A little bit of life, love, and artisan jewelry but mostly the

Home of the Confused Muse..

Where you will find the meadering thoughts of an actively artistic brain - as well as my latest creations, events, soapboxes, dramas, crisis, blessings, and life in general.

This is also the home of "ChrissyMarie Jewelry and Accessories", named for my daughter! Twenty-Five Percent of all sales from this line are donated to B.I.T.S. aka "Better in the Saddle", a local non-profit Equine Assisted Therapy Program ....because we KNOW horses help make miracles!


October 30, 2010

ArtFire Collections sure make a Gal feel good!

I love ArtFire Collections :)  When someone chooses one of my designs it feels good. When another artist includes one of my designs in a Collection, well, it make me feel GREAT!  It's always an honor to be included with other artisans especially when you take into account just how many pieces they have to choose from...kind of mind boggling for me.  (We all know it's not hard to "boggle" MY mind :)

This Collection features my Wire Wrapped Purple Sugilite and Sterling Silver pendant and....

 This Collection features a pendant necklace I call "Ocean Dreams" ...
 but really...you should go look at all of the beautiful Collections!

I've been especially blessed and have had several pieces featured in ArtFire Collections.  I know how very fortunate I am and honestly I hadn't really thought about sharing these "mini awards" here - on my Blog page until today.  I don't know why exactly except I get SO excited when it happens and I start doing my happy dance. Then my brain goes on hold and I can't figure out how to do anything but post it on my Face book page or tweet about it - they have buttons right there on the page to make it simple for those of us not-so-computer-literate artists.  And that's another thing...I still feel weird using the word "artist" or "designer" when referring to myself!  I'm just me. Good old what you see is what you get Adrienne.  Maybe that's why these little pats on the back, from people I truly respect, mean so much :) Anyway, I hope you'll go visit the links and take it all in.  It's an amazing experience immersed with color and design, texture and imagination...enjoy!

October 08, 2010

The BEST way to sell Jewelry...Separates or Sets?

This is and has been a conundrum of sorts for me and I assume many other jewelry artisans.  How would my customers prefer to buy jewelry? I used to sell all matching pieces in a set but it seemed I was constantly getting requests to purchase only one or two items in a set.  I changed my listing strategy and started offering matching pieces but everything was sold separately.  If a customer bought two or more items from a matched set I offered discounted shipping and/or a discount on the purchase of those items.

However, this morning I had a little discussion with some of my Facebook friends and asked for their input.  In today's economy I would have assumed they would prefer to buy items separately but much to my surprise they preferred to buy in sets!  The reasons...the "complete look" and convenience - not having to shop around for matching pieces.

I've also had people tell me they don't like to buy "matchy matchy" jewelry. They preferred a more freestyle appearance, items that worked well together but weren't an exact match. Now I'm completely confused!!

I make a lot of necklaces and bracelets.  I also make a lot of earrings that would match them but I haven't been selling them as sets.  Why? Because I may create two or even three entirely different styles of earrings that would "match" the necklace or earrings.  It seems, in the world of jewelry, there are as many different approaches to shopping and buying as there are styles available for sale. I want to give my customers options. I want to give them variety.  I want to make my jewelry affordable and guilt free! 

Full view photo Pink and Brown Stripe Jasper Necklace

 For example, this is a necklace I created using a carved Pink and Brown Stripe Jasper Leaf as the focal piece. 

Cropped photo for a more detail (1)

I used a medium weight Sterling Silver Rolo chain to connect the various wire wrapped bead sections. The "sections" included: Wood and Bali beads, Lodolite Quartz and Rose Quartz, and the last sections were made up of single gemstone beads with double extender chains.  The "S" style clasp is handmade and hammered Sterling Silver.

 This necklace can either be all about a natural, earthy look or all about classic elegance. Knowing I needed to be able to meet the needs of either style I made two pair of earrings to match giving my customers a choice of styles. 

The first, a pair of Wood and Bali Bead drop earrings on Bali Silver headpins. I used the same wood beads used in the necklace. They are more casual. A very simple, earthy, and light weight design.

Then I designed a second pair of earrings.  These are gemstone earrings.  I combined Lodolite Quartz beads and Rose Quartz with Bali beads suspended from the same Sterling Silver Rolo Chain used in the necklace. The ear wires are Bali Silver. Handmade sterling silver coiled headpins add a touch of artisan elegance. These earrings are definitely more dressy. 

Which brings me back to my original question....Separates or Sets? Which pair would you sell with the necklace in a set?  Or...would you sell the earrings separately so the customer can choose the earrings of THEIR choice? 

I have yet to list these items simply because I can't quite figure out how to market them.  I would really like to hear from you..ALL of you! If you're a seller, I'd love to get your take on the subject. More importantly if you are a past, current, or a potential customer.  I want to hear from YOU!  How would you prefer to buy this jewelry?  Sets or Separates? 
Oh heck!  I know I'm over-thinking this...Maybe I should offer both pair of earrings and the necklace as a set!  Just think, you could wear the necklace with blue jeans and a t-shirt AND with a classic sheath dress or suit.  A complete range of style and all you have to do is change the earrings... (and of course your shoes :) 

October 04, 2010

Chrissy Marie has a brand new Artfire Studio!

Hammered Copper and Sterling Silver Circle Earrings
 Well, I finally did it! I started a separate new Studio for my Chrissy Marie line of jewelry and accessories.  I started off on ArtFire combining both lines of jewelry but I think it was a bit confusing. Chrissy Marie is my daughter and this line is dedicated to her.  It's all about being young at heart, trendy, spirited, and super affordable.

