I’ve been a creative human for as long as I can remember, and a full time creative for about a decade now. Recently, and many times throughout the years, Rafi and I have talked about impostor syndrome. You know it? The feeling like, even though you’re passionate, authentic, dedicated to your creative endeavors, and growing and evolving each day… that somehow you’re just not enough. That secretly you suck, and that it’s only a matter of time before everyone else discovers your suckage. I suspect most everyone has felt this at one time or another.
If left unchecked, that feeling can really thwart your efforts to share who you are and what you do with the world. I’m guilty of overthinking what I share and say on here, for fear of judgement … analysis paralysis. I’m guilty of the same when working on my art, and especially where music is concerned.
Real-time example, ready?: I second-guessed myself immediately upon embarking on sharing these thoughts with you… and then spellcheck informed me that my spelling of the word “judgement” in the paragraph above was incorrect… so being the human I am, I googled it, and found that both “judgment” and “judgement” are acceptable spellings, but “judgment” is more widely accepted these days. I’ve always spelled it “judgement” so I’ve left it that way, but secretly feared your judgement not only for my chosen spelling, but for my humble human opinions on the topic of impostor syndrome. Who am I to talk about this? I’m just a person with my own thoughts on my own experiences, who, by the way… also misspelled “Impostor” at the beginning of this blog and had to go back and correct it. I think you see what I’m getting at here, all of that happened just trying to share this with you.
The thing is, there’s no rule book for creative and entrepreneurial humans. We’re all just trying stuff and doing the best we can, whatever the best is for us right now. This is one of the reasons I try to share all kinds of things with you guys, my creative family. Not just my creations that I’m proud of, but my failed experiments, challenges, life stuff, thoughts from my brain jar, small victories, and everything in between.
So I wanted to take this time to say this to myself and to you, beautiful human who is reading this. If you are doing something, anything, that you’re passionate about, and making any effort to share it with the world, to put it out there, and to grow as a human and a creative, THAT makes YOU a badass.
You may not be at the level you aspire to yet, I know I’m not, but I’ve realized it’s a lifelong work in progress. You aren’t doing it wrong, and you don’t suck. You don’t have to get it perfect out the gate, just play and try to remember why you love what you do. Try to remember why you love who you are. You are unique, you are beautiful, you are contributing to the whole in your own special way, and you are most definitely enough.
I think ultimately, this is a long-winded high five from me to you, and from me to me. Let’s keep going and bring our awesomeness into full view for 2021 and beyond. Say it with me: “I’m real, and I’m spectacular.”
Life happens so fast, and opportunities often come our way at lightning speed. I don’t care if we’re talking about a creative opportunity, a personal goals opportunity, a career advancement, the chance to see or do something new, a moment to look at the stars, or the opportunity to visit with a friend you haven’t seen in a while.
I’ve really learned something this year, and I intend to own it. That is, to try my best not to be so wrapped up in what I’ve got going on, so absorbed in my very important things, or so embedded in my daily schedule (or how I think my schedule should be) that I don’t, can’t, or won’t seize those opportunities, big or small, when they come.
In light of the current state of things and our “new normal”, seizing the will to simply get through a day can seem downright daunting. To paraphrase a rogue artist friend, “These days things seem to take twice as long, are twice as hard, and can leave you feeling twice as tired and burned out.” Wherever your seize the moment barometer is at present, it’s okay… believe me, it’s more than okay.
I’m not saying you’ve gotta do everything, be on point at all times, be a superhero, or anything like that… but I am saying, be aware of the excuses that you know are bull-garbage and start taking the time for the things you do want, for the things you don’t even know you want. Embrace being flexible and adaptable. Start saying “Yes. I’m here.” for the moments you’d regret to miss, for the moments you don’t even realize you’d regret to miss until you regret you missed them.
It’s never the right time, you’re never dressed appropriately, you never prepared as much as you’d hoped, there will never be enough hours in the day, something in the house always needs your attention, things never happen the way you think they’re going to, and you’re never going to be 100% ready or comfortable.
Your heart will always be racing, your shirt will always have that wrinkle, your lizard brain will always be searching for an “out” an “exit strategy” or a “rock to crawl under”. Show up anyway.
