Saturday, January 26, 2013

My Take On Gratitude.

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

Last week's paint party got off to a rocky start, but you'll be happy to know that I kept at it throughout the week, had some serious fun, and even learned some new things -- one of which I plan to share next week. I think it'll appeal to painters, fabric artists, and... anyone else who likes making cool stuff.

This week, though, I thought I'd share my thoughts on gratitude... which are a little bit different. 

Thanks, but no thanks?

Over the past year or so, I've noticed that gratitude lists (or journals) have become popular. Everyone keeps one, and the consensus seems to be that they're pretty darn awesome -- and that they work for everything from depression to low self-esteem.

All that said, would it surprise you to learn that I'm not into gratitude lists?

Gratitude is great, but...

This doesn't mean I'm not into gratitude. It also doesn't mean that I think people who keep gratitude lists are silly.

(Unless you're grateful for bedbugs, raisins, and creepy clowns. Then you're just weird.)

Being aware of and thankful for what we have is a wonderful thing! Take it from someone who lost the ability to enjoy most of her favorite things for over a year. I think of it like a daily vitamin for mental health.

It's also a great way to improve an ordinary, run-of-the-mill bad day. Did you know that I have a tent on my bed? That Mr. Sequin made it for me, and that it's covered in rainbow fabric that says Imaginations Unbound? It's true. And whenever I'm feeling crappy, I just remind myself that I have a tent, and I can't help it. I start grinning like a flamingo with a trampoline.

 (Flamingos love trampolines almost as much as they love soup!)

The thing is, gratitude lists can only get us to a certain point. Sometimes we have more than ordinary, run-of-the-mill bad days. Sometimes we have problems, whether they're moderate or severe, and whether it's one part of life that's gone wrong or the whole dang thing, and we need to take things a wee bit further.

A Different Kind of List

I should also mention that I'm not against list making in any way. But when I have a problem that goes beyond crankiness, I make lists of a different kind.

The resource list

The first is a Resource List. On paper or in my head, I think of all the things that could help me solve my problem . When my shoulders started hurting again last summer and I was afraid I'd have to go through all that pain and stress again, I realized that this didn't have to happen. Because I had:

  • Not one, but two awesome massage therapists I could call.
  • A bunch of physical therapy exercises I could do.
  • Some stretches, most of which I'd developed when I couldn't do the prescribed ones.
  • An ice pack.
  • A heat pack.
  • And if things got worse, an amazing doctor doctor and a brilliant physical therapist who could get me on the right track.

I put all of these excerpt for the last one to good use, and I was well enough to go to the Bead and Button Show and take my class. My shoulders have felt close to normal since then.

The action list

The next list is an Action List. If you've been following this blog awhile, you know that I make a lot of these.

The actions I take are different for different situations, but the first steps are the same across the board: admitting to the problem and accepting the way I feel. If gratitude is a vitamin, then this is like a shot (or at its most challenging... surgery). At first glance it seems scary, but the effect it has is worth a little pain.

A darker side to gratitude is that people sometimes think being grateful means they can't feel anything else! That facing problems when they have so much to be thankful for makes them terrible, miserable people. May I just say, this is a load of hogwash? Feeling like you need to change your situation doesn't make you bad. It makes you human -- a human in need of an action list!

The proud of list

There's one most list I make, and it's a great thing for self-esteem. That's the Proud Of List. It's exactly what it sounds like -- a running list of things I'm proud of doing.

I used to keep a file on my computer and add to it every day -- to the bottom of the list so I had to re-read it all the time. This really helped a lot, but I fell out of the habit and just started listing things in my head at night. Now that Bravery is my word for the year, I remind myself of all the brave things I've done before I go to sleep.

And of course, if there are any problems I've solved using the action list and the resources list, I praise myself for that, too.

Live Your Gratitude.

For me, there's one more piece of the gratitude puzzle. It's also a catchy little phrase: I live my gratitude!

It's nice to acknowledge the good things in life -- like a vitamin, remember? But it's super duper nice with awesomesauce on top to go from writing things down to getting into them. To being in the moment and really experiencing them.

  • When I feel grateful for my beads, I go look at them. I play with them. I make bead creatures with them.

  • When I'm thankful for friends, I email them. Or I send them presents. Or I invite them over for dinner and little pies.

  • When I'm thankful for Mr. Sequin... I go hug him! Or I stare at him with big, goofy Bambi eyes until he thinks I'm crazy (or hungry).

