Sunday, March 29, 2009

Animal Lovers Unite!

When I began this blog I thought that all my posts would be about my work & development as a jewelry artist - whether about running a small business, design of pieces, creative blocks, website design, etc. What I've come to realize is that this blog covers many different topics and areas to my life - jewelry making being a large part of it, but not all of it.

That said, I want to talk about animals, pets to be exact. I live in an area of Western Massachusetts where the MSPCA has had to close in Springfield, MA because of lack of funds. I know that the economy is bad, and cities are struggling and needing to make choices about staffing and funding, but really - cutting the care for lost, sick and abandoned pets?

I've read that people are bringing their pets to shelters because they cannot afford to feed them any longer. I cannot imagine needing to make that decision with my two dogs, Eddie and Diesel. My heart would be broken.

Now there is one less place open to receive animals in need.

One woman I know through the blogging world, Michelle Harvey, wrote about a great challenge called "My FURPOWER $1 Donation Challenge!" to raise money for shelters. Michelle has been an animal advocate for most of her life and is supporting this challenge. It's a great idea and I hope you will check it out and make a donation. You can reach the blog entry at

I also want to suggest that you check out Michelle's blog ( - she is one creative artist. I am very fond of her work. Some of the pieces from her blog are shown below:

Friday, March 27, 2009

One of My Favorite Places

I love Shelburne Falls which is located in NW Massachusetts, close to Vermont. It has a lot of culture for a small town, with an Artisan Co-op Gallery, funky coffee bars where local musicians come to play, The Bridge of Flowers, which once was a trolley bridge I believe, the potholes - amazing rock formations that you can go down to when you want to sit and reflect, and amazing reflections on the water from the bridge that runs through the town. I spent some time there last weekend and love how these photos came out. Of course I should be working on getting new pieces up on the web, and completing some custom orders, but it was a glorious day to be outside and I wanted to post about it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I've Been Interviewed - that's a first!

Miriam of Angel's Hair wrote and asked if she could interview me for her blog. I've been following her blog for a while and jumped at the chance! She sent me the questions and after much back and forth on my part, I answered the questions and sent them back to her to be published in her blog.
Today the interview is up and I'm pleased with it.
When I was younger I hemmed and hawed over any writing I needed to do, finding it difficult to get out of myself to write. It was especially difficult for me to write papers at University. I had a friend who would sit with me which helped keep my anxiety at bay so that I could get my ideas out. That seems to have shifted. I love writing in this blog, and seem to have resolved the fears that my writing isn't good enough. Now I worry that I'm not succinct enough and that I've become wordy. Seems like the process of writing remains a challenge.
If you are interested in learning more about me, check it out. Once you are there, make sure to look at Miriam's drawings. Her illustrations are quite wonderful.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Compassion - My Journey

I seem to be a complex person - never seeming to be satisfied with what is, but always searching, rarely staying static for long. That seems to be my life journey. As I've written before, I am studying Reiki, wanting to incorporate energy body work into my life, as a way to offer healing comfort to others and also as a way to work on myself. My body hurts more as I age and Reiki energy work provides relief.

Reiki is an amazing technique, opening me up in new ways, and has led to a deepening self-evaluation of my spiritual life, or maybe it's better to say, my lack of one. I've always defined myself as an Atheist and have not spent much time thinking about religion and/or spirituality, even though I have "toyed" with Buddhism since my 20's.

On my Facebook page I have written that I am a "Goddess loving Buddhist", which seems to fit, although the Buddhist part has become more central and the goddess piece has moved more into the background. Truthfully though, I've never spent much time thinking deeply about either of these paths I've (sort of) taken. There has definitely been a shift, which I am trying to articulate here, although I'm not sure how successfully.

The Goddess piece is about a connection to the power of the female, and the knowledge of the mystery and power that she holds, in whatever incarnation one looks to. I love her connection to nature and inner strength, although sometimes her strength is directed outward and seems violent to me.

The Buddhist piece has always been about being centered, choosing to focus on being balanced, being able to detach and stay still, refusing to be locked into negative thinking patterns, and believing in the good of people. Not always an easy task for me but I do believe that the more I am able to stay present and focused, the less I get pulled into negativity.

I have now added a new piece which is Compassion. Compassion is central to Tibetan Buddhist thought. Compassion (Bodhisattva) is best represented by Quan Yin whom I believe holds tremendous strength, giving and fortitude. I am including three photographs that show different images of Quan Yin. She is revered in Buddhist teachings. Compassion comes in many forms. I am not always able to be compassionate, nor do I fully understand it fully. But I do think I get it now. I hope that focusing on compassion with stay in my thoughts each day as I go about my life.

So why am I writing this?

I am writing about this because of a blog entry I read recently about a basketball game. Funny connection I guess, but not really. Lori Anderson, one of the finest jewelry artists around, wrote about an article she read about a high school student, who was blind, being allowed to toss all the free throw shots in a basketball game that was a fundraiser. His brother used a cane to tap the hoop and this young man, Matt Steven, was able to follow the sound and shoot for the hoop - he succeeded 4 out of 8 times. How amazing is that? I loved this story, especially that his team allowed him to shoot, even though it might have meant they lose the game. If you want to get the full picture, go read the article which is highlighted on Lori's blog post. You can access it by clicking on the blog entry title at the top of this page.

