Archive for the ‘Voice’ Category


A Conversation
the Pippsywoggin
Addie Brianne






Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, like just last week, and in a place far, far away, on the river bench that overlooks my garden studio, I sat in some state of despondency and contemplated the little door that is nailed to the base of the old willow tree.


I didn’t really expect the door to open or anyone to come out of it, as I knew all too well that it was only a fake door, and that my friends from the edge of imagination, the Pippsywoggins, were not real at all. But I wondered, given a chance, what the Pippsywoggins might have to say to me, today, in the midst of the turmoil that is permeating our world.









And so I sat on the bench, by the little door and stared at the muddy waters of Sand Creek, feeling compelled to be there, but also feeling a bit like a fool.  And then it happened.






An image appeared before me, addiebposter157that of the 5-inch tall Pippsywoggin Addie Brianne, who plopped herself down beside me, crossed her hands under her chin, and looked expectantly over at me with a grin.

I grinned, too, for of course it would be Addie Brianne who would show up. I remembered her story, which begins like this.

Addie Brianne is content with life.  She doesn’t have any great ambition to be a dancer or a seamstress or a writer.  She doesn’t have urges to gather the largest strawberries or the sweetest nectar or the shiniest pebbles.  She is just content to relax and to respond to life as it comes to greet her.


Ah, but don’t think that she is lazy.  No, not for a moment.   Above her front door is a sign that says:  THE FIRST THING TO DO IS TO SHOW UP.  And this she does.  Every day.  With as many of her senses of sight and sound and touch and taste and smell as she can marshal together.

Her little house hangs like a basket in the middle of a clump of willows that grow on the edge of a small farm pond where cattle come to drink, where a pair of Mallards yearly raise a brood of ducklings, and where the neighboring Irish Setter routinely comes to bark at crabs.

Because she has made it a habit to show up, she has been there to see the new calf get his first wobbly drink.  She was present when the littlest duckling got swept through the drainage ditch by the sudden spring downpour, and she glimpsed the look in the Setter’s eyes when he came face to face with the giant snapping turtle.

She shows up, and because she does, opportunities for learning and growth and amazement are continually hers.  The other Pips are a bit jealous of her charmed life.  But, you know, the funny thing is that even though they have visited her little house in the willows many times, none of them have seemed to notice the sign above her door that says:  THE FIRST THING TO DO IS TO SHOW UP.


riverwestposter57I bent down to pick up a twig to throw into current as I contemplated Addie Brianne’s story.  Now what, I said. So what if I show up? How does that change anything in this messed up world and my messy life?

As I said this, Addie jumped up and ran towards the little door at the base of the old willow tree, throwing these words over her shoulder as she entered the door, “It may not change the world but it might change you.”

I hardly had time to think about the implications of what she said when Addie was back in front of me holding a sign that said:



Show up.

Keep it simple.

Keep it honest.

Be true.

Those Pippsywoggins! Always with something new to challenge me!  But I took Addie’s poster home with me and nailed it above my own front door.  You’re welcome to make copies for yourself, if you like. I’m sure that Addie B wouldn’t mind.




Read Full Post »

Jeff Rouse of OurStoryMn.com

Chances are that if you’re reading this blog, you’re a person who identifies with the word  “creative”.  And if so, you’ve surely had someone say to you, “It’s all in your imagination!”, as if that’s a BAD thing.  Gets old, doesn’t it?

It seems to me that the mythical place of imagination is where ideas are generated, where creativity is nurtured, where visions begin to take form and where yesterday’s magic becomes tomorrow’s routine.  The ideas that are brewed in this “land of imagination” become the events and productions and goods of tomorrow. Without imagination we’d still be copying books by hand, harnessing horses to buggies and spending a good portion of each day growing and gathering and spinning and mending.

And, to be honest, I don’t believe that would be ALL bad.   I think we are in risk of losing touch with our connection to the Land and to Source.  I am a believer in the concept of simplicity and love and face time with self and neighbor.  But I do love it that with the click of a key I can talk via email or phone with my friend Iris in Israel or Dayle in California, those wonderful grandkids in Wisconsin … or, when we’re both busy, busy, busy, my partner husband, Dan (Hi, Dan), who is at work in his office downstairs.  Imagination at work has allowed us in the 21st century to stay connected with our friends and family in ways that our immigrant grandparents never, ever experienced.

