Seasons Change

20170910_110158Door 44 Jewelry is officially dead. I’ve shut down my Etsy shop and I shuttered all of my social media accounts. I wanted to pick it back up again. I really did, but after five months away from my workbench, I have no desire to go back to it.

This has been a strange year for me–a particularly difficult year, in certain ways, and a remarkably peaceful year in others. And so that strange dichotomy that’s preceded all of the critical turning points in my life seems to be back again.

The season of change is upon me.

I’ve had some fascinating experiences with nature in the months since I put Door 44 Jewelry on pause. There was the heart-stopping, awe-inspiring moment in Monument Valley Park the week that I decided to shutter the business for a while. I didn’t manage to capture an image of that incredible sight because my phone was to my ear instead of in my pocket where I could have grabbed it quickly and snapped a shot.

I was out for an early morning walk that day when a friend called. She’d been having a difficult time, and she needed to vent. I always strive to be an open ear and a steady shoulder to lean on for my friends, so I listened quietly while she vented. Although I was struggling internally with my own challenges, I tried to push my own problems aside and focus on hers instead. And then along came the powerful wisdom of nature in the form of a Peregrine falcon.

This falcon landed not ten feet in front of me on the trail. It had a dead pigeon in its clutch, and I could see that it was struggling to get a solid grip on its prey, which was just slightly smaller than the falcon itself. Our eyes met for a moment while the falcon adjusted its grip. It cocked its head, and I could almost hear it whisper to me, “Who is tending to your needs while you’re tending to hers?” Then it whisked its awkward burden to the other side of the creek where it began eating its meal.

I couldn’t begin to tell you what my friend was saying in that moment. I was so stunned by that close encounter that I couldn’t hear a word. All I remember hearing was the soft rustle of feathers on gravel as the falcon adjusted its grip on the pigeon and lifted off to glide gracefully across the creek.

When I was finally able to return my focus to the voice in my ear, I found that she was still venting away–completely oblivious to the fact that I’d been momentarily transported to another dimension through a spiritual encounter with powerful raptor. I didn’t bother telling her about that experience because she wouldn’t have understood the significance of it. I just resumed my walk and let her continue to vent until she arrived at her office and had to put away her phone.

That encounter with the falcon rattled me, and the question it seemed to whisper in my ear nagged at me for a long time. Then, several weeks later (just after I started my new job), I had another unusual encounter with nature. This time it involved two mating Dragonflies that hitched a ride on my vehicle as I was returning to my office one day after lunch.

I was sitting at a stop light when two dragonflies, linked in tandem, landed on the trim of the driver’s side window of my Jeep. If you’ve ever observed dragonflies in nature, you’ve probably noticed that they’re rarely still. So I was stunned to see not one, but two, dragonflies clinging to the felt weather strip around my window. They were so close and so still in that moment that I could see every detail of their delicate wings.

The brown female and her iridescent blue mate seemed to be desperately in need of a respite from their tandem flight. The light turned green, and regrettably, I had to move. I tried to accelerate as gently as possible so as not to disturb them, but as traffic picked up speed, the male lost his grip on the window and the two tumbled off and away from my vehicle. Fortunately, they did so just as I was crossing a bridge over the same creek where I’d encountered the falcon.

Perhaps they knew I was heading that direction, and they merely hitched a ride with me to the water.

As with most of my unusual close encounters with nature, I was again struck with a bit of intuitive wisdom that came to me like a gentle whisper in my ear. This time, I was reminded of my husband and the bond that we share. It’s easy to lose sight of the things right in front of us. During the transition of shutting down my jewelry business and going back to working for someone else, I’d lost sight of him. Of us. I’d forgotten, briefly, that I was never in this alone.

Even though we’d decided together that I should go back to working a regular job with a regular paycheck so we could more quickly achieve certain financial goals that we’d set for ourselves, I’d let myself slide into an unpleasant place where I felt isolated and alone. I’d been struggling with depression and sense of failure and loss after shuttering Door 44, and my new job was… well… let’s just say it’s quite a large step backwards for me in terms of both salary and level of responsibility.

