Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lessons In Time (Everything Must Change)

When I was a little boy, my room, to the naked eye, looked pretty much like any 11 year old's with the sport's posters on the wall and the baseball glove and souvenir hockey pucks on the dresser and night tables. Yet, hidden way under the bed, in the closets and anywhere I could find, were the pieces no one was able to see.

I had entire cities made of cardboard boxes stowed there for my action figures. My closet was painted (as well as an eleven year old can) with Egyptian hieroglyphs on the walls and my dresser drawers were filled with all the little extras my imagination created to aid the hours of solitude and play time.

And, no matter how much I had already created in this way, there was a to-do list somewhere with another three dozen ideas. . .

This is pretty much how I am today with my Etsy shops.

I have a foundation of things in each shop that I make and remake as they sell. They are the things "on the dresser" so to speak, there for everyone to see. . . but I always have another three dozen and more in some form of process going at any one time.  Seriously. . . all. . . the. . . time. . .  lol

This is both the good and bad of my creative soul.  In one way, it allows me to constantly keep moving forward even when I am making that miniature stone chapel for the umpteenth time, which is the good. I never quite feel like I am in a rut.

On the down side, I can guarantee you I should be spending time making multiples of the things that, come the holiday season, I will wish I had made many of in advance. Because I know they will be selling but I would rather take that extra time and work on something new or undeveloped.

The thing is, my creative "success" has been directly related to a return to those childhood habits and imaginings. Much of what I create today is based on that 11 year old boys fascinations and interests in mysteries and unknowns. So, the change we experience in life is also, as I have found, cyclical.  

Everything must change or it stagnates. In my world I can feel stagnation, when it creeps in, like I can feel the slow movement of the hands of a clock. . . it can somehow be upon you without any notice.

So, take five minutes, if that's what you can spare, and just start on a new idea. Or find something inside from your childhood. Tuck it away and keep at it when you can. . . but consider doing it because, if nothing else, it's a movement forward.

It's a nod to the law of change.
It's a step towards a circle completed '=
And it will keep you ahead of the sands of time. . .if only by a grain or two.

*No tidying. . . this is just how I started the day. . . projects everywhere . . . LOTS of motion just like when I was 11. lol*

Thanx for reading!!


This was inspired by an excellent post by Sarah on the AGTeam blog which you can read here:
Time's Catching Up: Making Big Changes

And another view:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Never One To Follow The Crowd - Four Vignettes


When I began writing music 30 some years ago, I knew I didn't want to play in a band. I didn't want to play on stage. I didn't want to write normal "songs". The other 99% of musicians I knew aspired to those goals.

I set my sights on other ways of going about the business at hand and, in the end, I created and recorded music for meditation videos, wrote pieces for modern dance companies and entire scores for art installations and brought my own multimedia performance shows to the theater.


When I decided to move out of the mid-sized city I grew up in, all of my friends were shocked that I chose a small town of 6000 all the way across the country. They had all moved to larger cities.
To huge metropolises.
Most were, admittedly, miserable.
I went off with the idea that a small town, even in bad economic times, could provide more opportunity if you had a variety of services you could offer AND were actually good at them. In those years, I was never at a want for work in ANY of the areas I pursued.  


When I started my first coffeehouse, the last owner I had worked for came to visit my place.
"How can you make it with only fifteen seats?" he asked as he looked around the converted house-turned-bakery/cafe.

His restaurant, to this day one of my favorite places I have ever worked, sat 55 people in a huge and spacious room. Most nights it was two thirds empty.
It often felt even emptier.
And people talked about that all over town.

The same people talked about my place, with no mention of the small number of seats, but only of the fact that it was impossible to get into almost every day for lunch.


So. . . is it any wonder that when I decided to set up art shops on the internet, I chose, in every avenue, to veer away from what is popular merchandise wise and any promotional avenues that are already over-saturated and pursued by everyone. A year later, I am making things I never dreamed I would be creating and I am finding niches in each area of my work that is allowing me to live, as a working artist, for the first time in my life. 

The few keys I always follow are to stay wide open to the possibilities and steered clear of the "brass ring" effect. People flock in droves trying to cash in on one idea.
Often one stemming from what others have already done first.
Often without the willingness to put in the effort and hours it takes to set their work apart form other's.

Then, as cliched as it sounds
I always follow my heart.

Not what the business model suggests would be good to do.
Just what I LOVE to do.
Just what my heart asks. . .
And, I

I think, in truth, many people have forgotten how to do this.
And listening to our heart, and to our customers as we cultivate them, is a niche market all of it's own
And while it definitely is not a guarantee of our success
It IS a guarantee of our sanity
And that makes anyone who follows their heart
The genius of the crowd

Thanks for reading!

