Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What happened?

Oh my, what happened? I know I have been a little off lately, but when I took a peak at my last post I was startled to read it dated from July! Well, my 41st birthday has silently gone by but otherwise some changes have taken place. Last time I wrote: "After 9 years of pills, I am now on my own". I am sorry to say this pill-free episode didn't last very long. Around the time I wrote that, my anxiety/panic-attacks came back so badly that I had no choice but to start back on anti-depressants once again. Because in those past 9 years I have greatly suffered from side-effects of these meds, I was put on yet another one: I can now say I have tried 8 different ones so far. My current medication is tailored to depression and anxiety, so it helps me in both areas now. But before I could enjoy the benefits of this decision, I had to deal with the worst anxiety-attack in my life because of the medication. Luckily my psychiatrist warned me: it felt like a downright psychosis. Bless you if you cannot imagine what that is like!

In the meantime, school ha started again and life needed to go on... Needless to say I haven't been beading. The sad thing is though: I haven't been beading ever since summer. To be honest, I really don't know what has been keeping me. It can't be a lack of time because with losing my job I now have more time on my hands then before. Maybe my inner-voices can shed a little light on that?

There is one voice that keeps on telling me to start again, or I won't be back on track. Then continueing that my work can hardly be taken seriously, because I haven't kept up... But wait a minute: didn't the BJP-rules state that there was only one commmitment, being the one to myself? To go on that there were no such thing as a BJP-police to arrest me if I could not keep up? So frankly, the only one who has to take this seriously is me again! Hmm... my inner-critic is still here and trying to shout in my face so blatantly that I won't buy it this time.

Last time I also wrote: "(...) I think I will not bead the inside of me for a change... I need some vacation from me. Well, I need a little time off of all the therapeutic issues I have been dealing (and beading) with." The biggest thing holding me back I think is the fact that my May-piece didn't come on quite easily (and is still an unfinished one at that too). Loyal as I usually am to the rules I set myself - and believe me, they are quite strict - I wouldn't allow me to start another project before the last one was finished and since I got stuck on that one... there is a huge roadblock to overcome. So, let me start the climb back to the BJP by showing how far I did get om May:

Why my piece is all black&white I will tell you on a later date, i.e. when it has been finished. For now I hope to be back soon both in blogging and in beading. The first step has been set, and that is always the start of progress.

The fatal metaphor of progress, which means leaving things behind us, has utterly obscured the real idea of growth, which means leaving things inside us.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) British journalist, novelist and poet.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

thoughts on june and july

For whatever reason, I don't seem to get around blogging these days. Neither am I getting a lot of beading done... still working on my may-piece. The theme of which will be black&white. More on that on a later date, because if I don't put some thoughts on june or july in black and white, I won't know what to bead for these months once I get the time.

For starters I definitely need to make my june piece less elaborate: fully covering a 14x14 cm square of felt with beads and trinkets is a tedious job. Not that I don't love it, but some flow does make it easier on me I discovered. And flow is what is lacking at the moment. In addition I think I will not bead the inside of me for a change... I need some vacation from me. Well, I need a little time off of all the therapeutic issues I have been dealing (and beading) with. The past few months have flown by and at the same time feel like I have lived them a dozen times. So with these things in mind, what does june mean to me?

June means bright red poppies in a field of green grass bathing in sunshine on a bright summersday, something like this:

Every year I can stand in awe looking at the meadows filled with flowers of the field and feel like a little girl again, wanting to braid a wreath of flowers to put in my hair. (If not the stems of poppies were to thin to do so.) I don't know wheather it is the fact that I am a child of summer, or that the sunshine softens my often painfully present symptoms of depression during winter and early spring... Fact is, I long for these days every year and love the colours, the happiness, the light-footed quality of things that I am searching for in my own being.

And then july... It is the month in which I celebrate the birthday of my youngest (he is 6 already!) and my own too (for the 41st time this upcoming week). The month in which we went on a short vacation to France to spend a little time with my parents in law who own a house in the Poitou-Charentes. I guess I will just need some memorabilia from my vacation and try to use them in my beading. It will be a warm reminder of a nice time spend with loved ones.

So far, so good I guess. Now I will have to return to ordinary life in which I am still struggling with my depression. But there is some good news about that too: I am fighting it without any type of medication now! After 9 years of pills, I am now on my own. It is scary, it does come with anxiety and fear, but I am still standing and feeling more then before everything that is within and around me and girl... I can tell you it is as overwhelming as the first landing on the moon must have been the year I was born.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

BJP for april 2010

It's been a long time since I've posted, a hazardous journey has begun but I am still here to tell about it.

OK, now is time for a confession: aside from being genetically endowed with genes that make depression run in our family, I also suffer from what is called a Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It is hard for me to say this, as for a long time I felt that being diagnosed with BPD meant that one was the kind of person no one would want to be around. Deciding to accept my diagnosis and open myself up to deal with it and start healing was a giant leap. That's why I choose the rabbithole from Alice in Wonderland as my theme for april. Seeing Alice in 3D on the brink of my great adventure seemed like more than a coincidence.

