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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Preparing for a Better Me

I posted something on Facebook today for people who tend to over commit. 

  1. "Thanks, but I'll have to pass on that."
  2. "I really appreciate your asking, but my time is already committed."
  3. "I wish I could, but it's just not convenient."
  4. "I promised my kids (my husband, my wife, etc) that I wouldn't take on any more commitments without consulting them first."
  5. "I'd be happy to do that for you, but this month is quite hectic. Can we talk about this project sometime in the future?"
  6. "I don't have the time, but (name of someone else) would probably be the better person to ask."

Sadly, I don’t recall where I got these brilliant examples of saying “no”.  I’d love to give the original author credit.  Maybe I’ll find it again someday. 

Anyway, the reason I’m mentioning it here is because I noticed that a lot of my friends were “sharing” this status on their own timelines.  This leads me to believe there are many of us who struggle with over-committing and/or being able to say “no” graciously (I can’t do it graciously or non-graciously).

So let’s take a moment before the new year starts and think about what our time is worth and about how it won’t make us bad people if we can’t help everyone who asks. 

This kind of reminds me of that quote that was falsely attributed to Meryl Streep, but is in fact from José Micard Teixeira, a Portuguese self-help author and life coach (and regardless who said it, I think it is worth sharing):

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.

I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”

How many of us know how we want to live, know what actions we want to perform, but still fall into the traps we’ve fallen in to all our lives?  Habits are hard to break. 

They say taking one thing at a time works best.  And the first step is to be making it conscious.  That is, btw, one reason I like making “reminder jewelry”.  These are pieces that to the outside world look just ordinary jewelry, but the wearer knows about the secret (and sometimes not so secret) message contained within.

There’s no shortage of “message” jewelry on Etsy, that’s for sure.  So it’s a concept people are embracing by the thousands. 

I think the idea of wearing a secret reminder gives more strength and power to the issue you’re trying to resolve.

Let’s take one for example.  You could have a simple necklace pendant with a beautiful bezel set stone on the front and stamped on the back is one word “BE”.  So as your wear this lovely piece of jewelry, no one’s going to question you about the back of it, but throughout the day, you fiddle with it, place your fingers on it, move it around on the chain… and each time you touch it there’s a reminder for you.  Be in the moment.

Be mindfully aware of what is going on around you.  Be immersed in the situation at hand.  For that moment you stop worrying about the test you have to take tomorrow or the yelling at you got from your boss yesterday.  You’re not planning out your grocery list or thinking about whose birthday you missed.  You are in the moment.  Whatever you are doing is taking your full attention and you are feeling the emotions of only that moment.

Sometimes it helps to break a habit if you can (temporarily or permanently) replace the habit with another action.

Say for example you’re a chronic worrier.  Each time you become conscious of yourself worrying about something, you acknowledge it and replace it with something not harmful to you… taking a deep breath, saying a mantra or quote, bringing a positive memory to mind, etc.  If you touch your jewelry, every time you use the replacement action, the jewelry soon becomes a catalyst for the replacement. 

It’s like performing an action while practicing deep muscle relaxation.  Soon, performing the action can bring about the same calm state of DMR (deep muscle relaxation) because your body associates one with the other. 

So don’t be surprised if you see a few “messages” heading out the door with Laura Bracken jewelry in 2015. 

People are ready, willing, and able to change the things in their lives that have control over.  Things that will bring more positivity and peace to them on a daily basis.

The new year seems like as good a time as any for new beginnings.  What one thing would you like to change and what steps are you taking to change it?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Why Buy Handmade and the Benefits to Buying Directly From the Artist

I'm dedicating today's blog post to the First SRAJD Holiday Gift Guide and the mention of some reasons for buying from SRAJD members.

Have a look at the shops within these pages, each ad representing an artist who sells directly to the customer.

The benefits of buying handmade and particularly buying directly from the artist are many.

Buying directly from the artist, you can have all your questions answered by the exact person who made or is making your jewelry. The person with the knowledge of the materials and techniques used, the proper wear and care for this piece, and the person to turn to for special requests or if problems arise.

Customer service and support is unparalleled when the only two people involved are the customer and the creator of the jewelry.

Working directly with the artist allows for special requests as well as being able to communicate design decisions clearly between customer and artist.

While handmade and quality will always cost more than mass-produced imports, when you purchase your jewelry directly from the artist you cut out the middle man and the price increase that usually accompanies the use of a middle man.

Many if not the majority of SRAJD members care about the environment and take proactive measures to keep their designs in line with repurposing, recycling, and sustainability.

Independent artists also care more about how well their products are made and what materials they're made of. So buying handmade directly from the artist almost always ensures higher quality, longer lasing jewelry.

There's usually a story to tell, too. Buying a bracelet that came off a factory assembly line won't garner you as much conversation with admirers as being able to retell how the artist carved this charm from a nut that grows in Hawaii and how the artist used a saw to cut the design in this piece of copper, how this piece was made by firing powdered glass in a kiln, or that this piece was inspired by the artist's childhood memory of going to the Grand Canyon.

There are so many more reasons, and when all is said and done you also may feel a little joy knowing that you're helping small business and independent artists. We are certainly grateful of your business and do our utmost to deserve your consideration.

Thanks and happy holidays!