Monday, August 27, 2012


Earlier this morning, I posted a picture on my Facebook page, noting the obvious physical similarities between a photo of Arizona governor Jan "Pregnancy Begins Two Weeks Before Conception" Brewer and Terrance Stamp's character of Bernadette from "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert", and really, some of the anti-immigration comments it spawned were a little surprising to me.

It made me think a little. (Dangerous, I know, especially since I'm feeling particularly snarky this morning.) And here's my $10,000 question for the day:

Why is it so difficult for people to turn away from compassion towards other human beings? Is it because showing compassion towards others reveals our own faults or weaknesses?

Is it really easier to spread hate and fear than it is to act with love?

What if a nation chose to govern based on compassion rather than greed?

Do my views make me seem naive, idealistic, uneducated?

Any and all comments are welcome.

Friday, August 24, 2012


I got in my car after work today and drove and drove and drove...all the while, thinking about you.

I drove through the mountains and the sky and felt the wind blow through me and I thought about you. I know you so much better than I did before, but I don't really know you at all.

I thought about what you would say if you could see what I saw, and if you could see everything that comes out of me. Would you stay?

I listened to the lines of a song I've heard a thousand times before, and I heard something new in it. I let it wash over me, and the words started running through my head, faster. I thought about your eyes, and your breath.

I thought of you when I drove past the meadows and the farms in the valley. I thought of you when I saw the clouds as they gathered on the horizon near the lake.

I thought about when I would see you again.

I drove as long as I could, because I knew that once I stopped, the magic would be gone, the moment over. I wanted the moment to go on as long as it could, because just for a little while there, everything was suspended in space, and it was perfect.

So, today, I drove my car and I thought of you. And I know that if I let go, everything will be okay.

Friday, August 17, 2012


That's what this week has totally been. Just overwhelming. From the minute I woke up on Monday morning, I feel like it's been go-go-go!

I'm sitting in my hotel room in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, right now, just trying to process what has happened in the last 48 hours...

Truthfully, my mind and my body are both too tired to really get into much right now, but the rundown so far is this:

Got to PA on Wednesday afternoon, got a flat tire. Thanks to the Smartest Roommate in the world, Tammy Jones, I remembered that I have roadside assistance through my car insurance. Got someone to put on the full-size snow tire/spare that I had in the car, then went to bed.

Woke up Thursday morning, found a tire place, got a new tire. (Guy at tire place tried to talk me into two new tires, told him no.)

Drove out to Pitman, NJ, to visit the amazing bead shop, Glass & Bead Boutique, of Amy Blevins. Fun stuff. Chatted for three hours!

Drove back to PA, crossed three bridges, felt like six bridges. Have never had a panic attack while driving on a bridge before, but there it was.

Got back to PA in time to get all checked in for my classes.

Ran back to hotel, grabbed some dinner to eat during class, then drove back to expo center.

Had first-ever kumihimo class with the awesome Jill Wiseman. Learned kumihimo in about five minutes. Got hooked on kumihimo, too, which sent my bead shopping list right out the freaking window.

Got up this morning, back to expo center, helped Nikia Angel schlep stuff back and forth to Meet the Teachers. Had great fun at Meet the Teachers, helped celebrate 5 years of Beading Daily with a little birthday party and some cake.

Had a little bit of lunch (not enough, durn it), and then spent the afternoon shopping.

Shopping for beads? It's hard work. Really.

Decided that I was most definitely NOT up for dinner out tonight, so went back to hotel and changed into jammies. Looked through my fun finds of the day and started new kumihimo bracelet, since I need about three tubes of 6/0 seeds to do an 18" necklace. Durn it again.

Will share my awesome beading finds later. Right now, time for bed, since I have an 8 o clock class tomorrow - something that I haven't had since college back in 2001!

Monday, August 13, 2012

"You look just like Mom."

I got this awesome pair of telescopes from CraftOptics today, and I had so much fun testing them out, I took a quick picture of myself wearing them and put it on Facebook:

I mean, I was having a good hair day and all, so I figured, what the heck, right?

