feel the fear and do it anyway

Calgary Stampede midway ride

I have this book that I read many, many years ago – something about face your fears, yada yada yada. I don’t remember much about it other than that it was kind of a slog to get through. But the idea is good.

My creative fears are many, but one that’s bugged me for a long time is that I have an irrational fear of making jewelry. Back in the WAY back days I used to make jewelry. Long before I started making beads. Really simple stuff. When I look now at the things I made, they’re truly laughable. But we all start somewhere. I had a little business that I called ‘Blue Mouse Beads’. I had a tiny table at an arts market. I think I made one sale.

I don’t know why the fear now. I guess I’ve just felt that my talents lie more on the beadmaking side of things. I like to send the beads out into the world, and let people who really make jewelry work their magic with them. Truthfully, I’ve had no real desire to make anything with my beads.

A while ago, I had a friend get in touch with me. Could I make something special for his wife’s 30th birthday? Maybe a necklace and some earrings? Of course I said yes. No problemo!

Then the inevitable panic set in. What the frick was I going to make????? I don’t know how to make jewelry! I’m an idiot!! Try something new!? What?? No!

Well, ok.

I had a few vaguely formed ideas in mind, but nothing solid. I thought, I’ll just go to the bead store and surely something will jump out at me. Soooooo many beads, and soooooo few ideas. I wandered around, feeling lost, examining all the strands of beads, all the findings. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I started to feel ultra-crummy about the whole thing. What if I couldn’t do it? I actually got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I know what will make me feel better! Some new glass! So I left the store with nothing for the jewelry project and 3 new colors of glass rods to make beads with. Jewelry FAIL.

What do you do when you feel no ideas coming on and you have a project that has to get done? Apparently they’ve done studies showing that many creative people have their best ideas when their minds are relaxed and they’re not actively thinking about the problem. In the shower, out for a run, vacuuming the floors… etc. Somehow in letting go, your subconscious mind works it all out.

I was drifting off to sleep one night, and I saw this strand of beads in my head that I’d liked during my failed bead shopping experience. Some little zuni bears, in wonderful shades of black, turquoise and brown. Suddenly I saw it all – the finished piece – all the components I needed. Everything.

Hallelujah moment.

So back to the bead store. Copper chain. Crimp beads. Beautiful copper beads. Clasp. The zuni bears of course. All the bits and pieces. When I got home with all my treasures I couldn’t wait to lay everything out on the table to plan out the beads I needed to make.

A couple of days later, beads ready, I sat down to put it all together. I’m telling you, it was a nearly spiritual experience. I don’t say that lightly… but really, it was like the necklace made itself. Some kind of creative energy struck me like a bolt of lightning and flowed, until I had exactly the piece I’d pictured in front of me. I can’t really overstate the joy and relief I felt in seeing it all done. I was bursting with pride. It didn’t even look like a ‘beginner’ piece of jewelry. It looked like I knew exactly what I was doing.

Necklace by Julie Wong Sontag

In the end, accepting the challenge was a process fraught with emotion – but the commitment I’d made forced me to persevere. If not for that, I would definitely have thrown in the towel after that first trip to the bead store.

Conquering my jewelry making fear has been incredibly empowering. There’s something transformative about turning a big ‘I can’t’ into a resounding ‘I can’.

Since then, I really don’t know what has possessed me. The floodgates have opened. I’ve been making things like crazy. Jewelry things. Earrings mostly. I’m in a totally different mindset than when I’m making beads, and I love it. I find it so relaxing, putting things together, wrapping wire, adding this thing, taking that thing away… fishing through the stash to find that one perfect bead that finishes it all off. Seeing the finished piece, ready to wear, knowing that you made the whole thing, start to finish… So rewarding.

I’ll list some things to list on Etsy next week, so you can see what I’ve been up to.

I haven’t felt this kind of thrill since I started making beads. It’s a whole new world of possibilities to explore. A whole new category of things to buy on Etsy. Not that I needed that.

What’s your fear? What’s holding you back?




One thought on “feel the fear and do it anyway

  1. I love it when things come together that easily!! 😀 The necklace turned out beautifully!
    This month has been a “face your fears” kind of month for me, and hopefully it turns out as nicely for me as it has for you. 🙂

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