Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Four Agreements

Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. - Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
Lately—and especially in response to some of my more recent posts, several friends have recommended that I read The Four Agreements

The Four Agreements are:
  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best

I had actually tried reading it almost 10 years ago, when a friend gave it to me and said, “this seems like something you’d like”. I tried reading it then, but it just didn’t “take” at the time. I don't think I even made it past the second page.

Like just about everything else, the timing with this book has to be right.

Well, the time was right now.

I learned so much from this simple, easy book. While it's written in simple language and it's a fast read... I often found myself reading passages over and over again, to really let the lesson sink in. I have of course marked up my copy accordingly.

(Yes, I'm one of those.)

The agreement that hit me the hardest was number two: don’t take anything personally.

I’m the queen of taking everything personally!

You take [words/actions] personally because you agree with whatever was said. As soon as you agree, the poison goes through you, and you are trapped... What causes you to be trapped is what we call personal importance. Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about "me". We think we are responsible for everything. Me, me, me, always me! 

I read that at least six times, almost in tears, with a wave of indignance rising up—a lump in my throat that I could not swallow back down.

This is a curse of the relater… aka the people-pleaser. I want everyone around me to be happy and feel good, and I’ll sacrifice what I want for myself for the greater good of the group—so there will be harmony.

Harmony is key.

But… the flip side is that I also want everyone to like me. And I’m slowly realizing how selfish that is.

And that sucks.

I don’t want to be selfish!

How awful!

But, like any other eye-opening, knife-in-the-gut realization… now that I know—I can work on it.

I know it’s impossible for anyone to be as hard on me as I am on myself. It’s highly unlikely anyone judges me as much or as harshly as I judge myself.

I’m also learning that life is too damn short to be so critical and judgmental towards myself. My heart, soul, and my being are worth more than that!

The book was hugely impactful for me, and I immediately realized where I’d been faltering. And yet—I also know that in the circumstances, and at the time, I did my best, so I was able to let it go.

Letting go of all of yesterday’s failures—whether large or small, perceived or real—is altogether freeing and empowering. I feel free to be myself and get up again… and I feel empowered to do my very best with every moment of the day.

Today, I have only done what I want to do, and I’ve taken pleasure with every task—even the mundane tasks, like getting ready for the day.

And, it’s been an absolutely glorious day.

Today I have not been critical of myself.

Today I have been positive, smiling, and relaxed. I have listened before speaking.

I have paused.

I have breathed.

Today I have enjoyed this precious and precarious state of being called life.


I have done my best.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Asking Questions vs. Forming Judgments

I’m feeling a bit needy today and wanting comments and connection.

But, also trying to keep in mind the valuable lessons in The Four Agreements, which I recently read. So, I’m concentrating on not taking it personally when people don’t respond, comment, or reply to emails/phone calls/etc.

The behavior of others has nothing to do with me, after all, and everything to do with that individual.

I really didn’t believe that when I first read it, but after careful consideration, I agree.

I’m also learning to ask more questions to gain better understanding, instead of making assumptions which usually leads me down a road I’d rather not traverse.

Case in point: Someone asked me if I still had a necklace that matched a pair of earrings I have listed on Etsy. The earrings are quite simple, but the necklace that matched them was—while a nice design, it may be considered “too much” by some because it’s a more intricate piece than some folks like.

I replied with pictures of the necklace that had sold. I asked if she was interested in having me make something for her that would match the earrings.

After seeing the picture, she replied with a no thanks.

Here’s where the road diverges.

In the past, I would have read something into that.

She didn’t like the necklace.
She thought it was ugly.
She thought it was too busy.


Instead, I did something different.

I asked her a follow-up question.

I asked her if she would tell me what she likes. Not because I wanted to sell her a necklace, but because I’m re-evaluating my inventory and what I offer to my customers, and I’m genuinely curious.

Which is absolutely true. I always wonder what people think, what people want to buy, what people like and want to wear. Those questions are in my mind anytime I design a piece.

See how easy that was?

Instead of making an assumption, or a judgment that almost always leads me down a road of negativity, asking her those questions also allowed my train of thought to get away from the “not good enough” fears.

Instead, I got to nurture my positive, optimistic, inquisitive side.

I could get used to this!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Simply Healing: The Latest Batch

Well, I was a busy bee this past weekend, and I managed to get 13 more Simply Healing necklaces not only photographed, but actually listed on Etsy.