This blog topic was inspired by Lee at One Clay Bead who wrote this charming post here:
Etsy AGTeam Wirter's Circle Post


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Climate Change - Poem

Climate Change

When it rains HERE
People do not talk about climate change
Day after day it comes
And no one thinks of it as an inconvenience
No one feels that their day is lost

Day after day it falls
And I watch from my window as people
With it
Not dashing, as if to slip as many raindrops as they can
While wearing a lemon peel puss

They move easily in it
As if it were just part of them
As if they were invisible

Now I am here
Far from that place where they throw stones at the clouds
Far from that place where umbrellas reign
Far from where no one wants to go unseen for long
Those places
Are gone now
Wiped from my memory
Due to climate change

I am here now

Moving with the rain
And I'm happily

by nicolas hall 2012

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Charity - Poem


My grandmother loved to give her money to charity
The unemployed sitting in the diner
The sisters from the church
The starving overseas
And then my brother who, daily, needed "a couple bucks for gas"
So he could drive the 20 or so blocks to his favorite bar.
My mother said she was, "trying to buy her way into heaven".

The rest of her mad money would go to buy flower seeds and bulbs
And I, who wouldn't take a dollar from her without earning it,
Planted these each year
From April through September

When I moved across the country
I called her that first February to tell her
That the camellias and the daffodils and the crocuses
Were in full bloom out here already

"Boyyyyy aren't you lucky!" she said
"We'll have to wait and see if anything blooms at all here this spring."
Her tone made it seem as if that might actually be in doubt
And I, basking in the glory of my early season, suddenly realized
It was never about giving anything to charity
Or buying a ticket into heaven
Or disappearing gas

It was simply, for her
A matter of hope

~nicolas hall 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Welcome By Committee - Poem

"Welcome By Committee"

He thought we were tourists and
Crossing the road back towards the docks,
He called out after us

"Where are you from?"

"We live here" we said
"Oh, really?" "Well I was going to say welcome to our beautiful land!"
We thanked him anyway and continued on

We are tourists, in some ways, of course
Just living in a small coastal town for three weeks does not wash off the last 11 years of city living.
And, we certainly weren't carrying the look of a crabber or a clammer.

A little while later we were standing on the walkway of a long, narrow pier
The wind off the ocean was coursing through the bay and chilling our warm moment in the sun
A gull landed effortlessly on the pier post just down the railing from us
She pulls her wings in and stares
She probably thinks we are tourists too
But she doesn't say so
And suddenly, I was feeling
Truly welcome

~ by nicolas hall 3 / 5 / 12

Sunday, March 4, 2012

All Our Yesterdays

"I have lost the idealism of my 20's,  as I feared I would" - Annie Dillard

Add me to the list.  I remember fondly that wonderful, take-on-the-world-and-change-it fire that burns so bright in our youthful adult years . . . it filled me with purpose and, like the separation of of a space capsule from it's booster rockets, sent me into deep space. . . far away from my childhood home.

But then, over time, across thousands of orbits of that strange unknown world, it somehow quietly slips away. Time erodes it with washes of reality and our new found angst and uncertainty over what we are here for, or to do, with this life we are given. 

Many of us just hang there. . . suspended in that slowly eroding orbit. Waiting for the crash and burn.

Some of us escape and go on to explore other worlds.

As for me, well I do not wish to return to those days. What has replaced that explosive sense of youthful power and possibility is, as I experience it daily,  even more powerful. . . and possibly what will keep me going, albeit with a different fire, for the remainder of my years on this voyage.

That voyage is not out there, into some unknown and uncharted space.
It is right here. The point of origin and the place I began.
It is the idealism born of all that came BEFORE that time.

It's the source and the core of all of the wonders I held as truths as a child.

I sit, daily now, looking out over this beautiful corner of nature I have chosen to call home and I craft visual and three dimensional art that is all connected, in some way, to the days of my formative youth. The youth that really mattered and defined who I was to be. 

As life goes, I feel we never get very far from those years.  We never evolve into anything that was not born in those early experiences and we never learn any lessons that we did not already know, in some form, back then as well.

We are simply cycling on those themes over and over and, if we are lucky, we are able to, once again, befriend that young child who we were. We take them under our wing and either embrace them or comfort them for what they have been through and brought to these adult lives.

If we are wise, we listen.
Truly listen.

We sit with them and we realize that they have as much to teach us now as they ever did. As anyone or anything ever will again.