My sister commented on the picture that I look just like our Mom, and my heart skipped a beat. I know she meant it in a good way, but there was something about it that just sent a chill up my spine.

When I found out that I had to go gluten-free a few months ago, the first thing that someone close to me said was, "Now, don't go turning into your mother!" Which, of course, was the first thing that *I* had thought after realizing that there are a whole lot of things that I can't or won't eat now.

Of course, the inside of my refrigerator looks nothing like the inside of my mother's. We eat healthy every day - we just avoid junk food and processed food, which is, unfortunately, 75% of what you find at the grocery store.

Yes, I'm losing weight. Am I at an unhealthy weight? No. Am I healthy overall? Yes, aside from the fact that I could probably stand to get more exercise.

Am I turning into my mother with the food issues?

Dear God, I hope not.

Sometimes, I really wonder if half of my mom's problem was gluten intolerance that nobody really knew about. All her digestive symptoms - those could totally have been from gluten intolerance. It doesn't explain the mental health issues, her belief that she was allergic to everything except stew meat and broccoli and carrot baby food, but it could explain a lot of her problems early on that led to those things.

I've seen some folks who swear by the whole paleo diet thing. They don't eat any grains, dairy, gluten, legumes, or sugar. And I just can't understand that. To me, THAT seems more like an eating disorder than a gluten-free vegetarian diet. How can you eliminate everything except certain vegetables and meat and still eat a healthy diet? It just seems impossible to me.

Did my little 6-week brush with pain, nausea, and vomiting after every meal scare the heck out of me last summer? Yes, it certainly did. Have I allowed it to completely ruin my life? No, I have not.

At any rate, I needed to have a little chat with my husband tonight to remind myself that:

1. I am not my mother.
2. I am, in fact, quite healthy overall.
3. I (we) eat a healthier diet than most people we know.

And if anyone needs convincing that a plant-based diet is healthy, just remember this: my lovely, healthy, funny, wonderful little 4 1/2 year old was built on a plant-based diet.

So, anyway, now that I've gotten rid of that little brain worm for the night, I'm off to get Colden to bed and play with my CraftOptics some more...

The Beads! The Beads!

On Friday, I decided that I just needed a break from it all. I started Week 1 of The Artist's Way, and this time around, I'm finding that doing my Morning Pages at night is more therapeutic for me. It lets me get out of my head everything that keeps me awake at night, and I get some more restful sleep.

That said, I decided to dedicate some serious time for beading this weekend.

I started out making one of my favorite right-angle weave jewelry bases, thinking that I'd make a killer cuff bracelet with some of the gumdrop beads. But wouldn't you know - I didn't have enough beads to create an entire cuff. So what did I do? I turned it into a necklace, of course!

This is pre-fringe and pre-embellishment, which seems to be taking for-ev-er. But overall, I'm extremely happy with this piece, and have started a second version in amber/green/silver which will be what I photograph (with other variations) as a tutorial for my Etsy shop.

Then I started picking out colors for a second collar that I've been tossing around in my head for a little while. My wonderful friend, Nancy Vogel, who has had some crazy adventures cycling around the world with her husband and twin boys, went bead shopping in New York City a few weeks ago, and she sent me a small Priority Mail box packed full of beads, nailheads, and vintage West German glass cameos!

I loved these amazing carved wooden totems that were included in the box, and I've been dreaming about making some kind of tribal-inspired collar with them. The final bit of inspiration arrived when I received another gorgeous sample pack of Czech glass beads from Perry Bookstein down at York Beads. So, I chose my palette of beads and colors for the next collar project.

But before I get started on THAT beaded necklace project, I got a little sidetracked. I wasn't having such a good day, digestive-wise, and I don't know if it was the heat, the stress of the last couple of weeks, or a combination of everything, but I wound up spending most of the day in bed, trying to keep my food down. To distract myself, I started stitching up a twisted herringbone rope using some more of those amazing Czech striped seed beads from York...

