Sunday, January 25, 2015

Changing Faces

To show how temperamental Lyme and Babesia are, read back a few posts on Facebook, and you'll see I felt awful, but one day felt normal. At 8pm that "normal" night, I crashed.This is me today. No filter, no makeup, haven't got the strength for a shower yet. I traded my shower spoon for a "read to Zack" spoon. Great trade-off.

So another photo for me to reflect on and compare as time goes on (I started posting these on my Facebook page) so I can see improvements or regressions and see if I can track the triggers. I will say that stress is a horrible trigger, and the past few days Rick and I got a lot unexpectedly dumped in our lap from outside shenanigans (seriously, we've met kids better behaved and with a greater sense of right and wrong than what we've experienced by adults these few days), but we're already moving on as best we can.

So, here I am, looking far different than from yesterday's video (and thanks for the comments and suggestions..a separate web cam and microphone are on order.

Today we cut one antibiotic to half dose and cycle from the new one to another one, while one stays the same. This means the week could be rough with herx reactions, which are in a nutshell, when bacteria get overloaded and killed and release toxins faster than my body can handle. While it's horribly uncomfortable (I screamed once, to the amusement of the cats, last time it happened), but cycling drugs will hopefully result in mass bacterial confusion and they'll die, I will avoid a PICC line or pump, and I'll have even more good hours and more good days. It's a decent trade off.

Anyway. This may interest you or not, this photo journey I'm on now, but I challenge you to do it, too, whether you're sick or healthy. Do it for a year, take a shot every few days (regardless of how you feel) and look back and see. Humans are dynamic, wonderful things with a capacity to fight. It's an empowering feeling (for me) to have the  bravery to show the bloated ugly. I don't have control of much, but this, I do.

I'm winning, regardless of what I feel like today.

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup" via Kalmbach Publishing

Friday, January 23, 2015

Jewelry Affaire Magazine review -- and my first video blog (be kind)

OK! I have been trying to get over my fear of cameras because I don't want Zack to not have some record of me somewhere, be it photo or video.

As today was a completely different day than the past months years (I feel almost normal!) I decided in a fit of bravery to make my first video blog (or vlog, I guess it's called) to review Jewelry Affaire magazine, volume 5, issue 4, by Stampington & Company. I have two pieces in this magazine, and I highlighted some of my favorite pieces from artists Cindy Wimmer, Cindy Cima Edwards, Jess Italia Lincoln, Jen Cushman, Deryn Mentock, and Veronica Kurian.

At the end of the review, I talk about how to make what you see in magazines and books your own, rather than copying a tutorial verbatim. I think that's an important thing to remember with anything you use to inspire your jewelry; copying by the numbers is fine for learning, but selling it that way is not the best idea. The more you practice different techniques from various sources, the more easily you'll discover your own voice and start making things that are uniquely YOU.

My "Grid" necklace from page 29,

My "Be A Lamp" necklace from page 107. 

Part way through the video, Zack comes in, not knowing I'm recording, but I managed to get him to come and say hi and thank you for all the things you guys have sent him. He's way more popular than I am, that's for sure, as he should be. (I'm biased. He's awesome sauce.)

I don't like seeing myself on video. The adage that the camera adds ten pounds seems to be true, and my medications make my face VERY puffy, but whatever, it can't be helped. Plus, I tend to talk fast and I don't think I was talking quite loudly enough, but I hope you watch. If the video below isn't working, or you want a larger view, click here.

Not sure if I will do this again (should I?)

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup" via Kalmbach Publishing. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

My Spoon Theory Spoon

I have been concentrating this month on recovering from the flu and a virus that knocked me out and set me back over the holidays. With that, I've consciously decided what I can and cannot do in a day and examined my priorities. To that end, I now have an email Inbox today with over 1,500 emails in it. As I started going through them, I realized how many were just nothing I needed to read. And once I started feeling anxious by the sheer enormity of the task, I stopped ... and with no guilt. I also can't always read or write because of tremors or eye problems, so blogging has taken a back seat, too.

Another time, on another day. It's OK.

I've been doing micro-blogs,  if you will, on my Facebook page. I honestly have a ton of things running through my mind to write a blog post about, plus I need to do a magazine review this week (crossing fingers), but if there's anything I've learned in the past month, it's to recognize what's most important on my list for the day and not plan too far ahead. That's a novel idea for me, a person who in the past meticulously mapped out plans and charted progress.

