LESSONS FROM THE MOVE: Change: The Movie (The Move continues)

Even tiny changes can reflect big ideas.

Even tiny changes can reflect big ideas.

My head’s been in a whirl the last few months. I think I’ve entered that stage in a move where it feels like my life feels like a dream. Not the great glow-y kind. The kind where I find myself picking up dog poop and I keep finding hamburger patties in the dirt and I think, “Geez, this is weird. Wait a minute…..Am I dreaming?!” (I was.)

On one hand, there’s all the wonderful, heady stuff that comes from a major life change (the good ones, that is.) We go for a drive and suddenly remember this is an incredibly beautiful area, and the ocean is half an hour away. There are the marvelous moments, like learning our resident hummingbird darts into his nighttime resting spot in our little tree in front of our front porch, at exactly the same time (relative to sunset) every night. We sit and watch for him almost every night, and get a tiny frisson of joy when we catch him in the act. (It helps that he sits in exactly the same branchlet on the tree, too.)

On the other hand, there is the sudden realization that there’s no one to call up and say, “Hey, let’s go out for a drink!” Not that I could, anyway. Since we’ve been here, I can barely stay up past 9 p.m. Sooo…no one to call up and say, “Hey, let’s go to Happy Hour for a drink!”

I miss lakes, and rivers. There are lakes and rivers here, but not so much after four years of drought. I miss thunderstorms.

(OTOOH, I don’t miss mosquitoes, black flies, humidity, nor the season of funny smells.)

A few days ago, I had the scariest change of all.

I should preface this by saying my “year” tends to begin and end at my birthday. That sounds pompous, and I don’t mean it that way, really, I don’t. It’s just that when I realized the cave of Lascaux was discovered very nearly on my birth date, and other big events that cause me to stop and gasp (my birthday is 9/11), I often have reason to stop and take my measure. This month has been the same.

I was making a ‘batch’ of horses, as I usually do. Over the years, I built up to making my animal totems in batches of up to, oh, a couple dozen or so at a shot. It made for real efficiency, shaping them all, doing all the manes at once, all the eyes at once, all the markings, etc. (Even in a good sales year, I average about $2 an hour. Maybe I should go work at McDonald’s…..) (Nah.)

Lately, the batches have gotten smaller, down to one dozen, then half a dozen.

This time, I stopped at one.  A feeling of revulsion overcame me. I was overwhelmed with this awful, awful thought:

I didn’t want to make any more batches of little horses.

That stopped me dead in my tracks. WHAT??!! What…is up with THAT??!!

But instead of panicking (what would I do without the heartstone of my work??!), I got quiet. I asked myself, where is this coming from? And what do I mean by that?

And thank the powers that be, it came to me:

I want to make one little horse at a time.

And so I did. I made two little horses that day. Each one, totally one at a time. Each got its own shaping, then its mane, then its eyes and nose, etc.

I then made other artifacts that take less ‘soul’, if you will, easier work, and popped the whole bunch in the convenction oven in my home studio.

This may not seem like a big change to you. It sure started out as a big change, but ended up being a very small change.

Or is it?

My horses have always ended up as completely individual and unique. For years, I’ve been telling folks how collectors look for ‘their horse’ when shopping.

I don’t know how to explain this, except that this, for some reason, feels even more important than ever. So important, I felt the need to slow down, to get calm, to get centered. To really see the power, and the blessing, inherent in everything I do.

There’s something growing here in California, something big. When people are attracted to my work, they fall hard. The things they tell me about it, are powerful. My internet sales are growing, from people back in New England who are either missing my work, or have recently discovered it. More and more people are telling me about how the work feels, on many levels.

It’s scary. Someone asked me why, and I couldn’t say. It’s something about, with my work having that power, comes great responsibility, something I don’t know how to handle personally. It feels like the time a bigger-than-life visitor exclaimed, “You’re a shaman! You’re a shaman!” when he first saw my work–like my work is bigger than I am. I’m not putting that right, but it was exciting, and wonderful, and scary at the same time. It was a powerful experience, and propelled me forward in ways I could not have imagined.

