Remembering our roots

Shabbat (muted)A rite of passage for many teens is a full-body rebellion against family traditions and parental rules. Erikson addressed this in his psychosocial development model, defining the conflict in the teen years as identity vs. role confusion.

Religion is one of the more common family traditions to get the boot when teens rebel. Some of us grow up and eventually return to the religious and spiritual roots of our family while others take sharp detours, and still others wander entirely away from any form of organized religious practice.

Still, there’s some comfort in the rituals, the food, the sights and sounds we heard as we grew up surrounded by adults who thought that the moon and stars rose and set in our eyes.

When life gets hectic and our internal compass seems to be sending mixed directions, it can be comforting to have a touchstone to a simpler time. This easy backpack charm is one way to reconnect to our roots. This one acknowledges the sacred family tradition of Shabbat but any religious or spiritual tradition could be made into a similar charm.

Materials/Supplies:

  • Acrylic cabochon (I used 1″ diameter size)
  • Bottle cap” that fits cabochon (I used one that had a loop)
  • Text of your choosing (I found a magazine article about the Jewish practice of the Friday night Shabbat dinner). Notice that the cabochon perfectly captures the words “candles“, “Israel“, “ancient Friday“, “challah” and “loved ones“.
  • Coordinating charm
  • Glitter
  • Jump ring(s) – I used 12mm colored ones & chose blue
  • Choice of findings (I wanted a clip for my backpack) but this could also be a necklace or keychain.
  • Glue, scissors, pliers

Instructions:

  1. Lay the cabochon over the text you want and find the presentation desired. Cut out around the cabochon.
  2. If desired, sprinkle a sparse amount of glitter on the text.
  3. Peel backing away from bottom of cabochon and place on text capturing the glitter.
  4. Press paper flat squeezing out any bubbles.
  5. Apply glue to inside of receiving “bottle cap” and place cabochon into the glue.
  6. Allow to dry (I used a set of plastic clamps to hold this tight until it dried)
  7. Put together your charm(s) and colored jump ring.
  8. Once the glue has dried, clean off any excess and add your charms and jump rings.
  9. Connect to your finding (necklace or clip)

 

Each time you look at your memory piece, recall the memories, the Shabbat (backpack)food, the fun and most of all – the love that came with those family traditions. You may do things differently than your parents and grandparents did; you may not belong to a church, synagogue, or engage in regular religious or spiritual practice,…but you can still find comfort and peace in the memories of the rituals you shared with those who loved you.

Extraordinary healing can be achieved by looking back on the love of family expressed through traditions and shared across generations.

Peace.

 

(C) 2017 SmarttChick

Keeping the FUN in Life

Adult life can quickly settle into a predictable routine. After the insanity of our youth or college years this is sometimes a good change, but after a while the predictability of being a responsible adult can begin to feel monotonous, and even boring.

Newsflash: responsible adults have adult responsibilities.

And many of them aren’t all that fun, but this doesn’t mean that we are all doomed to a life in hues of grey. We always have the option to add a little color to our lives, bring a smile to our faces and make the world a little brighter in our corner of the planet. And the good news is that it doesn’t take a major investment of time or money.

This happy little tassel is super simple, super affordable and so delightful to look at you’re going to want to make them in every possible color!

I used the pattern at the DMC website and at less than $1.00 per strand for most colors you can make a lot of smiles to pass around to friends, family and keep for yourself.

In life, it’s the little things that help us keep a positive attitude. This tassel helps to remind us of this simple truth. Have fun!

(C) 2017 SmarttChick

 

The Wisdom of Silence

Meditation strand.JPGThere’s no shortage of people claiming expertise on any subject you can name, but other than their marketing teams, who says they have the right answers?

Sometimes the best place to go for answers is inward, into our own silence.

Meditation has experienced a resurgence in popularity recently and for good reason. There’s a wisdom that comes from sitting quietly and simply allowing our mind to rest. While there are plenty of gadgets we can buy to “help” us achieve the best results from meditation, all we really need is a place to sit, some peace and quiet, and a little time – even as few as 5 minutes can bring a lot of benefit.

This easy meditation “mala” makes a nice addition to any meditation table or corner. Traditional mala beads are strung in multiples of 9 for the counting of mantras that are repeated. This strand of beads is not for that purpose, but meant only to add beauty to a meditation space, inspiring our entrance into silence.

