"Realize that now, in this moment of time, you are creating. You are creating your next moment. That is what's real." ~Sara Paddison
I am participating in a weekly photography challenge called Focus on Life hosted by Sally Russick of The Studio Sublime.
I have a mug on my desk that says, "Do something creative Every Day." It is a credo that I live by. So I was very excited to read the prompt for this week: Create Art.
But here it is Saturday, and I am admitting defeat.
I actually did nothing creative this week.
Okay. That isn't entirely true.
I am frantically trying to design a piece for Halcraft/Michaels for a last minute assignment this month and it is turning out horrible. Sort of like Pocahontas-octopi meets hobo chic. Later today I will be tearing it apart and hoping like heck that something will rise from the ashes of this charred pile of ugly.
But that isn't exactly creating art, as Miss Sally prompted us. I guess I would define creating art as doing something that is just created for the sheer joy of creating, perhaps in a medium that I have never worked before, getting my hands dirty creating glorious messes.
Truth be told, it was all I could do to cruise on auto-pilot this week. Or maybe this month. You may have noticed a profound lack of posting from me this week. I only post when I have something to say, and I guess creating with words has eluded me, too. And truth be told, I had a bit of a gloriously messy meltdown last night. In my car. On the way to pick up my daughter from dance and head to see the basketball team play, missing my son's few moments on the court completely, while wrestling with the overwhelming annual sales tax prep.
It took a long time for my chest to unclench last night. I even tried wine, and that failed, too. But I did wake up with a renewed sense of calm. Remember last week when I felt so blissfully relaxed? I have added a few knots but the good news is that I will be back for a massage on the 7th which can't come soon enough now.
But you didn't come here to listen to me whine.
I joined in Kerry Bogert's Aspire to Wire eCourse. There is nothing that Miss Kerry does that I wouldn't want to be a part of. She inspires me in so many directions, not the least of which is jewelry design. It is a 30 day eCourse that is on something like Day #21. I have been following along, reading all the instructions, jotting notes on how I will make the projects my own. But I have yet to pick up a tool, a spool of wire, a bead and make something. Miss Kerry is working so hard bringing us the freshest, most creative projects, so I feel like a bit of a fail on this front. But at least I can come back to it when my head is in the right place. I fear that if I tried right now my wire would get all tangled and I would break my tools and it wouldn't be good.
One of my goals this year is to learn something new. Heck. That is my goal every year. But this year I thought that I would pull some books off the shelf, dust them of and teach myself one project or variation from each of them. I have about 100 books in my resource library so this in itself was a bit daunting. Every time I see a new one I can't help myself. I have to have it. And I find that it doesn't matter what the subject matter is, even if it is something I have never worked with or might never tackle, I do find something of inspiration in it. I never use a tutorial in a book or publication verbatim. I am always spinning my own twists and turns.
I happen to have a lot of books about working with metal. And it seems that every class that I take has a bent toward metalworking. So I decided to pull off 12 or so books and publications that I have admired but never used that focused on metal. And I have paged through and pre-selected a project or two that will get me going. January may be all but over, but I will make good on this idea to make art for the rest of this year.
I could have just skipped this week, but as I told Miss Sally, the planning for creating and researching for me is part of the art. I know that I will be a bit sheepish to post this amidst all the great art that I know will be shown on The Studio Sublime blog this week. But I also want to be faithful to doing the challenges no matter how challenging they may be. Who would have thought that the command to 'create art' would be the hardest for me?
But maybe today is the day. I am headed to Hobby Lobby this morning to pick up some materials to practice for the Project Day class I am doing using shrink plastic for the middle school my daughter attends. So maybe I will get my fingers messy after all.
Please go to The Studio Sublime to see all the other participants in this week's Focusing On Life.
“It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.”
~ Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay
I am participating in a weekly photography challenge called Focus on Life hosted by Sally Russick of The Studio Sublime.
Our prompt for this week involves taking time for ourselves.
Miss Sally suggested that we don't focus enough on ourselves and she is right. As women, and particularly mothers, the focus is always outside on other people. Part of my journey this year is to find BALANCE. One of the Big Rocks in my life is Health and Wellness, and focusing on myself is high on my Must List. I feel like I have completely fallen apart the past few years and I know that I must do something to affect positive and lasting change, to put myself back together. So when I saw this prompt it was like giving permission to me to do something I haven't done in a long time.
