Ring Pass Not

Ring Pass Not

It’s been almost two weeks since we said goodbye to Sadie. It has been rough, but as those of you know, it gets more bearable as time passes.

For those of you that are interested in Human Design, and even for those of you that aren’t, my mind works very abstractly. I have the 47/64 Channel, or the Channel of Abstraction. I don’t think in a linear way. I collect experiences and images and then try and sort them into a story that I can learn from later. I’m always looking for meaning from my past. I chase a higher perspective once I’ve lived through something. It’s just how I’m wired.

I believe this is why writing has always been something that comes easy to me. I’m constantly trying to make sense of my past and writing allows me the space to do just that.

After we buried Sadie, Shayne and I had along discussion about what was important to us about how we moved through her death.

Shayne said it would have crushed him had she passed without us being with her. I’m very grateful that we were with her every step of the way. On the day she died, before we found out she had cancer and were waiting for the scan, I spent about an hour with her at the pet hospital in a room where I just held her on my chest as she slept.

I spent those 60 minutes just inhaling her Sadie scent and was 100% present. That time with her, in that place, is something that I feel good about. I stayed as long as I could before they asked me to leave because they needed the room. The staff was really great. I am grateful for them and their kindness.

Another thing I’ve thought about was the manner in which she died. The vets said we could take her home for the night if we wanted to in order to say goodbye, but that she might be in some pretty bad pain. Hard to tell since she couldn’t speak.

We drove there wondering what it would be…another night with her at home to say a longer goodbye or not?

When they let us in the room to see her, she didn’t move from her bed. She wasn’t excited to see us. She didn’t want to eat or drink, and her tail didn’t even wag when she realized we were there. She was…beginning the process of dying and I could sense it immediately.

I knew in that instant that she was ready to go. And I remember many others saying that as a pet owner, you just know when its time. And you do. You know.

You know because you are so deeply connected. I felt my way through this…every step of the way. My feelings were what I could trust about the right timing and sequencing of events.

When I separated myself from the connection I had with her and what I have with Shayne was when I experienced anxiety.

I watched myself. At least this time, I was aware of what I was trying to do and was able to stop it. That’s progress in my deconditioning journey of trying to force things to a resolution because it’s painful to live in the realty of “I don’t know what to do or when to do it.”.

You know when you know, and not a second before.

Last week was the first week in 12 years that I spent it totally alone while Shayne was out of town on a business trip. I never realized what a big presence a pet has in your life until they aren’t there anymore.

I often stayed out visiting with Dad or friends until it was time to go home, wash my face and go to bed. I was able to attend my Searching For God group without fretting about the time and getting home to give Sadie her shots and medicines. I find myself turning on a movie or the radio for noise…you know, the usual stuff we do to avoid being alone while we adjust to a new normal.

This weekend, I am resting a lot and reading even more, enjoying the coolness of the Fall weather, my favorite time of the year.

Life goes on…seeking itself in the connections we all have with each other.

We are all in this ring of life…and we don’t pass out of this ring until we have moved through it.

Blessings to you all…and thank you again for the cards, hearts and condolences.

Beyond

Beyond

This week my best friend with four legs died.

Sadie came into our life by way of my father and stepmother. About a month before she came into our life, Shayne and I talked and talked about getting a dog, or not. We were pretty prolific travelers and our lives were not really that stable. Would it be fair to a dog to live on the road as much as we did? So many questions.

We tabled it for a few weeks, then made a trip to Tennessee to visit with my dad. Dad has always had poodles and he was looking to get another one after his beloved Amber succumbed to lung disease.

His wife worked at a local bank, and one of her customers told her that they had a toy poodle but they just couldn’t take care of her properly. The couple was older and physically not in good shape. So, my stepmother decided to see if the dog might be a good fit for her and my father.

The weekend they picked her up was the weekend Shayne and I came in for the visit. I saw “Prissy” in her cage by the top of the staircase when I walked in the front door. Dad said she had been in the cage all day and hadn’t really ventured out.

As soon as I made eye contact with her, she came straight over to me and jumped in my lap. And she never left my side the entire weekend.

As Shayne and I were getting in our car to head back to Chattanooga, Dad came out with “Prissy” and the cage, and said she was our dog. And we took her home.

You see…she chose us. It was clear who was really in charge here.

We renamed her Sadie because Shayne just couldn’t stomach walking her and calling out “Prissy!” in public. Sadie Mae seemed to fit. I called her many names…Weirdo, SadieMaeLicious and Mutt.

