Sunday, January 30, 2011

Me Me Me

Rick is out of town this week, and though I miss him, I'm also enjoying some quiet time, doing things at my own pace. I'm doing something I almost never do. I'm taking care of myself, and I'm finding that I actually deserve it. What a surprise.

So what am I doing that's different from my usual routine? Well, yesterday, day one of Camp Kim, I wandered around the house for a while wondering what to do. Then I threw in a load of laundry (we now have a washing machine, thanks to a little miracle, an anonymous Fairy Godmother, and a strong friend who helped Rick muscle the beautiful beast into the house), and while the wash was washing, I vacuumed up some dust and dog hair. Clean house, clear head, I was ready to go.

I spent the day testing out two new DVDs I bought for myself last week, in honor of my kids' birthdays. It occurred to me that 25 years after my youngest was born, I still had not gotten around to taking care of mommy-me, and losing that "baby weight." High time I got to it. Beginning Yoga and Pilates are hard for me, which only shows me how badly I need to do this. After that bit of torture I spent some time in the studio, banging out bracelets and hairpins. Enough work done for a Saturday, I headed for the driveway with my hula hoop and iPod, and spent some time spinning and dancing, with Michael Franti singing encouragement, and drums and bass keeping my feet in motion. I know I look silly out there, but it's fun, and at 53--I don't care who knows my age--I also don't care if my neighbors drive by and laugh at me, as long as they don't top to interrupt my happy hooping.

When the sun goes down here, the solar heated house cools off fast, so firewood piled in the corner, woodstove stuffed and lit, I was ready to settle in for the evening. Warmed up veggie-rice was a good dinner, along with a glass of wine. The rest of the evening was just relaxing and lovely. I talked to Rick for a bit on the phone, and then put on some Mozart and Joshua Bell, and took a nice hot bath, something I rarely take the time for. I miss the hot tub we sold, but this will do.

Back in the living room by the fire, I opened up the Kind Diet for a second read. I feel like after almost a year of veganism, I need a refresher course. I've gotten lazy about my food in the last few months, and I remember how great I felt when we first started this and really did it right. The reasons for going meatless are many and varied. The biggest one for me is health, but I'm re-shocked to re-read true stories about the "meat industry", and enormous toll our meaty American diet is taking on the planet, not to mention the suffering to the animals. Once you know these things, you can't un-know them, but it's easy to let them filter to the background where unpleasant realities are more comfortably kept.

I feel like I'm in a time of waking up and paying attention. Maybe it won't last beyond this week, at home alone, but I'm grateful for this time, this jump start, this opportunity to take care of me. If I don't do that, nobody else will. It takes me a while to figure things out sometimes, and it's about time I got this one right.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Laughter Always Helps

When my kids have birthdays, I feel... older...
This helped me feel a little better about it today.
Don't be fooled by the "expected" beginning.
Expect to laugh.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hail the Birthday Queen

My youngest daughter, Lauren, is visiting from Seattle, here to celebrate her 25th birthday. I could get sappy and emotional. I could get freaked out and let myself feel old. Instead I got creative and made her a Most Amazing Tiara. I think every Birthday Girl deserves a beautiful crown.

Today is her last day here in Taos, so there's more fun to be had. I expect I'll get a little sentimental tomorrow when she leaves. I always do. But today I'm just enjoying hanging out with her. She's grown up to be an amazing, beautiful, talented, smart, capable young woman. She inspires me, and I'm a very proud mom.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bread Crumbs

Rick and I hosted Soup Night here last night. It's a simple, fun weeknight party plan we came up with a couple of winters ago, to keep friends together and connected in this part of the year when it's easier, but not necessarily more beneficial, to hide out in our own homes. Week nights work great, because everyone has to work the next day, so it never goes too late. And it's important to keep it simple, because if it gets to be a lot for work, it becomes a burden and no fun anymore. We make a big pot of soup, always vegetarian/vegan, get out bowls, spoons, and wine glasses, and everyone else brings wine, bread, appetizers, and desserts. The one Rule is, everything but the soup has to be finger food that needs no more assistance than a paper napkin. This cuts down drastically on the amount of dish washing to be done. We don't have a dishwasher, so this makes a big difference to us!