To say I’m underemployed is an understatement. Those two dragonflies reminded me, however, that the only thing that truly matters right now is my marriage. Everything else pales in comparison to the partnership I share with my husband, and my current job (insignificant as it may be) is helping us to achieve our mutual goals.

It was at that point, after my visit from two very wise teachers in the form of mating dragonflies, that I started turning away from external distractions and began to focus more of my time and attention on the two things that truly matter in my life: my husband and our daughter. I uninstalled the Facebook app from my phone and deactivated my account for several weeks. I stopped taking phone calls from friends who only wanted to replay and analyze the drama in their own lives, and I started focusing pretty much exclusively on my own family.

It was there, in the blissfully drama-free zone of our living room, that I finally found the peace and stillness I’d been looking for all along. And then I had the third and most recent strange encounter with nature. This time it was with a lone Damselfly while my husband and I were enjoying a day at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Mike’s Camera was there that day, and my husband was anxious to try out some new photography equipment. We were at the Amur Tiger’s exhibit while Matt was trying out a new camera lens. The tiger, one of Matt’s favorite animals, was particularly active that morning . We’d already had one wonderful experience with this amazing animal as he came unusually close to us and seemed to acknowledge us with a friendly rub against the fence and satisfied twitch of the tail–the exact same body language our housecat, Rose, uses to welcome us home whenever we’ve been away. But then I’d noticed that a lone Damselfly landed on the fencepost right in front of me while Matt snapped photos of the tiger and dozens of strangers milled around us (you can see Matt’s photos here).

Again, I was enchanted by the unexpected stillness of an insect that is almost perpetually in motion. The Damselfly rested peacefully on that post while I snapped photos of it with my phone. It sat there long enough that Matt noticed it, too, and we both photographed it with our respective cameras–he with his Cannon 550D and me with my LG V-10 phone camera. We joked about how everyone around us was straining to get a glimpse of the tiger, who was now playing hide-and-seek with the gathering crowd while we shared a magical moment with the lovely little Damselfly pictured above.

This summer proved to be a period of transition for me. I’ve come to realize over the past few months that it doesn’t matter what I do with my spare time. Whether I’m making and selling  jewelry or posting payments from insurance companies to patient accounts or overseeing the Accounts Receivable departments for three home health agencies in two different states, as I did at the last job I had before I got married… Those are all just pastimes. What’s really important to me now is whether or not I’m a good wife to my husband and a good mother to our daughter.

Somehow through that brief connection with a startlingly still Damselfly, I managed to find my way back to feeling centered and grounded again. As we transition into Fall, my favorite season, I feel more deeply connected to my family than ever. I’m no longer interested in hearing about the drama in the lives of others; and I no longer devote significant amounts of time to social media.

My focus is completely on my family now. And that’s precisely where it should be.

 

 

 

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Eye of the Hunter

20170128_154424I’ve always been fascinated with arrowheads. I grew up on the high plains of southern Colorado, and as a child I spent countless hours exploring those plains on horseback. Occasionally, I was lucky enough to find a genuine arrowhead–a tiny relic of a forgotten time when those same plains, now subdivided by barbed wire, were dominated by herds of bison that roamed freely and the Native American tribes that depended upon the bison for subsistence.

Genuine arrowheads are very difficult to find these days, but they continue to have a certain mystique in the American West. I’m clearly not the only one who finds them fascinating because modern replica arrowheads can now be found in pretty much every rock shop in the west. That’s precisely where I found the Fancy Jasper arrowhead I chose for this necklace–in a charming little rock shop in Virginia City, NV.

I never know exactly what I’m going to do with some of the pieces I pick up while I’m traveling, but I’ve learned to pay attention to what is now a familiar sort of magnetic pull of certain stones. I can’t help but pick them up, and those are the pieces that I’ll buy. Even when I can’t possibly imagine what I’ll do with it in that moment, I’ve learned that inspiration will inevitably flow. The seemingly random stone that I picked up along the way will eventually let me know what it wants to say. And so it is with this piece, which I’ve named Eye of the Hunter.

