Friday, May 31, 2013

If money were no object...

I could live here:

Casey Key, Florida
 with a wonderful view of the Gulf of Mexico, with dolphins playing in the water as the sun set on another day filled with love and laughter and Seabreeze cocktails. 
Wickenberg, AZ
I might also have a house here.  Maybe an adobe ranch, with Mexican brick accenting the walled adobe courtyard, with a big fountain and lots of desert mountain flowers.  Nothing too big. 

Unless, I wanted a bead room/studio that looked like this:
This is actually a library.  In someone's home.

Most of all, I want to learn to live like money is no object.  Because it isn't.  Money is NOT the object of my existence.  And I know that focusing on money - the lack of - only makes it more difficult to draw money to me.

Money does not define who I am.  Hence, being a PhD student at the age of 51.  With the knowledge that I will have to create a career outside of academia because there is little chance that I would ever be hired for a tenure track position and an even slimmer chance that this position would entail the kind of researching/writing/teaching I envision and enjoy.

So, I am practicing living as if money were no object.  In my head, I can have the properties above.  Or, more closely to my dreams, I have a small piece of property on which J and I have a healing center: a place where people (but mostly women, since most desperately need a space like this) can come to do art or write or just get away and think. 

I imagine this as an overhaul of a old motel/hotel, with the rooms rehabbed with bright colored paint and funky furniture mixed with antiques, with a courtyard in the center for gatherings and movie showings.  The center offers art classes and, of course, has a small bead shop, where all sorts of fabulous beads and textiles and ephemera is sold.  We have weekly farmer's markets, where local produce is sold alongside art and music and food.  In the same building as the bead shop, there's offices set aside for massage therapists and alternative healers to use.  And studio spaces.  And a big community art room, fully stocked with supplies for all sorts of art mediums.  There's a big kitchen, for cooking community meals for the groups that rent out the center for events.  There's a fire circle.  And an orchard of fruit trees.  Solar and wind energy are used to power everything.

This is the dream of the future that I have that keeps me awake at night, with longing.  With the excitement of possibility.  Until I think about money: or, more accurately, the lack of. 

What would you do, if money were no object?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


For those of you headed to Bead and Button, please remember:

'Cuz.  Just cuz.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Walking the Labyrinth

1.  A complicated irregular network of passages or paths in which it is difficult
to find one's way; a maze.
2.  An intricate and confusing arrangement.

Wiki-commons photo of desert labyrinth
In honor of May Day, J and I walked the labyrinth on Western Michigan University's campus.  J had done so a few weeks before, for a holistic's class, and it seemed like the perfect way to honor the turning of the season, from cold winter to warm, sunny summer.
WMU's labyrinth, hidden behind the Health and Human Service building.  Photo from its dedication, in 2011.

Who knew the labyrinth would teach us so much about ourselves and our relationship.

J and I have been friends for twenty years, and have lived together for the past eight years.  (She got divorced and moved to Michigan.)  One of the things we often talk about is enjoying the journey of life.  J is much better at staying focused on the journey than I am.  I'm a goal person.  I need to have a goal, a direction to head in.  I think of it as a way to organize my life, fully accepting (and expecting) that plans change and directions can be flawed.

J calls herself "Gumby," referencing flexibility, open to change.  Not worried about the end goal but more interested in every day steps, both forward and back.

When walking the labyrinth, I set off first.  J followed a few minutes later.  As I walked, I realized how fast I was moving.  Even though I didn't know where I was going, what lay ahead, what the twists and turns were going to bring.  As in life, I just plowed ahead, planning to react and figure it out as I moved forward.  If a challenge arose, I'd hit it head on.  Even when I stumbled taking a turn around the sharp corners, I kept moving.  Even when my knees hurt, and my right hip ached, from taking the sharp turns too fast, from trying to maintain my balance on a narrow path, I kept moving.

J walked into and through the labyrinth at a slower pace.  Her steps were measured.  Careful.  She was gentler with her body going around the corners, maintaining her balance.  Moving with caution, she didn't stumble.  She focused on each step she took.

As we each walked the labyrinth, there were times that we were on opposite sides of the layout.  There were times that we passed each other, usually looking up with a smile and slapping hands.  And, there were times when we walked side by side, on different parts of the path but still connected to the same process.

Flower labyrinth - Cornell University
We sat for a few minutes in the center of the circle.  Talked about how glad we were that winter was over.  Looked out at the daffodils and blooming trees outside the labyrinth.  Talked about school and our educations - happy the school year was over, nervous about the impending year.  Talked about the restrictions of money (which seems to follow me everywhere, right now.)  Talked about enjoying the journey, how we define this differently, activate this differently.  But together.  Always together.

Offering three pennies to the Goddess, we started our journey out of the labyrinth.  This time, J went first.  She moved much more quickly going out of the labyrinth than coming into it.  She walked with her head up, smiling.  She walked with confidence.