As it is in myth and fairy-tales, the heroine often sets out on a bad start. And so did I on my april piece. I wrote all about that in my previous post. Work on this piece was quite labourious. I got stuck numerous times, started over, got set back, picked it up again... I surrounded the hole by fresh green grass, beaded some pahtways alongside of it, added a few of the beaded flowers that I had made in advance... and now I have something to show for all my effort.

For the first 3 months I divided my pieces in seperate sections and wrote about them, naming them. Not so this time. That's a first for me: I usually need to stick to something once I have started a routine. For me to break that rule feels quite scary. But this is an adventure that is (among others) about breaking the rules of my inner critic! What is most visible in this piece is that the surroundings of my rabbithole are you could say chaotic, but more lovingly I would say variegated. It is, what it is and it is one piece.

I love that the tiny green and red flowerbeads date back from my early teens, when I first picked up making jewelry. The medal dates back even further and is mine from an event called de avondvierdaagse. This is a very Dutch event, where schoolchildren walk a distance varying from 5 to 15 km on 4 consecutive nights. When you have finished your first time around you get a medal, and in later years a small pin to go on the ribbon. I have walked it a couple of times, but only have this medal and no pins. I used it for 2 reasons: I needed me to be in this piece and I deserved some encouragement for having the guts to start this endeavor.

I have chosen Chopin's Etude opus10 nr. 1 to go with my piece. It reflects the ultimate chaos I experienced just before I started my treatment, yet it is one of the most brilliant pieces of pianomusic I know. I hope that's how this all will work out in the end: that I have learned to hear and appreciate all the different tunes in me, that in the end make... ME. So you could say I have landed on the bottom of the hole, and now am out to find my jabberwocky. I have met the red queen, seen glimpses of the white queen... This tale is not over yet.

Monday, May 10, 2010

April-Fool in May

Got all of us (including myself) fooled last month in thinking I had my plan for my april BJP-piece all conjured up. I had cut up my pieces of white and blue felt, sorted out all my shades of white and blue beads.... and then suddenly realized I was not going to make a Delfts Blauw piece all together. I have made myself one promiss when starting out on this journey, and that was making each piece a journal of that particular month. The thoughts I had on the Delftware piece are still very nice, and I did celebrate Koninginnedag but still that doesn't resemble in any way what I have been through in april. So here I am again for something completely different.

As some of you may know, I started an intensive therapy programm april 19th in hope of finding a way to deal with my recurrent and very severe depression(s). A couple of days before I started, I saw the movie Alice with a dear friend, and realized that the beginning of the film - where Alice looks into the rabbithole before falling in - was exactly depicting how I felt. I was sitting an the rim of the hole and knew I had to jump in on monday. It was terrifying! Mostly because I had hardly any idea of what was going to happen after I had taken that giant leap into the unknown. Now I have shrunk and grown and shrunk again a couple of times, I ran through the forest of Underland and am still waiting for the day I will have to slay my own jabberwocky. That is when I decided to bead my own Rabbithole.

So I went to my attic and was very pleased to find some green felt and then it began: the making of the rabbithole was an adventure in itself. I first set out to make a sleeve of plain, black cotton cloth to fit the hole I had cut into the felt. It took a while untill I thought I had succeeded, but the sleeve was to long so I tore off  a just a small part. Ha! It didn't tear straight, because I had sewn the sleeve on leaving the direction of the weave in my cotton slightly slanting (if that is the correct phrase to use). Then I thought that if I would tear in the other direction I would make it straight again... All I did was shorten the sleeve on both occasions, leaving me with just a trim of black cloth around my rabbithole. Feeling very frustrated I took the whole thing off and decided to bead the thing!

You know what was so marvelous in what happenend next? As soon as I started beading around the hole, I knew I was on the right track just because I couldn't stop beading! It started to emerge under my hands as I was picking up the beads. After I had beaded a nice, wobbly edge to my rabbithole I realized I needed it filled up with "dirt". My attic was good to me in providing a good piece of brown felt and I soon was beading away again. Now the rabbitle is done for the time being at least. I had already beaded some flowers to fill up the green. Now on to the next stage... beading a lawn and finding a way to fit me in it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

BJP for march 2010

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my march-piece in my post Growing Strong. Little did I know it would grow out to the extend that it has! It all started with doodling while at work in late january, early february. (For those who have not  followed me here or on Facebook: I have been on sickleave since february 9th.) I doodled a simple tree with just a few leaves, which is exactly what I started out with on this piece.

Soon I added the heart at the centre of my tree and the fringes that most, who saw this beginning, named roots. They were not intended to represent roots, but maybe they have become roots in the process. I wanted to make the trees connection to the soil visible and the nutrients it gets from it. I thought of those tree-foods as the fuel for the tree to be able to live, the "fire within" or Chi, hence the red/orange/yellow beads.