I scheduled a massage with my favorite massage therapist in the whole world - Allen Musch of Inner Element Massage.
Al and I met through the Business Networking International (BNI) group that we both belonged to. I have since left the group, but he is still a member. It just wasn't the right fit for my business, but I really enjoyed the time that I was in the group, including being the Educational Coordinator for a term. We spent many hours getting to know each other and our respective businesses and helped create situations where we could actively promote one another. But more than that, I genuinely like Al as a friend. I sometimes miss those sessions. So when we do get a chance to get together, it is easy to share ideas about our business lives and bounce those ideas again. While I was telling him what I was doing now, it occurred to me that there might be a connection we could explore with my intentional jewelry, as I am developing a line of power mantra pendants that might be a good fit for him. I will have to give that some thought for the next time I see him.
Here is a testimonial I wrote for Al on his website:
"When I want to relax, to renew and to recharge my internal batteries
there is nothing better than to treat myself to a soothing massage. I
have had massages all over the country, but the one and only massage
therapist that I have chosen to come back to time and time again is
Allen Musch with Inner Element. He really listens to me and takes care
of my needs. He is very aware of how I am feeling and what my comfort
level is. Allen always takes his time and puts great care into each
massage that he gives. I am not just a number of minutes on a clock, I
know I am a friend. I give gift certificates for his services to
everyone because I know that Allen will treat them with the care and
respect they deserve."
I seem to have forgotten my own advice.
So I took the time that I would have been working on orders and other minutiae of my life and made it about me. That might seem selfish, and it has put me a bit behind my order schedule, but it really helped me to relax a bit more than I have in a long time, which helps me think clearer and will in turn help me be better present to those who depend on me.
I hold all my stress in between my shoulder blades. I find that I am always tight through there and always feel like I am hunched over like an old crone. I always kid Al that he has to hunt the knots down and beat them out of me. The joke is on me, because he doesn't have to hunt long! I always tell Al that I feel taller when I walk out of his office. My shoulders are disconnected from my earlobes and I can stand straight.
When I went to pay for the services with a gift certificate that I picked up in an auction this past summer (I know! Shameful that I held it for so long!), Al told me that I still had time on my package. A few years ago I purchased a bulk package of massage hours. I was the first in that experiment and he used to say that I was the President of the Massage of the Month Club. (I prefer Queen President ;-) That was truly the only way that I would be sure to schedule a massage in my life, if I had pre-paid it. Apparently, I forgot about that, but Al didn't. He had to convince me that the massage was already on the books and that I actually had more time left! So I walked out with a greater spring in my step and another appointment a few weeks down the road. I promised him that I work on creating a few new knots so that he had something to look forward to the next time I am in! ;-)
In thinking about what might be a suitable picture to depict this taking time for me, I thought about the quiet and calm that his environment instills in me. Not only was the tension released, but I was able to think and plan some things in the stillness that came into my mind. I stoked a fire that had simmered down to an ember. He has a new space that is completely his own (whereas, he used to rent a space), and it is a haven from the bustle of the outside world. Stylish modern Asian decor, soothing music, soft lighting. I can't wait to get back!
I took a picture of this glowing rock salt lantern that was in the room. Apparently, aside from the calming glow, I found out that the gently heated rock salt disperses the negative ions in the air. A good visual reminder that through this stillness negativity is released and my fire is stoked.
I have to stop here and say that the reason that I joined this was that 80% of the photos that are on my camera are all macro shots of some
piece of jewelry or Simple Truth pendant. I am always constantly
inspired by those that take such compelling shots of their everyday lives. I
want to change that and take more photos of things around me. To be more present to what is around me. To document my life. What I
didn't bargain for was that this would be about so much more than just a
weekly photo. It is a about living life. Thank you, Miss Sally, for
helping me to do that!
Please go and see what the other participants have done to take time this week by hopping over to The Studio Sublime.
What did you do to take time for yourself this week?
P.S. It is my turn for the Studio Saturday over at Art Bead Scene if you would like to see what I have been up to! I am pretty excited about the new direction in my Simple Truths line and I am giving away one of the first pendants of the year to one lucky commenter on this post.
