I was feeling nostalgic today for my mother's side of the family even before I heard that "Jimmy" had died. Jim was my mother's cousin. I never heard her call him Jim though. She always referred to him as, "My favorite cousin, Jimmy", and if anyone ever spoke of him she'd make sure that they knew that he was her favorite cousin. Even before I read on Facebook that he had passed, I'd been thinking of my grandmother who was Jim's aunt, Ruby.
Ruby Marie Snyder was born in 1912, and like a lot of people who lived through the depression, she had some foibles about things. She didn't hoard useless things like some, fearing that scarcity would increase their value at some unknown future date. She had a far more annoying habit. It always annoyed me, anyway. She would assign different levels of value to her possessions depending on whether or not she considered them to be of high quality, or nice things. The nice things she owned weren't available for use by anyone, not even herself. She kept those things in suitcases in her closet. The nice things I remember most that were off limits were things like dish towels. (We called them tea towels. I guess it resonated of a higher class. I remember making the mistake of calling a "wash cloth" a "wash rag" one time and my mother reminded me that we didn't have rags.)
When I was a child I liked looking in the suitcases. There were wash cloths, hand towels and bath towels, tea towels, sheets, pillowcases and duvet covers. It might have appeared to an outsider to be a peculiar sort of storage for a young women with aspirations of being a bride, but without a proper hope chest. If I ever mentioned using something in one of the cases, she'd say, "No, I'm saving that back for good." Good, meaning that she was saving it for a special occasion as opposed to saving it back forever. She had a white eyelet bedspread, shams and dust ruffle that I coveted. It was the wrong size for my bed, but I'd have love to have had it or one like it. It wasn't ivory or off white, it was the purest, whitest white. The white that you see only when it snows or at the Academy Awards when the movie stars smile. The tea towels that she used were embroidered by her hand with the poems that foretold a child’s fortune by the day they were born. Mother Goose, I believe. “Monday’s child is fair of face. Tuesday’s child is full of grace…”
They were very nice, but maybe the distinction was that she had embroidered them, and they didn't resemble anything you'd purchase at a department store. Maybe that's why they were relegated to everyday use. The towels in the bathroom were not threadbare, but they had lost all of the plush thickness of new ones. Her bedspread was gold and heavily quilted and far too large and heavy to launder regularly, but it was laundered regularly. If cleanliness is next to godliness she is a longtime resident of a well scrubbed and thoroughly tidied heaven.
What caused me to conjure up these memories was my realization that I was doing that with respect to my beads and my pendants when I make jewelry. I finally finished a necklace bearing a pewter cross that I'd purchased months ago. The cross was not particularly expensive and it certainly bore no sentimentality to me. It wasn't an heirloom. It was just, well, "nice". I had been "saving it back for good." My fear was that I'd use it and then discover that I might have made something better with it. It occurred to me that I do the very same thing with beads. I have several boxes of beads that I pass over in my search for a particular color or size of bead because those are my good ones. I'm not going to do that anymore. It will be a hard habit to break. I will use the good beads and when they're gone, if I choose, I'll replace them with more good beads. God knows that every crafter has a stockpile of whatever they craft with. My mother, who is a quilter, has yards and yards of fabric all cut up into little squares. I'm not sure if she passes over the good squares when she lays out a quilt design. She probably does.
Her favorite cousin, Jimmy, did not suffer that odd eccentricity. His side of the Boles family hailed from Arkansas. He had a family in Fayetteville and from what I can tell, was a successful man. I don't know if he was a widower or divorced, but if he thought that Thailand was paradise, he would not save it back for good. Late in his life he did something shocking. He actually acted on an yearning. He longed for an island paradise. Realizing that unlike a tree, he was not rooted to the ground, he moved to Thailand. I know approximately two people who were brave enough to pick up their lives and transport themselves to anywhere farther than the other side of the town they grew up in, let alone half way around the world. Jim met and married a beautiful Thai woman who was, not surprisingly, younger than he was. She cared for him. I could tell.
