Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Baby Step Cha Cha

My Baby Orchid.

Yep things are all baby around here....even though I want to grow up already.
Venturing out of the apartment is looming as the need for groceries rears it's ugly head again and it's preceded by dropping Bella off at the groomers.
But that's tomorrow so I can still breathe easier today. I may take a baby step across the road to the market to help prep me for the venture out tomorrow.

The good news is my plan is working...making the polymer fangs has me beading again with tutorials in mind.  There's still that lump in my throat as I think about writing and know I have to start small so I can have a success that will give me courage.  I find I'm still beating myself up a bit at being played for a fool (I still don't get how those people live with themselves, using people who have been nothing but kind and helpful to them) but I think I'm venting some of it out now. I can now see the glimmer of 'fight back' mode, and what that means for me is always putting my creativity out there...doing something original.

I now have maybe a couple of hundred fang beads...I should open a store!
I'm joking, I have an Artfire store but annoyingly as I was ready to begin listing the fangs all packed in the box which are priced, sized and photographed the site is experiencing issues and is running so slowly the gateways to publish timed out. Grrr!  Baby step forward, baby step back, cha cha cha.

As I couldn't do that I picked up the beads to experiment with what can be done with the fangs.....ideas are beginning to add up, here's a couple of sneak peeks.

The more I work with the fangs the more possibilities I see. Polymer is so much more versatile than glass when it comes to adding extra holes which is something very desirable for bead weaving and maybe even bead embroidery where the need for glue would be eradicated. 

My creativity is flowing a lot more like normal and I'm making progress but I am still held back by the agoraphobia.....I wish it was gone already!  Not being able to get out and do things I need to do is causing me anxiety attacks and insomnia.  I just have to be glad my business eeked through another month and I still have a roof over my head and can buy what I need....things could always be worse. 

So today I build up courage to go out into the big wide world full of people again. Preparation H day......cos it's a huge pain in the butt!

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Both a need and a expletive this morning as I find my agoraphobia leading the way.  When I make polymer beads I make them on a mandrel but I like to redo the hole with my they are clean and uniform. The problem is I have not been able to locate the drill bits so I can do this. I broke down a few days ago and ordered new ones which have been sitting in my mailbox since lunchtime yesterday. However, the agoraphobia is not letting me leave my apartment to go get them. Frustrating!

I spent all yesterday afternoon and evening trying to work up the courage to go get them with no success. I know it's because I had to leave the apartment three days in a row when I wasn't doing so well that has knocked me backwards. And I know if you have never suffered with agoraphobia you'll think I'm nuts...."just go already!".  Here's what it's like. 

First there's the need to open the door which comes with the irrational thought that the door knob is hot and I'll be burned. Quickly followed by the crazy thought that I won't be able to open the door and I'll be trapped in my apartment which is so contrary I agree on the 'nuts' part.  But these are just diversions against the real fear.....people. Having to interact with people.  I may have to say hello to a neighbor or worse, bump into my chatty property manager who, I know, will want to talk about my going blonde....and. I. just. can't. handle. it.   I get the shakes, walls and floors ebb and flow like a rough sea and the big fear, a full blown panic attack.
Now if you've never had a panic attack you won't understand that either.

Panic attacks have caused me to leave places...rapidly. Full grocery carts get left.....every time I see an abandoned grocery cart I wonder if that person shares my debilitation. If I can't get away....flight because fight isn't working then I may start hyperventilating so bad someone decides to rush me to hospital....yes, it has happened.  

I haven't been as bad as this for years.....maybe twenty years even. A bad depression brings it all back in full force and all the self-lecturing, pleading, 'be brave-ing' I do isn't enough. 

I wonder if I got a burka if it would make me feel better. It actually looks like a solution to me....a burka just screams "unapproachable" and it's a lot like hiding under the blankets....just in public. And I can even buy one online for $29.99! I might do it other than I'm sure homeland security would be triggered into action.

So here I sit writing it all out, trying to overcome the fears and find some courage. Just to go to the freaking mailbox! I totally want to hit myself up the side of my head. 

