Saturday, October 17, 2009
It is always nice to be recognized by one’s peers, and this past week we had another Etsy Treasury find us. This one is especially special because it is of one of my partner’s creative photographs that was found and added to this
“Herd of Dachshunds” treasury made by LaughingFridge.etsy.com (If you get a chance to check out her site. It abounds with some of the greatest refrigerator magnets ever - - they are both decorative and show wonderful imagination!)
Any of you that have ever held a camera understand that creativity in photography is a real art, and all the photos on our Etsy sites (product shots), plus banners, plus the beautiful art note cards and nature photographs are all “Images by Victoria”. I am often blown away with the beauty of her macro flower shots, and the whimsical critter shots she comes up with. Recently she took a great art shot of the October full moon, which we’ve added to our photo offerings at www.CrystalCreek.etsy.com
We’ve had some kind of serious down time with medical issues over the past several weeks, so this treasury came at a really good time for us. Sometime when life hands you some downtime, uncertainty, and frustration- - it’s important to remember the good stuff. We’re working at surrounding our days with sunshine, flowers, and all the beauty nature’s bounty holds.
And hey, if you get a chance check out our shops, they’re an easy mouse click from this blog page, and a little “ka ching” is good stuff too!
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Etsy Treasuries are a collection of things that blend because of color, type, style, textures, etc. that someone selects from many shops to showcase together as a “treasury“.
CritterConnection had an item picked recently for “Treasury West” which was in a “Rocky Mountain High” theme. My thanks to Sue at www.BeehiveTreasures.etsy.com for including our log cabin in this treasury.
This log cabin was made in the 1940's for Lincoln National Life Insurance Co., and given to their employees. It is an exact replica of the log cabin Abraham Lincoln grew up in in Illinois. It is made all of wood, small logs with a split shake roof.
This has been a great teaching tool, and has been to many "show & tells" in the past 60 years. It is still in excellent condition. The cabin is 7 inches long by 4 1/2 inches wide, and 6 inches high. The attached shed is 2x2 1/2 inches.
Now this piece of Americana history is ready to be repurposed-- in a Christmas scene? as a Halloween or Thanksgiving prop? (place a light inside for a nice warm glow) Or maybe it could again be a teaching tool? Or just maybe- - this is the perfect gift for the miniature collector who values history and well made things?
Look for this interesting item at CritterConnection plus much much more of vintage and handmade jewelry, figurines, and critter supplies.
Monday, September 21, 2009
“Just living is not enough” said the butterfly. “One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower” - - - - (Hans Christian Anderson)
It’s easy to stick your nose to the grindstone, day in and day out, and there is some sense of achievement in that maybe , or maybe all you have at the end of your week is a “ground down nose”.
Looking up and appreciating the day is important. Worrying about what comes next, Will you have a job? Will the mortgage get paid? Will I ever find happiness? is counterproductive. If you can’t plan ahead to achieve an outcome, if it is out of your control - - breathe out and look around you. This minute will never come again, so for this moment find something to focus on that brings a smile to your lips and lightens your step just a little.
We are responsible for our thoughts and our direction. Intentional sunshine, (or positive thought), is the key to our well being. It’s been demonstrated in many case studies, that staying positive (looking up instead of down), even something as simple as smiling, effects our entire being, even to the effect it has on our immune systems.
Freedom, or free will, is the key. We have the freedom to cultivate friendships, to let those we love know we appreciate them. We are free to pursue special interests - - get out of the rut and try something new! We are free to change our perspective.
Begin the day with a mantra like “Life is good. This day is mine.
I will walk in beauty through my day. I will be kind. Today I will find five things that are good, enjoyable, or beautiful. I am grateful for this new day.”
Don’t forget our butterfly said we also need a little flower. Like the butterfly, we need to seek our flower, it doesn’t come to us. Sustenance, joy, and beauty all have to be sought out - - but first we must look up with our eyes and our hearts!
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
My partner and I were kicking a few ideas around about the direction we’d like to see our Etsy shops heading today. (The shops already contain collectibles from around the world, and wonderful ethnic items we’ve picked up along the way).