For me, living my gratitude is like a big, healthy bowl of vegetarian soup; warm, tasty, and filling. Vitamins are a great supplement, but there's nothing like getting nutrients right from the source.

So that's my take on gratitude.  It's part of my larger life philosophy, and it's served me well in the short time since I came up with it. I hope you find it helpful, or at the very least, that it gives you something to think about!

Now it's your turn: what's your approach to gratitude?

Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing, and have a sequintastic day!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

It's a paint party!

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

Invasion of the Beady Creatures!!!

I have a confession to make. Since my last post, my house has been taken over by bead creatures! They've multiplied at an alarming rate, and they're demanding all of my time, energy, and imagination -- which I'm happily giving them. I've never been able to resist a pair of googly eyes.

When I get into a state like this, where an idea has me so excited that I can't focus on anything else, I like to stay there as long as I can. Becoming obsessed with a project, to my way of thinking, is a sure sign that I'm working on something important -- something that needs to be finished. 

A Distraction.

But! I do realize that there's such a thing as too much creative obsession. As happy as my new friends are making me, I need to take a break so I don't get a case of Beady Burnout. So I've decided to distract myself by throwing a paint party!

What's a paint party? Well, for me it means going down to the basement, getting out my stamps and paints and brushes, and doing all the painting projects I've put off. I have some fabric, some plexi-glass, some canvas, and some white shirts, that need color -- and lots of it.

(A scarf made from plain white fabric.)

 On Friday, Mr. Sequin and I went thrift shopping, and I found a few white shirts to experiment on. Here they are on our small mannequin:

This last photo includes a vest I found in the children's section, and it has a ton of matte bronze sequins all over it -- in perfect condition. I'm going to harvest them for some projects.

Once I'm done with the painting and heat setting, I might even sew some sparkly little extras on these pieces. That is, if I can tame my feral sewing machine! Luckily, I'll have to wait a few days for the paint to cure; this gives me some time to form a plan of attack.

Now it's your turn: when you get obsessed with a project or idea, how do you handle it? Do you give in? Do you stick with the obsession as long as it's there? Or do you distract yourself with bright colors, like I do? I'd love to know.

(And also... do you like painting?)

Thanks for reading, and have a sequintastic day! I'll see you in the comments. <3

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Adventures in Beading!

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

I don't feel very wordy today, so I'll share some photos with you, instead.

Here's a necklace I made in December. I combined freeform bead weaving with bead embroidery and even did a little freeform on top of the cabochon. I like the way it turned out -- it's a great embellishment for plainer stones. 

Also, note the secret sequins on the back. I've added this little detail to other pieces, too.

Here's a beaded cabochon pendant. As much as I am (and always will be) a color fiend, I still enjoy playing with the neutral colors and am looking forward to creating similar pieces with the new sequins I bought.

So that's 2012. The first days of 2013 have brought about my very own Precambrian explosion... of bead-woven pieces.

 Here are some rings I made. I started off teaching myself how to make a diagonal stripe, and then I figured out that I could turn it into chevrons and zig-zags.

One ring was too small for even my ridiculously small fingers, so I turned it into a tiny beaded basket. I might fill it with sequin flowers.

Once I'd played with patterns a little, I decided to play around with increases in peyote stitch. What I got out of it was a little beaded plant. I added some other little touches, and it became...

A tiny little creature! I've made a lot of these little guys, and I have some exciting plans for them. These plans might even trump the Top Secret Project I keep alluding to.

While I was busy with my new friends and all my plans for them... I almost forgot that I wanted to submit a piece to Hatch, a creative reuse festival. So I beaded a game piece and embellished it with letter beads and a striped beaded bail. And... voila! 

It's small, but it stands out. And it announces the competitive nature that I try so hard to hide.

There were plenty of other beaded creations, but I didn't want to exhaust Mr. Sequin, my talented photographer, who's been sick for over a week. So they'll have to wait for another day. 

Now it's your turn: have you made anything you'd like to share?

Thanks for reading and commenting, and thanks for sharing your projects with me! And of course, have a sequintastic day. <3

Saturday, January 5, 2013

2012: A Sequin Odyssey!

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

Now that I'm back from my Blogcation, I thought I'd engage in some good, old-fashioned reflection. Because there's nothing better than beginning a new year by acknowledging the awesome things you did with the old one! Here are some of my most memorable events from 2012 -- listed in no particular order.

