Thursday, March 26, 2009

Strongest in the Broken Places

“Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture… Do not build up obstacles in your imagination.” -- Norman Vincent Peale

A year ago today, I left for the trip of a lifetime.

For some people, a trip to Italy where one stays in the same city for two weeks may not be ideal. It may even feel wrong to travel all that way and not get to explore the whole country or even multiple countries in that time. It may seem like “no big deal” for many others who are used to frequent international trips, or even trips to the more exotic lands of Indonesia, Thailand, or Tasmania.

For me, though… traveling to Venice by myself was the start of a turning point in my life. It opened my eyes and heart to new possibilities. It opened me up in ways I never expected and in many ways, I felt awake and alive for the first time in years.

I didn’t realize at the time that I’d lost the artist inside. I didn’t realize that she’d been sleeping since high school art class, where I practiced for two hours a day three times a week. I played with glass—but we didn’t have a torch other than a Bunsen Burner. Still—it was enough. I loved melting glass and twisting it. I even pulled stringers—not realizing that I’d revisit that experience years later. I have a fused glass plate and even some jewelry I made back then, too. The earrings are crappy and I’m pretty sure I’ve lost the rest of the jewelry I made—I clearly remember wire-wrapping a crystal with copper, and it’s nowhere to be found.

I didn’t have much money to spend in Italy. And let me tell you… you need money in Venice. If for nothing else, you need it for food.

So… I took pictures. Lots and lots of them, actually. It became another outlet for me—another way to awaken the snoozing artist within and allow her to stretch her legs. I took pictures of gondolas, because I couldn’t bring myself to pay the money to ride in one  (although now I kind of wish I had). 

I took pictures of buildings that interested me… which yielded me a lot of pictures of buildings, by the way.

I took pictures of laundry, too. With a flighty, artistic idea that I’d have a series of laundry prints available for sale. 

Some people made fun of me, some kept their amusement to themselves, but for the first time in years—I had a clear artistic vision. No matter how silly it seemed, or even how mundane… the vision was mine.

The same thing happened in the classroom, too. Only, it was messier because I’m not exactly prolific in lampwork bead making. It happened on a smaller scale—I envisioned pink and orange together, and this bead was born (left). 

(Right) I needed to make a bead that felt like night time… and this was the result.

I wasn’t entirely sure of the outcome, but I knew I had the tools to see it through. I wasn’t sure I’d even like the result, but if I didn’t—someone else might, and if they did, they could have it. And if I failed… I could throw it into the canal.

In every sense, let it go.

How is that a mirror to the rest of my life?

Today I am incredibly worried about not having work, and my husband has been unemployed for over a year. Can we pay next month’s bills? Well, right now, the answer to that question is no. We’re in a worse place, financially, than we’ve been in a long time.

I feel helpless and out of control over a lot of aspects of life right now. And yet—I have a vision. A vision of getting work, a vision of selling more jewelry, a vision of paying bills and getting back on our feet.

I have tools to get there. I have a support system, intelligence, and I’m resourceful. I’m determined to get through this period. I’m ambitious—I always want something better for myself and my husband. I know that we’ll get through this.

And, at the end of the day, I can still make a mile-long list of things I’m grateful for. I’ve enjoyed so many things that I never thought I’d experience… like a life changing trip to Italy.

When I got back from Italy, I went through an intense growth period as I examined some things in my life that just weren’t working—but because it had been such a slow decline, it took stepping out of it (and into pure bliss, might I add) for a couple of weeks for me to see the picture with the clarity I needed.

I nearly broke. Irreparably.

But, you know what?

I didn’t.

I somehow managed to make it through one of the hardest trials of my life (and please forgive my vagueness here—I don’t want to discuss it publicly), and I emerged so much stronger and more whole than I imagined.

"Life breaks us all, but afterwards, many of us are strongest at the broken places." -- Ernest Hemingway

I’ve faced many trials in my life—as so many of us have. I think the experiences we have and how we deal with them define who we are. And who I want to be defined as, is an artist, a good wife, a good friend, a hard worker, and a soft yet strong heart.

One year ago, my artistic vision opened itself up inside of me and crawled out of its box, woke me up, and shook my soul.

I realized—on the most basic level—that fearing the outcome causes paralysis.

Construct a vision, grab your tools, and go to work.

The outcome?

Is life.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I went through my jewelry last night, with the premise of organizing pieces and pulling pieces that I want to either redo or somehow revise... or things I've decided to keep. Let's just say, my jewelry drawer is overflowing again!

And I noticed something. Now... many of you who know me know that I love pink. I make a lot of pink jewelry, and I end up selling a lot of it, too.

Well... I need to make more!! I have tons of brown, green, and blue jewelry. I even have more red jewelry than I originally thought. However... the pink and black inventories... eek!! Purple is a little low too. But my pink jewelry stock is seriously low! 

I'm on it!! Right now, actually... ;-)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My Latest Obsession...

Spring has sprung! I've been a busy bee, making jewelry. Here are some earrings for your viewing pleasure...
These glowing beauties are available here.

Abalone circles are available here.

My latest obsession, though... rings! I've gotten some quality but less expensive materials and I've been going to town. These rings are meant to be fun, and since I'm focusing on using project leftovers as the focal beads... they are also meant to be affordable.

I've already got two set aside for me, and I've put the rest up for sale in my Etsy shop. I'm making more every day and I hope to get those posted soon!

Here are a few for you to preview...

I have a really big post brewing for my one year anniversary of heading to Italy. What a trip that was... it changed my life. I think everyone will enjoy the post... so stay tuned! It's coming soon. 

I've been debating applying for a couple of shows this season. I can't decide, honestly. With my husband being unemployed, and with me facing a lag in work, I find myself wanting to hold on to money rather than spending it on booth fees.

Please keep your fingers crossed that I'll be working again soon, and that my hubby will find a job. He's been unemployed for over a year. I understand that many of us are going through tough times. It's vital to stay positive and keep that chin up. 

Hold on to hope, and turn to your loved ones for support. We've all got to stick together!

To that end... allow me tell you a little about what I do, and perhaps you can help.

I am an Instructional Designer/Training Specialist. Basically that means I designand often develop courses for adults. Think of an Instructional Designer as someone who creates lesson plans-- deciding what the learner needs to know and the best way to teach it. 

These days I mostly focus on eLearning, or web-based training. I have created courses for small to large companies, with small to large budgets. I've also created computer-based training and instructor-led courses, including supporting documentation (manuals, job aids, etc). 

Most of my background is for creating courses for proprietary software and soft skills, like customer service. I've got a wide background of experience, and I'm looking for contract work for the next month or two.

If you have any leads, please drop me a line! If your company has a need, let me know. Part of an Instructional Designer's job is needs assessment.

Thank you ;-)