Update:   So.....I did it. I formed a plan....back fire exit stairs, behind the building path, behind the pool out at the mailbox, grabbed my mail (and posted Mom's letters), back behind the pool...then the mad dash on the main drag (can't get back in the fire exit), into the elevator and home! I hyperventilated the whole way, legs shaking so much I had to sit down as soon as I got home...but only for a couple of minutes before I had to dash to the bathroom to throw up. Still shaking but it is done.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Doing the Hokey Pokey with a Peg Leg

Sounds like I'm having fun, right?
Well, the 'Depression Hokey Pokey' isn't exactly fun but a stage you go through on the road to recovery. It's when, because you are feeling better you try to do or even think about doing, something you used to do (put your right foot in) and realize you're not up to it (put your right foot out) and get severely shaken by it (shake it all about).

That happened to me yesterday.
The local bead show is on so there are things I'd like to shop for and people I'd like to see. I thought in the middle of last week in the midst of happiness due to creating with clay that I was ready, contacted a friend to see if she was going and made tentative plans. I started to seize up Friday afternoon....the blank spot started to set in and time was passing with no motion from me. Now, I try and think of it in terms of something fun so it doesn't send me deeper to depression so I regard the blank spot as 'The Black Spot' and in my head I go all 'piratey' (aye Matey).  Of course you can't do this in the depths of depression but once you're recovering any humor you can find you have to use.

The Black Spot creeps up, it started Friday afternoon, gave me weird dreams and woke me Saturday morning with anxiety. I sat myself down and asked myself what the anxiety was about and the answer was the bead show.
I messaged my friend and said I wasn't up to it, she understood but said to call her if I changed my I typed the reply that I would see how I was after my shower I immediately started to hyperventilate. Nope. Wasn't going to happen.

It's frustrating. Because I feel better, I feel like I should be able to go out and be social.....but, it just ain't that easy.

I lost yesterday to staring at the wall, picking work up and immediately putting it down and found comfort in mindless video games.  I play video games during depression because I know that they do exercise my brain even though I'm pretty much zoned out.

Getting Back On the Horse

Below are the first pieces I was able to bead in my 'Great Depression'.
I had to pull out one of my own tutorials for the PonDuo stitch because I couldn't remember how to bead it. The bracelet came first and then the pendant. The pendant reminded me of the 'Bastille', the French prison and so both these pieces take that name.  Art is about the creative soul and it's interesting what comes out when that soul is depressed...for me it pulled up the feeling of being trapped.

The crystal in the pendant does shine through it's cage and it gave me hope.

The Fangbanger Pendant came next and as my friend Mary Byberg said it's from my "Bite Me" period.  And I have to agree...when people aren't nice I tend to respond by just being a creative bitch (and the fangs here set me off on a true road to recovery playing with clay).

I saw my next design as a looking for direction...but many people told me it looked like a shield and that seemed right too. It also has a zen quality to it which was somewhat intentional...the drop was designed to have an Oriental feel.

All the pieces I have beaded in this period have been hard fought battles in that I don't feel the love for the beads that I did. I still have to shake the association of beads to the bad stuff that made me depressed.

Playing with the polymer clay and coming up with a line of fangs has been the best thing for me. It encourages me to bead and makes me see the way back to tutorial writing. But this weekend I have learned I still have a ways to go.

So right now I'm the peg legged pirate with the Black Spot doing the hokey pokey with my horse at the ready.
That's what it's all about. Arr!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"Where were you?" "What happened?" "Are you coming back?"

I've had messages containing those questions and others a lot lately so here I am trying to answer them.

My name is Mikki and I have MDD (Major Depressive Disorder).

What that means is I'm prone to severe depression, it doesn't mean I'm bi-polar or have a chemical imbalance.  I've been called sensitive (often overly but that's always by someone who has been completely insensitive to justify their behavior)...I am regular sensitive! I've also worked very hard for the last 30 years to live life with a higher awareness. It makes life tricky. Also when I get depressed I get agoraphobic which does not help matters.

