Monday, September 29, 2008

30th Birthday Sarah-mony

I recently turned 30, and I wanted the celebration to be a reflection of my life, as I saw it in the beginning as a small child, how it has evolved through the years, and how I am now stepping forward with all of this experience into my future.

For several years, I have worked with a shamanic practitioner and intuitive healer named Joe Monkman. I first met Joe after years of trying mainstream and alternative solutions to the discomforts I was left with physically and emotionally after a car accident. It is hard to explain, but Joe somehow allows me the capacity to look deep within myself and make large perspective shifts within myself - things I've seen people take years to do in therapy, sometimes in one single session! Joe has all kinds of training in various healing modalities, including shamanic traditions from Peru. When I first met Joe, he invited me to a ceremony he did for his 40th birthday, and that's where I got the idea. He is a natural leader, and hilarious, warm, and embracing, so I thought, "Who better to lead my birthday ceremony?"

My friend Jordan Rosenberg (screenwriter) in LA, caught wind of this, and said, "Are you marrying yourself, or something?" I said, "Something like that." He said, "You're having a SARAHmony!"

And the name stuck.

I had called Joe six or seven months before my birthday to ask him if he'd be willing to help me. He was, of course. Part of the preparation I did was to face my stagefright. I took a public speaking class this summer and everything! At the time when I first called Joe, I couldn't imagine myself get up in front of a room full of people (albeit people I love) and speaking.

But I did it. First my yoga teacher, Leigh Evans, led us all in a beautiful chant. Then I gave gifts (ceramics I made) to my parents, acknowledging them for their role in the beginning of my life's journey. Joe spoke a little bit, and I walked through a mandala I made on the floor (out of glass pebbles - a circle, divided into quadrants), representing the first three decades of my life, and stepping into the next. It was kind of a whirlwind for me! I was full of excitement, and tried to speak clearly, and tell the stories of my youth, my teens, and my twenties in ways that people would find amusing, and still convey the significance of that time period on my perception of the world. (People laughed and cried in all of the appropriate places, so it seemed to work!)

As, I stepped into the forth quadrant, I declared my wishes for the future: the production of my new book through a lucrative book deal, to inspire millions of people all over the world, and to be open to giving and receiving more love.

There is tremendous power in having made those declarations. I now have a mission, to live up to my own dreams, and a community of witnesses to uphold me to that.

And, I am sharing it here, to extend that community even further.

I would like to thank Joe for his amazing role in all of this - particularly for guiding me in terms of how to create the ceremony, and the importance of stating my wishes for the future. Joe has a very cool website
(featuring photos by me!) all about the way he inspires people to live their "Rich Vision," at

And I am now using the glass from the Sarah-mony as part of glazing experiments on my ceramics projects. You can put glass in the bottom of your piece and it will melt and do all kinds of interesting things in the kiln (examples to come soon!). I love that the energy from that special moment in my life will now be imbued into more creations, and so shared with the world in different ways.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ceramics, Part IV - My First Wheel-Throwings

I am very excited to have successfully thrown a couple of pots on the potter's wheel. This was not an easy feat for me!

The first step in the process is called "centering," during which you shape the clay into a cone, and then flatten it, and cone it and flatten it again, until it spins in the center of the wheel without showing any signs of wobble.

The trick is bracing your elbows against your body so that your hands put even pressure on the clay. You make yourself as solid as possible so that the clay moves in the way you are directing it - rather than having a wobbly mound of clay make you move and wobble, too! (I was pretty wobbly, at first, until the brilliant head of the Ceramic studio, Nadiege, came over and helped me adjust myself. Thanks, Nadiege!!! You're the best.)

This shot was taken in the beautiful backyard garden work-space at Choplet in Williamsburg. Those are my two wheel-spun pieces, sitting on bats, starting to dry. (Next step: shaping and trimming. Then: firing and glazing!)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Someone Else's Ceramics

Briefly, I wanted to show off some of the amazing talent of my friend and client, Christina, whose wedding I photographed this year. Christina and I were introduced through a mutual friend, and then discovered that we both take classes at the same ceramic studio - Choplet.

Christina hand-made all of her own centerpieces for her wedding in ceramics. I was completely blown away by the concept of a "modern farm," that she managed to make both elegant and adorable. At the end of the night, she insisted that her guests take the pieces home to enjoy. She insisted I take one, as well! I was deeply honored by this gesture, and I
have Christina's bowl with the little sheep inside on a special table in my living room.

Plus, I was also lucky enough to get to photograph all of the pieces while I was at the wedding!

The technique she used to make these pieces is called hand-building. (This is as opposed to throwing pots on the wheel.) The bowls are essentially glorified pinch pots -
they were literally pinched into shape. And the animals were (most likely, although I didn't ask!) rolled out with a slab-roller and then cut out, kind of in the same way that you roll out cookie dough and cut out cookies.

I am amazed at Christina's meticulous care and attention to detail. She puts so much love into her ceramics work, and it really inspires me. Sometimes when I am having a hard time concentrating on my own projects, I think of her work - it appears so focused and effortless at the same time.

And her work is a reflection of her person - beautiful, gentle, distinct, elegant, and nuanced. I am so appreciative of getting to work with and befriend Christina. Thanks, C, for everything!!!