Wednesday, October 16, 2013

HILL, SAND, RIVER/ Starting Over and Why Sometimes Moving Glacially is OK

Hello (hangs head sheepishly). Where I've been when I haven't been here I can tell you easily and I can say that I've missed you, here, this space and it's true. Everyone who neglects writing their blog says this and it is true, they feel it too. Knowing the reason why is a little harder to admit sometimes and I've been searching for that but first... 

I've been working. On my business. On my health. On my life, myself. I've been sick and then healthy. I've been cooking and looking and getting my hands dirty on the four by three feet of illegal garden I rent. I've been thinking too hard. I've been nowhere that exotic. I've been in Iowa. Twice. I spent a night in Milwaukee. The car broke down 1200 miles from home. I got to know some wonderful people. I lost some wonderful people. Wonderful people moved away. Wonderful people got sick and needed help. I tried to help. I traveled with Jim, my love, my partner in every possible shitstorm and sunshower. I sat on my rooftop. I dried orange peels.

I have thought long and hard for the past 5 years. Friends have had kids and then sometimes another. They move to new towns, buy homes, start new businesses, write books, get grants, go back to school, graduate from school, done enviable things. I've moved glacially. Not for not trying to get the things I've wanted but the things I've wanted have been elusive, not up for grabs like I thought they'd be up on the surface and sometimes so deep in the undertow, they haven't been attainable. "Anything" is not always attainable actually. Mostly, I've just held myself back out of pain and grief and fear and some voice in my head and my body whispering "no" or "not now". I looked for signs and motivation and kept pushing through. When pushing got exhausting, I let it wash over me like a wave.

I tried to keep my business afloat, but after a while it didn't feel right, very little contribution to anything or anyone. I  couldn't push forward without knowing why I felt this way, even if I love designing and creating, being in the studio or writing and painting and being fully engaged, I stopped for a while. It wasn't because I didn't know what to make but I didn't know why I was making it anymore. I stopped writing my blog after my father died really,  because this blog was the place I only put the good things--there are still so many good things but I no longer wanted to share. I stopped writing here because it was a place of thanks without the added burden of my pain and vulnerabilities. I felt lost. 

Practicing Resurrection*
In the meantime I nurtured my plants, my friends, my love.

I have talked about this with Jim and with mentors and friends. They tell me it would be a shame for me to stop putting my work out there in the world when I tell them I could just move on. It made me feel guilty, saddened, stumped, cluttered, clouded, embarrassed, ill-defined, supported, confused. I got a note from a facebook friend who I've never actually met and I love that that's possible. She told me she works for a non-profit that she loves but while she doesn't make much money, she believes so much in the organization and it's mission, that she left her well-paid job to do it (10/17/13 note: she says she actually got fired but still-she didn't go back to some other deadening job, right?)--now she works another PT job so she can keep doing it. In the same note she wrote: "I can't wait to see your new collection, I really feel transported looking at your beadwork. I'm glad you do what you do, and feel fortunate to have some of it of my own to wear." I told her how much I admired what she had done. I told her I wished I could figure out how to do that and still do what I do. I felt flattered and humbled by what she wrote. And then:

Recently I saw something written out on the side of a building and it just said, "COURAGE" in big black letters. I wrote it in my notebook. Then I looked at it again and again. It shook me. Maybe it was my moment. Or maybe it was a combination of too many moments.

And then a week later, one morning I woke up and started to forgive everyone and everything. I forgave myself. I loosened myself from my pain. I packed something invisible up in a big heavy suitcase, balanced it on a little paper boat and set it free on the East River. Saying goodbye started to bring into focus and connect all the things I love and all the things I do and the many strengths and supports all around me suddenly became visible, so in focus that a roadmap unfolded.

It all comes down to this: I have always wanted to do more with my Bonbon, it and me. Since 2004 when Bonbon Oiseau, my Good Good Bird was born, I wanted her to do something bigger than what seemed possible, I wanted to link her to the larger world where I traveled, the amazing places I had been and the incredible people I had met. I wanted her to be part of a social project but I didn't know what? How? Why? Now, I'm picking up pieces from what feels like a very organized landslide.  

Small Steps
I'm drawing up plans now, focusing on how to walk again and starting down a road/entering a door/crawling head first through a window  into the next phase of my work. I'm going to start  by releasing collections when I want to and not dictated by the fashion year. I'll be expanding what we do which means not just jewelry. Maybe not even just my own work. That will come soon.  
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING is that the way I will do things from this day forward is to give something back. I've been working on the idea of dedicating this latest collection to something amazing and close to my heart. I am thinking about Malala. I am thinking about all the women and girls I read and saw in Nicolas Kristoff's Half the Sky. I am thinking about Girl Rising. I am thinking of organizations such as Somaly Mam, New Light, Aapne Aap, Opportunity International. I am thinking of my friend's 11 year old daughter, who started her own fundraising club called, well, EMMA'S FUNDRAISING CLUB (!) who raised enough money to send a little girl in Africa to school for a year through an inspiring organization called Beads for Education. I am thinking of the COURAGE and CONFIDENCE and LOVE and COMPASSION it takes for humans to undergo change and perpetuate something good and right and bigger than them and these are all the things I want to go into the next phase of my life with these as credos at the forefront, not tucked way in the back not doing anyone any good. So I am starting here sounding kind of gung ho right now huh?

Starting with small steps...

Last Friday, on International Day of the Girl we quietly launched our "pop-up" site, with help from fantastic friends, the newest collection of bonbons called HILL, SAND, RIVERinspired by our last three travels: Morocco, Southern India and Cambodia. 

I'm finally doing something I've always wanted to do, right from the inception of Bonbon back in 2004 but kept waiting and digging for how to do it, supporting my work while my work can remind and promote and give back to something even better, so then, this: 

We'll be donating $5-$20 from every purchase of our new collection to ROOM to READ an incredible organization whose aim is to promote gender equality  by supporting girls education throughout Asia and Africa by building schools, buying books, building libraries and in turn, girl's confidence and self-esteem. To support girls education is to give girls a chance to contribute to their communities and the world and eventually this paradigm shift will move and shake a landslide: it will eradicate poverty and create future generations of girls and women with force and courage to lift themselves out of whatever their lives were, and what can be better than sharing in that?


onesilentwinter said...

The Love and respect I have for you is HUGE dear Deb. Huge i say!! I want to help anyway i can and will.

You rock and so does jim ( who i still believe is an actor you hired or a fiction of your imagination- bring him to the hill all ready to prove other wise:))!

Bonbon Oiseau said...

Ha! Thank you Nadia...Jim is really real...and thank you for your support always--I got your back too girl girl. oxoxo

tracey said...

what a lovely, inspiring thing to read this or any Wednesday morning. I hope you feel as good as I do right now. thanks for sharing.

Dave Murray said...

"organized landslide." - nice.

What Possessed Me said...

I'm excited to see how this new chapter in your life unfolds. COURAGE. xox