I’ve never been to a Buddhist funeral before, but it’s evident from the pictures that the multiple ceremonies are incredibly elaborate. In Buddhism death marks the beginning of the cycle of rebirth. The laws of Karma are activated and determine the quality of the deceased’s next life. The family and friends gather to attend ceremonies that impart merit to the life of their departed.
I wonder, if it is your belief that you will return to repeat the cycle, if you abandon all qualms about using up the “good things” in your present life. Either way, it’s important to remember to pull out all of the stops, use the good towels, drink the good champagne, sleep on the good sheets, create with the good beads and live so that the last good thing is nowhere to be found among your possessions. Leave your family and friends, only their memories of you to save back for good.
I am not someone that anyone would describe as "delicate". I was never destined to be a cheerleader or a gymnast or ballerina and I've always been a little jealous of those girls. There is that body type (I'm picturing the Jessica Albas of the world) that can get away with wearing tiny little diamond earrings and dainty little necklaces with tiny pendants and because of their stature, the diamonds shine like little beacons in the night. The pendants glow alluringly from that sexy little hollow at the base of the neck. You know, those girls with long, elegant necks, only one very taut chin and skin like a china cup. (I Googled the name of that "hollow" and it turns out it is called the supra-sternal notch which is not a sexy description of that spot at all, but we all need to know our anatomy.) The same jewelry would be lost on me. I can't complain though. My body works and hasn't let me down yet and having some size has always made it easier to get in the face of an uncooperative horse with more authority and confidence. For this reason, you won't find any delicate jewelry at True Believer Jewelry. I've even thought about marketing my jewelry for "curvy" girls. Plus size jewelry might be the next big "thing". You never can tell.
It turns out that big, bold jewelry appeals to some people for a different reason, as I learned through an exchange with an Etsy customer of mine. Her name is Kim, and she messaged me about a heart milagros necklace that I had in my shop and wanted to know if it could be adjusted in length. Normally it's pretty easy for me to do that, and I told her I was happy to and I wouldn't charge her. She told me she had an event coming up and she thought it would be perfect with her outfit. I envisioned a tall, elegant woman with long, dark hair, probably a successful business woman with a work-related function that she wanted to look dynamite for. I have a habit of fabricating stories about people. I do this especially in restaurants. Maybe it's something we all do from time to time when people watching, similarly to the way we envision characters in books, and then the movie comes out and you think, "Oh, no...that is not the way I had thought he would look at all!" Remember all of the hubbub over the casting of Jamie Dornan to play Christian Grey in the movie Fifty Shades of Grey? He's a nice enough looking guy, but sorry Jamie, you are just not who I had in mind. I think there was some other guy they'd cast first, but he couldn't do it in the end and we were stuck with a very underwhelming Dornan in the role. I'm not even going to try to watch the sequel.
After talking with Kim several times and she purchased the necklace she thanked me. She wrote, "Thank you very much. I'll be back into your store to shop for more beautiful "in your face" necklaces! My favorite kind of necklaces are those that cause folks to stare at something other than my wheelchair! I love to wear statement pieces and your work is certainly an eye catcher! Can't wait to get all "gussied up" in my black chiffon tuxedo pants suit with this necklace!" I reread the sentence and felt my cheeks flush red. Never, in any of the stories I had concocted about her in my head, had I imagined Kim in a wheelchair. I was embarrassed by my own short sighted ignorance. I wanted to follow up her message with another one asking what happened, but thought better of it. I didn't want to pry. If she made the point of telling me she wanted people to focus on her, then she probably didn't want to retell her story for the one billionth time to somebody she'd never met.