If you keep up with this blog at all you know that we, as a family, truly believe in Equine Assisted Therapy (Also called Hippo therapy or Therapeutic Riding).  Chrissy started riding with a local group several years ago and could hardly function socially and mentally.  Soon after she began riding we saw amazing progress! Over the years we have been astounded at the progress she made and the young woman she has become.  Unfortunately the group she rode with moved outside of our area but a new program was born to replace it.  Chrissy will now be riding as an advanced rider in special shows and rodeos as well a volunteering in the program as a trained Horse Handler and Side Walker.

Back in May I began riding in an experimental Equine Assisted Therapy program to see if riding more often would have a bigger or more long lasting effect on disabled riders.  It was an amazing experience and even  more amazing....Chrissy assisted as my Horse Handler and Side Walker! We've switched roles :)

Unfortunately, due to an extremely wet, hot summer I had to give up riding for a few months.  I have a "broken" internal thermostat and take medication that does not allow me to tolerate extreme heat.  However I'm looking forward to getting back in the saddle again soon.

Run For the Roses Arabian Horse Magnet
 Twenty-five percent of all sales from the Chrissy Marie shop will go to the new local Equine Assisted Therapy Program - "Better in the Saddle" aka "B.I.T.S." They are struggling a bit (no pun intended) to get up and running so I'm trying to help as much as I can.  While some items are equine or horse related, most are not. Come see what I have in the Studio and check back often as I'll be adding new goodies as often as possible!

Hope to see you soon :)

September 29, 2010

Can a Caterpillar Fringe Bracelet make you rich?

This is a photo of my current project, a custom ordered beaded fringe bracelet. It isn't finished yet but already I'm starting to second guess myself. I just hate it when that happens! Ahhh, the joys of custom jewelry design :)
My client wanted a piece in shades of deep blue with purple and lavender highlights. It's been a while since I made one of these and I'm just a bit apprehensive it won't be quite big enough. There may not be enough "play" due to the thickness of the fringe. Of course it doesn't help that my wrist is larger than my client's so I can't really try it on for size. I have a couple of adjustment ideas-just in case-but the truth is, I simply won't know for sure until she tries it on for size.
All in all, even if I have to restring every single bead my most important goal is having a customer who is completely satisfied with the purchase, the quality, and the service I provide. Unhappy customers seldom return and to my knowledge I don't have a single unhappy customer. If I do it's because I was never notified of a problem and I encourage any and all of my customers to let me know if there are any problems or concerns..ever! If it breaks, I'll repair it free of charge even if it's due to a weakness in or complete failure of a manufactured component. Maybe that's not the best approach if my goal is to get rich, but I never expected to get rich. Making loads of money was never my goal :)
In my skewed little world "rich" isn't about how much money I make. "Rich" is having earned the respect of my peers, building a reputation for creating unique designs with quality construction and offering the very best in customer service. Getting positive feedback is every bit if not more satisfying then any payment I receive. The money is a necessity. It's about having the freedom to purchase new goodies for my supply bin, restock the basics, and upgrade the tools of my trade. (Everyone knows you can never have too many tools!!)
Success is having a customer tell me their new "treasure" is worth every penny and exactly what they wanted...there's just nothing like it :)
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August 18, 2010

I wanted to share the fun website with you...theDigibutterfly.com

I don't usually talk about scrap booking because that particular art is just not my "thing" :)  Mostly because it requires some degree of organization and planning.  We all know those are NOT skills I have mastered!  However, I happen upon this website and I wanted to share it because there is SO much to offer. They have the cutest digital images, a great Etsy shop and a really fun blog where they post freebies, step by step project directions, and all sorts of cute ideas!  So.....what are you waiting for? Go check them out! :)

July 30, 2010

I won these fabulous beads!!

I've been bad.  I won these beautiful beads in a wonderful "give away" way back in February and meant to post them after I received them. Better late than never, right?  I wanted to post pics of them but had trouble getting great photos.  Well, here they are! The photo still doesn't do justice to the beads but take my word for it...they are gorgeous and fun!

 Lisa Oram made these just for me :)  I've been pondering how to use them.  They are SO pretty and I could wear them with most anything in my closet!  Just wanted to say "Thanks!" again and show them off.

July 28, 2010

Arm chair photography

I was sitting in my favorite chair today writing my post for this blog when I heard a Cardinal calling happily outside.  If the backdoor is open I can see the fountain on my deck from here.  I looked out and there, in one of the "cups" of my fountain was a large female Cardinal.  She had decided to use the fountain rather than the birdbath! I wanted to get a photo of her but I just knew she'd fly away if I tried to get close enough for a "great" pic so I just took it from my armchair, across the room and through the backdoor.  Not too bad considering the circumstances :)  Kind of made me wonder....if she can fit in a little fountain cup, maybe, just maybe, I could fit in the birdbath!  Nah, I don't think that's a good idea and I certainly wouldn't look as sweet :)

Wow! Time Flies......

It's been almost a month since my last post.  They say time flies when you're having fun.  It flies when you're not as well.  It's been a tough summer here in Missouri with all the super high temperatures and RAIN! Not to complain, I'd rather have rain than drought but even my garden is starting to complain! For "Fibromites" (Fibromyalgia sufferers),those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ME, and other chronic illnesses, the changing weather plays a huge role in what we can and cannot "do".  Add a brain injury or two to the mix and well....let's just say I've been spending a lot of time in my chair with my laptop. Not the way I had planned to spend my summer!
"Summer Blues"
Since I've been stuck in the house most of the time, along with my daughter I'll tell you what she's been up to.  Most of you know my daughter also has a brain injury along with a rare mental illness. She's twenty-one going on fourteen.  There are many days when she inspires me and of course there are "those days" when we want to throttle each other :)  Keeping this on the upside....she has suddenly decided to start using her jewelry design talents again!  I recently posted a few of her new designs on my Face Book jewelry page but I wanted to share this photo of our latest collaborative effort.  I absolutely love it! 