Last night we expanded the group to include a few new people. I think I invited about 25, and 15 or so showed up. Pretty good! The group shifts a bit each time, which keeps it interesting. Rick made a really great soup - black eyed peas with coconut milk, curry, lemon, and cilantro. It was a huge pot full, and every drop was eaten. The table was loaded with tasty bits and bites, and bottles of wine covered another small table in the kitchen. Somehow everyone found a place to sit, spread out between the dining room and living room, with chandeliers glowing, fire crackling in the woodstove, and old rock n' roll filtered between conversations and laughter.

Our friend Peter made the bread, which was just... wonderful. Six long loaves got torn and dunked and buttered and devoured, the last bits finished off by me, after everyone was gone, as I sat dipping it in a glass of red wine. Heaven. You know it's been a good party when the house is strewn with bread crumbs. Tables, floors, chairs, everywhere. It's a happy sight, and symbolic to me of the bonds of friendship that are formed and strengthened as we break bread together. And it's also as if the crumbs might help our friends find their way back here... or maybe even helped us find our own way back to our friends. It was so nice to have them all here, welcoming us back into our home after so long away. I can't promise we won't stray again, but I know this place and these people will always be here for us. And I know we can find it now, with or without bread crumbs.

Full bowls, full hearts. Life is good. And we'll plan another Soup Night soon.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Still Here

I'm sorry for starting off here with an apology, which I never like to do, and now it turns into two, as I apologize for my inattentiveness here of late. Many of us hibernate to a certain extent in the winter months, but for me, it's chaotic here underground. So much life preparing itself to burst open in the spring, and it all seems to require my attention.

The new jewelry is taking up a lot of time, and I don't mind a bit, because I love it. I'm getting so much positive feedback and encouragement that even though sales are slow at the moment, I know I can get this thing to fly, if I can just get it a little ways off the ground. The possibility of putting it in select, high end stores is very tempting. I haven't done the wholesale/retail thing in so long, I'm not sure how to price this new work with resale in mind. I think I'll have to raise the prices in order for it to be worth while for both a shop and for me. That of course means prices would have to go up in my website shop as well, which might mean I lose a certain segment of my long-time following. But I also realize that I need a broader client base, so getting myself out there in this new way might be worth some short term losses. So much to consider. I'm moving slowly...

There's one other big "project" that's going on now, and unfortunately, I can't talk a lot about it. Rick and I are about to become grandparents, and we're so excited, and also so sad to have to keep so many secrets. Our daughter Julia's baby is due in April, and that's all I can say. Baby Daddy is a very bad human as it turns out, to the point where there's a 3 year restraining order in place against him. Of course a person of his character will ignore such a technicality, and he has gone to great effort to stalk Julia and attempt to get back in her good graces. Our girl is no fool though. She's very clear that BD must be banished for all time, and we will do whatever it takes to protect her and her baby from him. So, as much as I want to spill details and plans, I can't. For now at least, until BD really gets it and goes away, I can't say anything more than Julia's in a safe place - not here - and has good protectors standing by.

(And BD, if you're reading this, I wish you Love and Light, far, far away from Julia. Please understand that what you want is not relevant here. Your only concern needs to be for the welfare of Julia and her baby. Your selfish persistence is causing her great stress, which is not good for mother or baby. Know that you are continuing to do harm. You made your choices and created this reality for yourself. Be an adult for the first time in your life, and move on.)

So, my friends, you can see why I'm kind of... distracted... I'll be here as much as I can. This week looks tricky already, but, ah well, what can be done? Tomorrow night Rick and I are having some good friends over for Soup Night, which we used to host regularly back before we went to Oregon. It's always fun, and is a great way to get us all out of our caves in the winter. Then on Thursday, our youngest daughter, Lauren, is coming for a long weekend visit, to celebrate her 25th birthday. I'm a happy mommy!

What a year this is shaping up to be... a new baby in the family, my own baby turning 25 (impossible!), and my baby sister celebrating her 50th in Las Vegas in March. Of course I will be there, with sparkles!

And there you are, all caught up, and off I go, to take pictures of new earrings to share. Have a great week. I'll be back as soon as I can! Phew! I'm tired already and the day's just getting started!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Forging Ahead

As you can see, I've been busy in the studio, making necklaces and tiaras and then piling them up to take pictures of them. I'm also working on a new website, just for this jewelry. I hope to have it up and running in the next few days. Like the jewelry itself, the name has morphed to something slightly other than what it started as. Steel Alchemy, which was a good name, has been replaced with Alchemy Jewelry Studios. There's a good reason for this. The new name leaves both ends open for expansion. By leaving out "steel", I can explore other metals, as well as any other materials that interest me. I can even use my own beads, if I ever feel drawn back to the torch again. And by calling it "studios," plural, I have the option of inviting other artists to join me at some point. It's that cooperation thing I was talking about yesterday. I don't know for sure that this will happen with this particular new website, but I like having the option. Meanwhile, a couple more pictures to show you what I'm up to. These will all be available for your own adornment pleasure... soon!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Competition and Cooperation