Sometimes it's not just about winning!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How I Know Spring is Coming!

It's cold here today in Western Massachusetts, not a surprise - but, the sun is out, it stays light until after 6:00 p.m. which says to me spring is a'coming. I can't wait to be able to put sandals on (no socks) and walk around with bare arms. I so love it when the winter ends and the flowers re-emerge from the earth. One of the other ways that tells me spring is coming is that I get the urge to buy bags - I love bags - at the moment I am very fond of the bags Tilt Creations makes and sells on Etsy ( One of the funny struggles in my life centers on whether I should wear leather or not, eat meat, or not, etc. Too many times I have gone "leather-free" and given away my bags and boots and shoes, and have bought cloth bags, Crocs, and other shoes I have found without leather. Works well for a while and then I seem to lose my resolve. So I've stopped giving away my leathered and non-leathered accessories, which means I've built up quite a collection. But if you are like me, there is never too many on my shelves! Theresa also has a blog. Check her out -

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Being Caught Off-guard!

I had an interesting experience last week that seems to have sparked a lot of thought. I signed up and attended a workshop at my local bead shop with my daughter. It was to be a fun evening out. Another person there was someone I had worked with a number of years ago who came up to me and started talking about my business - wanting to "pick my brain" as she was planning on beading full-time once she retired. I could feel my back go up and I felt trapped, uncertain of how to respond to her request. She also joked that she would go "steal my designs" once she discovered I had a website.

I believe I knew she was kidding and was surprised by the intensity of my reaction. In processing it I realized that for those on the outside looking in, having a small business creating and selling jewelry must seem like the ideal life. It did for me when I was beginning to contemplate leaving my "real" job. Now that I am in it, the reality seems quite different. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do and hope that I can continue this forever, but there is a "harsher" reality which is less enjoyable - trying to make a living doing what I love, having the time to do all that needs to be done and still have time to create, creative blocks, etc.

One of the things I know is that I am not competitive with others who design jewelry - even though I am sometimes disappointed when, for example, I apply for a craft show and get told that they've reached their maximum for jewelers. There are a lot of us out there and the trick seems to be developing my own niche - something that separates me out from the crowd. That is not as easy for me and continues to be an ongoing process.

One of the things I love about blogging is that it gives me, and many others, the opportunity to hear what jewelry making is for others - I love feeling a part of a larger community of artists who express themselves in a multitude of ways. It nourishes my spirit.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nourishment Comes in Many Forms

Been thinking a lot about ways I nourish myself - the obvious one being food which I need to sustain me - but less obvious are the ways I find nourishment in things that are less conventional. Let me talk about food first. Food has always been an issue in my life, whether it was about the quantity of food I ate, the effect my food consumption had on my weight, or the quality of my food. I came of age in the 60's - the era of Twiggy - and the norm at that time was skinny skinny skinny. I've never been skinny. I have a picture taken when I was in Great Britain in 1971 when I was 20. At that time I had very poor body image, and believed I was extremely fat. Now when I look at that picture I see a normal sized young woman who was so effected by the media and family that she could not see herself clearly. 20 is the age that I got involved in the women's movement, and began working on my sense of self, with great success I think. Not an easy process but I came to believe that my worth in this world was not based on how I looked, but rather on who I was as a person, and how I openly and honestly I interacted with others.

Other ways of self-nourishment that have been important to me seem more difficult to articulate. Spending money has definitely been a problem at times. I have much desire to own things I don't necessarily need. Who has 4 iPods? Okay they may all be different sizes and have different uses, but it's still 4 iPods. And then there is the bead collection - I never seem to have enough - and can always use more. Even at times when I am not feeling creative or productive, I'm still buying beads. When I was younger my mother had a thing about Keds sneakers and I had 15 pairs in different colors and patterns. I must have been about 8 or 9 years old. Maybe that was the beginning? Wouldn't it be great to have someone to blame. Too bad I'm too smart for that.

Healthier forms of nourishment come from being close to people and allowing myself to open up and connect, thereby feeling nourished by them. Not as easy as it sounds. There are times when I feel I have this one down, and then I tank and feel closed off.

Nature is a great form of nourishment for me - I can look at the changing environment as Spring struggles to come, feeling much joy and excitement, especially seeing deer and hawks in my neighborhood. Opens me right up. I am so looking forward to Spring I can taste it - this winter has been harsh and a struggle.

This brings me to my current venture. I've been studying Reiki and have completed Reiki Level 1. I am loving this, finding joy and contentment in the process of energy work. And it opens me up, nourishes my soul and grounds me. I have become a believer and hope to use Reiki on myself and others. The few treatments I have done seem to be successful, in that my "guinea pigs" report feeling relaxed and soothed after their treatments. Funny thing is that I felt the same way - how lovely to give and receive at the same time. Reiki seems to bring me back to my roots - and I am excited about new ventures Reiki opens up for me.