Chrissy and I were helping a friend search for Vacation Bible School supplies at a local craft store when Chrissy came across this strand of wonderful Aqua glass beads.  They were so pretty I just had to say "Yes" even though I didn't really think she'd ever use them. We spotted the strand of pretty Freshwater Pearl drops nearby.  They are a deep bluish purple and of course we just had to add them to the basket :)

Chrissy surprised me with the design she created using the new beads and a few old beads she had in her personal stash. Most of them were not the best quality so I offered to let her go through my stash.  She wanted something white, something clear, and definitely something Bali (her favorite spacer beads!) 

She found a strand of White Swarovski Pearls,a strand of Aqua/Teal Freshwater Pearls and Bali Daisy Spacers.  This necklace was starting to come together!  She loves using crystal clear beads as well and I happened to think about a strand of gorgeous Faceted Quartz Crystal Rondelles she hadn't yet discovered.  They are quite large but the faceting on the edges is just amazing!  You might not even notice them until the light catches the faceted edge...then you can't take your eyes off them.   We worked and re-worked the design until she was happy with it but it wasn't quite long enough.

I decided to add wire wrapped pearls to each end of the strung portion of the necklace. It added the additional length she needed and gave her (or me :) the option to adjust the length as well. The clasp is a simple sterling silver lobster claw.

Chrissy is not a big fan of earrings but she wanted something simple she could wear either with or without the necklace.  In the second photo you can see the earring design she chose using Pearls and Crystal Quartz stacked on pretty Bali headpins.  They are very simple, summery, and elegant.

This is a more detailed photo of the beads.  You can see the Faceted Crystal Quartz rondelles a little better here.

High heat and rainy days also keep me from riding Boo, my favorite therapy horse...this is not a good thing.  I haven't been able to ride for nearly two months now and I can feel my pain level increasing daily. However, a little "jewelry therapy", working with my daughter on a project, and having the luxury of doing all of this in a cool air-conditioned house has been a welcome distraction. 

Just when I think life's not so great I find another reason to believe It IS!!  God is good :)  He keeps reminding me to get my mind off ME and to be thankful for the good things in life.

I promise to post again soon.  I've got so many GOOD things to share with you!

June 29, 2010

A Quiet Mind...

Meet two of my Heroes. The big guy with four legs is "Boo", a Missouri Fox Trotter and Equine Assisted Therapy horse.  The guy leading him is Pat, my Instructor.  This duo has turned my life upside down over the last couple of weeks. 
I had planned to post here every day while this experiment was in process but I never seem to have the time!  Although it is not a long drive to the barn, the traffic has been horrific because the highway on my route is under construction.  Damn those orange cones!  It's a double edged sword, the highway definitely needed work but the idiot drivers out there sharing the road with the rest of us make it a truly unpleasant experience.  I get really tense in heavy traffic especially when so many people ignore the "left lane ends ahead" sign and then cause a traffic jam in the middle of nowhere because they are trying to squeeze in at the last minute.  I mean, really, if I can read the sign and follow the directions I would assume a "normal" person could do it better :)

The point is this: I have trouble figuring out how to schedule my time.  I'm always running late. It takes a while for Chrissy and I to get ready to leave what with changing into blue jeans and boots, remembering to take ice water along, and covering all the miscellaneous details. I just can't seem to gauge how long it's going to take even though I've been doing it for a couple of weeks now.  My inability to figure out what time we have to leave almost always gets us tied up in traffic. My anxiety level starts to rise, I get terribly impatient, and the STRESS sets in.
I would drive through flood waters to get to that barn and the white horse waiting for me there.  He has become my friend and a source of relief from the physical pain and mental frustration I live with almost constantly.  He is trustworthy and comforting and I am finally experiencing what I can only assume to be the equal of a "runner's high".  Riding Boo provides me with a time and space of my own to leave my worries behind and turn down the volume in my head.  Pat or Chrissy lead him so I don't really have to worry about where we're going.  I've learned to relax enough that most of the time I do not have a tight grip on the saddle but allow my hands to rest on each side of the horn. "Relaxed but Ready!" is the mantra I hear from Pat's soft and soothing directions.  I just sit and enjoy the gentle rocking of Boo's steady gait. I concentrate on breathing with his hoof steps and becoming tuned in to his natural rhythms.

When I first started riding it was hard to keep from conversing with Pat about all of the day to day "stuff".  I'm a talker and always have been.  It's the way I work things out in my head.  Now... conversation is almost an intrusion in that "quiet place".  I'm developing a quiet mind.  Before this program began I can honestly say I had no idea what it felt like.  My mind has always been this way. I have A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder) and now with the brain injury it's like having "A.D.D. on Steroids"! My brain runs at high speed constantly, flitting from one subject to the next, seldom resting. My thoughts must look like a hummingbird in flight, zipping from one blossom to the next while batting it's wings like crazy just to stay aloft. 

Riding has allowed me to experience for the first time in my life a kind of self-induced peacefulness.  Can you say "Ohm"?  Yes, I'm aware of the obvious facts...I'm sitting on top of a 1200 pound animal that could startle or stumble at any moment. Boo is after all, a prey animal.  He is calm and easy going for the most part but he is always aware of his surroundings.  He is not fond of the beeping car horns of friendly neighbors as they drive by.  He is always on the look out for the "lion in the tall grass"...even if it's just one of the family dogs chasing a rabbit.  He seems to know just when and where to adjust his step to avoid the slick spot that might cause him to lose his footing. I can feel him tense during those times just as he can feel the slightest stiffening of my muscles.  Most of the time I get the feeling Boo is just as concerned for my safety as his own. 

I am not afraid on the back of this horse.  In fact,  I am sometimes so relaxed that I "startle" just a little when he takes the occasional misstep, or responds to an unexpected noise or movement in the grass.  Even so, I have learned to relax and trust his instincts and I am amazed at how easy this part of the journey has been. I am amazed at my own reactions!  I have never felt a moment of panic when Boo spooks or is startled. Even my daughter (who has taken to "mothering" me") is impressed.

