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Half Marathon? Check!

We did it! Hubs and I both finished the half marathon and neither of us died. In spite of the impending run, and the feeling of our legs being beaten with a baseball bat after the run, it was a very fun weekend. Some highlights and lessons:
-research what you will need to take with you during that 13.1 mile run. I was just going to wing it (aka-be "surprised" by the entire experience). If my sister in law Rebecca hadn't mentioned some of the things she does before a race and during a race, I would have been screwed. So, thanks Rebecca!
-hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, then hydrate some more.
-visit the convention center to pick up all the gear you didn't pick up before hand because you were just going to be "surprised" by what happens during the marathon. (I got energy gel packs that were very...thick, knee high compression sleeves, and a belt with water resistant pouch to carry phone, ipod, money, id)
-visit the starting line the day before the race so you know exactly where it is and that there are enough port-a-potties:
Port a potties as far as the eye can see
-do not walk for hours the day before the race. Oops. We were too busy having fun and living the experience. -set everything out the night before and pack the pouch with everything you are taking with you -eat high carb meal the night before. -get up 2 hours before the start of the race, chug bottle of Gatorade and eat a high fiber, high protein energy bar. People, I was paranoid of puking or peeing the entire time. That's why I was up at 4:30am. -stay at a hotel within walking distance of start/finish line so there is no commute or finding a parking spot. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="604" caption="The view of the Ohio River and downtown Cincinnati, taken with my cel phone. "]View from Millenium Hotel Cincinnati[/caption] -stay at a hotel that has a table piled high with bananas and water bottles for the runners streaming out of the hotel at 5:45am I grabbed a banana, started to peel it on the walk to the race and was thinking to myself "Do I REALLY want to eat this? My stomach feels full still" and at that exact moment, we were passing a man holding a Homeless sign. Without even thinking about it, I went up to him, asked if he wanted my banana. He took it from me and I walked away. I felt kind of bad about giving him a banana I had started to peel (no bites taken though). However, he yelled thank you several times as I walked away. Even though it is easy to be cynical and think poorly of people who beg, clearly he needed that banana more than I if he was that appreciative of it. -wear a "throw away" sweatshirt that is old or even from Good Will. They collect them and donate them. It started raining right after we got to the starting line, so I ditched mine right there by laying it on the fence. Being wet, it would have made me colder than not wearing it. -Pace yourself no matter how fast others are going. -Enjoy the scenery -Enjoy the entertainment being provided. -Take a small sip of water or Gatorade at every water break. -Stopping to walk in the middle makes you feel WORSE than just pushing through...even if it's a very slow jog -when your right calf cramps up just before mile 12, massage the cramp. Do not try to stretch it out. -use the downhill portions to make up the lost time for the steep 3 mile long uphill portions. -no matter how tired and in pain, pick up the pace for the last quarter mile and finish strong. -get cool medal.

Flying Pig Half Marathon Medal

-pick a half marathon that the medal is just as cool on the back as on the front: Flying Pig Half Marathon Medal Back Side -be glad you stayed at a hotel within a few blocks so the direct route is blocked off and you get an extra long cool down walk hobble back to the room. -running 8 miles during training will not guarantee you will have worked out all the kinks in the clothing you choose to wear for 13.1 miles. Let's just say my sports bra did not work out as well for the longer distance and I have two sores along the edge of the bra to prove it. -Enjoy the entire experience, the good and the bad. -Start planning next half marathon.

I'll Run a Half Marathon When Pigs Fly

January 23, 2011 And apparently they will be flying this coming Sunday at 6:30am. Two impossibilities in one morning! #1: getting up by 5am (psst! Not a morning person!) #2: running/walking a half marathon. Why the Flying Pig? Because my husband received a pig valve to replace his very stenotic aortic valve in his heart last November. So now anything having to do with pigs... We will be spending quality time together in Cincinnati this weekend while my awesome mom hangs out with the monsters and the zoo. I will not be blogging from the road. Sorry. Please take a few minutes to sign up for the charm exchange. I am extending the sign ups until Monday when I get back. I will not be emailing anything until then either. Have an above average weekend.

