Thursday, November 26, 2015

Job versus Vocation

A good friend wrote this article and I have to share it with you. A a creative I realize I have both a job and a vocation. Her article really put into words what I feel deep inside.


Impressions (November 2015)
by Connie Dunwoody

When I was a child, someone asked me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I didn't really know, and it never quite became clear, so in grade 12, at the end of my high school career, I visited the Guidance Counsellor in our high school. She provided me with a questionnaire designed to identify which career paths would be best for me. It was, as I recall, about 100 multiple-choice questions. I answered them as honestly as my 18-year-old self knew how. The end result? One career. Only one. The career?

Funeral director.

Me? Be that somber for that long, expressing endless sympathy and consolation? There are people who are exceptionally well suited to that work. I could have done it. But it probably would have killed me. 

Indeed, for my own eventual Celebration of Life my nephew and each of my nieces has been tasked with a different job designed to put the 'fun' back in 'fun'eral. Like, providing red clown noses for all the attendees. Such as, creating a way for me to sit up and wave when I am long beyond sitting up.

I digress. My point is this: which of us at 17 or 18 years of age, faced with important decisions, really knew (or knows) what we want to do with the rest of our lives? In my experience, to be convinced of what you want to do with the rest of your life at a young age, and to do that thing, is fairly rare.

Recently I observed to a friend, I can’t believe how much I love my job. This is the one I’ve waited my whole life for. It just feels so satisfying, like I’m finally doing what I'm meant to be doing. I didn’t even know it was possible: I was busy, but I wasn’t satisfied. Sometimes I’d think, This is kind of fun, but what’s the point of it all?”

My friend smiled gently and quietly replied, Congratulations on finding your vocation.” And as I realized she was right, a profound and lasting peace settled on me. Ah, this. This.

It’s true I’ve rarely taken a job I knew I could do. Where’s the fun in that? I’d apply for a position that interested me, learn everything I could, get bored and start looking for the next challenge. Sometimes those who loved me worried that I was flighty, never satisfied, always moving on. Looking back, I realize that what was missing wasn’t the challenge, it was the why. I wasn’t flighty; I was searching.

I think a vocation is less what you do and more why you do it. It's purpose, not productivity. It's a glorious symphony where the work is the score but the performance is spirit. Both are necessary: the execution and interpretation are yours, but without a why, the music begins to feel mundane.

It’s more than that, too.  It may not even be a ‘job’. It could be loving your family well, volunteering at a shelter, or welcoming the stranger in your midst. It’s the place that feels familiar in chaos; it's comfort when life is daunting. It’s about serving something bigger than you, but that without you is somehow less. Your vocation contains notes and tempo that flow in your veins and match your breath and colour your vision and make your heart beat so strongly the song cannot be denied. It is simultaneously contained deep within and bursting out of you. It’s the Spirit breathing life and purpose into your actions. It’s determination and vision and fortitude and courage, and it’s who He designed you to be.

That doesn't mean there aren’t bad days, and hard work and difficult times: but those days, the Spirit carries you through. The passion sustains you because it's a connection with something outside yourself but integral to the very core of you. You feel like you're part of something, shaping something, creating something, building something. Rebuilding something. Rebuilding someone.

Rebuilding you.

Vocations shape us, not the other way around, and it takes courage to unearth what it is that matters, to take a good, long, searching look at ourselves, to discover the best versions of ourselves. When we recognize the Composer in the music we leap for joy because that moment is ineffably sweet. Ah, this. This.

Your vocational path may not be easy or obvious. It may be laid out before you like the yellow brick road or it may be hidden in a tangled jungle of jumbled notes. It may be unburdened and clear or it may be a slog through worldly mire. It may be all of the above, from time to time. Sometimes it’s lonely, but you are never alone: look up and see Who walks with you. Look up and see Who composed your song, Who created the burning why and Who invites you to walk by still waters until the tune is clear and the way stretches out before you, a crescendo of certainty. Look up. Maybe you’re where you’ve always been—but now the melody rings true. 

Actually, I think the question is wrong. It’s not What do you want to do when you grow up?” Instead, we should ask, Who do you want to be?” Because it’s not what we do, it’s who we are. It’s the Spirit within.

Ah, this. This.



