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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Fly With Me

fly-with-meWhen it comes to jewelry, there are two kinds of people. There are those who see jewelry strictly as fashion accessories, and then there are those who see jewelry as deeply personal pieces of personal expression. I find that most of my customers tend to fall into the latter group, which is extremely fortunate for me because I learn so much from their stories and from working with them to create something that is uniquely their own.

Every now and then, I get a custom request that reminds me that I am ultimately in the business of helping people, and “Fly With Me” began with one such request. On December 3rd, I received an inquiry for a custom piece from a guy who is clearly head-over-heels in love with his girlfriend. He explained that his girlfriend lost her horse suddenly eight months ago, and she’s been grieving ever since.

I’ve had a life-long love affair with horses myself, and I’ve had some mystical experiences with them through the years. So, I completely understand the depth of the bonds that form between horses and the women who love them. The story broke my heart, but at first I declined the request because I’m unfamiliar with horsehair as an art medium. I referred the customer to a company that specializes in horse hair jewelry, but sadly, the lock of hair his girlfriend managed to keep from her horse was too short for that company to use. They’d already been turned away from there. At that point, I realized that I needed to take this commission, if for no other reason than to give a grieving young woman some peace.

Once I agreed to the commission, the design came together almost effortlessly. “Fly With Me” is one of those rare pieces that allowed me to get into that elusive flow that every artist lives for. Anyone who has ever galloped freely across an open field on the back of a beloved horse knows very well the sensation of flying just above the ground, and the horses we’ve loved and lost remain forever in our hearts. They’re angels with hooves. Wings seemed like the perfect theme for this piece, and I love the way the wings turned out. They’re subtle, and they frame the focal piece—a tassel, which is made with a lock of a beloved horse’s mane—perfectly.

Since this is the first time I’ve ever worked with horsehair, making the tassel was a bit nerve-wracking. The client provided precious little hair, so there was absolutely no room for error. Once I finally worked up the courage to give it a go, however, even that part of the process flowed effortlessly. “Fly With Me” is just one of those pieces that was meant to be, and I’m so grateful to have been a part of it!

“Fly With Me” consists of .999 fine silver wings which frame a horsehair tassel capped in silver plated pewter and sterling silver wire. The pendant, which is approximately two inches wide by three inches long, is suspended from a patterned sterling silver chain. The chain is accented with pretty little gray and aqua blue Amazonite beads and finished with a hand forged sterling silver clasp.

Amazonite is a healing stone that is believed to help soothe emotional trauma, and I can think of few things more emotionally traumatic than suddenly losing a beloved horse. They’re such powerful creatures, yet their lives are startlingly fragile. That, of course, makes them all the more precious to those of us who know and love them.

If you’d like a special horse remembrance necklace of your own, please email your request. I plan to make this design, along with one or two other concepts currently in the works, available in my shop in 2017 as made-to-order semi-custom designs.

 

Six Weeks of Gratitude: Week Six

November is, for many of us I think, a time to be thankful. As I’ve grown older, I’ve found that I naturally tend to retreat inward around the winter holidays. I don’t retreat from the outside world so much because I want to escape, but more because I feel a strong internal pull toward introspection.
 
This is the time of year that I tend to take stock of my life. I review the previous ten months and consider whether I am pleased with the direction I am going, or if perhaps I need to adjust my course a bit. Or maybe a lot, as has often been the case in previous years.
 
This year as November rolled around and I felt that familiar pull to examine my life, I was pleased to discover that all is right in my world. It’s a wonderful thing to internally examine your life and find that everything is exactly as it should be.
 
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that my life is perfect. It’s far from perfection, as a matter of fact. It’s just that I feel for once that I am right where I need to be and that no major course corrections are necessary to get me back on the right track.
 
As I’m sure you can imagine, Door 44 Jewelry is a very big part of my life. Launching a business and taking the leap into self-employment is daunting, to say the least, but this has been an amazing year. So much so, that I wanted to express my gratitude to the many people—friends, family, fans, and customers—who helped make 2016 such a remarkable first year for me.
 
I am so grateful for the support of every person who has contributed to what has been a very successful first year in business, and there have been a lot of people involved. I’ve sold over 100 pieces of jewelry to customers all over the US, and just today I shipped my first international order. One of my wildly popular Trumpet Vine pendants, pictured below, is on its way to France as I type.
 
 
I realize that I can’t do what I do without the customers who buy what I create, so I decided to give away six pieces of jewelry over a period of six weeks to show my customers how much I appreciate them.
 
I’ve already shipped five of those pieces—the fifth one, a gorgeous Lepidolite Egyptian Moon pendant pictured below, went out today along with the order I shipped to France. So, I only have one piece left to gift to a member of the Door 44 community.
 
 
I’ll be giving a limited-edition silver and blue Winter Icicle pendant to one lucky winner on Saturday, December 17th. If you’d like to have your name thrown in the hat from which my husband will blindly pull one name next Saturday, just ‘like’ and share this Facebook post.
 
Follow Door 44 Jewelry while you’re there for exclusive savings and the latest news about what’s happening on my workbench. And if I haven’t already said it to you before, welcome to Door 44 Jewelry and thank you for shopping. Please come back again!
 
