Friday, March 29, 2013


So, that pesky pinched nerve in my shoulder had me sidelined for three days this week until I got it straightened out. By the time I got back to yoga class last night, anything that involved my arms and shoulders felt tight and frustrating.

My anxiety levels were getting up there, too. As we moved through the first sequence of warm-ups and poses, my mind kept thinking, "You can't do this. You're going to be sick. Feel that? You're going to be sick."

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't relax my mind. It wasn't until we were more than halfway through class that I finally managed to relax. We were in King Dancer pose (one of my new favorites), and I realized that it felt like meditation to me. I couldn't calm my mind when I was sitting, but standing here, giving my mind a reason to focus and balance, that was calming and centering.

Instead of feeling elated at the end of class, I was tired. It felt like I had just done some kind of grueling, unpleasant task. It felt like work.

Of course, I realized as I drove home, that not every yoga class will be blissful. Sometimes, it will feel like work, the same way that beading sometimes feels like work. But the important thing is to move my behind to the mat or to the beads and get on with it.

On my way out of class, I picked up a flyer for the Burlington Yoga Conference. I looked it up online and saw that a one-day pass, including three classes/workshops and lunch, was about $113. I didn't hesitate, and registered for three Sunday workshops. Because, why not? Baby steps. I need to get myself moved out of my chair and out of the house.

I'm also signed up for an acro-yoga workshop in two weeks. Yikes! What am I doing?

There are beads on the horizon, too, but more about that later...

Monday, March 25, 2013


Colden, demonstrating Pigeon pose.
Honestly, lately, I have no idea where the minutes/hours/days/weeks/months are going... It feels like I just wake up in the morning, I turn around twice, and it's time to go to bed!

Thankfully, I've been going deeper into my yoga practice, and that's helping me become more mindful of each moment as I watch my breath and become aware of what's happening around me.

I went to my first Vinyasa class last Thursday night. Robin, the wonderful teacher from whom I'm learning so, so much, came up to me before we got started, and she told me just to take it at my own pace. It's a very physical class she said, with lots of movement. But she also said that she knows I'm comfortable with knowing where my edge is, and I'm not the kind of person who's going to push myself past my comfort zone and injure myself.

We spent part of the class practicing Yinyasa yoga. Where Vinyasa is sometimes known as "Power Yoga" with lots of movement, Yinyasa is where you get into a yoga pose and hold it, sometimes for as long as 5 or 10 minutes.

One of my classmates had requested Pigeon pose during that evening's class, and ever since I learned it a couple of months ago, I've had this love/hate thing going on with it.

To get into Pigeon, you start on hands and knees. You bring one leg up in front of the other knee and aim your foot out to the side, keeping that other leg stretched out behind you. You can either plant your palms and stretch up, or, as Colden is demonstrating in the photograph here, you can place your elbows down, bend forward, and rest your head on your clasped hands.

Well, that was the variation of Pigeon that I got into on Thursday evening. At first, my mind was telling me, "I hate this, I hate this, I hate this, I hate this." But, no, I told my mind that now was not the time. I acknowledged those thoughts, and then released them. I concentrated on my breath, breathing down through my hips and that outstretched leg......

It hit me sort of like a gentle thunderclap when I realized, to my surprise, that every single muscle in my body was relaxed. More than that, I became aware that I was in a deep, meditative state. My breath was flowing smoothly and deeply.

From somewhere deep in my belly, I felt a bit of that nagging queasiness that has plagued me so much during the last few months of anxiety. But in this state, with my head down, my eyes closed, my shoulders engaged and relaxed, I just let it come to the surface, thanked it for what it's taught me, and then released it. It felt like I breathed it in deep, and somehow, it was transformed by my heart and my breath, and then I let it back out into the world as something positive.

I finally had to get out of Pigeon when it was time to move on, and even though my hips were thanking me for finally releasing the pose, my mind wanted to stay there.

At the end of class, I felt energized. It was strange - I haven't felt that way in MONTHS. I felt like I could fly. I listened to Def Leppard the entire way home in the van, cranked up as loud as I thought I could stand it.