Bead Table Wednesday: The Blog Slacker Edition

Remember me? I'm the one who writes this blog. As you can see, I've been making changes. Big changes. Little changes. The most obvious change is my blog. My wonderful, awesome, couldn't have done this without her, friend Robin Koza got my Blogger content moved to WordPress.org and all my "followers" and my feed and all kinds of stuff that I didn't think could make the move. Plus, she restored all the buttons I somehow deleted without trying. Of course, I somehow managed to delete most of them again, but I can find them now and have the code saved to put them back in place when I have time. Let's chat about time for a minute. There is still time to sign up for the charm exchange. Why should you sign up? Because you will get a charm back from each person in your group. Not a good enough reason? Does the fact that the extra charm you send in will be placed into a group with all the other charms to be auctioned off for Beads of Courage entice you? How about the theme of "play" for the charms? How about because I asked nicely? LOL! On to the real reason you are here...to see the disaster I made today. But first, a backstory. A common thread in what I want to do when I grow up is to teach, but not in the traditional model of elementary school teacher. I enjoy teaching. When I was a surgical technologist (scrub nurse), I was responsible for teaching  nurses and techs that entered the operating room how to scrub and how to observe sterile technique, etc. My year as a student and then the orientation period (3 months) to my first job were miserable, soul crushing experiences. I swore that if I ever had to teach someone how to scrub, I would NOT follow in the footsteps of my preceptors. So I didn't. I was kind. I was patient. I took extra time outside of actual surgeries to work with nurses who had spent zero time in the OR and were just.not.getting.it. I protected my "students" from the rampaging surgeons. I almost always had a student or new hire with me. It was tiring, but I enjoyed it. Friday I will be teaching 3 different groups of middle school students how to etch copper and brass. (weeks 2 and 3 will be patina, heat treating, and jewelry design). Today I did a dry run to see how long it would take if I focused and so I could have some samples to take with me to class. This is a small portion of the kitchen table during this session:

Stamping copper and brass for etching

On the other side of the table sat the copper and brass sheets waiting to be made into kits.

Copper and Brass sheets

I am really excited (and a bit nervous) to teach this class. I hope it goes well and my son isn't totally embarrassed by his mom. I really would love to teach, but wonder if it just seems like a good idea inside my head. Through teaching this 3 week class, I will be getting my feet wet  and using my kid's classmates as guinea pigs. What could possibly go wrong?

Parkinson's Law

Have you ever had the experience of learning of something new to you. Maybe it's a celebrity, or some bit of research on the dangers of plastic, a new jewelry making technique or material, or even a theory. Once you hear of this person, place, or thing, you suddenly start seeing reference to it EVERYWHERE? This has happened to me in so many instances I cannot even count that high.The most recent example of this phenomenon is Parkinson's Law. I was listening to Tim Ferriss's 4 Hour Work Week audiobook, which I find completely fascinating. One of the things that caught my attention is Parkinson's Law, which states:"work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion"Ferriss expands on this law by stating the task grows in complexity and importance the longer the deadline. How to compensate for it? Set shorter deadlines. Rather than giving yourself a week or an entire month, give yourself a day or two to complete a task. Why? Because the longer the deadline, the more complex it will seem and soon we are making a "mountain out of a molehill."Now I see Parkinson's Law mentioned all over the place-online and in print. I also see it in my life every. single. day. Let's give a couple examples of just how bad it is, shall we? I give myself two weeks to complete a custom order. Guess how long it takes me every single time? Two weeks. It should probably take two days assuming I'm home and not traveling.How about taxes? We always wait until the last minute and then it just seems overwhelming to do them. We end up cranky and impatient the closer the deadline comes. If we started them in February, they would be done and it would be a non-issue.Another example: the way I run our homeschool is I assign work to be done for the day. I let my daughter choose in what order and how long she spends on the work. This is a mistake. What should take 30 minutes often takes HOURS so that the entire day is spent doing schoolwork when we could have been doing something fun in the afternoon instead.How many people do you know claim to work better under pressure with that deadline looming? I know I do. Why is that? According to Parkinson's Law and Ferriss's method of using it to your advantage, a shorter deadline=more focus, less distractions, and the ability to get more done in a shorter amount of time. Ironic that it's pretty much the same thing as "working better under pressure"?I am taking this new information and trying to stop expanding the work for myself. How do I do this? Set shorter deadlines for myself or take the 30 seconds to deal with a task immediately rather than letting things pile up. Seems simple enough. I've had some success and some not so successful attempts at applying this to my life. It helps to make an "action list" (term and technique learned from Tara Gentile in her Art of Action ecourse) each and every day with 3 very specific bite-sized items-nothing sweeping like "work on a novel today".How about you? Do you let the work expand? How do you handle it?