Have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Change Management

The only constant any of us can really count on these days is change. We Reamys have been in a state of flux since last July when my husband’s ex-wife was suddenly struck with a serious medical condition. We had to scramble to move my stepdaughter into our home and enroll her in a new school in our local district. Virtually overnight I went from being a weekend warrior to a full-time mom.

Luckily, my stepdaughter is an easy kid to love. She’s wickedly smart and funny, just like her father. She has a sunny disposition, and as an only child, she’s mature for her age. And the icing on the cake? She’s every bit as horse crazy as I am. I truly hit the stepchild jackpot—I couldn’t ask for a better daughter. Still, it’s taken every bit of the past nine months for me to get a handle on this new parenting gig.

Being a wife is easy. Being a stepmom is perhaps the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced. When I look back on my life, though, it’s easy to see that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’ve been preparing for this role for most of my life.

None of us grow up in a perfect environment. If even a small percentage of us did, I suspect the world would be a very different place. The environment in which I was raised was volatile, to say the least. My father is a violent alcoholic with an explosive temper and a hair trigger. My mom did her best to take care of us, and against all odds, she managed surprisingly well. I am continually amazed by her determination and resilience, but even the strongest among us can’t endure sustained abuse for long without becoming permanently scarred.

My most significant advantage in life is the fact that I am the youngest member of my family. My two siblings are five and six years older than me. Our age difference gave me the opportunity to watch and learn in ways that I never fully appreciated until I became a parent. I learned to see how my family members interacted, for better or worse, and I carefully observed the choices my parents and siblings made. By witnessing the consequences of their actions, I was able to make better choices for myself. I was mostly spared the trouble of learning things the hard way, though I’ve had my share of hard knocks.

Basically, I learned to navigate the world by observing others for examples of what not to do. How not to behave. Which choices not to make. Which company not to keep. Negative examples were pretty much all I had to work with, but rather than emulating those examples, I sought out more positive alternatives. And that has made all the difference.

It’s been over two months since I’ve published a blog post. I’ve had so much to say during that hiatus, and I’ve drafted more than a few unpublished posts. You see, the biggest change we Reamys have experienced in these past few months is that my husband and I were awarded permanent custody of our daughter after what was possibly the shortest, if not the least contentious, custody battle in the history of Colorado. It took just 45 days from initial motion to signed court order, but it’s taking much longer than that to fully process my emotions. For my daughter’s sake, I’ve chosen to keep my thoughts about how all of this went down private. All she really needs to know is that she is dearly loved, safe, and secure. She’s a very perceptive child, though. I suspect she’s fully aware of so much more than that.

We’ve all been on an emotional rollercoaster for the past several weeks. I am at once elated that we won full custody of our daughter and heartbroken that we had to enter that battle in the first place. I’ve struggled to overcome my prejudices toward her mother only to learn new information that reaffirms them.

I’ve held my tongue while enduring unsolicited advice from people who know nothing of our situation. My sister tried to shame me for suggesting that my daughter is better off with my husband and me than with her mom. She’s never even met my daughter or my husband’s ex-wife. She’s only met my husband on two very brief occasions, for that matter, but that didn’t stop her from sticking her nose into our business.

My mother-in-law, bless her heart, wants everyone to simply get along and resolve things amicably. She still thinks of The Ex as family. I don’t. Frankly, I resent the suggestion that I should embrace and befriend someone who openly and blatantly disrespects my husband. Part of the reason we sought custody in the first place is because The Ex was manipulating our daughter’s feelings about everything from her school to my husband and me in very destructive and dangerous ways. I’ve worked hard to free myself from the emotional abusers and manipulators of my past, so I’m not about to invite another one into my life, give her free rein to challenge my husband’s authority in his own household and to chip away at our daughter’s self-esteem.

All of this has put my change management skills to the ultimate test. I’ve had to scrape up every ounce of tact and diplomacy I could muster to deal with the unsolicited and unhelpful opinions of others. Empathizing with my daughter is easy because I remember clearly what it’s like to be a child with no real control or autonomy. Standing by my husband and fully supporting the decision to fight for custody was easy because it was so clearly the right choice. Figuring out how to finance that fight was another significant test of my change management skills, but I effectively pulled that off, too. Who knew that all those years of being a corporate drone would ultimately pay off in such a strange and unexpected way? A lifetime of dysfunctional family dynamics and couple of decades of experience in the business world turned out to be the perfect training ground for becoming an empathetic wife and mother.

My daughter is too young to fully understand the significance of this year, but her ability to think critically grows daily. Someday she’ll look back on this year and realize that it’s the year she reclaimed her childhood. Perhaps more importantly, I think she’ll recognize that this was the year in which she finally started getting the sort of parental support and guidance necessary to achieve her full potential. She already has bigger dreams today than she had a year ago, and I look forward to watching her dreams continue to expand and evolve.

Change is good. It’s not always easy, but nothing grows without it. The past couple of months have been both mentally and emotionally exhausting for all three of us, but I am so very grateful for this experience because it’s opened the door to some fabulous opportunities for our little family.

Change is inevitable. Embrace it. And if someone you know is going through a significant life change, allow them to embrace it–even if you can’t. Navigating change is difficult enough without some well-meaning (or perhaps not-so-well-meaning) friend or relative trying to keep you bound to a person, place, or thing from which you are ready to break free.

Change is benevolent. I haven’t always believed that to be true, but the events of this past year have convinced me, once and for all, that things really do have a way of working out for the greatest good.