I kept thinking about her. It's been months now and I think of her still and am, even now, writing about her. The more I reflect on her reason for wanting a bold necklace the more it resonates in me. I like my jewelry to be big and bold for a somewhat similar reason. I'm hoping that people will look at me, and not the fact that I could stand to lose about 40 pounds. The thing is though, if I really was motivated, I could put the Thin Mints down and get my ass on a treadmill. That solution seems ridiculously easy compared to the endless ethical arguments that are keeping Kim wheelchair bound. The only thing I have to do is move more and eat less and keep Girl Scouts off of my front porch. Kim has to wait for legislators, scientists and public opinion to determine what's more important...alleviating suffering or protecting an embryo which has the potential to become a human life.
My husband and I went through several rounds of fertility treatments before we became weary of doctors and hormone injections and decided that there was human life outside of a laboratory that we would love as dearly as one we created in a test tube. You can bet that for couples desperately longing to hold a baby in their arms, those embryos are more valuable than gold. You know what else is more valuable than gold? Walking. Life without pain. The story that I have invented in my head is that these opponents of stem cell research are religious fanatics or political conservatives who are trying to appeal to their constituents or their congregations and they believe that blocking research will benefit them financially. Do they really care about the cells or are they following the money?
I'm pro life. I believe that women who didn't take responsibility for the life their bodies can create have a moral obligation to carry any unwanted pregnancy to term unless they were victims of incest or rape. I believe that because I know there are childless couples who would jump through rings of fire and walk on shards of glass and rusty nails to become parents. I also believe that Kim should be able to use stem cells from an embryo to be able to walk again. It seems like the real fifty shades of grey lie within the question of whether or not an embryo should have the same rights as a person.
Food for thought, or in my case, Thin Mints for thought. While the powers that be grapple with the issue, I'm just going to continue to do what I do - design jewelry that you can't help but see - and hope that Kim felt as beautiful as she looked and pray that one day science and religion can sort out the issues that are preventing her from feeling comfortable wearing that tiny diamond solitaire that fits perfectly in her beautiful supra-sternal notch.
*Photo Credit: http://www.vintage-engagement-ring.com/
I have always been a magical thinker with a rich fantasy life. I'll believe in anything. To this day, I'm an extremely lucid dreamer and thanks to my anxiety disorder I can tell you in graphic detail if asked, "What's the worst that can happen?" exactly what can happen. My first magical belief was in that of my invisible (to everyone but me) horse. He was pure white with a flowing mane and tail. His name was Lawnmower. It was a practical name because when I wasn't riding him he grazed on our lawn. Occasionally if my family went somewhere, like the grocery store for example, I would tie him up to the trailer hitch and he would trot along behind the car to the store. He didn't like being left behind. I'm still amazed that no one that I recall ever tried to convince me he wasn't real. Sometimes I would reprimand my mother when I felt that she was speeding that she must slow down because, "Lawnmower can't keep up with us!" It must have troubled my parents and grandparents enough though that by the time I was three, my paternal grandparents had bought me a pony that they kept at their farm. I don't remember saying goodbye to Lawnmower when my flesh and bone pony, Blaze, came along. I still feel kind of guilty about that. Sorry, Lawnmower. Wherever you are.
In the 3rd grade, I began my search for bigfoot. By now my grandparents had moved to a house that would become the setting for a great many adventures. The house sits on a hill above the Finley River. All told there were hundreds of acres to explore. My friend, Amy, and I would set out on our ponies in the morning and spend the day building forts and looking for supernatural creatures. At night, we would lie on our backs on the still warm, sun baked cement of the driveway and look for UFOs. One very early morning my granny woke me and led me out to see the purple sky. If you want to scare the bejesus out of an 8 year old, wake them up in the middle of the night and show them a very rare midwest occurrence of the northern lights. It terrified and amazed me but only served to prove my point - very strange and mysterious things DO happen! I was basically living my own version of the X-Files before that show was ever conceived.
