3.11.2014

Baby Suehr Fever

The facebook status that I want to post... aka What I really want to say to people who ask intimate details about my pregnancy and the upcoming delivery of our child.

"Friends and family! As we anxiously wait for Baby Suehr, I want to remind you that Chris and I are actually pretty private people! Please don't expect instantaneous photographic evidence when Fetus arrives. You will be disappointed, and we won't give a damn. Please don't expect to be notified when we go to the hospital. There are more important people in our lives than you who we will call, like our parents, siblings, and grandparents, none of which will be in attendance at the hospital anyways, so why should you get to know anything more than them? You shouldn't. This is a terribly exciting thing... and we understand your curiosity and enthusiasm, believe me, because WE are the ones actually going through this. And the awesome, but frustrating thing about that? We have to wade through all of your opinions and openly expressed expectations (none of which we actually care about) as we try to navigate this for the first time ever! So, please respect our privacy and demonstrate some of the patience that well adjusted adults sometimes possess. We want to share our baby with you all, trust me... only after Fetus has had the chance to be met and snuggled by Mom, Dad, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. Thank you!"

2.19.2014

Creating


I had a friend recently tell me that she and our mutual friends were not at all surprised that I got pregnant this past year. She said something like, “You make pottery and babies. That is what you are supposed to do," as though I had fallen into my calling and it was as simple as that. Although initially flattered (and excited, because clay and babies are two things that make me very, very happy and are so good for my soul), I could not resist from retreating deep into my introvert zone and truly thinking about what she said because I have only been doing one of those things. My hands have not touched raw clay since last July. JULY. Although I truly believe that of the two creative acts my friend so graciously allocated to my spirit and bones, I have been doing the greater, I cannot help but be disappointed in myself for only pouring my energy into being pregnant.

I trust clay. I love clay. It listens to me, and I to it. We have a great working, patient, honest relationship. It is a material that, like me, changes reluctantly, but beautifully evolves with the right touch. It reaches a point, then, where it can move no more and becomes a firm, permanent statement. I love everything I have learned about clay from the deeply scientific to the aesthetic and sometimes abstract theories about its role and relevance in any one persons’ life. It has been a part of the human experience for millions of years, if not longer. How blessed am I that I should be linked to a material that is so deeply linked to our own flesh that it is most often used to decipher clues about how our ancestors have lived. Clay is the material of life!

And yet, I have been neglecting it. I have put it all in my basement. Pots and sculptures sit unfired, probably cracked within the wrappings that I had hoped would protect them on their journey from central to western Pennsylvania. Slips, washes and glazes sit unstirred and settled, their lids undisturbed for months. I have boxes of raw materials waiting to be inventoried and safely stored. Unsorted boxes of clay haphazardly line the hall to my studio, many of which are undoubtedly in need of some serious reconstituting. I have been running away from it all. The serious commitment of becoming a clay artist is terrifying. I know it all starts with little steps, but so does this life within me! I want to pour my energy into both, simultaneously, one hundred percent of the time! But it seems impossible when I regularly feel like I am running on half my energy just to stay awake. I know this feeling will pass, but then comes the exhaustion and full time job of motherhood. What am I to do?

I wrote a page to myself several months ago, and (meant to) tape it into my sketchbook to serve as a reminder of why I need to be active in my studio. It reminded me that it would be wrong to deny myself a passion simply because I wanted to be a better mother. Isn’t providing a sound example of diligence and perseverance part of parenting? It would be a disservice to my future child if I stayed out of the studio, thus ignoring his or her need for an example of hard work. This is where my guilt is born. I have been losing touch with my artistic self over the past half a year out of fright and exhaustion. I owe it to my self and this baby to keep up with my artwork, my instinct to move the earth. It is time to get back into the studio and do what my friends can so clearly see is a natural extension of me.

2.25.2013

Library Day

So much time has passed, and that was never the intention when I initially created this blog. I wanted there to be more continuity in relating my life so that I might have a place to look back and reflect. I guess its a good thing that life has gotten in the way. But I also find that frustrating. If I don't have the time to keep track of what I am up to or what I am thinking about, then am I giving myself any time to sit and reflect... at all? I like the forced habit of sitting and thinking about things. I find myself every now and then thinking "oh man, this would be a great thing for me to write about", but that doesn't happen.

Like one day I was pugging in the studio and thinking about having more of a blue collar work ethic. I don't mind doing grunt work and I wish I knew how to approach a field where I could work and leave it at work and come home and dive into something else... entirely. I come home now and edit photographs of the work I just left in the studio, or look at books of other things people have made, or search the internet and gather my visual source material for the things I am working on. I am evaluating my work too much in my free time, and it is exhausting.