But she was my heart, you know?

Those of us that have had intense personal relationships with an animal…know what it is to be chosen by their pet.

Anyway…for 10 years the three of us traveled, and lived together relatively easily. Sadie didn’t have any health issues other than being somewhat lazy when it came to outdoor activities. But she was in a cage for the first year of her life, basically.

When I got her, I immediately started taking her for walks. Wind was weird for her. If it was windy, she would just sit down, as if trying to figure out what it was and where it was coming from. Grass was foreign to her also. She had to learn to do her business outside. She had only ever used a pad.

Sadie “fishing”.

Sadie “fishing”.

One thing she loved above all else was fishing with me. In one of our many abodes, we lived in a lakehouse. Every morning we would walk down to the lake and Sadie would tiptoe across the rocks to watch the little fish. Her little body was so tense with excitement…like a ballerina on point she could do miraculous things in the water on rocks without every getting her little feet wet.

I had 12 years of intense moments and experiences with her. Too many to recount. So many memories. So much love.

About two years ago, she started losing weight and was insane about wanting to eat and drink . A trip to her vet confirmed what we suspected—diabetes. On top of that, she also developed an endocrine disorder called Cushing’s Disease. For a few months we all had to adjust to a new normal. Shots in the morning and at night, 12 hours apart. Medicine for the Cushings. Then, as if overnight, she went blind.

We all adjusted as you do when someone you love begins to decline. Shayne had his nights off of Sadie duty to ride his bike, I had my nights off to do my thing. But, the nagging realization that my friendship was about to end came a couple of weeks ago.

Sadie began licking the floor obsessively. If she had a mouth capable of eating my wood floors she would have consumed them. It woke her up in the middle of the night…and me too. I’d find her licking the bathroom floor, licking the kitchen floor…then she started licking the walls.

I looked up obsessive licking online and found some information that suggested there was a liver problem. Last Friday, I took her to the vet to get a Blood Glucose curve and a complete blood panel to check her liver function. When I talked to the vet on Monday about the results of her blood work, she wan’t too concerned about the numbers at all. She was more concerned about Sadie’s kidney test. She suggested changing Sadie’s diet to a more kidney friendly one. I was going to pick up the new food Monday night after I left the studio.

I called Shayne to ask if we needed anything from the grocery because I was going to stop there too, but he said he had to go because Sadie was throwing up. By the time I got home, she had thrown up 4 times and had bad diarrhea. We packed her up and took her straight to the Pet Emergency Clinic.

She was initially diagnosed with acute Pancreatitis. They wanted to do an ultrasound on Tuesday, so we did. They found Liver cancer and it was pretty bad. The vet didn’t think she would make it for long, and they were already unable to get her to eat or drink water.

Shayne and I drove to the hospital and said our goodbyes. We were with her as she was euthanized all the way to the end. It was so fast. And we spent an hour with her before we used the call button to begin the process. She was easy in spirit…I could tell she was ready to leave us.

The vet asked us if we wanted them to take care of Sadie or if we wanted to bury her ourselves.

Shayne and I told them we wanted to take her home to bury her. I have a big, wild backyard and there was a favorite spot she liked and we buried her at sunrise yesterday morning. The digging is therapeutic. We dug a hole a few feet down in hard clay and backfill. Sweat poured off of Shayne as he used a pick ax to prepare the ground to take Sadie’s body back.

I shoveled out what he loosened. There is something about how the hole must look before you lay a body in it that can only be discerned when it is right. We both knew it instantly…and Shayne carefully lifted Sadie’s rigid body out of the coffin box and gently laid her in the hole while I got her Suck toy and used it to pillow her head.

And then we covered her.

Your mind knows that the enlivening spirit is gone. But watching dirt cover a beloved member of your family is terribly difficult. Last night was hard. My heart wanted to bring her in…to keep her out of the night.

But there is no keeping her out of the night…she is now with the light. She IS the light.

A collector of my jewelry ordered her first pair of longer-than-used-to earrings from me last weekend, a couple of days before Sadie passed. She has some fur-babies too, and we both have connected in a more personal way outside of jewelry through our beloved friends.

The earrings she ordered are called Beyond. She has been instrumental in getting me through this heart-sick process of the dying of my pet. Her kind inquires and emails have been little life preserver’s for me…as I have felt adrift in a sea of turbulent emotions regarding the transition of my pet.