I grew up in two different churches. On most weekends I went to church with my grandparents because I usually slept over at their house to have access to my dream world and my ponies. They attended an Assembly of God church where occasionally, as best I can explain it, people were overcome by the by the holy spirit, or some spirit and would spontaneously begin speaking in tongues. (If that's not supernatural, I don't know what is.) The other Sundays I spent learning how to be a Catholic. Naturally I didn't appreciate the education I got then as much as I do now. Catholics believe in the supernatural and while I doubt that any priest would agree with me that bigfoot is out there, my own parish priest did not disagree with my husband when he (tongue in cheek, maybe?) made the comment that Catholics were responsible for creating vampires. Father Reidy probably doesn't believe in bigfoot, but I know he believes in miracles. He has to, it's kind of a Catholic "thing".
This could be part of the reason why I love Milagros so much. Milagro translates to "miracle" in English. Milagros are usually made of tin but can be made of wood, bone or even wax. They can be purchased anywhere now but were traditionally bought from street vendors outside of cathedrals in latin America and Spain. If you have a special intention for God, you find the milagro that corresponds to your prayer. There are milagros for breast cancer, smoking cessation, depression and pregnancy. You can find arms and legs, ovaries, teeth, cows, pigs and virtually anything else you can think of that might become a problem in your life has a corresponding milagro. I haven't yet seen a milagro in the shape of a computer hard drive that has crashed. (I'm just handing somebody a great idea here!) Some milagros are plain hammered tin, some might be considered gaudy, but others are incredibly detailed works of art.
I love using heart milagros in my jewelry. I can't afford the vintage ones that I love, but I purchase the plainer ones and then my husband, Doug, paints them for me. Below are the "before and after" pictures of one of my favorite heart milagros.
This milagro of an eye with a tear is for relief of depression.
I'm still looking for the "anxiety" milagro. It would look like a person with their head exploding, like this image from the Huffington Post.
The not so distant cousin of milagros are nichos. Nichos are usually made of tin and are commonly decorated with Catholic icons. I'm also a huge nicho fan, because they are places that you could squirrel away little mementos. Doug made a heart nicho that I secretly hope nobody will ever purchase. I haven't put anything inside the nicho yet, but I'm looking for apparently newly minted anxiety milagros to fill it with. (Shameless plug for Doug's art: http://etsy.me/1KSG8JP
A nicho would also be the perfect place to put your bigfoot fur or alien bits and pieces or ghostly ectoplasm. A word of caution here: Ectoplasm should always be kept in a glass vial. Do not attempt to put it directly inside a nicho and expect it to still be there tomorrow. As soon as I find definitive proof of any or all of the above I will definitely post my pictures of them here, on this blog right after I contact Fox News. In the meantime, if you have any such specimens you should definitely drop me a note. I may either try to purchase your evidence or sell you a nicho to keep it in. After that we'll go to mass and pray for the general population of the world to catch up with all of the "believers" and lucid dreamers. Or maybe not. Maybe it can just be our little secret. Our secret that we share only with the saints and the forgers of all of the new fangled milagros.
I like to take photographs of my jewelry outside on a cloudy day, or in the shade on a sunny day. Natural light makes the best photo filter. Today in Missouri the weather isn't fit for man nor beast though. It's cloudy enough, but the wind is blowing at around 30 mph and it is cold. I'm not a fan. I question the intelligence of people that go places where it's cold on purpose. As far as I can tell skiers and snowboarders and all of those winter Olympics type people are soft in the head. I'll take bluebird skies and sun dappled water and a gentle, floating breeze. Blustery days actually add to my anxiety and I've always hated them. I wish I could say why, but I can't.
