Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Setting New Goals -- From Crappy to Happy (31 Days, Day 22)

Click here for Table of Contents for 31 Days of Awesome


Playing hooky like I did the past week is sometimes the best thing a person can do for themselves if they're less than OK.  For far too long I've pushed when I should have pulled back and sat down for a while.  It's easier to look for the Awesome when I'm not fighting myself.





Today I woke up as I did the past few days -- horribly awfully in pain, hands and voice shaking so badly I couldn't put socks on. I haven't been able to read or write or anything much at all lately and it's all thanks to the ups and downs of Lyme disease (bleh). As I lay in bed last night, trying to think of calming things to help me go to sleep, I thought about changing my life goals. 


Knowing me the way I know me, this would normally not be a happy thing to think about, and certainly not an Awesome thing. I am determined, however, to find something good out of the traditionally bad. It's become part of my healing process.


When you're in the midst of Awful, thinking of Awesome is often pushed to the bottom of the heap of things that must be done that day. Lately I have been trying to put it at the top of the list. I figure if I only have the strength to do one or two things in a day, one of them at least should be good, right?


I never thought I'd be able to do this, but when faced with a life-changing disease, I've got to make life-changing decisions. I've spent far too long trying to make it to some end point, as in, "I'll be able to be back to normal by Christmas". Now, I'm deciding that's foolish and futile, not to mention frustrating, so instead I've tried to embrace setting new goals.  I've made three new goals which I think will help me stay more in the Happy Space and less in the Crappy Space.



Goal #1 :: Family First




All my life, pretty much, my work ethic has been strong. I've pushed myself hard and I've been fortunate to achieve a lot of things this way. It's easy when you're excited about a new job or a new project or a new idea to spend hours working on it, babying it, bringing it to fruition, but right now I have no business making huge work plans. I've decided to put these things to the back burner and spend as much of my out-of-bed-time with my family.


This past week, I felt pretty lousy, but it was a lot easier to ignore while watching a movie or playing a game with Zack and Rick. I will never regret family time. There will be time enough later for throwing myself head-first into new projects.




Goal #2 :: Read Things That Matter



Illness has made my eyesight kind of loopy. Some days I can't focus on words and everything is blurry. Because of that, I now make better decisions about what I read when I CAN see. I'm spending less time reading junk online or celebrity magazines and more time reading things I can mark off my to-read list. I pared down my magazine list and now only get one and that one helps me learn about world events rather than what dress the latest celebrity was wearing. Decreasing my browsing time and turning it into reading time -- not a bad goal, and not bad results, either.



Goal #3 :: Heal From the Inside Out

  


I've discovered it's just as important to heal my mind as it is to heal my body. One of the interesting oxymorons of Lyme disease is I am absolutely exhausted all the time but I'm completely unable to get to sleep. I've started taking that awake-in-the-middle-of-the-night time and turning it into reflection time. Instead of asking myself "why is this happening to me?", I've tried (tried!) to think about why this could be a good thing. 


Bad things happen to good people. No matter if you prescribe to a particular faith or belief system, understanding why this happens can be a really difficult task. I've decided to give up asking "why" and have tried (tried!) to accept it and find the good in it. Some days it's a heck of a lot harder than others, but all I have to do is turn to look at my bedside table to find something good. 


On my night stand are four journals (one for Zack to read at a later date, one question-to-answer-a-day book, one list-yourself book, and one five-year journal with a few lines a day to write) and the 7th Harry Potter. The journals remind me to remember things, to write things down for posterity, and to search myself so my future is better. With only a few lines a day to write, I make the most of them. And the Harry Potter book reminds me that Zack still loves me to read to him, and when I focus on these things, the problems seem to fade into the background and the NOW is more in front of me.


I love elephants.


It's OK to re-order our priorities and goals from time to time. Necessary, I dare say. I know that I'm much calmer about facing down demons than I ever have been. It's an incredibly awesome feeling to know this, to know that change can be good, and good can come from bad. 


(I hope this makes sense! Comment below if you like and tell me other ways to set new goals and refocus -- what works for you?)




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, October 17, 2014

Playing Hooky (31 Days, Day 16-21)

I'm playing hooky for a few days.

It will be awesome.

Back on Monday!