Bead Table Wednesday: The Business, The Branding, And The Random Edition

Good morning! It's that time of the week. Again. There's not much new on my bead table except creating one of these made to order Nurture necklaces. The lampwork bead is made. However, the customer wants it slightly altered so it is more personalized and I've been playing around with the design in copper before I move on to the sterling silver (because I would be less than thrilled to mess up a silver disc when sterling is now more than $38/oz!). For each one of these I sell, I donate $5.00 to the March of Dimes.
Hand Stamped Necklace with lampwork bead
I just got these new Moo MiniCards in on Monday. They are slightly different than the ones I ordered before. The side with my etsy website is still the same:
Front of Mini Moo Cards
However, on the back, I came up with a checklist of potential materials used in each jewelry design. At the bottom I added a #____ so I could assign an inventory # to each piece. Hubs has been on me about not keeping track of my cost of materials for each piece for tax purposes. One of my arguments was when I was at a show, I had no idea what I sold. This is my solution to simplify. Each piece will be given an inventory number and a spreadsheet will contain the materials and the cost of each material used. When each piece sells, I will write it on the receipt and add it to the spreadsheet. These cards will be kept in the box, the price tag (which is much smaller) marked with the inventory # so I can pull the card out and stick it with the receipt. This has the added benefit of informing the customer what materials were used in the creation of their piece-especially since I have been branching out on types of materials used. 
Back of Mini Moo cards
It sounds good inside my head. We'll see how it works in practice. The breakdown in the system will more than likely be using the spreadsheet. I am spreadsheet impaired.
If you want me to send you a jpeg file of this list, email me. I am happy to share it. However, do not ask me to alter it in any way...because I won't, unless you want to pay me for design services.
I also got some Moo Stickers.
Moo Sticker Book Cover
I really love these, but I do wish they were a little larger. The plan for these is to add them to the tissue paper wrapper when I ship beads. Also, I will stick them to jewelry boxes and shopping bags.
Stickers from Moo
Yesterday I went yarn shopping and brought home a bag full of summer:
Yarn Shopping
I am going to make some of the projects out of Spud and Chloe go to the Farm for my daughter (specifically the sheep and probably chickens. I want to make Chloe too, but she keeps telling me she's too big at 12" tall...) I am also going to make some hats out of Welcoming Home Baby the Handcrafted Way for my husband to give out to some of his patients when they get to leave the hospital. He "ordered" 60 hats. Bwahahaha! I have the awesomest mom EVER. When I give my mom an "assignment" she takes it on with great gusto. I asked her to save bottle caps for me. Last week she gave me this quart sized bag:
Beer bottle caps from Mom
I was kind of scared to ask why she had that many bottle caps (even though I've never personally witnessed her drinking a beer...just a glass or two of wine at dinner parties) and it took me a week to finally work up the courage. You know that saying "Don't ask if you don't really want to know the answer"? That was me. Anyway, I finally asked and she laughed and said she found them. Guess I better start trying out bottle caps and resin. I don't have a single good reason not to with such an ample supply of bottle caps. Perhaps that will be next week's Bead Table Wednesday post...

