If you've followed my blog, you may be familiar with my struggles with (still) undiagnosed illness, with diagnosed anxiety and (if you follow me on Facebook) my weight loss and journey to health. What I've learned these last twelve months is surprising, both regarding how I view my own health, and how this journey has impacted my creativity and productivity.
I'm about to get real with you. I wont fill this post with photos and quotes, I wont attempt to inspire or empower. I just want to talk to you about this process, and what it's meant to me. I want to share with you how it's been difficult, mentally all-encompassing, that it has impacted my creativity on real and tangible levels, both in positive and negative ways.
So let's get right to it, shall we?
Last September I had enough. I was watching a close friend succumb to illness. I myself was plagued with problems, and inundated with doctors and medical bills. The tests were numerous, tiresome and ultimately unhelpful. I was ready to take my life back. I began by changing my diet. I removed all grains, ate fresh whenever possible, avoided high carb ingredients and focused on clean, lean protein and green vegetables. It was a good change and not nearly as difficult to adjust to as anticipated. I fell into an easy routine with my meals and quickly saw real results. These initial results, the ticking down of the numbers on the scale, were invigorating and motivational and pushed me onward. In these twelve months, as a direct result of these changes, I've managed to lose 100lbs and end the use of medication to maintain my blood pressure.
Yay! Right? This is good. This is what you hope to experience. These are the stories that spur people towards committing real change themselves, and that's a truly positive thing. But the impact this process has had on my creativity and productivity has been, to say the least, odd and unexpected.
Initially, I was motivated entirely and dedicated not only towards improving my health, but expanding my own creative skill set and self-expression. I started to journal after a long hiatus which has, to this day, helped in innumerable ways and is the one change I encourage others to embrace, if no other change is ever made. And this energy, positivity and momentum carried me through the first quarter of 2016. I was on a roll!
And then I hit a wall. My weight loss slowed considerably, I was still plagued by fatigue and body aches. My body was changing. I weighed less, yes, but was less pleased with the results than anticipated, as my 40 year old body refused to adjust to the loss the way a 20 year old body would have. And meals became an obsession. I was spending more time thinking about what I'm eating, what I should be eating, what I will eat, than I spent doing anything else.... even creating. Summer marked a difficult transition for me, especially as I began to recognize changes in the ways others approached me or treated me. While my self-confidence grew the previous months, I also began to notice a shadow in my thoughts.
And still I created. Or tried to. Some days, forced myself to. These were the most difficult days... when I found myself so wrapped up in my journey to health that I forgot a very fundamental part of staying healthy.... my art. I somehow forgot how empowering it is to create, how healing to the soul. While I struggled to heal my body... and I was healing it.... I was neglecting my soul.
This is the message I want to share with you today. That the journey to health is a gigantic undertaking, and it requires all of the resources at your disposal. I was so focused on only one path to wellness that I failed to notice how the neglect of other paths was actually sabotaging my journey! The saying "We are our own worst enemy" is true, and it was only a recent realization that made me understand the damage I was doing to my progress.
I was so focused on the rigidity of my new life, that I forgot to enjoy the freedom of art. In fact, tried to force the rigidity of meal plans and weigh-ins into my art. An if you're an artist, you know how fervently creativity will rebel against a regime!
And now, as I enter the (most beloved) fall season, I feel renewed. This realization has filled me with new purpose and new energy when I thought I'd been left bare of it. I have an amazing opportunity to teach overseas this September, and my fingers just itch... they itch to create. My heart itches to create and teach and share. I can't wait for the days to come!
If you are on a similar journey, or plan to begin one, I encourage you to embrace all your resources. To remember that art is as much a healer to body and soul as a good diet or exercise or fresh air. That, when results aren't what you expect, disappointing at times even, there is still a fire burning and in it....perfect wellness.
I hope you all stay well.
And now I encourage you all, whether you entered or not, to visit this Pinterest board and take a look at the entries submitted and appreciate the beautiful work. You wont be sorry for the time you'll spend viewing the truly original, gorgeous designs.
And if you have entered, now it's time for you to cast your vote on a fellow entrant. Here is how the judging will work:
“Group Favorite” will win my completed version of this project and any ten Nicole Hanna Jewelry tutorials of their choice.
A “Judged Favorite”, chosen by a panel of four jewelry artists and three “consumers” (who are not participating in the contest), will also receive any ten Nicole Hanna Jewelry tutorials of their choice.
Every contestant should have already received the finished version of this tutorial as a thank you for participating in the contest. This tutorial will arrive as a reply to your submission email, so check your spam folder if you did not receive it.