Turn on your TV or open an Internet browser these days, and you will almost certainly be convinced that the world is descending into complete chaos. Our country is more deeply divided politically than perhaps at any time in American history. Millions of Americans are marching and chanting and demanding rights they already possess while millions more trudge off to work every day, quietly hoping that they can manage to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads for another day or week or month. Those people dare not look further than a month into the future because they’ve learned over the past decade that the rug can be pulled out from under them at any moment.

Given the instability constantly portrayed on the news, it’s easy to believe that things are only going to get worse for us. But if you step outside and look around, you’re likely to find that everything is exactly as it should be. The balance and order we’re all desperately seeking is as close as our neighborhood park or greenbelt.

Growing up in a rural community, I was fortunate to spend the vast majority of my childhood outdoors. I had unfettered access to 20,000 acres of pristine land, which I explored on horseback as often as I possibly could. The countless hours I spent roaming that land, listening to the distinctive sounds of the high plains prairie and surveying wide open spaces as far as my eyes could see, left me with a deep and indelible connection to the natural world.

20170128_154152Whenever things start to feel out of balance in my life, I look to reconnect with nature. And the moment I step onto unpaved ground, I’m reminded again that the connection was never broken. I just believed I had lost it because I was focusing on the chaos instead of the order.

There is a natural order to our world, and no matter how much man claims to be above that order or in control of it, the truth is that we’re as much a piece of it as any rock, tree, or animal. We are intrinsically bound to this planet in much the same way that we are bound to our parents and our children.

The Native American Indians who once hunted these lands upon which my family now lives in a second floor apartment on the western edge of a sprawling Colorado town understood that basic truth. They knew that they were as much a part of their world as the bison that sustained them and the stones from which they honed their weapons. That understanding was central to their very survival, so they never lost sight of the common bond between themselves and the bison. Their focus was always on order rather than chaos.

Today, in a world where our food comes neatly packaged in tidy little boxes and we spend more time staring at screens than gazing out of windows, we’ve lost that focus. We’re so easily distracted by the chaos we see on the Internet and TV, and it’s easy to believe that the chaotic world portrayed on the screens that we’re so addicted to is the real world; but it’s not. The world in which we live is as ordered as it ever was. All we need to do is turn our focus to that order.

Eye of the Hunter is a reminder to turn our focus away from the chaos of politics and back to nature because it is there that we will find our way back to peace and order. What we focus on is what we foster. If you want peace, focus on peaceful things. If you want abundance, focus on those areas where your life is brimming with abundance. We all have some form of abundance in our lives for which we can be grateful. If it’s joy that you seek, focus on the squirrels chasing each other around the tree in your front yard or on the birdsong that wakes you at dawn.

Animals–particularly small woodland creatures–are inherently joyful. It’s no accident that nearly every Disney film includes scenes of a pretty girl singing joyously while surrounded by helpful woodland creatures joining in her song. Nature calls upon us to acknowledge our connection to it. I feel that call daily. Do you? Do you answer it?

20170128_153235All forms of Jasper are considered to be nurturing stones, and we’re all in need of more nurturing these days. It is my hope that this necklace will help at least one lovely woman reconnect with nature so she can restore the balance of strength and softness that is inherent to all women. The world needs more balanced feminine energy, and I can think of no better way to restore that balance than to bring as many women as I can possibly touch back to nature.

Eye of the Hunter consists of a Fancy Jasper replica arrowhead that has been intricately wrapped in handwoven copper wire and embellished with a Red Creek Jasper “eye”. The back of the pendant is finished in a pretty filigree of scrolls, so this piece can also be worn reversed. The pendant, which measures about 3 inches long by 1-1/4 inches wide, is strung on five strands of waxed nylon jewelry cord. Each cord is hand knotted with an array of natural copper and colorful Red Creek Jasper beads. Finished with an adjustable slide knot, this one-of-a-kind necklace can be adjusted from 24-40 inches long. It is currently available for sale exclusively at door44jewelry.com.