Saturday, July 21, 2012

Where Are YOUR Ducks?

Where are 
YOUR ducks?

Organized...organization....what comes to mind when you hear those two words? For some, it’s just a word, something you just do so you can be the amazing and productive person you are and you hardly think about it. For others it makes our stomach clinch a little and tiny beads of sweat begin to dot our brow as, in a flash, 3 or more thoughts of areas that are in need of some serious organization flash across our minds accompanied by that ever familiar guilt. Which of the two are you or are you somewhere in the middle?

If you’re marketing an item that you create with your own hands, chances are you're a pretty creative person. There’s also a good chance that organization may not come naturally to you. Of course there are exceptions to every rule. I acknowledge this with not just a little envy of those who are blessed with the organization gene AND the artistic gene. You are my heroes! As for the other artistic types, this is not the case. Many of us right-brains don’t naturally fall into a prelabelled, color coded box easily. We usually go out of necessity mixed with a little desperation, side-tracked all along the way by all the pretty sparkly stuff! Am I painting a realistic picture for any of you? 

I have a weird dichotomy. When I used to work in an office, I was very organized. I was known for my ability to streamline workflows and develop processes and policies to handle all the information coming in and going out (I was the lead Data Analyst in the IT Department of a local hospital). The day would end, I’d go home...and that is where this uber organized side of me would just *poof*, disappear. I’ve discovered I suffer from a couple of maladies that while, sadly, are incurable, can be put into a sort of daily remission if I take my “Medicine”. They are as follows:

Calendar Clutter:
Calendar Clutter is that sense that I know I have a lot to do, I’m just not sure what or when or with who and I am sure I will miss something at some point because I am suffering an attack of Calendar Clutter.
My Medicine: Use my personal email program and my calendar app on my phone to keep me on track. It is visual (“YAY!” says my right-brain) and organizational (“DOUBLE YAY!!” says my left-brain). I can put appointments, to do lists and reminders into this and it does the rest. My biggest struggle with this is REMEMBERING to use it! I have no cure for the forgetful flu as of yet folks, sorry. If I do run across one, I will do my best to remember to tell you about it!

Disaster Desk:
I work on a large glass top, nearly indestructible desk. 
 Most mornings, when I first sit down, my coffee cup has to fight with the beading mat, bead tubes,
tools and thread to find a place for itself. It's usually a longggg expanse of items that tell a story of all the things I did yesterday at this desk. It's almost forensic in nature! It's also unnerving. 
My Medicine: Resist the urge to run. Resist the urge to “work around” The Disaster. Begin with the easiest thing to put away and then the next...and next until I can begin my workday with a fresh and clean start. I've found it is very hard for me to find a peaceful place to let inspiration grow in the middle of chaos. Following through with this directive in the morning FIRST, makes all the difference on how the rest of the day will unfold. 

That’s it.’s simple and small. When I wander away from doing one or both of these things for any extended period of time, I find myself 
swimming in deep waters of dread (that I’m going to inevitably miss something important), frustration and anxiety. The medicine, when I’ve come down with the Disorganization Disease is not too far away and not too hard to swallow. It is from this framework that all else flows. I have the boxes and containers and files and compartments. I have the shelves and spaces and places. On a good day, if the basics are in place, I can find myself free enough from Clutter Crisis to embark on a more detailed journey into the realms of Organization, sifting through Czech glass and Swarovski crystals and cabochons and bead tubes. I can label and color code, sort and separate with the best of them! At some point, this all seems to eventually deteriorate into a jumble and I find myself once again reaching for my two trusted Cures. They are good starting points to a day, and to a fresh start when things have gone awry. 

Today, I am at the tail end of a spiral into Chaos. Sitting here, writing I am inspired to begin again. I will open my calendar and sort through my mental disarray and get it ironed out into something tangible. I can see my starting point on my desk. I'll start with the bead tubes. Things will come back together into some kind of coherent framework. It’s progress, not perfection and having a sure way to begin makes all the difference.

Where do you fall in the scale of the Organized/Disorganized? 
What are your tried and true habits that keep you sane? Do you 
struggle with this or is being organized a cakewalk for you? Where are YOUR ducks and how do they fare? For today, my ducks will live! I'll round em up and start anew.

We’d love to hear your experience, suggestions or wisdom or even just a funny story about your own victories and/or disasters regarding organization. Your comments complete this blog so please, feel free to share your answers below! I cannot tell you how much I look forward to learning from YOU! 

Thank you for reading and have a good and prosperous day! There is joy in the Journey :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Journey - Not a Destination

A Journey - Not a Destination

It is better to travel well than to arrive.
I began beading on a whim. I was in a time of rough seas and unknown destinations. All I knew was where I was going was going to be better than where I had been, I just wasn’t sure how yet. Sitting at a table with a friend my eye was drawn to his ring. It was a little blue beaded ring. I asked him to take it off so I could look at it. It looked so simple as I examined it. The thread obviously goes in here and comes out there into that little tiny bead and it goes on and on until you’re done! “I can do that” I thought. I decided right then, holding that little beaded ring of my friend’s that I was going to do this too. Besides it looked so easy! (I can hear snickers from the crowd…)

Not long after, I came across a local bead shop. I wandered up to it and discovered they gave Peyote Stitch lessons for $20. I sat down and made my first little strip of peyote stitch and to this day I can recall the colors I used and the design. It was diagonal stripes in a dusty rose and champagne. She was happy with how fast I caught on, I wasn’t. My friend’s little ring looked so simple but as I fumbled with the teeny tiny beads and the thread and the needle and trying to “pay attention to the tension”  and all of a sudden it felt as though I had 20 fingers instead of 10 I had become appropriately humbled. It was not “so easy”. I was beginning to feel a respect for this craft.