Many of you have heard of the Spoon Theory, a wonderful story about what it's like to be chronically ill. Here is my very own spoon, bought for me by Rick:

Bought via Etsy a while ago but now I can't find the artist. Dang.

I've been applying this method of counting my spoons for a while, but now, along with counting my spoons, I'm counting my blessings on my current Facebook posts.  It's a way for me to focus on the positive and write it down so on really bad days, I can look back and see that I did push through in the past. I've made two such posts so far and they've been received well.

However, there's a significant problem in posting online when I always feel like I've been hit by a truck of needles. If I post something here, on Facebook, or elsewhere, many people automatically think, "oh good, she's finally well" ... and get frustrated with me when the next day I'm not.

Unfortunately, making a post or "liking" a few items doesn't mean I'm 100%, or even 50%. It usually means I'm desperately trying to connect with another world beyond my bed or my house for five minutes to distract myself. What people see is a tiny snippet of my day. They don't see the cold sweats, the fevers, the 30+ pills, the truly disgusting and hideously expensive liquids, my struggle to do something as simple as dry my hair.

The majority of my meds. Some are taken three times a day, most at least twice. And some aren't shown.

I completely understand why people are just so OVER IT with those they know with a chronic illness. People naturally run from what they're afraid of, which is not to say anyone is weak for not sticking by, but that they are human. The ill are human, too, but they don't feel like it many times. As time goes on and our symptoms don't go away or a new malady gets added, it can really be hard to reach out to anyone or even admit to ourselves that things are just stalled. We don't want to be a burden, a drama queen, a negative source of energy. We want to be "normal", but we also want to be heard, understood, and loved anyway.

I've also recognized that it's incredibly easy to let illness become my first priority, which is backward. It should be HEALING that is my first priority, and there's quite a lot of difference between one and the other. Focusing on each aspect of the illness(es) can make anyone depressed. Just looking at the bottles above can seem completely overwhelming, until I look at them again and realize, these are what I need to get WELL. Stop taking things, and it all goes to hell, so I try very hard when I'm taking those pills and getting those shots to think "this is one more step forward", even when I feel miserable and like I'll never be right again.

I've done a lot -- a LOT -- of research on Lyme, Babesia, migraines, and a lot of it might seem dire. Many people diagnosed in late stage are just going to have to come to terms with this the rest of their lives and focus on living at 80% or 50% and making the best of it. It's impossible not to occasionally wallow and cry and say, "WHY ME?". Human. Understandable. But there has to be something good out of your day that you can think of in the midst of the crap, even if all you can think of is you're glad your pillow is soft. Millions of people don't have a soft pillow. That's a very simplistic way of looking at it, but if that's all you can come up with at first, that's fine.

Just try, each day.

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup" via Kalmbach Publishing. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Christmas Outside the Box -- The Year of No Wrapping Paper

Hello!  Long time, no see! I have a number of things on the slate to write about, but first, a run down of the holidays.

This was certainly the most unconventional Christmas we've ever had. I had a ton of plans of things to do over the time Zack was out of school. I DID manage to get the tree decorated at Thanksgiving, thanks to Rick putting it up, Zack decorating it with gold ornaments, and Zack and I both making a ginormous paper chain garland out of decorative origami paper. Above is just a glimpse.

So, score is mom 1, Stuff That Happens, 0.

I was also smart enough to have made all my purchases starting back in October, so I had boxes of things stacked in the bedroom waiting to be wrapped. No worries at all about having to go out or rush ship.

Score is now mom 2, Stuff That Happens, 0.

OK, this is the only photo I own of boxes. But you get the idea, yes?

The Thursday before the end of school, Rick volunteered to transport kids to their community service project. He came home and shook his head and said, "I had five boys in the car, and four of them were coughing." He then told me there were 44 absences out of a school of less than 300. 

Guess who's coming to dinner?  Sir Flu, I do believe.

That night, Zack staggered into our bedroom at 3am and said, "I don't feel right." After taking his temperature, we agreed that he most assuredly was NOT feeling right, and dosed him up with Motrin. Rick was getting ready for work, looked at the two of us with concern, and then made what could have been considered a critical error.

"Do you want to get into bed with mommy?"

"Yes, please," and in pops my little boy, coughing like a seal circus. Immediately Rick realized what he'd done - put Typhoid Mary into bed with She Who Has No Immune System.

Back in healthier days. He's a great snuggle bunny.

