rounding the corner

You know that place where the finish line is finally within sight, and you just need to GET THERE? Your legs have no feeling in them, you’re sucking wind, sweating profusely, you want to throw up, or maybe die, and you start to make these really elaborate bargains with yourself and anyone who will listen…? That place?

That’s me. I’m there. Rounding the corner, nearing the end of the weenie race.

(for the new folks, I offered a made-to-order sale in my Etsy shop not too long ago for my ‘weenie’ beads and sea glass bead pairs, and it was… ehrm… popular. So I’ve been working on that for about a month…)

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here are some weenie beads – teeny tiny spacer beads in all sorts of beautiful, unusual, and sometimes rare colors:

Weenie beads by Julie Wong Sontag

And here are the ‘sea glass’ beads (they’re not genuine sea glass, made by Mother Earth, they’re lampwork beads with the look and feel of sea glass, made by me!)

sea glass beads by Julie Wong Sontag - Uglibeads

4 hour days at the torch, every day.
No weekends off.
Discipline.
Focus.
Total weenievision.

But the last few days, I’ve been entering that euphoric place where you realize you’re going to finish this thing.You’ve been pacing yourself, checking your fancy Garmin robo-watch every 5 seconds, and you’ve timed your glorious final stride across the finish line perfectly. That big goal that you’ve been training so hard for… it’s so close you almost taste that huge post-race bottle of ice cold water.

And then,

weather advisory

Oh AHS, I see your Heat Advisory warning, and I raise you. I’m going to sit down, turn on my 960 degree kiln right here beside me, and light my 5000 degree torch flame, right here in front of me, and turn on my oxygen concentrator, which is like the hottest heater you can imagine blowing hot air on my feet while I work. Because, you see, I’m absolutely hellbent on finishing these beads.

If I just leave all the curtains closed and torch in the dark (yes, I can almost make a weenie bead with my eyes closed…) it will be ok.

Or not.

There are places I didn’t know it was possible to sweat. Like, in your ear for example. I don’t know where that ear sweat actually originated, it may have some from somewhere else, but it’s a thing.

About an hour, 40 weenies and 7 glasses of ice water later, I was feeling maybe done for the day. Or forever.

scary studio selfie

Oh, why yes… I am a master of the scary studio selfie. Thank you for noticing.

That was me shortly before I melted into a puddle on the floor. I look really happy.

So, yeah.

And they say it will be even hotter today.

I read this great line, I can’t quite remember where, but I feel like it was probably Danielle LaPorte (a kind of wild, inspirational-modern-guru type lady, I like her) – and it went something like, ‘No matter what – oh wait, ok I just found the exact quote on a sticky note. I wrote this down a couple of months ago, and I look at it every once in a while to remind myself to chill the frick out. Here it is:

Danielle LaPorte

So – if you don’t finish the race today, don’t worry – you will.

And if you finish two minutes, or two hours, or two days later than you thought you would… Guess what?

You win.

start the insanity

Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 12.32.16 PM

I had this crazy idea. I’ve been thinking about how people truly dedicate themselves to things that they struggle with. I guess this could apply to a lot of things in life – changing bad habits, adopting new habits, eating healthy food, exercising… And of course, productivity, whether it’s at work or at a pastime. Of course, you need a goal. You need to challenge yourself. And you have to start somewhere. I’m not one of those people who can start slow and work my way up to things. I have to go all out right away. This scares some people. Like my husband. But it’s just the way I am.

I want to make good beads. Better beads. Beads that excite me when I pull them out of the kiln. It seems obvious that the only way to improve at one’s craft is to log hours creating new things. In one of his books, Malcolm Gladwell (fantastic author) studied many people who are considered to be very, very talented at what they do. He estimated that in order to become a ‘master’ in their fields of work/study, they each logged at least 10,000 hours of practice. That’s a lot of hours. There is no substitute for practice. You can’t skip it. There is no easy route to success. Someone who makes beads every day is going to improve more quickly than someone who makes beads once a week. I’m in the once a week category at the moment, and I don’t want to be. But there are so many excuses to get around making beads regularly. Too tired, other stuff to do, don’t ‘feel’ like it… I know myself, and I know that if I give myself the *choice* of torching or not torching, I will tend toward not torching. There is also this weird kind of fear/hesitation that prevents me from starting most days. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Some days you spend a few hours at the torch and everything you make is crap. Often I worry that if I sit down to work I won’t be able to make anything ‘good’. So I don’t make anything at all.

This is dumb.

And so counterproductive. Of course anyone, at any skill level, will make a mix of things. Good and bad. But in order to have some success, you have to accept the inevitable failures. Ironically you usually learn more from the failures. They help you grow and change.

So I had this thought. I thought, if I eliminate the *choice* of whether I’m going to work or not, and I light the torch every day whether I feel like it or not, I will learn much faster. I will probably have more fun. I will worry less and create more. I’m going to attempt to do something insane (in my mind): I’m going to make a commitment to myself to make beads every day for 30 days. Every day. For at least one hour. If I’m frustrated and nothing is happening, I can quit, but I have to try. So far I’ve got one day in a row under my belt. I feel good about this. I could use more self-discipline in many aspects of my life. I think that feeling productive and disciplined with my work can’t help but spill over into the rest of my life.

Wish me luck.

I almost forgot: new beads on Etsy today. Click here to check ’em out.