The "C" Word

A few months ago my "getting a subway system in Fort Wayne" obsessed son says to me in an offhand way that the name Metrolink (the name he came up with for the FW subway system) has apparently been used by lots of different subway systems. Now, you have to understand something. That child throws random informational tidbits at me all. day. long. So I responded with the "mom trying to sound interested" response of "oh Really?" Yeah, I know. Real clever.
That is when he made a statement that struck me and made me pause to really listen to what he had to say on the subject. He says "I thought my idea to name the Ft. Wayne subway system Metrolink was creative and original." I told him I didn't realize he had come up with the name on his own. I just figured he based it off the name of the only subway system he has ever used-the Washington DC system.
We then had a talk about creativity, and original ideas and how often the same exact idea can come from multiple sources at the same time, or even thousands of years apart but that doesn't make a person any less creative. He's 12 and he gets it. His ego wasn't any less bruised, but he understands how it can happen.On a side note, I told him I was relieved he came up with a name people would instantly recognize as being a subway rather than calling the system "Purple Bananas" or something crazy like that. I mean, who would take an ominous never ending escalator to something called purple bananas? And yes, I stole the phrase purple bananas from a Prince song because we had just heard it in the car and it was the first crazy name that popped into my head.
Anyhow.... based on the number of times I've seen the "C" word start virtual wars in forums, facebook, etsy, blogs, and everywhere in between and the very real pain the "C" word causes in the years since I started making beads and jewelry, it's a topic every creative type should consider outside the influence of accusations.
What's the "C" word? Copy. Copied. Copies. Copying. Copier. Pick a copy and leave as is or add whatever suffix you choose. It is the number one thing (based on my non-scientific evidence gathering) that gets creative types riled up. It is not just in the beadmaking world or jewelry design world. It's everywhere creativity is desired or required.
The push for original ideas is stressed at an early age. What are kids taught in school? They are taught to never copy another person's work or it can result in penalties as stiff as expulsion from school. Schools push originality and for students to come up with their own ideas. Students are given a blank piece of paper and told to draw a picture or write a story. Those students who come up with the more creative and original ideas are publicly praised.As adults, we crave that same praise plus the ability to buy things like food and shelter can depend on our level of creativity.Fortunately, our ability to eat has never depended on my creativity. However, I would be totally LYING if I said I didn't have an ego that wants to be stroked through being acknowledged for creativity. When I had been making beads for about a year, I came up with a design I was SO excited about. I had never seen it anywhere and thought I was rather clever for coming up with it. A week later I got an issue of Lapidary Journal (now Jewelry Artist Magazine) containing a lampwork bead tutorial that was almost exactly like the bead I had come up with.I was crushed, but it made a huge impression on me that has molded my personal opinions about the "C" word...that more than one person can have the exact same idea at the same time. It doesn't make each person less creative. It also doesn't mean that one person will starve while the other gets all the recognition for being creative .A few months ago I clicked on what looked like an interesting blog from another blogger's blogroll. I really wish I could remember who wrote the post so I could link it. I think it was a polymer clay artists...but I don't remember for sure. Anyway, the gist of the post was that she found someone on etsy who made work very similar to hers, but just different enough that she was uncomfortable but unable to do anything about it and went on. Doing a search on etsy, she discovered another person whose work looked exactly like hers. She was (understandably) upset and was considering writing the other artist when she noticed this other artist had been selling that same style of work longer than she had. Talk about shock! The other etsy artist could have accused the blogger of copying her even though she had never seen this other person's work before.Has this happened to you? Has it affected your opinion of copying? Please share your views and  continue the conversation by clicking the little comment link below.This is Part 1 of what will ultimately be a 3 part series spread over the course of a couple weeks. Please stay tuned.

