Where I am now was a seed planted by the need to heal.
This time, my need to heal began in the darkness of the summer/early fall of 2014. I was sitting by a lake in Maine, where I was at a retreat, and I was processing a lot that had happened in the previous few months. I was searching for healing, and I found it through my hands.
Poetry was one of the ways (collection forthcoming), and there were others too.
It was the retreat where I pounded out my pain through whipping ice cream. She handed me a wooden spoon, and a big bowl filled with two tubs of ice cream. “Make it look like whipped cream,” she said. Impossible, I thought, until I had done it and my pain and anger had subsided.
It was the retreat where I filled an entire book with vision pages. It was my fuel, my fire, my safe place to go when tears were all I could feel coursing through my body. Pages like these came forth to heal me:
And then there were the beads.
I found them one day, sitting on the long table in the enclosed porch. I remember not knowing what to do or where to start. I felt stuck, which was a perfect metaphor for where I was my life in that moment. An angel of a friend came over to me, so softly and gently, and asked me to make something for her. And I did. I made something for her, for the host of the retreat, and for myself. So simple. And so healing.
They felt like little nothings, yet mine still hangs on my desk.
My dad was over the other day and it caught his eye. “This is pretty,” he said, and it reminded me of the start of it all….
Creating with beads sparked a desire in me and when I returned home, I went to the local bead shop and without a clue, bought a few things.
A year later, perhaps still with the need to heal, the beads were sitting untouched and back to the retreat I went.
This time, I found myself having a conversation with another friend. I was telling her that I didn’t feel like I was a creative person. She looked at me like I had three heads and proceeded to tell me all of the ways my creativity shines. “You’re creative in the way you dress, in the way you speak, in the way you write,” she told me. “Look at this travel altar you are creating. Of course you’re creative!”
Sometimes we need to see ourselves through someone else’s lens to recognize what we have been blind to.
Our conversation reminded me of what I had forgotten and when I returned home, I signed up for a beginner’s beading class.
Maybe I still had the need to heal something from decades ago.
This was not my first foray into jewelry classes. I took jewelry in high school and I remember loving the silver working and dreading the beading. I can still see myself sitting in that classroom at the long wooden work table, working on a midterm or final that involved stringing tiny beads and the project filled me with so much frustration. I returned to silver working years later for a brief period of time but I never found myself steeped in it.
I had to reschedule the beading class due to a family event. The night before the class, a voice inside told me to create something anyway, and I did. It reawakened something in me. I had found a power in creating with my hands.
I learned a bit more technique at the beading class, and shortly after that I signed up for a hand-knotting class. Even though it was not a mala making class, I knew that was the intention I was going in with. As I sat there learning this new technique, I found myself thinking, I could do this.… Not as a hobby but I could do this.
And there it began.
The early days of buying beads at retail prices before I found better sources, and of learning my own strength through mistakes set me on a path that I never saw coming two and a half years before as I sat by the lake, picking up beads, fumbling with them in my hands, simply trying to heal myself.