I looked back at Rick and just shrugged. I was going to get the flu anyway, of this I was certain, and I can't turn my kidlet away, no matter what. No how, no way. He immediately went back to sleep, and I immediately went back to trying to deal with (woo hoo!) passing a kidney stone. I do not recommend doing that with the flu. 

From December 16th to Christmas Eve, I don't remember much. I remember coughing until I bruised ribs. I remember all three of us walking around like bad-tempered zombies. I remember staring at the ceiling for hours. But I do NOT remember any of the plans I'd made -- playing games, driving around to see Christmas lights, baking a pie, knitting -- nope. Cough. Sleep. Fever. Repeat as often as it takes to get to 3am, Christmas morning.

Zack rebounded first, followed partially by Rick (who caught bronchitis after the flu and is still not 100%), but I was still on "is that pneumonia" watch. The doctor gave me a clear bill of health on the pneumonia, but a definite positive on the flu, and there's just nothing you can do but wait it out. But at another 3am, here we were again, but this time, looking at those boxes, none of which were wrapped. 

Not a one.

Score Mom -5,246, and Stuff That Happens for the win.

Rick was in pretty much as bad of shape as I was, but with Herculean effort got a brisket in the smoker for our dinner with the boys and daughter-in-law, collapsing back in bed as I'm staring at boxes. We looked at each other with glazed eyes, and we had to face it -- neither of us could do it. Nope. No way. And since I banned that evil little Elf on the Shelf, he wasn't around to help, either.

Creepy little dude.

Luckily, Zack believes in Santa. I had told him the night before to come to our bedroom, not the Christmas tree, because Santa was going to make a very quick fly-by, and since he didn't want to catch the flu, he was just going to zap presents onto our bed. I found a decorative Santa sack, put Zack's unwrapped presents in it, and Rick and I fell back asleep, me in tears, but ... flu.

Here's the thing -- Zack didn't care about wrapping paper. Zack actually seemed to have fun with this literal out of the box Christmas. He was truly startled by some of his presents (startled as in the good kind, as in the OH WOW, REALLY? kind), and he also got a bit of a kick out of our digging through the big boxes I'd been chucking purchases into over three months. Since I couldn't remember half of what I'd purchased, it was still a surprise.

The Element of Surprise of an Out of the Box Christmas

I still worried, though, about how this would look to the other boys and DIL, when we just dragged a few banker's boxes into the living room to exchange more gifts. And again, no one seemed to care. We were all together, regardless of the flu, and everyone seemed truly happy just to be there. Presents were a bonus, and I think I nailed it on a few of them. In fact, one of the kids said this was so much easier than dealing with wrapping paper, losing things in it, having to find huge garbage bags to shove it into. This way, it was basically flatten some boxes and pitch in the recycling bin and enjoy the present sooner.

We're still healing, but my tears were for naught. I shouldn't have worried. I should have put less pressure on myself. I was fortunate I'd even managed to get the presents into the house, so anything else was a bonus. I enjoyed Christmas dinner (although I sat way across the room so I wouldn't infect the healthy people) and while I didn't get to do what I'd planned, I could lie in bed and hear the others having fun with the presents they got outside of the box (like the LEGO Cafe below).

Sometimes it's better not to plan and just let things happen.

A Christmas tradition is a new building for the LEGO village. Click the photo to see more detail of the cafe. 

So now it's January, and I'm taking this out-of-the-box approach to 2015. No resolutions, so no stress. I know that I won't heal from these past two years of illness without some degree of forgiveness and acceptance from myself, and stressing over the things I can't do yet is taking energy away from what I CAN do. 

Happy New Year to all.

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup" via Kalmbach Publishing. 

Friday, December 05, 2014

Welcome to the 2nd Annual Bead Hoarders Blog Hop!

This blog hop was popular last year and I thought we'd try it again!

How often do you take a look at your bead stash and realize you have a LOT of artist beads, or a ton of pearls, or every crystal color known to man, but you haven't made a thing with any of them yet? (Raises hand).  Sometimes I'll collect beads knowing full well I'll never make a thing with them but set them out on display instead, yet after a while, it can get ridiculous and dusting becomes impossible (ha ha... as if I dust...)

For this series of the Bead Hoarders Blog Hop, I made several pieces. The first is a necklace specifically made for a tunic I own (photographed with the necklace), but all of the beads came from random places.  The focal is an amazing bronze owl by TheaToo.  The lampwork beads had been collected from various batches and set aside because I thought they looked cool together, but I wasn't sure about the red. Best leave everything together until I get everything together, I thought (quite profound).  And then I found an antique (they said) Tibetan bead, and things started coming together.