Despite my ambivalence about the results of imagination, for me, imagination is Sacred.  It is more than coming up with a beautiful sculpture or a clever rhyme.  Imagination IS the rhyme. Imagination is both sender and receiver.    The rhyme isn’t clever until our receptive energy interacts with the written word.  Sort of like how air isn’t breath until a living being takes it in and interacts with it.  For me, Imagination is the Sacred Mystery of life itself.  The spark.  The energy.  The wave and the flow and the pulse that makes us – and keeps us – alive.

So, in honor of imagination, I’d like to tell you about a remarkable Imagineer who is sparking connections here in the MidWest.  Jeff Rouse, pictured, has started a business called Our Story Minnesota.  You can see his work and that of his partner, Denise, plus their platoon of volunteers, at OurStoryMn.com .

Dan and I were fortunate to be able to spend an evening with the Our Story Minnesota people a few weeks ago when I was interviewed on their Women of Sweet Swine County program.   Yup.  Sweet Swine County, their version of down-home midwest tongue-in-cheek fun and play with a healthy dose of marketing and info sharing thrown in for good measure.

The segment that we taped isn’t yet on-line, but do go check out past offerings.  As you smile, or laugh, or grin in recognition of one of the corny jokes or clever phrasings, your receptive energy becomes part of the creative circle without which there would be less energy and less joy and less reason for any of us to get out of bed every morning.


Read Full Post »

This photo suits my mood this morning.  It’s been a long time since I’ve posted.  And the reason?  That addiction/condition called perfectionism.  Couldn’t post if I didn’t have time to do it “right” or if I wasn’t in the correct mood or if I didn’t have time to write each word with precision.  Yet whose judgement is it that I crave?  And what happens if I continue to get in the way and keep spirit and soul from permeating the “work”?

And I do just that.

So here I am.  Again.  And with me come these two magnificent pictures of clouds, just as they are.  And all is well.

Read Full Post »

Back to the Source

I’ve been on inspiration overload for a few weeks (or maybe a lifetime!). First I was at the Cabin Fever Clay Festival in Laurel, Maryland, then at the National Polymer Clay Guild Synergy Conference in Baltimore, then at the American Craft Council Show at the Baltimore Convention Center, then back at my own dear studio and home where many unfinished projects and sketched ideas awaited my return. Yikes. Made me want to bury my head under a pillow to dream of finding my own voice (which I did, literally, waking up my husband Dan as I struggled in my sleep to give sound to my voice! Must have worked.  He answered!)

I know that the thing that I have to do is to just MAKE A CHOICE AND DO IT. I can’t eat all the candy in the box or see all the movies that attract my attention or keep all of the ideas that float through my head. Life is about choice, and finding a balance line along which we can walk with a sense of equilibrium. So, I’m walking. Today I have to finish the 4th in our series of Puzzle-Face Push Molds, and then I will put my body into my studio chair and create. Art isn’t about dreaming the work, but about making it visible.

I admire those people like Val Daniels and Leslie Blackford who seem to work directly from their heart and souls to their fingertips, without spending endless time analyzing and revisiting and, like my high school Spanish teacher said, “chewing my cabbage twice”. I sat with Leslie for an afternoon at the Synergy Conference, while we both worked at our Vendor Tables. I think I’ll make a little doll in the image of Leslie and set her beside me on my worktable to act as my encourager. There, that’s a decision made!

And now just a word about inspiration. I’ve been seeing seeds and pods everywhere, not only in the “flesh” on the trees in Jordan, where my studio is, but in artwork ranging from doll making to ceramics to polymer clay to paintings and prints, as well as an interesting,though not verified posting, about the origination of the shape of the cocoa cola bottle. Fascinating: http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/bottle.asp

This photo represents work from one of my favorite booths at the Baltimore ACC show. The colors were mesmerizing and so calming. I wanted to LIVE in that booth! The artist is Andy Rogers, who also does photography for other artists. Check him out! http://www.andyrogersceramics.com


Other wonderful pod-related work is that of polymer clay artists Jeff Dever and Kathleen Dustin.

Now back to walking that line ….