I consider this phase of my life to be a form of "school" all over again. I am a quick learner. I am learning once more how to lose track of time. How to immerse myself into the solitude and creative bliss that I love and have craved to return to for so many years.  I am learning how to not feel bad or "less than" for doing so.  I am learning that the world responds to people working with "what they know" far more than it does to people pretending to be in the know.

It is, as any life decision will be, a choice. 
For me, it is one based in creating, above all else, simplicity.

As far as I am concerned, you can keep the world of the "adult".  Take the politics, policies and anxieties and all the future fears that fill the days and nights of the bustling, climbing, worrying human race and jetison them into deep space.  And you can do that in a little space capsule that I will build of clay and wood.

Send it off with a hearty bon voyage!

So, now then, I am here.
Right where I was all those years ago and where I will now plan to remain as long as I am alive
Creating everything that my soul can bring forth to share
Everything that I have to offer
Everything I know

There is a shaodow over my shoulder
Hello little one
I am here for you


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Crows on the Wire

The morning begins, as most do, with the CAW of the crows outside on the wire. . .  even here in the foggy coastal pre-dawn, it is as it was in the city. . .  and for that reminder I am grateful.

Moving from the city to a very small, oft forgotten, coastal town has already brought about the clarity I was seeking in the move. Ten years in a city, albeit a very progressive and nature-loving city, had worn me down. Draining the life out of me, as cities tend to do once we have grown beyond caring about the nightlife, the constant buzz and the exterior fascinations as all are distractions from who we are or where we are going. Or sometimes just reliefs from the truth we know too well.

Three weeks here and I feel compelled to write again. To make imagery. I feel compelled to dig in deeper to my own internal world and bring forth what has been stewing all those years.

To open fully.
To grow.

Looking back at those city years, it was a slow disintegration. I didn't wake up one day and decide I hated the city again. It slowly wore me down. Slowly ate away at the awe I hold for nature around me. And I mean by this, true nature not what many city dwellers, particularly in Portland, consider to be green or sustainable which is, by it's very definition, inclusive mostly of the well being of human beings only.

The truth is, as I began preparing to move, I heard story after story from others who "dream" of such a move. Of such a life. And, though I would often shake my head and smile, I felt like treating these people as I finally needed to with myself and bluntly saying "Then get off your ass and change your life, make decisions and leave things behind so you CAN move and live where you want.

It is cheaper here. Yes, that's right. Living on a clamming and fishing bay 5 minutes from the ocean is cheaper. Much cheaper. In a town set against the quickly rising hills that surround the bay,  I now walk two blocks to the Post Office and two blocks to the local bakery which serves up 3 freshly made doughnuts for one dollar! Three blocks to the local supermarket which FEELS like a local supermarket. . . smells like a local supermarket. . . as those A & P's of my youth always did.

Historic rail cars sit just across the road on their tracks and the local coffeehouse, what I really think a coffeehouse should be, welcomes community and conversation all day long as the proprietor serves up her amazing cranberry scones and freshly made chowder. Not 50 choices for every possible diet or "lifestyle choice". Just one delicious scone. Take it or leave it but don't complain about it.

I didn't realize how much people in the city complain.  How pervasive it is that even in writing it I had to really think if it were true. But it is. It is just that it becomes such a normal aspect of so many people's lives that it seems like normal conversation. But it is not. And I was falling into it as well.

So let's focus on here. . . THIS is where I have wanted to be. The town name is of no importance. It is the place. The setting.  The fact that here, I can reinvent myself and begin again in a place where others may see decay and economic repression, I find the beauty of what used to be, what is and what could be again.

My first day here a woman in the coffeehouse actually recognized me. Not from the city and businesses I owned there but from the small town I lived in on this coast some 15 years ago. From the bakery I owned and the sandwiches I made there all those years ago. It was a bit of a shock and unsettling to be truthful but also, I know it is a part of reinventing oneself. It is necessary to acknowledge all that has come before and to accept it. 

There are,as so many paragraphs that start, "there are two types of people". In this case I am speaking of those that feel compelled to remain in the habitat they grew up in and to do as the rest of the "herd" do those that can wander and move and adapt and who can make change in their lives and leave the past behind. Those who choose what is better for them. Even when "better" means a little harder or more uncertain.

We, of this group are the crows of the human world. We adapt and we move and we find ourselves making our way home in whatever landscape we  have chosen to dwell.

There is space here.
To roam
To breathe
To live out each day fully and to explore how to create a life that I WANT to live for the coming weeks and months and years.

Will it play out that way? Time will tell. . . and I know that the crows will watch it all from their vantage point and caw as they do everywhere, every day.

And I will smile at that here. . . as I always do.