I don't play sports. I don't watch sports. I don't like that for one team to win, the other has to lose. I basically have a deep dislike for competition. I will admit to enjoying the challenge of a rousing game of dominoes with Rick, taking the luck of the draw and doing our best with it. But we'll play all evening and never keep score. For us, the fun is in the playing, not the winning. There's enough fun to go around, and we're good at sharing it.

Does anybody remember the New Games Book?
New Games Book
It came out in 1976, and is based on the theory that there's a lot of playful fun to be had, without any competition at all. Everyone plays to the best of their ability, everyone is included, everyone has fun. I loved it back when it came out, and just ordered a used copy from Amazon. I think it's time for a second edition. Anybody in publishing out there? Take this idea and run, skip, jump, and twirl with it!

I've been thinking a lot about competition, in contrast with cooperation. Personal, creative, and business relations in this area have been extra tricky for me lately. I don't like it, but I know I have to take a close look at it, and because I've been willing to do that, I'm finding some really interesting inspirations coming up. I don't want to go into specifics yet, because I'm aware of how quickly I blow through one small idea to the next, making my way to the Big Idea. It's like a box of Kleenex, littered behind me sometimes, and I know I can be hard to keep up with. 

For now, I just want to put it out there that I'm really getting the message that cooperation is better for all concerned than competition. Competition is based in fear, and the belief that there is only so much to go around, and it's not enough for everyone. To that, I shout Baloney! Haven't we all noticed yet that times are a-changing? Certainly in very real and visible ways, but also in more subtle energetic ways. Feel the vibes, man, and try to keep up. Look at something differently, and it becomes different. Cooperate rather than compete, and surprisingly, there is enough for everyone.

The point of my vague rambling? My focus, my intent, my very inspiration right now is on reconciling competition with cooperation. Maybe it's impossible. Maybe it's too soon. Or maybe the timing is perfect. Only one way to find out, and that's to keep pulling the Kleenex out of the box and letting it flutter in the wind. That, and maybe a friendly game of dominoes.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Come On In

Baby, it's cold outside, and there's another storm just settling in. My weather widget says it's 16º, and feels like 6º, snow today, with a high of 18º. Can that be right? Oh yeah, this is Taos, land of extremes and challenges and chaotic beauty. Checking in on the internal contentment widget, mine says, Happy with a chance of Euphoria, Highs and Lows to be ignored as much as possible. Personal dips and blips aside (three big ones in the last few days), I'm riding the storms like a rodeo queen, and luckily, doing it from the warmth of our cozy adobe house.

We took the house off the market the other day, and have decided to make this work, this too-big house with its too-big mortgage. I don't know how we'll make it work, but I trust that we will, because we always do. Looking through the storage shed out back yesterday, I found a couple of favorite purses, a coffee maker we no longer have the need for, and the prescription glasses I was convinced I'd sold a year and a half ago for $3 at our yard sale. I didn't find the things I was hoping for, but that would have required some kind of magic I don't know how to do, because the things were never there in the first place. We have a lot of stuff, and for the most part, everything we need, and a lot we don't need. But there is a bit of a Wish List connected with our decision to stay here, and since it's always good to put things in writing, here's the list...

We need/want a top-loading, stacking washer/dryer (for washing clothes, and felting), two rugs (one for the cold living room tile floor, and one for the rough dining room slate), a big comfy chair to sit by the little fireplace in the dining room, a sofa bed for the office, a small car for me, and a new TV. It's a lot, I know. And some of these things are things some people absolutely could/would not do without. We're patient though, and experience reminds us that once you provide a place for Stuff, stuff will find you.

Meanwhile, it's cold outside, and nice and warm in here. The Chocolate Room has become a favorite place to hang out (which it never was for me, back when it was red). It's finished except for the new dog bed I need to sew, and of course, the wish listed rug. But it's a good room. We like it anyway. So come on in, out of the cold, and watch the storm from a more comfortable spot.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Tech Support

A friend sent this to me over the holidays, and I liked it so much, I thought I'd share it with you on a day I don't feel like writing... today is good! Enjoy!