© 2015 Connie Dunwoody

Saturday, November 21, 2015

It's been a while



Oh my goodness it's been a while since I've blogged. I've had a busy summer with a lot going on and just have let my blogging get a little lax, to say the least!

Recently I've started going to a pottery studio and I think the above image will go into a bowl for my next piece. It's quite a fun place here in Victoria called Paletteable worth going to if you like to create.

I'll have a few blog posts coming soon about the work I've done finding my creativity again, it ran off to who knows where? I've been working with a creativity coach for the last few months and it's slowly winding its way back into my life. More on that in a few days.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What inspires you?



What inspires you?

What prompts new ideas?

What feeds your muse?

Monday, August 3, 2015

SRI Triathlon



Sunday was another triathlon The Self Transcendence at Elk Lake. I have no race pictures yet, the picture above was from our warm up swim Saturday, with my fantastic coach Lindsey Millar in the centre in Tri Stars green!

It was my first ever NO wetsuit race, and it went pretty well! The swim was actually fairly un eventful until I rounded the last bouy and wound up in the on coming Olympic Distance swimmers coming back in. Offff smack to the face, bbbwwaaapppp kick in the side………thwack……thunk and SCREW this I'm OUTTA here. I sped up and over to the side a bit, probably shouldn't have speed up as I think it might have caused me bike issues later but it got me out of the fray. I continued on through the bouts to finish my swim.

The bike was painful, I'm cramping in my left hip which pulls my knee into the centre making peddling a issue. But I got the 20 KM done, not pretty and not fast but done. My run took me about 2 KM to get my legs under me but I'm again fairly happy with my time.

I had hoped to finish in a time under 2 hours but I finished in 2 hours and 3 min. Still my fastest race yet!

Monday, July 20, 2015

New Orleans!!



I'm thrilled to see the ISGB Gathering 2016 will be held in New Orleans! I've always wanted to go there and am determined to stay an extra week and see some sights. I'm hoping to find a hotel in a cute cultural area close to the conference. Unless of course the conference itself is in a cultural hotel, then I'll stay there.

I've got a good friend hoping to go with me (Marion) and am really looking forward to seeing local sights. 

What's your favourite place to go in or close to New Orleans? Why? Do you have a favourite restaurant? I can't eat spicy food! Any local points of interest you recommend?

I'm planning and plotting early.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The little things


Some times it's the little things that make you smile. Last week at MISSA I got the lovely bow above from a fellow metal smith who is also a potter. The rubber ducky tea ball came from a good glass friend. The tea mug I made myself (well sort of), truth be told I put the fishy cut out in the bottom of it. This was my breakfast this morning, like a warm hug from some good friends.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Etching



Using a new etching method and my electroforming rectifier. We learnt electro etching in Julia Lowthers class last week and I was hoping the rectifier would work and it does! I got a nice crisp etch on copper what I am really working towards is etching steel to make texture plates for a rolling mill. It might take me a while to get to that though!


Thursday, July 2, 2015

A place to be inspired


At Pearson college this week for MISSA taking Julia Lowthers class, on lockets and boxes. She's a fantastic instructor and teaches at Red Deer as well, all you canadians if you can get a class with her do! Boxes are quite a bit for technical and detail oriented than I expected but it's going pretty well. I'm excited about the lockets and have a few ideas for working them into my keepsake line. I will get some photos today of works in progress.

Monday, June 29, 2015

MISSA at Pearson College



Today I am off to Pearson College for a class.

Julia Lowther is teaching a 5 day class on boxes and hinges and I'm very happy to be taking it. Pearson is such a gorgeous setting, they feed you a nice lunch and as an added bonus my phone does NOT work there! Looking forward to class and learning some new techniques.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Big BIG blog post


June 14, 2015
Victoria Ironman (Sprint Distance)
MY very first open water (lake) swim race. What a doozy to start with. Over 1600 athletes overall and over 150 sprint distance athletes! Wow! The sheer numbers was staggering.

I've struggled with water my whole life, I've been terrified of open water and swimming in the pool was a struggle to.

A little over a month ago I had a massive panic attack in a pool swim triathlon. There was no real reason for it other than panic. The picture below taken by a friend (Peter Dunwoody) caught me mid panic. Not my proudest moment, but the photo brought it all up close and personal so to speak. I realized I needed to get this handled, some way, some how.