It’s nice listing items that have been stored away for years, kind of like revisiting old friends. It’s a great feeling when someone sees something in the shops that they like, and places an order. Sending these items on their way to a new home to be enjoyed anew creates an almost a pay it forward feeling!
Jewelry design has always been one of my passions, and many of our items reflect handmade creations of my design.
However, one of our early loves was creating for, and participating in, Native American pow wows in California and Texas. So as we were ruminating about direction - - we decided to make a line of smudging fans. (Smudging is used in many ethnicities and spiritual ceremonies as part of the act of cleansing the energy of a specific space, or even the energy surrounding an individual.)
So, one of our new (everything old is new again) directions is to add a line of these leather and feather fans to our CrystalCreek Etsy shop. www.crystalcreek.etsy.com
I guess it’s a good thing winter is coming - - a great time to get creative with some of the crafts we love!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Ahhhh, late August - - and the days go by, one very much like the last. Fall is coming (and though I don’t want to rush it), the “dog days” of summer are still holding on with a 100 degree death grip, and one’s enthusiasm level for projects of any kind starts to wane.
That was kind of the way my August was rock’n on. Then one morning I was in kind of a three-way chat with a couple of my “closest and dearest”, and a new idea took root for one of them that has added a lot of pleasure, by proximity, to my life. (We’re all cheerleaders for one another, so one’s enthusiasm for a project soon becomes infectious!)
Having been involved in Etsy shops since February, and being very enthusiastic about the opportunities there, I have been trying to encourage my buddy, the real estate broker, to somehow get involved. (Re-plowing the same ground, i.e. real estate in this market, can start to be a downer no matter how good you are, and she’s better than good).
On the morning I’m speaking of, our Realty “bud” was in her glory in her kitchen, making up a new recipe for an amazing dessert - - happier than we’d heard her in a long time. “V”, the third in our group commented on this and said "If cooking is your bliss, why don’t you follow it? You could combine what you love with the possibility of “ka-ching”, and have fun doing it!"
To make a long story shorter, “A” the realtor, has been researching, cooking, writing and working on graphics ever since with an eye towards opening her own shop on Etsy highlighting what she loves - - and she has been such a delight, and her enthusiasm is so great that I am viewing my own projects with a less jaundiced eye.
“V”, the photographer for our Etsy shop with product shots, note cards,and photographic art, and the Flickr site, has also been re-energized and has entered her photos on “Craftgawker.com”, and National Geographic.
I’m trying to re-focus energy into our shops by buckling down and making new items to list, and re-working “tags”, descriptions, and sometimes pricing. And I’m having fun again !
----All it took was a little help from my friends !
Monday, August 17, 2009
“Don’t be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
These words were spoken by Steve Jobs at Stanford University.
Recently, I have had reason to recall these words after coming up against a person whom I both love and respect - - but is now espousing such vitriolic narrow ideas that I am both confounded and saddened by their choices.
Tolerance is a word widely bandied about, but not often broadly defined. I believe that to be tolerant, one must be open to all viewpoints, religions, races, and thoughts in general. This doesn’t mean we must abandon our own truths, but that we make room to listen and accept that others have an honest right to own their truths too.
We are not all alike, but we are all on the same journey. I believe that our journey is progressive and needs to encompass the study of our deeper nature and the natural laws and principles that apply to man and all living creation.
There are two kinds of thought, the first is more fluid in form. It encompasses those that support the limitless possibilities of growth and expansion that lie within each one of us. People who are fluid in their intelligence are attracted to studies that aren’t limited to the current paradigm.
The second type of intelligence is more static. People unwilling to consider information or experiences that challenge their established beliefs fall into this category. Unfortunately, these people often use an attack mode when they hear something that is outside “their box”. Is it fear or jealousy that motivates someone to attempt to discredit anything that is outside their sphere of influence?