I felt like ME again.

Robin has told us that they are adding classes to the schedule in April, after spring break. I can hardly wait to see if I can fit a couple more into my schedule.

It feels to me like the yoga calms and centers me, while allowing me to burn off all this excess energy from my anxiety in a productive way. The Reiki healer I saw a couple of weeks ago suggested to me that when I started to feel anxious or nervous or queasy that I breathe those sensations into my heart, breathe them in deeply, and then allow my heart chakra to cleanse them and turn them into something else before I breathe them out as positive energy.

Yeah, it sounds crazy. But when I'm at yoga class, that's how it works.

So, now, there are two yoga classes tomorrow: a Vinyasa class in the morning and a gentle beginner in the afternoon.

Two classes in one day: can I do it? Is it crazy?

Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kits For Hoarder of Beauty Now In My Etsy Shop!

I finally finished the counting and the pouring and the measuring...and last night, I listed four kits for my Hoarder of Beauty necklace in my Etsy shop. Huzzah!

Two of them sold straight away, so that means I only have two left - if you want one, grab it now, because I really don't know if I'll be making more of them. (If I end up teaching this project next year, I certainly will make more.)

The kit contains 24 gumdrop beads in gunmetal; two colors of size 11 seed beads; bronze size 15 seed beads; and 225 Czech glass round druk beads, enough to make a beautiful necklace and a pair of earrings to match! (You supply the beading needle and 6 lb. smoke-colored Fireline.)

The individual pattern download will be available later today, as well, hopefully before I head out to yoga class tonight.

Even more exciting - ALL of my beading patterns listed on Etsy are now available as instant downloads! That's right! No more waiting for me to email you with your pattern - all you have to do is click and download the .pdf to your computer instantly!

Ain't technology grand? (When it works, that is.)

Lots of other things going on that I want to write about, but right now, I have deadlines looming, a lunch date, and two phone calls coming my way... Onwards and upwards!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Well, Hello, Mister Sun!

As I was on my way to my therapist yesterday afternoon, the sun poked out from between the clouds. I didn't get my hopes up - I drove through some snow that was coming down so hard and so fast that it almost made me dizzy - but during my session, I noticed the sun shining in through the windows and across the floor.

When I left, the sky was dazzling.

It felt so good to be out in the sunshine again! I drove back through Keene Valley and Keene, and took a minute to pop into a friend's resale shop. Found a couple of great tops that match my new purple/maroon hair (which I'll show you as soon as I can get a decent picture), and I turned up my music as loud as I could stand it.

Today, the sky is cloudy again, but I can see bits of bright blue through the clouds. Sure, it's going to be down in the single digits this weekend, but that's just what spring in the Adirondacks is supposed to be.

Meanwhile, I'm dreaming of more sunshine...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Okay, Mister Sun, I'm seriously ready to see you again at some point in the very near future. The calendar is crawling ever closer to April... The spring equinox is just next week....

Yet every morning when I wake up, a grey, overcast, cloudy sky greets me.

In years past, it really didn't bother me. But this year? This year, it's driving me nuts.

I calculated that the last time I saw the sun two days in a row was - ready for it? - back in January.

Yes, the sun has peeked out here and there for a couple of hours, but never for very long. And never long enough that I need to get my sunglasses out.

And it's not just me. The ladies in yoga class last night said that they noticed it, too. Colden's preschool teacher agreed with me this morning and said that she was definitely ready to start seeing some sunshine again.

On the upside of no bright sun every day, it's been fabulous for taking great photos in the bright window in the living room where I have a photo table set up. And I'm still playing with those Twin beads from Preciosa...

What do you know, one pack of those Twin beads happened to perfectly match this absolutely amazing handmade lampwork glass focal bead from Evolving Creations! And I had some lovely salmon-colored matte seed beads and some stunningly perfect purple seed beads, and a couple of sleek, silver s-clasps, and...

It just sort of made itself! The rope is a free tutorial from my lovely friend, Nancy Dale, of NEDbeads. It's a twisted herringbone rope made with Twin seed beads, and it's the perfect weight to complement that focal bead.

