Hypothyroidism, I hate you.

This is totally unrelated to anything jewellery, but as it is MY journey, and MY blog, I thought “what the hell” and decided to do a post on this to help me process all this bullshit anyway.

So, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism last Friday, 10th June, 2016. That’s a date that is now firmly embedded into my memory. I’m also severely anaemic. Go me, right?!?

I knew there was something wrong over a year ago when I started to feel really tired. Not just “tired-from-a-long-day” tired, but “I-think-I-might-actually-die” tired. It’s the kind of tired that sleep doesn’t fix. I could sleep for 18 hours, get up for two and then go back to bed because I was so drained. I put it down to stress from my job which at that point wasn’t going well at all because I was taking too much time off, and my boss freaking hated me and I hated everyone.  So, I napped when I could, took more time off, drank more coffee, and just sucked it up until I couldn’t suck it up anymore. Now I realise that none of my issues were stress related, but they were all down to this bloody disease.

Disease. I hate that word. Can we call it an affliction? Condition? Something that sounds a little less….deathly. 

Anyway, I should be relieved. I finally have an answer to why I’m so damn tired all the time, or why my hair is falling out, or why I have awful fluid retention that sees my feet swell so much I can’t wear shoes, or my headaches, muscle cramps, joint pain, dry skin, tummy problems, God awful periods (which increase the amount of blood I lose which in turn makes the anaemia worse, which then makes the tiredness worse!), memory loss…..the symptom list is huge. I did feel like I was losing my mind for the longest time. Between the mood swings and the massive weight gain I just spiralled down further into a depression that was being FED by the hypothyroidism symptoms.

My whole life has to change because of this stupid diagnosis. God, I can’t even have COFFEE anymore because caffeine, sugar and dairy are bad for someone with this stupid disease  affliction…condition….thing. And I’m on lifelong medication which requires constant supervision by my Doctor.  It wasn’t even until I picked up my prescription that I realised this isn’t something you can just throw meds at and be okay. My prescription was for 200 pills. That’s 200 days of taking medication. That’s until December. Every day, until December, then it’ll be off to the Dr for more medication for another 200 days…then another, then another….

So here I am, a fat, asthmatic, anaemic, thyroid dysfunctional 38 year old who now has to live and work around a body that just doesn’t want to get out of bed unless her levels of TSH and iron are normal. I hate this. I want to scream and throw things but I’m so tired I can’t even do that. So here I sit at the computer at 3.27am because even though my body is screaming at me to sleep, my mind is racing. I’m scrolling through websites like “9 foods to avoid when you have hypothyroidism,” “Hypothyroidism: Symptoms and Treatments of Hypothyroid Disease,” “8 Surprising Symptoms of Hypothyroidism,”  (which by the way aren’t so surprising when you have it!) and I’m feeling alone, overwhelmed, and scared.

I’m seeing the Dr again next week and have to have more blood tests. Better get used to being a pin cushion again, huh?
Until next time, friends.

xoxoJacquiV2

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Starting something new

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Yesterday I realised, somewhat reluctantly, that my Facebook page was just well and truly dead. I have over 450 likers on it but interaction was near zero, and I had pretty much had enough of the struggle. Even the promise of giveaways wasn’t working to bring people in. So after sitting through a three hour webinar hosted by the amazing James Tuckerman and understanding that my page was definitely in the Facebook Valley Of Death, I decided to start all over.

Gulp.

Now, this isn’t easy. I’ve done it once before when I went from my old business name to Seven Oaks, and I never really recovered and the numbers were never as good again. Doing it again was scary as hell. But, I remembered what James said, “people relate to people, not businesses” so I took the leap and started my new page. It’s not 24 hours old yet and I have over 50 likers so far. Not bad, right?!? I’m actually really happy with that progress!

I’m actually a little bit in love with it. It’s pretty. It has good content so far (considering it’s still a baby), and I’m hoping that it will go far.

Change is scary.

Embrace the hell out of it.

 

xoxoJacquiV2

 

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When Is Art, Not Art?

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I’ve been doing this jewellery thing now for about 5 years. I’ve been wire weaving since late last year, so not long in the scheme of things. As part of my journey I’ve become a member of many Facebook groups to learn, network and just meet other artists. They’re also fab for inspiration and help. I’ve found most of them to be very supportive, welcoming and warm places, which is great.

Unfortunately though, someone is inevitably going to screw it up. Way back when, I had someone pretty much tell me that my beading work was inferior to her wire weaving because it wasn’t truly handmade and wasn’t artisan because “it’s the equivalent of a kid’s macaroni necklace.”