So, the ideas are there! They're flowing! Thankfully, many of them are flowing into my notebooks for next week after Bead Fest Philadelphia... That's a whole other adventure that I need to prepare for this week.

I'm leaving in exactly 48 hours for Philadelphia, and beading classes with Jill Wiseman, Nikia Angel, and Gail Crossman Moore. Am I excited? You betcha.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Artist's Way for Beaders: Basic Tools

The Artist's Way works with two basic tools for unlocking your creativity: Morning Pages and a weekly Artist's Date.

The Morning Pages/Morning Beading
The Morning Pages are three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing that should be done every morning as part of your creative recovery. Julia Cameron, author of the The Artist's Way, recommends that everyone do them, even if you're not a writer.

There is value in these Morning Pages. Even if you don't think you can write, you can try them, anyway. If the idea of writing just turns you off completely, go ahead and skip them, but then make sure that you do:

The Morning Beading.

Yep. Every morning, if you choose not to write, I want you to set your alarm clock a half hour earlier than normal. Get up, get over to your beads, and sit down for half an hour and bead.

It doesn't matter what you work on. If you have a project, great. If you don't have a project, just grab the first tube of beads or the first set of beads you see and start stitching. Bead for the full half-hour - don't shortchange yourself.

I also recommend documenting your beadwork, somehow. You can either print out a picture of what you did and stick it in a hard-copy journal, or post it on your blog. (This might also be a good time to start a blog, if you've been wanting to, or resurrecting your old blog!)

The point of  this exercise is just to get you to your beads without a finished project in mind. (Although, like I said, if you have a project you want to work on, by all means, go for it.) It's a way of providing yourself with some accountability. Even if you just make a swatch of peyote or half an inch of a herringbone tube, you've beaded and you've connected with your beads for a little while.

The Morning Beading/Morning Pages can be used as a form of meditation. Get out whatever "junk" you have in your head. Remember to breathe. Take your beads and sit and watch the sunrise or listen to the sounds of the house coming alive around you. Just BE with yourself and with your beads.

The Artist's Date
The Artist's Date is the second tool that we will use, and we'll be pretty much sticking to what Julia says in the book.

Once a week, take yourself on a date. Go somewhere - anywhere. Go to the zoo. Go to the park. Go for a walk in the woods, or just take your camera and go on a drive. Go to your favorite museum or to your favorite cafe and take in the sights, the sounds, and the smells. Just BE.

The idea behind the Artist's Date is just to give your brain a break. By just allowing yourself some time to do nothing, you're actually allowing your creative mind to recharge so you don't get burnt out creatively.

Oh, and for your Artist's Date? No beads allowed. Not a one!

A Word About God
Yes, throughout the book, Julia mentions God quite often. The first time I did this program with a couple other folks, one of them was so offended at the mention of God that she almost didn't want to go ahead with the program.

It doesn't matter if you believe in God or a god or many gods or no gods at all. I got over it pretty quick, and now when I go through The Artist's Way, I simply imagine the Universe and all its cosmic energy as my higher power.

To be continued...

The Artist's Way for Beaders: What It Is, How it Works

So, because I don't know if I'm going to get sued if I start a blog called The Artist's Way for Beaders without permission from Julia Cameron, I'm just going to start this off on my blog, and then if I can work that out, I'll move these posts later.

The Artist's Way is a fabulous book and method for unlocking your latent creativity, written by author, playwright, poet, and screenwriter Julia Cameron. I used it for the first time many, many years ago when I was a budding writer/bead artist, and as I've gone back and done it again and again over the years, I've found new ways of modifying the basic tools and exercises so that they are more relevant to my beadwork.

The Artist's Way is a twelve-week program where each week, you'll complete certain tasks and answer questions from the book as you discover how to allow yourself to be more creative. What I have found through my work with The Artist's Way is that with a little nudge, these tasks and questions can be extremely useful in dealing with Beader's Block, too!

