Thursday, November 18, 2010

moments of truth

There are two incidents that have been replaying in my head lately, seemingly unrelated, but since they keep popping up I've been looking at them more closely and trying to see the connection. They actually happened around the same time, which I didn't realize until I started writing this. One incident is kind of personal and familiar to any woman who has grown up in western civilization in the past 1,000 years. I've had body image issues since I was an adolescent, which was fortunately balanced out by the fact I had a really strong mother who told me I was beautiful every day of my life so my issues did not teeter beyond occasional starvation diets, rare splurges on stupid beauty products, and momentary flashes of self-loathing. But still, I carried the body issues into my adulthood. The gazing in the mirror wondering why my hips had to jut out at that angle, wishing my legs were just a bit longer, sucking in my stomach and wondering if I could walk around like that on the beach and look natural.

Suddenly, a couple of years ago, I got sick of not liking my body. Here I am, totally healthy with a strong physique that years of exercise and good diet brought me, and I can't even enjoy it. I have to focus in on something that's not perfect and make myself unhappy. Sound familiar? I decided right then and there to change my thinking. Every time I look at my body in the mirror now, I think, "Damn, you look good!" I give myself outrageous compliments, I flatter myself shamelessly. Doing that just makes me feel better and then I don't waste time thinking about how I might change my body. Sometimes I catch myself with the old critical eye on that little bulge hanging out above my yoga pants, and I stop myself. I try to love that bulge. I'm not going to say I get wildly ecstatic when I go bathing suit shopping, but at least I don't burst into tears in the dressing room anymore.

The other incident happened around 2006-2007 while I was in New York City helping a friend with his clothing collection during fashion week, which is a crazy, draining, whirlwind event. I went with very little sleep for a week, and after the show was over had a breakdown/crying jag out on the sidewalk. I was crying because business was not going so well for me, and there was something about helping my friend with his business that brought that front and center. Orders were slow and I was having to make ends meet by doing a lot more wholesale, and I hated it. It felt like my business was on the rocks and my success only marginal. This was the lack of sleep talking, but there were some grains of truth in there-- I was drifting. Like confronting my less-than-perfect but still beautiful body it was a moment of truth: get your shit together and work what you have or drown in unhappiness and self-pity.

How does this relate to the present? It's recognizing when the inner voice is trying to send a message. Sometimes it manifests in negative thoughts and patterns, but it's still the inner you exploring the terrain and trying to find the best path. If you read my last post, some of you may recognize the message coming through: the artist, bored with herself and her work...again. It happens to everyone, no matter what they do, I just happen to think it's particularly difficult for the artist because the boredom comes from within. Maybe I'm wrong about that but I always like to think I suffer more than anyone else. Because I do dammit, see those extra-large tears rolling down my face!? Anyway, Christmas is coming and my present to myself is getting my shit together and working what I have. I'll tell you my plan as soon as I have it in place!


  1. I nodded my head through your entire posting...I totally relate to the body stuff and to comparing myself to others and coming up short stuff... except my mom was not the supportive, nurturing type like yours (pout).

    If I ever write my own story it will be titled "Sometimes I Even Annoy Myself." I can dive into the deep end of self pity too.

    Well, this is November- many people refer to it as "Gratitude Month". A strategy I use is to keep a gratitude list- an ever growing list of all (even the little) things that I have to be grateful for:

    Beautiful walk this morning,
    The dog love(springer spaniels- awesome!!!), I have a car, a job, a studio, clothes, food, friends...
    you get the picture. It helps me keep my life in perspective AND to pull me out of the deep end.

    I am grateful that there are people like you who a) make beautiful pottery that inspires me and b) will put in writing things I think about but don't always articulate.

    If you are ever in upstate NY I would love to meet you and give you a big hug!!


  2. WHIT!!!
    A. as you know, you look great.
    B. creatively and technically you are a rockstar.
    C. I can't wait to hear the plan. I could use one too.

  3. Anonymous9:11 AM

    It is always shocking to me when people I think are beautiful reveal that they have these feelings...I had a boyfriend who when I would make funny noises about my body would say "I love your physical manifestation" This to me is the best. I often feel like a funny, odd, awkward person and for myself my biggest comfort is finding someone who is very...HUMAN looking: funny teeth, sleepy eyes whatever, and knowing that I think this person is HOT!

  4. Anonymous5:08 AM

    Thanks for yet another great post, Whitney. I don't know how you are able to read my mind so often and so succinctly, but it's amazing as are you.

  5. In this economy, surviving equals success. It's been a bumpy ride for the whole arts industry. Just hang on and keep making those exquisite pots. When the economy cycles around, your customers will be lining up again.

  6. LOVE the last 2 posts...can't actually remember how I found your blog...but read it regularly now. I am a jewellery (aussie spelling here)
    designer/artist/small business owner here in Australia...although usa born and bred. I work alone in my studio every day...For 30 years now I've "poured out the energy" and now I'm fairly empty! Travel dog and husband help...but in the end the well is dry. I am on the search for deep, truthful inspiration...
    I'll keep reading your blog with a smile...

  7. Good present. Unlike a new Cabbage Patch doll it will last you for decades! Great post.