And then all of a sudden, I released myself from hospital and tumbled into turmoil. Because I have the intention to make my pieces real journals, in the sense that I want them to tell my story of that month, the turmoil has become very visible in the end. This is the landscape the tree grew into:

As I did with my other pieces, I want to tell you in more detail what all the parts mean. So I have once againg devided it into sections:

1. I stand strong
I could also call this piece: I will survive. That is exactly what this sturdy tree is meant to be: the confirmation that through all turmoil I will straighten my back and will stand. My feet connected to Mother Earth, growing and nourishing the fire that is crackling in my veins.

2. I'm working in my garden
The garden has, now that I write this down, become my metaphor for the rough times I am working through. In my february-piece I took a piece of my heart and replaced it in a little garden to heal and grow again. In this piece, the righthand corner is the most peacefull and restfull. I loved to play with colors in the beads as well as the thread, and that did make me feel comfortable. Although being in admitted wasn't easy, I found rest and a little distraction in beading which is visible in this part.

3. where I can bloom and lay back
The grass on the bottom is the last part of the piece that I embroidered while still in the hospital, before the turmoil began. Not that my moods weren't swinging from the highest highs to the lowest lows at that time, but I found some ways to still be able to tune in to my inner needs and wishes: to lay back, rest and bloom again. The first few days at home I could tap into that stream although it became harder by the hour. So when I beaded the bright (white) air and the flowers, I stopped working on this corner and moved up.

4. dark clouds are gathering
After a few days it was obvious that my stay in hospital didn't bring me any good. On the contrary, the events of the last days of my stay made it clear that my depression had gotten worse and I was far from laying back and blooming. In fact, I could feel the tension aching in all the fibres of my body. I felt as though a giant thunderstorm was going to overcome me and would wash me away. There was no movement, no going with the flow, just straight lines of fear, anger and sadness, the absence of colour.

5. growing leafs
Then I returned to the heart of my tree, to the fire within, and realized that I had to grow a lot more leafs to reach out to the world, to get in touch with the Earth and myself. So for a couple of nights I franticly beaded leafs.... first in the color of fire, but as they grew more and more to the outer limits of the tree in pale but promissing green. I call them my "ghost-leaves" meaning that they will grow eventually, although now there may still only be a promiss. Then I refound some peace and the skies turned blue again. With white clouds, but blue, meaning the heaviest part of the storm was over... the sun was going to shine again.

March was quite a month, quite a story... but in the end I have learned that somehow, somewhere there must be a way that I can stand up and say: Hey, I am growing strong!

I won't leave you without a proper piece of music to accompany this piece. To be honest it took me quite a while before I found a piece that illustrated my feelings. I think I have found it in this "Little Fugue" in G-minor, BWV 578 by Johann Sebastian Bach (one of my favorite composers). Originally the piece was composed for the organ, but here it is performed on the piano.The sound in this video is not perfect, but the visualization shows how the simple line (doodle) at the start is accompanied by other melodies into quite a sound and then to return to a more peacefull ending.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Here I am

So here I am, working steadily on my march-piece that is branching out to a level I hadn't expected and hesitantly starting thinking on my april piece, while april is already halfway gone! While pondering about what april means to me immediately our national holiday Koninginnedag came to mind. A tradition that started when our late Queen Juliana was crowned, for her birthday was april 30th. After she resigned and our current Queen Beatrix took over her reign she pronounced that april 30th would stay a national holiday in honor of her mother. So for as long as I have lived, april 30th was a very festive day.

The Dutch national color is orange, because our royal family is of the House of Orange-Nassau. Personally I don't care at all for the color orange, so I decided to find a way around using this color. (Note that my april piece has not one bead on it yet!) Staying in line with my wanting to make a Dutch piece, I thought of another well know Dutch thing: Delfts Blauw. Anyone who has ever visited the Netherlands will have seen the little blue and white souvenirs of windmills, clogs, and a sweet girl&boy kissing. I do like this color-combination because of it's simplicity and it's great variation in hues.

Next I also realized that I did not want to make another solidly bead beaded piece, as my march piece is turning out. Not that I don't like it, but is more work then I ever phantomed. I wanted to do something with two layers of felt and realized that I have a handwork encyclopedia with a vast amount of crafts explained in detail. While just browsing the pages I stumbled upon a Hungarian technique of sewing two layers of felt togehter and then cutting out shapes that were outlined in the sewing. I have tried to find an online example of this technique, but haven't been able to.

So here I am, with my april piece taking shape in my mind, and nothing to show for it. It is growing in the shade of my march tree waiting to get a chance...

Climb a tree - it gets you closer to heaven.
Author Unknown

Sunday, April 11, 2010


OMG! I have been nominated by Lisa Criswell at Indigo's beads for the Kreativ Blogger Award. Now I feel very honoured and thankfull! Lisa, if you didn't already get this award and I could nominate someone you would sure be nominated by me (but I guess this shouldn't go back and forth.)