Something like that may be growing now. All I can do is listen. Pay attention.

The past year was all about realizing the harm brought into the world by people who don’t know what they don’t know.

I wonder what this next year holds for me.

Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.

16 thoughts on “LESSONS FROM THE MOVE: Change: The Movie (The Move continues)”

  1. Well… I for one lovelovelove your horses. And I love reading your writing.

    Re the sleeping, when I moved to the west coast many, many years ago (back when I was young), I was crazy exhausted all the time, could not for the life of me figure it out. Finally a new friend, who herself had also moved to the west coast from the same city years earlier, told me this crazy exhaustion was because I was now living at sea level, that it happened/s to everyone. Even a 1,000 foot elevation change can make a huge difference.

    Re the lack of drinking buds… ehh, you’ll meet a new pal one of these days!


    1. I looked up the elevations. Does a 300 foot difference affect us?? I don’t care if it doesn’t, it’s a GREAT excuse to start sleeping in more! If only the two dogs and the bossy cat would let me…. (Noddy actually likes to sleep in, too, so she doesn’t nudge me awake.)


  2. Dear Luanne, I’m in Virginia Beach, Va., and yours is my first email read, and how synchronistic that it is relative to my studio and creative life. I haven’t gone through the “radically move” change, but I am 77 years young, and I’m sharper than ever, and I’m not stressing over what I make, for what and for who. I’ve had 6 months of introspection, but doing a lot of writing and sketching, has brought me back to “center”, and I am choosing fabrics, threads, and beads, to start my collections for the holidays,,,,,,(or for maybe my own collection). I have never been able to work on more than one “thing” at a time. I’m looking for a more muted color range, and more “relaxed” stitching. We, (my hubby and I )are just so grateful to be living our lives on our terms. (He turned 80 a few weeks ago).
    I am wishing you a very healthy and happy birthday full of wonders, and love. I met you in person several years ago, during anACCE show (maybe), and your work always had a lovely effect on me. At the moment , I don’t have a blog, but I do post on my Facebook page. I think if you “google” my name, you can see some of my work.
    I look forward to more of your beautiful musings,,,,,,,thank you for your incite and wisdom,
    cheers,,,,Lynne Sward


    1. Your brightly colored spirit figures look familiar! My memory has been in hibernation the last couple years… Yes, we DO work in similar ways! The joys of multiple media…or the curse, depending on how many deadlines we have, right? :^)


  3. Hi Luann, I thoroughly enjoy reading each and every one of your articles! Thank you so much for all of your wisdom and willingness to share your thoughts and feelings! Chris Kaitlyn


  4. Sounds like your creativity is coming through you in a new and exciting way.
    I love that you like it out there. And I so enjoy your writing. MK


  5. I am glad that you did listen more closely to your subconscious artistic self. And as for what others might read into your work, well, I’ve often heard interviews with authors and composers who commented that sometimes people tell them about feelings or images that they had no intent of creating at all. So as long as it’s reasonably flattering, I would just roll with it. It might send you exploring down a new path.

    It takes time to put down new roots, and it sounds like you are growing strong ones, in the right place. You know what people say about having “new eyes”, and you also seem to have an open mind and heart.


    1. Oh, I’m not arguing with what people see! Far from it: I find it affirming. I’m astonished they experience how I feel about those cave paintings, through the work of my hands. Something comes through that goes way past ‘how I do it’ to ‘WHY I do it’. It’s humbling.


  6. I could never find any of your horses to buy but love looking at them! We will be on the move after many years in the same house my daughter has grown up in and its quite scary as we don’t know where will be living yet still a couple of years to go before we take the leap.


    1. Thank you for the look PQB!
      Don’t fear the change. Yes, it’s hard, yes, it’s time-consuming, yes, it can feel overwhelming. But you’re smart to be thinking ahead, and you’ll be (hopefully, pleasantly) surprised about what comes of it.
      Re: finding your horse, I keep trying to update my Etsy & Bonanza shops, but with shifting priorities, it’s hard. What seems to work right now is emailing me and working together to find YOUR HORSE. I’ve sent people images of horses I have on hand, they choose their favorite, and we go from there.


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