Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Paula Johnson, 1975

My grandmother, Paula Johnson (Bessie Pauline Freeman Johnson). This photo was taken for her 25th anniversary with Tate & Roe. In 1950, she began working there as a secretary, and through the years, she worked her way up to Controller.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Slaying the Grief Beast

So, based on my last post, where I said I was going to be more real and authentic in my blog—all I can say is… here I go. Melissa helped give me the courage, because she is so honest and real in her writing… she doesn’t hide, and, you know… I think that’s a good policy.

The reality of my life is that I’m getting divorced.

At the moment, I actually feel okay about it. It’s not like these things happen overnight… the decision came after years of serious consideration. And I don’t want to go into details, because that isn’t fair to him, or to me. But, suffice it to say, this year has been a rough one in countless ways.

Grieving my marriage also caused a lot of other things to spring up and slap me in the face… things I’d never dealt with. A litany of choices, events, and traumatic experiences have come back to haunt me in ways I never expected.

Big things, like the death of my grandmother.

I thought I had grieved her death, but what I’d actually done is shut out all feelings I had associated with her: the good, the bad, the indifferent. I hadn’t actually grieved her passing, though.

She was a special woman in my life. A beacon of light, a pillar of strength, and the tallest five-foot-two-inch woman I’ve ever known.

And by denying all of my feelings about her death, I also denied her importance in my life.

I’ve been through a lot over the past six months, but I’ve turned a corner, and I’m on my way up. Looking at my life, and all the choices I’ve made that have led me to where I am right now, I realized that my grandmother is not only with me in spirit—she’s in my blood. The decisive, action- and results-oriented parts of me, the bold woman who travels by herself without giving it a second thought, the fearlessness I’ve recently re-discovered… those parts all come straight from Bessie Pauline Freeman Johnson.

Realizing this gave me a breath of new life. I don’t worry about missing her anymore, because I know she is within me. She is here whenever I need her, in my heart, in my veins, in my very cell structure, helping me make tough decisions and get on with living my life.

But it’s not just about moving on.

Grief is about honoring the pain, and allowing feelings to rise to the surface and be. And somehow, I have found the courage to do just that.

I’ve cried in more places than I ever thought possible: on the public benches of Kennebunkport, Maine; in Rockefeller Center, New York City; in Starbucks; on the subway; in a bead shop; in Times Square; in the privacy of my own home; in so many other places…

The tears have come,
in the most unexpected moments,
in the most unexpected ways,
the tears have come,
and they’ve shocked me into submission every time.

And I’ve written every day. I’ve written in a paper journal since I was 9 years old, but this is different—in September, I committed to write in my paper journal every single day through the end of 2010.

I’m on my fourth journal since making that commitment. Apparently I have a lot to say!

But, doing that writing has helped me so much. Sometimes, it’s helped me shake something lose that I’d been picking at in my mind for ages, but until I wrote it down, it didn’t quite make sense.

Sometimes, writing has helped me capture memories, and other times, it’s just a daily record.

And it’s all been part of my bizarre, lonely, twisted path of grief. I have been walking through it, for the first time in my entire life, actually dealing with all the things I’ve never grieved.

Grief is a strange thing, and I don’t really understand it. It is an odd and shocking beast. The only way to slay it, it seems, is with a tiny, inadequate sword, one slice at a time. It takes too long, it’s arduous, the beast keeps coming back for another round, mutating in places where you’ve made progress… it’s elusive, hiding in dark shadows and broad daylight.

I think that if you’re exhausted, all the time, then you’re probably slaying the Grief Beast properly. That is to say, you’re creating room in your heart for the good things that come after.

And that’s important, because there are many good things that come after a time of grief… and they deserve to be received with an open heart.

And my heart is open wide, for the first time in many, many years.

You know… it really is a remarkable thing to be human. The capacity to laugh, to cry, to feel such deep and intense emotions—and, when sunk at the bottom of the pit of despair, something simple and honest and real can be just the impetus for a hearty laugh that instantly transports you back to normalcy.