Materials/Supplies:

  • Small beads (for the strand)
  • 2 to 3 larger beads (for the connection point)
  • Tiger tail bead stringing cord
  • Crimp bead (& pliers)
  • Charm (I used a small Buddha head)
  • Small piece of string or elastic (for beads around the top of tassel)
  • A tassel that coordinates with your beads
    • I made mine with DMC Embroidery floss
  • Large jump ring

Instructions:

  1. String the smaller beads on Tiger Tail beading string.
  2. When it is as long as you wish, bring the 2 ends together and string the larger beads onto both ends.
  3. Place a crimp bead at the bottom of the last larger bead and loop END of Tiger Tail up and tuck ends back into larger bead so that you have a loop of Tiger Tail wire.
  4. Make your tassel (free instructions at JoAnn stores in the Cross Stitch/Embroidery section OR purchase a pre-made tassel (also available at JoAnn’s).
  5. Connect your bead/charm to the tassel (my bead came with a jump ring attached and I threaded it into the tassel.
  6. String small beads on the elastic or string and wrap around top of tassel. Tie off.

– – – – – – –

You now have your very own meditation “mala” and are ready to attract more wisdom and peace into your hectic life.

Once you finish yours, make one for a friend & pass on the gift of finding wisdom in silence 🙂

 

(C) 2017 SmarttChick

Light one candle


There are times in life when we face circumstances that seem to have no clear answer or solution. Few things are more frustrating, and the helplessness we feel can be debilitating.

When we are children, our parents often step in to “fix” the problem or at least comfort us in our distress. As adults, however; it’s all on us. What can we do when there’s no clear answer; no obvious solution?

We can “light one candle”, or in other words; take 1 small step in a positive direction.

“If I don’t know which way to turn, how do I even do this?”

While we may not know the entire answer, we know what to do in the smaller things right in front of us.

For example, if we’ve suffered a significant career or job setback and don’t know what to do next: we can update our resume, make a phone call to someone in our network, or send an email to former colleagues to let them know we’re looking for a job and asking them to keep us in mind.

If we’re experiencing the loss of a significant relationship, we can choose to reach out to others by volunteering at a food pantry, visiting a home bound elderly neighbor or dropping groceries off to a single mother who is struggling to feed her kids.

When we take a simple, positive step it helps to change our perspective and our entire experience.

This quick & easy candle craft helps us remember that a small, simple action can shine a lot of light in an otherwise darkened area of our lives.

Materials/Supplies:

  • Small glass votive candle cup
  • Votive candle
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Hot glue gun w/ glue
  • Jute or other string
  • Charm of your choice

Instructions:

  1. Clean off the outside of the glass votive candle holder (glass cleaner).
  2. Sort out your cinnamon sticks to find the ones best suited to line the outside of the candleholder.
  3. Place a line of hot glue on the candleholder and place a cinnamon stick on the glass; hold until set.
  4. Repeat gluing & placing sticks around until you have covered the glass with the cinnamon sticks.
  5. Measure and cut your jute or twine. Tie around the cinnamon sticks.
  6. Add charm or other decoration
  7. Drop votive candle in, light & enjoy!

Each time you enjoy the light & beauty of this candle, remember that you always have the ability to shine some light – to light one candle – on any dark corner that shows up on your life journey.

(C) 2017 SmarttChick

 

Keep looking for the good

Small Ojo de Dios (about 3″ across)

In Native American cultures the Ojo de Dios  (Eye of God) is sacred art. In the United States, crafts based loosely on this Native artifact have been made in 4-H and Girl Scout camps for decades.

This craft is a great reminder for us to think about where we’re focusing our EYES – our attention. Are we looking forward with positive anticipation or back to the past with regret? Are we expecting to see good things happen or are we certain that people are out to get us and that life isn’t fair?

Our perspective has so much to do with how we experience life, and this Native-inspired craft reminds us to be careful where we cast our eyes.

We get to choose whether to look for the good; to see opportunity and great people all around us – or – to focus on the negative, and taint our days with an expectation of less.