When I designed the Beyond earrings, I was contemplating this experience of being connected to something bigger than what you are immediately aware of. The synchronicity of her order…that these earrings would be the first I fabricate after Sadie’s death is not lost on me.

I picked up a book yesterday in my husband’s office that I wasn’t even aware of that we owned. It is by Stuart Wilde, and it is called The Force.

In one of those serendipitous experiences, I opened up the book randomly and this sentence jumped out at me..

There is no shortcut to completing your earth experience. You will have to experience all of it for, metaphysically, you can only go beyond something by going through it. Your life builds upon a patten and, eventually, that pattern sets you free.

The last 72 hours of my experience is one that many, many of us travel through. For me, it was the first time that I consciously chose to be present for ALL of it.

My hand was on Sadie’s body as she drew her last breath. My hand was on her as we put the first shovel of dirt on her during the burying process.

The box she was in contained the urine her body excreted when she died, and I smelled it mingled with the earth as we lay her in her final resting place. I took it all in. I didn’t shy away from it as many of us have been conditioned to do in regards to the death of someone or pet that we love.

There are no shortcuts.

Last night…was hard. I looked around the house for something that still smelled like her. I haven’t cleaned the floor where her dog food bowl was and where she always left some food on the floor because her sense of smell and eyesight had failed her.

Every room has a memory of her…I see those memories when I walk around the house.

I’ve been deliberate and slow about every aspect of her death…and I’ve realized some things that otherwise might of eluded me if I would have turned away from the unpleasant aspects of dealing with death.

I’ll write about those things in my next post as I continue to process this but the thing that sticks out the most right now for me is the sanctity of life. The celebration of life that one finds in the end of it.

One other thing that stands out…in a strange way, her death has made this house my home. Her body in my backyard gives me insight into how hard it would be for people to ever leave their ancestral homes. The land takes back the bodies…holds the blood of those that have fought for it. Their essence and life-force becomes the eco-system of a place.

I look out my back porch and the sun hits Sadie’s resting place while I drink my coffee. She is there…becoming part of my magical backyard, still to teach me the value of life in the myriad ways only she could.

Shayne and I are blessed..to have had her for 12 years, and for these lessons she is still teaching us about being present and ALIVE.

For those of you on Social Media and in text messages and phone calls…thank you. Thank you for your concern, condolences and insights with your own experiences with death.

I’m Going Wholesale!

I’m Going Wholesale!

I decided to develop a wholesale line for my jewelry biz and I couldn’t be happier!

I was approached by a jewelry rep a couple of months ago for the Southeast portion of the US, and I had about 4 weeks to come up with the line, photograph it and compile the mini-collections into a line sheet for my rep. 

Whew!

I worked so hard, and had so much fun re-thinking my work for this new opportunity. 

I had many inspirations…Moroccan architecture, New Orleans mornings with coffee and flaky pastries, as well as Sedona energy vortices!

The initial collection is small, but I’m really excited about working on more additional designs moving forward that will continue to expand the line. 

My rep, Don Harrell, has so far introduced my work to three galleries in the Asheville, NC area and my work will be arriving there in the next couple of months as summer gets closer. 

Here’s the latest additions!

Seven Sisters Gallery in Black Mountain, NC. 

Twigs and Leaves Gallery in Waynesville, NC

New Morning Gallery in Asheville, NC

I just shipped a batch of jewelry to Twigs and Leaves in Waynesville, and am so excited to have my work represented there. I used to live in Brevard, NC as well as Asheville, and Waynesville was always a favorite day trip. 

I’m really looking forward to developing this aspect of my business, and can’t wait to see how it goes!

What is Soul to Substance?

What is Soul to Substance?

Soul to Substance is what I refer to the process of being alive. I think our purpose is to learn how to grow our consciousness (soul) through our experiences here on earth (substance).

Creatively, I explore the process of intention with action.

So why do I make jewelry?

I consider it my spiritual practice, in a way, about aligning my desires and beliefs about living a meaningful life with my business goals of producing personal adornment infused with meaning and intention.

For some reason which is still a mystery to me, I work out my life’s lessons through my metalwork and the result is a talisman about the concept I’m contemplating at the time.

I want all parts of the process, from thinking about it…to making it… to offering it for sale…to teaching it to be a singular experience for both myself and the future owner of my efforts and ideas in metal.