None of that stuff matters when you’re in the moment and the life stuff is happening, and you’re fully present, and for better or worse, you’re like “Wow, none of that stuff matters!”
I know, that last bit was redundant. Let me say it again. “None of that stuff matters.” Sorry, not sorry.
It’s just, those unexpected things are often the best experiences and the most cherished memories. I’ve practically built my art career on them. My most favorite times spent are almost exclusively them. Relationships are sometimes made, strengthened, weakened, or broken on them. Pivotal life goal moments are born from them. Last moments spent with a loved one sometimes hinge on them.
I’m hella guilty of avoiding, excusing myself, offering great reasons why I couldn’t. Hella. Guilty. But then, I’ve also had so many moments of absolute bravery, total adaptability, fearless seizing, utter appreciation, full presence, total awesomeness.
I’m a self proclaimed “Recovering People Pleaser”, so I have to be careful not to do things that really aren’t me, just to please others. But conversely, I also have to be careful not to use that to excuse myself from life as it’s happening, just because I don’t think I’m prepared in that moment for whatever is going on.
I say this as someone who is also a recovering “Grade-A Worrywort and Victim” once highly prone to lengthy bouts of self-pity, anxiety, regimented micro-management, stubbornness, and self-sabotaging obsessive-compulsive behavior. I no longer identify with that person, but I can’t pretend like those tendencies don’t exist within me. So I keep an eye on myself, a compassionate eye (because I’m not trying to punish myself when I have less than good moments), and a willingness to call “bullshit” on my own behaviors and thoughts.
We only get so many days. I intend to spend less of them worrying, prepping, planning, avoiding, and making excuses… more time being present. More of that life stuff. Why? Because for me, the alternative is sameness… stagnation… numbness… coasting through the days waiting for some indeterminate future scenario in which I stop that and start living. For me, just coasting on auto-pilot equals “why even bother” and I personally don’t find that state to be very good for my health, emotional well-being, or getting up in the morning.
Show up. Be flexible. Pivot. Adapt. Run outside in your jammies because someone needs you. Answer the phone. Take the interview. Bring your portfolio to the client. Have the hard conversation. Pursue that hair-brained idea. Call your mother. Kiss your person. Grab their ass. Grab your own ass and tell yourself you’re gorgeous. Watch a storm, even if emails need correspondence. Wear that outfit. Take a breath and look at the sky, even if laundry needs folding. Step outside and sing the harmonies to Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of your lungs, because your neighbor happens to be caterwauling the lead melody at the top of his lungs from his porch. Make coffee with a blowtorch because your power is out. Stand up for what you believe in, however you can. Vote. For pete’s sake, vote. Question your motives. Question your excuses. Ask the questions you’re afraid to ask. Ask them of yourself and others. Sit and listen. Listen to ambient sounds. Listen to a friend. Listen to an adversary. Listen to your thoughts. Listen to your own heartbeat. Don’t listen to your lizard brain when it tells you “I don’t have time. I can’t help there. I’m not that person. I don’t have answers. I don’t matter.”
Just show up. Life shows up everyday, and it’s not always golden opportunities, unicorn farts and rainbows. Sometimes it’s some messed up shit, and that’s still an opportunity to decide and show who you are. Your bravery, your bad-assery, your inconceivable, unconditional love, your ability to laugh, your ability to cry, your ability to speak, your ability to hear, your blowtorch coffee making skills, your now huge collection of cloth face masks, your compassion, your “Make It Work” moments, your fucked up clothes you only wear when no one’s going to see you, your adaptability, your resourcefulness, your passion, your weirdness, your light that shines so bright it could melt the faces of onlookers (in the best way possible, of course).
Life will continue to show up every day. Decide now, and every “now” going forward, who it is on the other side of the door when life comes knocking. I don’t know what that personally means for you, but I strongly suspect that you do.
So take your now, and live the crap out of it. Take care of yourself, and one another. The world needs you, and you deserve nothing less.
Recently I felt like a little mouse, with a tiny helmet, attempting to figure out a way to get the cheese out of a giant mousetrap. I’m not going to bore you with the details of how I got into this situation, I’ve already talked about it in length in my last blog, I will say running a creative business is a bitch a lot of the time…
Heck, being a human can be a bitch a lot of the time, so what do we do in this thing that we call life?
