Saturday, August 27, 2011

War and the Imagination

I ran across this quote while doing research this week:
            “The only war that counts is the war against the imagination.” – Diane di Palma

Made me stop and think about my internal war this summer.  It’s not in my nature to stay in bed for 3 days.  Or hide away from other people.  Or not remember dates or words.  (Seriously, I made car reservations 4 times – 4 times! – because I couldn’t remember/figure out the right dates of my trip.)  I feel so unlike myself that I don’t trust anything that I do or say or think.  My imagination is frozen.  At the same time, my body and my mind feel like they’re moving through mud.  I’m scared, because I can’t imagine a way out of this.  Right now, the power of my body, of this illness, is greater than my ability to imagine my life being different:  happy and healthy and whole and productive, kicking ass on all the projects I have planned.

I have a doctor’s appointment in early September.  This doctor works specifically with hypothyroidism and adrenal issues.  And, he does this holistically, which makes me very happy.  Give me the power of the spirit and practical medicine over defined scientific limitations any day.  A holistic approach feels like a very effective tool to fight this health war.  While the procedures won’t be covered under my insurance, I’m praying the costs will be effective and worth it.  Damn it, I’m going to imagine with everything left in me that this is the right procedure.  I want my life back.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What's So Special About Beads?

I’m often asked why I have so many beads. It really is a deeper reason than “she who has the most beads, wins.” J Painting ceramics led me to beads. Over 20 years ago, I was creating a lot of altar pieces, dedicated to different Goddesses and Gods. Very rewarding and I built up a solid clientele fairly quickly. My decorative additions of fur and leather, sea shells and gemstones added a different touch to statues that were commonly available.

Someone gave me a book on beaded cabochons (this was back in the early ‘90s, before there were many bead books available) and I was off and running. It was a way for me to mix my love of gemstones with my creativity, in a more portable – and affordable – way than ceramics. I started making earrings and bracelets for a few shops in Vegas. I sold hundreds of pairs of beaded ankle bracelets, using a Venetian Lace pattern and small bells. (I think I can still make these in my sleep!) Seed beads let me play with colors and numbers. Aware that different colors invoked specific energies and different numbers held different meanings, I became conscious of how these could be used for magical purpose. The addition of gemstones only enhanced the effect. It was like playing and creating with an endless box of crayons!

When I started doing local shows and national festivals, the response to the jewelry was amazing. I would watch a woman’s energy change when she picked up something she liked or was drawn to. Many, many women are hesitant to even try on the jewelry that they like, especially if it’s something that’s a bit different from what friends/family are wearing. While it might be safe to stick with the simple silver chain and charm (and pretty), everyone enjoys a walk on the wild side once in awhile. And because so many of my pieces have been influenced by myths and nature and the divine feminine, I think women instinctively respond to this as well. I know that when a woman allowed herself to play a bit, to try on the pieces that called to her, there was an instant transformation in her energy. There was laughter or a smile. The shoulders straighten, the head goes up. There’s a light in a woman’s eye when she recognizes that she’s beautiful. She’s wearing something beautiful and that beauty is awakened in her.

I stopped doing shows when I went back to college. There just isn’t time to keep up with the demands of grad school and travel all over, doing shows. (And frankly, there isn’t the money.) But my inspiration for making jewelry has only deepened as I’ve focused my academic life on Women’s Studies and Women’s History. Now, I feel like I have a profound understanding and awareness of the cultural reasons why women have such a difficult time allowing themselves to explore and express their beauty.

My health has also taken a hit in the last several years. This summer has been especially tough on me, though I’m hopeful that now that I’ve discovered the reason (hypothyroidism) I can find the correct medical solution. One positive that’s come out of feeling so crappy is that I’ve reconnected with my beads. Once again, I’ve surrendered myself to the colors and numbers and gemstones. And now, with the popularity of beads so prevalent, I can also play with lampwork and glass! In my current narrow world of low energy, lack of focus, painful muscles, and sometimes overwhelming sense of malaise, I can sit and “play” with beads. The beads help me focus, help me to remain connected to something larger than myself. The beads remind me that I have a greater purpose. That my life is connected to other people, to other women. The beads give me hope, feed my determination to find an answer to the medical issues so that I can, once again, feel the beauty within myself and bring a bit of that beauty to others.

I have a busy year ahead of me! Researching and Writing my MA thesis on 'Women's History Month'. Facing my medical challenges - I WILL find a solution to this madness! Teaching - presenting my students the information that can change their lives. Increasing my business presence. PhD apps. I'm hopeful that by blogging, I can stay in touch with everything that feeds my soul, that enhances my beauty. At the very least, I'll have a record of my journey. And as I'm so often reminded, it's not the destination, so much as it's the journey!

Blessings - Skylar

And, to keep track of new jewelry creations, please check out my Etsy site: