sometimes listening looks a lot like waiting for another soul to be ready to share. All we can do is offer an invitation with open hands and a ready ear.
And as much as she taught me about the great gift of listening, she never failed to remind me of my boundaries when the words were unkind and left welts.
She’d say, “Being kind doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat. It’s okay to stand up for yourself.”
She was the daughter of a bully and a mama too wrapped in her own struggles to be a buffer, so she understood what it was for a girl to be her best and only defense. As a mom she didn’t bow to social and church expectations that pushed her to teach me to be soft and accepting…to be that doormat she was determined to teach me not to be.
Poetry. I used to have a deep love of writing it when I was a little girl. I remember when I wrote and illustrated some for gifts one year for family Christmas gifts. My Nana and Grandaddy still have one of them framed, my childlike writing and illustration lovingly preserved and on display.
I wrote and gave them so freely, totally unconcerned with critique and without one worry over whether or not they were good enough.
I created. I gave.
It was that simple.
Of course, I gave knowing my little scribblings would be loved and accepted by the hands I’d place them in. That helps a ton, huh? *chuckling*
Not too long ago I participated in a write-in and I was surprised when my responses to the prompts we writers were given came tumbling out in the form of poetry.
Below is my first response. I’m extremely nervous about sharing it publicly, but I can’t encourage others to create their way through fear if I can’t do the same for myself.
So here it is in all its imperfect glory.
And, yes, there is an expletive. This is your salty language warning, y’all.
“Be like Elsa and let it go,” I tell my boys.
Maybe I should hold a mirror up and say the same.
Stand there and watch the same mouth that too often says yes
when I know I should say no
utter a lesson I’ve yet to grasp but still tell my boys to mind.
Stand there and let go of the guilt of not doing enough for those I give all I can to.
Stand there and let go of the things that spend my time and energy so frivolously when I know both are so f*cking precious.
Let go and watch the same hands that release
They wait having always understood
that the upward rise of release
is always followed by a
that ends in open readiness.
If only I would be like Elsa.
I hope to write more poetry and maybe, just maybe, share more here, too.
Thanks for sharing in this moment of crazy-big vulnerability with me.
Now, I’m off to breathe into a paper bag or something…
I knew from the very first figure I made that I was hooked and would be creating in paper clay for some time to come. I’m completely serious!
Jeanne-Marie’s instruction was thorough and presented in a way which really allowed me to relax and enjoy the process of bringing each figure to life. She went out of her way to create additional content after the class was live to answer questions from students in the private class Facebook group.
Okay, now let me rewind a bit and explain what paper clay is.
There are many DIY recipes to be found on the interwebs. I plan to eventually try one out for myself but for now I’m using pre-made packages of ACTIVA Plus Natural Self-Hardening Clay. It comes in white, terra cotta, and black. It’s available on Amazon and in my local Michaels store. I tried a couple other brands, but I liked the consistency of this brand the most. It felt like actual clay. That consistency and the the fact that it’s readily available without being terribly expensive and I had a winner.
So, I started.
Self Love was my very first paper clay figure. Her creation marked the beginning of a love of creating with paper clay. To me she’s gloriously and quirkily imperfect.
Evening Stillness was my ode to Jeanne-Marie’s figures who are sometimes bedecked with small houses and buildings. And, okay, it was also my ode to the evening and nighttime hours when I’m most creative.
Wise Woman was a fun figure to watch come to life. She has this intriguingly awkward shape, full and low, which gave me the idea for her to look like she was growing out of the ground. Her legs are tree trunks and her hair becomes vines that trail down her figure. There is an owl on her back and a sleeping fox at her feet. She’s waiting to get her final touches of paint right now.
I created Shattered // Restoration in response to a call for art at a local art show whose focus was on dealing with hurt, trauma, and the (hopefully) ensuing journey of recovery. I’d read about the Japanese art of Kintsukoroi (kintsugi), mending broken pottery with a lacquer mixed with the dust of precious metals like gold. As a result, the mended pieces were often more beautiful than the original unblemished pieces. It highlighted something’s brokenness and made it a part of its history rather than hiding it.
My recent love of making paper clay figures merged with my deep admiration of the kintsugi philosophy to become Shattered // Restoration. I kept the shape of the figures very simple to allow the message of the brokenness and the healing of each respective figure to take center stage.
My latest paper clay creation doesn’t have a title yet. I wanted to see if I could create a female figure that went from head to just below her shoulders. My aim wasn’t to create with a sense of realism but, at the same time, I did want to focus on proportion while paying more attention to facial details and overall form.
She’s quite a bit more substantial than most of my previous figures. Last I checked, she’s 7″ x 7″ and she feels like she weighs a pound, maybe two.
She’s currently sitting on my table waiting for me to finish her. She needs a finished underside to her base then she needs to dry out. After that, she’ll be painted and sealed. I’m excited to see how she’ll look once she’s completed. 🙂
Creating each of these figures taught me many lessons in technique, in patience, in play, and in finding my own voice in this new-to-me medium. I’m so thankful for artists who share their knowledge!
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