Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The trick is to want to be where you are.

Occasionally I change the image on my desktop.

Sometimes it's an image of the ocean. Sometimes it's a forest, deep and mysterious. Sometimes it's a narrow cobblestone street, leading to an intriguing new place.

Sometimes it's this, a place I've actually been.

Heron Island, Australia

Sometimes I'm sitting at my eBay desk, frantically packaging orders, and I look across and I see this image, and I remember that vacation, and how wonderful it was to sit on the beach with dear friends and look up at the southern stars and marvel at a fresh and beautiful world.

Packaging can be fun, but it's not the same as sitting on the warm white sand of a gorgeous beach, watching the waves roll in.

Heron Island, Australia

It also isn't the same as canoeing down a river, singing and pointing out frogs and water lilies to each other, and marveling over the rich green color of the reeds.

Huron River, MI

Hawaii. Need I say more?

Maui, HI

But there I am, at the eBay desk, sticking labels on packages, looking at handwritten numbers on bags, trying to keep track of who bought what and which address goes where.

The trick, though, is to want to be there, at that eBay desk, sticking things on boxes. Because the little stuff is more than important. It's the fabric of our everyday lives, it's the cloth we fashion ourselves from. The trip to Australia is just the trim.

Even though the label isn't that important in the grand scheme of things, they do stack up. Every package I process, every trip I make to the post office, every pair of earrings I fashion...these things become a part of me, even though it's for such a short time. They become the weft and weave of my existence. They are the particular moment I am living, the tiny dot in time that is now. Behind me is the vast architecture of the past; ahead of me is the vast ocean of the future. The moment I am in is perfectly balanced between the two.

Even though we often feel most alive when we are on a trip somewhere in an exotic location, smelling the exotic scent of new flowers, our lives are made up of mundane moments; a haircut, filling out a form, checking email. Even though these things often seem like drudgery, they are still part of our experience as human beings.

Taking the time to appreciate the small marvels of our everyday lives is worth it. Even if it's just sticking a label on a package.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


...is my middle name.

I love to put things off.

I'm pretty good at brainstorming, but I'm even better at roadblocking. If there's a large task ahead of me, I put together the usual detailed list of parts of this task that need to be accomplished. A, B, C, D, E. Very nice and productive, right?

The logical thing to do is A, right? But my brain isn't content with that. It has to analyze all five steps. And it turns out that there's a problem with D, you see. There's a decision I have to make, and I'm awful at decisions. So I put it on the backburner, hoping that it will marinate in my brain for a little while and I'll come up with a solution.

Then I start working on A, and I might do little bits of C, and then I discover (while working on E) that E has an issue. And D still has an unresolved issue. And I get fed up because no solution has presented itself, and then I just give up. And just before the deadline, I do all five steps, and it's not what I had hoped for and then I'm really fed up.

Seriously. You should have seen what I did in college. I took a directed study class, which is basically one where you pick a project and present a 20 page paper at the end of the semester. No classes to attend or anything like that. What did I do? Oh, I picked a topic, did some research, and then started the paper...the night before it was due.

Yes, you read that correctly. I'd done it before with 5 page papers. But a 20 page paper? Full bibliography? Well, I typed like a demon (on my manual typewriter, no less) and somehow managed it, getting a page per hour put together. It was awful, but because I Had To Do It, I did. It was astonishing that I got an A.

Over the years, though, I've started trying to develop ways to get around the brain issues. I am ruled by my contrary nature, as well; sometimes I "just don't wanna." And I don't.

So I found this blog article, and it has so much good advice: The Complete Flake's Guide To Getting Things Done. And it really spoke to me about how things get done, and why they don't get done, and what I can do to get things done. It was really interesting.

This article just reinforces the idea that my brain doesn't go about things in a normal, logical, adult manner. It flickers back and forth, it gets excited by something shiny, and if it doesn't understand or just doesn't wanna then nothing goes forward. I have had to develop techniques to get things done.

I have a pegboard in my head which is marked with Things I Absolutely Must Do. Things like taxes and mailing bills. It's hard to get my brain to agree to add new things, but sometimes it works, and I've experimentally added a few things like blogging and tweeting.

I also am trying to master the art of deflection. When I don't want to do one thing, I'll often pick up another task which really has to be done (but not at that minute) and do that instead. I try to use deflection to actually get things done now. It doesn't always work the way I want it to, but I've had more productivity as of late.