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, October 15, 2014

Wordless Wednesday -- Solace in an Abandoned Church (31 Days, Day 15)

Click here for Table of Contents for 31 Days of Awesome













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.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

When Awesome Becomes "Aw, shoot" (31 Days, Day 14)

Click here for Table of Contents for 31 Days of Awesome


I wasn't sure if I was going to write about this because at first blush, it's a downer, and downers are not awesome at all. Then I remembered that this blog, even when written about one subject for a month, is still my blog and written truly from the heart, so why not. It also gave me a chance to reflect upon my own feelings I've had today.


I am a jewelry designer. For years, I exhibited at about 20 juried craft shows a year and updated my web site constantly. It was a good living -- a HARD way to make a living, but rewarding. I became an LLC , I had a studio built, I wrote a book, and things were moving along swimmingly. Awesome, you could say.


Several years ago that changed and I now only participate in two juried shows a year and I haven't updated my web site in ages because I've hardly made anything. I've been sick, etc. However, I have been doing better, and I thought that SURELY I would be able to exhibit at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA this weekend. 


Some people hate this line of work.  It's not easy to set up and tear down tents and displays, watch people throw your jewelry on the table after seeing the price, or hear them say, "My aunt's cousin's friend's dog sitter makes jewelry, let me take a photo of it and she can make it for you." It makes you want to look at them, wave, and say, "I can hear, you know." 


However, I really love the show circuit. There's an electricity in the air when you first walk into your bare space as people buzz around you, talk shop, and roll in their carts of hand-crafted goodness as we all go about our business of setting up 10'x10' shops, all of us anxious and excited and hopeful for crowds. You can almost breathe in that kind of electricity, and it's contagious and exciting and most certainly awesome.


Zack helps in his own way several years ago.  He's great at handing out zip-ties!

The other reason I love doing craft shows are the customers.  Since I've done the same shows year after year, I've gotten to know a lot of interesting people. I may not always remember their name, but I know their face, and chances are I know what they've purchased from me. Sometimes when I make something, I think, "Oh, Priscilla would love that!", and stash it away so she has the first look before I put it out on the table.


Larimar, pearls, crystal, and topaz, long gone to a wonderful customer.


And yet.


This weekend would be my first show in a long time. As I said, I'm getting better. I'm spending less time in bed, more time sitting up, and I'm even hoping to restart my gym membership at the end of November so I can swim. Right now, walking around the block is about it, or even just doing a few errands is my exercise and about all I can do for now after almost two years of bed.  I felt my keeping up with healthy eating and all my meds and seeing the doctors and taking calculated rests to keep up my energy had me ready to attack four days of 10 hours (at least) of intense work.




Today, however, I asked my doctor, as she gave me vitamin injections, what she thought about it. The night before, I'd started having a bit of a panic attack (well... more than a BIT of one) and I decided to get an expert opinion. After discussing the sheer volume of people in a show of this size, how nasty dirty filthy money is, and how I haven't done much physical stuff like toting boxes for a while, she said I shouldn't do it. I am very immunodepressed, and can't fight off a common cold like a normal person can, and I always get a cold after shows anyway. Going to this show this time, with worse immuno-blah-blah stuff, wouldn't be wise, she said. After all the work I've made in the past month or so of getting up, doing things with my family,and reassessing my priorities, I definitely didn't want to have a huge set back, and she felt this show was me asking for just that.


My first true silversmithing project. A good reminder - dream, and don't sweat it if you're not perfect.


At first, I was crushed. I was out a lot of money from the booth fee, the postcards I'd mailed, not to mention income, and my pride and sense of self took a beating. I drove home feeling quite sorry for myself -- I won't deny that. I also wondered how in the world I would be able to write an awesome post.


I totally know how to now.


First, I'm very fortunate I have a great doctor.  Two, I'm very fortunate I have a great husband who pretty much had already decided the show was not going to be the best thing for me. Three, an amazing customer and friend called me and talked to me with several great ideas to recoup my design mojo and hopefully make some money while I'm at it, and reassured me that this was not the end of the world.


And it isn't!


What WOULD be the end of the world is if I'd gone, pushed too hard, had to leave part way through the show (like I had to one year), and then spend the next three weeks in bed missing out on life, starting over from square one.  It would be awful if I lost the momentum I've been gaining. I've been able to be part of my family, in the same room, eating dinner, watching movies, working two feet from them when I could, reading to Zack when he wants, and being able to make short excursions about town. Those are the AWESOME parts of life. 



