Friday, August 10, 2012

Lighting Your Fire

I wanted to write about some people that have re-kindled my fire at some point during my 7 years as a full-time maker of jewelry.

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. 
~ Albert Schweitzer

It is sometimes a huge challenge to keep our creative flame lit every day. Events in our lives happen that suck all the extra energy we have to pour into making something with our hands, and it is easy to get back into the habit of living a less-full life.

I started making jewelry because of a deep desire to watch an idea develop from my head to my hands, and finally into the world.  I wanted what I made to act like a social currency for positive interactions.  I was working a corporate job at the time, doing something called Business Development. I used to carry a salt and pepper shaker with me on calls, and when someone would begin to rail about something my company did that made them upset, I would calmly pull out my salt and pepper shakers, put them on their desk, and say, "This might make chewing me out more palatable to you."

Usually, they were at first shocked, and then, most often, they would laugh.  Those shakers were great at diffusing a tense situation, and then I could get to the business of solving their problem. I was using a social object, the shakers, to connect on a deeper level with someone so that I could fix whatever needed fixing.

I couldn't stand the negativity, though, so events in my life led me to leave my job. I was adrift, and freaked out about what to do next with myself. I knew my next job had to be more fulfilling then the one I just left. But what to do? I decided to talk to a career counselor, and she relit my fire by suggesting that I observe what I do in my spare time, when I had nothing else that I had to do, and use that as the basis to decide in which direction to go next.

I found that there were three things that I did on my own time, and they were making beaded jewelry, writing in my journal and reading spiritual literature. But how to make that a job? My jewelry was, well,  not something that people were beating down the door to purchase.

While I was unpacking some boxes from our move to North Carolina recently, I found an old journal from that time period. I was trying to figure out what my life's purpose was. Here is what I wrote regarding what my heart was telling me:

I want to combine creative energy with higher principles and integrity,
finding ways to apply creativity in service to others
that are aligned with a higher vision.

From the vantage point of looking back, I see now that there has been a long line of people that have served to re-light my inner fire regarding my life's purpose.  A chance meeting with a woman in a grocery store check-out line with some fabulous earrings on led me to ask her where she got them.  She said she made them, and that she taught a beginning metalsmith class at Lane Community College in Eugene, OR. I signed up and took her class, and was introduced to metal.  This was my class project. I jumped from doing the above work in beading to metal working in a quantum instant. She lit my creative fire. 

I didn't have the money or the space to buy the metalworking equipment that I needed to continue, but a solution was shown to me later, when we were living in an extended stay hotel in Houston due to my husband's job contract as a consultant.  I remembered how much I loved the wire jewelry that I saw in Singapore, when I walked into a shop during a torrential downpour.

My creative fire was lit in Singapore by a kind man when he showed me a box of tribal jewelry that he had collected from a nomadic culture in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  I wanted to make that jewelry. I had a burning desire to learn all that I could about converting wire to jewelry. It was then that I realized that one thing that I loved to do as a kid was play with telephone wire. I would coil and weave it into kid's jewelry and keychains. I was beginning to get the idea that this urge to make jewelry was something that had been a burning desire since my beginning. The flame just kept going out.

While I was in Houston, I happened upon a jewelry magazine that featured jewelry that artist Lynn Merchant made by bending wire. I didn't need a torch, or much space to do it. Lynn lit my fire by providing me with a means to explore that tribal jewelry look that I loved so much in Singapore. I bent wire and practiced and practiced while staying in that extended hotel for three months. We left Houston for New Orleans after Katrina hit, and I had my first outdoor show in a park in Metairie and my career in jewelry began.  My first craft show was a jewelry sold, and I met some amazing women that I am still in touch with to this day.  

Fast forward to this year...after spending some time with my father in East Tennessee, I put my jewelry fabrication somewhat on the back burner.  I was still selling small batches of it in Chattanooga and Huntsville, but was restless. I wanted to do something fulfilling with my work.  My life's purpose was pulling me towards something more, but I didn't know how to go about it.