Materials/Supplies:

  • Wooden sticks (any size; the one at the top was made with toothpick-sized sticks; the one at the bottom with larger craft sticks)
  • Yarn or string in the color(s) of your choice (the small one used crochet thread while worsted weight yarn was used in the larger one)
  • Embellishments (optional)
  • Hot glue (helpful but optional)

Instructions:

  1. Secure the sticks perpendicular to each other (crossed)
  2. Wind across the middle (make an X) about 4-times in both directions, taking care to secure the end at the back (glue helps)
  3. Begin winding the yarn/thread to make the piece by laying over top of the closest stick and wrapping once all the way around.
  4. Once you bring the yarn/thread up and around carry it over to the next stick; lay on top & wrap around, and then carry over to next stick…
  5. You will wrap and turn, wrap and turn – all the way around the 4-stick ends.
  6. Once you’ve wrapped it as far as you like, you can tie off at the top (you choose which end is the top), leaving a loop for hanging. I also secure with a little glue.

Here’s a great tutorial on the basic process for making this craft (not my video). You can also download this helpful instruction sheet: Ojo de Dios instructions (also not mine).

I used a single type of yarn in my examples, but you can use several different colors and textures – whatever makes you smile!

You can also add embellishments like the wooden beads and feathers (below).

Let your imagination guide you & let your finished piece inspire you to look for the good that is all around you every day!

 

(C) 2017 SmarttChick

We are Stardust

 

Stardust.jpg
approx 1″ long
Every once in awhile I observe someone getting very fussed up about something that, in the big scheme of things, isn’t worth it. This happens frequently in rush hour traffic, and I’ve written a few blogs on the wisdom we can find (or miss) in traffic each day.

The reality of things is this: we are quite small and insignificant in comparison to the vastness of the Universe.

The Hubble telescope initially allowed scientists to estimate that the observable Universe contained between 100 to 200 billion galaxies, but just last year more powerful telescopes led astronomers to increase that estimate by 10%.

Galaxies, like our own Milky Way which contains somewhere between 100 billion and 400 billion stars, that contain millions of stars, gaseous planets and presumably – rocky planets like Earth, Venus and Mars populate the observable Universe in numbers we cannot even fathom from our human perspective on this 3rd rock from a rather nondescript star in this, our home solar system.

It is also humbling to know that the iron in my blood – a substance that helps keep me healthy – was once an integral part of a star in some distant galaxy that went Super Nova, spreading its contents across the Universe.

Pondering things of this size and distance scale is truly humbling, and helps me to remember not to take things so seriously (especially myself). This Stardust Charm is a visual reminder of my place in the Universe.

Materials/Supplies:

  • Glitter of your choice
  • Small corked bottle charm
  • String or cording
  • 1/8″ ribbon (small piece)
  • larger star glitter pieces

Instructions:

  1. Remove the cork and fill the bottle with glitter all the way to the top
  2. Put a dab of glue around the bottom of the cork and replace on bottle, twisting to spread the glue around and seal the glitter in the bottle.
  3. Measure the ribbon and cut to fit around outside neck of bottle
  4. Glue ribbon around bottle neck
  5. Place Star glitter pieces on front (glue in place).

Thread cording or string through the loop on top and hang on your rearview mirror (if traffic is your challenge), on your bulletin board at work or anywhere you could use a gentle reminder that we came from the stars, and are a part of the Universe,…but not the center of it.

(C) 2017 SmarttChick

 

 

The Key to Happiness


The world’s happiest people recognize that the key to sustainable happiness lies in appreciating life every day.

We don’t need winning lottery tickets, fame or even other people to be happy: we can choose to be happy in each moment, even in the midst of the most mundane activities, like driving to work, or the grocery store.

This simple keychain helps remind us that the beauty of life & the secret to happiness is right here, right now, and not hidden in some distant, future goal.

Materials/Supplies:

  • Suede/leather cord
  • Round key ring
  • Beads (I used ceramic beads – any type that will fit on the leather cord will work!)
  • Glue (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Cut the leather in pieces a little more than twice as long as you want them to hang. I used 2 pieces about 6″ in length, each for this example.
  2. Fold in half and loop ends through key ring and back through looped end, catching key ring on the “knot”.
  3. Pull each strand to tighten.
  4. I placed a tiny bit of glue between the layers of the knot for extra security.
  5. Thread your beads into each string, position as desired and knot on either side of each head, & trim ends as desired.
  6. Add keys & you’re good to go!

You can also attach to your purse or back pack as a decoration.

Enjoy!

(C) 2017 SmarttChick