I got to know Lisa through the Bead Journal Project and Facebook and found we have a lot in common and share a virtual history. It is amazing how a project can bring you contacts from miles away and make you feel that you should have been nextdoor neighbours.
Now as I understand it, I have to follow 7 basic rules to accept this award, so here we go:

  1. Thank the person who gave this to you.
  2. Copy the logo and place it in your blog.
  3. Link the person who nominated you.
  4. Name 7 things about yourself that no one would really know.
  5. Nominate seven 'Kreativ Bloggers'
  6. Post links to the seven blogs you nominate
  7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them.
Items 1 through 3 can be checked... so here´s for 4 through 7:
  1. I was an exchange-student at SIUC (Southern Illinois University at Carbondale) from august 1991 untill june 1992
  2. My favorite dish has always been the Dutch version of Rice Pudding. If you realize that my birthday is in the middle of summer, you can easily deduct that my family was not always that amused
  3. We own so many books, that we don't have enough space to store them. Most of them are in cardboard boxes on our attic (what will not do them any good). That is why I dream of owning a Sony E-reader with touch screen...
  4. I was born on a thursday, as were my husband and my daughter... only our son decided saturday would serve him better....
  5. but there must be a higher reason for his choice, as his birthdate and time read backwards are the excact birthdate and time of our daughter (!)
  6. I have 2 cats and a dog and like to give the the cats peculiar names: our red Norwegian Cat is called R2D2 (yes, after Star Wars) and our black and white one Lbs. (cause he weighed exactly 500 grams, a European pound, when we got him)
  7. I did not become a musician as I dreamed of as child, but did marry one!
And the nominees are...... (rolling drums):
  1. Robin Atkins from Beadlust whom I am endlessly thankfull for her inspiration and her brainchild - the BJP - that got me hooked on beading
  2. Susan Elliot from Plays with Needles whom I admire for her versatility and skills and being a wonderfull far friend as well
  3. Pam Truog from Of beads and other things without whom the BJP would have no blogs, and who is brave to be so to the point in her posts and so honest and personal in her beadwork
  4. Soe from Soe beads a lot who is also Dutch and beading for the BJP on her second year!
  5. oh Heck... I would want to nominate all 3 BJP blogs and all the woman that are beading, so lets break a rule or two and just go for it: Here's to beadjournalproject 3
  6. more beadjournal project 3 
  7. even more beadjournal project 3 you all deserve it!
You will have to visit all of these blogs if you want to make sure I did follow rule number 7!

All this friendship and connection to new and far away friends, got me thinking of a beautifull piece for piano solo by Robert Schumann: Kinderszenen, opus 15 - "von fremde Länder und Menschen" or in plain English "Scenes from childhood, opus 15, of foreign lands and peoples".

Sunday, March 28, 2010

BJP for febuary 2010

March is well on its way to hand over to april and here I am, posting on my febuary BJP page. Time is flying when your beading! I did the same to this page, as I did to my january page. But before I start my own story, I want to thank all of you who took the effort to really look and listen to my piece and left a comment on what it told them. I was moved by all of your reactions and didn't expect so many of them to be right on the mark!

Most of you saw the breaks in my heart, the mends (there was even a zipper conceived) and the growth. There were thunderclouds, butterfly-souls, scars, light and darkness but all ended well so I lived happily ever after. However silly this last sentence may sound, I must admit that I hadn't expected so many honest, warm comments and so much love expressed through them. It has really lifted me up in the very hard times I am going through right now. So before I start telling you my own story, I want to express a heartfelt:

Thank you !!

1. what is (in) my heart?
It all started with a piece of off-white felt, and a whole, red felt heart. I don't know exactly what brought me to cut it into pieces, but somehow after I had cut out the heart I felt the need to divide it. Thing is that probably as a side-effect of my depression I often feel like I am shattered to pieces: dark&light, sad&bright, black&white. I often struggle to unite these pieces and have a feeling of  "me". More often then not I don't have this feeling of being whole, I usually feel torn and tossed between all the extremes that my emotions and thoughts show me.

The top right-parts that were "zipped" together have a little secret behind them. On my first day in hospital I found a € 0.05 coin on the floor of my room. It struck me like a lucky-penny and that's why I wanted it in my piece. Somewhere in my heart, there is some luck hidden. Locked up for now, but there for when time is right.

2. hold on tight
The sun always shines behind the clouds is the English phrase, in Dutch we say: "after rain the sun comes out" (my translation). It is the darknes that dissolves to light, but with a heart at the center of the darkness. There always is something good to come out of hard times, though often we can hardly perceive it when we are in the middle of such turmoil. So I will have to hold on tightly and sit the ride out.

3. the garden of life
I first had my heart cut up in pieces, but pinned it to the backing in the right shape and order. While beading I realized that just part of me felt really dislocated right now, in need of mending. That's why I relocated this one piece, just outlining where it had been, and put it in my little garden where it can grow and heal again. Like in a real garden, a lot of work needs to be done and that is what I am looking at now.

4. missing parts&turmoil
So this missing part is just outlined, showing where it should be and was, but now it is threatened by dark clouds and and almost sucked into the dark whirlpool below. There is a steep path shearing right next to my heart and I must cling on to not fall into this darkness. But it is not pitchblack, there still is some light so I can try to stay on top and see a little of the beauty that is hidden in this darkness.

