The path that leads away, also leads to me.
It isn’t just for me to walk to the unknown.
The unknown now knows how to find me.
We are on the same path, it and I.
It, like the father of the prodigal son, is coming to me.
That which I am seeking is seeking me as well.
It is no longer a one day, someday goal.
It is already here, on this path, with me.
Shortly after my parents died, I took to expressing myself primarily with beads. I had learned to work with beads when I was in my early 20s when I worked at the Kennedy Center. I had no idea that a few years later beads would be therapeutic for me.
Talking about my grief only seemed to make it worse. Nobody was around to help me know how to process my pain and loss. I was raised in a family that wasn’t very good at expressing feelings anyway. A lot of “friends” left after both my parents died, saying they didn’t know how to help me. It made an awful situation terrible.
I took to beads. Beads have their own rhythm and harmony and logic. Putting beads in order is like putting the world in order, one piece at a time. It gave my hands something to do and my mind something to focus on. One bead, then another, then another. Somehow I made it through. It wasn’t perfect – there was a lot still stuck in my head that I didn’t know how to deal with, but it there was less of it after I made jewelry. And, I made a little extra money by selling what I made.
Beads have a lot of symbolism. Sometimes it is because of the materials, sometimes where they were bought, and sometimes because of how they were made. A lot can be expressed with beads that isn’t obvious to the casual observer. They just see something pretty. Me, I see layers of meaning. A good necklace can tell a story to rival any piece of fiction. A good necklace can exorcise the demons like no crucifix can.
I don’t do this as often now. I’ve found that walking, writing, and yoga help keep me on an even keel. I make jewelry, sure, because I still enjoy it. I just don’t use the beads in the same way as often.
This weekend was hard. I made a necklace. Well, to be honest, I made the pendants on Sunday, and I made the necklace last night. The pendants are “tears”. I didn’t use my full complement of bead-symbolism tricks on this design.
I’d gotten a bag of beads a few weeks ago from a local bead store. The whole bag was only $3, and it had enough beads to make maybe 5 necklaces if you added in others to space them out. The bag was full of blue beads in different shapes – all Czech glass. Sure, I could have used just the beads from the bag to make necklaces, but all of one color in a necklace is a little much and the design tends to get lost.
The bag had lots of these little teardrop shaped beads in it, and I’d wondered what to do with them. I could create a pattern with two of them, round end facing each other, with a larger rounder bead in the center. That didn’t really appeal at the time. The beads were sitting in a saucer near me when I was having a down day on Sunday (hooray for the holidays!) so I started working with them. One of my favorite things to do is work with copper wire. I pulled it and the beads out and started making pendants. By the time I was done I felt better. Probably the fact that I was discussing how I felt with my husband at the same time had something to do with it. I still think the beads helped too. They are like a security blanket.
Last night I put it all together. The other blue beads are from the same bag. The tiny “11s”, the white beads, are from a separate purchase. I like how it came out. Some people turn lemons into lemonade. I turn pain into jewelry.