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I am UmberDove.

And by that, I mean an artist.  One who hears stories in the wind, who paints because it is what her soul tells her to do, who smiths because the muse moves through her fingertips, who loves nothing more than the promise of an unexplored trail, the sound of the ocean in her ears, and scent of a serious cup of coffee.

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Blog

Warrior Blooded

Kelly Clark

The thing is, I have lived so good, so nicely, so careful, so small.  Too small.  For over a year I've been peeling off the girl scout badges, hatching from that pretty little cocoon and I'm realizing now I've only just begun.  I don't want to be a comfortable size, a comfortable volume for the unnamed shadow who might be offended.  I'd rather tell stories about that one day I got naked and jumped in the glacial river because to not do so was bleeding my soul dry.

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One Year

Kelly Clark

One year ago, If you would have told me where I'd be sitting today, I'm not sure I would have believed you.  One year ago I wrote a post here with halting words and shaking hands; today I write with strong fingers and a clear voice.  And gratitude.  Oh holy gratitude.

One year ago life looked so different. Days were marked in slow increments of physical progress:  How long could I sit upright?  Could I walk unassisted from the bed to the couch?  What was the amount of breath I could pull into my lungs before pain took over?  Could I make it through these treatments?  Would I be able to create from any place other than my bed?  

Christmas 2013 was a sober affair.  After months of uncertainty, fear and pain unlike anything I've ever experienced, I received those dreaded words: The cancer had come back, spreading to bones.  It felt terrible.  It looked even worse.  We gathered with friends, while lights twinkled and Bing crooned, but muting everything was the very real question of would I live another year?  The thread that ties us to life was exposed for its terrible fragility and the stark reality of mortality stood in every doorway.  I was so determined to live, but I also could not escape the knowledge that sometimes, it's not up to determination alone.

Christmas 2014 was a brilliant affair.  This year, gathering with those same dear friends, on that same date, was the turning point I hadn't realized I was searching for.  It was the overpowering climax of just how much one year can change a person.  Just how different life can be.  I had spent the Fall silently struggling with markers: "Last year when the leaves first turned yellow, I was in pain and so much fear.  Last year when the wind storms came, I could no longer walk my dogs.  Last year when we roasted turkey I could no longer drive.  Last year when our neighbors put up lights I could no longer stand long enough to feed myself."  I spent the Fall striding forward with great joy and momentum in my art, but constantly looking over my shoulder, wondering, waiting.  Asking "can I trust this?"  Until Christmas.  Until I found myself remember that last year, all I could do was lay on her sofa, but this year, OH this holy year, I was dancing madly in the kitchen with my god-niece on my hip, shaking plastic maracas to "the wheels on the bus."  Remembering that last year we were wondered if we would have to sell off everything and move in with family, to this year, holding brand new keys to our very first home.  From wondering how I could create again, to deepening and broadening my art, to seeing my business grow in leaps and bounds.  But perhaps more than anything, as I spun in that kitchen, I realized this: I had moved from fear to hope.  To belief.  To the big life.  To living.  Dear god, to living and living well.  Amen and halleluia.

If you were to ask me to name a single element, a pivotal event of my life as I had lived it thus far, it would be this:  The experience of collective intention and prayer.  Last year at this time I was held unlike anything I've ever known.  Feeling the potent magic and power of collective love and energy.  I swear that has more to do with my healing than any needle I've been pierced with.  And when I say "feel" I don't mean conceptually; I mean really, really feeling it.  I mean skin prickling, heart slowing, muscles easing, bones regrowing one healthy cell at a time feeling it.  It changed me, shifting some of those deep rooted trust issues, opened my eyes to the sheer power of us all.  The raw energy of love is an experience I wish every soul on this planet could know.  I think humanity would radically shift course if we each felt that kind of agape love, that kind of pure desire for healing.  It changed me.  And now, one year later I am made of water and sinew and bone and blood and love and golden light and great, great intention.

