As We Stumble Along…

I know, in theory, that rehashing the same nonsense over and over again is pretty much the definition of insanity, but I’m fresh out of wisdom. I’ve outgrown my growth. I’m feeling deflated and a bit defeated. I’m defleated. I can’t find a job. I was turned down again for the group that overrides all of the big art shows, so I’m questioning my creativity, and even on stage, usually my happy place, I’m struggling a bit with my confidence. Right now, I’m sitting on my ass scrolling Facebook and playing Bingo, and the most I’ve accomplished is cleaning my kitchen floor. And let’s be honest, it’s not all that clean. If I close my eyes and play pin the tail on the blog post, I guarantee I will be talking about the same f*^%ing thing. It’s like a line of ants, following each other mindlessly until they reach that breadcrumb or anthill or death. The only way to stop it is to break that line. Hmmmm. Nope. I’m stumped. I have no idea. No idea how to break the line, no idea what to do, I don’t even know what the next sentence is. I’m stuck. Paralyzed. Paraluck. Paraluck and defleated. There ya go. Imma just sit here and combine words together to make other stupid words. That should get me at least through the next five minutes of my life. Hey. It’s a start…

Picnic Pin

Heads or Tails?

I stopped making New Year’s resolutions years ago. Like most, they lasted a week or two until they disappeared into the abyss, going the way of lost dreams, odd socks, and Tupperware lids. This year feels different. I have done much I’m proud of in the last year, but…but. Why must there always be a but? I’m leaving 2021 with a feeling of unease. I’ve been unemployed for almost two years. That’s it. Nah. Not it. (I just have to interject a little sidebar: the first time I typed this, “unemployed” turned into “unplowed”. And that’s all Imma say about that.) I digress. Being at home, I have watched more Christmas movies then ever before, and I can honestly say, I’ve seen every version of Christmas Carol ever made. There’s an unspoken rule about the holiday season that every movie, tv special, social media post and commercial show family, both biological and chosen, as perfect. Holiday dinners, family vacations, smiling. Laughing. Embracing. Finding ways to be together even when far flung and far apart. Huh. My family doesn’t look like that. We are far apart. We don’t get to spend many holidays together anymore. We don’t call each other every day. We’re prickly. And a bit cranky. We walk on eggshells sometimes. We aren’t always comfortable telling each other everything. But. There’s that but again. I love them more than anything. I would do anything for them. Anything. And I know that love is returned. And I think my unease might just be the fear speaking. Fear that they don’t know how much they mean to me. How lost I would be without them. Fear that I’m not doing enough. Showing up enough. Being there enough. So. My New’s Years resolution. Let’s be serious. I’m still not gonna call them every day. And cranky? Please. I was born whining. So, my resolution is two-sided. On one hand, I want my loved ones to know I will be here for them, always. And I will accept that we are as much of a TV family as anyone else. We’re just a little more Munsters than Walton. Happy 2022 to all.

The Other Half of the Orange. Commission for a Hallmark couple.


Cuff with Twisted Wire and Turquoise

This was the first draft of a commission for a friends mom. Her first reaction was “oh, so pretty…”. This moved rather quickly to “…so, I’m wondering if we can do less stones and less symmetry, this is reading a little superhero to me…”. I laughed so hard, cause she’s sorta right. There is a definite “Bracelets of Submission” feel to it that doesn’t work for everybody. So, I went back to the drawing board, and I found the purposeful asymmetry very soothing. I’m just throwing stuff around and seeing what creates a spark. The past 20 months has been horrific, yes. But the asymmetry of a completely different way of life was healing and calming and kinda zen. And as things go back to “normal”, whatever the hell that means, I’m finding myself a little ambivalent. I had four interviews for a perfect job. A company I believe in. Good money. Great people. Easy commute. Perfect. But all through the process there was a part of me that didn’t want this perfect job. I like being at home. I like having the freedom to go and do. Or not do. So, when I found out that I didn’t get the job, not because they hired someone else, but because they decided not to fill the position, my first feeling was relief. Followed by tears. And then, I stepped in dog shit. And now I’m wondering how much of an effect my secret ambivalence had on the outcome of this journey. Would the job have been mine if I really, really wanted it? Do I have that much power over my own life? Or is it merely that now that I didn’t get it, I realize, maybe, how much I wanted it, and that ambivalence is just fear in disguise? And what about the dog shit?!??!? So, now I’m back at square one. And I’m a little teary, a little relieved, a little scared, a bit ambivalent. And I truly have no idea what comes next. Well, other than cleaning dog poop offa my shoe. But in the asymmetry of an uncertain future, at least for me, there is symmetry.