Wow.

I did have some people tell her off and remind her that unless some thought and design prowess went into my pieces (or anyone’s strung designs, actually) that yes it would look like a kids pasta necklace, but since some knowledge of how colours and shapes work together, and how to balance the piece so it was aesthetically pleasing (not to mention a little knowledge of the technicalities of making a piece that won’t just fall apart) all went into these designs, her point was moot.

The next few years went by fairly uneventfully. I think I actually ended up blocking that woman and just got on with what I was doing, always looking up to the artists I met online who were doing the most incredible wire weaving work. When I finally worked up the courage to try wire work and discovered I wasn’t actually awful at it, I continued to look up to those artists. I still do. I find their work absolutely mesmerizing,beautiful and incredible works of art that I would be so proud to be able to create.

Then it happened. I read a post from someone who creates gorgeous wire jewellery, and she was saying that she has a “friend” who makes silver soldered rings etc and sells them for upwards of $800. This “friend” has told her that what she does isn’t “real” jewellery and that she’s wasting her talents working with wire.

Oh. My. God.

What the hell?!? In my naivete I actually thought that wire weaving geniuses like this lady would never, ever be the target of such snobbery and downright meanness. But, being the person I am, I want to find the “why”of his behaviour. What on earth would possess someone to be so….uppity?

I can understand that a customer might perceive a silversmith’s work to be far more valuable than wire (especially copper wire), because the materials are so much more expensive and it requires specialist, expensive tools. With wire weaving, you just need a few basic tools and a whole bunch of patience.

Wire weaving has been around for thousands of years, but I do know that many of my customers hadn’t even seen wire woven jewellery until I started doing it, so could this attitude be borne of a lack of understanding of the medium? Maybe the guy doesn’t realise that we start with a few base wires and then weave metres and metres of super thin wire around them, and then shape it and sculpt it into beautiful pieces. Maybe he doesn’t understand how much thought and planning a piece takes (or how we have to think on our feet if a wire goes and breaks on us mid way through the design).

Maybe he doesn’t understand the time a wire woven piece can take to create.  A bracelet can take me up to 6 hours to weave, sculpt and form. Sometimes longer, if I’m honest…because I’m still learning.

Or you know what? Maybe he’s jealous. Maybe he knows all this stuff but can’t or won’t do it himself.

It was the comments on the post that got my attention though. Here’s a few examples:

Just make the fart noise with your lips

Wrap on, fellow wrappers

Opinions are like asses, everyone has one!

Enjoy what you do, smile and say ‘that’s nice’ and keep creating. (I personally LOVE the Mrs Brown reference, here!)

If we create, we are artists

In any case, we should be building each other up, not tearing others down. I don’t understand metal smithing so I keep my trap shut about the medium. When does my idea of what art is become unworthy of the title “art” because it differs to what you consider art?

Love,

J

 

 

 

 

Overwhelmed and Under Motivated

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I must be mad.

In my last job as a teacher, Professional Development is a given. There are literally DAYS full of it, and that’s totally understandable. After all, teaching is a profession and of course it’s important to be constantly up-skilling and learning different things….even on days where all you want to do is hide under the covers. I did it (sometimes reluctantly) because I had to. It was my job.

I haven’t taught for almost a year now and have been working exclusively on developing  Seven Oaks as a business rather than just a hobby. It’s been very slow going but I feel  like I’m sort of on the right track now. Awesome, right? Of course, right.

The problem is now that I’m trying to do so much. I’m doing challenges, I’m reading everything I can get my eyes on online to do with small business, marketing, sales and now email list building and blogging. I’ve always loved being a student so learning all this cool stuff is awesome, but when do you draw the line? I am signed up for FOUR webinars this week. It should have been five but unfortunately I had a personal appointment today which clashed ( as I type, my inner little voice is saying, “I should be able to make the next one….”). 

Every single day on Facebook I’m seeing promoted posts from business coaches who all seem to be saying very different stuff, making me feel like I absolutely MUST read this article, or sign up for this webinar, or take this class, or……

Oh my God. Let it stop.

  •  I feel guilty if I don’t sign up because “aww this person is just trying to make a living, just like me.”
  • I feel guilty if I sign up for something then don’t attend (yes, I’m in Australia and have been known to sit up until 2am to listen in to a webinar on using Pinterest for my business).
  • I feel even worse when I get to the end of a great webinar and then undoubtedly can’t afford to take their miracle course that will change my life and my business forever….
  • I feel conflicted and confused because what Person A said on her webinar is sooo far removed from what Person B said on his. Which one is the right one?!?