In my younger days, I rode horses quite a bit. Every chance I could actually and there was no place I was happier than on the back of a horse but horses too dislike the wind. It may be because they are like deer, and the wind interferes with their ability to hear well, or it may be because the wind blows up things that startle them. On a particularly gusty day several years ago I came off a horse when an errant plastic WalMart bag that was previously attached to a tree limb became airborne and floated like a phantom across his path. I hate plastic bags as much as the next person but my horse, Lasher, was convinced that it was the most terrifying alien creature he'd ever seen. He went one way in an effort to dodge the crinkly, grey phantom and I went another. After the incident he had the audacity to stop about three feet from me where he lowered his head, snorted and looked at me as if to say, "You're so dramatic. It wasn't that scary." As I sat on the dirt trying to decide if I was injured or not a sign that I'd seen at a stable I visited once came to mind. It read, "If you're not going to the ER you're getting back on." I got up and grabbed the reins. I know some people who would give the horse a smack after pulling such a stunt, but this is the horse that licked my husband, Doug, back to consciousness after he fell from a ladder. To be fair, my husband was on the ladder because he had been building a run in shed for the horses, but it was still very kind and thoughtful of Lasher to lick his face to make sure he was still living. It could also have been an act of pure selfishness because he also knew that there would be no grain in his bucket with the stable boy passed out on the ground. I guess it is pretty presumptuous of me to think I know the mind of a horse.
Today, being a very nasty, damn the weather type day, no outside photographs were possible. Well, not possible by me. Someone made of heartier stuff might have been able to withstand it. There's actually a cocktail called "Damn the Weather". I don't know how you make it, but I remember reading the recipe in one of my parents' cocktail books when I was far too young to drink and thought, "That's a really cool name for a cocktail." Maybe I was just easily impressed. It probably has whiskey in it and I hate whiskey. So, without any cocktails at all I finished a necklace today and desperately wanted to take pictures of it, but couldn't. There is something inside me, left over from school probably, that gives me a sense of urgency when I finish something. It's almost like I have a self imposed deadline or a "due date" and I'm going to get a bad grade if I don't photograph it and list it immediately. I did manage to take the picture of the piece on my dress model. (Her name is Pearl. She's quiet. I like her.)
Tomorrow perhaps it will be less windy and I will be able to go back outside and take photographs of the necklace lying flat so you can see it more clearly. If it's still windy like this, you might find that I've given myself over to the whiskey because I've about reached my limit for tolerating "damn the weather" days.
Because I'm a good student I've been doing a lot of reading about blogging. I have read several "how to" blogs. I thought I'd give it a go. As far as I can tell, this then is the ultimate blog post. You're welcome.
Here's a big "shouty" headline. Yeah, I know, it's low resolution but it's ORANGE! So, I get 10 point for using orange because apparently that's a "rule" or a "thing" and I have purposely used a pretty awful font. The headline is compelling though, because you're eyes like the colors and your brain is trying to define "shouty" which means that I'm attempting to grab your attention.
You're supposed include a "list". People love to read lists. So, fine. Here's my list of things I hate about lists. I know you read the headline because it is purple. Awwwww...Inside all of us is an 11 year old girl.
• 1) Making me read a list is an assumption that my attention span is no longer than a list with no more than 25 items.
• 2) This list is going to contain information that is neither educational nor useful, so you've just wasted your time, but you've read a list.
• 3) If I'm reading your list I have successfully navigated through a number of ads. In my attempt to read your list if I click on the wrong arrow for "next" then I'm going to be directed to a list of ways to reduce my belly fat.
• 4) If these are targeted ads then I am really insulted that you think I'm concerned about belly fat. That's kinda personal. I'll eat an banana or an avocado every day if I have to, but I'm pretty sure that diet and exercise are the "trick" to removing belly fat.
• 5) It's harder to spell "avocado" from memory than you think. My brain wants to spell it "a-v-a-c-a-d-o" and spellcheck doesn't like that. Thank you Google.
• 6) I'm now knee deep in your recipe and I haven't got a lot of time. I am making your crock pot beef and noodles because I'm in a rush, so I don't have time to read about you and your grandson's trip to the pond to feed the geese stale bread while I'm trying to get through an ingredient list. Thanks though. He IS a cutie!
