Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Making the Leap

There’s a term, schadenfreude, pronounced sha-den-froi-da, I believe, which means “pleasure derived from the misfortune of others.” A common theme feeding the tabloid machines and fueling gossip as a lucrative currency.

I just finished reading The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, which I loved by the way, but was saddened by this insightful sentence, “There are some who’d hardly lift a finger for kindness, but they would haul up a load of rock to dump on some soul they think’s been too lucky.”

As Kimmmm would say, “Le sigh…”

So what’s a term that means to share in someone’s joy? To root for them as they make a shift, to accompany them on their transformative journey of creative bliss?

If you’re not in the mood to read about someone breaking free from their own mental boundaries, by all means, make your escape. However, if you want to read about a favorite theme, Alignment, then welcome.

A friend recently confided to me that she thought every time we go out of town for a show, we do at least $10,000 worth of sales. Oh my heart is fluttering, what a thought! I have no idea where that came from, but I’m flattered.

This segues nicely to the phone calls I’ve been receiving. Somehow, and again, I have no idea, my name has been placed on a high-rollers list. I’m getting phone calls from movie producers, oil companies and other entities looking for large dollar investors. I mean, these guys are smooth, their voices like velvet champagne and honey, images of private jets and Rolls Royce’s sprinkled among “profitable returns yaddah yaddah,” until I am forced to interrupt them and tell them I am not their client.

They are puzzled at first, clarifying if I am indeed So & So? I tell them, yes, it’s me, but really, I am not their kind of investor. Oh, the disappointment and incredulity, as they stare at their list, wondering how they got it wrong? The honey and velvet dissipates quickly, iron and rust hardening into place. Their masks slip, revealing the rough beneath the smooth.

So while these calls threw me at first, I’ve started to look at them as forecasters of the future. While I do not yet have that kind of cash, it’s fun to imagine that someday I might and these tele-conversations are simply practice.

This again dovetails perfectly to what’s been unfolding. For the past two weeks, I’ve been inspired to design necklaces. I had a lot of fun until Friday night. That was when the pricing discussion with Groom occurred.

As this begins our 19th selling season, I must admit we have never priced a piece of jewelry over $90. We have had bookmarks for sale as low as $1 before, and our simple laminated pins start at just $5 and the rest of the jewelry has price tags in between, in other words, all within the two-digit range.

On Friday night, Groom became bold. As he priced and titled the necklaces, I gasped. “What are you doing?” I cried, (adding a little drama to the scene).

“Come now, Sweetie Blossom,” says he, “We’ve been under-pricing ourselves for years. With the new style of jewelry, incorporating metal work, antique components, pearls, sterling silver and fine gold finishing touches, we have to showcase them with higher prices.”

“But, but, the economy,” I sputtered. He smiled his sweet smile and continued pricing.

I went to bed feeling funny. I woke up feeling funny. I went to the Saturday Market feeling vulnerable. It’s one matter to create something and put it on display, but it’s another to design a piece and put it on display with a price attached.

Judgment about one’s creativity is akin to paper cuts compared with judgment about one’s value and worth. That’s a dagger to the gut. All day I was itchy and scratchy. Sure, Groom’s bravado was all well and good; he was safely tucked at home working. I was the one with my heart on my sleeve, for public display.

Sure enough, a man made a bee line straight for a necklace and mocked, “What is this?” He pointed and told me, “You start a design here and then stop. Start a new design and then stop. What’s your name, Collage?” He said the word collage like it smelled bad. “Oh well, just ignore me, I’m out on a day pass anyway,” he said and wandered off.

Gee, that was fun.

I understood in that moment, thanks to the guy with the “day pass,” that if I didn’t change my attitude and the signal I was broadcasting, I would continue attracting people into the booth that would validate my insecurity and vulnerability.

Time to Own It and step up my game or stay locked in to old, familiar patterns and prices.

And then the magic happened. A trio of women entered the booth, pulled in by the necklaces. One lady pointed to a necklace made with antique keys and tried it on. “How much is it?” she asked.

Gulp, the dreaded question. I pulled out the tag, hidden behind the counter, and said with as much conviction as I could muster, “This necklace comes with an introductory price of $185.”

