A New Head Space

 

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my best distraction…. Sadie La Pup

In my studio each day, I try to focus on my art. I set my intentions for the day. Some days this is harder than others because I can get distracted and have trouble getting started. The distractions are many times in my head. Where do I start? What are my emotions for the day? Where did I end off yesterday? What is on my to do list? When is the next show? And, how many mugs do I need? (Do we really need more mugs in the world?)

But, some days, I have to get out of the emotions and find something to help my brain have a place to land other than the days news, family problems or just planning for another event. So, I have found that I can get into a zone much quicker if I have someone to listen to that will evoke learning about a new topic or give me a different perspective of how the world works.

I have found Podcasts to be very good for doing all of this. And I thought I would share the few that I listen to and why, in case you also need to get into a new head space. Here are the five that I have found to be just the ticket to help me to get through when silence or Pandora is just not enough to soothe.

So, first, Waking Up with Sam Harris. I think that he is about to rename this podcast soon though, to become, Making Sense with Sam Harris. Sam is a neuroscientist, philosopher and best-selling author. He explores important and controversial questions about the human mind, society, and current events. Sam also meditates. I think this is what I most am attracted to this podcast for is because his best selling book Waking Up is about doing meditation without religion. Sam is an atheist but realizes that we can train our minds to have a spirituality that can help with our daily lives. I love that! His podcasts can be very lengthy and the guests have in depth conversations about lots of topics and the perspectives they give are very current and well thought out.

Hidden Brian is a podcast that is sometimes featured on NPR because it is produced by them. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain’s host Shankar Vedantam reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships. Shankar has covered topics from the opioid crises to becoming the change that you want to see in the world.

I just discovered Every Little Thing. This fun podcast is hosted by Flora Lichtman who used to be on Science Friday with Ira Flatow on NPR. She is just delightful to listen to and has a great sense of humor. I binged on this one several days ago and found myself laughing out loud at the history of pirates and the puns that were in the dialogue. Facts are used as the basis for the stories and experts are brought in to help talk about each topic. I highly recommend this one but, if you are sensitive to language or don’t want children exposed to that use caution, but I guarantee that you will really enjoy the format for this one and the topics are so fun.

TED Radio Hour. This show is a spin off of the TED talk series. This is an actual show that is featured on my NPR station each week but the podcast can be a good way to not have the breaks that the station may put in. If you are not familiar with TED talks, it is also a good learning tool and an effective way to gain insight about how others have solved problems. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, in case you were wondering. It isn’t from some guy named TED.

The One You Feed is the least favorite of the five suggestions but this one can sometimes be interesting as well.  This show bases it’s premise of meditation, primarily but, using the parable of the Good Wolf, Bad Wolf the show begins by the guest being asked how they use the Good Wolf, Bad Wolf concept in their lives. If you don’t know the parable, you can read it here. Topics on this podcast range from depression to procrastination and why we do it, to some pretty woo woo topics that tend to make me turn to something else but, I have heard some good authors here with some good information too so I haven’t completely given this one up just yet.

In addition to the five podcasts that are my base, I have listened to the lengthy podcast series S-Town and Serial. Both these are incredible and you really get drawn in as if you have someone in the house telling you a story that will capture your attention. And the  weekly NPR show This American Life has shows that run in three Acts, usually with a theme for the week.

So, if silence is too much, the news is worse, family problems can’t be fixed and you need an aversion, check out my options for a lighter mood to your day.

 

 

My Studio, myself…

This Small Space…

It has been a while since I have done a blog post and after time lapses, I start to panic a bit because I know that I need to find something to blog about. But a subject jumped out at me this morning.

Designing My New Small Space

Since I have started on my new endeavor of inventing my new life as a potter, I have been working in the basement of our 105 year old house. The ceiling down there is about 5’6″ where the beams hold the floor joists that hold up my first floor and about 6 feet in other areas. I am 5’4″ tall. Herb is 6’2″. I can work down there and not bump my head, but there is the feeling of that ceiling being very close to me so subconsciously, I am scrunching my shoulders and at the end of a long day, my neck and back ache horribly.

old building

old building

We have two outbuildings on our property and one of those buildings used to be a garage and we now use it as a workshop that houses things like saws, drills, hammers and the like while the other building is basically a storage shed. It is a story and a half with a saltbox sloped roof on it. It is in pretty rough shape and so I am in the midst of trying to get help to convert that building into a space that I will use and move out of the basement.