5. one day I'll fly away
The thought of the butterflies representing my soul is not farfetched at all. It was the last piece of the project that I beaded and I did indeed intend to represent my wish to sometime be able to fly away from the sorrow that is inside me. I wanted to ensure myself that one day, I will be able to put all this behind me and fly into the clouds, the sunlight... I used red thread with matte beads to connect the flight and air to the heart. It don't want to fly away from my heart, because no matter what, it still is mine.

So now branching of to march, but that is to come in another post. Those who have known me for some time now, also know I will not leave you emtyhanded. I found this beautifull music-video of Chinese classical Folk Music, interpreted by the Vanessa Mae. Very calming to listen to and a joy to watch.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Growing strong?

I don't know where it is written, but there must be a law that states that when you encounter something it will be the first of whole series of encounters.... To me it always leaves the impression of close encounters of a third kind: "This means something, this is important!"

It al started with my doodling around while at the office talking to a customer. With just a few simple lines a tree appeared and I thought it would be nice to be able to use it for the Bead Journal Project sometime. Then I visited Susan Elliot at Plays with Needles and read that she was growing a tree! So a few encounters later I was hesitant to start my own home-grown greenery, afraid it would look like plagiarism and I certainly don't intend to be a copycat!

Luckily I realized that my BJP would be about me, not about Susan, nor about any other tree-minded designers. They have inspired me immensely though and I am grateful for their efforts to share. For this moment I will leave you with my humble beginnings on my march journal page and adventure in growing green and strong this spring...

Do not be afraid to go out on a limb ... That's where the fruit is.



What is in my heart?

February 14th is Valentine's Day all over the world... Thing is though I don't really care for Valentine's Day. The custom was never big over here in my younger years, and now that it has conquered our Calvinistic little country I don't have a thing for it. My only sweet valentine memory was from when I was about 8 years old. Our dad took me and my sister Noëlle to the toyshop for what he called: my special friends day. We could pick whatever we wanted (well, to a certain price level). I had longed desparately for a Barbie doll to be mine, but my mom was totally against that honouring the 2nd feministic wave that was over us. Barbie equalled: suppression, low self esteem and a stepping stone towards Body Dismorphic Disorder. Thanks to my Dad, that night I got my Barbie look-a-like and was on cloud 9!

So missing the proper Feb#14-gene I didn't want to make a "classical" valentine BJP. Still, beading about what I hold dear wouldn't be so bad an idea now, would it? I set out thinking about how my piece would have to become an illustration of what is in my heart. The most obvious answer being: my 2 lovely kids. I asked my daughter (who has inherited my Barbie DNA) if she had for example a single shoe leftover from what was once a pair and would be able to miss it. I already had some spare parts from what used to be a toy-car from my son. I did want somehow to incorporate a heart(shape), but wasn't sure on how...

... and then my life was turned upside down from one moment to another. I am struggling with a severe, recurrent depression and things got so bad that it was best if I were admitted. All of a sudden what was in my heart was not merely my kids (although they are what keeps me on my feet), but even more: how can I survive? What is in my heart that needs to be seen and told? What can it tell me about the things that need to heal? Here's the outcome of my soulsearching:

It would be tempting to tell you all about this piece, but I first want you to just look at it and see if it releases its story. I curious to what will be your thoughts and feelings, and maybe even musical associations and will be back with mine later.

In the meantime, if you want to have fun with all the things you can do to or with a Barbie be sure to check out the portfolio of Margaux Lange.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

BJP for january 2010

In my post "Do you remember?" I told you my sisters story, the link to why my BJP for january has grown the way it has. Still I owe you the story behind all the different stitches and cabochons I used.

I have borrowed a little trick from Sharon Bogon over at Pintangle, who explains blocks of her Crazy Quilts like I have done in the picture below.

1. a ribbon for life
In the center is a Danish coin with a hole in it: 25 ore. I glued it to the felt after I had already put the ribbon on. Then I  fastened it with a round of backstitch and then continued to bead with peyote stitch. Around the ribbon came a round of backstitch again and I worked that out into a snake-stitch, which looks quite intricate, but is in fact very easy. From the start on, this part of the piece resembled a medal of honor of some sort and I guess it is. If anyone has struggled through life and deserves to be honoured for that it is my sis.

