Monday, December 31, 2012


I'm struggling a bit with focusing on creating the new when I still feel so bound by the old.
Diego Rivera's "Germination"
While I don't think it's necessary to have a new year to begin anew, it does help.  But being a full time student means my new year feels like it starts in September.  So I'm smack dab in the middle of my year - my first as an over-aged PhD student.

Most of the time, I find myself wondering what I'm doing.  Not with the course work.  That, I've got down and except for the end of semester rush to write papers, the work is not overly challenging.  But there's this sense of hoop-jumping.  Nothing in academe is ever done simply.  Easily.  In one step or process.  Nothing.  And because I straddle two disciplines (History and Gender/Women's Studies), I serve two masters.  For someone who loves simplicity as much as I do, this is a challenge.
Aloe spiral
And then, there's the fear.  Fear that I've gone into LOTS of debt.  Fear that I'll never pay off all those loans.  Fear that I won't find a job.  Fear that I'm going to live below the poverty level forever.  Fear.  Overwhelming, paralyzing fear.

I want to feel like this:
Tile from my backyard.  A long ago thrift store find.
I want to be celebrating the gift of my education.  Enjoying the learning process.  Loving to teach. Happy with my home and my beadwork and my friends and family.

But most of the time, lately, I feel like this:
I think it's time to figure out what my fear has to teach me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cecilia Payne

"Since her death in 1979, the woman who discovered what the universe is made of has not so much as received a memorial plaque. Her newspaper obituaries do not mention her greatest discovery. […] Every high school student knows that Isaac Newton discovered gravity, that Charles Darwin discovered evolution, and that Albert Einstein discovered the relativity of time. But when it comes to the composition of our universe, the textbooks simply say that the most abundant atom in the universe is hydrogen. And no one ever wonders how we know."
— Jeremy Knowles, discussing the complete lack of recognition Cecilia Payne gets, even today, for her revolutionary discovery

Sunday, December 23, 2012


"The making of art is no different than prayer."
Rainn Wilson
Diwali celebration
This is the energy I put into my art, my beadwork.  A prayer that each piece finds its wearer and enhances the beauty of its person whether that be through laughter or passion or self awareness.  That someone wants to dance - spin spin spin.  Or stand with their head held higher and their shoulders back, welcoming attention.  Celebrating the wonder of who they are, the jouissance, in the moment and in the process, in the fullest recognition of an arms wide open pleasure.

So often, we (and I mean both men and women, here) are taught to hide.  Hide behind the "you should" or "you can't."  We're taught lack.  Of control, of opportunity, of equality.  Ugh. That bcomes the overwhelming sense of life.  Ugh = the worry/fear/doubt.

When fear takes over, prayers become smaller.  You know what?  I don't want small prayers.  Because I equate prayer with the fulfillment of dreams.  I see something bigger for my life.  I know that I am meant to be of service, that I am meant for abundance.  The Divine has a plan for me that requires I move past worry/fear/doubt and welcome what comes to me with my arms wide open.

Can a piece of jewelry change the world?  Why not?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dreaming Big

Do you believe in dreams?  Yes!

How often do you find yourself saying, "If only..." or "I wish...?"  Having a dream and following a dream are so narrowly separated.  Mostly by action.

Darcy Horn has a dream.  Check out her dream of creating a Beaded Body. There's only a few more days to help her reach her goal.   What I admire the most?  Darcy asked for help in achieving her dream.  Actually stated what her dream was, set the timeline, did the homework for what she needed to reach her goal, and then, asked for help, which greatly increases the likelihood that her dream will come true.

It's that time of year when I focus on what I want to draw to me in the upcoming year.  There's lots!  I've set aside December 21st - Yule - to make a dream board.  I'll take pictures and words from magazines and the internet that spark my imagination, that illustrate some of the half formed plans I have, for my career and for my creative life.  (Not that these are exclusive.)  But Darcy's project has also taught me a good lesson - that dreams aren't isolated.  Dreams are enhanced by being shared.