Asymmetrical cuff with Twisted Wire and Turquoise

No Shortage of Balls, Here

This is me making balls

I’m making balls. Little, tiny, one false move and they’ll fly off into a million directions, never to be found until they embed themselves into the bottom of your foot, balls. This process is, well, boring. First, you have to wrap wire and cut it into rings. That is boring. Then you have to fire them until they turn into little balls. Boring. Then you have to pick them up, one by one, with a tweezer, place them in a tea strainer and into a cleansing solution to remove the fire scale. Really, boring, so at this point I’m prolly shopping online or playing Bingo. You’re undoubtedly bored just reading about it. And I’ll repeat this process until I have enough balls for whatever I’m doing, cause you always need more balls. This is not the first post that has focused on these balls. For some reason, these balls and the tedious process involved in making them always gets stuck in my head. It is possible I just like saying “balls”. I do. I admit it. But the real thing that always resonates with me is that, for me, this particular task is necessary to move forward. Without balls, I couldn’t do this…

Hope is a Thing with Feathers

Or this…

Woman Praying

For me, right now, it’s ball-making. Maybe it’s studying. Maybe it’s taking a really dull course online so I can get a better job, or exercising so I’m a spry 100 year old in the future. There’s always a million little things we have to do to move ourselves forward. And a lot of them are less than fun. But when I see something that I’ve done. That I’ve actually finished? That’s a little thrilling. And it takes balls. And balls I’ve got.

No More Than My Place, No Less Than My Space

I am overwhelmed. I am trying so hard to fill my time, to grow and learn and expand, to fill the space that is mine to fill. I’ve gone back to school, I’m facilitating a group on Mussar at my synagogue, something I am still wholly unqualified to do, I’m expanding the online presence of my jewelry business in time for the holidays, and I’m preparing to teach a jewelry class in November. Throw in my ongoing search for a job and I’m feeling like all the plates I’m spinning are not gonna stay aloft much longer. Looking for a job is stressful for anyone, but for one as thin-skinned as me, it becomes an exercise in low self-esteem and unworthiness. And admittedly, I’ve gotten a little picky about what I’m looking for. I like being at home. Truth be told, I Love. It. I still apply to every job I can, but I’ve been thinking long and hard about what the next phase of my life will look like. Find the job of my dreams? Go part time? Retire? Work at Target? I got a little spoiled getting unemployment all this time, but that gravy train has expired and I can’t reapply because, strangely enough, 18 months of unemployment benefits do NOT count as a salary. Huh. Go figure. So I’m juggling all sorts of wonderful things, but I’m not completely sure I’m handling any of them well enough and I’m surrounded by plate crumbs. I’m sure I’m not alone in my state of dervish-like anxiety, but I like to think I’m singular in that if I’m feeling something, Imma take you all down with me. So this morning, I decided to, just for today, stop talking for a minute and just do. Stop Raging. Whining. Muttering. Complaining. Spewing. Ranting. Blaming. Stop singing the praises of things I believe in but don’t actually do. And while I’m doing, I’m gonna smile. So this morning, I started my practice with my mantra, my reminder phrase. “No more than my place, no less than my space.” Repeat. Repeat. Smile. Repeat. Journal. Focus. Smile. Repeat. And in between it all, I work on my first numbingly tedious assignment for school and exercise and learn and grow and create and yes, sit in Starbucks for the first time in almost two years, and I’m smiling, and I’m sorry, what? Why am I still talking? Just filling a little space.