I started this open water season with a swim with my coach (Lindsey Millar) in the very lake the June 14th race would take place in. Much to my dismay there were weeds! The swim went off ok, I got over the weeds and had a fairly solid swim.

Then I did several lake swims with Tri Stars at Thetis lake. Some went better than others but I did manage to make it around the first island and have some fairly confident swims.

This time last year I quit the lake swims. I had tried and tried to overcome the panic but left each swim in tears, body tense and it took me days to relax and recover from them. Trying to overcome something you've been afraid of your whole life is hard, exhausting and time consuming work. The constant stress got to me and I quit the swims. 

June 14th, I was calm the morning of the race. 


Connie Dunwoody caught this picture of me right before the swim. I felt fairly calm, in reality I was ready. There was no reason I couldn't do this. Other than fear.

The start horn blows and 150 plus swimmers head out into the water.

And I wait.

Coach Lindsey's advice was to let the pack leave, count to 10 then go. I did just that.



See that swimmer standing in the wetsuit in the bottom left? That's me. This picture still makes me giggle and cry all at the same time. I swam through all that!

I headed out, slow and steady. I knew that I needed to remain calm and collected. I promptly ran into a swimmer breast stroking. I re grouped looked up and thought "just slow and steady will get you through". I stuck my head back in the water, paid MUCH more attention to what was going on around me and swam around and past other swimmers. If you had asked me a year ago if I'd like a lake swim I'd have said "HELL NO". But it was ok, even likeable. In the lake you can get away from or around other swimmers. I could pick a path and just keep swimming.

As I rounded the first bouy I could hear loud cheering. One of the Tri Stars coaches (Kelli) was in a support kayak cheering. For me! Head back in water, just keep swimming.

I did just that. One swim, with a few minimal breast strokes to position myself, but one continual swim. 

BEST DAY EVER! 

As I came into shore I cannot put into words how that felt. Proud, excited, joyful so many emotions. I had finally done what I really never truly knew I could do.

First face I recognized as I ran down the chute was my Mom.


Then I saw Lindsey (my coach), then Carolyn (Tristars owner and coach). I heard Tanya (training partner, who took the photo above) cheering me on. I had finally done it!

Over a year of hard work, struggle, tears, more struggle, more tears, success and failure lead to this very day. I would not trade any of it. It was 100% the most amazing day. I still look at the pictures and giggle thinking "I did THAT!"

So many people helped me through this. Tri stars coaches Bob, Connie, Mandy helped those early days in the teach pool. Jan and Del, more tri stars coaches in the lap pool.

My husband who listened and supported when I whined and wailed and moaned. He never wavered and always supported.

My training buddies Tanya and Connie. Without them, I'm not sure I'd have ever stuck this out. The laughs, support and friendship is truly something that made this journey easier.

My coach. Lindsey. Integral. This has changed my life. It's made me stronger, confident and helped me to believe in myself. When I felt like I couldn't do it she'd hear me out and remind me "I'll never ask you to do something I don't think you can do. I did the workouts, stuck to the plan even when I felt like I couldn't. I'll be damned, she was right! Do the work, trust in the training and you can do it! 


Crossing that finish line. What a truly amazing day! One I will never, ever forget.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

It's this weekend!



This weekend is the Victoria 1/2 Iron race. I'm doing the sprint distance.

750 Meter swim

20 KM bike

5 KM run

I'm nervous, scared and pretty proud of all the hard work that's lead up to this. It'll be my first open water race and the largest race I've ever been in. Over 1600 athletes and over 150 sprint distance athletes. 

The open water swim has me nervous, but I'm pretty sure I'm ready for this.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lake swims


The post below this "Caught on camera" I left up for quite a long time. Longer than I normally would. I've read it every other day, trying to devise a plan for future panic attacks.

I have a race in June, my first lake swim race ever. And I'm scared, actually I'm terrified. Of what some may ask, it's just a lake? I'm afraid of what I can see and what I can't see. I'm afraid of weeds and things touching me. I'm afraid of people swimming into or too close to me. I'm afraid of failing, again. Lake swims last year were a mess and I stopped going. In a nutshell everything about swimming a race in the lake scares the ever loving bejezzus out of me.

But, heres the trump card.

I know I can do it.

