Would you believe that carving wood could become a conversation between the artist and the material? Join me as we chat with Michael Klosterman, a retired chiropractor who found his voice in the art of woodworking and carving. After pivoting from a successful career in chiropractics, Michael shares how he embraced the wisdom of the wood and the ancient practice of meditation to transform his art into an emotionally charged journey. A respectful nod to the masters of this craft, Michael's story unfolds the intricate dance of his woodworking life, one where the struggles of the day find expression in the grain of the wood.
As we peel back the layers of Michael's transformative journey, we learn about the silent yet powerful role of meditation in his life. From stumbling upon meditation to weaving it into his daily routine, the conversation turns reflective, echoing the patience and surrender in his art. It's more than just carving and meditating; it's about the magic of life and resilience of the human spirit. Drawing inspiration from his story, whether you're an artist seeking a fresh perspective or embarking on your own life transition, this episode promises to invite you to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. Tune in and be inspired by Michael's journey of overcoming adversity and manifesting his unique pieces of furniture, each a testament to his resilience.
Friends, our time together is coming to a close. Before we part ways, I sincerely thank you for joining me on this thought-provoking journey. I aim to provide perspectives and insights that spark self-reflection and positive change.
If any concepts we explored resonated with you, I kindly request that you share this episode with someone who may benefit from its message. And please, reach out anytime - I’m always eager to hear your biggest aspirations, pressing struggles, and lessons learned.
My door is open at my Denver office and digitally via my website. If you want to go deeper and transform confusion into clarity on your quest for purpose, visit http://www.bazporter.com and schedule a coaching session.
This is Baz Porter signing off with immense gratitude. Stay bold, stay faithful, and know that you always have an empathetic ear and wise mind in your corner. Until next time!
Good afternoon everybody good morning wherever you are, it is a good day, and thank you once again for joining myself and a special guest today. His name is Michael and he is the most incredible craftsman that I've actually ever met. Me saying that is huge. This podcast, as you know, is all about overcoming adversity, rising from the ashes and making your statement in life, and it's never too late to start. It's never too late to put the old ways down and start afresh. This is a person that did just that. I want to let him explain this journey. Michael, please introduce yourself to the world, tell them who you are, what you do and what you're passionate about.Speaker 2:
Please All right, my name is Michael Klosterman and at this point, as a retired chiropractor, I do carving and build fine furniture. And after leaving my profession I was, I had moved to Santa Fe, new Mexico, and started to take classes at the local community college, which had a marvelous, fine woodworking program. So after taking more than 10 years of classes and work and building everything in my house, I started to take courses from a master carver, yvonne Dimitrov, who was had been carving for more than 50 years. He's a Bulgarian carver and he came to the States in the mid 90s and eventually ended up teaching classes at the Santa Fe Community College. So it was an interesting journey to go from building high-end furniture to to the rather meticulous details of carving. I at first thought that carving was going to be something sort of an interim project, something to do between furniture projects, but it became more and more of a, a mainstay. So I certainly do both still. But so when I started out, you had, I had, a couple of carving chisels, and now I have a lot of carving chisels. And the thing I really do find fascinating and engrossing about carving is it's a never-ending learning cycle. You're always learning. It's very humbling. It's a conversation between myself and the wood. Sometimes I speak loudly and sometimes the wood speaks more loudly and then I have to fix whatever it is that needs to be fixed. But it's a, it's a. It's a deep interaction and I find that it actually assists my meditation practice because it's it's a very meditative process. There's an enormous amount of care that has to take place when you're carving. It's very detail-oriented and it's something that pretty much anybody can do If they, if they want to put in a little bit of time and effort. And you can start with a few chisels and as your skill progresses it just kind of snowballs and says you can think well, now I can do this, now I know my skill level has increased, now I can try to tackle this type of a project or that type of a project. And you can always look back upon you know some of the great masters of carving and see what incredible things you can do. I mean you can go back to Tillman, rime and Schneider, who was a German carver in the late Renaissance, I believe in just absolutely incredible. Or and then Grinling Gibbons, which is a strange name, but he's a British fellow who really took the art to a whole new level of delicacy and intricacy and that's. That's a whole other sort of thing, more modern times. You have people who have worked with that Grinling Gibbons style. There's a man died recently or a few years ago, david Estrily, who wrote a really quite fascinating book called the Lost Carving, where he actually had to reproduce some of Grinling Gibbons' work from in England. But one of the interesting things even about David Estrily's work was that the work becomes so engrossing that you disappear. The ego gets lost and it's just you and the wood, or it's just, it's the process. And this may happen with any artist, but it's a very common feature of woodcarvers. I heard of one carver who an American carver, who had gone to Japan and discovered that in Japan the woodcarvers are highly revered, almost like top tier people in the entire culture Because of the capacity for detail, contemplation, losing oneself in one's work. David Esterly would call