Anyways.

I sat down at my computer because I wanted to express how much I love libraries. I am in the library at Hood right now, sitting in their oh-so-comfortable black wooden chairs. If I could take one with me when I completed this certificate I would... they are the right angle, height, and everything else. But in my life, seating is one thing Chris and I have no shortage of. So I am sitting here in my black chair at one of those private little study desks with the divider so that the person on the other side can't distract me. I love it. I want one of these things for my own life... It is like setting up a little quiet nook that eliminates the rest of the world and lets me get down to doing what needs to be done. Today? It is weird to think that I need to look at library books. How many people go about their lives not caring about looking at the books they have access to? I checked a stack of books out of the incredible art/sociology/historical section of the library a month ago, and they are due today. I looked at one of the nine in the month they sat in my living room. The girl at the desk looked at me like I was weird for wanting to hold on to the other eight to look at them before I left them at the desk. But I need to look at them. I kept them from other people for a month... a month! They are incredible books about western American Indians and Barbara Hepworth and some other sweet little book about touching art. Drool. So I feel compelled to appreciate what is in the pages before I hand them back over. Maybe nothing will stick with me, but hopefully some gem will.

7.11.2012

On God and Life

Last night was a horrible night of no rest. I slept on the couch in a sleeping bag because the bed just wasn't cutting it... turns out the couch didn't do much better. Maybe I was nervous about the talk I had to give this morning? I woke up so that I could be at the church by 6:30. There is this small group that meets every other Wednesday morning called "Faith To Go". They eat breakfast, drink coffee and meet with someone from the congregation for an hour. It's a really good idea to get to know the people who make up the parish, and it is my understanding that it fuels their mid-week spiritual slump to consider the trials and faith transformations of others. How do we, as Christians, allow our vocation and day to day business to fit into the network of God's plan? It's a really small group, but it could be bigger. Yes, 6:30 is early, but in the long run, it seems as though these people have truly benefitted from hearing other's stories.

So this morning I woke up with the birds because it was my turn to talk about personal stuff. My relationship with... God I guess, and how I got to be where I am. There is a lot to talk about. Emotionally, I feel as though I have done so much growing up in the past five or six years. I guess that is college and the great big beyond. But there is so much to be said about those few years. Seriously... that is nearly my entire relationship with Chris, college, depression, traveling, mending familial relationships, choosing a profession and working through that vocation. So much has happened that has been transformative... I didn't know where to begin.

It started with an introduction to my life: Siblings, parents, a million extended family members (there are four new babies to meet... in a matter of eight months! Holy shit my family knows how to expand!), education, Catholic roots... and the inevitable denial of all of those things as a teen and young adult. But the story, my story, grew into such an incredible cyclical journey back to those things. I talked about how much of that internal push to return home was exacerbated by Chris' entry into the Seminary. I talked about my initial resentment. I mean... I had agreed to marry him and he was a business man. We were going to be silly rich because he is such a smooth talker and people like him. I knew it we would be fine. Ha! Life is just hilarious sometimes. Two weeks later he expressed the undeniable tug he felt towards becoming a leader of faith. I said sure, but inside I was bitter. Not towards him, but towards a God that could pull the man that I love away from me and our inevitable future family. I know how busy Pastors are. I know that they are always on call because people are always sick or dying or getting married or being born or fighting or alone and needing someone to be with them. But I need to be with him, too. I didn't want to share him at. all. And so I supported Chris, but not God. Fast forward three years, and I can say that it would be so wrong of me not to share him. He has such a gift... a talent for preaching and sharing the difficult messages of true altruism and devotion to something that cannot be seen or heard. How can I deny that, and keep such an amazing and intelligent man to myself? That is not fair. And so I share him with the world. Perhaps it is some innate fear of the wrath of God (there is that good old Catholic guilt). Who am I to deny His message and call to Chris? Who am I to say that this is not the life for us? But I am not fully committed. I would be the first to point out the holes in my own faith. And I did so this morning.

We talked about how I would rather stare at the babies in the pews in front of me than listen to the sermon. We talked about how I thought of it as a sort of a joke when Chris went to Seminary... something I don't even know if I told him. We talked about how I have a hard time trusting a God who is so quiet in my life, whose messages to me are so hidden they may as well have been written with water on pavement three days before I reached them. We talked about how frustrating is is to have the gift of making beautiful things with my hands, and yet how superficial and excessive art is. How do I help others when I am so concerned with manipulating materials for my own emotional and financial gain? Where is the work of God in that? I expressed our exasperation at the thought of working for God, honestly, and what that could mean for us financially and for our family and the limited time we might have together. Sometimes it makes me angry.

