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Walter Allen of Fox 13 News Interviewing us.
A glimpse inside our studio.
Bruce starting a bowl on the wheel.
Hello and thank you for visiting our site “Pottery with Parkinson’s.”
My name is Bruce Wright, although most people refer to me as Bishop because, first of all I am an Anglican bishop. Secondly, I worked for 15 years as the senior chaplain for Florida Hospital Tampa region, (aka University Community Hospital, and recently Advent Health) and it was there that the nickname kind of stuck. (There as well as at my favorite cigar shop!)
Anyway, a little bit about me… I am 66 years of age; I’ve been married 44 years to the most wonderful woman in the world. You can read more about Elaine’s side of our story below. We have three amazingly wonderful children, seven even more amazingly wonderful grandchildren, and one very cool dog. (Actually, Lottie is a granddog of whom we have been given temporary custody by our youngest daughter.)
I have been in ministry longer than I care to remember. Have been directly or indirectly involved in planting four churches, the last of which, LifeSpring Community Church
(www.lifespringtampa.org), of which our son Jonathan does an outstanding job serving as pastor. Actually, we alternate weeks preaching so both of us will tell you that half the time you’ll hear a good sermon!
Last but not least, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2007.
And I do pottery.
Upon retirement (actually disability) from the hospital in 2015 I found myself bored silly. Of course, I was still active in our church, I still hung around with friends at the cigar stores, but the extra free time I used, although unintentionally, driving my wife crazy! A retired art teacher, she suggested I look into pottery.
I have always been intrigued by the idea of hand throwing pottery. The ability to take a lump of clay and turn it into practical and beautiful utensils seemed really remarkable. Also a few Scriptures that have ministered to me over the years, especially in times of conflict and challenge came to mind at that time.
But now, O Lord, You are our Father,
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all of us are the work of Your hand.
What an illustration of God’s control over our lives! Just like the potter who uses pressure and external circumstances to push and shape the clay, He shapes and molds us into what He envisions us. Now yielding control, that is to say, adopting the attitude that ultimately, I am not in charge of my destiny or the events of my life, has always been somewhat of a challenge. (On more than one occasion I have been described by various members of my family of being somewhat of a control freak!) Consequently, this Scripture in Isaiah (and many others like it) would be a bit daunting and disconcerting if I was unsure of the nature of the God who is shaping me.
Fortunately, Scripture upon Scripture reassures us of the nature of the God who is molding and forming our lives. He is a God of love, a God of goodness, a God of wisdom. His "molding and shaping" is designed to make us the best people we can be. Jeremiah was quite succinct when he wrote
For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
And so my wife’s suggestion got me thinking. It might indeed be good therapy for my hands which cramp regularly. Also, the concentration needed to produce a centered and balanced pot would be good for me as well. But the real true motivation behind my new avocation I guess could be called stubbornness.
I worked in a hospital. I have seen patients with Parkinson’s disease. They’re not supposed to be able to do things that require dexterity and balance. Things like throwing pottery. But I refused to allow this disease to stop me from doing something that I would l really would like to learn to do. (Thank God I didn’t want to become a brain surgeon! My stubbornness can only go so far.)
So not knowing how difficult of a challenge I really was embracing… whether or not my hands and arms would cooperate or not… whether the near constant cramping in my neck, feet, fingers, etc.etc, ad nauseam would make pot making even possible We decided we would not know unless we tried.. So, we decided to give it a shot. We purchased a couple wheels, a kiln and a bunch of other stuff, and signed up for some lessons.
So for two and a half years Elaine and I both have been throwing and hand building stoneware. And then one evening a while back,, we were talking with our son and his wife Amanda, I recounted how blessed and encouraged I was to read the following quote by Bloomberg columnist Joe Nocera in reference to the Michael J Fox Foundation;
"In its 18 years, the foundation has raised -- and spent -- over $800 million. The scientists who have received Fox Foundation funding have made serious advances toward understanding what causes Parkinson's. Once a research backwater, Parkinson's research is now something scientists are eager to be involved in, thanks to the foundation. The Fox Foundation has become the fulcrum on which Parkinson's research pivots” 2
Amanda then suggested we adjust the focus of our pottery hobby/business into more of a business and less of a hobby, with the added purpose of donating a percentage of our sales to the Michael J Fox foundation. Also my wife noted it would be a good opportunity to offer a Parkinson’s update blog, as well as a way to connect with other “parkies” for encouragement and passing along information.
Subsequently Pottery with Parkinson’s was born. We hope you will spend some time looking over our products. We hope you’ll find some you like. (Keeping in mind that most of them were made by my two shaking hands.) If there is anything that you would like us to make, we are happy to accommodate requests for products with specific colors, sizes, and uses. Just drop us a note with details!
Again, thanks for visiting Pottery with Parkinsons.com.
God bless you as together we Help Find a Cure!
Hi I’m Elaine the other half of Pottery with Parkinson’s. ( The one without the Parkinson’s. Although if any of you have a loved one that has the disease, you definitely experience their struggle.)
Originally I thought it would be just a really enjoyable hobby for my retirement. But as you can see it has grown beyond the hobby status and has become a therapy for “our” Parkinson’s.
Sharing our new venture has brought us closer together. Bruce can’t throw enough. Often times he will be working for a solid eight hours trying to perfect his craft. (After 2 to 4 hours I’m done!) Or he fills his PD induced insomnia times throwing clay!
For the last 14 years I have seen my husband struggle not only with the physical disability that Parkinson’s brings but as well with depression, feeling useless, general malaise , apathy and fatigue. If you know him you are aware that he is in “A type” personality. His constant mantra has been “I need to feel that I’m accomplishing something.”
I have witnessed,especially as the disease progresses, God's grace and strength continue to grow and enable my husband , and me, to draw closer to one another as well as closer to God.
So we work together on “Pottery with Parkinson’s” in hopes that he and I both gain not only more skill in the craft, but more importantly, help increase public awareness of the disease and how debilitating it can be.
I’m so very grateful to the Lord for leading us into this vision which is indeed a blessing for both of us.
I hope that you like what we are making and would consider purchasing an item or two. Remember we donate a portion of all of our sales to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Thank you so very much for your support!
And if there is anything we can do to help with your understanding and struggles with Parkinson's or similar issues, please get in touch via the "Contacts"page.
Help find a cure!