It’s crazy.

When does it get to the point where we as business owners have to say, “No.”

No more reading. No more webinars. No more feeling guilty because we’re genuinely so broke that we can LOVE the free content, then not be able to do any more than that even though we’d absolutely crush it if we could.

I’m certainly not taking anything away from the people who are really amazing at what they do. I just think I’ve signed up to too many. Today I got an email saying “Hi, I’m Sarah, __________ ‘s assistant. I see you watched his training video and we just wanted to say……..” I honestly can’t remember who he is, and I definitely don’t remember watching a training video from him! Oh dear. 

So, this will be my very last week of “just learning stuff.” I’m cleaning out my inbox and unsubscribing from the dozens of marketing gurus who I signed up to forever ago and never worked with. I’m making a committment to pick FIVE, and stick with them and their advice, and then mix and match it so that it makes perfect sense to ME. Enough with trying to implement a dozen or more different ways of doing stuff. It’s not working, and I’m overwhelmed and totally under motivated in my business. I’m not UNmotivated, because I’m here, and I’m showing up every day even when I don’t want to, and I’m doing what I need to do. I’m just not doing it well.

Time to change that, I reckon.

 

What changes have you made in your life lately that will help you in the long run? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jewellery, Viruses and TV…

It has been a crazy week here in the SOHJ household!

First, we’ve been battling a nasty case of laryngitis that has cycled around the family at least twice already, meaning lots of missed school, Dr’s appointments, and laments of “Ohhhhh I’m dying!” in croaky voices between hacking-up-a lung coughing fits.

Awesome.

On the work front, I’ve completely rehashed my social media plan and am bullet pointing and listing my little heart out. I made some new pretties, this week too! Go me!

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Wire woven bracelet with artsisan glass bead from the incredibly talented Australian artist genschi and Swarovski crystals. This one sold on my VIP GROUP yesterday.
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This stunning tigereye cabochon is the star of this pendant which is topped with a lovely Sarovski pearl. It’s currently available on the website

So, there’s been a lot of sitting this week. I’ve either been on my backside blogging, social media planning, or creating while binge wathching stupid amounts of TV. I recently learned that they’re making a sequel to Prison Break. Yep, I think it’s awesome news, too! So naturally I’ve had to catch up on Seasons 1 – 4. I never actually watched most of season 3 or 4 when it was on TV here. Netflix is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?!?

This weekend there’ll be more blogging and planning and listing (I’m a sucker for a lovely list) and creating, in between my daughter’s gymnastics lesson tomorrow (IF she isn’t still sick, that is) and hanging out with the family sometime on Sunday.

My life may be hectic, but it’s pertty awesome.

See you next week!

If It Wasn’t For Those Pesky Trends….

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I loathe the word “trend.” I hate the idea that something has to be “in” or “trendy” or “on trend” to be loved. I hate how they can confuse and misdirect customers into buying stuff just because it’s “sooooo hot right now!” Ugh. Yuck. Choose your own paths, my lovelies!

I read an article the other night from a monthly jewellery magazine that talks a lot about trends and fashion and whatnot. I read it to keep up with the industry and what’s happening, but certainly not for “what’s hot”. One particular thing struck me. Gary Ingram, the CEO of TheDiamondStore.co.uk, said,

“Fine jewellery transcends age and fashion.”

Now, while I understand that his business IS of course fine jewellery, meaning real gold, real silver, diamonds, and other things all sparkly and expensive, I think I’m kind of offended. No, not offended. Affronted, maybe? Why can’t MY designs transcend age and fashion? I think they can.

Also, why put jewellery that transcends age and fashion into an article about trends, which will have been replaced by something else next season?

Anyway, he went on to say,

Apart from looking luxurious and reflecting personal style, they make you feel loved and treasured. That’s the real beauty of timeless jewellery.

Umm….hellooooo?!?!? Why can’t my designs make the wearer feel loved and treasured? Do we really live in a society that has that mind set of “if it’s expensive, they love me.” I don’t know about you, but knowing that someone sat there for hours and hours weaving that wire in and out and in and out and crying over mistakes, rejoicing in the triumphs and literally pouring blood, sweat and tears into every absolutely handcrafted, unique piece means so much more to me than it’s pricetag. Actually, I’ve decided that I’m reframing this whole thing so that what he really means is “handcrafted wire jewellery is beautiful, timeless, and reflects personal style just as much as a diamond does.” There. That sits better with me.