Productivity is a cycle, I've noticed. There are months of the year where I get very little done; there are months of the year where I get lots done. I've noticed that there are crashing points for me, where I've done a lot and I just don't wanna do anything else, and I think I need to take breaks occasionally so I don't crash.

Overall, I'm in a high productivity phase right now. I've done more in the past four months than I have in ages, and I feel like I'm establishing a new rhythm. I'm enjoying it, too. And the more productive I am, the more productive I want to be.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Working from home

I am unbelievably lucky in some ways. Being mostly self-employed means that, when I'm not out of town on business, I get to stay home four days a week and work on what I want. I'm also incredibly lucky because I live in a lovely house with a wonderful husband, and we have this view:

The view of my backyard

Well, at least during summer, we do. Right now it's much less...green. Still, it's pretty inspiring, and I love being able to look out the window and stare at the water whenever I want. It's so pretty, and ever-changing. There are frogs and dragonflies and turtles, and the occasional muskrat. Tadpoles, and shiners. It's teeming with life and it's really fun to sit in a boat and float around on the pond.

However, my office still leaves a few things to be desired. The thing is, when we moved into the house, I stole the master bedroom for my office. In the apartment, I'd used the second bedroom, and I had to physically climb over the arm of a sofa to get behind my jewelry desk. Here, in the master bedroom of the house, I have plenty of room for all four desks (yep, four) and even a table for my photography needs. It's wonderful to have space.

But it's not yet a space of my own, somehow. For years I've wanted a really creative space with interesting things to look at and inspire me, and yet all I have are plain walls and old carpeting.

I think it might be time for a change. I'm going to start pulling out art and doing what I want in here. The eighties pastel curtains will have to go. I want to try and make this a more appealing and inspirational place. I mean, I spend four days a week here, I might as well make it as "me" as possible, right?

I think one of the catalysts was seeing a set of pictures. These amazing offices are so cool! They're from the world's most beautiful office buildings, and I'm just fascinated with how beautiful they are.

I don't have a world-class architect on hand, but I do have lots of pictures I've taken and some elbow grease. I want to do something new and make this a fabulous space of my own.

What's your crafting space like?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it! Thank you to my wonderful friends and family and all of my great customers. I hope you have a fantastic day full of happiness!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I've been tinkering and photographing and tweaking, oh my...

And sometimes it's fun to just stand back for a second and look at what you've done, you know? Helps me to see if I've made progress, or I've slipped further under the mud. Today's experiment: Has my Etsy shop improved at all in the past two months?

I've begun to change the backgrounds, simplifying everything into a white background. I've added a banner and changed my icon to match the banner. And I've worked on taking all sorts of new photographs, some successful, some not-so-successful.

It all leads to this:

Laurel Moon Etsy Shop

The new, improved Laurel Moon Jewelry Etsy Shop. I like the way it ties in with my blog, my other Etsy shop for supplies, and my website.

What do you think? Any suggestions for improvement?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

And now I'm on Facebook. And Twitter!

I've begun a Facebook fan page. Do join me at Laurel Moon Jewelry and Beads on Facebook if you are so inclined.

And if you're on Twitter, I am laurelmoonjewel on Twitter if you'd like to follow me.

In other news, I'm still working on a little secret project that I hope to submit to a beading magazine. It's beginning to look very nice, and I'm very much hoping that it gets accepted. I'm nearly done.

In other other news, the blog is now located solely here at http://www.laurelmoonjewelry.com/blog/. My blogspot blog is now set up to redirect traffic here, so you might have to change your links. Thanks for continuing to take this journey with me!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mermaid necklace and earring set

I've just updated my Etsy shop with this Mermaid necklace set. It's one of my favorite pieces, and I've photographed it a few times at this point. I'm still not certain that the photos do it justice, but the last batch is a definite improvement in some ways.

Mermaid aquamarine and pearl necklace

I've been trying to do a new look for my closeup pics. I like the clustered look of this, surrounding the mermaid in pearls and aquamarine beads, but I do worry that it doesn't really show the necklace enough.

I love this set. The pearls are such nice pearls, and the aquamarine was a very special find; I only found one strand of it and it was a natural for this necklace.

Friday, November 19, 2010

All sorts of new listings!

Today's work involved photographing lots of semi-precious stone beads. You see, I put a few sets of closeout beads in my eBay shop, and they proved to be popular, so I've added a whole slew of them. There are donuts, and faceted beads, and ovals, and butterflies, all very well-priced and it many different kinds of stone. Carnelian, yellow turquoise, labradorite, amazonite, and on and on!