Honestly, y’all who do that on a regular basis… how do you keep up? It takes me so long to get all the photos taken, and then to process them—crop, lighten, resize, etc… not to mention writing the Etsy descriptions and making sure I get the stone meanings correct… and then there’s my least favorite part—naming each piece! 

Maybe now you understand why I update my Etsy site so sporadically?

I wouldn’t complain so much if I didn’t also have a full time job, which lately has been taking up a lot more than just “full” time of a typical 40 hours work-week. I come home exhausted, and my comfy chair and TV are always calling me, begging me to allow them to swallow me up whole until it’s time for bed.

That’s a hard habit to break, once you’ve eased into it.

But, in light of last week's curve ball, I figured listing some things on Etsy and then immediately crossing my fingers might not be such a bad idea.

This newest batch of Simply Healing jewelry is a lot of fun, and even more inspired than the first batch was! I’m having a ball making these little necklaces… partially because they appeal to my gnat-like attention span, and partially because I love working with high quality gemstones, but it’s also really nice to make some pieces that the "average Jane" can afford.

Especially in these economic times.

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing a couple of pictures of these new pieces… and I’ll leave you with a little link to my Simply Healing line, now on Etsy. 

Have a great day!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Opening My Jewelry Drawer...

I always joke around and say that I keep my best pieces. After you see these, you might think I'm being totally serious, and not joking at all!

You’ve already seen this necklace, or you should have if you’ve been following my blog for more than a minute. But, I finally got the opportunity (or made the opportunity) to take more detailed photos. This is my favorite of the ones I took:

Next, we have a kyanite necklace, with a huge black pearl and hematite, with oxidized sterling silver chain. I wear this necklace often, too!

The newest necklace is with some larimar I got from a seller who actually lives in the Dominican Republic. I’m in love with this necklace and I keep finding outfits I can put together just so I can wear this necklace. Again. I’ve used smoky quartz and Czech glass, along with Swarovski crystals and a hand-hammered sterling silver ring to add a bit of sparkle and depth. What do you think?

Oh! And, I guess I’ll show you this one too, although I’ve also featured this one in the Tip Thursday series a couple of months ago… it’s a necklace featuring a lampwork bead that I made, Peruvian blue opal, peridot, and Swarovski crystals. 

Can you tell I’m in the mood for spring? I’m loving this gorgeous sunny weather we’re having, and it’s actually helping to take my mind off of our recent bad news.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Curve Ball

Life throws curve balls.

Sometimes, it seems that just when my feet are solidly planted under me, life throws a curve ball that throws me off balance again.

I mentioned that the past couple of years have been chock full of challenge. Apparently 2010 doesn’t want to be left out of that party.

Last week, my husband’s uncle passed away of cancer. He was diagnosed in May 2009, and between that time and last Tuesday, he truly fought the good fight, with his sweet and caring wife of 45 years beside him.

But, the cancer was aggressive and continued to gain momentum. It metastasized and spread to his brain around Christmas time.

His memorial service was so touching and full of love, and it sent me reeling into a deep pool of thought about what’s really important in life, and who is really important in my life, and what I want to make of my life on this earth. The words that his sons shared reached into my heart and squeezed it hard.

Would anyone be able to say things like that about me?

Who would I say things like that about?

And then I had to go out of town again.

No time to process…

Sometime between last week and this week, my husband bought a newer car. His had started veering towards the unreliable end of the spectrum, it had high miles, and because his job includes spending 8-10 hours a day driving around town… it needed an upgrade. So, he bought a newer version of his Envoy and immediately fell in love with it. He found one with low miles and some nice upgrades to what he had before.

A good thing, right? We were both happy, and he was excited to have made this decision.

Then, this afternoon, as I wrapped up my work for the day and searched for an earlier flight home (I’m in Atlanta as I write this), I get a text that says, “Call me when you have time to talk.”

Usually when hubby sends me something like that, it’s not great news.

I picked up the phone immediately, and the news that greeted me knocked the wind out of me.

He’d been let go from his job.

The job that he’d worked so hard to get.

The job that, a mere 8 months ago, had finally rescued us from a year and a half of unemployment.

It just…

I am baffled.

The good, lucky thing is that the bank loan hadn’t yet been processed for the new car (though the transaction happened five days before), so he took it back as soon as he got the news. Remarkably, they also still had his car, so they pulled the deal and he drove home in his stinky old Envoy.

So, at least we have two clear-title cars. This is a good thing… less to worry about.

We’ll be okay.

We always are.

I know that this means something better, more fitting, and more wonderful is on the horizon. I get that, and I have faith.

But in this moment…

I am crushed.