• 7) I'm already a subscriber to a daily horoscope, so I don't want to know what my horoscope is for the next decade. I really just want to know what the next...
You're not a Capricorn? Sorry! Keep reading this list though, because your sign might be listed after my next bullet point!
• 8) The Baldwin brothers are all aliens.
• 9) Alec Baldwin is living a life of misery pretending to be human, all the while living as a man trapped in a woman's body!
• 10) Thank GOD! I'm at the end of this miserable list. Keep reading for the simplest recipe for scrumptious dog treats.
Just kidding! There's no recipe for scrumptious dog treats. Dogs like other dogs' butts. Give them a Milk Bone. They're fine with that. I love Bull Dogs.
Above is an actual list of the top 10 dog treat recipes. (That means I can mark another item from my "to do list", which is link your blog back to others' blogs. Apparently this is just common sense and good blogging form. It may encourage others to link back to your blog which will increase your number of "views" and "likes" and "pins" and "shares".
You're almost ready to publish your own blog! I'd make a list of top ten ways to start your own blog, but that would be redundant. There are over a million results on Google for the proper way to blog. Good luck weeding through all of the twisted tendrils of blogging for beginners. You'll be just fine. My advice is to just be authentic. Whatever you do be AUTHENTIC. People can see right through your attempt to adopt someone else's style.
For good measure I'm ending this blog post today with another bit of wisdom from bloggers everywhere. Always include cute animal videos. Warning: you will have to sit through a short Tide advertisement. Tide is good though, and we all need clean clothes.
I hope you have been informed, entertained and educated by my "Ultimate Blog Post". Please share on Pinterest. Please to mindful though, that it's bad etiquette to repin an ENTIRE person's Pinterest page. Don't be that person. Pin, but to not RAID my Pinterest board, for I shall be forced to BLOCK you from ALL of my precious boards.
Have a great weekend! I will post some way less predictable blog posts nest week. Mostly in story form because that is my authentic voice. If you like to see cute cat videos though, please post that in the comments and I will be sure to oblige you! ~ Namaste, Natalie
Perfect strangers seem to be compelled to tell me things. I sometimes think I should have been a detective or a judge. My job would have been so easy!
"Yes, your honor, for weeks I put a thimble full of anti-freeze in his orange juice. He commented how sweet it was, which I didn't expect, you know, so then I told him it was the Tropicana. 'Fresh squeezed is a little sweeter than concentrate,' I told him. It was just then that his heart attacked him."
The court reporter, prosecutor and defense attorneys would shake their heads in amazement at what had just transpired and I'd just smile and bang my gavel and say, "Next case!" Seriously, the jail would be overrun in no time.
Recently I was eating at a fast food burger place called Freddy's. It's kind of like Steak N Shake, only you have to order at the counter and they don't have a black and white checked floor. They do have frozen custard. (If you've never had frozen custard, OMG. It's so good.) I'd gone back up to the counter to order a turtle concrete. The young woman at the counter wore a brass Ethiopian Coptic cross on a simple leather cord around her neck. When you make jewelry you always notice other people's jewelry. It's like when you've just bought a new car and until you bought it you'd never noticed another red Toyota Venza on the road, but now you see them everywhere!
I saw the cross before I saw her face. Springfield, Missouri is the big, fat silver rodeo trophy buckle of the bible belt. I know this fact may be disputed by other towns, but we're home to the headquarters of the Assembly of God church, so your argument is now invalid. You often see crosses and crucifixes. Sometimes you see an Om. An Om is usually worn by one of those "parking lot" moms who congregate in the school lot after morning drop off sporting their Under Armor or Lululemon and running shoes and perfect hair and makeup. Apparently Om bracelets make you burn calories faster. I'm not in any way mocking "parking lot moms". If I didn't hate running, I'd totally join your group because I love Om bracelets.
