My Origin Story

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My Origin Story

I wanted to introduce myself to you properly and thought that the best way to do that would be a blog post. My journey has been unique and a bit topsy-turvey. I didn't think it was leading anywhere for a very long time, but as I sit here writing this introduction I can really see how everything - as disconnected as it felt at the time - has lead to this. 

Now let me tell you that I had a plan. I'm not sure when this plan formulated (as my memory for details and dates isn't that great) but that plan was forged in stone in my mind, come hell or high water I was going to make this life plan happen. This plan stuck early on and as you can imagine this was the only plan, there was nothing else, no plan B or C or even Z. Many of you with a bit of experience might be chuckling at this point because you already know the ending to this story but bear with me. This plan was rudely and in no uncertain terms disrupted by a small thing we call life. The error made in the development of said plan lay in two laughably critical questions that I hadn't yet asked myself, however, in reflection this period of time was a canon event with which no one could interfere. The two critical unasked questions were; what do you like doing? and what are you good at? 

The answer to these question was not math, engineering, management school, or too many outdoor activities in the cold, but if I looked at the plans things weren't adding up. 

Lets look at plan A to start with:

1. Go to the University of Canterbury and get an Engineering Degree

2. Get a job on an oil rig 

3. Fix oil spills 

Now other than the obvious fact that oil (hopefully) wont be a big economy in the future there were a few holes in this plan...for starters, not liking or being good at maths or physics and all its derivatives was the major hole, Furthermore, I moved to Christchurch - what was I thinking? I barely survive Waikato in the winter! 

So it was time for plan B, it went a little like this:

1. Ok engineering isn't it

2. Come home 

3. Start a management degree at The University of Waikato 

4. Get a job, maybe in agribusiness or supply chain 

5. You can do it, Alex! 

Spoiler alert: she couldn't.

This was a low point...well, it had really been getting lower and lower from when I gave up creativity in year 10 and changed over to science. Although I'm quite good at science and the chemistry in glazing is fun to me now, its not what ultimately lights me up. I'm not sure when exactly but the depression began creeping in and quite honestly was getting worse and worse at this point. 

The hole that formed when I stopped creating spent many years growing inside me. Creativity - although I didn't know it at the time - was a major driving force of happiness, stability and one of the more important links that I had to my identity. I did suffer during this period when I squandered my creative instincts; I was not myself and if you met me during this period of my life I would love to reintroduce myself as the person I am now. 

During this time I was a shadow of a person who felt untethered, lost and had a deep sense of hopelessness lodged in my soul. This is what depression feels like to me - a deep plummeting like you're falling into the mariana trench and the fall is never going to end. Depression with a dose of anxiety is something that I struggle with regularly, not in the way that I did during this period of my life, but in cycles of highs and lows these feelings still visit.

Pottery was a surprise in my journey; it snuck up on me when I wasn't looking for it and very gradually took over my life. In terms of the timeline I was second or third year at business school when I took a wheel throwing night course. Its very fair to say that I hated it when I first started - anyone who has experienced learning to throw on the wheel knows what I mean when I say its a kind of frustration that makes you want to give up. In my second night class my perfectionism was wrestling with the fact that I couldn't move my hands in the way I had been instructed and I was more than ready to throw in the towel.

But in hindsight thank goodness I persevered. I did terms of wheel throwing with my lovely cousin Ellen and it was fun, I wasn't taking it seriously at this point. Ellen then suggested we should do a decorating class together. I had to skip a lecture to do this class and I really think that was the beginning of the end of management school. We signed up and I think it was around halfway through Yasmin's class between lino printing and sgraffito that something sparked and everything changed. A life-long journey with pottery had begun. 

The details from this point onwards get foggy but I went to every pottery course that interested me, soaked up pottery knowledge like a sponge and fell in love with clay. It took me a long time and a lot of trial-and-error to find my style; I think at this point (around eight years ago now) I made my very first nerikomi mug. I laugh when I think about that first nerikomi mug, because gosh I wouldn't show it now. But the development process for products is long and without it I wouldn't have the stripy objects in the way I do today. 

I'm privileged to have worked with many wonderful tutors, mentors and inspirational people over the course of my ceramic journey so far, who have all contributed to the growth of Mystery Creek Ceramics in unique ways. The most exciting thing is that this journey is really just beginning.