Installing Love

  Tech Support: Yes, how can I help you?
  Customer:  Well , after much consideration,
I've decided to install Love.   Can you guide
me through the process?
  Tech Support: Yes. I can help you. Are you
ready to proceed?
  Customer: Well, I'm not very technical, but
I think I'm ready. What do I do first?  
  Tech Support: The first step is to open your
Heart. Have you located your Heart?  
  Customer: Yes, but there are several other
programs running now. Is it okay to  install
Love while they are running?
  Tech Support: What programs are running?
  Customer: Let's see, I have Past Hurt,
Low Self-Esteem, Grudge and Resentment
running right now.
  Tech Support:  No problem, Love
will gradually erase Past Hurt from
your current operating system. It may
remain in your permanent memory but
it will no longer Disrupt other programs.
Love will eventually override Low Self-
Esteem with a module of its own called
High Self-Esteem. However, you have
to completely turn off Grudge and
Resentment. Those programs prevent Love
from  being properly installed. Can you turn
those off?
  Customer: I don't Know how to turn them
off.  Can you tell me how?
  Tech Support:  With pleasure.  Go to
your start menu and invoke Forgiveness.
Do  this as many times as necessary
until Grudge and Resentment have been
completely erased.
  Customer:  Okay, done!  Love has started
installing itself. Is that normal?
  Tech Support:  Yes, but remember that you
have only the base program.  You need to
begin connecting to other Hearts in order to
get the upgrades.
  Customer:  Oops!  I have an error
message already.  It says, "Error - Program
not  running on internal components." What
should I do?
  Tech Support:  Don't worry.  It means
that the Love program is set up to run on
Internal Hearts, but has not yet been run on
your Heart. In non-technical terms, it simply
means you have to Love yourself before
you can Love others.
  Customer:  So, what should I do?
  Tech Support:  Pull down Self-Acceptance;
then click on the following files:  Forgive-
Self; Realize Your Worth; and Acknowledge
your Limitations.
  Customer: Okay, done.
  Tech Support:  Now, copy them to the "My
Heart" directory.  The system will overwrite
any conflicting files and begin patching
faulty programming.  Also, you  need to
delete Verbose Self-Criticism from all
directories and empty your Recycle Bin to
make sure it is completely gone and never
comes back.
  Customer:  Got it.  Hey!  My heart is filling
up with new files.  Smile is playing on my
monitor and Peace and Contentment are
copying themselves all over My Heart.  Is
this normal?
  Tech Support:  Sometimes.  For others it
takes awhile, but eventually everything gets
it at the proper time.  So Love is installed
and running.  One more thing before we 
hang up.  Love is Freeware.  Be sure to 
give it and its various modules to everyone 
you meet.  They will in turn share it with 
others and return some cool modules 
back to you.
  Customer: Thank you, God.

Friday, January 7, 2011

No. Yes.

Two simple words, No and Yes, carry so much power in our lives. No is important, especially to women, who are traditionally taught from infancy to be good little pleasers. We need to know when to use a good strong Holy No when we know from somewhere deep down that it will serve us best. No can be life saving. It can also be stubborn. Underused, we allow ourselves to be trampled by the needs and wants of others. Overused, we can become blind and deaf to those closest to us.

Yes is just as tricky. It isn't a mere absence of No, but an active agreement to whatever is being asked. Yes is an absolute "allower" that often requires setting our Selves aside, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Both Yes and No need to be used with care and thought and feeling. Before ever using either of these simplest of words, there should be a pause, a count to 10, an internal checkpoint, a deep breath. Used hastily or incorrectly, these tiny giants can cause astonishing trouble. There can be no ambivalence when using Yes and No, No and Yes. The facts must be gathered and analyzed, questions must be asked, and all sides of the question must be as clearly understood as possible. Sometimes this takes only an instant. Sometimes much longer...

Recent experience has shown me, with much love and pain, that a stubborn No is really self-defeating. Most often, except in cases of real self-preservation, it's best to use Yes. Yes does not automatically make us into selfless, vapid pleasers. Used with intention, it makes us powerful and fills us with the openness of the Universe. Yes opens us to all that's possible, and gives us the power to bestow what we find on others. No is important, but Yes will take us much further.

No is a wall. Yes is a door.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Steel Alchemy

I have a name for my "new business", if that's what it is. It's at least a new "line", this steel and CZ stuff, and I've zeroed in on "Steel Alchemy" for the main name, and will use other related names for individual pieces. I like it, the idea of turning something of "no value" into something precious. Value is all in our perception anyway. Gold and diamonds are precious and valuable to humans because we've told each other they are. Dogs and daffodils and palm trees don't care so much for these things. Precious and valuable to them are water, light, air, and food; things we tend to take for granted.

