In Pursuit of Fearless

You’re in high school, standing in front of your class delivering the speech that your teacher has required of everyone. Most of the kids aren’t paying any attention, but your heart is still racing, your hands are so sweaty that the piece of paper that your notes are on is getting soaked, and words clumsily fall out of your mouth is varying pitches as you try to catch your breath.
This may sound like a nightmare, but it’s actually one of many memories of mine that has informed my complete fear of showing up and being seen.
As an introverted child, I would hide behind my mother’s legs when a relative or stranger would ask me simple questions. While I was comfortable in a space & with people I knew, I would be exuberant & playful. But as soon as a stranger or a strange place was thrown into the mix, I would clam up and retreat. My parents once paid for me to get an ultra sound at 11 because they thought that I had appendicitis. Turns out that the pain in my stomach that started every morning on the way to middle school was just my anxiety manifesting as nerves – but I had no understanding of what was happening at the time.
This is the story of many people. We are the introverted & the anxious. The over thinkers and the ‘quiet friends’. But that doesn’t mean that we have to always let these traits limit our potential.
Ashley Norman throws pottery on the wheel in Winchester, KY
Seven years ago, when I told Carvel that I wanted to open a business in Downtown Winchester I had no idea that so many people would want to see/know/talk to me. It seems silly now, but I just thought that shoppers would come in, buy pottery, and be happy with that. At most, I thought this blog would be the most that I would need to be ‘seen’ by the public. After all, I am not remarkable – I’m just a woman who runs a small pottery shop with her husband, right?
For the past few years, I have declined being a part of just about every interview that has been offered to us. Dirty South Pottery has been featured on several news stories, a couple of magazines, video footage for local organizations, and the local radio station – yet if you look at any of them, you’ll see Carvel doing the talking as I either nervously hid in the background or flat out avoided the situation completely. I wasn’t doing this just because I didn’t want to be seen, but because I genuinely believed that I was not an important part of DSP’s story – that my presence was not part of the magic of our business.
Seems a bit shortsighted, huh?
Only recently have I realized & accepted that I am a very crucial part of what makes Dirty South Pottery special. Before I would separate my skills from “me” – I knew that my vision was important, my skills as a potter were important, my designs & ideas were important. But somehow, I failed to realized that all those things cannot be divided neatly from me – that the person I am created those unique things, and therefore is innately more special than any of them.
SHEW. Oprah would be proud of that revelation.   
So I have decided to stop hiding. I decided to show up more. I decided to allow who I am come through our social media posts, our website, and our photos. And when Jessica Robinson, the creator of P&P Creative & host of the podcast Pursuing Fearless reached out for an interview, I knew I had to say ‘yes’.
This podcast allows Jessica (Jessi) to have very real conversations with women in leadership roles as they discuss passion, purpose & community. I listened to all of her episodes and was a bit overwhelmed to be considered interesting enough to hold space next to these truly remarkable women. But I scheduled the interview, and believed that no matter what word vomit came out of my mouth that she would at least be able to patch it together with the magic of post production.
So we had a Zoom call, and other than some internet troubles it went very well! I accidentally made caffeinated tea at the beginning of the call instead of decaf – a mistake I only realized after ¾ of the cup was gone – so to be honest I put off a bit more chaotic energy than I was hoping for. But I lived. And now my words, mistakes, & thoughts are available for anyone to hear. And it’s ALL OKAY.
I haven’t listened to the episode yet, but I trust that our conversation about Dirty South’s origins, how we diversified our revenue & our favorite alterative folk bands all turned out well. If you want to listen to the episode, you can find it on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or Google Podcast. But please do yourself a favor and don’t just listen to my episode – be inspired by other female artists, business owners, non-profit leaders & all around amazing women by listening to all the other episode of Pursuing Fearless.
Though I won’t spoil the whole episode for you, I will tell you this: at the end of every episode Jessi asks her guests “What does pursuing fearless look like you right now?”. My answer was simply “Doing this interview.”
Allowing myself to be seen is a radical act of fearlessness for me. I can’t always promise myself that I’ll say ‘yes’ to opportunities, but I do know that when I do I will show up as my true self – flawed & whole.  
Ashley Norman

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