Thus, a decision is not a real decision until it is a must for
you, until you feel it on your nerve endings and it effects you at a
cellular level, until you are compelled to take action. Once your shoulds have turned into musts, then you have made a real decision. ~ The Minimalists
I have been thinking a lot about my word for the year - BALANCE. That word is not one that I sought out. It is one that I ran from. I have been pretty good at dodging it for some time. But not being a very good runner, it caught up with me, grabbed me and hugged me until I had to hug it back.
On a piece of paper, I wrote
And that piece of paper has sat there all week. Taunting me. I tried to cover it up with other work, but it keeps floating to the top.
I keep going back to my image for this year, courtesy of the Focusing on Life weekly challenge that I am doing.
And I am reminded of those rocks.
My husband and I were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime trip to San Francisco and Sonoma in 2008 by my parents. While there my dad wanted to drive over to Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pebble Beach to see the famous golf course. Along the winding 17-mile stretch of road there is a place called Spanish Bay. These stacked rock formations called cairns are found along the shores, built by people who passed by, to show that they were there and to leave a sign to follow. Cairns are piles of rocks purposefully arranged. The intent is to mark a path from those that have traveled that way before. On this windy gray day we stopped to marvel at the way these stones were so marvelously balanced and each built our own cairns to leave behind. What you don't see in this picture is that there were dozens of others similarly placed all along this stretch. We tiptoed carefully to avoid toppling those that were placed before, but it was surprising how sturdy they were, even if they seemed impossibly stacked.
I am glad I found this picture in my archives because it really helps me hone my vision. And maybe at the end of this year, I will have a new cairn to leave behind as a marker that I was there and to leave a trail for those that follow.
I have always been a juggler. I suppose mothers are built for that. I can't bring in the groceries one at a time. I have to find a way to be a pack mule and make one or two trips, tops. I am not one who likes to put away the dishes that I have washed and I can build a tower that would rival any Jenga-Master. But it goes deeper. I am always doing more than one thing at the same time...emailing while painting pendants...watching t.v. with my daughter while filling fundraising orders...cooking dinner while reading a magazine. And that split focus means that sometimes I might get what looks like a lot accomplished, but in reality not every thing is done very well. A master of smoke and mirrors.
So my hope that this year spent on BALANCE will help me see what truly needs my attention and give my full focus while also stripping away those things that just get in the way.
So back to my original question... what does BALANCE look like?
I am reminded of a story by Stephen Covey that perfectly illustrates this point called First Things First.
One day this expert was speaking to a
group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an
illustration I’m sure those students will never forget. After I share it
with you, you’ll never forget it either.
As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered over-achievers
he said, "Okay, time for a quiz." Then he pulled out a one-gallon,
wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he
produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at
a time, into the jar.
When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside,
he asked, "Is this jar full?" Everyone in the class said, "Yes." Then he
said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of
gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of
gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.
Then he smiled and asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?" By
this time the class was onto him. "Probably not," one of them answered.
"Good!" he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a
bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the
spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the
question, "Is this jar full?"
"No!" the class shouted. Once again he said, "Good!" Then he grabbed a
pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the
brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, "What is the point of this
One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how
full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some
more things into it!"
"No," the speaker replied, "that’s not the point. The truth this
illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first,
you’ll never get them in at all."
What are the big rocks in your life? A
project that you want to accomplish? Time with your loved ones? Your
faith, your education, your finances? A cause? Teaching or mentoring
others? Remember to put these Big Rocks in first or you’ll never get them
in at all.
This story has me thinking that I need to figure out what the Big Rocks are in my life. These Big Rocks are what is important and valuable to me, what truly matters in my life. I find it so easy to get lost in the minutiae of my daily life that I often forget to take care of these Big Rocks... like being so focused on getting orders done that I realize it is 3 o'clock and I haven't eaten all day except for that cup of coffee I keep warming up...or working so late into the evening that I miss my entire family going to bed without even so much as a 'good night.' But that must change. I have realized for a long time that this is not healthy and productive, but it is so hard to break those habits.
So what are the Big Rocks? Here is a list that I found that I think will be quite helpful to me:
Career: Are you pursuing your dream career?