Yes, I do need the constant coaching of my daughter and my Instructor to gently guide me and remind me check my "center" and to watch for the first signs of pain, spasm, or aching. They have to remind me to get off this gentle ride before I get too tired. Do you have any idea how amazing it is that I am so unaware of my own pain that I must be reminded to check for it?   I feel truly blessed to be involved in this experience, to have the loving guidance of people who are quietly cheering me on, and to have met this horse who never fails to show patience and compassion both during and after I ride.  His soft nuzzles on my neck are better than any massage.

The extra bonus....my drive home, no matter how heavy the traffic, doesn't stress me out!  I am sleeping deeply and for longer periods of time after I ride.  I'm taking less medication and having less pain.  My brain remains calmer and more centered for hours afterward.  I am definitely feeling the benefits of Equine Assisted Therapy for Adults!  The only drawback?  I'm just too relaxed and calm to post to my blog every day.  I don't want to think too hard...it might take away my "Zen" mood :)

June 25, 2010

Riding my hiney off and my stress away....

The second day I rode Boo was much better than the first.  This time I was able to relax a little more.  I still struggled a bit with the mount and dismount, those will be some the more difficult things to master at this point.  What I did notice was a little more acceptance from my ride.  The first day I rode Boo he pretty much just snorted and walked away from me.  Today he seemed to recognize me and accept my presence in the barn.

Once again Pat and Chrissy took turns leading while the other stayed close to my side...just in case :)  I worked on deep breathing, keeping my head up and learning to relax to the sounds around me.  There are a lot of songbirds, trees, a couple of ponds, and beautiful flowers all around me.  I began to realize I can still see them with my head up looking at the horizon. I can still listen to them with my helmet on if I allow my  mind to be clear and calm.  I can "breathe" in time with the hoof beats of my horse....breathe in (one, two, three, four) breathe out (one, two, three, four), and relax. I'm learning to focus my thoughts on "the ride" and getting used to feeling "centered".  I've a ways to go...I find myself thinking about jewelry designs, things I'd like to write about, and everyday "stuff".  I need to learn to clear my brain and just focus on Boo and Me.  That's a tough one but I'll get there!

By the end of the second lesson I was feeling comfortable and relaxed emotionally but the pain in my lower back and the muscle spasms were a reminder to get off the horse.
I dismounted and that was still very difficult for me, both physically and emotionally. I was very aware of how awkward I was.  Graceful is not a word I would use to describe my dismount at this point. I know I will get better but for now it's just flat embarrassing!

 The muscles in my lower back just aren't loose enough or strong enough to pull my leg over the saddle alone.  Not only that, to dismount you have to move the upper body in the opposite direction.  For instance, to dismount on the left I have to lean my upper body forward and to the right of the horses head while trying to tell my lower body to move the opposite direction.  My brain just won't let me go there.  I get "stuck" when I think about it, therefore I need help.  I hate that part!  I want to be independent of help when mounting and dismounting!  Well, maybe a little help would be okay but just to hold the horse and saddle when I need to get on and off.  I do appreciate the mounting block!  My short legs would have a hard time getting up and over such a tall horse. I don't know how many "hands" high Boo is, but he's a big guy!

Today, after riding, I tried to give Boo a gentle stroke and thank him for allowing me to ride.  He actually turned his head toward me!  I leaned forward to give him a hug and BAM! smacked him right in the head with my riding helmet.  He was fine, I was mortified!  Thank goodness he decided to be gracious and ignore the head bump :)  He did accept the carrot I offered afterwards with vigor!

I'm so looking forward to my next ride.  You know....I don't think my back hurts nearly as bad after I ride...time will tell.  I know I feel calmer and walking around afterwards helps stretch any tight muscles in my legs, back, and thighs.  It feels GOOD!

I may just sleep tonight!

June 18, 2010

A Life without Jewelry...is it even possible for me?

I've been wondering for a while if I should take a little time off from jewelry design. So I made a list of "pros" and "cons"...

Pros: Time to get my house in order, organize my files, spend more time with my family, write about non-jewelry subjects. Spend much needed time taking care of ME (Doctor's orders), My dear husband, and my Dear Daughter. Try NEW things! Spend more time playing with my dogs.(I have one, a rescue, who doesn't know how to play. We need to teach her!) De clutter my life....the list goes on and on.

Cons: Lost sales, loss of "my place" in the jewelry community, loss of my Identity as a creative jewelry designer, less stress, less paperwork, less pressure to keep up with my creative friends.

The Con list is short but that doesn't mean it's less important. I've worked hard to create a small following of loyal clients both online and locally. I'm afraid to walk away, even for a little while from this passion and my "jewelry identity". It is still fairly new to me and very precious.  I spent 45 years as a "left brainer" with a Type A personality.  This new version of me - the one since my brain injury - is the "right brainer" and I'm still getting used to the "new Adrienne". How do I find the courage to just walk away?

The real question here is "How long can I continue to run this business without sacrificing my health and home?" The second,  a nagging presence in the back of my mind.... "Is this what I'm supposed to be doing right now?" What is God's plan for my life in this moment in time? I need to find out.

Something has to give. I'm afraid my Muse is getting rather bored and even a little rusty! It seems I spend more time working on the "business stuff"...you know, taxes, paperwork, photographing my work, writing up descriptions, and filing, filing, filing! The creative, fun, therapeutic side of my art has been lost in the business. My Muse is feeling neglected and ignored. I used to spend so much time playing with my designs, enjoying the creative process, learning new techniques. I literally dreamed up jewelry designs in my sleep! Making jewelry was and is a healing process for me. It's the "selling jewelry" portion of this business I dread and deplore.

Having looked carefully at my lists I have been thinking a sabbatical from the rat race of photographing, listing, selling, mailing, figuring out fees would be good for me. I had planned to start the new year way back in January with a fresh new logo, and lots of brand new listings, networking and advertising galore. Then...