My choice is to be open to all ideas, incorporating those that resonate with my own deeper nature, and letting go of those that don’t. My daily choice is love over hate, and consideration for those that choose to isolate themselves within a box of someone else’s rationale.
It is our emotional attachment to certain beliefs that limit our ability to see the greater realities.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
When I wakened the other day and looked out at the morning, I was greeted by such a wonderful array of colors in my gardens, bright and opened new to a new day. I couldn’t help but think how brave all those flowers were, here in the midst of a Texas summer, knowing they’d be blasted by over 100 degrees and drying winds before the day was very old, they still blossomed fresh and bright to greet the new day.
Later in the morning I was going through some paperwork and happened on a quote from Oprah (not always a favorite of mine, but I give her kudos for having the right attitude!), - - “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
Now the Universe had my attention. Was there something missing in me or my day? Did even the smallest flowers have a secret I wasn’t paying attention to?
I decided to put my paper work aside for a while and meditate and just to be open to possibilities.
I wish I could say I became enlightened, that everything stressful magically disappeared (my bills were still where I’d left them, and still needed paying). However, before I started my next round of tasks and work for the day, I took some time to look around me and made a list of all the things I am truly grateful for and all the things I enjoy. After looking over what had become a fairly lengthy list I realized one more time how really blessed I am, and the rest of that day went by with more ease and more smiles than it had begun with.
Since this small epiphany, I try and lighten each day going into it with a glance at my (ever-growing) list of “thankfuls”. My flowers still greet me with newly bright little “faces”, and I smile back - - knowing each day is new, each moment is filled with possibilities, and the crystal moment that exists with each breath is one to enjoy right now, because each and every moment is precious.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Critters have been a big part of my life for most of my adult life. The joy of having animals in my life has always made the good times better and the bad times less bad.
Now that I am semi-retired, I am a dog owner, birdwatcher, nature lover and consummate tree hugger. My partner and I take part in the National Wildlife Federation’s program for wildlife habitat, and our property has been a “Certified Wildlife Habitat” for several years now, providing the four basic habitat elements needed for wildlife to thrive : food, water, cover, and safe places to raise young.
Because I care about wildlife and nature, I am a contributor to several organizations that are working to protect wildlife and our fragile eco-systems. Wanting to do more, I started brainstorming ideas that might benefit at least one of my charities.
A few months ago, my partner and I opened an online shop with Etsy. We have begun to have some success, so we started kicking around the idea of “why not a critter site”? After much thought and looking through my many animal related collectibles that I’ve collected for decades (yikes - - that’s starting to sound like a long time!), we decided that putting up a sale site that was geared towards our love of nature and all the critters that share this world with us was a good idea.
So in July, dead in the doldrums of summer, we set up the new online shop
www.CritterConnection.etsy.com and we are donating a portion of every sale to Defenders of Wildlife ( www.defenders.org ).
Hopefully this will be a successful enterprise, both for us clearing out a bit to allow for a more Zen lifestyle, and for “Defenders”, who are in the trenches daily defending that which we love so much - - all those things that are so easily taken for granted until they’re gone !
“Pay it forward” has been a credo we try and live by, this is just a little added effort that we hope will contribute towards making a difference.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Reality is never the same thing for everyone. Viewpoint colors all versions of reality, so what may be a rosy thought to one person may be a point of conflict for another. This was brought home to me very clearly this week when what started out as (at least in my mind) a small and kind gesture turned into a somewhat volatile and conflicted episode.
After some soul searching and a little meditation, I came back to the thought that whatever one believes creates their reality. A positive attitude is our greatest asset. If we believe that life is a positive experience - - it will be!
Love and respect for yourself as well as others is important to resolving any conflict. When alternate realities (kind of like alternate universes) become a point of contention, respect and love yourself enough to be able to let it go - - because you own your reality. Next (and this can be the hard part), love and respect the other person, for their point of view (their reality) is no less valid than your own! Love is the Universal answer to any question or conflict.
If another’s attitude seems joyless, obviously this colors their reality. Sending them silent light and love may be all we can do to help.