Soul to Substance was a name that was given to me during a contemplative and solo walk in the woods when Shayne and I were traveling around the United States ten years ago. We decided to spend a few months in Arkansas, where we both grew up, and we found a vacation house to rent in Hot Springs Village. It was in the summer, which is a beautiful time to be in Arkansas, although it’s really hot.

There was a trail nearby, called the Mourning Dove Trail, that I liked to walk with Sadie daily. It is a special, special place for me. I was out walking the trail by myself, stopped by a small creek and experienced one of those moments where you have such clear and sudden insight into a BIG idea that it throws you back for a moment in its stunning simplicity and meaning.

After Sadie and I left the creek, as I was walking, it occurred to me that the clothes I had on my body, the shoes and socks on my feet and the glasses on my face all began as an idea in someone else’s mind.

We are literally surrounded by ideas by way of anything and everything that has every been crafted, manufactured or built. I like to tell my nieces that if you want to be a mind reader, then read a book. That is nothing but ideas and thoughts from someone you might want to learn from and be inspired from…and the miracle of the printing press! To be able to spread ideas in word form with complete sentences for those lucky enough to be able to read changed our world!

But as I was wandering about on that trail, I realized that our world is based on this principle in that everything starts out as something that can’t be seen, touched, smelled or tasted. It begins in the soul.

That wispy barely there seed of something starts in our souls, turns into an idea and our purpose is to practice bringing our ideas and our ideals into the world, into the physical.

Or as my friend Cindy said to me so beautifully and astutely regarding why we creatives feel so compelled to make things— “it’s about the challenge of working through an idea and having it turn in to a real, dimensional object.”

But even if you are not an artist in the traditional sense of the word, you do create daily.

Your ideas about your life show up in your physical environment. What you choose to surround yourself with, what you choose to watch on television, listen to on your radio or iPod…you are constantly creating your reality based on other people’s ideas, as well as your own.

This was another big, fat Aha! moment for me. I have the power to choose the ideas that I want to live with…all the way down to something as simple as the type of toothpaste I decide to brush my teeth with each day.

This seemingly simple realization changed my outlook on just about everything in regard to how Shayne and I want to live the rest of our lives. Shayne has had a dream about building a small house whereby everything about it and in it has a specific purpose. He wants to build it with his own hands. He wants to infuse his ideas about simple living into a physical structure for us to live in when we are not traveling around so much.

(Update: We bought a house instead! But we are ‘re-working it’ with our own hands!)

We are both practicing being mindful about what comes into our home in the way of products that we use, art that we purchase, furniture that we sit or sleep on…we want and are in the process of clearing out any ‘things’ that we feel were made or manufactured with the idea of subtracting from the quality of the moments we have left on earth.

I have two favorite pairs of pants that I wear all of the time. I bought them at the Saturday Market in Eugene, Oregon 20 years ago. They are handmade. I met the woman that makes them, and she was at the time a single woman, raising the sweetest, chubbiest child I have had the pleasure of meeting.

Her child was always with her, and as I talked to this maker of pants, she told me that she made her own clothes using hemp because it would last forever, getting softer with time and washings; it was very durable and easy to work with and she wanted some pants that had an elastic waistband to grow and shrink with time as our bodies naturally do. Every pair was infused with love for her child, as this was the means that she was able to house and feed them both.

When I wear them, 20 years later, I briefly think about her intentions for making them, and it makes me feel good knowing that I choose to clothe myself with the energy and essence of this amazingly earthy and industrious mother. And the pants have lasted through hiking and fishing trips, infused with memories of being with friends and family doing some of the things that I love spending my time doing. And she was right about the elastic waistband…I can continue to wear them whatever size my belly is at whatever time in life I happen to be in, as I happen to have a stomach that really does expand an inch when I eat ANYTHING.

That is what Soul to Substance is about for me.

I want to live from my Soul and see what Substance comes from that. This is what my jewelry is about as well. I still don’t have words to try and explain why I am compelled to put so much texture on my work, or why I feel such a strong urge to make my jewelry the way I do. I am still figuring that out, working out what it all means for me. I have understood my jewelry on a soul level…but I am gradually getting to where I can talk about the feelings that emerge as I bring it out of my Soul into Substance.

It is ever evolving, but I do feel like I am getting closer. I dream of an art retreat someday called Soul to Substance where those of us that are interested in exploring this idea more can gather and see what ideas we can birth into this world. I see Soul to Substance as a big umbrella idea…many things can fit under it!