I'm hoping that Steel Alchemy will assist me with some Life Alchemy. When working on something new that really grabs my attention, I go to a place where the world disappears and Things Of Interest come to me, springing one from the other. It's meditative and productive at the same time. It's how I operate, how I allow Creativity to work through me.

January, for many people, is a time to sort and sift and tidy things up. It's introspective and restful. It's the perfect place for a new year to start, right at the beginning, in the cold, dark quiet that's so conducive to hibernation and personal composting. For me, it's a good time to hide out in my studio, turning dirty steel into things of beauty, and considering all that's precious and valuable in my life.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's a Dirty Job

I finished up three necklaces yesterday, and had Rick take pictures of my hands holding them. I love the contrasts; the dirt, the sparkle, the hard metal, the soft skin. These pieces are truly a labor of love, and as with so many things that are worth doing, it takes a lot of mess to uncover the beauty. I'm about ready to part with these, and will probably take "clean" pictures today, and post them in the BeadShop. But first, I really wanted you to see a bit of how these are born.

Monday, January 3, 2011


All I can think about right now is  wire and sparkles. Maybe it's this dark, cold time of year, or a post-holiday need to cling to the magic. I don't know, and I don't question the Why of it. What's important is the What, and to a lesser degree, the How. I've been in the studio at least a little bit each day since Christmas, bending, sawing, and hammering wire. My hands are sore and stained from the dirty steel, but I don't care. I am in love with the stuff, and every minute I spend with it teaches me something.

In my internet travels to various woo-woo sites, I keep coming across discussion of "relationship," meaning not only close romantic partnerships, but a more expanded view that includes how we relate to everyone and everything we come into contact with. Think about it. We actually do have relationship with everything, and though it may be only momentary, it still matters. I'm particularly focused on my relationship with steel baling wire. It's a delightful infatuation. But I also have to remember to tend to my relationship with my saw, my cutter, my pliers, my hands, my computer, my wood stove, my breakfast, my husband, and so much more, because all of these things are important to the currently spotlighted relationship with the wire.

Simple things can start to seem really complicated, but really, all it takes is a bit of noticing, of paying attention to each thing individually. It's like making a cake. Each ingredient goes into the bowl, thoughtfully, purposefully, just the right amount. Then you mix it all up into a lovely batter, pop it in the oven, and soon your house smells like heaven, because the relationship between all of the cake ingredients has been lovingly tended to.

Life is a Cake, my friends. We each bake our own, but the nicest part is that we get to share them. My current cake is made mostly of steel and sparkly things, but I have to remind myself to include all the other ingredients too. Each one is important to the bigger relationship, and to the finished Cake.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Future's So Bright...

Rick and I stayed home last night, choosing to celebrate New Year's Eve safe and warm, in our own little house. It was so cold and icy outside, we just couldn't find a reason to bundle up and slip-slide around with all the crazy drunks on the roads. Most of our friends did the same, and it was fun to have Facebook as a meeting place. We had beautiful gourmet party snacks and champagne, and while Rick played DJ, I brought some wire and beads in from the studio, and made... tiaras. I'm not sure what sparked this idea, but it was a lot of fun, if a little tough on my hands. I made two, and have ideas for a couple more at least. I love these. I think they have a sort of medieval look to them. I could see one on Gwyneth Paltrow, in Shakespeare In Love. And I love wearing them. I wore the white one last night... in fact I'm wearing it now. I might wear it every day, that's how much fun it is.

I woke up this morning to a glistening new day. I grabbed my camera, ran out the door into the 2º chill, and down the driveway in my bathrobe, to say hello and Happy New Year to Taos Mountain. If there's any such thing as a Sunny Morning Omen, well... the future's so bright, I better get a new pair of shades. Something that can handle the dazzling promise of a shiny new year.

I hope your own outlook is just as bright. If it's not, make this picture your computer's wallpaper and look at it any time you need to. From where we stand on this auspiciously numbered day -- 1-1-11 -- there's a long road ahead. It might be a bit slippery in spots, but it's smooth and straight, with beauty all along the way, and a Great Encourager towering over us, beckoning us to move forward. Sappy and dramatic, I know, but that's just how I feel today. Life is good. Feel the glow. Here we go.