2. there were 3 of us
As I wrote before I am the oldest of 3 girls and when I turned my little treasure chest upside down, I was surprised not only to find the Danish coin, but 3 Swedish coins as well. All are remnants of our family vacations to Scandinavia. There is no point in saying that when you are used to have a 3-some, all of a sudden becoming a 2-some will never be "normal". The most astounding thing is that 2 out of the 3 coins had a different design on the coin-side. (If you click-to-enlarge on the picture above you can see what I mean.) I felt like this even more emphasized the fact that our pact was broken. These coins I glued to the felt as well and embellished with backstitch. The darker blue, fake pearls are sewn to form a Triskelion, an ancient Celtic symbol of power.
3. out of her hair
I got my treasure chest out to find the blue hairpin in the first place. My sister had worn it and it was so delicate that it broke. I loved the two tiny doves, so I asked her if I could have it.... that was 25-some years ago. Seems like eons since we were kids. The piece of fur is from a bunny. I put in in there because at her second B-day my sister got a guinea-pig that unfortunately had to leave our home in shorter than a year because both she and our mom were very allergic to it. Aside from some birds and goldfish, it was the only pet we were ever allowed to my great distress. It took some time to decide that I had to not only sow the back of the pin to the felt, but had to somehow sow the doves stuck too...

4. peacefull, loving memories
It is often said of some items that you should get them and not buy them for yourself because that would mean bad luck. This is true for rosaries and Buddha's to my knowledge. So when my sister wanted a Buddha for Sinterklaas (at least I think it was for that occasion) I went out and bought her one. It was in a time that her peace of mind was far away and she deserved some quiet, happy time. I put the Buddha-bead in the middle of the hole in hope that where-ever she is right now, she will have peace of mind.

5. in the bloom of her life
My sister took her life in the bloom of it, she was too young to die but didn't see a way to continue living with so much pain in her heart and mind. Now that I am going through one of the worst depressions in my own life (I am struggling with severe, recurring depressions from when I was 15 up to now), I know how hard it must have been for her. I know her struggle, for I am battling that same urge to put an end to things every day. I feel her sorrow, for it is my sorrow too partially. I love her even more for it, that is maybe the most strange outcome of this.  The past years I have wished every day I could put my arms around her and tell her we would be all right, and today I know more then ever we could have been here together. Still, she left in the midst of her season... she loved the flowering bulbs in spring and when we drove to the funeral home it was an overpowering, sunny day with crocusses, daffodils and snowdrops everywhere. Because of her love for the color blue, I bought blue anemones to lay on the lid of the coffin. That's where the blue flower derives from. If you would like to give the flower a try yourself, visit Beading Arts. She has an excellent tutorial on how to make them.

So all this is behind just one piece of bead-embroidery and I haven't even started on what I learned about me from this... For now, I just want to leave you with the wise words of a Little Prince:

"You're lovely, but you're empty," he went on. "One couldn't die for you. Of course an ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than you altogether, since she's the one I've watered. Since she's the one I put under glass. Since she's the one I sheltered behind a screen. Since she's the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except for two or three for butterflies). Since's she the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she's my rose."

the Little Prince by Anoine de Saint Exupery

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Truth of dare?

As I wrote earlier I recently subscribed to a Dutch lifestyle magazine Happinez. I normally don't even bother to take a look at the inevitable ads and just turn the page. In the last issue of last year however my eye was caught by the cover of a book. Just a tiny drawing of a tree, some birds and a banner that said: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life. Just above that was written in curvy, elegant characters: 29 Gifts. I glanced over the accompanying text and forgot about it... At least I though I forgot about it, because the title kept popping up in my mind and I just couldn't stop thinking about it.

Being in the hospital I have had plenty of time to worry, get panicked but also to contemplate. For one thing my beading has helped me in the last aspect greatly! And then there it was again: 29 gifts that could change my life. The Dutch translation was just in my reach when I went to buy a paper in the little shop in the lobby. This could not be a coincidence, this was a message so I picked it up and ... had it giftwrapped!

Right now I am intrigued by the story, to its simple message that sounds way to good to be true and yet I makes me feel compelled to give it a try. Then I read Susan's Plays with needles post, saw her beautiful pictures and was sure that there is a message in today. I still will need at least 29 days to decipher it!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Do you remember?

Do you remember this one?
Well, I worked on it for about a whole month, and slowly it progressed into something quite different. When I had found the right color felt, and pulled out my little treasure box from under a pile of junk in my attic, gathered all my blue beads and then some more ... I started assembling my piece.

But what you see here is only the beginning. Before I can show you its ending I have to tell you a story, its story, my story, the story of my little sister Karen.

Her story started on september 30th, 1976 and abruptly ended on january 9th, 1997 when she took her own life. She was a very boyish girl and always full of life. We both had such good times together. As I was 7 years older than she, I used to play games with her like: I would tell her I was going on a journey and wanted her to come along. I would ask her to lay on her back so I could fold her up and pack her in my suitcase. I would fold her legs up to her tummy, wrap her arms around her knees and try to pick her up, which would of course never succeed.... but we laughed our heads of!

Besides being a lot of fun, she had it in her to become very angry when things wouldn't go as she would want them to. Often when our parents would tell her No, she would stand straight, put both her feet firmly on the ground, clench her fists ... and then swear and shout BUT without making any noise whatsoever (she was clever too: she knew she wasn't allowd to swear and shout!). This would make us all burst out in laughter with tears running down our cheeks. No way mom and dad would be able to stay mad!

