What’s Behind Door 44?

The number 44 has become something of a special totem for me. For the past several years, I’ve noticed that this number crops up frequently in my life. I see it on clocks, purchase receipts, license plates–it’s pretty much everywhere I look. And when something repeats that persistently in my life, I pay attention.

I turned 44 last August. I’ve known for a while now that this would prove to be a significant year, so I was definitely looking forward to it. Yet, even while anticipating a monumental year, I’ve been surprised by some of the amazing things that have happened in the past nine months. By the end of October 2013, I’d quit my job, sold my house, and moved to Denver (a city I’d resisted for many years). My husband, Matt, and I got married on October 29, 2013 in what must seem like an incredibly impulsive act to the friends and family who have known me to be generally cautious and methodical when it comes to major life decisions.

I finally completed the college degree program I started years ago–a BSIT with an accounting specialization–in March. My degree was conferred on May 4th, but after nearly twenty years of working in the corporate world, I don’t have a burning desire to re-immerse myself in that world. The older I get, the clearer it becomes that I’m not cut out to be a corporate drone; and for the first time in my adult life, I am completely free to choose what to do with my time and energy. My husband has very generously given me the freedom to return to work or launch the jewelry business I’ve dreamed of starting for years or to volunteer my time to whatever cause captures my attention. My challenge is to figure out which, if any, of those paths to choose.

More than a year ago I was so certain that I would be making jewelry that I commissioned this logo from my friend and graphic artist, Cindy Shew:Door44-finished

So much has changed since I settled on this logo for my jewelry business, not the least of which is my name. I hardly remember who Wendi Givigliano was anymore, so it seems strange to see that name on my logo. That version of myself has faded to sort of an abstract image of a woman bound by circumstances to a lonely existence and a life path that was continually directed toward the needs of the people and organizations that consumed my time and attention. I didn’t have a lot of spare time or energy to pursue my own interests, so I selfishly guarded my down time so I could make jewelry. It was through that solitary creative process, which I immersed myself in nightly, that I was able to restore my energy reserves so I could face another day at work.

It dawned on me recently that the act of making jewelry back then was my life line, in a sense. It’s what kept me balanced and sane after dealing with the insanity of emotionally imbalanced coworkers jockeying for position in a dysfunctional corporate organization day after day. The simple act of creating jewelry gave me a concrete sense of accomplishment, and the creative process became my chosen means of meditation and stress release.

That was then. Wendi Givigliano, as I remember that version of myself, was operating in survival mode. I dreamed of the day that I might evolve from surviving to thriving, but I had no concrete ideas about how to get there. In a desperate attempt to redirect my course toward a more fulfilling existence, I chose making jewelry as one potential means to that end. The logo above was the ultimate expression of that desire. I imagined that starting a jewelry business would open the door to fulfillment for me. Little did I know that the door would open on its own accord, and that it would turn my whole world view upside down in the process.

Ironically, I was working with Cindy on the design of my logo at the exact same time that my husband came back into my life after a two-year hiatus. I first met Matt in the spring of 2009. We were coworkers at the time. I was a project manager at a small manufacturing company in Trinidad, Colorado back then. Matt, a software developer, was hired to work on a specific project for that company. Our paths didn’t cross frequently at the office, and we never worked directly with one another, so I never got an opportunity to really get to know him. Still, I felt a strong connection to him. So when he left after working there for less than a year, I wondered if I’d somehow missed an important opportunity.

I got a chance to explore that opportunity a second time in 2010 when Matt and I connected via Facebook. Once we finally started talking, we discovered that we have an awful lot in common. Facebook messaging lead to text messaging and email correspondence, which in turn lead to phone conversations that would last for hours. That’s the only time either of us ever exceeded the minutes on our respective cell phone plans. As luck would have it, though, we still didn’t manage to get together back then.

Our lives spun off in different directions that summer, and we lost all contact until January, 2013 when the simple gesture of a LinkedIn endorsement from Matt brought the wheel of fortune back around for us a third time. We immediately picked up right where we left off two years prior, and while I finalized the logo for my jewelry business, the act of making jewelry was pushed to the back burner while Matt and I dated.

We lived 120 miles apart at that time, so we split our weekends between his home and mine. On weeknights, I was talking with him on the phone instead of making jewelry. And now I am Wendi Reamy. This new version of myself is clearly a wife and stepmother. Whether or not I am still a jewelry artisan remains to be seen. My priorities have changed. My focus has changed dramatically. I still feel the drive to create, but that drive seems to be flow more naturally into domestic activities like cooking than artistic expression.

I am far more inclined to scour the internet for interesting recipes today than I am to pick up my wire and tools. I miss making jewelry, and I hope to get back to it at some point. For now, though, my sense is that I should probably just go with the flow. The wheel of fortune brought Matt around to me three times, and it was on that third rotation that we were finally able to make what was clearly an inevitable connection. Making jewelry has been a significant part of my life at two very specific points now. Perhaps, as with my husband, the jewelry craft will finally stick if it comes back around on the wheel a third time.

Until then, this blog, which was originally intended to be focused on my jewelry business, will more likely be a place where I sort out my thoughts about life, love, relationships, and the many connections I make to those things through artistic expression–either my own or that of other artists whose work moves me.

If you are interested in discovering with me what’s behind Door 44, I welcome you to join me on this journey. In the meantime, remember this: life is short, so do something you love.

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