A lot of artists ask me how I managed to “succeed” in a field that actually carries with it the stigma that you are automatically going to starve if you pursue said career. The word “artist” is synonymous with “starving” and a lot of the time, they seem to go together like email spam and my grandmother opening it.
What is funny to me, is that I don’t focus on having a successful career. So whenever someone asks me how I did it, I usually don’t have that clear of an answer. I do, however, have certain things that I try to remind myself daily, and that’s probably one of the reasons people assume I’m doing so well. These don’t have much to do with career, they are the way I want to see the world and myself. Simple little reminders to keep going.
You’re alive right now, and if you are alive, anything is still possible.
You’re expecting too much of yourself. Most successes are not overnight successes. Take your time and find a way to enjoy the slow burn. Keep chipping away, little by little, you’ll get there.
Remember that you are stronger than you think. You might privately think to yourself that you can’t handle the pressure. Trust me, we all do that, but we can do so much more than we think… and we can especially do way more than some people think we can.
Even when things seem to be falling apart, you have reason to smile. This one is tricky, don’t lie to yourself with false positive thoughts, but find a genuine reason to smile and change perspective.
Don’t compare yourself to people who you think are doing awesome. Instead, I think “If they’re doing great then I can too.” Besides, you haven’t walked in their shoes, you don’t know how they feel, but you know how you make yourself feel when you do something dumb like feel bad comparing yourself to someone you don’t really know anything about.
I can find a different “How.” Take a deep breath, do number 4, and then find a different way… especially if you have been knocking on a wall for days… you may just need to move to the left about 3 ft and knock on the door.
Can you find the fun in doing this? If not, consider the fact that maybe you should be doing something else. For this to work, I have to be honest with myself, because I can easily deceive myself into stopping. It’s important to remember why you started whatever you started and find your why… then check with yourself that you haven’t deviated from that purpose with your current project.
Take a break and work on something that will make you feel like a bad-ass. We all have things that we are really good at. Sometimes, I’ll take a break from the thing I am currently failing at, and work on something that makes me feel awesome. An “I am forking AWESOME!” break… We need that reminder sometimes, and I find that it is best to remind yourself by doing something you are a rock-star at, even if it is totally unrelated.
Usually right after I remind myself of these things, I have a momentary lapse into despair. It’s the lowest point in your whole journey, a hopeless-looking place that comes right before feeling good. Because I expect it, I handle it pretty well, most times. It is the brain’s last ditch effort to keep things safe and maintain the status quo.
I know, it’s a weird relationship we have with our brain, but most of the programming we have in our brain is designed to keep us safe and sound from anything perceived as a threat. Recently, the idea of leaving the safety and comfort of Etsy to pursue our own platform was seen as a threat to my well being, so my brain did everything in it’s power to protect me. It’s why some people giggle when they are nervous… not sure how that would save you from a saber-toothed tiger, but maybe you can giggle away ghosts or something.
When you’re pursuing anything, it’s almost inevitable that at some point you’ll think one or more of the following:
“This is harder than I thought it would be.” “Why is this taking so long?” “I’m getting nowhere with this.” “I keep failing and screwing it up.” “I can’t do this. What was I thinking?”
And when you do have one—or more—of these thoughts, it’s very likely that you’ll want to give up. When that happens, I remind myself of the points I made above.
Achieving large, hairy life goals isn’t easy. Doing much in life isn’t easy, and somewhere along the way it’s very likely that you’ll want to quit. But when you feel like quitting, and the going gets tough, just keep going.
Beside, it’s not a failure if you don’t quit… It’s just a work in progress.
HELP ME WRITE MY BOOK!
Pretty soon I’ll be starting a crowd funding campaign to help me finish my book(s) and audio-books. It’ll be the first of a series that I have been working on for the last 8 years. I am both excited and nervous!
Recently I was presented with an exciting and challenging commission that I could not say no to, even though I was admittedly somewhat reluctant to take it on. Reluctant because, well, it was centered around the largest and most beautiful opal I have ever had the privilege of holding in my hands.