Life got really big in my house. In the fall just before the holidays my body just hit "the wall", a term my husband uses quite often. The side effects of a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, Fibromyalgia, a severe Vitamin D Deficiency and Chronic infections caught up and dragged me down. Just surviving the holidays was a great accomplishment! Sales were pathetic because advertising, listing, and networking was under par. My bad.

In March, just as I was beginning to regain a little energy, my daughter was badly burned in a cooking accident at home. I launched myself into cleaning wounds and changing bandages. Although she recovered much faster than anyone predicted and I am so very grateful for that gift, physically I was back in the same worn down condition.

April came and I thought Spring would provide lift and inspiration! It did provide inspiration. Unfortunately I developed terrible pain in my legs, back and pelvic regions. I couldn't walk! Finally I gave in and went to the Emergency Room only to be admitted for a battery of tests that resulted in few answers. Bone loss, bulging disks in my spine, and arthritis have taken hold. I spent a couple of weeks on ice packs and pain pills then decided I was too darned young to be benched on the sidelines of my own life.

Then it was discovered my husband is also a Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor!  The cause of his injury occurred before we met and the symptoms had always been there, we just were not able to recognize them for what they were. I was so efficient in handling the details, organizing, and running the family we didn't realize he had lost the ability to do those things until I no longer could.  Our lives began to fall apart and I couldn't understand why.  Now I "get it"!  He is just like me :)  Although I'm glad we finally know and understand the "why" we now have to figure out the "how" of managing a home with three brain injured adults living under the same roof. Can you say S-T-R-E-S-S!?  LOL!

A serendipitous opportunity came my way! My daughter, a former disabled rider in a local Equine Assisted Therapy Program was asked to assist our friend Pat with an experimental program. They needed her assistance with the horses. While speaking with Pat, a NAHRA certified instructor and horse owner, I found that he was offering this therapy program at no expense to three riders he would choose to participate. He would use his own well trained horses, on his property, and he would be the only instructor. The riders would spend as much time riding during the month of May as possible. The reason for this experiment was to find the answer to one question...Would riding a therapy horse more often and for longer periods of time be more beneficial to the handicapped or disabled riders? Most programs offer clients/riders one therapy session per week lasting approximately twenty to thirty minutes. We've all heard "less is more" but it is true in this situation? Maybe "more is better" in the world of Equine Therapy.
Pat's theory had even captured the attention of local hospitals and therapists. He and I were working out the details of Chrissy's volunteer time..what days he would need her help, how many hours per day, etc. when I asked him how many riders he had lined up. He told me he had two riders lined up but was looking for another. The two were both children with different forms of Autism. The mothers of the children would be required to keep a daily journal of the progress or problems they would observe during this experiment.

I really don't know what made me do it but I suddenly asked if he would consider taking on an adult rider with multiple issues....me. After a moment of surprised consideration he agreed. It would be interesting to see the benefits or problems I would experience with my own physical and mental challenges and it would be interesting to get the responses directly from the "rider" rather than from the mother's point of view. As an adult I could voice my own feelings, fears, opinions and progress - something that had yet to be considered.

After committing to the month long program I realized I was TERRIFIED! I wasn't comfortable around horses, hadn't ridden since I was just a small child, and started to question whether I could even handle the riding exercises in my physical condition. I almost chickened out but Pat wouldn't let me and neither would my daughter!

So, in the end, I guess the decision was made for me. I would take a short break from my business for the month of May 2010 to experience something new. We'll see how I feel at the end of this experience. It's possible I will be ready to jump back into my business...or not. I may discover freedom in stepping forward to try something new and relief in taking a step back from the "normal",

I'll keep you posted. In the meantime I won't be listing new products, or taking new orders. I'll be listening to my inner spirit and hopefully discovering new inspiration. See you soon!

(Note: I originally posted this a few weeks ago but somehow managed to post it to a different page. If you've read my post Meeting Boo...the first day of riding you have already seen the first post about the actual experience. Have I confused you completely? If so, I completely understand :) The important thing is that you understand...this post should have come first. After you read it you may want to click on the link and read about my first experience with riding Boo......)

Huge Etsy Give Away Promotion!

  * Recently we've all playing the Esty Promo Love game on Facebook! It is a game that involves promoting Etsy items on the famous social network in a fun and helpful way. It started with a group of Etsian sellers and EVERYONE is welcome to join the group!!!

* The philoshopy of this game is mutual promotion! Using the "share" option that is almost everywhere on FB we can spread an item we like to our friends in real time with just one click! If one of our friends likes it and clicks the "share" button too, the item we picked for sharing will immediately appear on the wall of our friend, where it will be seen by all of their friends who may also like to play the game, and so on... Imagine how quickly an item will be seen by hundreds or thousands of people who may not even know the person who made it - and all this for FREE! 

* Etsy Promo Love game is celebrating the opening of the group with a big GIVEAWAY!!!!
*Here are the beautiful items that can be won, thanks to the generous EPL group members:

1.  Vivi Varvarande - Lucky Rabbit Pendant

2.  Katherine Pyl - Vintage Filigree Necklace

3.  Kostas Tsipos - U2 Collage

4.  Stefania Morgante - Black Pen Print

5.  Karolin Wagner - Glass Figurine Animal

6.  Nausika Kokkini - Rose Silver Ring

7.  Anta Papadopoulou - Flower Earrings

8.  Silvia Manzoni - Black Earrings

9.  Marlene Pennacchietti - Blue Roset Ring

10.Lori Peery Davis - Vanilla-Lavender Bath Salts

11.Angel Pearls- Crochet iPhone/iPod Cover

12.Katerina Perouli - Felted Hairband

13.Kallia Zampou - Fornasetti Evil Eye Brooch

14.Fatma Solmazgul - Swarovski Crystal Pendant

15.Candan Imrak - Turqoise Earrings

16.Maria Schina - Dots Silver Pendant

17.Rita Juse-Cirkse - Ceramic Pendant

18.Dinamar Demir - Flower Lariat Necklace

19.HeartshapedCreations - Polymer Clay Figure

20.RosemaryManufacture - Glass pearl Earrings

21.Toofashion - Bookmark

22.MyHeartBeads - Bali Copper French Earrings

23.Roroism - Felt Flower Pin

24. Elr104 - Fine Art Photograph

25.Zafran - Pink Patch Iron

26.Huiyitan - Pencil Ear Studs

27.OmniaCrafts  - Wire Sculpture/Ear

28.Beautyland -Red & Black airy Necklace

* If you want to participate in this giveway and have a chance to win one of the fabulous gifts shown above, you have to do three things from 16 to 29 June:  

1. Post the giveaway on your blog (*copy the text from here , *paste it to a new post of your blog in Edit HTML sheet, *then publish your post and let everyone know about the big Etsy Promo Love Giveaway!!!) 

2. Share the giveaway on a place out of Facebook (forum, blog, other social networks like Twitter 

3. Share the link of your announcement here so your participation will be valid!!!

** You can participate as many times as you want! In this way you increase the possibility to win one of these amazing gifts!!! BUT you HAVE TO DO the whole procedure AS MANY TIMES AS YOU WANT TO PARTICIPATE!!!!

** The winners will be drawn using a random generator from http://www.random.org/ and announced on the wall of Etsy Promo Love on 30 June.

* Stay tuned!!!! More surprises from Esty Promo Love game will follow!!! 


http://www.etsy.com/shop/Artistico GREECE

http://www.etsy.com/shop/KalliasWonderland GREECE

http://www.etsy.com/shop/HeartshapedCreations CYPRUS

http://www.etsy.com/shop/evihan TURKEY

http://www.etsy.com/shop/QaraQul GERMANY

http://www.etsy.com/shop/gufobardo ITALY

http://www.etsy.com/shop/swiedebie NL

http://www.etsy.com/shop/RosemaryManufacture POLAND

http://www.etsy.com/shop/angelasermoneta ISRAEL

http://www.etsy.com/shop/omniacrafts UK

June 09, 2010

Meeting Boo...the first day of riding.

On May 2, 2010 I arrived at the barn to begin my month long commitment to the experimental Equine Assisted Therapy program.  I went pre-medicated knowing I would have a "melt down" without the drugs to keep my anxiety and muscle spasms under control.  Despite the medication I was nervous.  I went into the barn to meet Boo, the white Missouri Fox Trotter I would be riding.  He really wanted nothing to do with me, a stranger in his barn. His aloof attitude stung me just a little.  I'd been reading a bit about the connection between a rider and his horse and decided to try an approach I'd read about.  Feeling a little silly I carefully approached the horse and whispered in his ear, "Hi Boo.  I'm here to ride you today. I'm scared and a little nervous.  Please be patient with me while I learn."  He snuffled a little but I wasn't sure he understood my request.

After a few verbal instructions and setting up two mounting blocks to allow me to mount the horse without stressing any of my muscles I was ready to begin. (Big deep breath!)  I struggled to mount Boo. I was high enough to simply step forward into the stirrup but finding the muscle strength, courage, and coordination to climb on was a challenge.

 I was on his back a total of six minutes, so tense I could hardly breathe, and on the verge of a full blown panic attack. But in that six minutes, with the slow, gentle gait of the horse, the soothing voice of my instructor, the beautiful surroundings, and the encouraging smiles of my daughter I experienced hope. It felt good and yet it was a poignant experience.  I had always wanted to ride horses but it wasn't something my parents were willing to provide on our cattle farm.  Cattle = $$ but Horses = Expense. I had dreamed of riding free but here I was, at 51 years old, riding a therapy horse because of a multitude of medical issues.  Not exactly the circumstances I'd imagined.

We walked SLOWLY around the paddock.  My daughter leading the horse and Pat, my instructor walking by my side constantly coaxing and encouraging me to breathe and relax as much as I possibly could. (Breathe IN, Breathe OUT), and then it was over.  I spent a few minutes learning to just sit and relax my muscles, not an easy assignment for me. The first ride was short but I'd done it and without falling off or injuring myself, the horse, or my instructors

My first dismount was embarrassingly painful and difficult. I couldn't get my brain to let my body do what it was supposed to do.  The instructions were "backwards" and I really had to struggle to dismount.  I kept thinking, "This isn't how I remember doing it" but my instructor was patient and I finally managed to drag my right leg over the back of my horse and still needed Pat to assist by pulling on my leg just to get it over.  Poor Boo, I was bumping him with the toe of my boot the entire time.  He must have thought me a terribly awkward ride. Pat watched me carefully for balance issues, helped me walk around the paddock to loosen up and get my bearing and questioned me about any vision problems or other possible side effects.  I thought I was just fine!

The one thing I wasn't prepared for were the overwhelming emotions. I felt the tears begin to roll down my face and was surprised to realize I was crying. My instructor told me to "let it go..the release would be good for me." He comforted me as if I were one of the child riders, let me regain my composure and then instructed me to take a slow, steady walk back to my car. He had me stroll around the flower gardens, visit with his wife - Boo's owner, and when he was sure I was able; allowed me to drive home.

That night I slept for the first time in months. Even with heavy medication I have a terrible time closing my eyes and shutting down enough to rest.  Many nights I don't sleep at all.  That night I was able to fall asleep within four hours of taking my medication and experienced a deep restorative sleep. Amazing.

May 20, 2010

A funny story to make you smile...

Hello! I know it's been a long time since I've posted to my Blog.  Let's just say "life" has gotten really big lately.  Sometimes you have to find a way to laugh no matter what the situation.  When I received the following story in my email earlier today I just had to laugh and I knew I had to share it with all of you.  I don't know who wrote the original but I hope you'll enjoy it as well! 


