I feel fortunate to know Ashley and Shannon of Wilson Creek Pottery. They are light hearted, deeply passionate people who give freely, and refer to their closest friends as "superfriends." When we last spent time together, we went to visit them in their new home in idyllic Spring Green, Wisconsin. Still freshly inspired from their month long trip to India, Shannon taught me how to make Ghee and we feasted on homemade Indian food. We visited Ash's Pottery Studio, met a neighboring Rhasta donkey, played a riveting game of pictionary, ate inappropriately large amounts of warm pretzels & curds, and toured the Hindu Temple that happened to be on a nearby estate. It makes me smile just thinking about it. In a short weekend, Eric and I got a colorful taste of their new life.
I witnessed them take a chance and move from the city they knew for years, to seek "greener pastures" with a new house and pottery business. I had to imagine there was a lot leading up to this decision. I wanted to know, how did they turn a "what if" into a reality? When I interviewed them for their story, they immediately brought up a guiding concept that has influenced their decisions. One that deeply resonated with me and set me on a my own course to make tremendous changes with my job and life.
Choose a lifestyle, not a career.
Beginning in our early youth, we're conditioned to focus our attention on what career we'd want. Is that really the guidepost that would provide the fufillment that we seek? What would happen if we asked children "how do you want to live?" rather than "what do you want to be when you grow up?" This quote was exactly what I needed to hear at the time, and I'd like to share with you some key principles that supported their journey. For those who are on the fence...I hope it might be just what you need to spring into action!
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Get inspired & dig deep.
Ashley read and reflected on the insights of writers and luminaries that she admired, all of which guided her overall approach towards life. One person in particular, her art professor, John Slavik, also had a particularly strong influence. He achieved a balance that she had always wanted: he gave time to himself creatively as well as giving time to the people he loved. Also, there are sacrifices to consider with anything that you desire...whether that takes the form of money or time spent. For Ashley, it meant simplfying her life to gain more time.
Give weight to what you want.
Ashley had a job she enjoyed. She was happy, but there were still facets of her life that were unfufilled. When Katrina happened, they wanted to be able to react quickly and help, but work schedules didn't allow for it. After several trips abroad were denied, it was clear her job situation was not aligned with how she wanted to be able to use her time. Outside of work, she and Shannon dreamt of a quiet life set in nature with neighboring animals. (Fainting goats and mini donkeys...to be specific!) They wanted to create a home for friends and family that was a sanctuary, yet offered new experiences.
Let it reveal itself. Stay open and get out there.
Originally they weren't looking to buy a house, let alone a business. However, a dinner with her art professor's family led to discussions of a "what-if" opportunity. One where Ashley would have the chance to apprentice and transition a pottery business from the previous owner. Unsure, but open to the idea, they took a fun road trip to check out the house and studio. When they arrived, the ideas came pouring in. Suddenly, the space and the life that they could have, started to take shape in their minds.
Be courageous & stay the course. Gather like-minded support.
Shannon provided a backbone of support to aid in taking the risk. The move to Wisconsin required a substancial investment and bet on a career that was uncertain and taking that leap was scary. But to Ashley,
"It was scarier to think that I might let it pass by."
Create a legacy.
Pottery is especially meaningful to Ashley, "being that it's meant to be touched and used. To be shared during a meal, one of the most important things to do together." There is an intimate quality to her work because her pieces are tied to personal events for her customers. Wilson Creek Pottery, has been a go-to place for Spring Green locals to get gifts for weddings and special occassions for years. The pottery is durable and stays around so long that families collect and enjoy them generation after generation. And in the same spirit, Ashley hopes to carry the torch lit by Peggy Ahlgren (the previous potter of 40 years) while bringing to it a rustic, yet modern perspective.
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I'm excited to see Ashley's work evolve and whether we're preparing or gathering around the table for a meal, we're reminded of Spring Green and a potter's loving touch. (Shown: Milk Jug Vase & Honey Pot) --> Visit Wilson Creek Pottery to see more of Ashley's designs.
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