Being human is a treasure. Not always a pleasure, but always a very special privilege.

I am privileged to be me, right here, in this moment.

I am right where I need to be.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tip Thursday: Make It Pop!

Have I already done turquoise and sunstone before? I have? Well, here it is again, but this time-- a different take. Different shade of turquoise (the first posting was more of a green, where these beads are definitely more blue) and a completely different feeling for the resulting outfit.

Turquoise and sunstone (or... the color turquoise and the color deep orange) go together so beautifully... and while I hadn't originally thought of making another post where I talk about this combination, when I snapped this photo I realized that this necklace and outfit have a whole different "feel" than my very first Tip Thursday, so I figured you might like to see that difference!

This necklace has become a favorite of mine. I got the inspiration for the design from a necklace I saw in a magazine, but the final piece looks nothing like my original inspiration did! I'm glad for that, actually... I always worry about literally copying someone else's design, but I find that in the end... what I create is always ultimately my own, and 100% me.

This necklace is no different. I've had these special Sarah Hornik beads for a long time, and I've actually used them in several different designs, eventually ripping them all apart to make something more special, to show them off better. I think this little necklace does the trick!

I love that it's asymmetrical... and I love that it's modern and hip without being overstated or gaudy. I've actually made another necklace in a similar style that I originally had posted for sale... but I found myself wearing it, and have since decided to keep that sucker!

This necklace can be paired with a variety of colors. I've successfully worn this necklace with a white shirt... it really pops against dark brown... but I've also worn it with a dark turquoise, and of course, this deep orange shirt, which I think is my favorite thus far.

Tip: Orange looks good on me (and other fair-skinned blonds). But, to qualify, it needs to be a deeper orange... more of a "burnt orange" if you will. (Cue every University of Texas fan holding up the Longhorn symbol now.) The more pale or bright oranges don't work on fair-skinned folks, typically... when in doubt? Go darker rather than lighter.

Sunstone's metaphysical properties: The sunstone gem is a leadership stone, and brings leadership qualities to its wearer. It aids in dispelling fears and phobias and also decreases stress and lifts depression. Sunstone promotes grounding and protection. Sunstone gems also warms the heart and allows the person to get in touch with their life force.

Turquoise's metaphysical properties: Turquoise is porous, so contact with liquids, oils or even perspiration should be avoided. Turquoise is considered a good general healer for all illnesses and excellent conductor. Induces wisdom and understanding, enhances trust and kindness. Brings the qualities of mental and spiritual clarity.

Smoky Quartz metaphysical properties: Smoky quartz is a powerful healing stone. It protects against all forms of bad luck and promises a light at the end of what may seem to be a very long tunnel. After you’ve been sick or felt depressed, it can restore energy and optimism. It also aids meditation if you find concentration difficult. Smoky quartz is one of the best healing stones!

I urge you to push your color combination boundaries in 2011! I hope to make Tip Thursday a regular feature again. 

I have missed blogging... and I am also striving to be more open and honest and REAL in my blog, which means... a little bit more personal detail might be on the way. 

I'm tired of hearing, "There's so much more to you than meets the eye!" from everyone. While I think that statement is true... I realized that I have wanted to be a little bit more WYSIWYG, or what you see is what you get. A bit more transparent, in other words... which to me, means more authentic and real. Even online. 

It's a delicate line, though. I don't want to air out dirty laundry on my blog... but I would like to give you a little glimpse into who I really am, if for no other reason than because I need to do it, for myself.

Happy Holidays, everyone... and thank you to everyone who has purchased jewelry from me in 2010! You've made it a memorable year for me, and you've helped me at times stay afloat financially... but the biggest, greatest joy I get is seeing a face light up when they've put on just the right piece of jewelry. It's a special kind of connection, when a woman realizes that something I've created enhances her own beauty.

I'll be back for some end-of-year musings...