One year later I sit on my sofa, sipping the great trifecta of coffee, tea and water.  Today I will take the pup out for a hike on the mountains I see from my living room window.  I will unpack a few more cardboard boxes.  I will finish painting the upper studio because this new life is so miraculous that our new house holds two studio spaces for me.  I will light candles and smudge bundles and text friends and watch some absurdly salacious TV.  And over all of it I tell you this: I will take joy everywhere I can find it.  I will give gratitude for every breath.  I will live for the living and pray that I find ways every day, to give back to all I've been given.  

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- Umber  

The Alchemy Boxes

Kelly Clark

There are certain ideas you must sidle up to, treat like a wild animal, waiting until they choose to rest within your vision, lick your palm and offer tender bellies.

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I am a magician.  I am a magic maker, magic seer, magic collector, magic creator.  To be honest, I think all of us humans are natural born magical creators, birthed into curiosity and wonder, each of us holding a unique collection of ideas and sight lines that stretch from the physical world into the realm of the unseen.  I believe that we can lean into mystery and step deeper into ourselves at any time, at any age.  And so with these beliefs running through my head, I've toyed with some way to bring that which I am, that which I create, to an all new level.  After months of contemplation and weeks of pushing ideas on paper, I'm ready to share what is perhaps my deepest, widest, wildest offering:

- The Alchemy Boxes -

Packed full of magic and mystery, created, collected and curated by me, specifically for you.  What might you find in an Alchemy Box?  Half the fun is in the mystery: truly it will be full of surprises tailored for the maven (or mister) on the receiving end.  I will only be listing three boxes at a go, due to the time and energy which will be poured into each.  Upon purchase, a list of twenty questions will be emailed, some simple and straightforward, some asking for feelings and stories, some as word associations, playing with memory and emotion.  I will only ask that ten of the questions be answered.  From those, I will begin making magic based off my knowledge from the questions, my intuition and the extraordinary goodness and beauty I create and surround myself with.  The Alchemy Box may contain a couple of large items, or it may contain a collection of smaller ones.  There may be Art such my one-of-a-kind jewelry, original paintings, leather work, messages on sea stones.  There may be sacred tools such as smudge bundles, medicine bags, feathered smudge wands.  There may be naturalist collections, items from my personal gatherings, bits and pieces of beautiful stones, bones, shells, corals, feathers, crystals and driftwood.  There may be hand-rolled candles, essential oil sprays, organic blended teas.  And very excitingly, there may be items from the magic makers in my life, pieces of their art specially gathered and chosen for The Alchemy Box.   

I can tell you this:

It will be magic.

Three Alchemy Boxes, offered at three different levels, will be listed in this week's shop update on Wednesday September 24th at 5:00pm PST.  I can not wait to gather your words and spin a box of pure gold.

Under Same Skies

Kelly Clark

I'd like to tell you that it started when I was a child, sitting at the dinning room table while my mom rolled out astronomy maps in dusky blues. Or in the early years of dating my beloved when we would lay in the park and I'd weave tales about the constellations into the dark, not yet knowing that storytelling was in my lineage. But it started long before me, or you, or any family listed neatly on the tree. It started with our Ancestors, their eyes held by that ancient light, recording seasons, mapping stories, finding comfort, understanding magic. These same skies, that same guiding light, led them home, just as they're leading us too.

I can't stop star gazing.  I think it was those hot summer nights, watching the moon set and red giants glow, while we camped our way through the interior West, that rekindled that fire.  I know it's the nightly episode of Cosmos wherein my heart expands at the thought of how vastly connected we are, down to our molecular level, to the earth, to the stars, to each other.  It's the incredibly synchronistic ties between ancient cultures storytelling the constellations into life.  It's the idea that humanity has always, from our first breath, gazed up in wonder.  When I stand in the dark and find my celestial bearings, scanning the sky for those clusters I know by heart, I feel the ripple of ancestry.  Of those whom I can thank for my DNA who stood under these same skies, drinking in starlight until their neck strained from the fullness of the heavens.

I think to myself, if we hold the same elements as the stars, the same bits of carbon and iron and oxygen, then so does everything else we touch on this earth.  Even this silver, that I weave into story and tribute, contains actual stardust.  And that, I tell myself, must be why it glows.

Don't ever stop stargazing, because the wonder of those great balls of light resides in you.