I left the shop with my little bag of supplies, my first beaded strip of dusty rose and champagne and a fire of motivation. The nice lady told me to go home, finish the strip and return to learn how to finish it and how to put a clasp on. I never went back. I wanted to figure it out myself. For the next 7 years drawers and boxes held tiny strips of beads in simple patterns. I only ever completed 2 bracelets. One that kept falling apart because I hadn’t finished it right and the other was lost. About a year ago I decided to use the internet to look up a tutorial on how to finish a bracelet correctly.  Amazing what you can learn when you decide to be a student!

I now believe the 7 years of seemingly pointless beading were not so pointless after all. It was, first of all, a way for me to release myself creatively and to bring myself into a zone of calm. I was, along the way, developing my technique and becoming very connected with the process of beading. I learned about how different colors look when used as opposed to in the tube. I finally got the feel for “tension” and things stopped looking stretched out and crooked. I learned the language the needle and beads speak to make certain patterns. None of this could’ve happened overnight. I'm very grateful for that small beading shop that has since gone out of business for putting my feet on this road and for all the steps thereafter. 
First completed piece!

The lesson as I see it is that there are no shortcuts to learn or perfect this or any craft. It is a journey fraught with knotted thread, ugly attempts, frustration, mistakes and finally something something wonderful happens.  I'm sure you know the wonder and humble joy over looking at something your own hands have fashioned. It's one of the purest joys in life isn't it? Then to be able to share it with another person is even more fabulous still! 
I still remember the first piece that I completed that I knew crossed over from “a little beaded strip” to an actual fully realized creation. It’s been quite a journey and the road doesn't end here. From my vantage point, it still stretches on and on, to unknown destinations. I'm not sure where it's headed but I can relax and enjoy the ride because I'm sure it gets even better still!

Enough about my journey! It would be wonderful to hear how your journey into perfecting your craft has unfolded. When did you “KNOW” you had found your niche or are you still searching? What makes your experience priceless in this field? 

Thank you fellow Zahoomians for stopping by! I always eagerly anticipate your comments and perspectives!     

Lightbulb and road pictures courtesy of
All photos used with permission by myself and other owners.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Inner Kindergartner - An Artist Within Us All

“No matter what your age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.”
Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

When I was younger I was told I was creative, mostly by my mother. Underneath my pride at her compliments, I felt a vague unease that whispered “Mom’s always think their children are potential Picasso’s”.  I had similar thoughts whenever anyone else paid me similar compliments. There was always a small voice that immediately discounted my own inner artist and its abilities and talent. The idea that we are to grow up and be doctors and lawyers and nurses and accountants and policemen and business people further reinforced the idea that creativity and art is a secondary function of a person, if at all. Those who are artists by trade, able to earn and make their existence with their craft in whatever field they choose are like rare birds to observe from afar while going about the real and serious business of  being a responsible and successful adult in the more conventional ways.

Over the last few years I have begun to have a shift in my beliefs of what art and creativity actually is. Who are the true artists? What is creativity? Is it really some “other-world” that exists parallel to but not over-lapping of our daily existence in general? I don’t think so. I think it permeates everyone and can be a part of everything if we let it.

My definition of art is the ability of someone to infuse something they create with a part of themselves in such a way it is translated to another. Creativity, to me, is the ability of the human race to approach things from unique ways and to carry out tasks and ideas with individual flair. In this way, I believe everyone has an inner artist from the painter to the accountant at any and every age and on every economic and educational level.  We all have the ability to do something “our way” and to encode it with our unique touch…and to have it communicate that essence to another human being.

I always have to tell myself  “Whatever you do, do it with your heart. Infuse it with your spirit. Make it your art.” This is what turns a job into a creation, a vocation into a craft. Listen to that inner Kindergartner that loved getting their hands wrist deep in mud to build a pie with leaf icing! Remember them? I try to invite that inner mud-pie, Fruit Loop picture maker into every day to offer their unfettered artistic inclinations to all I make.   Whether you are an artisan or an accountant, a sculptor or a surgeon there is only one YOU and only you can do what you do with your unique touch. This is art.  To give ourselves permission to tap into our inner reservoirs and let the creativity overflow it’s banks into our everyday lives. How it does so is part of the adventure. Let life become our canvas! 

I'd love to hear how you've reached past your inner critic to tap into your inner artist? Did you struggle or was it a natural progression? What is your favorite creative memory as a child?
Thank you for reading and sharing your artistic selves in the Zahoomi Community! On with the adventure!     

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What is "search by color"

A few days ago, we unveiled a new feature on Zahoomi where in addition to searching by keywords, you could also search by color. Normally when you go to a website, there is a search bar and you type in your keyword and the search engine displays your results.

On Zahoomi you will notice that in addition to the traditional search bar, there is a bar with various colors. This is the "search by color" bar. When you click on a particular color, the search engine pulls up all the products on Zahoomi in that particular color.

For example, let's say you are feeling in the mood for pink, then you point your cursor over the pink bar and click and your results will be like this

Or let's say you are in a green mood, then your results will look like this:

And if its a blue kind of day:

Or dark blue, maybe?

You get the picture!

This feature is unique to Zahoomi and we hope that you will enjoy using it and playing with it to look at our numerous products handmade with love. We want to make your shopping experience as enjoyable as possible and to this end, we are always thinking up new ways to make it so. As always, we love to read your comments and feedback.