I followed, slowly.  My footsteps were measured.  I took my time.  I concentrated on leaving the doubts and fears that I didn't want to carry forward along the path of the labyrinth.  I paid attention to my body, taking care to stay steady, to move carefully.  I let myself breathe.  I went into the motion of walking, of moving.  I saw flashes of J as an older woman - long gray hair, stooped shoulders, a big smile on her face.  I connected with the earth and with the wind, with the flashes of dandelion yellow I saw outside the circle.

The incense stick that J had lit at the beginning of our journey sputtered out when I left the labyrinth.  J was waiting.  Both of us laughed and chattered as we walked back to the car, enjoying the spring evening.  Both of us felt energized.  Happy.  Energized.

As we drove home, we shared our individual experience of walking the labyrinth.  I told J about becoming aware of how quickly I went into the labyrinth and how slowly I moved out, recognizing that this is exactly the way I live.  I'll barrel on through, with only the destination in mind.  Once I've gotten where I'm going, then I can slow down and enjoy.  Figure things out.  J, on the other hand, shared that until she felt safe, she preferred to move with caution.  Once she knew where she was going, then she could move quicker, with confidence.

The labyrinth is an ancient symbol, an old tradition involving multiple cultures and belief systems.  In my walking of the labyrinth, it's become a metaphor for my life.  A way to recognize that the twists and turns are only temporary, as I move along the path that is my journey through life.  Sometimes, I'll have company on the journey.  Sometimes I'll feel very alone or unguided, anxious, even scared.  But with another step, or a turn, I can find my way.  Best of all, I can determine my own journey through the labyrinth, where I pause.  Reflect.  Take a breath.  Move forward.

Labyrinth - proof that life is an endless cycle, a circle of learning and loving, of expansion and contraction.  Mostly, possibility. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Happy Birthday

To me.

This has been a year of great learning.  Or, maybe, I'm just uncovering and practicing things that I've known all along.
Externally, I'm wearing my hair a little shorter, a little pinky-streakier.  Funky earrings are the norm.  I'm starting to have fun with clothes again, wearing more of my hippie prints and styles.  I'm caring less about fitting in with my conservative Mid-westerners and caring more about being true to my own style.
'Cause, after all
Internally, I'm feeling all sorts of shifts in confidence.  Testing my power.  Much less willing to put up with nonsense/rudeness/inconsideration/drama.  Whew.  THAT was a long time coming.

No, not me.  A wiki-commons photo of a double Alaskan rainbow.
Now, it's time to dream big.  And make big things happen.

Go, me.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


A sign at the Arizona 4/28/12 Rally.
Women vote.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

WIPs, complete.

I have to share, 'cause I love love love how these turned out.

"The Drummer" - special order for a special customer.

"Fortune Teller" sold to the same special customer
I've said before that I'm not a big fan of fringe.  Mostly 'cause doing fringe on a necklace makes me swear when the thread gets tangled around the fringe.  But I think I'll be playing more with fringe, because really, these necklaces would be nothing without the added embellishment.

Note:  those bells on "Drummer" are where I got my start in beading.  Making lacy patterned ankle bells.  Hundreds of them.  Hundreds.  They sounded pretty and sold very well, but hundreds...
Now, I only make them for a special occasion. As a gift.  Thank you for your support, Karin.  :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Inspiration - Art Magazines

I am a reformed magazine addict.  Mostly due to time and money - limited resources for both.  But I have a few favorites that I buy on a regular basis.

For the past few years, I've been hooked on magazines that feature studios.  I've always been a design nut, reading decorating magazines, playing with design in my house and my garden.  I think the interest in design is what developed my sense of color, of placement, of mix and match.  Breaking the rules, even.  Beading allowed me to play with these skills. 

I'm loving these magazines:

These magazines feature all sorts of art studios, with artists of many different mediums.  As someone who loves layers and colors and texture and organization, I love seeing how other artists live in their creative space.  Someday, I will have a dedicated studio space again (please!) (and an office to write in, please!), but until then, I have these magazines.  And all of the ideas and inspirations included.

 This special feature magazine is another favorite.  A room of flowers?  Oh, I am so there!  But beyond the flowers, there's texture and color mixes and accents of "stuff."  All the makings of a good collage.

For art inspiration, I have two go-to magazines.  I've read these for years (15, maybe) and they never fail to inspire.  American Style covers all mediums, from all over the United States.  The Best-Of series are fabulous, as are the studio and art show round-ups.  The magazine also features home art collections.  Amazing.  Ornament was the first art magazine that I ever picked up.  It's gorgeous features are always stunning.  This magazine shaped the way I looked at beads, when I first began beading over 20 years ago - that beads are a global connection, through the making and the using.  This magazine, more than any other, helped me see what I was doing with beads as art, not craft.