This is a LONG necklace, and if you can believe it, I had originally tried to make it a double stranded piece.  Um, no.  Often I use large beads in my work, and people are always asking, "Is that thing heavy?" and I can honestly say, "Not once it's on."  However, not only did the necklace not hang properly as a double strand, even with average sized lampwork beads, I could have used it as a weapon by whipping it over my head and slinging it across the room like I was in The Hunger Games.  

I linked each bead separately, knowing some wouldn't be used, but I had no idea which beads would "win". I also kept putting it on to make sure the pendant hit just where I wanted and the large tribal bead didn't get lost in the back of my hair.

While the necklace looks quite simple, it took stinking forever to put together. This bead color was too close to THAT bead color, now THAT bead is too low -- I had to let this sit alone for a while so I didn't lose my temper.  But it's easily one of my favorites that I will not sell.

The next pieces are bracelets.  Since I've been talking about larimar on Facebook, I thought I'd show you the bracelet I made myself way back when I had a ton of larimar beads on hand. If I want, I can add a couple of larimar rectangles to the ends and turn it into a necklace. I've considered selling this bracelet when I've been short on money, as these always sell, but I owe it to myself to actually OWN one of them myself.

Of course, I'm happy to make one similar to it as long as I have beads (which isn't going to be for long) and they start at $250, just so you have an idea. I've worked with larimar for a long time, but I just can't afford the good stuff any more (quality beads are going for $800/16" strand, no thank you) and be careful when you buy to read closely. "Larimar agate", "Larimar crazy lace agate", and "reconstituted" Larimar are a big NO. If you're going to invest, get the real thing.

Another blast from the past. This bracelet actually stopped the vendors of White Cloud, who made the large Turkish silver beads, when I wore it to a show. The toggle was made for me by an awesome guy who designed several styles for me but no longer works in silver, so it's very special.

These beads are BIG. My suggestion for wearing large beads is to wire them with thicker wire, not string them. This gives you a bit of "give" and less "chunk", if that makes sense.  (And no, it's not heavy once it's on.)  :-)

I made this bracelet with beads made by an old friend who quit lampworking a long time ago.  I held onto everything she made, and decided I had to do SOMETHING with at least one set, if not more. This is one of my favorite styles to make, linking the lampwork beads with large jump rings and dangling charms from the jump rings.  Swarovski crystal, jade, silver, and a special (and also hoarded) Thai silver toggle makes this one of my favorites for jeans.

This next piece is how I managed to take two relatively expensive bracelets, cut them in half, and make one that is even better. 

I had made a Half Persian chain maille bracelet with large rings, nice and substantial. Then I bought the lampwork beads from Kris Schaible and I decided to mix the two. Once again I used a special lobster claw clasp made by friend (COME BACK AND MAKE MORE SILVER!!!!) and a tassel from White Cloud (again -- not cheap. But I knew I'd use it).  This bracelet now has more interest than just a chain maille bracelet on its own, and I got to highlight the three beads from Kris.

Finally, another bracelet in one of my favorite styles (I guess I know what I like!) with more beads from Kris Schaible.

OMG, right? I added dangles of purple and red glass flowers adorned with whimsical silver flowers, flat vintage Lucite flowers with pale Blue Azore Swarovski crystals, and smaller Thai silver cubes, cut on the diagonal, also adorned with very pale blue beads.  

Why blue?

See those tiny bits of aqua in the lampwork beads?  I wanted to bring them out just a touch, but not TOO much. I experimented a bit, and this was the result.

I hope you enjoyed the trip through my hoarded beads (and, by the way, thse are all in my personal jewelry box now.  And in full disclosure, that's where they were when I took them out to photograph them because I couldn't make something new. Here's hoping I can make more jewelry in 2015!)

To visit other amazing artists and to see what they made with their hoarded beads, please grab a cup of something hot and yummy and settle down to look! (Please hop around, give the people at the bottom some early love, and some people will be posting on Sunday).