In the process of doing all of this planning, which I seem to be spending a lot of time on these days rather than working with my clay, I am seeing and finding a lot of great posts on smaller spaces and how to utilize them. Our country is finally realizing that more isn’t alway better and that small can be a good thing. I love the idea of built in furniture and multipurpose uses for storage or furniture. Here are some of the sites that I have come across lately that have helped me to get a vision on how to use the small amount of square footage that I have…

  • LifeEdited is a site that features scaling down and living with less.
  • The Minimalists I heard these guys interviewed on NPR about becoming  minimalists and letting go of a huge house, car and lifestyle so he could be happier with less to deal with. Their blog is full of great info about living with less. You can also listen to more from them here.
  • Shrink Your Super-Sized Life and Become a Better Neighbor  A challenge for all of us to live with less energy. When we think about it, it is really all about being a better  community rather than the race to see who can own the most. Right?
  • Felice Cohen goes from 90 sq ft to 500 sq feet This woman shows how she went from 90 sq ft – 500 sq ft. I think what strikes me most about this video is that  it is her mindset about how the space is used. Especially when she was in the 90 sq foot space
  • Apartment Therapy This article on Ten Tiny houses is one that shows some great use of space.
  • And of course, one of my favorite authors, Sarah Susanka’s the Not So Big House. Sarah is an architect that realized that bigger isn’t always better and has used that philosophy in her business and yet puts a large emphasis on quality rather than quantity.

The building I’m going to move into is only 580 square feet total. That is both stories combined. The upstairs has a sloped ceiling that is not going to be useful for much else but storage of shipping materials, an office space and possibly a sleeping space if my son brings a bunch of people for a visit and there isn’t a bed in the house for them. So my new work space will amount to about 240 square feet.  The good thing about this new space is that the ceiling will be a consistent height of 7 feet and I won’t have to deal with working around support poles. So I will have a large rectangular room and can move freely about.

And of course, there is the recycling that I want to do in order to keep the trash from the landfill or to reuse as much of the old parts of the building as possible. I have found a cabinet maker locally that is interested in the lumber that is going to come out of the building. I have been searching for used items to put back into the building and am trying to have the least impact possible on the natural resources. At first I was going to add plumbing because there isn’t any in the building now. Now I am challenging myself to use as little water as possible, even though I am a potter and need water to make my craft. I am looking at, in the future, if needed, adding a composting toilet in the upstairs, just so guests might not have to come into the main house in the middle of the night.

So, as I work through this process of converting a small work space and getting the dust out of the basement, hopefully, I will blog more about this process and keep you up to date as the building is transformed into a simple minimalistic space that I can spend time creating and enjoying the my new endeavor even more.

 

Starting the Process of my New Studio

Lot Survey

Lot Survey

Last week I spent some time trying preparing a document to present to my town of Tom’s Brook’s Planning Committee so they could get a visual of what I would like build as a new studio.

At first, I thought I would put a new building in the back part of my yard but the lot size will not allow for the size of building that I want and also allow for the distance that may be needed to put up a new building and include an offset from the property line required by the county. Our house is over 100 years old and has an unusual lot shape. There are sidewalks on the property going to different parts of the yard and we have two outbuildings. One building was, at one time, a garage and we use it to store workshop items and mowers. Another outbuilding is beside the patio and is closer to the house. This is the building that I now want to renovate or take down and replace. I realized that it wouldn’t be a good idea to add a new building when the building that is closest to the house is in bad need of repair and would probably never get repaired if I had a new building added to the lot. Therefore, it only makes sense to add value to my property by fixing the old building as opposed to adding something new to the mix.

So, today I thought I would start what will be a series of posts about the process of putting new working space onto my property.

Old to New image

Old to New image

To see the presentation that I gave to my town committee you can click here and see how I envision the end product to look.

They told me that it could take 60-90 days for the county process to take place. The planner guy will be in touch with me the first of next week to give me directions as to the next steps that I will need to take.