This weekend I visited the Chihuly Exhibition and Gardens in Seattle. I don’t think mere words can express how my heart and body and spirit responded to such beauty.
The glass seemed to be lit from within. It sang in joyful colour rather than sound.
Amazingly strong and incredible fragile. Seemingly frozen in place, actually a liquid flowing so slowly that you can’t see it move.
The glass soared, curving with grace and rounded with sensuality.
In the presence of such beauty, my spirit took flight in colour and light and vibrated in tune with the glass.
These words and pictures are the best I can do to try to share the experience.
Historically, I have not been very good at going places on my own. I get nervous. And anxious.
I can always tell if I am nervous about something because I immediately start worrying excessively about what I will wear and how I look.
I’m not sure what I’m afraid of. My friends tell me that they can’t imagine me having problems meeting people and socializing. Probably cause they see me when I’m with them!
But somehow I always have this terrible picture in my head of me standing alone, not wanted in the crowd. Doing that trick of pretending I am reading a very important e-mail on my iPhone (cause that’s how important I am!)
Maybe that’s a remnant from childhood/teenager years where I always felt different. And different was bad. Wow, did I learn that. Too smart was bad. Too fat was bad. Too ambitious was bad. Caring too much was bad.
Last night I wanted to go to the open house at the glass studio where I am taking classes (and have applied to join). I could have taken a friend for a safety blanket but I really wanted to do it on my own.
To show up as me, with all my wonderful differences – you know, the things that make me ME – and meet a few people and watch the guest glass artist.
And, that’s what I did. With surprisingly little anxiety. Feeling great about my outfit and my hair – yup, even my hair was good. Feeling happy with who I am. Feeling proud of my differences.
Kind of a cool milestone in this emotional journey. And, the only thing I did with my iPhone was take pictures.
Today’s photo is of my first attempt at making glass beads. I posted in May about my first class in glass sculpting and about my nervousness and anxiety in trying new things. And, how much I am loving working with glass.
Now, into my second course and contemplating joining the glass studio – me, an artist?! – I can feel myself relaxing into the flow. In the first class, I focused a lot on following directions exactly from the instructor and trying to make each piece perfect. Now, as I get a better feeling for the glass and the colours, I am letting each piece take shape as it wills. More of a partnership between me, the glass and wherever inspiration comes from.
And, I am not worried about the “mistakes”. In fact, one important bead is missing from this photo. I was trying something with a bead and it didn’t work. I shrugged it off and said, “well, that was a failure”, dumped the bead and got ready to start again, feeling kinda proud of myself for not getting upset about the “failure”. My teacher’s take? “It’s not a failure, you learned a lot making that bead.”
I certainly did.
I have been meaning to post … I really have!! With two weeks of vacation with my family and then camping with friends, I have lots of thoughts and observations to share. But, they have all piled up in a big jumble and I need to find time to sit down and pull at one thread at a time to process and share.
But just to ensure that I don’t completely fall into summer laziness, inspired by my sister (as usual!) I have signed up for Susannah Conway’s August Break so I have committed to posting one photo a day for all of August. Keen to see what my month looks like, one photo at a time!
On July 18th, I had a great pleasure of meeting Susannah in person. I have just finished her wonderful Unravelling course. In her words, “unravelling the layers of our lives and exploring what we find in order to better understand ourselves, our relationships and our path. Sometimes it seems easier to go through life holding everything in, wrapped up, breath held, eyes forward, but life will always rub up against us – that’s how pearls are formed. So unravelling is not a bad thing in this context. It’s not coming undone or losing control. It’s letting go in the best possible way, untangling the knots that hold you back, unwrapping the gifts you’ve hidden for too long, unearthing the potential that’s always been there, finally ditching the labels and should-haves, and letting yourself be what you were meant to be.” It was intense, difficult, fun and rewarding. I am so glad I plunged in. And, there is so much more I still want to do with it.
So, over the next bit, I will unravel the tangled threads of my vacation brain and attempt to blog the results. In the meantime, here are two pics of my latest glass sculpting adventure – glass bead making. The colours are so amazingly wonderful, I can’t wait to play with them all. The beads are safely in the annealer (aka kiln) – mine are the ones with the green ends) and patience is needed to see their full beauty emerge. Ain’t that always the case!!
I have always loved glass art. The play of light; how it is both delicate and strong at the same time. How when you look at glass you not only see the glass itself, but also the reflection of yourself. To me, glass seems alive. It has its own story but also tells you part of your story. There is a relationship there.
A few weeks ago, I heard about a new Glass Co-op which was offering classes. Now, I have never considered myself an artist. There was a big part of me that said, “you don’t belong in a STUDIO, you aren’t good enough for that”. And, this was one of the activities that “the ex” and I had talked about doing together. But, in the spirit of doing the things I really want to do and not waiting for some mythic future, I signed up. And, showed up at the class. Two very different types of courage.
Now, three classes into the 6-week course, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that it’s been loads of fun. There are 5 people in the class, 4 guys and me. And, I can’t help but think that the guys, while all really nice, seem to fit certain stereotypes (or archetypes?). There is the experienced glass worker who normally works with soft glass (we uses boro or hard glass) so he has lots of technical questions that are way above my head. There is the “engineer/scientist” guy who works with spreadsheets all day and talks about the sciency things he wants to make. He added copper to his glass one week trying to make something, despite the fact that he didn’t know what it would do and the place isn’t properly vented to burn copper. There is the older guy, a Doctor, who has his own fancy expensive special glasses and whose work is beautiful and who makes 2 pieces in the time everyone else makes one. And, there is the teenager, who doesn’t follow instructions, preferring to try to run before he has learned how to walk. He gets lots on one-on-one time fixing pieces. Which are wonderfully creative.
And, then, there is me. So, where do I fit in this mosaic? At first, I thought I might be the “40’ish divorcee” type who is taking up hobbies with her new-found free time and finding herself. But, since I’ve never been married (or divorced), that didn’t seem to fit. And, then the other day a friend of mine asked me “Do you always take classes? You seem to be always taking some course or another”. That’s it! I am the woman who is always taking courses! In fact, right now I taking three different courses as well as teaching one!
I kind of like that. Because I do love learning things. And, I haven’t always felt like that was an okay or acceptable part of myself. When I was a kid, I was teased for being the “smart” kid in the class. And, I still hate to feel like I’m stupid. In fact, fear of appearing stupid can stop me from even trying things (put a quarter in the therapy jar for that piece of insight). I have also had people tell me, “you know, men find smart women intimidating”. Luckily, I have learned that those aren’t the men I’d need to spend time with and there are lots of men who don’t feel that way.
Now, just before I leave you with the impressions that I am some sort of mensa genius, I am not. Last year, it took me 6 months to figure out how to get a new garage door opener that worked. And I needed help to do that! What I do think is that I love learning. And, I find ideas, and discussion, and books fascinating. I love to be intellectual stimulated.
But, this new realm of working with my hands is a place of less security (remember: 6 months, one garage remote). And so I am letting go of my fears of not being good. Or good enough. I am accepting that I can feel anxious without letting it stop me from showing up. I am trying to stop comparing myself against the other people. Accept that my pieces don’t need to be “perfect”. Learn to not try to control the glass but rather let it shape and find it’s own expression.
That might be the most fun thing of all. That I can release the baggage around my love of learning. That I can feed this passion like the torch feeds oxygen into the flame and transforms rigid glass into swirls of light and beauty. May it do the same to me, so that my story reflects who I am.