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

If You Need Me, I’ll Be Under the Bed

A dear, wise and wonderful friend sent me a volunteer opportunity she believes I am perfect for. It involves coaching high school age students in under-resourced areas so that they can envision a brighter future. A worthy goal. I immediately got a stomach ache and knew in my soul it wasn’t for me as I have nothing to offer. Yes, I am, as she pointed out, a supporter. A cheerleader. I offer time. Interest. I make people feel valued and important. All good stuff. It does not make me coach worthy. I am aware of the gifts I possess. I’m funny. Creative. I act. I create jewelry. I write. I am pretty good at all of this. But interestingly enough, these gifts hide behind a mask. I create a character. A piece of art. A blog post. All of these express who I am without me doing the talking. I am, in person, not particularly articulate. I stuff things inside and mutter to myself instead of saying what I need to say, eventually blowing a gasket or making an ass of myself or both. I interrupt because I’m sure people will either lose interest or ignore me altogether. This is not news. Especially for the 6 people who actually read this blog. But, when I act? Or create a piece? When I write? I am something else. I am articulate and funny and real and I feel just a little bit ferocious. I remember talking about auditions with my nephew years ago. I hate, I mean hate them. I have never figured out how to show my best self in two minutes or less. Just give me the part. I will kick ass, I promise. Coaches of any stripe can’t hide behind a mask. They give of themselves freely and share their wisdom generously. What in the world would a timid, inarticulate, not particularly successful, completely self-absorbed woman with a raging self-esteem issue and a perpetual stomach ache have to offer that any young person would want to hear? So of course I sent in an application email. And even as I write this, my left eye is twitching and I feel like I might throw up. Pretty much like every other day. Maybe I’ll go solder a mask.

Mask of Comedy & Tragedy.


That’s the Most Ridiculous Thing I’ve Ever Heard!

In this current world we live in, Zoom has been a life saver, a connection to those we love, to friends and loved ones, to religious community. There are more, let’s say, mature people who are still having some trouble navigating all this relatively new technology. We’ve all read the story about the gentleman who couldn’t figure out how to remove the kitty filter during a business meeting. Heh heh heh. There’s a lovely woman in a community I’m part of who tends to talk. A lot. The facilitator of our group has taken to starting every question with, “let’s hear from someone we HAVEN’T heard from.” So the other day, this person has her hand up and the tech support says, “So & So has her hand up”, and I hear, from someone else who obviously hasn’t figured out how to mute themselves, “Oy”. And I am looking around to see if anyone else heard it cause I want to laugh so bad. I, of course, am pretty dang tech savvy, so heh, heh, heh. A knee slapper. Well last night I participated in a wonderful program with my Sisterhood. It was informative and moving and inspiring and all those really good things. But, somewhere in the middle of it, I noticed a friend had her background blurred and I thought, “ooh, that’s cool, I wonder how she did that!” So, I briefly clicked on filters to see if I could find it, but no luck, so I clicked it off and turned my attention back to the event, only to notice that I had applied a very faint mustache to myself. Not a Groucho Marx mustache, more like a, she could really use a good waxing, mustache. So, I’m all “WTF, what do I do? What do I do? I don’t even know how I got it in the first place!” So, I’m sitting there covering my upper lip in what I hope is a look of intense concentration for a few seconds, before it occurred to me to just turn off my video and figure out how to turn off the filter. One of the many things I’ve come to know during this time is how much I don’t know. And really, so what? There’s always gonna be someone smarter than me, but I’m sure they’ve also run a whole load of laundry with no soap, or only noticed before getting ready for bed that they’ve been wearing their shirt inside out the whole day. But, I like to think I’m the only one special enough to give myself a ‘stache during a Zoom meeting.

She Could Use a Good Waxing

Getting Tired, Yet?

I started this blog seven years ago. For some reason, I thought combining my hilarious, tragic reflections on getting older with my jewelry designs was gonna be great. This was me then.

I had this picture taken (by the amazing Thom Lang), so I could enter a modeling contest for over 50 women. I wanted to be a model. A model. Truthfully, I love writing this blog. It’s like therapy. But there is a good reason why therapy is private. No one except your therapist wants to rehash the same *#% over and over again. I might have wandered off the beaten track a bit. What started off as funny, quirky and relevant to many, well, at least 6 of you, has become more like jogging through the quicksand of my mind without losing a shoe. Or a foot. This is me now.

Seven years later? I am a model of a lot of things. Humor, creativity, perseverance. I battle my demons for all to see. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a private person. But, I love this broad, quicksand and all. So, I lost my way a little here. I’ve been focusing less on getting older, or getting vintage, and more on getting through, getting serious, getting out of bed, getting over it , getting real. Have I reached the end of the road here? Hell no, but ya might wanna take a step back to avoid getting a little me all over you.