Now, I admit, I have no idea how the Diamond Store UK makes their items. I certainly don’t want to take anything away from them because jewellers are, of course, amazing craftspeople. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if their stuff is handmade, but I can say that I’m positive there’s not a little person sitting there weaving wire for 10 hours a day. There are designers there designing and creating….and making the trends. But then, are they simply following trends that other designers have come up with?

Who makes these damn trends in the first place?!?!? Aaargh! And will wire woven art pieces ever really be “trendy?” Do I even want them to be? I kind of like the idea of going against the grain and creating pieces that are out there, doing their own thing.

One thing that Mr Ingram said that I really do agree with though was this,

The biggest thing in jewellery now is about making it your own by combining pieces. It’s not so much about specific design, because we offer a huge variety in terms of that, but more about wearability, collectability, and above all, being able to mix and match various items at once.

I’m using this point as a springboard into a range of very simple, stackable copper wire rings which will be coming very soon. Keep an eye on this blog for the release of those, and also on the website itself. They’ll still be “me” but in keeping with the collectability idea and the ability to mix and match. I love that idea…and I can do it without being overly trendy.

 

 

Why I Wore Purple to a Funeral

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I wore purple to my grandmother’s funeral. Not because I’m a disrespectful brat, but because she didn’t want us all wearing black. Her reason for that was very simple.

“It’s so bloody depressing” is what she’d say about it. I actually don’t remember her ever wearing black. Not even in England when it was cold and miserable and it was the “in” thing to wear. She always wore something colourful. I remember she looked particularly enthralling in blue.

Unlike my Nan, I LOVE black. It’s one of my favourite clothing colour choices because well, a) it goes with everything, and b) it slims me down, and let’s face it there’s a LOT to be slimmed down. Had you asked me a few years ago, black would have been my only answer to “what’s your favourite colour?” I’m now 38 and have only just really started adding more colour to my wardrobe. My teenage black everything stage seems to have gone on for a little longer than most….

On the other hand, I love colour. Hot pink, deep purples, vivid blues and intense greens are on the top of my list (and if we’re talking clothes, it’s usually paired with something black. I’m not quite there, yet!)

When it comes to jewellery design though, I steer clear of black altogether and go for colour, colour, colour!! I do this for a few reasons; the biggest and probably most obvious being that with jewellery, we can be a little outlandish. We can have fun. If you have to wear an all black pant suit for work because bright coloured clothes are a no-no, add a little bright pink, or turquoise, or a splash of green. In jewellery we can allow our personalities to shine, even if we’re restricted by dress codes or uniforms (which is a whole ‘nother blog altogether!). Now, can you wear a giant statement necklace at a black tie formal event? Of course you can. You may not get away with it at work. So try something colourful, but subtle, and maybe a tad on the discreet side if you are wearing black at a funeral. When I was working in counselling (at a Catholic organisation), my dress code was quite explicit, but I’d work around it by wearing pieces of jewellery that caught the eye and attention of my teenage clients, and they were always a fabulous ice breaker.

Anyway, while I’m on the topic of colour, I mentioned in a previous blog about all these gorgeous gemstones that I had ordered off Ebay. Three of the 26 that I splurged on have now arrived and the colours are AMAZING.

Here are the three that I have in my little hands as we speak:

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Bumblebee jasper – this stunning, unusual blend of yellows, dark browns, and cream is just awesome! I’ve never used it before in my work, so I’m looking forward to it. To be honest, I’ve never used yellow in a design before. Not once. Not even when I was beading! I just couldn’t find a yellow I liked until I found this.

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This is a super unusual blend of natural copper, malachite and turquoise, and the colours are just lovely!! When I chose this one, I kept thinking how totally LUSH it’ll look with copper wire. It’s not a huge stone, so it won’t make a massive statement if it’s used as a pendant, so I was thinking if putting it into a bracelet instead. Gotta get that POP!

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This last one I chose simply because it reminds my of my mum. She loves tigereye and this is a gorgeous stone that has gone into a rather lovely pendant (so far, unlisted). It’s a little darker than I would have chosen before, but the colour and movement of the stone is amazing.

I could choose obsidian. Or jet. Or onyx. Or spinel. They’re all amazing stones, and they’re all beautiful. They’re all incredible shades of black.

But like my Nanna said, “Black is just so bloody depressing.”

Choose purple. I’m glad I did.