Gramma Still Drives --- Priceless
Grandma is eighty-eight years old and still drives her own car. She writes:

Dear Grand-daughter,

The other day I went up to our local Christian book store and saw a 'Honk if you love Jesus' bumper sticker. I was feeling particularly sassy that day because I had just come from a thrilling choir performance, followed by a thunderous prayer meeting. So, I bought the sticker and put it on my bumper.

Boy, am I glad I did; what an uplifting experience that followed.
I was stopped at a red light at a busy intersection, just lost in thought about the Lord and how good he is, and I didn't notice that the light had changed. It is a good thing someone else loves Jesus because if he hadn't honked, I'd never have noticed.

I found that lots of people love Jesus! While I was sitting there, the guy behind started honking like crazy, and then he leaned out of his window and screamed, 'For the love of God!'
'Go! Go! Go! Jesus Christ, GO!' What an exuberant cheerleader he was for Jesus!

Everyone started honking! I just leaned out my window and started waving and smiling at all those loving people. I even honked my horn a few times to share in the love!

There must have been a man from Florida back there because I heard him yelling something about a "sunny beach"..

I saw another guy waving in a funny way with only his middle finger stuck up in the air. I asked my young teenage grandson in the back seat what that meant. He said it was probably a Hawaiian good luck sign or something. Well, I have never met anyone from Hawaii , so I leaned out the window and gave him the good luck sign right back.

My grandson burst out laughing. Why even he was enjoying this religious experience!!

A couple of the people were so caught up in the joy of the moment that they got out of their cars and started walking towards me. I bet they wanted to pray or ask what church I attended, but this is when I noticed the light had changed. So, grinning, I waved at all my brothers and sisters, and drove on through the intersection.

I noticed that I was the only car that got through the intersection before the light changed again and felt kind of sad that I had to leave them after all the love we had shared. So I slowed the car down, leaned out the window and gave them all the Hawaiian good luck sign one last time as I drove away. Praise the Lord for such wonderful folks!!

Will write again soon,

Love, Grandma

February 27, 2010

St. Patrick's Day fun!

Let me just start off by saying I am not Irish...or at least I don't think there is an Irishman in my past :)  I'm adopted and just recently found French Canadian blood in my veins. This fact allows me to cheer almost as hard for the Canadian Olympians as I do for our beloved Americans...as in U-S-A!  U-S-A!  U-S-A!

Oh wait....let me get back on track here :)  I was talking about the Irish! Here in Kansas City the Irish are a hearty group of souls and I'm here to tell you...they know how to celebrate!  We have one of the largest parades in the nation on THE day...March 17th...Saint Patrick's Day!  In fact, we have more than one parade as I discovered last year when I volunteered to participate in the parade handing out flyers and keeping little Leprechan's out of harms way.  Wow!  I was amazed at the crowd and then I discovered the parade I was in...well, it was just the "baby" parade. The BIG parade had yet to come....the costumes and floats were amazing!  I don't know how many pair of green socks or how many glittering green hats were sold but someone made a bundle of money. 

However, not everyone wants to go off to work dressed as a Leprechan.  So how does one, who is NOT so inclined show proper Irish loyalty without wearing green tights and hats? Simple....you wear ANYTHING with a touch of "the Green".

Of course loyalty is only one of the reasons we Americans take this so seriously. The other reason is FEAR! I'm not sure what traditions are held in other countries but here in the USA if you're NOT wearing green you are in danger of being "Leprechan Pinched" by anyone wearing green, Irish American or not! And it hurts! OUCH!

A few years ago I found a great tutorial by Alice Korach  for a beaded wire "Sparkling Shamrock Pin".  It was so well written I just had to make one.  I loved it and planned to wear it on St. Paddy's Day!  Then my husband pointed out the obvious...it was NOT a Shamrock.  To be truly lucky and Irish it had to be a Shamrock.  So....using my new found skills and the great tips I'd learned I designed a new brooch in the shape of a proper Shamrock.  The first one seemed a little large for my taste but I wore it anyway.  Suddenly I had people asking where I'd found this brooch. Some liked the large size, others asked if it could be a bit more petite.  I of course, assured everyone I could make more and in TWO sizes!  (Sometimes I wish I could keep my big mouth shut.)

So, here it is...the Lucky Shamrock Brooch in both large AND small sizes. I have just one of each available and listed them in my ArtFire Studio earlier today.  If you would like to have one....I wish you the Luck O' the Irish in getting there first!

February 10, 2010

Check out this amazing Give Away Contest!

Amazing jewelry from an amazing artist!  I love Lisa's work and her "take" on life as an artist...finding her way in the middle of life!  You HAVE to go take a look at her beautiful beadweaving...soooo....what are you waiting for??? Click on the title of this post and it will take you straight to her blog site AND the give away details :)  See you there!

The BIG Reveal......

It's here! The day for the big reveal. The chance to show off the results of a "Virtual Muse Gathering". What's a "muse gathering"...well, it's 80+ bead artists attending a virtual Bead Soup Party then divided into pairs - a feat our hostess Lori Anderson managed to pull off with epic success. The "partners" exchanged packages of beading supplies to use in creating a design just for this event. The only absolute rule in the design: We had to use the clasp and focal bead provided by our partner. I was quite fortunate to have received a lovely package from my partner Debbie Goering of Prairie Emporium Handcrafted Jewelry.

I received two focal beads, both handmade by bead artist Barbara Lewis, and a lovely assortment of stones, seed beads, and a lovely handmade sterling silver clasp Debbie made for the collection.

Now, before I show reveal the finished piece I want to share a little something about my partner Debbie Goering. She did not share this information with me...but there was something about her address nudging my memory. Greensburg, Kansas? Hmmm...Where had I heard that name before? I started my Internet search and it didn't take long to find the information I was looking for.