Love: Are you in a relationship with the love of your life?
Relationships: Are you fostering strong bonds with important people in your life?
Wealth: Are you financially well?
Health: Is your health and fitness level in top status?
Spirituality: Are you attuned with your spiritual source?
I think that to make this more visual for myself, I am going to write down these Big Rocks and an intention of what I really must do to make them each real.
Should vs. Must
Another article I read recently from The Minimalists talked about how making a journey starts with a difficult decision, a pivotal point. Taking a journey implies taking action, moving from one place to another, getting ahead and exploring. Procrastination is the opposite. Inaction, putting off, hiding yourself in what is easy. They said, "There is no reward in procrastination." That is so true.
They go on to write that decisions are grouped in two types: intellectual and emotional. An example for me is that intellectually I know I should exercise regularly, but I don't. Why is that? Because I haven't felt it in my gut, I haven't dug down deep enough to know that emotionally I must do this thing. When you hit that pivotal moment in your life, it turns from should (I should watch less t.v.... I should eat more vegetables... I should work less....I should read more) and becomes a must.
They suggest that you make a list - The Must List - and say it out loud. If you insert should instead, it sounds so different, and not as convincing.
"Today is the day that you must decide that things must change," say the Minimalists. "You know intellectually that you’re not happy with how things are in
your life. But you can’t have it both ways. You can’t want it to be one
way, when your actions are the other way. If your actions are not
congruent with your desires, then you will never feel happy, never feel
fulfilled, never be content."
If I can align my pile of Big Rocks with my Must List, I might actually have a chance to make some relevant change in my life in 2013. BALANCE is something that I ran from in the past, but BALANCE is something I must embrace in my future because the Big Rocks in my life are not falling into place by themselves.
Hey! Look at that. I said, "I must..."
Maybe my Big Rocks are starting to get stacked after all.
What are the Big Rocks in your life? Are you working purposefully to get them in place or have you totally neglected them? What are your musts? Go ahead and write just one should statement (I should....) in the comments and then change it to a must statement (I must...), side by side. Does that one word make your statement feel any different? Say it aloud and try it on for size. What must happen in your life for this must statement to bring about a fundamental change in your life?
I am sorry that I am a bit late to the party. I tried all day long to write the post that I felt called to share, but the subject is just too hard, the emotions too raw. And because of that, the creative mojo was blocked. It will have to wait for another day.
But in thinking of memories and thanks, and specifically memory jewelry, I realized that I actually make a lot of pieces that are inspired by memories.
My cousin Jane has been asking me to make jewelry for her for the past two years or so. She gave me her Nana's charm bracelet-turned-necklace filled with all manner of solid gold charms from her travels around the world. I created special charm necklaces for four of Jane's nieces bridging the past to the future.
Jane also gave me a bag filled with treasures that belonged to her mother, Elsie, and asked that I use some of them to create a memory necklace for her. She has a job that takes her all over the world. She is a lawyer so her
tastes are very traditional, streamlined and contemporary. But these pieces from her mother were traditional but far from contemporary. So the challenge was to make something that honored her mother's memory but translated into a more contemporary design.
Aunt Elsie passed away when she was just 50 years old. My cousin Jane and I were about 12.
I didn't really know my Aunt Elsie very well. Before we moved here, I would only see her at major holidays when we would travel from Crystal, MN to Stevens Point, WI to hunt Easter eggs or have a Christmas potluck. I still make her Hot Shrimp Dip every Easter and think of her. Like all my aunts, I recall that Aunt Elsie always looked put together. Her jewelry was always very traditional and very simple. Cameos, stick pins and pearls.
Included in this bag of treasures were some religious medallions as well as Elsie's vintage crystal rosary. I told Jane that I wouldn't cut apart the rosary. The crystals are cuts that are not produced anymore, and even if she doesn't use the rosary as an intended prayer tool, it was a special piece. But I did cut the initial stick pin down to make it into a special dangle alone with a Mary medallion.
None of these pieces that I incorporated were valuable outside of the memories they inspired. If they had been signed or were made of more precious materials, I would not have used them or altered them. Since they were merely fashion jewelry items, I did change them a bit. I removed the gold circle from around the cameo pin since the gold plated metal was rubbed off and the metal was a bit cracked, and I cut off the pin backing on the circle ivy and faux pearl pin and I had to reglue a loose pearl back in its setting.
