If we have learned anything over the last two years, it’s that we have less control than we would like to have. Think about it. How many times have you wished COVID 19 away? How many times have you wanted to get someone to take the same actions you have to address the pressures and uncertainties we are living with? How many times have you thought or said “When all of this is over, I’m going to…”?
Meanwhile, the virus behind COVID 19 has quietly been doing what viruses do: it’s been adapting.
I’ve been thinking about the power in being able to adapt a lot lately. It’s really the only power we have: It’s not what happens to us. It’s what we do with what happens to us that matters.
Things are coming at me all the time that I wish I could control. And yet, if I really wanted to be in control, I would have never taken up pottery! Every journey starts with a small step, often one that doesn’t even seem to count in the big scheme of things. In 2011, my husband Russ pulled out all the stops when he gave me everything needed to equip a full pottery studio – before I had ever touched raw clay. But that wasn’t the first step in my pottery journey.
It would be impossible to know the exact first step. Was it watching the movie Ghost, where Demi Moore flows with the clay as the ghost of her husband wraps his ethereal arms around her? Was it when I was a 7-year-old and decided it was a good idea to take red clay out of the gutters of our street and throw it at the “targets” on the stone chimney of our house? (That one got me in a LOT of trouble with my mom.) Or was it when I was in a local gallery selling pottery and recoiled at paying $35 for a hand thrown mug?
Once I got started with my own clay, I came to appreciate just how difficult it can be to throw a good mug. When I look at the materials, skills and equipment it takes to throw a durable, well balanced mug, now the price seems more than reasonable.
Being ever the practical person, I decided early on that it would be cool to have a full set of pottery dishes made by me for our house. In all my times browsing through different galleries, I had seen plates and bowls and such, but could not imagine writing a check for a full set. Now that I had a studio, why not make my own?
Then tried to throw a plate.
It did not go well. It takes a BIG lump of clay to make a full dinner plate. It would be five years before I could center that much clay. It would be another five years before I could consistently make a plate of the size, shape and form that would stack to fit nicely in my cabinets. In other words, I just reached the point of making plates this year.
I still don’t have full control of the clay. Out of every 10 attempts, I’m getting about 5 plates. Some make it all the way to the drying stage and then crack. Some don’t make it off the wheel because I’ve stretched the clay too much. Many factors come into play, some of which I can’t control. Humidity plays a role and even the stiffness of the clay makes a difference.
I’m learning to adapt to the myriad facets of clay step by step and moment by moment. I’m learning to be attached to the process, not the outcome. When a plate cracks, it goes back in the recycle bucket to be remade another day. If a plate ends up being the wrong size or shape, I let it go back to the mush as well.
When a plate turns out well, I allow myself to celebrate. Ten years in, I’m finally seeing the picture I had at the beginning of this journey emerge. It’s thrilling.
Just like in working with clay, a good life is made up of all the little moments and steps.
As we enter 2022, there’s always talk about New Year’s Resolutions. Some people make them. Some people avoid them at all costs. Either way, the general consensus is that they last about a month and then we are back to our old ways.
Yet people DO change and adapt and improve.
So, what’s the best way? I don’t know for sure! But I like to take things step by step. I find this is great time to reflect, reset and create a picture for what I want to bring into my life going forward. One of the best process I’ve ever see for this is Tim Ferris’ Prior Year Review. That link takes you to his latest, very short podcast on how to do it. It’s something I’ve done for the last several years, and I’ve found that focusing on what worked for me makes a huge difference in doing more of what works.
I’ve written this process down for your reference shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a Google link to download both the Prior Year Review tool and a Momentum Creator Tool to track your progress.