Strength. Equality. Courage. Small pendant


Atoning my A** Off

Everybody makes mistakes. The question is does everyone feel like they make more mistakes than anyone else in the free world? Cause, I’m pretty sure that honor is mine alone. If I had a nickel for every time I tripped over my cosmic feet, (and hadn’t made the mistake of spending that nickel instead of putting it in the bank…), I’d be, well, you know the rest. I let an unvaccinated child into our synagogue this morning while volunteering as an usher. At some point, I got left alone at the desk and the entire team of security people and front door greeters had either disappeared or also got bamboozled by a sweet little face. And there he was. I knew this was a vaccinated service only, but somehow, I couldn’t make the leap between that fact and a little boy. I panicked. I f*%#ed up. Chaos reigned. Security tossed them, gently, out. Dad returned, grumbling, older vaccinated child in tow. Peace returned to the kingdom. Well, most of it. My little corner of the realm had been ransacked. I felt bad. I felt guilty. I felt like I shouldn’t be there. I felt stupid. 4 hours later, my little place in the kingdom is still in disarray. I think about years ago, when I worked as a restaurant manager and it was New Years Eve. Mrs. Gold, an elderly woman who’d been coming to the restaurant since it opened and felt more than a little entitled, was having some sort of an issue and said to me, “ you know, Caryn, these sort of things only seem to happen when you’re here”. And I believed her. I still do. If there is a way for something to be misplaced, misused, mishandled, misinterpreted, or misinformed, Imma find it. Why? Am I seriously less intelligent than the next person? Not paying attention? Hard of hearing? Not getting enough sleep? Possibly. A passel of Mrs. Golds has taken up permanent residence in my head, and I can’t get them to move the f*^# out! And just when I get to the point where I think I might have them under control, like, they’ve packed up in search of another vulnerable brain…I do something dumb, I make a mistake. And I feel them all shaking their heads. “Mmm hmmm…what’d we tell you?” And that’s when I get it. As long as I’m alive, I’m going to do something stupid. And so are you. And you. And that guy over there. And that lady over there. And maybe the reason Mrs. Gold was so judging of others was cause she felt bad. Or guilty. Or like she didn’t belong there. Or stupid. I’m not as good at some things as some of my friends are. But I’m better at others. And yea, those things only happen when I’m there.

Bend, Don’t Break. Pin


“How Can I Go Forward When I Don’t Know Which Way I’m Facing?” -John Lennon

Today we buried my Aunt Dollie. My AD has been a fixture in my life forever, literally. The timing of her journey, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, is not lost on me. There’s something poetic about straddling the old year and the new; this world and the next. There will always be things we cannot know until we have traveled from here to, well, not here. And these mysterious journeys from here to wherever the f*%# not here is? They are happening all the time. And I’m not talking so much about the obvious. Birth, marriage, starting a family, death. All of the other milestones in life. There are so many smaller journeys that happen, that we may not even be aware of, taking place right this second. Every decision we make takes us from here to an as yet undisclosed not here. Ok, you ask, (yeah I see you rolling your eyes a little), what is the point? The point is…the point, huh? You’re looking for a point. Maybe I haven’t decided yet on what the point is. Maybe point A will bring me to one not here, and point B will bring me to an altogether different and possibly more delightful not here. How can I know? What if I make the wrong point? And of course there’s always point C. Don’t choose. Ah, you say, wisely, but deciding not to decide is also a decision and will also bring you to a completely different not here. Look, life is full of decisions, small, enormous, inconsequential, momentous. And often the smallest choice will bring you the greatest reward. My aunt was a bit of a badass. She graduated high school at 16, she was the first woman in her family to drive; she was a world traveler and a creator, making jewelry, and knitting scarves and pillows for all of us. She had a strong sense of right and wrong. I remember her giving my mom Hell because I didn’t send a thank you card for a gift she got me. She waited until both of her children were with her to take her final breath. She made a choice at the very end of her here to wait, just a bit, to go on to not here. And as I sit on my bed and write, I’m holding an orange knitted pillow in my lap. (For which, I’ll have you know, I sent a thank you card and called to say thank you), and wishing my much loved AD a peaceful journey from here to…not here.

Me, AD, and Mom

I Might Have Superglued my Nostrils Shut

I taught my first jewelry class today as part of a sisterhood retreat weekend centered on telling our stories. I thought working on a memory pendant would be a perfect fit. These were the very first pieces I did back when in 2012 when I was just starting the idea of a business. Like this.

