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Solving Life Problems With… Pottery?
Or, how lessons from random creative projects come in handy when you least expect it.
I took a wheel-throwing ceramics class last year and never really got the hang of it. But, despite all my fumbling and frustration, some insights from that experience have been helping me out in a completely different area of life: Breastfeeding.
Although the two processes are completely unrelated, they actually have a lot more in common than you might think.
Before I became a mom, I often heard this saying about breastfeeding: It may be a natural process, but it doesn't always come naturally.
In my experience, the same is true with pottery.
People have been creating vessels out of clay since the dawn of time. Harnessing earth, water, and fire? It doesn’t get more natural than that!
But if you ask the average person to whip up a halfway decent bowl on a potter’s wheel, you’ll quickly realize that it’s hardly a skill we're all born with.
Although my little one is happy and healthy, I’ve experienced the tricky side of nursing. Even with support from a lactation consultant, I didn’t completely understand how little adjustments could result in a better experience.
As it turns out, there’s a lot more choreography to it than I would have ever imagined. But I had a hard time wrapping my head around the importance of those nuances. I was skeptical about the likelihood of solving my problems with just a few little positioning tweaks.
That is, until I made a connection between breastfeeding and using a potter’s wheel.
The lightbulb moment
In both cases, every teeny-tiny adjustment in positioning makes a world of difference.
In ceramics, just one wrong flick of the wrist can completely derail the whole thing. If you press your thumb into the clay slightly too hard, you can end up with a lopsided bowl – or a pile of mush. You might end up with an accidental clay bracelet twirling around your arm before you even realize you sliced the top half clean off.
But if you manage to get it right?
It’s pretty magical.
Once I remembered how super-subtle differences in positioning could have such dramatic effects in pottery, I started to understand how even the slightest change in a nursing baby’s latch could significantly improve the whole experience.
For me, this was a great reminder that being exposed to a wide variety of creative experiences automatically results in a stronger problem-solving toolkit.
No matter what unfamiliar territory you’re navigating, you can make surprisingly useful connections between past experiences and new challenges.
For instance, you might be able to calm your job interview nerves by drawing from your experience with portrait photography. Or you might think back to a woodworking challenge when troubleshooting your taxes. Who knows!
There’s no way to predict just when and how those random lessons from your creative journey will come in handy.
Even if all you pull out of the kiln is a lopsided bowl, that’s not the only thing you’ll take with you. The lessons you’ll learn in the process might just come to the rescue when you least expect it.
So, if you’re ever debating whether or not to try a new thing, just remember that it’ll be worth it one way or another.
That’s all for now – time to go feed the little one. 😊