A positive attitude colors the reality we bring into everything we do. If we can find even small joy in our every day lives we can accomplish more and benefit those around us too! Keeping centered and positive, we can’t be unhappy for long - - unless we choose that role (reality).
Make your own reality check. Are you basically happy? Do you like yourself? Do you “play well” with others?
Remember, we all make our own reality.
Friday, July 17, 2009
This is a time of parched land and spent vegetation. (I live in Texas, and we are in a drought - - and it’s been over 100 degrees for what seems like forever!) The upside to all this is how much I appreciate every glimpse of color from the gardens that are trying to survive, putting up blossoms so that the bees and the butterflies are nurtured for another day.
The bright colors against an increasingly browned out landscape make me again realize how important colors are in our everyday existence, for color not only delights the eye, but nurtures the soul !
When I had a “brick and mortar” store, which was mainly filled with antiques and collectibles, I also had a section of my store devoted to crystals and natural gemstones and colors. Often people were drawn to this side of the store, maybe feeling the calming energy I had tried to create with stones and colors.
Because metaphysical philosophies and the study of crystals have been an interest of mine for decades, I always enjoyed talking with customers about colors and crystals. Often a customer would be attracted to a certain color of stone, and after talking with them for a while it would become apparent that they were seeking balance in their lives that corresponded to the color “assigned” to the particular chakra where they were feeling stresses or lack of balance in their daily life. (Like the 7 cosmic colors - which is white light broken into the spectrum of red, yellow, orange, green blue, indigo, violet/white, there are 7 chakras that are our subtle energy centers that correspond with our 7 levels of consciousness.)
Simplified, this means a strong attraction for yellow (which is the 3rd, or Solar Plexus Chakra) could indicate that an individual is struggling with their purpose or ambition, and needs to be more emotionally grounded. This individual may find a citrine, or golden topaz, Amber, or Tiger Eye, synergistic - - and find the stone’s energy connecting with theirs to bring balance to a decision they might be wrestling with. (All other colors corresponding to other chakras and meanings).
I now have two Etsy online shops, and though I can’t talk directly to my customers, I am still trying through use of colors, item descriptions, and great “product shots”, to assist people in finding items and crystals that will add pleasure and maybe even balance in their lives.
Find us as www.crystalcreek.etsy.com & www.crystalcreek2.etsy.com
All the items in our shops are chosen and placed online with “light and love”, because I truly believe good intentions and good energies “can’t hurt” !
And now I’m going to brave the heat and go out to water the flowers and tell them how much I appreciate their colors and beauty !
Monday, July 6, 2009
Kindness is catching! Don’t you feel better when you’ve had a pleasant exchange with someone? Even a brief exchange or act of kindness gives us a “warm fuzzy” feeling.
The benefits to those around us when we act from a more generous spirit are many-fold, but the benefits to ourselves is great too. Even if you don’t really “feel like it”, making an effort daily to be more optimistic brings with it a real positive influence in your feeling of self and overall health.
Nice doesn’t mean being icky sweet or fake, but that you consider others and treat those you meet with kindness, consideration, and respect. It’s been proven in studies that wishing others well and sending positive thoughts their way actually can reduce pain and inflammation of chronic conditions within ourselves !
Meditation, and letting go of angers and resentments and replacing these with forgiveness, love and compassion also go a long way to help reduce pain. Integrative medicine is proving forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts that we can give ourselves.
Every time we replay a moment in our lives filled with regret or resentments we’re “stuck” in our basest element, and we bring all the toxins from that event flooding back into our bodies as we relive it again. For better health we need to be in our higher consciousness where we can choose to cultivate forgiveness, love and compassion.
Start simply and focus your attention on today, what’s happening in life right now - - and leave behind yesterday’s baggage. Being truly present in the now doesn’t leave any room for resentment and old anger.
As we forgive others, we have to remember to forgive ourselves. Who knows, if that chronic back pain lessens, or you experience other improvements in pain or depression, -- what do you have to lose?