Amazonite and fossilized wood

Kyanite, staurite, yellow turquoise, and agate

Sage amethyst, carnelian, rainbow obsidian

Stop by my eBay store and check them out!

Don't forget--my blog is moving! You'll find it HERE from now on.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New doors

Yesterday I opened a fortune cookie and found this:

Doors will be opening for you in many areas of your life.

Right now I feel like I'm looking down so many paths. They're all misty and shrouded in possibility. I have no idea where they will go, and I don't even know which paths to try. I've got a few things in my head to try, and I really am hoping that they are good things, and that they lead good places, but as always, we never know.

I don't often keep fortunes, nor do I give them much thought beyond the initial reading, but this one I tucked in my pocket for later.

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'm on Twitter now!

I'm fascinated by this hyper-quick way of communicating with people. So far I'm starting to really enjoy it! If you're on Twitter, you can see my tweets under the name laurelmoonjewel.

"laurelmoon" was taken, of course. It nearly always is. So then I spent hours agonizing over what else to call myself. laurelmoonjewelry? Too long. laurelmoonbeads? I was worried about not mentioning jewelry. laurelmoonjewel? Sounds beady and jewelry-y, so that's what I took. Though I did think of laurelmoonsays, laurelmoonwhut, yolaurel, laurelsaysschnarf, laurelmoonville...

Hope to see you there!

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I am easily amused

So a friend of mine got a memo called "Handle with care for TILA BEADS" and I thought I'd share it with you all:

If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times that it is not recommended way to drop sugar cubes out of a saucepot from high.

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Looking back on wire-wrapping

In December of 1995 I left a long-term relationship and was faced with suddenly having money and free time again. So when a friend pointed out that there was a new store in the mall, and that they were teaching jewelry classes, I thought, "Why not?"

And so went my money and free time.

The first thing I made was a wire-wrapped bracelet.

The wire was so stiff it was nearly impossible for me to work with it. (I know today that it was German silver jewelry wire, which isn't sterling, and it's quite stiff. I usually use dead soft sterling now, to save my hands.) By the end of class I thought my poor fingers were going to fall off. Also, I'd get two sections done, and then forget how to start again. But I persevered, and made this stunning example of jewelry craftsmanship that you see here.

Note the gaps between the beads and coils...the slanted and deformed loops...and the loose coils. Still, I have actually worn it now and then, just because it's not as bad as a lot of other stuff I made when I first started beading. Mostly this is because I made it in a class, the colors aren't...awful, and the materials are nice Italian beads.

The second thing I made was a necklace. Because it was a pattern for a class, it wasn't bad. Of course, I immediately wanted to make the same necklace in 2358923985623 different colors and configurations. I digress, however, because it was strung on Soft-Flex.

So. Now we go forward to earrings.

It's probably a bit difficult to tell, at first glance, what is wrong with these earrings, other than one is missing its mate. Should you begin to explore further, however, you will notice many interesting details.

  • Very scary howlite star beads dyed to look like lapis. Any sort of energetic encounter with sun or rain, and they'll reveal their true color again: white.

  • Unnecessary jump rings at the top of the star earrings. I suppose you could claim that they would give the earrings more motion, but in truth, they're just...useless.

  • The spirals at the bottom of the stars--if you even noticed them--are absolutely gruesomely formed. Even worse, when you are wearing the earrings (let us hope I never get that desperate), the spirals are facing forward and, as such, are invisible. Maybe that's a good thing. Also, they would most likely catch long hair.

  • Awful, oversize base metal earring hooks.

  • Oh, you think I forgot about the leaf earring? Let me point out its ungainly coil formations and the lower loop, which looks like it got caught in a vise and twisted.

Bullet points are still made of fabulousness.

The reason that I have these shining examples of my early jewelry prowess (ahem) are because of my sister, who holds on to her "vintage" Laurel Moon Jewelry and tortures me occasionally by wearing it. Usually this means that I continually stare at the piece, and eventually work up to bribes, telling her I will rework the piece and give it back to her for free. But she likes them, for some reason. It must be the sentimental value.

Thank goodness my loops got better.

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Today was a good day

Sometimes you have days where you feel inspired. Where a project that's been languishing on the back burner for years suddenly leaps ahead nine spaces. Today was such a day, and I wish I had more of them!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Another treasury! Yay!

Sobby has included my Day of the Dead charm bracelet in a treasury! I'm so honored. Thank you so much, Sobby!

You can find the treasury here.

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!