Proposed by two collectors of my work who have not only become good friends of mine over the years, but who continuously support and believe in me as an artist, always pushing me ever further into the realm of “Sure, I think I can do that.” They had purchased an astoundingly gorgeous Australian Lightning Ridge Semi-Black Opal from a local lapidary artist, who is also a friend of mine and an expert at his craft. The cut opal weighed in at 24 carats and measured 34x27mm, originally intended to be cut into two or three separate opals but was too magnificent to be separated into smaller pieces.
Immediately following the purchase of the opal they brought it to me, placed it in my hand and said “You know you’re the one we’re commissioning to make a necklace with this, right?” To which I replied “Uh… sure! Wait… are you sure?? I can’t believe this opal! Yes, sure! I’m honored and terrified to be the one to work with it!” and the commission had begun.
Anyone who has ever owned or held an opal knows that you can break them by just looking at them the wrong way. How can something so pristine, with such a delicate composition, contain so much life and color that it appears to have the very fire of creation itself within it?
Everyone involved, especially me, knew it was going to take some time to create this piece. They wanted it created in solid gold and they wanted something that had never been seen before, something to truly do the opal justice. We bounced ideas back and forth for weeks, some playing it safe, some really outside the box, until we landed on the concept of fire. “Our son mentioned that flames might be awesome, is it doable?” they asked.
I honestly wasn’t sure it was doable, but in the spirit of going with inspired thought, I expanded on the idea and rendered a sketch of layers of flames in yellow, white, and rose gold, and presented it to them (along with a few other “safer” design layouts) to see what they thought. To my excitement and horror, they loved the not safe, totally daunting, tri-tone gold flame layer design. I loved it too. We all knew it was the one. Now I just had to actually make this thing… in solid gold… no pressure.
It could not be rendered in wax and cast, it had to be completely hand fabricated because of the three types of gold that would be used. The flames were so organic in shape, so free flowing that anything other than just jumping in with both feet and going for it would not have produced the desired look. So, I went for it… in sterling silver (I’m not THAT crazy folks!)
I built a prototype piece in sterling silver to make sure that the design actually worked, would protect the opal, and would look as amazing as I hoped it would. It was many hours of successes, setbacks, design tweaks, small challenges, inching forward until the prototype was finished. I presented it to them and they were thrilled with it. Then it was time to make the actual piece in gold.
Thank goodness for the prototype, it allowed me to work everything out beforehand and create a piece in gold that I was beyond happy with. Organic shaped yellow, white, and rose gold flame layers, carefully built section by section to form the back setting for the stone. Rose gold “Flame Petals” as I call them, and yellow and white gold prongs to wrap gingerly around the sides and front of the opal to hold it securely and complete the design.
Once it was built, I set the opal in the design, more slowly and carefully than I’ve ever done anything in my whole life, looked at it, went into slight shock that it was finished, and then screamed joyfully at Rafi that it was completed and I had done it!
Throughout the whole process, I had been referring to the piece as the “Fire Flower” (a working title) to try to describe something that embodies an intense amount of light, passion and fire, and is simultaneously impossibly pristine, serene, and delicate. It described the opal as best as words can, and it described the design of the piece that would complete and represent it. I feel it also describes the beautiful woman it was commissioned for, and there’s a bit of myself represented in there as well. We all resonated with the feeling and the name “Fire Flower” stuck as the official name of the piece.
It was the most challenging and thrilling commission I’ve had thus far, and also the longest running commission, ongoing for about six months from concept to completion. I have to thank my collectors and friends Dina and Kelly, and their son Kyle for the challenge, and the trust that made it possible to create something I would have previously never thought possible.
I am now refining the Sterling silver prototype I had created, in which I will set a Nuummite stone, and will belong to them as well. The silver counterpart to the Fire Flower.
I’m really excited to share some of my newest inspirations with you this week. There is something so intimate about the connection and expression we all have with jewelry. I am honored to be in a position to bring that to life. I hope you enjoy. Click on the images below to find out more information on the pieces.
Thank you! Please let me know if you enjoyed me sharing this with you, I’ll have some new designs next week to share with you, see you then!
Today, as I was creating some jewelry at my bench, this came to me. I wanted to share with you!
“Be not a lost or vacant partner to your own life. Embrace it as your lover and best friend. Laugh with it, cry with it, and give it your whole self. Revel in the gorgeousness of it’s simultaneously fleeting and timeless presence, and most of all, love it with everything you have. For it is, truly, the one for you.”
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