I'm not on drugs....prescribed or otherwise. They don't work for me and can take a depression to the end of the road for know the one that ends with an obituary.  What's always worked for me (because I never had any other option) is solitude....withdrawal. Reach out and talk to people does not work for me...I know, I've tried it.  Once while sitting looking at a pile of pills I was about to take I reached my 'best friend' and when I told her how I was feeling (not easy) she told me she couldn't talk because there was a pair of shoes she wanted to go buy and hung up on me. Another time while waiting for MRI results to tell me if I had a brain tumor or not I reached out to a "call me if you need to talk, I mean it, I'm here for you" friend who after 3 minutes (while I was crying) took another call and forgot about me.  And we won't even mention family because that would make your hair curl.

So you can see why I'm not jumping at the chance to reach out and talk.
Obviously I'm doing better or I wouldn't be writing this.

The "What happened?" question is easily answered.
I trusted someone who, knowing my past with people letting me down, told me "I'm a true friend, I will always have your back" and then promptly wasn't and didn't...and then some!  I'm the poster child for 'No good deed goes unpunished'.

It pushed me over the edge of the cliff I was standing on. I had once again let someone into my life who just wanted to use me. That shakes you to your core when you're attracting the last thing you want.  You realize that your judgement of people sucks and fear of people sets in. You try to just get on with life but it eats at you from the inside....this thing called depression, when not acknowledged starts to shut you down. My beading suffered....I started making really stupid mistakes. My videos suffered the same thing. My tutorial writing also. And that just served to make the depression bigger, deeper, longer.

I had to do a lot of soul searching to find the trigger points.  I come from a family of goes back generations on both sides. I was born an empath.....and the abuse began bringing with it mental illness and I became a very high functioning schizophrenic (I worked very hard on that and was pronounced 'cured' at 40).    I was also born a problem solver, hence being able to overcome schizophrenia, but it's not easy and one of the things you do to solve the problems is keep drawing them into your life till they are fixed.  So because some level of my psyche wants to solve the issue of dealing with narcissism I keep attracting them and I don't know how to stop it other than not letting anyone in close, drawing the line at helping people very closely around me.  

I have to change myself....that's my only area of control.
Writing this is kind of my last 'being open' thing I want to''s an explanation of the change in me and my work. And as I type I argue with myself that I don't need to explain myself.  I am me and that's good enough. I have to give what I have to give, and if it's not enough for someone, well, as a few people have said "not my circus, not my monkeys". 

Am I coming back?  Well....yes. But differently. How differently...I honestly don't know.

Writing tutorials or trying to was making my depression worse...there's nothing like failing at something that used to come easily to worsen depression and make you feel worthless. And complex beading went down the drain one point it took me six attempts to make a simple peyote tube....and I was beginning to hate beads and all their associations.   Try not to stress when that is going on AND it's how you make your living!  I was in the "Pit of Despair" having my life drained out of me a year at a time (see "Princess Bride").

I had to stop pushing myself. I had to fall in love with beads again (not there yet).  So I decided to make some finished jewelry using one of a kind collection of cabs and donuts.  Simple things with clean lines and technical beading. 

I was binge watching "True Blood" (the bottom design is called "Fangbanger Pendant") at the same time which made me play with the 'tusk' or 'fang' gemstones I'd bought in Berkeley. This is a bead shape I have fallen in love with and as I only had the five and couldn't find any anywhere online it made me think of the polymer clay stash I had.  So along with adding a "Finished Jewelry" section to my store I'll also be adding a "Polymer Clay" section. 

I am a little addicted to making 'fangs' right now and there will be a large variety (many one of a kinds) in my store but I have some other designs in the works too.

I'm hoping that the polymer components will get me back into writing tutorials that use them but I also hope people will use them for their own designs. My stomach still pretty much turns to stone and I still feel like throwing up when I think about writing but I know at some point I'll get past it....sooner rather than later I hope.

I have closed the Bead Mavens blog as I need to focus on my own business/life but it will stay up so everyone can access the info and freebies. Everything is I work, how I look (I'm now a blonde), how I design and what I design.  I'm beginning to feel myself again although I'm now Newme (no! not Sarah), still compassionate and kind but not fairy blood to a vampire.