it going to the empty quarter, which I always like that kind of a notion when there's no music in the background or there's just this emptying of all thought and feeling. But on top of that there is for me the quality of intention and tensionality with doing a project, so that when I'm working on a particular type of a piece. Let's say something like this the intention is sort of a green man sort of it's kind of a new agey sort of green man, but it's the notion that those qualities are brought to mind when I'm doing that type of a piece, so that each piece is not simply an artifact. It has a to me there's a numinous or a luminous quality to these types of pieces, so it's not simply a production model I don't do production model but it's more of a again I guess I'd have to say a meditation and with it being a meditation, it's the pieces become more than the sum of their parts and the piece eventually is imdued with that quality and it can be sort of a talisman or a touchstone for those particular qualities. And some pieces I will bring my day to day life of my day to day struggles of being a human in this world and put those into the piece. And it's so. I don't edit my feeling states when I'm working with a piece. So I know that this piece contains the effort to maintain focus, to maintain compassion, to maintain those qualities of persistence and care and even tenacity to keep at a project that seems overwhelming or daunting, and so bringing those qualities into a piece to me strengthen the imagery, or the imagery is strengthened by them, whatever it may be, and so sometimes it's a celebration of trials. So this piece it's certainly just a sunflower, but it was a piece that I'd been kind of wanting to do a sunflower. But also at the time of the Ukraine-Russian war, I wanted to kind of honor and celebrate the sunflower as an image of hope and persistence and resilience that these things are enduring, that these qualities do endure. So, whether it's a particular time in your life that those qualities are needed, these are types of touchstones for that type of maintenance.Speaker 1:
That's interesting. I love that. You said a few times there about meditation and the word compassion came up a lot With what you do. Is there any time in your life that you look back? Obviously when you're in contemplation or meditation, when you're working with a wooden thing. Why didn't I start this sooner? You know they're after going from chiropractic work for years and being successful in that field, and then transitioning into a meditative field or a spiritual. What was the pivotal point for you?Speaker 2:
For me it was what was in front of me. This was in front of me to do, and so that's what I was doing. My choices and my options for creative expression had been sort of narrowed, or they had been focused by my connections with the school that I was working, you know, taking classes at, and it really just went from one thing to another. It wasn't so much something I would have thought, gee, I wish I had done this sooner. Interestingly, I still have the very first carving I ever did, when I was like 17. So there was something in there that wanted this sort of physical interaction with Wood. And you know, 40, 50 years later I had an opportunity to explore that. And it really is about these early inklings that just they go by the wayside because there's so many other things that life is thrown at you to do, and when those spaces open up, then these things arise, these opportunities arise. So it's not something that's forced or not something that's aggressively pursued. It's something that is organically growing out of the time that I have to do this and it's sort of a natural progression, or natural, I should say, connectedness to my meditation process, my meditation practice. So it's a nice manifestation, it's a nice physical way of doing that.Speaker 1:
In your own words I mean the word meditation to a lot of people, not so much nowadays, but that transitional period of woo-woo stuff into scientifically proven what do you find the benefits of meditation to yourself?Speaker 2:
Calmer or peaceful. There's an old Zen saying that the point of meditation is to increase the distance between the spark and the flame. So the object of stimulus, then the response to the stimulus, whatever that may be, you can allow some spaciousness in that interaction to more fully be present with how you want to react. So this gives a larger perspective, it opens up some creative space, it opens up possibilities. It certainly allows for all of those unwanted thoughts and feelings to arise and to be looked at, to be addressed, and with an increase of compassion for yourself or for myself, I can look at those things and say, ah, isn't that interesting, without having to react and go hide or suppress those types of feelings and thoughts that simply arise. So the meditation process really just allows for clearing out a lot of emotional debris and baggage that we all carry and it's part of the human condition. So it's and to not need to be to hide from those parts of my own self and be able to look at with a bit of distance some sort of not necessarily objectivity, but neutrality is probably a better way of saying it. You can look at neutrality with a lot of. I can look at neutrality with neutrality and a lot of the situations in the world and say, oh, isn't that interesting what we're going through in the world, because it can be very, very trying for many, many people and it certainly does appear to be very trying and triggering for an enormous amount of people. So, being able to look at those situations with neutrality and allow a more compassionate response and it may be a very active response or a very peaceful response so all of those things come into play with my practice as well, I think you have something on the head there, michael, with a response rather than being a reaction.Speaker 1:
A response is calculated as thought about rather than reacting from flight fight or hiding from something. The whole world, as we all know, is programmed to be in a survival modality through many avenues. Don't have to discuss them here. We all know what they are. But what you've pointed out there was key. You respond, but it's a conscious response, from a neutral place and what you've mastered through the woodwork, through your experience with chiropractic and many, many other avenues and I want to discuss some of them in a moment because they're all relevant to what you do and how you become into what you're doing today but meditation is a key component when you're going through that process of self-mastery. People don't realise it, but anybody who has achieved any sort of success has a routine, has something that is calming or nurturing to them, and I cannot talk about it, but they have written how do you, other than doing the woodwork, do you have a routine? You have in the morning or in the evening? You do. Would you share it?Speaker 2:
Sure, so I was, my wife and I will do a half an hour meditation in the morning, after breakfast, and quite frequently I'll do a half an hour or so in the evening, before bed. So it's a way of book ending the day and clearing out the day, setting the intention for the day, or just to be present to what is arising for me in this day in the morning. So it's like, well, these are the issues, that these are the things that are arising for me, and it's like, okay, well, let's look at those things today and let's work with that. And sometimes it's simply to focus on the very best image that I can have for myself, the highest energy that I can have for myself, and let that do its thing throughout the day.Speaker 1:
I like how you're going with the flow as well and with what you do with the woodwork I've seen it personally is phenomenal. How would you explain to the listeners or the viewers that the inspiration, where it comes from and how it translates from imagery in the head or on paper or a book into this miraculous, exquisite piece of art, which is what it is? I've personally seen your work so I can attest to this, because you share how it transforms, how it changes, and that affects you and that process, because I know you've become emotionally involved with some of these pieces.Speaker 2:
Oh yeah, they're all my kids and they are really, and what that means is they're an expression of a process that I've been, that I'm engaging with, which is, I guess, what your kids become. And what was the other question, part?Speaker 1:
It was. How does it translate from paper or your brain into what it is?Speaker 2:
It's an interesting process of having a feeling state, scouring the internet, scouring books that I have on imagery, carvings or whatever they may be. Many of my carvings are reproductions of others, as a technical skill, as a technical piece of work, and it's a sense that, okay, with this piece, I am willing to put in the effort to do it well, to take the time Some pieces. I start and say, eh no, I don't have a sense that that's something I really want to engage with for the hours or weeks that a piece may take to work on. So then it's sketch work, then it's transfer the image to wood, then it's to find the piece of wood that I have. Many times I have a piece of wood that is of these dimensions and so I need a picture that will fit in there. And it's probably very equivalent to any writer who looks at a blank page or an artist who paints and looks at a blank canvas and says what needs to go on there, what can go on there? And with wood there are different colorations, sometimes there are pieces of, one would say, blemishes, and those all have to be worked on, worked around. So the imagery has to work with the piece of wood and then it's a start. Then you do at first it's the grunt work of clearing out the spaces, and that's not always terribly meditative. It's just hard chisel work or whatever I need to do to get the background or the outline, and eventually it comes down to the details and working with. What is the wood? What's wood willing to do? How is it willing to work with me?Speaker 1:
Yeah. So then I love the fact that you spend not only time with what you do, but your passion for what you do shows in the way you speak about it, and there are very few people in business or living their passion as well as doing what they do for a work. People go for a job. They go to something Monday and they don't like what they do. They do it because it pays the bills.Speaker 2:
What's the inspiration behind you showing up for you every single day Because no one else gets you out of bed, no one else takes you from the house into your workshop? Right, you know it's discipline, self-motivation. What's your inspiration for doing it?Speaker 2:
It's creativity, it's a movement of. This is something that I can do, and this is something that is in front of me to do, and this is something that helps keep me stable. It's very calming and relaxing, at the same time as sometimes very aggravating, but it's with the kinds of, I would almost say nervous energy that I naturally have. It's a way of grounding that, which is really important. Sorry about that.Speaker 1:
That's okay. It's fine, I think for playing. It's nice. It's in the background.Speaker 2:
Yeah, it is nice, so it really is just about. Here is a way to creatively express and for some reason, that's really important to me. For some people it's not so important.Speaker 1:
These are a part of your identity in NASDAQ's combination of so many things. What I'm very fascinated with is you're a man of many talents. Now I know this. You have many abilities. You're very empathetic, you're very psychic and you have an ability to and anyway, I can describe it. It's like a vibration of absolute stability and calmness, and that's very rare to find within people. It's a gift. Would you share with the listeners some of the other qualities you have, not just within the woodwork, but how you transfer that then qualities, and how they come out of the woodwork within the impressionism of what you do? Because it's all a component the empathic stuff, the psychic stuff the spiritualistic side of it. It's all components for what you do. It's not just I'm a woodworker. There's much more depth and much more light. People don't understand this, though. They need to have an inner standing of the layers behind what someone does. They're CEO of a company and they go. He's a CEO, but they're not just a CEO. There's so many layers underneath them. So would you please share with people your experience through having these natural gifts and then going through that process of exploring who you truly are.Speaker 2:
That's a big topic, but it's a you describe a funnel where everything kind of coalesces into one area. I think that those qualities of introspection and awareness of the world do come to play. Oh boy, how do I even say that I think about knowing that this process, this piece of woodwork I can do that because I do all these other things. I can be patient with myself. I can look at these errors or a slip of the chisel or whatever and say, oh okay, that's just the next thing I need to do. It's not something I necessarily need to get aggravated about Some days are easier than others, as always, but it's knowing that that too is beyond my control. So it's the acknowledgement that so little is actually in my control, that there's something else going on that is guiding or interacting at levels that I am not consciously aware of, and that's okay. And being able to be okay with that is an interesting thing to do, to recognize that I'm not in control here. Go ahead.Speaker 1:
Is that a lot to do with surrender as well? Surrendering to the journey and to the experience?Speaker 2:
Yes, and usually it's kicking and screaming, but that's okay, it's still done, it's you have to give in to the process. You can fight it all you want, it doesn't do any good. Tried that, been there, done that. That's part of my life experience, that trying to push the river or trying to go into directions that I would love to go or want to go into, it's like no, there's something else that needs to be done here. And so let's take a step back, keep centered about this process. Know that I'm not in control, particularly about all of this Surrender to this process, and what arises is what needs to be dealt with. So when I was pretty much finished with all of my fine furniture classes, it's like well, okay. So all of a sudden stepped in a carving master who said yeah, it looks like you need to take my classes, and so one thing led to another, and here I am taking.Speaker 1:
I'm actually going to put some pieces on, attached to pieces to the descriptions and the links for them and also for your, your revamp, on your website. So, under this description, please look, please check out the website. Do you know? I know you do. You've got a mountain of work You're doing now. Do you take commissions? Do you take, are you taking clients?Speaker 2:
There would be certain things I would do. Yeah, I would take clients and do certain commissions. I do have certain limitations with my shop, but that can all be discussed and to work it through I'm showing up with your full bio information and all the links to it.Speaker 1:
Is there any particular way that you would like to work with your people?Speaker 2:
Yeah, I like to have a lot of interaction with people to find out what they want and what they need and what's important to them. So an interaction is very nice and that allows me to really customize in a unique way, even to the point of working through whatever issues the person may have into the woodworking, because it's not simply a commercial process.Speaker 1:
What people have to understand is these are very unique pieces. You won't find them anywhere else in the world and they're tailored purely to you being a client and your specifications for what you want, desire and also your personality, because I've seen some of the furniture work that Michael has done and it's phenomenal. I've been to 97 countries and I've never seen anything like this. So, coming from me, that's huge. When you are working with people, people are in a conditioned world at the moment where you have a fast-paced button, it's a one-click, you're there. You've got to understand art at this level and this uniqueness doesn't happen overnight. You said earlier, michael, you've got to learn patience, there's got to be communication, there's got to be a conversation between yourself and the piece of wood. I really love that quote you said earlier, the conversation between you and the wood, because it's key People you have to understand this is not a factory line, it's not a piece of idea, furniture that you go take home put together. This is a one-off, unique piece of art, virtually. That is unique to that personal act like Having this awareness, having the ability to transform I call it genius from your head to what it is onto that wood and leave an eternal impression as long as the wood is still alive and still growing, etc. An internal impression for that person. What valuable lessons have you overcome? We all have lives and stuff happening in it Through this process of understanding your art, your mastery. What valuable lessons have you overcome in your life?Speaker 2:
Mostly impatience. I think it really has to do with surrender to that process. It's like, no, there is something else going on in the world, something else going on at this whole level that really needs to be honored and respected. And yes, there is the egoic desire to do certain things. But to be able to actually listen to that still quiet voice is a very important process of it all. It's not easily won and it's a constant endeavor. So those are the big things I think.Speaker 1:
I love that, michael, you're going to end it there, because I think that you have an amazing story, an amazing story of patience and adversity and overcoming it through your life. Thank you so, so much for joining me today. It's a truly privilege to know someone like yourself who has surrendered into their journey and overcome adversity and really learn the art of patience. She's extremely difficult to comprehend this.Speaker 2:
It makes it a very interesting journey of that Things that you would not be able to expect or anticipate, some magic happens. So I think that's the overall overarching theme is that it becomes a magical process and not to discount that Things do happen that are mysterious and numinous and wondrous. I like that.Speaker 1:
You said magic happens. People forget that a lot these days.Speaker 2:
Remember, you are the magic.Speaker 1:
Thank you very much for joining us. Thank you very much for tuning in and downloading, supporting the police. Share and check out Michael's. Become a website and check him out and give him contact me. If you're looking for a piece of unique furniture, it's one I promise you will not regret it. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, and I'll see you.