My pool workouts average 1500 m to 2000 m, the 750 m race distance I can do. Weeds don't bite, weeds I can do. Nothing life threatening lives in that lake, things touching me I can do. I'll stay to the back and swim alone, so people swimming over or to close to me I can do. I'm not going to fail, no matter how long it takes, no matter if I have to do the dog paddle I will finish.

I can do this. My plan is to own being afraid. It's ok to be afraid. But I can do this, there is nothing life threatening. I have a wetsuit, I can float and I CAN just keep swimming.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Caught on camera



Sunday I did the Tri for MS for the second time. it's an event run by my triathlon group, and it is a whole lot of fun! Lots of friends cheering each other on and a very supportive group.

I was calm the night before and calm the morning of. The swim was 500 M something I do for a warm up in my swim workouts now. it should have been simple, easy and fun.

I started my swim out relaxed and calm, did two laps in a normal pace and started to settle in. I got passed once and did one more lap calm and relaxed. About 3 laps in within about 10 seconds I went from calm to a full on panic attack. My heart rate shoots through the roof, I start to hyperventilate and my body is pretty sure I'm going to drown. Even though I know otherwise it spirals up and out of control.

Calm

Relaxed

To

Panic Attack

The picture above a good friend (Peter Dunwoody) caught on camera me, mid panic attack. While this photo brings a bucket load of tears forward it may also be one of my favourites. It catches me in a moment I cannot control. My brain at this time was probably screaming at me "GET OUT! getoutgetoutgetout!" But this time I managed to stay. I flailed, gasped, gulped and finally caved and took a kick board. Feeling defeated and disappointed I finished the 500 M. I did manage to let go of the kick board the last 100 M but for me it was not my shining moment. Seeing that in a picture brings it all up close and personal.

I'd like to think I am a fairly strong person who can handle just about anything. Heck, I rode and broke some rank horses in my younger years, I snow mobile, I drag race and I'd like to think there are few things I won't try.

But swimming, boy it can scare me.

I have no epic words of wisdom. My advise would be to take small steps forward if you are trying to manage panic attacks. Plan for the un expected, they can happen at any time. I think the biggest thing I learnt sunday was to get help if you need it. 

A panic attack in the pool has not happened for about a year. This one came on faster than most. I did finish my swim. It took about 15 KM of the bike course before my heart rate came down and I stopped gasping for air. My bike was solid though. My run was good! I managed a few speed pick ups and felt strong during the whole run. I think the practice bricks my coach had me do really helped my run, my legs felt good right off the bike.

I finished the day happy with my race but un happy with my swim. My next step to tackle them is to learn a good breast stroke, during a panic attack it may allow me to sight and breathe easier. So onward to Plan B, learn the breast stroke.

My day finished with smiles amongst friends in the sunshine. 






Saturday, May 2, 2015

Closet clean out



Yes that, I hate to admit it, is my closet. You cannot see the floor, I cannot find anything and my work out backpack is constantly in the way.

I've decide to try a "capsule wardrobe" of sorts. This blog makes it simple and fairly easy. The Un Fancy blog shows simple outfits that are cute and still look comfortable. Right up my alley. But first to tackle the closet.



First I took everything out, and I do mean everything. I had NO idea how much I had in there. I have about 12 pairs of expensive wrangler jeans that will never fit me again. Along with 2 garbage bags of clothes that either do not fit or are stained. 



I was brutally honest, if they didn't fit they got tossed in the donations bag. I allowed myself two "attachment" pieces that I couldn't part with. The sweater on the left I got at a rodeo in Montana forever ago, and I love it. It's a bit itchy but it's warm and fun. The shirt on the right is a hand painted leather shirt I got in Vegas after winning s few thousand at black jack! It fits and now that I can get to it again I'll wear it.


I pared down to this. I can see the floor, kept clothes that fit or I love and my gear bag fits out of the way now. It was hard but I think well worth it.

I live by this!


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Am I talking to myself?



Am I talking to myself here?

Does anyone read my blog posts? Do you prefer the bead related posts, or triathlon? Or something else entirely?

Should I keep blogging or let it go?

Monday, April 20, 2015

What do you see?



While weeding a rather chaotic raspberry bed yesterday I had a lot of time to think. Mainly about my metal studio, which sits in my garden. That I have not worked in for months. I think it's often where I do my best work, where the magical pieces happen. But I'm just not inspired to be in there. I thought about why?

