The Uncomfortable Zone
Relocating is a funny thing. It is almost never easy. It is a defiant step out of one’s comfort zone. It requires a considerable amount of courage, energy, determination. Open mindedness, optimism and confidence are key. Though even for the most confident self-master, at some point the feeling of being lost at sea can, and most likely will, wash over quickly leaving one gasping and questioning, “What have I done?”.
Just over a year ago I packed a small moving truck full of my belongings and left my lifelong hometown of Philadelphia, PA driving south to Athens, Georgia. I was moving for a change of pace and scenery, a warmer climate and also to live with my long distance love. I was deeply ready for something new and felt completely prepared for this move. I had moved dozens of times before, this would be the same, right? Not really. I had never moved further than across town. I had never relocated.
Once my boxes were unpacked and the dust of the move had settled I had a look around and realized quickly that I was literally lost. I needed to learn north from south, street names, how to get to the grocery store, where the closest coffee shop was, where to find a post office, a bank, a doctor. The days of calling up a friend for a quick cocktail and catch up at the local bar felt behind me. Even though there was a bit of adventure in all this, my comfort zone had disappeared and with it, possibly my definition of who I was.
I was lucky to land a job bartending. Working in a restaurant or bar has the perk of an almost immediate built-in group of friends via your co-workers. Also, by meeting the regular customers you can learn a tremendous amount about a town or neighborhood. I had tended bar for years in the past, always supplementing my income while I did other things like starting a women’s clothing line, opening a boutique, handcrafting jewelry, selling vintage clothing, making pottery. My new bar gig was appreciated and needed but I still wasn’t wild about what I was doing and who I was in my new digs. For the first time in a long, long time I wasn’t working my creative muscles and I felt downright adrift and quite frankly, depressed.
It took serious soul searching, some self-help books and the suggestion of my fiancé to look into the local pottery studio. I decided to sign up for an 8 week course and nervously drove out to studio one day last September. After one class there I felt tremendously better. Going to that class helped me to get over the shyness I had let creep in along with a fear of the unknown. It most importantly gave me a focus, a designated time once a week to sit and be creative. Before long I started spending more and time in the studio.
Working on the wheel is my time to practice centering clay and centering my mind. It is my meditation. The more time I spend working on my pottery the more attention it garners. Earlier this year I received my first commission from the restaurant where I work. Completing that order for 35 oil cazuelas was a welcomed challenge and a serious accomplishment. From there one thing led to another and my work continues to bring in more orders and most importantly to me, new friends, fans and the incredibly inspiring support from this community of makers and artists. A year ago I would have never predicted being at this point where I am beginning to make a living from my creative pursuits. It is a testament to the idea that doing work that you truly enjoy will inevitably bring success.
* to learn more about Regina's work visit here.