As you may know, I love to create things, especially with ceramics. When I do ceramics, I am engaged deeply in it. Everything from daily hassles to world events are quieted for 2-3 hours, while I work. It is my most consistent meditative practice. In March 2020, the studio I’d been working at for 5+ years was closed for the pandemic and did not re-open. I signed up for another studio, which had a wait list.

So I waited. Meanwhile, I shut down 75% of my business for two months to figure out how to do my work while minimizing Covid-19 risk. I worried about all of those Covid things. Remember how much we worried about before access to vaccinations? (There are people in the world who are still waiting, 2+ years later for access to vaccination, but that is a subject in need of its own separate consideration.) I am still worried about most of those things, but less so. Also, TRUMP WAS PRESIDENT!!! AND HE LOST RE-ELECTION! BUT HE WOULDN’T CONCEDE! AND A GROUP OF PEOPLE TOOK OVER CONGRESS WHILE CONGRESS WAS COUNTING CERTIFYING THE VOTE!!! (Thank goodness, I could do my yoga classes via Zoom and check in with my yoga buddies.)

I waited for a year and then a space opened up in the studio. Yippee! I had a tentative return to clay. I had to remember what I’d been doing and to learn new things. I gained confidence over the spring and summer of 2021. One of the things I did was to make rain chains, which are easy and repetitive, and got me back into the groove.

In the fall, we studio members were given the opportunity to participate in the holiday sale. The requirement to participate was a minimum of 25 pieces. We were asked to commit a few months in advance of the sale. I counted the number of sell-able pieces I had. It did not take long. In fact my counting was over before I started. I had ZERO pieces. The piece in the photo above, hadn’t even been finished yet. My older pottery was either in use, given away, or not nice enough to use or give away.

I thought about how hard the first winter of Covid was. This would be a good challenge and distraction from the increasing shortness of days and dwindling hiking opportunities. I agreed to participate and I got really busy.

Pottery takes a long time to make and a substantial number of my pieces cracked, warped, or had glazing problems. I decided to combine an old hobby (beaded jewelry) with my ceramics and to make jewelry. I figured out some designs for pendants and miraculously, they had a really high success rate, getting through all of the clay steps and looking pretty. I made some pieces, like the one below, with clay scraps and others I cut with cookie cutters.

Along with some other things I was making, over time, I got to 25 pieces. But I was having so much fun that I didn’t stop. If you’ve ever strung beads on thin wire, you’ll know how much time I spent hunched over a table doing this. My neck was hurting but I kept going. I WAS INSPIRED!!! I even started an Instagram page with the name, “Beginners.mind.creative”, because I practice mindfulness and everything. In the end, I dropped off 50 pieces to the sale at the end of November. My neck hurt a lot. Then it went away. The sale happened and it was really fun.

A little time passed and I noticed that I’d had pain in my left tricep when I reached to the back seat of the car or when I reached for laundry in the dryer. It didn’t go away with yoga, though the yoga helped a little. After a few months, I started getting therapeutic massage. The massage therapist said, “I know you said that your arm hurts, but there are problems with your neck.”

Uh oh. I messed up my arm by messing up my neck because I did not pay attention to my pain while I was doing ceramics, my “mindfulness practice”.

Did I mention that I got out of the habit of yoga because I was using yoga time to do ceramics?

Two weeks ago, I got on my mat. I went to the “child’s pose”. I couldn’t do it. My arm hurt a lot. I could have said to myself, “You’ve been doing yoga for 10 years and you can’t even do, child’s pose, a rest pose!”Instead, I thought, “Oh wow, I found the perfect stretch!” I adjusted my arm position to one that provided a stretch but was not painful. I started on my hands and knees. I eased my way back to the pose, being mindful of my breathing and the physical sensations in my arm. I noticed that as the arm pain eased, it moved up to my shoulder, and as my shoulder softened, the pain went to my neck. Then my neck muscles eased. I did this about 3 times a day for the first week. By the 5th day, I could do child’s pose and stay there, counting my breath, for 10 minutes.

By not resting, it was harder to rest, painful even. It seems that I have learned this lesson before, many times in my life. It’s literally true. It’s not even a metaphor. Ask anyone with a sleep disorder if their crummy sleep one night helps them sleep better.

Part of mindfulness is noticing when my attention and focus have strayed. It is noticing when there is a lack of balance and getting back to the breath. Mindfulness is starting again, like a child, noticing and engaging with a new mind.

Peace friends,


P.S. Accidental Amazon, I promise to go to P.T. if my pain does not continue to improve. Scouts honor.

I’m now making wall-hangings but I am taking time to stretch and working at a table with much better ergonomics. I am also making them one-at-at time with much time in-between. I HAVE LEARNED MY LESSON!