 Cindy Wimmer, known for her fabulous tutorials, jewelry photography and one of the originator's of artBLISS,  lit my fire in regards to teaching what I have learned to others via workshops and magazine tutorials. This year has been amazing as far as nurturing my life's purpose. Mary Jane Dodd asked me a few months ago to guest post here, which led to being a member...and her work, along with every other member here, has served to light my inner fire too.  

I am so grateful for the people that have come into my life with creative matches. I meet them on the street, getting my toenails done and here, online, like with Danielle LaPorte.  I bought Danielle's book, loved it and try to apply her principles of Fire Starting every day. The idea for this post came from her website yesterday.

A few weeks ago, while sitting in a nail salon getting a pedicure, I met Terah Cox, an amazing spiritual author. She has lit my fire concerning some writing projects and I am how all of my life's purpose goals are continuing to be met, expand and fulfill me, all due to chance encounters with some fabulous people. 

Surrounding yourself with people that light your fire is integral to living a creatively fulfilling life. But even more important than recognizing and appreciating your fire starters, is being a firestarter for the people in your life.  


Barbara said...

I can completely see the transformation taking place Stacie. Even just since you've joined us here at LMAJ. There is a momentum building in your life and your work that is fueled by your creative fire!

As my own career has progressed, I have also found it helpful to go back and make connections and find those people and moments and draw parallels to what I am doing now. Sometimes, it is so unconscious that by revisiting those connections, we gain even more and further insight.

Laura Twiford said...

What a fabulous post! So much food for thought here, thank you for this, it really has me doing a little soul searching this morning! Very inspirational, you have lit a match for me as well!

Julie Holmes said...

Great post Stacie! I can so relate to your first paragraph about life getting in the way sometimes. I've been struggling lately to find my spark. You said "I started making jewelry because of a deep desire to watch an idea develop from my head to my hands, and finally into the world. I wanted what I made to act like a social currency for positive interactions." Those two sentences deeply resonated with me. I need to go back to the beginning and think about why I make cloisonné. Thank you for such an inspiring post!

Gallery 13 - Lela Bouse-McCracken said...

Good post, Stacie. Very thought provoking....and that's a great quote. It's always good to get in our quiet place & find out what has put us where we are.

JO said...

I have been so busy taking care of others that I have not made jewelry in months, I will have to change that soon.

Kelli said...

Stacie, thanks SO much for this very thoughtful post. In saying, "It is sometimes a huge challenge to keep our creative flame lit every day. Events in our lives happen that suck all the extra energy we have to pour into making something with our hands, and it is easy to get back into the habit of living a less-full life." you might as well have been talking directly to me. Thank goodness making ceramic beads is 'lighting my fire" right now. It SO needs to be kindled!! The shows are coming, and jewelry making time is in short supply. Wonderful, wonderful post!!!

mairedodd said...

beautiful - your insight, words and work are so much appreciated here... you are indeed a firestarter yourself...
by the way, i used that schweitzer quote in the very first post i wrote for my own blog - i just love it... it was so nice to read again here...

Artisan Beads Plus said...

Wow, Stacie.... what a journey! I decided I'm going to check out what classes might be offered at local community colleges. I would love to learn more about working with metal :o) Thanks for sharing!

stacilouise said...

It's so great to read your history here, because I think it all shows in your work. You can tell you have traveled and met people and seen things that have inspired you along the way. And yet you pull all these things into your own style, that I could recognize anywhere! Thanks so much for sharing this!

Victoria Takahashi said...

thank you, kismet :)

Cindy said...

Stacie, I felt like we were having a conversation, you telling me about your travels and many of the people you have met along the way. Your way with words seems to be an art form as well - as you are a natural story teller. It is so interesting to look back and reflect on those moments that turn in to turning points in our life. I remember reading your blog way back when your studio was in your suit case and you traveled with your husband. I thought you were really living the glamorous life! It has been heartwarming to travel along with you to where you are now, in your new home. I agree with Mary Jane that you are truly a fire starter yourself. xoxo

Chris said...

Stacie~loved reading about your "old life" and the progress to your new adventures. I'm glad you shared this!

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