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Monday, March 30, 2015

Overcoming a Challenge

"Life is not about the destination, but the journey".  We have heard this from time to time in reference to many things.  The same can be said about challenges we face.  It's not about the outcome of a challenge, but about learning from the experience.

Even sitting here trying to right this post is a challenge.  Do I go with what I know to be true and risk offending someone or do I play it safe and just talk about the fluff?

There are times in which no matter how hard we try, we can hit a brick wall.  We try and try and still fall short of what we are trying to accomplish.  Sometimes it's the materials we are working with that are giving us grief. Sometimes it's our lack of skill or mental state at the time that causes our difficulty.  When we hit those brick walls, it is important that we understand that there are things that are just completely out of our control.  Threads snap, wire breaks, beads shatter or roll off the work table. Life throws us a curve ball.  These are things that we can't control but they frustrate us as if we could somehow by the sheer desire of it not to happen can control them and prevent it.  In a perfect world, maybe.


When I hit a design challenges, I step away.  I rethink by sketching out what I was trying to do.  I usually find that my original idea was not all the great.  If I could just get my frustrations out on paper, I feel so much better.  Sometimes, I just need to change my focus.  In other words, I WALK AWAY!  I get up from the table and go do something else.  Usually that means the laundry or the dishes get done.  Sometimes I take a walk or read a good book.

When I hit a stump, (for instance trying to make a clasp that I have been making for years and no matter how hard I try I still can't get it),  I revisit a tutorial on the subject matter to make sure that I haven't missed something.

Sometimes, the challenge comes our own desire to achieve more.  There is nothing wrong with that.  These are the most difficult of challenges to overcome.  For me, I wanted to know how to do bead embroidery.  Seems simple enough, like sewing...sort of.  I watched video after video after video on how to do it.  Each one seemed to have a completely different idea on how to do it which was a bit confusing.  Glue the stone on the backing, don't glue, do this not that....don't do on and so on. But I kept trying.  I bought a couple of books on the subject and studied them.  I talked to friends who are highly skilled in bead embroidery as to what threads and backing to use.  I'm sure I drove them nuts and they were all glad that this crazy person didn't live close to them.

You have to stretch yourself to accept the possibility that you can accomplish something more.   Keep trying until you get it right no matter what you are attempting to do.  Even then it's hard and it may not look right the first time, the point is that you TRIED it.  I have learned a lot just by attempting something, like distressing a lamp.  Who would have thunk!?


Sometimes, the challenge comes from outside forces, like work.  We get a ton of paperwork dumped on us at the last minute or a meeting throws us off our game. A deadline gets moves and messes with our mojo. One of those times for me was when Cousin asked the ambassadors to create a show piece for the Bead and Button show.

I TOTALLY FREAKED OUT!  This is a show that is in front of thousands of people who have way more skill and design capability in their little finger than I have in my whole body.  I think I went into a panic attack when I got the email. After the initial shock calmed down, I did my research on the show and current design trends, sketched out my design, ordered my supplies, and got to work.  I drew inspiration from old Victorian age bridal jewelry and the wonderful style icon, Coco Chanel.

I actually sketched on paper and got frustrated.  Fortunately, I have a good bit of knowledge in using Illustrator from my graphic design days.  So, I used precise measurements of the beads and findings to plan out my design and to make sure what I had on paper would line up with that I was attempting to do.  Not everyone has to be this precise....I do.  I'm just weird like that.

Keep in mind, I am still panicking during this entire process.  I'm trying to be calm and just go with the beading flow here.  I think I shook during the entire creation and lost a ton of beads to the floor.  I can't tell you how much thread and how many needles I broke.  But, I kept going until I was done.

I ended up making two pieces that year for the same show.  I'm just crazy like that.

Looks like a hot mess!  No, does, but I think Coco Chanel would so wear this one proudly.

There was another time that Cousin sprung something on us with a Walmart - Canada project.  They hand-picked beads and findings for us and asked us to create an inspiration piece as well as a project piece for this client.  I had beads that I would have never chosen to use whatsoever!  I had limited myself by that too.  These lovely beads made their way into my heart as I worked with them.  Thank you guys at Cousin for giving us such difficult tasks to do.  It stretches us as designers.


Sometimes, our materials get us.  Breaking two saw blades on 26 gauge copper sheet metal and the blade was designed for that particular gauge for example.  GRRRRrrrrrr!  Or cracking the tip off the only top drilled briolette you have left of that color and it is no longer available and you can't purchase a new one.  Been there, done that way too many times.  Or you order one color of bead and when it arrives it's a completely different color than what it showed on the screen!  Yeah....had that happen a time or two as well.  Or snapping your best needle in the middle of stitching or busting a bead as you pass your needle and thread back through it and that bead is like in the freaking middle of your project!  Yes,  I have issues.  I admit that.  Okay....deep breath....moving on.

It is the challenges in life that help us grow and develop into who we are.  If we never allowed ourselves to room to fail, then we would never overcome.  These challenging times test our metal (pun intended). The old saying that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger really is true.  That being said....don't be afraid to try something new just because it  Be brave and let yourself be free to make changes as your design and skill set evolves.

You might just enjoy and come to love the finished projects.  Trying new techniques or projects that are more challenging to us will give us a great insight into areas we may have neglected to cultivate in our lives.

Always be grateful to those who helped you along the way.  They too were once on this very same path to discovery.


Then the one last remaining challenge we can face is the unexpected curve balls that come our way.  We have unexpected events that are completely out of our control and catch us by surprise like the death of a loved one, job loss, injury or sudden illness.  These are things that also help define us.  They give us an opportunity to either press on or to give up.  I have had my share of severe hard knocks in life.  Each time, I had a lay and wallow in my sorrow or move forward and live.  "Weeping may enure for a night, but joy comes in the morning," (Psalm 30:5b).  Things that may seem like a great disappointment have a way of turning into a great blessing. Our response to these challenges is everything. We have a choice in the matter. We can choose to allow challenges to stunt our development or allow them to stretch and strengthen us.  We choose our response - to be full of bitterness and discontentment or look for the joy hidden in the sorrow.  We choose to be an overcomer or the victim.  As for me, I CHOOSE to be an overcomer.  The pressures or "challenges" of life reveal more than we realize about the condition of our hearts. If we are still bitter from the last blow, it comes out at the next one revealing our warped perspective. The same is true for if we continually seek the good in every situation.  When we are dealt a dirty hand and we release joy in the midst of it, it shows us that we are seeing the situation with a pure heart and a clear perspective. Life has a funny way of warping our mentality and perspective when it comes to life's little challenges.  Be mindful of that.

If you are having difficulty dealing with a particular situation, change the scenery! Looking from a different perspective and fresh eyes will help to move past the disappointments and sorrow to see the best way to deal with the issue at hand.  What does a different perspective look like?  I can only tell you what has worked for me....taking a break from the situation and all the voices of other people so I can hear my own inner voice, spending time in prayer and meditating on the truth of God's Word. Whether that would be taking a short road trip through the country, a walk along the banks of a lake, a hike through the woods, deep prayer and meditation, confiding in a trusted friend or counselor, or taking a long hot bubble bath while eating tons of chocolate is completely up to you.  Find your happy place and "search for peace and seek it eagerly" (1 Peter 3:11b).