Lori AndersonPrettyThings  (Hostess)

Audrey Belanger
Toki No Hourosha
Jenny KyrlachWonder and Whimsy
Kathy LindemerBay Moon Design
Lori SchneiderBead Addict
Dee ElgieCherry Obsidia
Dolores RamlCraftyD's Creations
Rebecca EdnieEclectic Endeavors

Marybeth RichA Few Words from Within the Pines
Hannah Rosner

Good River Valley

Nicole PrinceBeading for Healing

Jackie RyanKydo Jewelry
Elsie Deliz-FonsecaEliz-Eliz and All That Craft
Mowse DoyleMowse Made This
Evelyn ShelbyRaindrop Creations Jewelry by Evelyn

Terri GauthierBlooming Ideas

Shai Williams

Shaiha's Ramblings

Andrea GlickZenith Jade
K HutchinsonJumbled Hutch
Marci BrooksThat Nothing Be Wasted
Jo-Ann WoolvertonIt's a Beadiful Creation
Jasvanti PatelJewelry by Jasvanti
Laurie VyselaarLefthand Jewelry
Lisa KnappenbergerLiRaysa Designs

Niky SayersSilver Nik Nats
Sandra McGriffCreative Chaos
Patricia HandschuhThe Color of Dreams

Maria Rosa SharrowWillow Street Shops

Monique UrquhartA Half-Baked Notion

Sheryl StephensThe Babbling Beader
Becky PancakeBecky Pancake Bead Designs
Mona ArnottBijoux Gems of Joy
Michelle EscanoCabby Craft
Denise McCabeCabewoman

Sheila ProseCats With Beads
Kim DworakCianci Blue

Janine LucasEsfera Jewelry
Kari Asbury

Hippie Chick Design

Inge von RoosInge's Blog
Divya NJewels of Sayuri
Debbie RasmussenA Little of This, A Little of That
KJKJ's Beadacious Beads

Ghislaine Kruse-van ErpKruse Art
Ginger BishopLilmummy Likes
Kelly Schermerhorn

Meandering with Kelly

Sue KellyMid-Life Greater Expectations
Rachel MallisMint Monarch
Susan McClellandMistheword
Mary K McGrawMK's Creative Musings
Tania SpiveyMoobie Grace Designs
Stephanie PerryMustard Seed by Stephanie Perry

Nicole RennellNicole Rennell Designs

Tammy AdamsPaisley Lizard
Patty Miller

Cabari Beads

Blanca MedinaMediBeads

Roxanne MendozaRoxi Designs
Claire FabianSaraccino

Donetta FarringtonSimply Gorgeous
Lee KoopmanStrega Jewellery
Deb FortinStudio 24

Cece Cormier

The Beading Yogini

Lizzie ClarkeThe Need to Bead
Elizabeth HodgesThe Whispering Seas
Fay WolfendenTorch Fairy

Nan SmithNanmade Jewelry
Robin Kae Reed                                          Willow Dragon
Melissa Trudinger                                      Bead Recipies
Regina Wood                                                  Gina's Designs

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup" via Kalmbach Publishing. 

Monday, December 01, 2014

Don't Forget the Bead Hoarder Blog Hop this weekend -- and want to meet Zack?

Don't forget everyone -- this Saturday the 6th is the Bead Hoarders Blog Hop!  You can see the list of nearly 100 people by clicking here (but the party takes place here).

If you are running out of time (I haven't started yet but HAVE planned already) you can always show a piece you've made in the past with special beads, so don't let the time stop you!

I also wanted to let you know that I will begin blog hopping either late Saturday night or all day Sunday because I won't be home.  GASP!  But hold up, there's a VERY good reason!  I'm taking a Zentangle class, taught by Carol Dee Myers, in Frederick, MD -- WITH Zack!

There are still a few seats left (we're taking the beginner class, but there's a more advanced one immediately following) and you can get the information by clicking here.

Zentangling is essentially at Art of the Doodle. It can take your mind off troubles, it can help people who consider themselves non-artistic to find the artist inside themselves, and it's pretty darned addictive. I have had the original kit from and I taught Zack some of the basics with big sheets of paper and crayons. One of his drawings done on official Zentangle paper was published in his school newspaper last year. I thought this would be a great mother-son project, although we couldn't convince Daddy to make a trifecta. He's going to hang out in the rather awesome Frederick library.

If you need a break and want to take a VERY reasonably priced class AND meet Carol (who is a hoot and a half) AND meet my best boy, please click here, message Carol, and join us, won't you?

And what's super-great about Zentangling?  The first syllable.  ZEN.

I do believe we could ALL use some Zen right now.

Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup" via Kalmbach Publishing.