The only definition of success that matters is how YOU define it for yourself

I'm feeling philosophical right now. Maybe because it's 2:30 am and I haven't gone to bed yet. More likely it's because I just finished my "long" run for the week at 2 am and it's impossible for me to go from jogging 8 miles to sleeping in 30 minutes or less.
January 23, 2011
I'm still training for the half marathon and it's in less than a month. For a while I was completely freaking out about the idea of running for 13 loooong miles. I want to be able to say I did it, but not actually do it. However, I am committed to doing this thing no matter what. I want one of those Flying Pig Medals. (because I'll run a half marathon when pigs fly!) 
What does this have to do with how I define success? My goal is to have a qualifying finish. That's it. Out of curiosity I looked up in the rules for how long we have to finish the race then did the math to figure the average speed. It came out to 3.8 miles per hour (6.12 km per hour for my non-American friends). That, dear readers, is walking speed and totally doable and totally not freak-out worthy. 
Does this mean some of the people doing the full marathon may finish twice the distance before I cross the finish line? Probably. However, those people have a very different definition of success than I do. They have been training forever, have run several marathons, have a strong competitive streak (that I don't possess!), and aren't 40 pounds overweight. Their definition of success is probably to attain a certain time they have set for themselves. 
Will being beat by people running twice the distance make me any less successful? No. Because I have defined my success as finishing within the allotted time. I don't care if I come in dead last. 
Does this mean I don't push myself? No. Does this mean I shouldn't train hard because I could theoretically walk the entire thing and finish? No. Does this mean I look pretty and graceful during that 8 mile run I just did? Nope. Was I fast? Absolutely not.  
What's astounding is I just ran 8 miles. 8 miles! That's pure insanity and honestly, I'm happy with even that amount of success. 
How we define our success is in every single thing we do. Some days are so trying it's a success just to get the dishes done.
How do you define success? Do you define it based on what someone else has achieved? Are you being fair to yourself when you do that? 
Please leave a comment below by clicking on the comment link to continue the conversation and add your thoughts about the subject.

Bead Table Wednesday: Feeling Really Bad about Hating on Kansas Edition

Fact: Remember how I was traveling with beads last week? So, the beads haven't actually been unpacked yet. Oops. So there's not much to show on the ole bead table except a super duper secret which will be revealed at the very end of this post. So, don't leave yet!If you read my blog post from Monday, I sort of mentioned driving through Kansas might not have been the highlight of our vacation. I am really feeling guilty about that. Here's why:
Dragon Scale Bracelet
See that awesome dragonscale weave using those yummy niobium rings? If it hadn't been for Kansas, I would NOT have finished this bracelet in one day. Plus, for the 3 hours of Kansas I personally drove on the way home, I got to see the strategy for keeping people's hopes up and providing the reserves they need to keep going...SIGNS! There were signs for Applebees or Dairy Queen 100 miles in advance. That's a lot of advance notice, people. Luckily there were lots of reminders because after another 1 1/2 hours of driving those 100 miles, it's very possible I would have forgotten about these things.There were also signs that advertised "See LIVE rattlesnakes Eat baby pigs!" I was amazed they would advertise something so morbid on the side of the road. Every few miles. For hundreds of miles. I loved it.But guess what! I read the sign wrong. It actually said " See LIVE rattlesnakes! Pet baby pigs!" It kind of lost it's charm after that.I also did make a few things while we were in Colorado. I didn't just torment my husband for the fun of it. I will show you a small sampling if you promise to not criticize the lack of patina on pieces that clearly need it (no, I did not take the Liver of Sulfur with me...that probably would have gotten us kicked out of the condo), or the lack of tumbling (didn't take the tumber either), or the lack of great photos because these photos have not been edited in any way shape or form. You've been warned.
Bracelet
I have redone the following pendant several times because the twig connector by Jade Scott just would not sit how I wanted it to. I was fighting gravity and gravity was winning. Well...I took this photo then had an epiphany. It is very likely it will change again.
pendant
The following pendant was inspired by one of Cindy Wimmer's designs in Wire Style 2 (more on this in a post next week):
 Pendant
Chainmaille pendants inspired by Scott David Plumlee (more on this in a later post):
Pendants
This design was kind of inspired by a design in Wire Style 2 by Kerry Bogert:
IMG_7242
This next one was inspired by that same Kerry Bogert design, but I have done something similar to this particular piece a few years ago:
Necklace
Chainmaille weave bracelet design inspired by Scott David Plumlee (again, more on this in a later post):
Chainmaille Bracelet
Now for the super secret project reveal:
Super Secret Project-SHHH!
Any guesses as to what it is? I will tell you this much. Back in January, I shared some of my goals for the year. Today, I submitted my very first design to a magazine. I don't know if they will accept it. But I'm totally ok with it if they don't. If I wasn't ok with the idea of rejection, I sure wouldn't be putting it here for you all to read! According to my goals, that's one query done, only 11 more to go... 
Wanna know another secret? Shhhh! Part of the reason I was finally able to "get around" to doing it? Is because I am taking a class with Tara Gentile called The Art of Action, which has been incredibly helpful for me and the other women taking this class. I will be talking more about it in the next few weeks as there are many changes coming that I'm very excited about. Stay tuned...I know you have something to say. Please leave a comment by clicking on that tiny little comment link below. 