I wore it with a very feminine green sweater (the same green as the lampwork and the Twins, wouldn't you know!) a few times, hoping to coax the sun out of hiding, but, alas, still cloudy today. (And supposed to be sub-zero again over the weekend.)

 My body is yearning for spring and sunlight, too. I've started up with my annual spring-change-of-season-runny-nose, and every time I take a forward bend in yoga class, I can feel my ears pop. It'll all clear out as soon as the weather warms up, but until then, I just find myself fantasizing about what it will feel like to walk onto the warm driveway in my bare feet, under the light of the midday sun...

In other new, my photo of Colden drinking sap right out of the tree is today's North Country Public Radio Photo Of the Day! My little man! Almost famous! 

It will be on the NCPR homepage all day today, so make sure you check it out.

On to my daily tasks of blogging, picture-taking, and my daily errand to get my ass out of the house...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Photography Class

So, like I mentioned in yesterday's post, over the weekend, I took a DSLR Photography for Beginners class at the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts. Since I've had this amazing Pentax *istD DSLR for going on three years now, I thought maybe it would be a nice idea if I actually learned how to use the settings on it instead of always going with the automatic settings.

Of course, the anxiety kicked in almost the second I drove out of the driveway. My stomach was so painfully tight that it made me queasy.

I told myself that if I still felt this bad when I got to the Cultural Center, that I could just go to Target or do something else - there was nothing that was FORCING me to go to that photography class.

But, when I pulled up in front of the building, I felt a little calmer, even though my stomach was still incredibly painful to the touch.

I'm glad I went to the class, because after spending two hours learning about how to adjust the manual settings on my DSLR camera, I will never, ever, ever use the automatic settings on my camera ever again.

The class was only 2 hours - which was way too short. My response on the evaluation form was that it should have been a 4 or 6 hour class so that we would have time to actually play with the settings and see what kinds of pictures we got, with feedback from the instructor.

As it was, most of us just started clicking away with our cameras at whatever happened to catch our eye - the pen on the table in front of me, my water bottle, the sprinklers in the ceiling, or this picture of The Beatles that was sitting on the floor across the room...

The next day, I took the camera out with us when we went to collect sap for maple sugaring, and I captured a few nice images:

Then we came home, and I wanted to try to get a couple of "glamor shots" of some of my newest work. To see those, you'll just have to stay tuned...

The Universe Responds

The Universe Lends a Helping Hand, If You Ask It

When am I ever going to learn?

My life since Wednesday has had more ups and downs than a damn roller coaster. I spent most of Wednesday fighting off one anxiety attack after the other, and believe me, it wasn't pretty. If I wasn't crying, I was trying not to cry, or my stomach was hurting.

I woke up around 3 a.m. on Thursday morning from a dream that I was having a screaming argument with my mother - who, as most of you know, passed away back in 2008. I also woke up with a pounding headache. Tom said to me, "Better take something now, it's a migraine." But, no, I told him that it wasn't, and I went back to sleep.

Come 6:30 a.m., and yes, it was a headache. Only by the Grace of the Goddess did I manage to get Colden to preschool with that thundering in my right eye before I went back home and slipped back into bed to try to sleep it off.

I decided that a Vinyasa class on Thursday night was probably not a great idea after feeling so yucky all day, so I just did a few gentle, restorative stretches on my own in front of the wood stove.

Friday, I went for a Reiki treatment. I don't know if I'm quite ready to talk about everything that happened there, but I will say this: on the drive home, everything looked different. I realized that I am, indeed, looking at the world with fresh eyes now.

Saturday was my photography class, and again, I felt that excruciating pain in the pit of my stomach as I drove to Plattsburgh. I told myself, okay, if it gets too bad, don't go to the class. Go to Target or something, and then go home.

But once I drove past the cultural center, I knew it was going to be okay, so I parked and went into class. (And I'm glad I did, because I learned a ton, once I relaxed and settled down. But that's a blog for tomorrow, I think.)

