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The Best-Laid Plans, or The Earring is Broken

I had a plan for August, and it was SPECTACULAR: full of creating, full of sharing, full of building joy, celebrating excitement, trying new things. On paper, August was a marvel, and it was MY marvel, and I was thoroughly thrilled.

The earring in the picture kind of sums up how August and I got on, though: not as well as anticipated – and it had zero to do with the plan. Things do not always go according to plan, and this is something I am still learning to work with, and that is okay.

Here was the plan:

I was going to create cat-inspired pieces to celebrate that August is the month that my studio assistant, Sage Catling, decided so graciously to adopt us 4 years ago. The pieces would celebrate the love in that relationship, allow me to practice a variety of skills and build my working times back up while still working within what my body is able to do with CRPS. There would be carving, there would be glazing, there would be things I could figure out and do on my own, and (biggest challenge some days!) there would be things I would have to ask for help with trouble-shooting on. There would also be the opportunity for me to give back fiscally to organisations that help cats adopt hoomans, so that more love could be experienced in the world, since a percentage of profits would be donated to local shelter/foster groups/organisations. So. Awesome!

August, however, did not play by the book.

I started struggling with some of the neuro issues that come with CRPS. Then we lost a family member to Covid-19. This person is an amazing spirit, and it has honestly rocked my whole family. I kept trying to stay on track, because: I HAD A PLAN!

What ended up happening instead was that I crashed.

The work I’d done to build up back-slid, and I ended up having to spend loads of time practicing at-one-ment with my bed. I was finally able to schedule a firing for my pieces, but I did not have nearly as much completed as I wanted or used to be able to create in the same time span, and then, at the end of it all, one of the special pieces I’d put so much love into creating was completely unusable because it had snapped. And did the glaze behave nicely and fire the pieces together in the kiln so that maybe I could at least use it for…something? Noooooo. The two pieces had over a centimeter between them in the kiln! So much for plans!

So, why am I writing about this? Why does it matter? Well, just like all of the people trying to figure out school this semestre, I am still trying to figure out how to human to the best of my ability around an illness that has turned my world upside-down in big ways and continues to do so at times. And if I've learned anything from an educational standpoint, it is that if one person is having a challenge with something it is pretty highly likely someone else out there is, too. Being willing and able to be reasonably open/vulnerable is that first step in starting to figure out adapting, and I don't live in a vacuum, so I'm hoping that sharing can help.

This is life, it does not always go according to plan, and we have options about how we respond. We can take it super personally, feel ashamed and blame ourselves and cut ourselves and everyone around us down by being super critical. That's an option. (Secret from personal experience - it's NOT a great option!)

There's usually a very simple Truth to a situation, and being able to take a step back and see it can be really helpful - especially if we want to create a new plan. I'm not saying it's always awesome, but it's simple. Like for me, for example, sometimes the simple truth is "I feel tired." or "I need a break." or "I can't focus right now." or "My pain level is too high to do this right now." or "I need to ask for help with this." Life isn't actually out to get us and sometimes – possibly often – we benefit from simply looking at the Truth of a situation, without shame/blame/fear. Simply looking at what is: the earring is broken. Not: the earring is broken because I no longer have the skills to effectively make things that are both beautiful and sound because I’m now a total loser who can’t work consistently and everything I do now sucks and I can’t repair it and I'll most likely never heal and it willalwaysbethiswaysowhydon’tIjustgiveup?! That's not Truth. That's shame, blame, and a hatefully destructive pity party all rolled into one. You can have the most amazing plan, with built-in contingencies, and all the jazz in the world, but it doesn’t mean things will work in reality the way they did on paper. As a semi-tough maybe-too-soon perspective: Ask several businesses how their 2020 looked on paper last December, or even in January/February/March – it miiiight be very different from how 2020 looks for them now.

I’m happy to say that I have a plan for September, and it’s ALSO amazing – and it is more flexible, more allowing, more adaptable. That is where I am now. I’m looking for ways to turn lemons into lemonade to share with friends – or in the case of this pair of earrings, I now have the opportunity to see how the other piece works as a pendant. Bottom line? We may all have plans. They may, at any time, go completely sideways. This doesn’t mean we are horrible, rotten, worthless people who will never be able to do what we want or used to. It simply means things didn’t turn out the way we planned and expected. That’s the end. It’s a gentler response that lets us get back up and try again much more quickly. I’m testing it out, and it definitely FEELS better to me. Maybe it will for you, too. We are ALL at a point where we could benefit from exploring, learning, adapting, experimenting, and asking for help and encouragement when needed. Here's to September!

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