“Do you take credit cards?” she said, and then told me to add in the pair of earrings I was wearing to match. She did not bat an eye, did not mock me, but praised the design with words and electronic cash.

With two bold moves, Groom’s for the pricing, and me for the adjustment in my psychology, we smashed the two-digit glass ceiling and made our first three-digit sale for a single item. Bonanza!

Chakra girl was in the booth at the time and noticed another person enter at the exact moment we broke our own barrier wearing a hat emblazoned with “Oregon Ki Society: Coordination of mind and body.”

This is sweet alignment. The necklace that sold was made from keys. The word Ki, which looks like it would be pronounced key, means energy flow or life force, and is pronounced chee. For me, it was a signpost that we’re on the right path.

After previewing the necklaces, a friend, Snow White, commented that I was “a conceptual artist.” I had to look that one up. Some of the other comments about the necklaces collected throughout the day included, Hardcore, I’ve never seen anything like it… It’s nice to see someone jumping out of the box… Steampunk… Sculptural, and oh yeah, “Collaaaaaage.”

When I told Groom about the man making fun, he said, “Sweetie Blossom, you’ve just moved into art. If everyone gets you, it’s a craft, if someone don’t get ya, it’s art!” Do you see why I love him? He always knows what to say.

Then on Sunday, when we went to the Flea Market to hunt for treasure, I had a very interesting response to a necklace I wore. A woman stopped me with a shriek, exclaiming, “That is the most freakin’ cool necklace I’ve ever seen in my life.” Verbatim.

Then, when she asked me where I got it and I told her I made it, she went on to say that if a celebrity were to be photographed in it, the necklace would sell for thousands of dollars. She said it would sell anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000. Okay, she might be prone to hyperbole, but the very idea that a design would be perceived, even by one person, to hit the four and five digit mark did something verrrry nice for my insides.

This encounter opened a portal to my psyche. I’m very comfortable selling 100 items for $15 each, but realized I squirm at the idea of selling one item for say, $1,500. I’m used to working hard to make lots of little things, but have not considered putting forth energy and creativity toward one really interesting piece.

The idea of placing myself out there to be judged on value and worth challenges me, but as I was talking to God’s Minion, a former metalsmith herself, she told me to blast out of my shell instead of peck peck pecking it to death.

“Be audacious, be bold,” she said, cheering me on. She’s very good at that. People have suggested she become a life coach and I think she’d do quite well.

Last Saturday, I took her advice and jumped into the audacious category, pricing some of the new necklaces even higher. Within the first hour of being open, we broke another record: the necklace “Day Pass” made fun of sold for $245!

Where in our lives do we set the bar and then complain things don’t turn out our way? If we are the ones setting the bar, then they do turn out exactly our way. Yipes!

It’s not like we priced things higher and never sold any, it’s that we never even thought of pricing anything higher. When we first started making jewelry, a pair of musical earrings, Do Re Mi, sold for $10. Nineteen years later, they sell for $10. See what I mean?

Perceived value. Whoa, a head trip. Talk about a journey…

Last Saturday, we sold a pair of Tree Frog earrings at the very end of the day (nice!). Moments later, my next door vendor-neighbor asked if I had my camera, because an itty bitty frog was poised at the edge of the fountain. In all my years there, I’ve never seen a frog appear. Curious.

So I looked up the symbolic meaning of frogs when I got home. Duh. Transformation. Metamorphosis is actually one of the four stages of their lifecycle!

They begin as eggs, then become tadpoles and eventually grow into froggies through “a dramatic transformation of morphology and physiology.”

I can make the leap. My thoughts start out as gelatinous blobs, then grow into polliwogs, and eventually, through a dramatic transformation (Hey, this is scientific lingo you know), becomes visible in the outer realm.

This suggests a four-stage development lifecycle of the psyche. The inner life of humans begins as spirit, becomes tangible thought, and through drama (emotions & feelings) births into physical manifestation.

Another signpost. Oh thank you little frog, Alignment makes me so happy!


  1. Hooray! Thanks for sharing this sweet tale, it makes me "le sigh" in very happy way!!

  2. A sweet tale indeed. Poignant, powerful, provocative, bold. Lovely entry. Thank you.

  3. the bold and the Blossom...lovely.