I rarely spend money on beading magazines.  I'll flip through them at the local magazine shop (if you have a local magazine shop, please please please purchase your magazines here, rather than a big box store!), but, frankly, I find the contents repetitive.  Maybe it's because I've never worked from a kit or taken a class and am horrible at following directions.  Maybe it's because of the contradictory policies of certain magazines (Bead and Button).  Maybe it's because I can see what other artists are working on through blogs and Pinterest and Facebook, without the hundreds of ads.

This is not to say that beading magazines aren't great venues for attracting attention to bead artists!  But too often, publication in a magazine acts as a marker of success, to which I say, Nah.  Or, that's only one marker.  For me, the journey is in growing as an artist, in continuing to design, to integrate techniques and mediums.  Mostly, to play.

'Cause, if you're doing what you love, success will follow.  (And, you get to define "success" however you want to.)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cameron Russell = Model

I'm a big fan of TED talks.  Especially when it offers content like this:

Finally, a model that models more than clothes.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Inspiration - The Pleasant Ave Park

Otherwise known as:  the garden that is my backyard.

Red bleeding heart
 Just look at those subtle shades of pink and red, set off by the white and yellow.  Perfect bead design example.

Mini irises. 
 These little irises started out as a teeny tiny clump, left over from whoever used to garden in my yard.  Every year, they spread a bit more.  They only last a few days, but that shading of violet, of umbre blues... and again with the white and yellow accent.  Seems like nature knows there needs to be contrast for a "pop," to set a design off.

One of about 500 tulips.  Really.
Maybe it's my Dutch heritage (all four grandparents come from the Netherlands), but I'm a sucker for tulips.  Not my favorite flower, but definitely in my top 5.  Especially since you bury bulbs in the fall and then, after waiting all winter,  this beauty arrives.  We have tulips in lots of colors, but this purply-pink is a favorite.
The shading of colors stuns me.  And, maybe explains why I love beads, since seed beads is the only medium I've found that allows shading like this.  Tiny detail.  And the mix of translucent and opaque.  (Don't you just love those words?)

Jaynee's necklace - a perfect example of translucent and opaque, with some druzies added for good measure.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

doing the important work

I'm beginning to test a theory.  That if I'm doing work I love, it isn't work.  It's love.

Monday, May 6, 2013

I wish.

If I can make it through the next two EXTREMELY busy weeks,
I'll have most of the summer to rest.
And read books.
And bead in the garden.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Picasso clip -

A woman-of-color who writes poetry or paints or dances or makes movies knows there is no escape from race or gender when she is writing or painting. She can’t take off her color and sex and leave them at the door or her study or studio. Nor can she leave behind her history. Art is about identity, among other things, and her creativity is political.
Gloria AnzaldĂșa, Making Face/Making Soul: Haciendo Caras — Creative and Cultural Perspectives by Women of Color 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Art Inspriation - Fairies

I learned a long time ago not to piss off the fairies.  Even if you don't believe that fairies exist (I do believe.  I do believe), it's best to act as if.
Midsummer's Fairy - Edward Robert Hughes
Once upon a time, when the smashed fairy books were popular, I made fun of fairies.  Silly me.  My treasures began to go missing, mysteriously ending up in flower pots on the patio.  When a then-friend asked the fairies for money, my checkbook went missing.  Then, my credit card went missing.

The fairies that schooled (tortured) me did not look like the sweet fairy below:
Fairy - Sophie Gengembre Anderson
 But more like this, with pointy mosquito spears and rose thorns:
Mean fairy -
To make amends, I had to swear not to take a fairy's name in vain for a whole year.  And leave them beer or a wine cooler in the garden at least once during the summer.  I even put a reminder placard in the garden, saying "Don't Piss Off the Fairies," for other disrespectful (un-informed) souls.

Every spring, I try to do the fairies justice by making them a piece of jewelry.
Fairy necklace - 2010
This year, I found these clay piece to use as focals in my fairy necklace:
I'm planning on bright colors mixed with a bit of pastel.  And greens.  Maybe some dragonflies and butterflies.  Some lampwork, even. 

Of course, if I keep playing "Ant Smasher" on the Ipad, I may find myself too pestered to bead.  Did you know that ants and fairies are cousins?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day

Print from a digital art purchase - Etsy
May.  My favorite month.  Spring is wildly in bloom - daffodils and tulips and hyacinths.  The scent of lilac on the air.  The wrens are returning to the yard, with their bossy chatter and beautiful trills.

And dandelion crowns!
Photo - Flickr
I always feel like a princess, in my dandelion crown.

May Day
Sara Teasdale
(1884- 1933)

A delicate fabric of bird song
Floats in the air,
The smell of wet wild earth
Is everywhere.

Red small leaves of the maple
Are clenched like a hand,
Like girls at their first communion
The pear trees stand.

Oh I must pass nothing by
Without loving it much,
The raindrop try with my lips,
The grass with my touch;

For how can I be sure
I shall see again
The world on the first of May
Shining after the rain?