No fire involved. I prepped all the metal beforehand. I put together toolkits so everyone would have what they needed. Ok ladies, this is what we’re making. Go. Make this. Easy peasy. Yep. Piece o’ cake. Not so much. 14 women looking to me for guidance. Using tools for the very first time that, for me is like brushing my teeth, but for them might be like getting behind the wheel of a spaceship. Throw in bench pins that don’t fit on the tables, connectors that aren’t quite long enough, the daunting task of fitting a two day project into two hours, and superglue flying. As am I. By the seat of my pants. What am I doing to these poor people? Recipe for disaster, right? But these women. They stepped up. They made some kickass stuff. Did they make what I envisioned? Some. Some took the metal and beads and doodads and did their own amazing thing. Did we finish them all? Nah. Did I take a few home that I am going to finish up for them? Yep. Happily. And as I stew and fret a little in the wee hours of the morning because I’m not 100% sure I gave them the best experience, I picture their beautiful maskless smiles, their laughter, their complete faith that I have every right to guide them in wherever this particular story goes, I think, this. This is what sisterhood is all about. Joyous, glorious mayhem that probably won’t go the way you planned, but is accepted with an open, grateful heart. Thank you, my sisters, my אחיות.

“Such Pretty Forks in the Road” -Alanis Morrisette

“My true self is perfect wholeness”. This was the centering thought in today’s meditation with Deepak Chopra. It’s all part of my quest for purpose. To find my self, my space, and according to the tenets of Mussar, fill it, “no more than my place, no less than my space”. Whew. Sounds like I’ve bitten off quite the chunk, no? In historical fashion, my first inclination is to say, “F*#% this s@#*”, and spit the damn wad out. But, curiously, I’m sort of enjoying the process. It’s illuminating to finally accept that whining about the present, crying about the past and fearing the future, and doing it in such spectacularly public a fashion is pretty much overflowing my space and possibly holding everyone around me’s space hostage as well. All cause I don’t feel equipped to fill my space in the first place. I know, I’m starting to sound a little Dr. Seuss-y. I cannot, will not find my place, I cannot, will not fill my space. But seriously, folks, y’all know I’m going through some stuff here as the world opens up. Blah, blah, Blah. Who isn’t? The trick is to balance the inner and outer me. The soul and the self. The true self, which is, just by being, already perfect, and the self I have created, which is, let’s face it, a mess. This is, obviously, a long process. I, of course want results yesterday. “Come on, true, perfect self… I know you’re in there, come on out!” Meanwhile my true self is telling me to F*#% off and leave a family-sized bag of m&m’s before I go. *Sigh*. Obviously this is gonna take a while, but what’s the hurry? Isn’t the journey as much of the fun as the destination? Truly, whoever said that? They are full of it. Sometimes the journey is just trudging up a mountain in the desert in high heels. Yesterday, I placed my usual online order for this particular ice cream I like. But, instead of ordering 4 pints, I ordered 4 cases. Didn’t even notice until after I submitted the order. And because the order gets fulfilled like, the second they get it, there is a good chance that I’ll be getting 32 pints of ice cream. Imma have to buy a meat locker. So, yeah, sometimes the journey is frustrating and lonely, and scary. But it’s also hilarious. And sweet. And fun. And enlightening. And if you’re really lucky, you have all sorts of amazing family and friends right next to you, complaining about blisters on their feet and the desert heat. Ok, True self. Be that way. But I’ll be back. No m&m’s. But I will have ice cream.

Necklaces in Progress, not yet hiding behind the outer self

Go This Way…

As the lockdown winds down and life begins to open up, I, like many others, am facing a crisis of faith. As horrible as this pandemic has been, it has been a period of calm for me. I answered to no one but myself. I needed to be nowhere and I created for only me. I didn’t stress about what I was missing, because we were all missing…something. And now? As we begin to remove our masks, I am suddenly afraid. What happens next? What do I do? Where do I go? I can’t live on the dole forever. I need a job. Don’t I? Can I keep living in this cocoon of calm and creativity, this bubble of peace, hiding behind a literal mask? Can I turn a quirk of fate into a life that resonates with joy? All of these questions have me a little stuck, loathe to leave behind the comfort of this quarantine life, but knowing I can’t stay. We all talk about the new normal. What is that supposed to look like for someone like me? Do I retire? Do I look for a new job? Do I sit around and hope my old job still exists? Or do I do neither of those and figure out what the life I really want to live for the next chapter looks like? Maybe it’s not just fear I’m feeling. Maybe it’s excitement, anticipation. Maybe it’s ok to be afraid, not for what we’ve missed, but about what’s to come.

Don’t look back