I have learned one major thing.....when someone says "I have your back" I think I'm getting this:

But I'm probably getting this:

I will survive!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Sharing and the Bead Community

Well, I've been a busy little bee since I last posted.

The new Bead Mavens are up and running to a great welcome...thanks so much for that. It took me 18 months to feel good enough about people again to do it but I'm so glad I did and I think the new format is going to be terrific.

I gathered six designers who write or are starting to write tutorials and I help/mentor them as much as they need to become better known and grow their businesses. Why would I help my competition you ask? Because I believe in "Pay It Forward" and the bead community as a whole. I believe if we help each other we all benefit.

The whole idea about the Bead Mavens is to share, share what we know, what we've learned, how we do things. One thing I learned while teaching was that not all tutorials/patterns are equal and you tend to have to buy blind. I had many students bring me patterns to decipher and sometimes I had a hard time trying to figure out a thread path for them....yes, it stunned me that some patterns don't have a thread path and you're expected to figure it out for yourself.   So, having the Mavens do two free tutorials for the blog in their year stint let's you, the beady reader, see just how they write and if it's a style that works for you. You get a free tutorial and they get the exposure and maybe some new, right?

I personally have 12 free tutorials available right now over at Bead Mavens...and 13 if you count Crystal Corners on this blog. My spirit of sharing even though this is what I do for a living.

Anyway...that's one thing underway.

I also finally finished my Doodad trio of tutorials...YAY! and my Tile & Hinge bracelet tutorial...they are listed and selling well...thank you so much :)

Yesterday after some discussion on Facebook with other designers I was encouraged to open a discussion group so we could share information and ideas about how better to protect our written works.  There is much confusion about copyright law out there and I'm not sure it's yet caught up to our high speed world.  I do know that some unethical characters are taking projects published in magazines, scanning them and putting them up on their own websites and Facebook pages. Whilst looking at one of these after being alerted for someone else's work I found one of my own tutorials, my name taken off, no credit or link given. I certainly didn't give permission for that.

I'm not sure any designer would be for this kind of thing but maybe some don't need to make money from their work so it wouldn't matter to them. 
As tutorials are my sole income it matters to me.  I stopped submitting to magazines because of this kind of thing and I know a lot of designers who have done the same, some even stopping selling online or even posting pictures of their work for fear of losing their income, opting instead to teach locally where they have control but their income is then very limited. Sad!

I've developed a very tough skin lately. I just reached a point where I said "I quit!" and I thought about that. To quit doing what I love and what gives me and my Mom financial security is I decided to quit letting the unethical behavior of others get to me.  I'm chock full of designs...more than I can make if I never have another idea and I bead till I'm 100! 
So I move on when someone does wrong by me and I trust in Karma to take care of me as it has done in the past and I will not feel guilty if Karma has a heavy hand as it has also done.  Scares me for people but that's theirs to deal with.

In my old age...I'l be 55 this year...OMG how did THAT happen?....I have developed a full belief in myself that can't be shaken anymore. It's a great place to get be able to not let the bullies in the world get to you, to feel so confident in who you are as a person that you no longer worry what people think of you....and in fact when someone does say bad things it just makes you laugh and then maybe feel a bit sorry for that person who obviously hasn't reached that good spot in life.

I'm like Sheldon Cooper I have found my spot. Such freedom. Such happiness. Such joy :)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Saturday Morning Eye Candy

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted because there's been a lot going on behind the scenes.
I can now let you know I am bringing back the Bead Mavens, new people, new format, hopefully lots of good info and free tutorials you have told me you enjoyed so much :)  Relaunch date is August 4th when I will start introducing the new designers for the first year.  Yes, I will have new designers each year!
So many people wrote before wanting to know how they could be a Maven this time they will have a chance. More on that later.

As we have our first cool day, read under 100 degrees, we're planning to take full advantage of it and get rid of our cabin fever.