I simply had to comment on it. It was such an odd sight, like seeing a black bear in your front yard. It's not like it can't happen, but it would be peculiar. "I like your Coptic cross!" I said.
"Oh, thanks!" she said brightly. "It's my..." she looked up like she was trying to do math in her head. "Talisman!" She'd found the word. "My friends gave it to me. They say it will protect me from my anxiety," she continued. She was young and fragile looking with unnaturally black hair and red lipstick.
I couldn't tell what she was more proud of. Having friends that are thoughtful enough to gift you with a talisman or the ability to remember the word. Either way I was somewhat stunned that she offered up the fact that she suffered with anxiety disorder without any hesitation.
There I was, torn between saying, "Me too," and just smiling and walking away with my custard. I decided I'd better keep the line behind me from growing any longer and just smile and collect my change and leave. I wondered then though, if it was my "tell me everything" face or if it's just that ordinary for people of her generation to talk about having anxiety disorder. Maybe anxiety disorder is an epidemic these days and there are far more people in my "tribe" than I realize?
She believed that her talisman was insulating her. I will never, ever argue with that logic. Her brass cross kept her gnawing, clawing panic away. I totally get it. My rutilated quartz pendant is calming and my old Durga amulet will give me confidence if I know I'm going to face conflict that day. Sting wears an ancient Tibetan DZI bead and Cameron Diaz wears a delicate evil eye pendant around her neck. Maybe they are fashion statements or maybe even celebrities have insecurities and issues that a seemingly magical piece of metal or stone can ward away.
If you like the Coptic cross in the picture you can see it here:
My husband, Doug, read my first blog post today and said, "It's a bit personal, don't you think?" I thought for a moment. One of my pet peeves is the old adage, "It's not personal, it's business." Really? Because as a human, everything that happens to me is personal whether it happens at home or at work.
I've been the vice president for the company that my father started when I was six months old for many years now. (Shameless plug for my family's company, Ample Industries. Ample is a manufacturer of custom pressure sensitive labels. www.amplelabels.com). On most days at work, I find myself in the midst of more issues revolving around people than labels. I've joked with Doug and a few of my friends that I must have, "Tell me all of your problems!" written on my forehead in invisible ink. People tell me things that are sometimes incredibly upsetting and sometimes, thankfully, funny. It is a relationship that I hope I have earned over the years. My job has evolved into the role of a facilitator of the people that I work with so that they can focus on work. (Notice that I said, "the people that I work with", as opposed to the people that work for me.) I don't know who among us can come to work and actually leave all of their problems at the time clock. Aren't we all supposed to be working together, so that we can earn a living, so that we can live?
Business is about relationships. If there are two convenience stores on opposite sides of the street but you've built a rapport with the attendant at the one on the east side of the street, which one will you run inside when you need milk? I'm betting the one with the guy that has spoken to you and noticed you personally. You must be thinking, by now, "what does this have to do with jewelry?"
To my point then - and I do have one - True Believer Jewelry is incredibly personal for me. It's a jewelry brand that focuses entirely on religion. The single most divisive topic other than politics that I can imagine. You're not even supposed to bring up religion at Thanksgiving, for God's sake. What makes me think that I can interpret thousands of years of complex belief of people all over the globe, boil that ideology and those beliefs down into one item with some symbolic imagery and a string of beads? I'll tell you why. It's because for me, it is personal, which translates into human, and one thing that I have observed over the years of my life is that as humans, we do our best work for our god.
The most beautiful music, the most elaborate architecture, the loveliest of fine art has been lovingly, painstakingly crafted over centuries as a tribute to God, regardless of what name you apply to Him. Thanks to those people the jewelry I make is already purposeful, beautiful and personal as it relates and resonates spiritual meaning to the individual. If you find something in my design that you consider meaningful and visually appealing and it happens to look fabulous with your new dress, all the better. I will stand behind my work because believe you me....it's not just business as usual. It's personal.