Connecting items like this is the puzzle. Finding just the right placement and making them balanced is the challenge. Often there are holes that can be used for putting it all together. To keep with the circle theme I found a few pieces that had that vintage feel, like the rhinestone oval that is a new item which looks perfectly at home in this piece and echoes the round shapes.
A few strands of pearls that remind me of what every well dressed housewife of the 60s would wear completes the back. And to finish it off I found a beautiful crown shaped toggle.
I met Jane and her husband Joe at a local bistro for lunch right after Thanksgiving. When I presented this necklace to Jane she gasped. As I shared all the little details there were tears in her eyes. The eclectic design is a departure for Jane's style but I could really see that she loved it and was excited to wear it. It will be a special reminder of her mother, my Aunt Elsie. I can picture Jane wearing this when she travels around the world this year as a memory that her mother is always with her, and the charms will be a talisman to bring her mother into her life with every touch.
Thank you, Jane, for trusting me to create this necklace for you to honor the memory of your mom, and my aunt, Elsie.
Thank you, Miss Lori of Pretty Things for the inspiration for the Memories & Thanks blog hop.
“Listen for the call of your destiny, and when it comes, release your plans and follow.”
Do you ever find yourself wishing out loud for something and then placed in your path is something that seems to magically appear that leads you to your heart's desire?
I have long been a believer that you need to open yourself up to the possibilities in order to make them happen. This is not some new-age mumbo-jumbo. I am not saying that if you wish for a million dollars it will fall from the sky and land in your lap. Simply put, I believe that you need to open your heart to the opportunities that are waiting for you and once you do you will be surprised at what manifests. Once you see the doors opening, and have the courage to walk through them, other doors will open. You never know where they will lead.
I have been poking around on the Flourish & Thrive Academy website since they launched. I am very intrigued by this new community. I have been interested in taking their course Laying the Foundation, Volume 1 for some time but I couldn't see the potential in it, and didn't have the space in my life for it last fall.
What is holding you back from taking your business to the next level?
I wrote such a long reply to those questions that I knew I was opening a door. And then I saw that my friend Heather Powers has taken the course and found it to be very valuable. Her comments opened the crack a bit wider and I could see myself carving out time for this program. I felt more ready to accept the challenge.
And today, I see that they are offering a scholarship to the program with a creative blog post or video post answering these questions.
Where are you in your jewelry business now?
What’s holding you back in your business and your life?
What is your vision for your business? Where do you want to go? What are your biggest dreams and desires?
I am on a soul-searching path of late, focusing on the Memories & Thanks blog hop tomorrow, signing up for the Intuitive Heart Sanctuary and the Focusing on Life assignment of my word(s) for the year, and this is completely resonating with me. My head knows that I need this direction, this push, but my heart was unwilling to go in that direction. Until now. So I am answering those three questions with a free verse, stream of consciousness poem just the way it popped into my head.
This image is one that I took in September 2008 on a once in a lifetime trip to San Francisco with my parents and husband to celebrate the occasion of my 40th birthday. I stumbled across this long forgotten photo, but it perfectly illustrates my word - BALANCE - as well as the fact that I need to take care of the big stones in my life first. My health, my family and my need for creative self-expression are very big stones.
An ancillary word that goes along with this is ORDER. There are so many things that are spinning out of control inmy life and to get some BALANCE I will need to make room for ORDER. Like that stack of paperwork that is beckoning me. Or that tower of books that I want to tackle. And let's not forget that ORDERS are what I like to get from Etsy and elsewhere, but I need a way to streamline the process. And a business plan, or really any sort of plan would bring a lot of ORDER - and hopefullyorders - into my life and business.
BALANCE and ORDER have always been hard for me and my chaotic, detouring, right brain mind. But my head knows what my heart resists.
So even if I don't happen to be so lucky as to win a scholarship to the Flourish & Thrive Academy, my heart and mind are at least aligned enough to know that this is the direction that my toes need to be pointed in 2013 and I will find a way to make it happen.
What is written on your heart for 2013?
What steps are you willing to take to make it happen?