I hope you enjoy viewing the entries as much as I did as they were received (and the many times I revisited them since). I always look forward to these contests and the differences, personalities and aesthetics each entry embodies. And I'm already looking forward to the next "Finish It!" contest (hopefully in November).
Thank you so much to all who participated, and to all who encourage those who participate! Happy weaving!
"The ant is knowing and wise, but he doesn't know enough to take a vacation." - Clarence Day
I don't wanna be an ant.
But I didn't plan a vacation from YouTube. I really didn't want to break from it. But you know how it is... life gets in the way, things happen, responsibilities shift, and all the fun stuff gets pushed aside.
Okay. Let's be honest, I was doing loads of fun stuff with jewelry and loads of fun stuff after it. I started a new website for a passion project, and I've spent oodles of time filling it with content, blog posts and photos. I've been writing a ton of really horrible, self-indulgent poetry, and journaling about writing self-indulgent poetry! I've been sketching. I've been shopping because I've lost an amazing 95lbs and I'm really proud of myself and I deserve a new wardrobe. And, you know, sometimes we just need a break from those daily routines so deeply embedded in our lives. Jewelry, while immensely enjoyable, is still a daily routine. Sometimes I'm so invested in it, I neglect all the other things that bring me joy... including my family and friends. So I even went on vacation with my husband and camped for a week at a medieval re-enactment event. Which was super fun until the weather made it not fun anymore.
So, this month was pretty light on the jewelry front. And that's okay. I'm giving myself permission to indulge in all the things that please me, even if only for a day or a week. It's important, I think, to show ourselves a little love, relax into the process of something creative for no other reason than we can.
And, really refreshed, I stepped back into the comfort of my wire wrap work. Although, oddly, this video (my first real video tutorial in two or three months), isn't wire wrapping at all. Just a look at some sheet metal processes. It's quick, it's fun, it's easy (and who doesn't appreciate easy?). And I hope you enjoy my latest into video.
If you've been in the creative jewelry industry for a hot minute, then I'm sure you've seen all I'm about to share and then some. Jewelry and wearable art constructed from all kinds of found objects or, ahem, unmentionables.....
that I'm totally going to mention. Why? Because it's cool and boggles my fairly boggled mind. And I love the fearlessness artists embrace when creating their own lines and products. A fearlessness I hope I'm one day courageous enough to embrace. I may not make jewelry from excrement (or any other bodily function, for that matter), but the willingness to explore what others don't or haven't? That's pretty darn impressive.
Take WispAdornments on Etsy, for example, who specializes in the use of hair and ashes in her modern re-imagining of Victorian jewelry. Um. Yes please! What a wonderful commemorative keepsake! And can we just take a moment to appreciate how beautiful this human tooth ring is! Am I a little weirded out by it? Sure. Do I still think there is so much awesome happening there? You betcha!
Okay, while not a real eye (this beautiful purple devil is a handpainted glass cabochon by The Twisted Eye), I have wrapped actual prosthetic eyes before. And yes... the eyes do follow you no matter where in the room you are.
So, what's the purpose of this post? Really, it's just about appreciating the possibilities. The world is full of so many unique opportunities for creating one-of-a-kind wearable art. Why not use pine cones, drift wood, salvaged animal bones (yes, I know that's not everyone's cup of tea)? There is beach glass, river rocks, moss. Yes... moss. Moss jewelry is it's own little habitat and its magical!
So I say we all go find our own magic, shall we?
Any kind of ring. All kinds. If it's a ring, I am going to be fighting to bring it to life. It's a labor of love, of course, but labor nonetheless. And sizing? Pft. Forget about it. I'm lucky if I finish a ring that was just randomly made without a size in mind. Usually a size 11 because I didn't plan ahead and, in my head, I have the fingers of a mountain troll, apparently.
But there's something to be said about working through a creative struggle and coming out the other side having (hopefully) learned a little something. Okay, so maybe that something isn't a perfectly executed finished project. I might never get sizing down. The wire might always fumble through my mountain troll fingers. But I've learned patience. I've learned a little about ingenuity. I've also learned that sometimes it doesn't matter at all what you're left with, but getting there is where the fun is at.
"Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle." Napoleon Hill
And that's okay. There's nothing at all wrong with admitting the struggle is real. I'd say there might even be value in enjoying the struggle from time to time. Because no matter the outcome of those wayward projects, we're still giving birth to something... still expressing ourselves and (if I may indulge in cliche) releasing a part of our sunshine into the world. Maybe that will inspire others to find their own struggles and then find their way beyond them.
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