Designing a Life
I once heard William McDonough, a wonderfully progressive architect, author and forward thinker, say that in the absence of a plan you have a "de facto plan" - the thing that's happening because you have made no other plan.
It rocked me to my core. I had been feeling for a long while like my life was just a ride I was taking; that I wasn't really driving. I realized that if you don't have an end game in sight of something delightful then you're just taking your chances that your life will be something you want. It's like moving chess pieces around the board without a strategy. That talk in 2001 helped me see what was missing for me. I needed a plan. I needed to design my life.
So I did it. It took a long time, a lot of introspection which was both joyful and painful at times, and a serious distilling of all my ideas from mild to wild to discern what was really possible for me. I realized what I truly desired was to live an independent life away from day to day struggles as much as possible. In a world that moves fast I wanted to jump into the slow lane.
My list of attributes for my 'life by design' included:
- high quality relationships with the people I love
- a life lived with integrity
- a peaceful existence
- art all around me
- building and living in a hand made house
- access to the beautiful places in Nevada that I grew up with and had come to cherish
- a smaller and simpler life
- a life without debt (my new definition of freedom)
So here I sit (debt free), in a beautiful, cozy, straw bale home built with the help of the loving hands of my family and many, many friends. I found the love of my life six hundred feet away from my new front door and have been married to him for over four years now. My life is filled with love and laughter and peace. Nestled between the Toiyabe and Toquima ranges of central Nevada, my "back yard" is a place of endless wonder and the rugged beauty of the Nevada high desert. It captures my imagination again and again and nourishes my muse. My days stretch out in front of me like so many little gifts, waiting to be opened and discovered; like juicy fruits hanging in the sunshine, ripe with promise and possibility.
My journey with art and particularly with polymer clay has taken me in many directions. Finding your "voice" isn't always easy and it took me what feels like a particularly long time, something in the neighborhood of fifteen to twenty years, to find mine. I picked it up and put it back down many times. In the end what resonates with me is making these lovely goddesses. To me they represent all the complexity I have come to appreciate about being a woman. Women inspire me with their dazzling variety, their strength and resilience and power and beauty and seemingly endless capacity for love. As I hold each little goddess in my hands and gently smooth the edges and apply the designs I wonder each and every time whose hands will hold her next. I will not sit down to create unless I am relaxed and my heart is open because I believe the art captures my energy and my intentions. I know each piece goes out into the world bringing something unique to the recipient. Sometimes they represent love, sometimes hope, or respect, fun, inspiration, support, gratitude, comfort; the list is endless. That they can evoke these emotions in others makes my heart sing. They serve as adornment, or talisman or gift. For me they satisfy a need to create and share and send love out into the world. They are my way of contributing to the love that is all around.