"Men who want to be feminists do not need to be given a space in feminism. They need to take the space they have in society & make it feminist."
— Kelley Temple, National Union of Students UK Women’s Officer

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Be the Change

I find myself unable to shake a deep sadness today.  I woke up thinking about the school shooting in CT.  Maybe it's because I'm a teacher.  Every semester, one of my first thoughts as I settle into the classroom focuses on how I would get my students out of the building, if I had to.  Because I would do whatever I could to keep them safe.

Maybe it's because I believe so deeply that our society is on the brink of change.  What that change looks like is up to all of us.  Not just the people in power, but all of us.
It's been a rough week here in Michigan for civil rights.  A lame duck legislature enacted laws that restrict women's rights, enacted city and school managers, made MI a right to work state (which is shown to reduce wages and worker protections), and sent a bill to the governor that would make it possible to conceal-carry weapons into public places.  Private gun transactions would also not require background checks.

No, I don't think the world is going to end in a few days.  But I do think that any time a large amount of energy is focused on change, change happens.  Let's face it, even if it's subliminally, everyone is aware of the calendar counting down and marks an end.  Of something.

What if we, as a culture, decided to change the culture of violence that we live in?  What if we started by listening to each other?  Instead of continual debates have long, on-going discussions with multiple voices, in the spirit of "harm none" or "do unto others as you would have done to yourself."

Our respective congressional delegates - state and federal - may have forgotten how to do this, but we, the people haven't.  We know that continual exposure to violence creates a more violent culture.  That limiting civil rights/jobs/access to health care/etc..., creates desperation and disconnect.

The loss - it's so unnecessary.  Especially if we, as a society, learn nothing from it.

Friday, December 14, 2012


"Let’s face it. We’re undone by each other. And if we’re not, we’re missing something. This seems so clearly the case with grief, but it can be so only because it was already the case with desire. One does not always stay intact. One may want to, or manage to for a while, but despite one’s best efforts, one is undone, in the face of the other, by the touch, by the scent, by the feel, by the prospect of the touch, by the memory of the feel." - Judith Butler 
My heart's in Connecticut today.
Peace Lily


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hey, it's the inside that matters!

"All girls continue to be taught when they are young, if not by their parents then by the culture around them, that they must earn the right to be loved — that “femaleness” is not good enough. This is a female’s first lesson in the school of patriarchal thinking and values. She must earn love. She is not entitled. She must be good enough to be loved. And good is always defined by someone else, someone on the outside."
bell hooks 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


"Why am I compelled to write?… Because the world I create in the writing compensates for what the real world does not give me. By writing I put order in the world, give it a handle so I can grasp it. I write because life does not appease my appetites and anger… To become more intimate with myself and you. To discover myself, to preserve myself, to make myself, to achieve self-autonomy. To dispel the myths that I am a mad prophet or a poor suffering soul. To convince myself that I am worthy and that what I have to say is not a pile of shit… Finally I write because I’m scared of writing, but I’m more scared of not writing."
— Gloria AnzaldĂșa

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas at Wings (Stadium)

It's gonna be a busy weekend!
Wings Stadium, in Kalamazoo, turns into a major Arts & Craft venue the first weekend of every December.  And this year, BrisingBeads Design is part of the madness. 
This is just a glimpse of the crowd in 2010.  There's about 200 other vendors in the halls of the arena as well as in outbuildings.  Event is sponsored by EagleTakeFlight - or as I like to say, my cousin Bev.

Set up ran late last night.  But the booth looks beautiful.  We've worked hard on our creations and now surrender the beautiful to their new, loving homes.  Buy, shoppers!  Buy!  Fill those stockings and that space between the tree.

Very hopeful for this holiday season, as the money made will fund a trip to Quartzite, AZ in January.  Can you say - Bead Shows?

I'd cross my fingers but am hoping to use them to ring up sales and package jewelry for customers.