I see now that the essence of the Bedlam Farm Open House is the Open. Because that’s what Jon and I are really so much about. We began in our relationship together by opening each other up. It started with conversation. The kind of conversation I had never known but always dreamed of. Filled with honesty, curiosity, real listening, understanding and respect. And once we opened ourselves up to each other, we began to open ourselves up to the rest of the world. For me this meant finally being able to dedicate myself to my work and share it. Terrified as I was, that no one would like it or understand, never imagining that people might actually want to buy it. At first my website (then called Yes, No Quilts) was just about showing and sometimes selling my work. But as I evolved, and my work evolved, and my confidence grew, and I made connections with my readers, I opened up even more, or maybe it was the other way around. And after much blogging, I learned how to open up in my writing too. Sharing, not just my creative process, but the parts of my life that seemed as universal as they were personal. Then, I think it first happened when Rose died, I learned how to write from the emotional part of myself. To not be afraid to go deep inside me and expose and express what I was feeling in my heart and in my gut.
But it was the first exhibits at the Pig Barn Gallery that brought me out of the physical shell of my studio and made me come out from behind my computer. At these shows I came to understand that actually looking at, and talking to a person face to face was very different from selling my work on-line. Standing there in person, dealing with the realities of running an art show, and having hundreds of people in my back yard, letting them see me, not just at my best angles, at times frazzled and stumbling over my words. Because I had to trust myself and the people who showed up, it opened me up even further.
And now, at our most recent Open House, this idea of openness has extended to everyone who comes to the farm and to everyone who couldn’t be here. Jon’s Open Group (there’s that word again) the comments on my blog and facebook have introduced a new opening. Not just between me and Jon and the people who come to see the farm, but between all those people too. Everyone here, opening up to each other.
Last Sunday, Bedlam Farm was infused with a feeling of joy and trust and a warmth and openness. Opening, expanding, it keeps me from caving into myself, from shutting down in fear and anger, from becoming small. It forces me to say yes, and to trust. I used to think being open would make me weaker, that being vulnerable was dangerous. Now I know it keeps me honest and makes me stronger. And helps me connect to other people in a way I couldn’t have imagined and still have no words for.