But we also talked about how blindly sitting in a pew in the back of church every Sunday for a year straight has filled a void I didn't know existed until it began to feel full. We talked about how I have learned to "let go and let God" (and can I just say that for the record, I hate faith jargon... always have, always will... but sometimes it really fits the bill).  We talked bout how I am well suited to fulfill a tough mission, and about how they, this morning's listeners, see Chris and I going far with the gifts we have received. When I hear these sentiments and evaluate how far I have come in the past few years I can see that. But an uphill climb is never an easy one. The thought of being a whole Christian is exhausting. I am not external in the little faith that I have. It is personal, quiet and within. I am still embarrassed when approached about it because I have so little faith... and am married to a man who has so much. How does that work? I am afraid that people will not understand how I can, now, so fully support Chris and yet so intensely scrutinize the God that has put us on this path. My fear of people's misunderstanding has lead to some intense judgements. I am so human sometimes.

But this morning's talk was good. It has given me a lot to chew on today. Perhaps it was good to verbally exercise some of the insecurities I have about my own faith journey... something that both comes to light and is denied several times each day. These people have established a good thing in this early morning fellowship.

7.09.2012

We are packing for the move. There are boxes everywhere in our apartment... absolutely everywhere. My anxiety has been running super high for a few days straight now, so this is a post about the market. Lincoln's Saturday morning downtown market makes me so happy! There are markets everywhere in town each day of the week, but there is nothing like going downtown and meandering between old brick buildings and visiting with the vendors who drive from all over eastern Nebraska to sell their uber tasty and fresh goodies! Here are a few shots from our past few trips.











7.01.2012

Mister Suehr

Fortune has come our way. We are so blessed to have known each other for 15 years. We are lucky enough to have realized young what we wanted in a mate, and had the clarity to realize it was each other. Seven years, three months, and twenty-one days. One incredible year of marriage.


He will always be the best choice I have made. When I need help, he is there. When I need someone to knock me off of my high horse and tell me how it is, he is there. When I need a shoulder, a hug or a hand to hold, he is always there. And he always was.


One year


Two years


Three years


Four years


Five years


Six years


Seven years.

I can't imagine not having him in my life. Sometimes I get really caught up in the fact that someday, hopefully in the very distant future, we are going to have to say goodbye to each other. It is such a horrible, sad thought, but I have it all the time. I kind of feel like I have to miss him. I have to think about what it would be like not to have him around. It helps me appreciate the stupid little things a whole lot more... like, doing the dishes together or folding the laundry together. Or the times when he is napping on the couch and I am doing whatever around the apartment. Those quiet, pointless moments are some of my favorites. He is my rock.


6.30.2012

While On A Walk

I went for a walk yesterday. It went a little something like this...

When I walk around with my camera, I always start off a little self conscious. Really. I was dressed to run (and tried to after my first lap around Holmes Lake... epic fail. More on that below), and had arrived on the trail headed counterclockwise at the same time as a large family with two adorable dogs. Every time I would kneel down to take a picture or pause to scan the grasses around me, I felt encroached upon. I appreciate solitude in my midmorning walks. It was horrible timing. I felt rushed, especially when their dogs (both of which were on leashes, but were allowed to run free dragging them behind their tiny bodies. And this makes sense how?) would run up to me and sniff my feet or yip. I'm all for a cute dog, but keep it with you.
Anyways. So I departed the path for a bit when I discovered these little gorgeous flowers, all three of which are the same type. How beautiful are they, seriously. There had to have been thousands of them growing in little color clusters along side of the road leading to a golf course. It was so perfect.
I especially like these soft pinks. Some of them were more peach than others, but they were farther back into thicker high grasses. I was already running the risk of ticks and didn't want to go deeper into the grasses. My running attire consisted of ankle socks and loose running capris, so I was pretty exposed. Not too exposed to hang out with these beauties for a bit, though.
There were also a lot of these huge poofs. Like, dandelions on steroids.
I have noticed these flowers everywhere here in Lincoln. They grow much like dandelions would all over someone's yard back home. A few days ago my preschool class went for a walk outside and every. single. child. felt the need to leave the sidewalk and collect as many of these as they could from the yards we passed. It was so cute. The path along Holmes Lake hosts small bunches all over the place, especially atop the dam.
This makes me want to get married all over again. Look at how lush those leaves are! I am a sucker for healthy looking greens.
Here are those same small wildflowers, only these have a symmetrical pink design on the outside. The way the grasses were blowing on the top of the dam was so refreshing. At this point, it was probably 11:30. The clouds were thickening and a small pre-rain breeze was blowing. If there is one thing in Nebraska that I will miss, it will be the ever present breeze. There is little here to inhibit air flow, and nearly every day whatever the weather, there is an accompanying breeze. It is wonderful. The sides of the dam are covered in high grasses and they were blowing in soft waves.
Talk about perfect texture...
We are in serious need of rain. The lake is low by several feet and the stagnant water is turning green with algae and other water plants. The stench isn't too bad yet, but I hear it can be horrible. I guess that is something we have to look forward to? I am a little bummed out about this every time I go there to run. It is one of the few places I actually enjoy in Lincoln. It is always so quiet, and when it is not, it is still so rejuvenating. I remember a summer in Gettysburg where the drought was so bad that the lake smelled for weeks on end.
What amazes me about the lack of rain here is that it is natural to the Nebraskan climate for this part of the year. Chris and I are amazed at people's resistance, however. Everyone waters their lawn daily. Everyone. And they look at you like you have fourteen eyes if you tell them you don't, or that your sprinklers are broken, or that you think its silly. I cannot imagine what their water bills are like. Chris told someone from the congregation that in PA, we just let our lawns die, and she about fell over. I don't know. I think you should embrace the climate you live in and adjust. It seems like such a waste to me.