When se was a teenager all of that changed. I have never known what really happened to her, I had left home by that time to go to college and didn't see her very often. What I do know is that the fun seeped out of her life very, very slowly and the anger turned towards herself. Although we had always been able to talk about almost anything very openly, all of a sudden she had shut up like a clam. If I was calling her to ask how she was doing, it was like a tape-recorder answering, instead of my lovely, lively sister. A long, heavy time started with her being hospitalized every so often before or after a suicide attempt.

When she was a toddler she used to be mesmerized by wedding gowns. Whenever and wherever we would pass a store with those sparkling, festive gowns we would have to stand still so she could stand in awe. Once we strolled by a store that also had evening gowns on stock and on a mannequin in the window was a bright, green, silk gown. Of course we stopped and she asked our mom: Mommy, is that a divorce dress?
She was always afraid that if I would ever marry, I would forget to invite her. I had to assure her over and over again that she was obliged to come because she was my sister! Not even being interested in boys at the time, I promissed myself that if my wedding day would come, I woud ask her to be my maid of honor. On august 28th, 1996 René and I got married and she was my maid of honor. She had survived and I couldn't be more happy then to have her there that day, knowing how hard life was on her and hoping it would give her maybe a sense of belonging and love. Two weeks later she attempted once again to kill herself. It felt like a personal failure. If only I could let her know how much I loved her and wanted her to be well and part of my life...

During the holidays that same year we went for a walk through the woods and our dog Boxer (a boxer) that she was very fond of was with us. All of us that is: our parents, my other sister and her boy-friend. She seemed to do a little better, had taken up some volunteer work, maybe there was some light at the end of the tunnel? Unfortunately just 2 weeks later, after getting some bad news, she succeeded and her short life ended. She was only 20 years, 3 months and 10 days old and will never ever be a day older.

I am now twice as old as she, she hasn't seen my children been born and grow up, nor our other sister's children. She wasn't at our graduation. She hasn't celebrated our parents 40th wedding anniversay. We have missed her on all the important occasions of our lives. She has left an emptiness that will  not and cannot be filled, left us speechless, left us a song without words.

So here is to the life of my sweet baby sister. As I was beading I realized I was beading her life and not her death and that left me feeling very happy about the result. Because it is her short life that she will be remembered by, not her demise. I do remember.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

To bead or blog?

To bead or blog, that's the question. I used to spend my tuesday evenings blogging, but as that is quite time-consuming (at least the way I blog is) I cannot spend that time beading. Both I like, but finishing a beaded piece for one month in just about 2 nights a week is not an accomplishable goal... so it has been very quit at my end of the universe...

15th centure beaded piece (image from : Medieval Beads.com)

This I wrote in a few quiet minutes at work yesterday not knowing my day would turn my side of the universe upside down. Maybe now it is time to tell why I wrote earlier that I just want to try and make something nice and in the meantime enjoy life because it is mine. And I don't say this lightly..  Some of you may already know that I have been struggling with a recurrent, severe depression over the past 2 years. During the hollidays (not my favorite time of year) it got worse. Yesterday I, my counselor and my shrink decided it would be best if I got admitted for a time to get some rest and recover. So right now I am not in my home, nor at work but at the "Internet Cafe"  in the hospital. I have limited internet acces but was delighted to discover that I can blog at least, just to let you know that I am doing fine considering the circumstances.

The most positive side of it all is that I seem to get time to bead and blog! My january piece is almost finished and I am thinking about february already. I am sorry I cannot post any pictures right now, because I would love to hear your comments. More on that later.

Whatever happens, even during the most dark of times, know that there is always something to smile about. At least I know I laughed my pants off when I recently saw this video:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

For starters

I started my january piece for the BJP. It took me some time to get everything together, but I even managed to find a long lost small treasure chest I got when I was a kid. I knew I had saved up some small trinkets from when I was a little girl, and because I want this piece to be about my little sister I hoped to find it so I could incorporate some.

For starters, I knew there had to be a broken hairpin in there, with two tiny little doves holding a heart between their beaks. I had found it too lovely to throw away at the time, after it lost its use, and because it belonged to my sister I wanted it to be part of the piece. So far I haven't been able to decide how to fasten it to the felt though. The doves are so tiny and delicate that I cannot think of a way that does them justice and won't harm the pin even more. I'm still out on that one.

Among the many other things I found were a Danish øre (the coin with a hole in it) and 3 Swedish öre: I just superglued them to the felt. The ribbon came from a Swedish julbocken (a christmas decoration) that came out of the box broken last year, and has the right colour blue. These Scandinavian things remind me of the many summervacations we spent together in Sweden and Denmark when all three of us were little. At that time my sister was still the boyish, joyfull girl I want to remember most.

I wrote earlier that I wanted to cut a hole in my piece because of the loss I feel after her death. I guess cutting the hole was the hardest part of the piece so far. But I did it. Right after I started with the Danish coin, ribbon and a peyote beaded bezel, I took up my pair of siccors and cut the hole. I trimmed it with a picot stitch and mounted a black buddha bead right in the middle. I felt very relieved after I had finished this part. As I said I not only found one Danish coin, but 3 Swedish ones as well and so far I have been beading around them for the next phase. As I mainly used different shades of blue, I added some green and was amazed at how well it worked. It made the blue stand out better and added life to the piece.