On May 4, 2007 Greensburg, KS was hit by an F5 tornado with 200 mph winds. The town destroyed, people died, and lives were devastated. The photos and stories are horrific. NOW I remember! I remember crying and praying as I watched the news footage on television. Oh, but there is more....

Greensburg, KS is now one of the most well known small towns in the world! Why? Because her residents decided to take the absolute worst that Mother Nature had to dish out and not only survive and rebuild but to make a statement in the process. Today Greensburg is the "Greenest" little city in all of Kansas and probably the United States. Now I remember the little Kansas town featured in all of the news reports about living, building, and growing "Green".

Aha! It is amazing what a little research and information can do to spark the imagination and inspire the creative Muse in each of us. I returned to my worktable and took another look at the ingredients Debbie provided and what I saw was GREEN! The reaction was immediate...I knew I had to design a piece honoring this creative woman and the people of Greensburg. In it, you will find "elements" of nature...some raw and some refined. The angry sky before the storm and the seeds of change that followed. Look closely for the details and let your imagination do the rest.

"Elements from Oz"

I used as many natural beads as I could find from my private stash...wood, bone, clay, stone, Buri seeds, copper, silver, and many beads depicting nature such as the large lampwork bead (left) reflecting an angry sky. The focal bead is of course, the “eye” of the storm. I chose to attach it with an unusual Bali Silver bead that, quite frankly, reminded me of a "handle"...something to "Hang ON!" to. The leaves are glass of course but I loved the different shapes and colors. Leaves fly and swirl during a storm but they are also the first hint of new life here in the Midwest.

I hope this necklace, as small and unimpressive as it may be, will convey just a little of the respect I have for Debbie, her talent, and the town of Greensburg. They have taken us over the rainbow" to a real and beautiful new "Oz"! Thanks Debbie for the inspiration!

These are a few close up "crops" of the necklace for more detail....

To make this "Blog Hop" easier for everyone I've included the links to the Blogs of EVERYONE participating!  So, get a drink, put your feet up, and prepare to be impressed! Personally I would suggest literally "hopping" around instead of just going down the list or better yet...start and the bottom and move up! Please be sure and leave comments and if you are so inclined...press that magic "Follow" button :) 
We LOVE it when you do that!!

1. Lori, Pretty Things 
3. Terri, Blooming Ideas...You Are Here
4. Cindy, Sweet Bead Studio
5. Lorelei, Lorelei's Blog: Inside the Studio
6. Kerry, Kabs Creative Concepts
7. Erin, Treasures Found
8. Jeannette, Jeannette Blix Wire and Metal Jewelry
9. Adrienne, Adrienne Designs
10. Nan, Spirit Rattles
11. Laurel, Rue's Daftique
12. Nancy, Beading From the Heart
13. Mary, MK's Creative Musings
14. Cassie, The Glass Beadle
15. Dot, Winchell Clayworks
16. Sharon, Sharon's Jewelry Garden
17. Lisa, Lo and Behold
18. Norma, Bead Dreams and Moonlit Fantaseas
19. Judith, Judith B.
20. Debbie, Prairie Emporium
21. Maria, Garden Path Beads
22. Susan, Kaplan Creations Jewelry and Glass Design
23. Melissa, Melissa Meman: Art, Love, Life
24. Marianna, Pretty Shiny Things
25. Lisa, Joolz by Lisa
26. Cristi, 2 If By Sea
27. Sandra, Marbella Jewelry Design
28. Maria, Greene Earth Originals
29. Barbara, Jewelry of Distinction
30. Leslie, Bei Mondi
31. Loretta, Designs by Loretta
32. Linda, Bella Bead Jewelry
33. Kathie, The Bead Cult
34. Patty, Plays With Fire
35. Nicki, Nicki's Reef
36. Anne Marie, Heart's Desire
37. Mary, Mary Harding Jewelry
38. Jayne, Mama's Got to Doodle
39. Emanda, Artemesia's Studio
40. Whitney, Whitney Lassini
41. Marcie, La Bella Joya
42. Suzann, Beadphoria
43. Jen, Jen Judd Rocks
44. Julie, Credit River Art Glass
45. Janiece, J Birds Garden
46. Kate, Organic Odysseys
47. Laurie, The Mermaid Tale
48. Michelle, My Crazy Crafty Adventure
49. Sue, Sue Beads
50. Janeen, Janeen 365
51. Nancy, The Rabbit Muse
52. Kristie, Artisan Clay
53. Regina, Regina's Writings
54. Tari, Pearl and Pebble
55. Lyn, Lyn Foley
56. Beth, Sunshine Daydreamz
57. Cathryn, Chile Cats
58. Emma, Fred Bean's Nook
59. Connie, Cetta Cheese Chatter
60. Juli, Jul's Beads
61. Julie, RockerJewlz
62. Libby, LibbyLeu and Glass Too
63. Melanie, Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
64. Katie, My Life and My Beads
65. Zuleykha, Zuleykha's Polymer Clay
66. Rekella, Me But a Little More in Depth
67. Ricki, What's New at Ricki Voges Design
68. Lisa, Lucid Moon Studio
69. Jo, Daisychain Jewellery
70. Lynette, Rock Hill Designs
71. Lynne, Island Girl's Insights
72. Chas, One Woman's Haven
73. Chas, One Woman's Haven
74. Ruthie, Rose Works Jewelry
75. Elizabeth, Turquoise Sky
76. Maire, Maire Dodd
77. Janet, Singing Woods
78. Eileen, Dorset Hill Beads
79. Julie, Miss Kitten's Jewels
80. Joann, Jo's Jewels
81. Patti, PJ Clark Designs
82. Mel, Kookie Designs
83. Erin, Every Heart Crafts
84. Dale, Flights of Fancy
85. Dee, Runako Designs