I was overwhelmed.  It happens to people who work or think about work 16 hours a day … and that’s what happened.  Some of you know that I had a health food store in Port Hope for a number of years (10 year anniversary when I gave it up I think).  Well, it wasn’t really a ‘health food’ store … more like supplements, every kind of herb you could imagine, and facilities for treatments — massage, reflexology aromatherapy — and a fantastic second story which was used for yoga classes, meditation, visiting teachers, etc.  A lovely space filled with pretty lovely people.  Clients used to come and just hang out, breath in the smell of the herbs and oils, and share a cup of tea (we had about 100 different kinds of loose tea).  It was a bit ahead or behind of the times, perhaps … and I made a fair bit of the product we sold.  So, when I wasn’t busy with clients, or running the store, I was making creams, oil blends, herbal stuff, etc.  When I wasn’t working I was thinking about the next thing … and that’s what did me in I think.  I even wrote a couple of books at the time, one that was on the way to being published by Stoddard Publishing when the book business went for a crash in 2001 … (you can read it online at http://asktheherbalist.weebly.com/uploads/1/1/4/8/11482367/herbal_simpling_book.pdf).  

 

                        Used to be …

 

What’s my point?  I have this personality type — I have this tendency to turn things I have an interest in into full-time jobs!  The journey to the health food store was fueled by an interest in a herb garden, and that grew into owning every book imaginable on herbs and modes of healing, and that got me enrolled in the Dominion Herbal College programs (Chartered and Master Herbalist), and that got me into the Naturopathy stuff at the Clayton School, and that got me into the various Aromatherapy certificates, and so on and so on … 

 

                  Memories of China

 

The same thing has happened with clay.  It started off with a three hour class weekly with Edwin Longueville in Peterborough, and that turned into a full day, and that turned into involvement with whatever courses or workshops I could find through NCECA, Potters Council and Fusion. 

 

      One of my first pretty awful teapots …

 

That led to trips to SanFrancisco and China, entering pots into international competitions, and so on.  And, building a studio big enough to teach in (Edwin clearly demonstrating that it was the best way to actually be self supporting with clay).  At one point I think I was teaching 2 three hour classes a day 4-5 day a week and trying to do work for shows at the same time … so I managed to turn another passion into a slog!  It’s a gift!  And it’s easily done …

 

I’m teaching three days a week here in Tara, mainly one class in the evening and two on Thursdays, and people have asked me to do more, or to teach regular classes on Saturdays, or whatever.  It’s been tricky for me to set boundaries around this and say no — because I’m a bit of a old fart now and there’s other things I want to do!  I have a lifetime’s supply of art materials (because, way back in time, before the health food store and other activities, I worked in ink on paper and still do when I’m tired of the deferred gratification of clay) and I have lots of ideas — some which keep me awake at night on occasion, and then I need to get back to paper.  I still have all of these degrees and certificates from the alternative healing world, and I’m going to start using them again when I open my showroom in May … I’ll have a tiny fridge with my salves/creams, and aromatherapy blends — and I’m hoping to do some wild-crafting here so I can get back to making herbal oils and tinctures too.  And, if there is time in the day — I’d like to start a meditation group here (like we had in Port Hope!) so that some like-minded people can get together to stir up a little peace …

 

Mugs you can find at Southampton Art Gallery.

 

That’s the thing.  There’s a need for balance or I’ll end up at full stop again … there has to be time to sit and watch the ducks, head to the beach when the weather is nice, to take off for fields unknown (I’ve been bitten by a very contagious travel bug, so don’t stand too close) and to spend time with family/friends.  So I’m only teaching workshops in the summer, will be doing pottery classes in the Fall (Sept to end of November), no classes from Dec to end of February, and then back to classes March to June.  I’m giving myself lots of down time (and time to escape the weather), lots of time to make stuff, and lots of time to write as well.  I’m going to be 68 this summer … might only have another 20 good years left.  Got to make the best of them!

 

Hope you’re enjoying this fabulously beautiful day.  Here’s hoping it’s snowing a blowing tomorrow so March can come in like a lion!

 

Much love,

Susan McD