So, I went to yoga class on Sunday afternoon, and by the Grace of the Goddess, I only had a minor bit of stomach discomfort. Class was invigorating and relaxing, and I left feeling very good about myself and my body.

Yoga class was exactly what I needed to do on Sunday. Robin read a passage about learning how to live with your limitations and being accepting of them, and it resonated strongly with me. Yoga practice is a beautiful way to start getting the energy moving in your body, and in my case, I'm clearing out old, stagnant energy that's been there for several years. The clearing out part doesn't feel so great sometimes, but in the long run, I'm going to be healthier and happier for it.

Also at yoga class, I met Lynn Edwards, who is another type of healer, and has a large walking labyrinth on her property here in Jay. Walking through the "spin", or the spiral path in our own backyard has been something of a meditation for me, and I'm eager to go see Lynn's path. She also does seasonal celebrations in the labyrinth, and I'm planning to attend the spring equinox ceremony in a couple of weeks.

After I got home from yoga last night, I started to realize that the Universe was, once again, responding to my needs. I need to deal with the anxiety and the illness, so I put it out there. And in return, the Universe sends me to Robin's yoga class, to Linda for the Reiki, and puts me in touch with people like Lynn who have other solutions to my problems.

Of course, that's not to say that I can just sit back on my butt and not do anything. The Universe is meeting me halfway here by providing me with the tools I need to get this done, and now, it's entirely up to me to make it work.

Friday, March 08, 2013

WTFriday: Why I Will Never Eat Like a Caveman

Courtesy of
So, seeing as how I've had my own struggles with diet and weight loss since I had Colden back in 2008, I've noticed a growing number of people clamoring about how we should all be eating the Paleo Diet.

What is the Paleo diet? Basically, you eat meat and animal products - but no dairy - along with only certain vegetables, no grains at all, no beans or legumes, limited amounts of fruit, and no refined sugars or carbs.

There are parts of this diet that certainly make sense to me. For instance, cutting out refined sugars is certainly a step in the right direction for any healthy diet.

But when we get to the part that says, "Well, this is how the first humans ate, so this must be the best diet for humans!", I start to think that's maybe not such a good idea.

First of all, eating lots of meat and animal products puts a lot of stress on the environment. If EVERYBODY were to eat Paleo, our problems with factory farming would be a hell of a lot worse than they already are. I mean, come on: more antibiotics, more hormones, more nitrogen waste going into the environment can't be a good thing.

Second, it seems to me that any diet that is more restrictive is just not going to be healthier than a diet that includes a wide variety of plant and animal sources. I've seen people chowing down on a plate of fried bacon, instead of a bowl of oatmeal, because the bacon is allowed in Paleo diet and the oatmeal isn't. Ummm...

Third, just because our ancestors ate like this 40,000 years ago has absolutely no bearing on what we should or shouldn't be eating today. A species can evolve a LOT in 40,000 years, in case you didn't notice. No longer do we run around chasing down our food to kill it and eat it (raw). Most of us sit at a desk job five days a week. We simply don't need the same kinds or amounts of calories that we did back when the species was still in its infancy, and we've discovered a lot of food sources that can supplement our diet for those times when we just can't drag home an entire bison for dinner.

Now, there are things about the Paleo diet that I think can make you healthier. For instance, avoiding processed foods. That's a no-brainer. Eating lots of vegetables, too, is probably a good idea.

But when it comes to cutting out grains, beans, and dairy completely, that just makes no sense to me at all. I don't think there's anything wrong with the occasional slice of good, locally-made cheese or a hearty dinner of rice and beans once or twice a week.

That said, all things in moderation, folks. Find a diet that works for you, and try to include as many different sources of protein, healthy fats, and carbs as you can. I've been a happy, (relatively) healthy vegetarian for over 10 years now, and I have a beautiful baby boy who I grew for 9 months on a healthy vegetarian diet. But that might not be right for you - it all depends on what makes YOUR body feel good.

So, no, I won't be going back to eating meat any time soon, but that's just me. Do your own research, experiment in your own kitchen, and eat sensibly.