Next thing I realized that I had 3 separate divisions in my work that were not connected. The simplest answer I could come up with was: then just bead a path to connect them and so I did... Today I have come to this point and with one week to go on januari I hope to finish in time, so when I write again I will be able to tell you more about what this first journey was all about and what it brought me.

I would like more sisters, that the taking out of one, might not leave such stillness.
Emily Dickinson (1830–1886).

Monday, January 11, 2010

On ordinary life

When reading my posts, you could easily get the impression that my life consists of thinking through deep thoughts about music, beading and beading materials, browsing the www to find nice videos to illustrate my points or just for sharing beautifull things, educating about Dutch custom and history... It raises the question: do I have an ordinary life? The answer is as obvious as easy: Yes, of course I do. So today I am going to give you a sneak view into my ordinary life, which is as much a work-in-progress as my beading.

Take the previous weekend for example:
my youngest (a 5 year old boy) had the pleasure to be invited to a friends birthdayparty friday-afternoon. When he came back around 4 PM we were told that the birthday-boy himself had been sick all through the party. This could mean two things: either he had been so anxious about his first birthdayparty that he purged all the tension out of his system when it finally arrived... OR, there was a nasty virus going around and we would be hearing more from it this weekend. Need I say more? On saturday my boy got sick, and sunday-night his sister joined him. Today is monday and both stayed home from school, my sweet husband being the designated WAHD for the day.

As the wheather forecasts were not inviting us to spent a day outdoor, we had planned to play games and bake cookies. Instead I spent my saturday emptying a bowl every so often, trying not to breathe through the nose. Comforting a very upset preschooler and trying to get his sister to find something to do for herself. On sunday I decided to do the ironing I had been needing to get done for over a week now and then mend some stuff as that had been needing to be done for over months! So, I sewed loops back on bathrobes, buttons back on trousers, mended holes in jeans with nice aplications, and became the Doc at service for many stuffed animal and doll... I am not the perfect housewife. I do like a clean and tidy house, but hate the work it takes.

Still, I will try to use this "ordinary" life of mine as inspiration for the journal pages I am going to create the next 12 months for the Bead Journal Project. A journal is like a diary, except it is less frequent.  The Wikepedia even states that they are the same, but a diary is a personal journal. I don't mind so much, I just want to try and make something nice and in the meantime enjoy life because it is mine. And I don't say this lightly. Why not? Told you I was only going to give you a sneak view into my life. Maybe next time, but in the meanwhile: just remember that getting too comfortable is never a wise thing to do.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ready? Set... Go!

So this is it, today is january 2nd and we're off for the Bead Jounal Project 2010! I had planned to get my backing before New Year, but unfortunately the store was closed for the holidays and didn't open again until today. I have still not decided on the size of my pieces, but knowing I didn't like the Lacy's Stiff Stuff, I have decided to go back to woolen felt again. It is sturdy and still has a nice and warm feel to it.

My january piece will all be about my baby-sister Karen who died january 9th 1997. It has been an awfull long time these 13 years and I am still not used to missing her. Not that we spoke very often, but from the day she was born she was my soulmate. I was 7 at the time and knew that my mom was expecting. Already having one sister I longed for a brother, a Big Brother that would protect me... but I was realistic enough knowing that as I was the eldest in our family the chances of ever having a Big Brother were nil. So I decided I would settle for a little brother instead.
What a disappointment when I woke up that september 30th  of 1976: my dad was still home and my mom was missing. Where was she? At the hospital my dad reassured us, and she had given us a little baby sister that night. Getting to treat classmates on beschuit met muisjes (a typical Dutch treat at baby showers) was little comfort. But then later that afternoon my mom returned from the hospital, and while my dad and the neighbour helped her into the house my little sister was still lying in her carry cot in our red Renault 4. All the neighbour kids came out to take a look and with their repeated asking if that was "my baby?" my pride grew. Yes, that was my baby and no one would ever touch her or else...

And now I am lost without her. She was the funniest little sister one could have, always a prank up her sleeve, always in a good mood, creative, a true friend with a genuine interest for people. She was all that at least for the major part of her short life.

As I set out to buy some felt I thought I would go with a nice off white shade to make it easy. Then I found just the perfect shade of blue for my first piece. As a family we spent our summer vacation in Denmark a couple of times and  my sister fell in love with a particular hue of blue that we only saw there. We called it Danish Blue (not the cheese). My heart jumped as I knew this piece of felt was just perfect for a start. So now there are two things settled at least: my first piece will have a blue backing in a shade Karen loved so much and it will have hole in it, maybe heartshaped, but a hole it will be to illustrate the emptiness she left behind.


MY life closed twice before its close;
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me,

So huge, so hopeless to conceive,
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

Emily Dickinson (1830–1886). Complete Poems. 1924.


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