I miss having friends to enjoy those creative moments with.

I have no inspiration.

Nothing screams out at me "create me" when I walk in there.

In a nut shell my metal muse is on vacation.

Are you an artist? What do you do to get re inspired?

Do you love jewelry? What is it about a piece that draws you in? 

These are some of my favourite pieces to make, but they are larger and labor intensive so the price tends to mean they do not sell well. Which I think leads to my lack of inspiration, when I create something that no one wants I tend to loose the excitement. 

How can you see this piece improved?

Would you wear something like it?


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Do You Sell?


Do you sell something?

Do you sell it on your personal Face Book page?

Why?

In a era where you can buy and sell pretty much anything online a interesting anomaly has occurred. Many people are running "home based" business. Some are a true home based business, a skill or a trade. Construction companies often fit this profile, coaches, artists and many others fit the same profile. But there are many (and I DO mean many!) multi level style "home based" businesses.

If you are selling something it's a business. Are you posting your wares daily on your personal Facebook page? Why? A business if you want it to be successful needs to be run like one. Having a business page on Facebook is a great way to keep your customers informed on new products or anything new and interesting your business has going on. A personal Facebook page is not the place to do this. A personal Facebook page is where most people keep in touch with family and friends. If you are running your business from a personal page you risk spamming your family and friends with information they may not be interested in. You also risk being "hidden" by friends and family who tire of the constant "buy my stuff" posts. *GASP* yes you can hide people on Facebook and while friends and family may love you, constant posts about "product of the month" may annoy them enough they are forced to "hide" you, which means they miss out on your truly interesting life moments. Let's your friends and family choose to join a business page along with your customers to find out your business information. It's important to share the odd post from your business page to your personal page once and a while ( a couple times a week is a good goal) because, lets face it friends and family DO want to support you and your endeavours so the odd business post allows them to do that.

Another good option for a business os to have a blog. A blog is a great place to perhaps write articles about your business. Write about new products. Write about something exciting happening. If your a coach write articles about what you coach, how your coach and anything pertaining to your coaching skills. If your an artist write about what you do, how you do it and interesting techniques.

Both a blog and a Facebook page should also include free information for your customers. Always asking for customers to buy something can be a turn off for the most dedicated one. Give out information for free. A video, a tutorial  or any kind of information about your business. Give something back to those who support you.

Finally, if your business information and posts are secretive at all. Stealth posts about "New and exciting product" that people need to "contact you for information" really are to good business practice. If you are not willing to scream from the rooftops " I use/sell X and it's amazing because X" right there up front in your posts you've got a problem. 1. Customers loose faith in anything people are not up front about, essentially they look at you like an old fashion snake oil seller. 2. It shows you really don't believe in what you are selling enough to even shout it out loud. So be honest about what you are selling. Every. Single.Time

And remember……………..


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Beachy beads




I've been working on some new beads, larger pair for earrings. It seems they've taken on a beachy feel.

Watch my Face Book page for information on new beads.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/N-Valentine-Studio/115436595047?fref=ts

Monday, March 23, 2015

Some lovely Gaffer



I've dug into my older Gaffer colours lately and boy do they have some lovely saturated colours.  The above earring beads are a streaky ink purple with a hint of fuchsia, really rich and dense in colour. I really do enjoy working in their veiled canes the colours are stunning just on their own.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Learn to love running


My coach Lindsey Millar has written a really good article on running. I recommend it, it's a good read. I'm currently trying to get my distance up but struggling with hip pain. Seems having a day of no running in between runs makes a difference for me. So far a bike ride on those days doesn't seem to flare anything up.

Whats your running routine?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mindful eating



I'm starting to realize one of my largest food struggles is multi tasking while eating.

Kara Lydon blogs about mindful eating and I realize I fail epically at this. After coming home from a week spent with good friends where at least once a day we all sat down to eat a meal it occurred to me I do not do this near enough. I usually check email while eating, write to do lists, cruise the web or FB but rarely do I just eat a meal.

I think that's what lead to me eating while bored, later in the evening while watching a movie. My late night snacks are about to get squashed. Along with a clean/healthy eating plan I'm implementing a "eat only at a meal" rule. I need to sit and un plug while eating. This might be harder than I think.

Do you eat mindfully?