Monday, June 29, 2009
Are you tired all day? Stressed out by your cash not matching your bills? Got too many “irons in the fire” so that you always feel you’re playing catch-up with your tasks at hand? Boss on your back? Spouse grouchy, kids need a time-out?
If you feel like this describes you, and you wake up “facing” the day instead
of “seizing” the day, let me share an anecdote from my early morning hours
When I opened the curtains this morning two tiny jeweled hummingbirds greeted me (or rather the sight of them did). I watched entranced as these two little birds squared off in what was obviously a territorial dual. It started like a dance, first taking the measure of each other, and then the most awesome aerial acrobatics!
For a good ten minutes they soared and swooped, stopping every now and again for a quick energy sip from a flower or one of the many sugar feeders hung out for them. As I watched them in what could have been a duel to the death, I realized they had made it a game of tag instead of a battle. What once was a duel became sport.
In pondering these little birds I thought about their lives in Texas (at 100+ degrees in the summer) and the challenging stresses they must have with our unpredictable weather patterns and continuous need for energy rich food sources, mating and the territorial drive built into their DNA. How did they change a battle into a game?
Maybe taking ego out of the equation, and being surrounded by beauty (after all, their search for food is among the blossoms in our prettiest gardens) they instinctively know that play is more fun than a duel, and that tomorrow will bring it’s own challenges - - but soaring in the sunshine and playing among the flowers today - - is O.K. for today.
Take a page from the hummingbird’s playbook. If today is all we have for sure, this very moment, isn’t it a shame to waste it stressing out? Look for your inner hummingbird, look for the beauty that is around you, be glad you’re alive and celebrate today - - share of yourself with others - - for today!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
How many of us keep connected with friends and those we love through our wonderful new array of gadgetry that gives us all the benefits of Facebook updating, link-sharing, “tweeting”, etcetera. Does all this new “keeping in touch” really create a bond with our fellow texters? Or after hours of chatting online, do you quit - - and then feel an emptiness, or on some level a feeling of disconnect?
There is no real replacement for true human connection and communication.
Breaking down the word “communicate”, you find the root is “communion”, which translates to: “the act of sharing,a having in common,
a close personal, even spiritual, relationship”.
When we become only “communicators” i.e. just passing along and transmitting information, we leave out the “communion” or exchange of thoughts and ideas that enrich our spirits. Imparting random facts and information doesn’t necessarily bring understanding. Reading random posts on a page isn’t the same as listening to someone talk about what’s going on in their lives.
Keeping in touch with a one-liner, or 140 characters, or even an e-card, isn’t the same as direct contact with those we really care about. The thought is nice (although is it really thoughtful if you hit a button and “send to friends” and maybe 30 or more people are receiving your same communiqué, or is it a touch lazy and even narcissistic?)
As a new week begins, let’s think about those we really care about and make an attempt to have a real exchange of thoughts and ideas. (This can be an unhurried phone call, writing an in depth one on one letter, or planning some fun “face time”) I’ll bet if we do, the feeling of “disconnect” will be replaced by a shared warmth created by the bond of truly communicating!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Creativity or Meditation?
Sometimes it’s in the eye of the beholder! I have spent (sporadically) many years of my life in creative pursuits. As life has brought many opportunities my way, my creative life has ebbed and flowed like an ocean with the tide.
First came raising children, which allows for a lot of creativity but very little meditation time. That was followed by years creating a new life and earning a living, which was interspersed with writing - - mainly poetry which I enjoy immensely, but I decided I needed a steady income more than following my muse.
Antiques and collectibles of all kinds has always been a passion of mine, and that led me to opening my own little store in California. This was fulfilling because finding a piece of furniture that has seen better days, and restoring it to beauty and value just felt good. Finding little treasures, and then finding them a new “home” was fun, and though I was extremely busy all the time, I was happy with the creative energy I was experiencing.
I started designing one of a kind jewelry to add to my store, and added a line of quartz crystal and precious stones. Designing jewelry and working with jewelry and natural stones gave me a time to contemplate colors and the “message” they hold to those that wear them, because each color has it’s own range of vibration and meaning. So too, working with crystals and other stones was an enlightening experience. Creation and meditation blend when working with colors and crystal energy, even when you are immersed in the design process!