Monday, March 04, 2013

The Hoarder of Beauty

It was a hard weekend. It felt like I didn't know which way to look first - spending time with my boys, getting caught up on work, working on my own projects...

Finally, on Sunday, I decided to sit down and finish photographing the steps and assemble the Hoarder of Beauty:

And here it is! Each little individual component made with gumdrops and druks (never, ever underestimate the power of the druk), with a lovely embellished centerpiece and a handmade toggle clasp.

Now, under the category of Things I Learned While Making This Necklace, I can list two things.

The first, is the embellished centerpiece. Once I had the center units all joined together, I didn't like the big, empty hole in the middle. So, I filled it in.

 While I was filling it in, it occurred to me that the techniques I was using could also be used to create a bracelet or a whole new component.

Thankfully, I have lots of gumdrops and druks in my stash (and more on the way) with which I can experiment...

The second thing that I learned is all about the clasp. I wanted to make a clasp that complemented the gumdrop and druk units without being too ornate, and I certainly didn't want to use a pre-made clasp for this piece. I played with some peyote stitch for a bit, mimicking the first few rounds of the gumdrop/druk units, and came up with an easy and fast toggle loop.

I'm not going to pretend that I'm the first person to come up with this kind of peyote stitch loop, but it's intriguing. It could easily be turned into a whole new component with some extra embellishments, in new colors, in a larger size.

So, yes, in all my spare time, once I finish the tutorial instructions, I'll be experimenting with these two new ideas.

In addition to all the other ideas and deadlines bouncing around in my head, I think I came up with my idea for my Battle of the Beadsmith piece. Yes, I've entered again for 2013, and I've even been assigned a partner for the first battle already! The idea for this one is a little unexpected for me...but now comes the sketching, the stitching experiments to see if it will actually work, and the ordering of about a hundred dollars' worth of metallic seed beads. Fun times.

Friday, March 01, 2013

WTFriday: WTF is With the USPS?

In case you don't know what those abbreviations stand for, here's the skinny of it: What the fuck is up with the United States Postal Service?!

I ordered a beautiful glass bead from some wonderfully talented friends out in Port Townsend, Washington. I got a notification on February 22nd from the USPS that it had been shipped, and originally, it was slated for delivery sometime around February 25th according to the tracking.

So, naturally, when it failed to appear in my post office box again today, I checked the tracking. And saw this:

So, it took the post office EIGHT DAYS to "accept" the package, after they originally told me it would be delivered around the 25th of February? And now the expected delivery is March 4? How does that work? Do they have Zippy The Wonder Slug sorting mail out in Port Townsend? Did it fall behind a bookcase until last night? What?

You know, I know there are some people that would have us believe that the United State Post Office is doomed, and that it needs to go away. I've never, EVER, had such problems with the USPS as I have in the last couple of years since the Men In Suits down in Washington have started fucking with it.

You know what? If Congress wants to shut down the publicly-owned USPS and privatize and let UPS and FedEx handle everything from now on, fine. But why not just tell the American public that that's what they want to do instead of making all this noise and hemming and hawing about "Oh, we can't AFFORD a public mail delivery system!"

You know what I say to that? Fuck that. You know what country can't afford a public mail delivery system? Somalia, that's who.

In order to appease Congress, the USPS has started closing down rural post offices and sorting facilities. And, yes, you guessed it, that's significantly affected my ability just to receive my fucking mail since they shut down the local sorting facility. Now, all our mail is sorted down in Albany, over two hours away, and trucked up here what seems like every third day.

Why all the sudden rush to hate on public services these days? Hmmm? Makes me wonder... I've never had problems like this with my rural mail service before, not in the 13 years since we've lived up here. Now that the USPS is under pressure from Congress, they're floundering like a perch that's just been tonked on the head and tossed on the floor of the boat.

Nothing left to do now but sit and wait and see what happens...and maybe write a letter to Congress, telling them to get their act together and save the damn USPS. We're not Somalia, in case they didn't notice.