Yes, I love my jewelry design job and it's pretty amazing to do what I love for a living and will continue doing for a living.  I haven't been making a living at it since I've been sick, but as a Facebook friend reminded me, "Health before wealth." Very, very true.


I'll continue to work on flipping bad news on its ear as often as I can. It's a far cry better than dwelling on it. That in itself, is awesome.





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, October 13, 2014

How Do You Spell Awesome? (31 Days, Day 13)

Click here for Table of Contents for 31 Days of Awesome


Usually when I think of awesome things, they're grand, or larger than life, or something spectacular.


Often, though, awesome things come along quietly and curl up in your lap like a cat.


Last night I lay in bed thinking about yesterday's blog post and wondered about the differences in most of the things I put on my awesome list.  None of them were earth-shattering or huge or would even be of much importance to anyone other than me, yet that didn't make any of them any less amazing and awesome to me.


I do have dreams I'm chasing that ARE huge and earth-shattering, but I keep them close in my heart, mostly secret, and I know they may never happen.  That doesn't mean I don't think about these awesome dreams and when I can, actively work towards them, but I think it's important to keep my priorities straight and treasure the small wonders.  If someone can write a book about one thousand awesome things, all of which are simple yet so satisfying, then surely I can live more happily by embracing my own one thousand awesome things.


My wish for you today is for you to never lose sight of the simple things that mean so much.


Awesome can be written with a large capital "A" or a small, baby, lowercase "a", but they still spell the same thing and mean the same thing, don't they?






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, October 12, 2014

1000 Awesome Things (31 Days, Day 12)

Click here for Table of Contents for 31 Days of Awesome



Wow oh man.


I just ran across the most awesome thing.  There is a BOOK called "The Book of Awesome" by Neil Pasricha.  Even better, he has a blog with a daily awesome thing.  This is where I slap my forehead and think, "Why didn't *I* think of that?" while at the same time applauding his genius. He has other books that I would love to own (and I don't own this one yet).  It's the perfect pick me up -- a single, often simple thing, that is, in a word, awesome.


via www.1000AwesomeThings.com/book


His blog can be found by clicking here.

Some things are beautiful, like the sound of leaves blowing across an empty parking lot.  

Some are funny, like perfectly stapling through a thick stack of papers.



I decided to make a quick list -- certainly not of 1000 things, but 10 simple things that are awesome and often taken for granted.  Keep in mind, I have not read his book or seen more than the first page of his blog, so if I happen to mention something HE has written about, it's simply by accident, and just proves its awesomeness.


1.  The smell of Zack's hair after a bath.

Zack around 3 years old.  I have no idea why he is wearing a bowl on his head.


2.  Snow on Christmas.

Taken by me out the front door.


3.  Getting a package in the mail when I wasn't expecting one.




4.  The smell of a box of fresh Crayola crayons.  Or a new set of markers.




5.  The cool feeling I got when my 1st and 2nd grade teacher friended me on Facebook.
(She believed in me when no one else did.  I'll never forget her.)

I wonder which teachers Zack will remember forever.


6.  Cuddling kitties at night.  No one but me, a book, and cats, everyone else asleep.




7.  The wonderful feeling of waking up refreshed without an alarm clock blaring.

I think this is the last time the bed was actually made, years ago, LOL!


8.  A hot bath after a busy day.





9.  Pie. (you knew I had to get that in there, didn't you?)

Pie beads I've been given or I've bought.



10.  The sound of my family belly-laughing over the holidays as we play board games.



Now it's your turn to make your own list of awesome things.

Keep it where you can see it when you need it most, as a pick-me-up.

Please leave a comment with one of of your favorites!



Make your day awesome.


**(all photos except first one were taken by me)**



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.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Don't Forget to Say You Care (31 Days, Day 11)

Click here for Table of Contents for 31 Days of Awesome


You have awesome people in your life.  One, ten, a hundred. It's very easy to get overwhelmed with our lives and forget to stay in touch, or flat out not have the time to take a shower, never mind keeping up with all the people you'd like to. So how do you let them know what they mean to you?


Over the past couple of months I've been gifted with a ton of cards and a lovely box of fun things from various people. Some of them I knew. Some of them I didn't. I am extraordinarily grateful for every email, card, and prezzie that has crossed my path. It all made me think about how we stay connected to friends.