Have Beads, Will Travel

There are 3 certain members of my immediate family who are insane.
03 22 11 Copper Mtn
Apparently that leaves me in the lonely position of being the only sane one (pets don't count and even if they did, we seem to have a neurotic lot of them). What this means is, they want to go to Colorado, ride the carnival death ride to the top of the mountain, then fling themselves down said mountain on slicked up aerodynamic sticks.
03 22 11 Copper Mtn
03 22 11 037 Copper Mtn
Crazy, right?Each year, I have to go along. I think my purpose is insurance card carrier, pack mule, cook, chauffeur, errand runner, moral support using my sparkling personality. Actually, I enjoy going because it means I get the condo to myself for several hours on end. If they take too long to leave for their day of insanity, I am literally putting their equipment on them and shoving them out the door and telling them not to come back before dinner.What does this have to do with traveling with beads? We left for Colorado Friday March 18th. It's a looooong drive from northeast Indiana (Ft Wayne) to somewhere in the middle of Colorado (Copper Mountain).Did you know I-70 through Kansas is 423 miles long? Want to know how I know that? We did that drive TWICE in less than a week. Also, did you know that the first 150 or so miles of I-70 in eastern Colorado looks JUST LIKE KANSAS?!?!?! For those of you counting, that's like driving 1,146 miles of Kansas in less than a week. Never been on I-70 in Kansas? You should try it. You'll LOVE it (snicker snicker).When we were packing up the truck the day we were leaving, I casually mentioned packing most of my studio to my wonderful husband.Blink. "What?""I packed most of my studio. I hope you can make room for it in the car."I saw I was losing him fast, so I had to start talking fast. "Listen, I have a big show in a few weeks that I am not anywhere near ready for. I will freak out and not go with you. Plus, if I do go and my studio doesn't, I will be driving to Frisco while you are skiing to visit the awesome bead and yarn shops plus all the other really cool shops on Main St. and spending lots of money. So, will the extra luggage fit or not?"It fit just fine.See? It made it safe and sound and we didn't have to leave our clothes at home. Perhaps I exaggerated a teensy bit about packing the entire studio. I didn't bring my torch or any glass...
Have Beads, Will Travel
Here's that (REALLY heavy!) suitcase opened up:
Have Beads, Will Travel
Here's the coffee table after day 1 of my jewelry making extravaganza:
Have Beads, Will Travel
I sort of took over the entire condo:
Have Beads, Will Travel
Have Beads, Will Travel
The kitchen too:
Have Beads, Will Travel
Plus I had this lovely view. The door to the patio had to be open almost the entire time we were there because even though the thermostat was set at 50F, the temperature was almost 80F in the condo. Way too hot!
Copper Mtn
Apparently Copper attracts lots of insane people plus some...not very smart people. Bad combination because they had to post this sign:
I wonder how many times this has happened?

Bead Table Wednesday: The "on the go" edition

The family and I are on our way home from a fun relaxing vacation today. While my awesome husband is driving, I am working on a kit from spiderchain.com. I have always wanted to learn the dragonscale weave, so I bought the kit, watched the video last night, and now I get to spend a portion of the drive home creating a weave I have loved from the first moment I laid eyes on it. I am using a beading mat to hold onto the rings so they don't slide around. I wish I had a small tray with me too, but the most recent issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry is a decent substitute. Spend time creating today and enjoy the process regardless of the outcome. You could even try the ring tutorial I posted yesterday. Have a great week!
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