But I thought I'd bring you a little eye candy to start your day and let you know I'm still beading and writing tutorials.
This is the tutorial in progress right's in the testing/editing phase.

The Ric Rac Waterlily was inspired by all the wonderful work Kate McKinnon, and the world, are doing with her book Contemporary Geometric Beadwork.
I've worked hard to just take inspiration and create something of my own whilst also keeping things in my current style of bold color with black and white.....which people keep telling me to problemo, it's my personal style :)

The 3-layer and the 4-layer versions

The regular size ones with the bangle/wall wreath in progress.

And the 3-layer sitting on top of the bangle in progress just for fun.

And once that tutorial is finished I can start on the tutorials for these Doodads :)
Cone, Corkscrew and Pyramid.

Alrighty you have some good ol' bead porn to look at I'm off to the park :)  Have yourselves a great weekend!

Monday, June 17, 2013

I Lost My Virginity

Yes, I did! I am no longer a Bead & Button Show virgin.

BOY! Is that an event, the show, that is.  So many people wearing so many amazing pieces of beaded art, people wheeling craft carts, displays of the most gorgeous pieces designed to make your chin hit the carpet.

Of course, idiot me had phone and camera and took one solitary photo!
And not even of jewelry....not even a good photo!  Which only goes to show how overwhelmed I was!

There used to be a time I didn't go anywhere without a camera....methinks I need to get back into that habit!

Anyway....the show got off to a bit of a rough start for me....there was some not so pleasant stuff going on my first night that could have completely ruined my trip if I had let it.....but that seemed to be the idea. The next day my suspicions were confirmed by a few, it isn't paranoia if it's actually happening...I was met with it as soon as I walked into the showroom.  
But you can't let these things get you down and my work shone through it all and I had a brilliant time.

It is rather un-nerving to be stood in line at Starbucks and have someone suddenly scream your name, and to have people wanting to have their picture taken with you.!   Also an incredibly rewarding feeling that my designs are giving people joy. I feel so lucky to be able to make a living from doing something that brings me joy and then to know for sure, in my face, that my work is appreciated.  

I am now able to put so many faces/voices/laughs to the names on my Facebook friends list and include some people as firm real life friends. I met some of the most amazing designers...the icons of beading and you could have picked me up off the floor when they knew my work....and even 'admired' or 'loved' it!  

On the health front I did extremely well at the show, I had lots of energy and was literally running around at some jogging through the skywalks. The food issue was a little troublesome at first...I swear if someone else had suggested a gluten free soup and salad I would have rammed it.  My first day of GF food while travelling sucked however I got myself over to Millertime and found GF beer and bunless burgers...yay!
I did chance the fries....and they were a bit of a day I asked if they used the same oil for fries as he chicken nuggets and sure enough they do....bread crumb cross contamination!   So, I felt the effects of cross contamination each day but nothing that ruined anything.  Story got a little different when I got home and a week later I'm still recovering from the horrible effects of gluten build-up. shall pass!

The whole trip made me do a lot of soul searching and thinking. Yesterday I posted pics of my art on Facebook, something I tend to keep hidden because that was what I was taught to do.  I learned to hide my work/talent because a few people get all pissy about it...and sometimes take their frustrations out on my work by ruining it or stealing it. My first year's work at college at the end of year display was splashed with paint and every piece ruined. My second year someone went into the pottery studio and smashed a set of figurines I'd worked all year on.  It has been explained to me, sometimes years later by the people who did these things that they didn't like that I was always top of my classes. *sigh*

So I've decided to not hide in a corner anymore, there will always be the haters who try to intimidate you out of existence and they can only do that if we let them.  I have some interesting things coming up, some new things, some reincarnated things. 
Watch this space :)

So....a big thank you to all the wonderful people I met at B&B with a special thank you to Shelley Gross, Suzanne Golden, Jill and June Wiseman, Jennifer Erlichs, Leora Mattila, Mandie Ainsworth, Amy Royster, Perry Bookstein, Kelly Stevenson, Lisa Kan and a myriad of others.  Also a big thank you to the not so nice bunch as you gave me the push I needed to get out of the corner.