Most of my friends are online friends via Facebook.  I have friends I made face-to-face, but they live so far away, in different states and countries, I can't just have them drop by the house or even meet them easily. Often I've felt very lonely in the midst of a room full of people. Yet today, when I ran into two moms of Zack's friends in Target, I realized that I may have more people in my life than I realize, and I need to remember to let them know they are valued, and I need to open my mind more towards meeting new people and making connections.


One mom asked me for information to help a friend with Lyme disease. I owe her a long email with information I've found over the year.  The other mom and I decided we had to get out of our houses more, so we talked about getting her daughter and my son together for a crafts play date. One day, duct tape wallets, another day, making homemade fudge. I asked her to go home and take a look at her calendar and let me know what Fridays worked for her, and then suggested we call each other for a walk, even if it's just around the block.


Maybe our walk will include a playground!


Later in the day I called a local friend who has been battling a lot of health issues that keep the two of us quarantined from each other a lot. We still find ways to show we care. If I'm in her neighborhood, I call and see if she wants a coffee dropped off, and when she's on my side of town, she calls to see if I need something from the grocery store. These sound like simple things, but to me, they're important and valuable. Even a text or email or phone call to say, "Just wanted you to know I'm thinking about you" can mean the world, you know?


Some people grow up with tons of friends and have a hopping social life, while others have one or two close friends and a group of acquaintances that drift in and out of their lives depending upon the timing.  People change, but with change comes opportunities yet to be explored, and new people to meet, whether online or in the real world.

Zack and a friend from years ago.

Here's what I hope you take away from this. 

Look through your address book. Send an email to someone you haven't talked to in a long time. 

Mail a card to someone you used to hang out with a lot but have lost touch with. 

Drop by a friend's house with a cup of coffee or something yummy just because. 

Reconnect.


It's so important to tell your friends you care. With life at its fast pace, things fly by and before we know it, we can't remember the last time we talked to someone.  Take some time, make a phone call, send an email, and reconnect. Your life will feel larger and happier, I'll bet.


And isn't that awesome?




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, October 10, 2014

Zack's Idea of What is Awesome Is (31 Days, Day 10)



Zack is the center of my life.  So today over dinner I asked him, "what are some things you think are awesome, and why?"


1.  "The Origami Yoda book series. "

He likes how a different character tells the story in each book, and it has case files for random sub-stories inside the book.  In the first one, for example, Tommy and his friends try to figure out if Origami Yoda is real (when I asked, "Is he real?", Zack replied, "Pretty much, yeah.")

Photo via http://origamiyoda.com

When I asked why it was totally, totally awesome, he said, "I JUST LOVE IT SO MUUUUUCH!" I think I need to read these myself!  (And can I say that his telling me the FIRST thing he thought was awesome were books?)



2.  "Dreams that I wish would be real."


When I asked him to tell me one, he wrinkled his forehead and said, "I forget, but at the time, they were awesome." They leave him in a good mood when he wakes up. Then he remembered one where he was in a league of super heroes and another dream where the family went into Wii Sports Resort (a video game, natch) and the cats came in, and they weren't afraid of dogs, so we got a dog.  When I asked, "Why Wii Resort?" he said it was because it's set on an island (he's said forever that he wants to go to Fiji, of all places) and there's a ton of fun things to do.  I've played that video game with him and I must admit, it was indeed fun.

via Amazon.com


3.  "My Family -- especially you, Mom."

OK, let me stop a second, tears.


Whew.  All right then.


When I asked him to elaborate, he said, "Because no one can replace my family." He said he likes reading with me, doing LEGO with his brothers, riding the tandem bike with his Dad ... and then he said there were just too many things to mention.

Our buildings connected together.  You can lift each story off to see the detail inside.



One of MY favorite memories is when we first introduced this LEGO Christmas tradition to the boys. We set up a six-foot folding table for them to work on, and as I was sitting across the room, I hear the following exchange between Zack and his at-that-time 26-year old brother.

Zack:  "Are you jealous that I got all the cool stuff in my bag?"
Colin: "Well.... kinda, yeah!!!"

For the LEGO uninitiated, pieces are put into a variety of numbered bags to supposedly (HA!) make putting things together easier.


I love when I ask Zack questions.  The most awesome thing for me right now is that he still likes to talk when we get in the car.  No playing iPods or anything like that. We have some of the best (and funniest) conversations, and play Punch Buggy (without the slugging) every time we drive in my own little Bug.


Want to catch up on past posts in the 31 Day Writing Challenge?  Just click here, and join me every day this month for more stories and photos!




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.