I made my first big sale! I never thought I'd sell my freeform button necklace, but I found the perfect home for it -- with a person who loves it as much as I do and who understands how much time and effort goes into pieces like this.

(Enjoy your new home, button necklace!!!)

Mr. Sequin and I did our first craft show. And our second!

 (I sold my favorite button ring. This one went to a nice home, too.)

I had a lot of other firsts, too. I celebrated my first full year of blogging. I hosted my first online craft show and blog hop, featuring awesome artists. I posted my first in-depth book review and product review. I did my first post to support a charity. I made my first little pies.

I even made my first beaded collar!

I tried freeform beading and fell in love with it.

 I applied to, and was rejected from, even more things than last year. Bead Dreams. British Bead Awards. Fire Mountain. Teaching at Bead and Button.

As a result of this rejection, I realized two things. One, I love writing tutorials and am pretty good at it! It's where my passion is. Two, rejection doesn't have to affect the way I view my work. I know my class proposals were awesome. That's some serious progress.

(Who wouldn't want to learn how to make a Goth birthday cake bracelet??)

I went to Bead and Button as a shopper and student... and met Sherry Serafini!

I took a class with Sherry in Chicago.  It was awesomesauce!

The Bead Embroidery Resources post came together -- I couldn't have done this without the help of dozens of talented artists and instructors!

I put lots of work into my Top Secret Project and decided to take it in a completely different direction. I even found some co-conspirators/collaborators!

I started hanging out at the IDEA Store and making things, which gave me more of a sense of community than I've had... ever.

I got to know my online community better, which includes all of you!

I also snuggled lots of cuddly puppies, saw some of my favorite musicians in concert, ate plenty of homemade pizza, painted fabric... and most importantly, I met this handsome fellow!

 (Did I mention I hide him around the house to terrify... I mean surprise Mr. Sequin?)

Oh, Ken. Where would I be without you? Hmm. Probably in a similar place, with one less naked doll in my life. But whatever.

So that's last year. Looking forward, there are so many things I want to do! I'm afraid that listing them will overwhelm me, and possibly overwhelm all of you in the process, so I'll just say that I'm hoping for this to be a year of fun things and awesome projects.

Now it's your turn: what are some your favorite parts about last year? 

Thanks for reading, thanks for chatting with me in the comments, and have a sequintastic day! <3

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Have a Sequintastic New Year!

Hi there, bloggy friends!

I've decided to cut my Blogcation short and share some fun things with you.

  • The first is my New Year's present to myself... an order of Sequins from Cartwright's Sequins! All in neutral colors for beading cabochons.
  • The second is a series of posts on New Year's resolutions. Each one offers a different take on the idea.

From Scoutie Girl, a post on New Day resolutions. I love the idea of having a resolution for just a day instead of a whole year -- it's much less intimidating and lets our goals change as time changes. My resolution for yesterday was to make a Barbie handbag:

(Awesome doll photography by Mr. Sequin.)

(Ken makes a guest appearance to ask: when am I going to make him some clothes???)

From Scoutie Girl a year ago, making an "I did" list for the year. I did this last year, and I'm going to do it again this year. There's something about looking back on the cool things I did during the year instead of the things I failed to do that gives me a serious surge of energy and makes me want to keep going.

From Mayi Carles, a post on setting small goals to create the snowball effect. I'm going to try this with fitness stuff, since exercise has always been something I fight with myself about. I'd much rather bead! Or eat raisins... and I hate raisins.

  • The third and final thing is my word for the year. I'm not sure where this concept came from, but it's really intriguing to me. For 2011, my word was health, and it proved to be a very relevant word. For 2012, my word was fun, and while it didn't turn out to be as meaningful as the first one, I did have a lot of it.
For this year, my word is bravery. It's the one I struggle with the most -- finding courage to be who I am, to follow my own path in spite of all the people in the world (including me) who believe I should do something safer, to get my work noticed, and to try new things. To stand up to myself and for myself when things get rough.

And also... bravery to get back into fiction writing! I've created a writing blog, where I'll focus on fiction, good books, and spooky stuff, in case anyone's interested.

Now it's your turn: Do you have any resolutions, or words, for the new year? Or do you like the idea of daily resolutions better? I'd really love your input!

Thanks for reading and commenting, and have a sequintastic New Year! <3