True Believer Jewelry really started at a gift shop connected to a cave in Missouri. Billed as, "The Only Cave You Can Ride Through", Fantastic Caverns is just north of Springfield. We were there to celebrate my daughter's birthday and as one of her gifts I told her she could choose a few of the shiny rocks in the wooden bins that the gift shop was selling. I think they were 5 for $10. She was mesmerized by the rocks and took great care in choosing the ones she liked best. As she looked, I began looking too. The rocks were smooth, shiny, colorful and delightful to hold and I too found myself wanting some of those rocks. That was it. That moment in time when you discover something you love that you can't stop thinking about.
Next I discovered that you could buy polished semi precious gemstone chips in bulk on eBay. I purchased five pounds of them and poured them in a bowl and plunged my hands in them. They were cool, smooth and gorgeous to look at. I put the bowl of stones on the corner of my desk at work and soon everyone was asking about them, touching them, immersing their hands in the cool rocks as a stress reliever.
I started to study the names of the individual stones. Dalmatian Jasper. Amethyst. Onyx. Lapis. Quartz. On the internet one link lead to another and I stumbled upon beads. The beads became a way I could do something useful with my newly found love of semi precious gems. I could hold them and compare their properties and admire their colors and variations of color. Little did I know that these rocks would have a profound impact on my life, and in fact be a very important part of my therapy.
In my early 30s I had my first panic attack. At first I thought I was dying, or having a stroke or a heart attack. I was in the midst of a divorce. Divorces are so prevalent these days that I won't belabor the phenomenon here. If you've endured a divorce, I'm sorry. My then husband and I might have had a baby to save our marriage, but instead, we bought a house. A beautiful, Victorian style house that was owned by the bank after its former family had themselves also been broken by divorce and the house by default ended up in the hands of the lender. I found myself alone quite soon after having moved from my first cozy home, into a huge house. Unpacked boxes and bits and pieces of my life were strewn everywhere. As the daylight faded and the house grew dark I limited my movement to the living room and the kitchen. They were the rooms that were most unpacked and therefore the "safest"; away from the unfamiliar, unsettling noises that come with a new house. I slept fitfully and wished that my soon to be ex-husband - or anyone - were there. Although my family lived in the same city, I felt for the first time in my life completely alone. Unable to confide in them that my marriage had failed, I had only myself and my own self loathing to keep me company.
On a grey February day I left work to head home. "Home" to a house that seemed too grand to belong to me. A home that still required hours of work to be fully functional and habitable. Halfway there I began to feel dizzy, nauseous and disoriented. On a freeway without any safe place to pull over I continued to drive slowly, fearing that I'd soon be slumped behind the wheel at the side of the road. I did manage to make it "home". I called my husband who was working late and shakily explained to him that there was something very wrong with me and then collapsed on the floor.
I have spent years and thousands of dollars in an attempt to understand anxiety disorder. For a long time I could not go into a big box store, drive on the freeway or be in crowds of people. I could anticipate nothing but the next panic attack. Fortunately (after several failed attempts) I found a great therapist that taught me cognitive behavioral therapy. It's a method of helping yourself by challenging your own negative thoughts. It works! But the anxious times still come - out of no where. I've found that making jewelry is the very best therapy. I can sit quietly and string them on fine wire and become totally absorbed in the process. I look forward to the end of the day when dinner is over and my daughter's homework is done. I can retreat to my studio that I share with my "new" husband of 16 years. Stringing beads in quiet meditation is good for your soul.
At first I made my jewelry only for myself. It didn't occur to me that anyone else would be interested. If you love beads, you soon find that they become an expensive addiction and I was making pieces faster than I could wear them myself. So, to support my habit, thwart my anxiety and share my love of my rocks I opened up my shop on Etsy. Now I'm building my own website and attempting to grow this tiny company of mine. So you see, I'm a "True Believer". I believe in many things, but it's the jewelry that has helped me appreciate "faith".