Time passes and another move, another time, and now I am semi-retired. I have found a lovely new (to me) outlet for my creative side though, at Etsy.com.
My daughter introduced me to Etsy, and suggested opening an online shop together for handmade and vintage items (which we did in Feb. ‘09 ). It has been a lot of fun working together and watching this business build.
Because my partner and I have many interests outside those that my daughter and I share, we have opened another shop which is an outlet for our interests in Crystals, ethnic collectibles, carvings, and other handmade designs. (Opened in May,’09 ).
“Learning the ropes” and “stocking the shops” has been pretty time consuming, but along with that it has stimulated my creative side again, and while I am producing “product“, I’m having fun creating and re-learning many of the elements I have touched on before in my life, - - and as I create, I meditate. It brings me pleasure and inner peace - - who would have thought ? ?
Saturday, June 13, 2009
I have been around animals most of my adult life. When my kids were little there was the usual assortment of ducks and bunnies and hamsters - - which I quickly realized were not “living toys”, but living, feeling entities that became my responsibility to feed and care for and teach my children to respect and care for.
We had a wonderful nature center in the town where I raised my kids, and we used to spend hours there helping take care of the animals that were kept there (many of which had been injured and brought to them to “fix“.) As my kids grew, they learned a great respect for all living things, and they became true nature lovers; learning that the Hippocratic words“first of all, do no harm” could be applied to the footprints we all make as we journey through life.
I have had many dogs as an adult, one, two or three at a time, and horses were my passion for years. With each addition of a puppy or needy dog, or a horse we saved from the “killer traders” (horse meat was a prized commodity at the time in Europe, and horses going through auctions most of the time wound up as meat instead of a working or pleasure horse), I learned each animal brought with it it’s own needs and a lot of added work. Funny how light that work seemed, because there was a peace and balance to it that made even the feeding and grooming, exercising and cleaning, that having a 20 stall boarding stable entails easy.
Life changes, career paths change, venues change, loved ones scatter, and in the blink of an eye years are but memories. But in the best of those years and this year too, there is the love of animals in my life that brings a quiet corner of unconditional love and joy that reminds me of the words of Lao Tzu :
“I have just three things to teach
Simplicity, Patience, Compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
You return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
You accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
You reconcile all beings in the world.”
I was reminded of all this by watching my son. He was badly injured in an accident 2 years ago, and his rehabilitation has been slow and sporadic. Recently he bought a sheep (he’s always chosen the beat of his own drummer). After naming his sheep “Jack”, he started spending many hours out of doors daily talking to his new friend and building trust between them. He’s taught Jack to walk on a lead and they go to the park every day. Jack stands at the back fence “talking” and waiting for my son to come out at their appointed time.
Watching the bond build between them, and the honest pleasure they take in each other’s company is great. Greatest yet, is to see how much improvement has come about in my son’s attitude and rehab.. Animals, unconditional love and joy,
brought about simply, with patience and compassion.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Hey-a-a-hey! Hey-a-a-hey! Hey-a-a-hey! Hey-a-a-hey!
Mother Earth, Father Sky,
The star nations of the universe belong to you,
And yours are the grasses of the earth.
Day in and day out you give life to all things.
You are older than all need,
Older than all pain and prayer.
All over the world the faces of the two-leggeds are alike.
Look upon your children and the children in their arms,
That we may face the winds,
And walk the good road to the day of quiet.
Teach us to walk the soft earth,
A relative to all that live.
Sweeten our hearts and fill us with light,
Help give us strength to understand and the eyes to see.
This Ogala Souix prayer is poignant and heartfelt. Would that we could realize our oneness with everything that surrounds us and in everyone we meet.
Let’s start the week with our eyes open to the beauty of the earth that surrounds us and think about what each of us can do to help sustain her, and then approach those we meet with compassion - - an understanding heart helps heal all. A ho !