Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Choosing Your Experience

My sister-in-law Sarah and her plate
 We dubbed it "sister weekend".

 For Christmas last winter, Joel and I gave his sister, Sarah, a certificate to come and spend the weekend with us. We promised pampering, good food, throwing pots, painting, green tea and lots of deep conversations.

Besides catching up with us and enjoying a meal together, she seemed most excited about learning to throw pottery. 

 This weekend had been on the calendar for a month, we all were looking forward to it. I think we all expected it to be a wonderful time of rest and restoration. The trouble with this whole statement is that we "expected it to be"  something...

Sarah had only just arrived when we went out to dinner. After we had eaten, we weren't in the car two minutes before her face turned green and she informed us that her stomach was upset. We asked her what she wanted to do and she assured us she still wanted to go to the studio and learn to throw pottery.

Joel and Sarah showing off Sarah's pots
Once we were there, Joel walked her through the instructions and then set her up on a wheel. Before she could even get her hands dirty, she just looked at me and said "I think I am about to throw up so I am just going to step out for a minute." 

When Sarah came out of the bathroom, I really expected the worse. We both already assumed she had food poisoning. To my surprise, she walked back to her spot by the wheel and started centering her clay. I asked her if she'd like to go back to the apartment but she just smiled and asked me if it was alright for her to just continue throwing. Of course it was!

Sarah and Joel stayed up until 3 a.m. throwing pots. After every piece she threw, Sarah would hop up and spend a little while in the bathroom. I don't know about you, but I would have had a hard time continuing to enjoy myself if I was throwing up all evening. This scenario really got me thinking...

My sister-in-law has a barfing phobia. She will do pretty much anything to avoid that sensation but on this night, she just embraced her fate and pressed on. You know, she didn't just press on, she enjoyed herself. 

Joel showing me his creations
I believe Sarah gave us all an example of choosing our experience. She could have decided after the first puking that she would go back home and feel miserable there. Sarah could have taken me up on my offer to nurse her in our apartment. Instead, she embraced what she was excited about and what she came to our home to do- throw pottery. We teased her that she "threw" a lot that night but she did way more than create bowls and plates between bathroom visits. Sarah chose her experience. She chose to learn something new even though she felt terrible and was often turning green. She chose to create something. She chose to believe in herself. She chose to let her food poisoning be exactly what it was and didn't turn it into a monster or a big deal. It was simply a passing annoyance that would not stop her from being who she wanted to be that night. Sarah chose to have a good experience. She didn't deny that she felt terrible or that she was vomiting every 20 minutes. She simply chose to be fully present to the opportunity of blessing.

Blessing was part of it all. 

On her first try, she threw a beautiful bowl. On her second try, she threw a huge plate. I have witnessed a lot of newbies sit down at the wheel and struggle just to center the hunk of clay. I have never seen someone create something functional on her very first attempt at throwing ever. Sarah marveled us all evening.

I hope you don't have to live through food poisoning anytime soon. However, I do hope you know that even if something bad is happening and you feel like you can't control it, you can do one thing- you can control how you choose to experience it. You control your experience in life. You choose that. I hope you will choose to be blessed.