These leaves are so beautiful. I am always looking for new textures and ways of using shape and line in my own artwork. Leaves are some of my favorite places to find these interesting elements. Asymmetrical or nearly perfect, it doesn't matter which. Of course there are a few plain, standard leaves that aren't always worth mentioning. But here! Here is the excitement. 

Look at those points! Count the asymmetry! Appreciate the voluptuousness of the body! Gush.








These make me think of shells, whales and scallops.
This awesome orange flowering plant was in a maintained bed by the point among all sorts of very straight and vertical grasses. It was so obviously showing itself off, hanging over the side and whatnot. It is so different!
I am sad that we didn't get the kayaks in this year. We got them out here and they have been in the deck closet since the day we put them there last August. I would use them over the next two weeks in the mornings, but I can't bring myself to use them here anymore. I miss kayaking the lake at home in the brisk morning wearing nothing but my suit and a cover up. I miss dreaming of the interior of the lake houses and what the people inside might be eating for breakfast or whether they are watching TV or reading a book or playing with their children. I always loved the few times that people were sitting on their docks with their coffee and they would chat with me about the lovely morning weather as I drifted by. I cannot wait to go home. Stillwater kayaking is where its at. I remember one evening I went out with a book and read in a cove while the sun set across the lake. It was so still... until a speedboat when by and created a TON of wake, haha. I get carsick really easy... and what do you know?! I get kayak sick, too. I had to put my book down and wait for the waves to calm.
These were also by the road to Holmes Lake Golf Course. They went on for probably a quarter mile and the strip was probably five feet wide. These too were blowing in the breeze. By this point there had been several short but intense cloud bursts. That steady breeze continued, however. The movement across this strip was so dynamic!
It is so pretty there. I love to focus on the grasses and think about them growing.
Holmes Lake is one of the few places in Lincoln I will miss visiting. It has always been a relaxing place for Chris and I to get away from our homesickness and recenter our spirits. Maybe because it is like Lake Heritage, our home. Maybe it is our affinity with water. Maybe it is the smell of pine that so sweetly blows along my favorite part of the path.
One of the few hills worth photographing (I'm sure there are more, but this one is so pretty). I like the areas of grasses that the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Dept. leave wild. The perimeter of the lake is nearly all high grasses, reeds and other water loving plants. To the outside of the path on this section by a small cove, this hillside wraps around the back part of the golf course and a small observatory. I once watched a snake slither from the lake into this meadow. There are always birds taking off and landing with dry grasses and worms hanging from their beaks.
More evidence that we could use a few good heavy rainstorms...
So, after walking around the lake while maintaining enough distance from the company of a large family with two curious dogs, I decided to run. After all, it was cloudy, kind of rainy and for once, not above 90 degrees. As I finished my first quarter mile and was atop the dam, the weather laughed and waged its battle. The clouds literally vanished, the humidity spiked as the rain from 30 minute before began to evaporate, my reliable breeze died and the temperature rose with that. I wanted to die. Ever resolved to complete my second lap, I pressed on. By the time I got a third of a way around I gave a big internal "fuck you!" to the heavens and walked. I was drenched. I am not cut out for a mid afternoon heated run. My intervals after that were lousy and I was as red as a beet. I'll stick to my early morning routine from now on.