Read Full Post »

Graceful VinesWhen I was a little girl, I saw God as a big white man with a flowing beard, like Moses. But, as I got older, that image didn’t work for me anymore. For awhile I tried to just not think about it, as the subject made me uncomfortable. But part of me yearned for an image that reflected God to me. Since my religious heritage is Christian, I could attach the tradtional image of Jesus as that of the visible face of God. But, to me, the physical face of Jesus seemed to be only a partial view of God, only one of God’s faces.

I’ve always delighted in seeing faces in the things around me, like in clouds and in the grain of wood and hiding in the crevices of stones. I realize that’s probably because I, as a human being, am trying to see my own species reflected in everything I see. But it surely is fun. On the other hand, if God is an unanswerable question, an infinite mystery, the source of all being, then it must also be true that the creative force, the essence, or face, of God, can show up in unexpected places and be incorporated into everything that is. Perhaps, if we look closely, with the spiritual eyes of knowing, we’ll “see” God in everything around us, including me, and you.

With that premise, I’ve been collecting pictures of the face of God. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? But these pictures illicit in me a reverence and awe that reflects my view of the majesty and mystery of God. This first offering is titled Graceful Vines. Or grace-full vines.

Read Full Post »

Who Am I, Anyway?

Sweet Fairies
I’ve decided to let go of this struggle I’ve been having about who I am. I’ve been muddling over this question, it seems to me, ever since I was a little kid. (I was a pretty serious kid!)

I’ve always liked questions. To me, answers never seemed quite satisfying, and they were never set in stone. I was always peeking under dogmas and looking skeptically at rules and rethinking decisions. Though I was quiet in my rebellion, I always had to have a solid reason to go along with what others said was true. So, when I tried to put myself into a who-I-am box, I was troubled at the inconsistencies that kept popping to the surface.

Now, finally, I’m making a stand. On a line. I’m going to walk along a crooked line. No box for me. I think, at least for now (no rules, remember?), it works to be riding that line between whimsical and serious, earthy and in the clouds, teacher and student, childlike and wise. To illustrate this point to myself (for isn’t that why we really write, for ourselves?), I chose two photos from my file, Sweet Fairies and The Moment of Choice. As I look at these photos, they seem pretty opposite to me. The casual viewer might not know that one artist created both of them. Yet I did. Yes, they were created at very different times in my life, but both still hold personal meaning for me.

The little fairies were created around 1990, and were purchased at the Minnesota Renasissance Festival by my mother, AnaBel Peck. When she died in 2005, I inherited them, and I was particularly happy to have them back, as I had always loved them. Why? I love their spirit. I love that they are alive with joy. I love that they give a glimpse into an unseen world of imagination and play. I love that my mother loved them! And I love that they still make me laugh.

And the framed piece? I made that one in 2007. I love that it reflects my serious side. It talks to me about stretching my artistic skills and about choosing to make a direct spiritual statement through my work.

Moment of ChoiceRecently I read the book Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I really enjoyed reading about her determination and resulting struggle to ride that line between seemingly conflicting values. Eat or pray? Love or pray? Love and pray? Pray then love? Eat then love? Love and love? Body and pleasure or spirit and godliness? Her life would have been easier if she would have chosen one harmonious, simple way of being, but it wasn’t her. On page 29 she talks about “the great Sufi poet and philosopher Rumi once advising his students to write down the three things they most wanted in life. If any item on the list clashed with any other item, he advised, then you are destined for unhappiness. Better to live a life of single-pointed focus, he taught.” Elizabeth balked at that premise, and set out to explore how she might live harmoniously amid extremes. And she did find success – or at least a riveting story to tell.

I’m not about to set out for Italy or India, nor settle into paradise amidst the aromas of intoxicating Indonesia, but I am willing to accept that I have the right, and the need, to walk along a line that threads its way between varying degrees of opposites. To help guide my way, I’ve chosen three things as what I most want in life, and by these I’ll measure what I choose to do in 2008. The three corners of my triangular guide are (1) the awareness and experience of the mysteries of spirit, (2) connections with people, and (3) immersion in the creative process. I don’t think there are any conflicts there, in principle, but there will be some hard choices. And, I think, much more clarity as I walk my path.

Read Full Post »