If you want to join us in the Facebook group, The Artist's Way for Beaders, just head on over to the group and ask to be added. Any and all are welcome to join, no matter what kind of beading or beadwork you do!

Next, you'll need a copy of the book, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.

You can either download the book onto your Kindle, buy a paperback copy, or borrow it from your local library. (I'm pretty sure you can download it in the iBooks store, too.)

Once you're ready to go, read on for how we'll be changing things up a bit as we work our way through our creative beading blocks!

Holding On and Letting Go

So, yesterday, in the midst of what might be a combination of reasonable fear of the future and a little pity party for myself, I stumbled across this page on the Tiny Buddha website about overcoming the fear of loss. The first question really got to me: What are you afraid of losing by letting go?

Well, the angry tears sprang right to my eyes. Of course, I'm afraid of losing EVERYTHING. I'm afraid of us losing our house if we can't pay the bills or the mortgage. I'm afraid of having to pull Colden out of a preschool program with a teacher and friends that he absolutely adores.

I'm afraid of going back to work in a field that is a terrible fit for me, but just happens to be the only thing I'm "qualified" to do on my resume. I'm afraid of losing myself in a job that I hate, just because I need to pay the bills.

I'm afraid of losing my sense of myself as an artist. I'm afraid that I'll discover that I was never *really* that good at beading, anyway, and that's why I wasn't much of a commercial success.

To combat all these feelings of helplessness, I started cleaning up my desk/work area/beading area yesterday. Two hours, and I put away hundreds of tubes of seed beads, bags of beads, strands of gemstones, and discovered that lo and behold, my pearl drawer actually isn't as feeble as I had previously thought. (All those pearls were in other bags, waiting to be used for projects that I never got around to!)

I should have taken before and after photos, I know, but I was totally in the moment. No time for the camera. I just wanted to sit and sort through everything and get everything cleaned up and organized for the first time in months. I've got ideas, dammit, and I need to sit my butt down and actually make them come to life. My Battle of the Beadsmith piece showed me that, yes, I am still capable of creating crazy good beadwork.

Then, I sat down while Tom was doing bedtime with Colden (or attempting to do bedtime, anyway) and did some serious therapeutic list-making. Like what I need to do to re-launch my VanBeads business. What I need to do to get on top of things so I can go to Bead Fest next week.

And while I managed to get seven whole hours of sleep last night and I even managed to kick the excruciating headache I woke up with this morning, this whole in-between-not-knowing thing has me prone to fits of tears periodically.

The only thing I can do is just keep calm and bead on.  I've got my lists made. I sort-of have a plan. I'll need help, and I'll need to just put my head down and plow through it all.

So, for today, don't stop bead-lieving, my friends.

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 01, 2012


"Faith means living with uncertainty - feeling your way through life, letting your heart guide you like a lantern in the dark." - Dan Millman

I do not deal well with uncertainty. It was difficult for me when I worked the farmer's markets, because I never knew if I was going to have a good day or a bad day. And regardless of a good day or a bad day, I still had bills to pay, food to buy, commitments to honor. That sort of stuff.

So, here we go again, dealing with more uncertainty. I know that what I'm dealing with is tiny, compared to what others are going through. Part of me is screaming out, "You should have seen this coming! Nothing good ever lasts with you!"

The other part is trying to wrestle that first part down and slap it into submission.

There's part of me that is screaming in the back of my head, "You're not a REAL artist. I've SEEN real art. And it doesn't come from you!"

So now, I'm grappling with how to prepare for uncertainty. What frightens me the most is that I've made commitments to my son, now.

Deep down, I know that things will work out one way or another. But the fear is there, and it's real, and there's no getting around it right now.  I'm hesitant to plan for the worst, but I know that I should.

I think that before I go to sleep tonight, I need to write out some affirmations for myself to help carry me through the uncertainty:

  • I am capable.
  • I am resourceful.
  • I am productive.
  • I am creative.
  • I am loved.
With my next breath, I am turning this over to the universe and to Ganesha for whatever it has in store for me.

...and a big bowl of chocolate and peanut butter ice cream.