The Influence of Music 

Music has a connection to everything I do. I grew up in a very creatively motivated home. My parents painted, sang, and played instruments. There was usually music on somewhere in the house. I recall playing The Talking Heads on my stereo while my older brother below me played Nat King Cole and my younger brother next to him played Rush. My mother would have opera or classical playing on her stereo in the living room…only if there wasn’t a string quartet in our large living room or one of us kids practicing piano, flute, drums or guitar. None of us children became virtuosos but, we all became very dependent on music. All of us had music on more than the TV back in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s…long before video games and cellphones. 

I feel lost without music in the background. Some of my best ideas come when I’m concentrating on the music or after I see a live show. The key for me is live shows. I’m energized and in a great mood for days after a concert. I like to go to concerts the way some people go to movies. It’s an escape for me. 

So, it makes perfect sense that my Beads and Maille creations are increasingly becoming influenced by music. 

That will be my new mission. Vegan leather, guitar pick and musical note pendants and charms, more red and black, more black with brighter colors and more stainless steel. 

Halloween! 🎃👻💀

What’s in the shop for Halloween? Click in the picture to see these and some other not so scary but handmade, good quality jewelry for year round!

I love HALLOWEEN! And I like it scary! Unfortunately, where I live now, we get no ghosts, goblins or ghouls at our door but, I decorate and do at least one pumpkin. I’m also interested in the origins of Halloween and try to post the information every year:

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.
On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III (731–741) later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1. By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted the older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It is widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

Celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups as well as the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.
In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.
By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.
The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.
Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world. Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats. We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred; it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe. And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.) Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces. Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.
Of course, whether we’re asking for romantic advice or trying to avoid seven years of bad luck, each one of these Halloween superstitions relies on the good will of the very same “spirits” whose presence the early Celts felt so keenly.
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🎃 I hope everyone has a safe, fun and SCARY Halloween! 🎃

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month – Why We Don’t Just Leave

I pass along a lot of information and resources on Facebook regarding Domestic Violence but I think that for some people, maybe the information hits home more when they hear someone who has experienced something, explain it from a human point of view instead of a statistical point of view.

I think I need to start being one of the humans that shares what it really feels like to be in a controlling, emotionally and sometimes physically abusive relationship.

I can only concentrate on one thing at a time, for my sanity and because it’s hard for me to focus on too many things at once.

I really want to focus on the one thing that has been bothering me the most since the NFL stories have become so visible.

Why don’t you just leave?  I would never let a man treat me like that!  I’d tell him to go fuck himself and leave his ass!!!…

First of all, don’t you think I would have left if it was that simple?  Not to mention the millions of other women who don’t leave.

Here’s a blog post I published in 2008:

My 11/8/08 Blog Entry:

It was a very slow process. First he/she met someone who never had any self-esteem to begin with, then took the remnants of his/her first failed marriage or sensitivities/weaknesses and used it all to gain his/her love and trust. Little by little, he/she took everything that he/she promised, everything that he/she said and knocked every bit of security and trust down piece by piece until he/she was a shell of what he/she used to be.

If you can imagine getting support for every aspiration that you have then little by little someone degrades you and picks away at every little thing that you ever wanted. Eventually you have no will, you can’t think straight. That person has taken what you felt as love, trust, and security and made a mockery of it. Some of us look around eventually and see what we have forsaken…our sanity, our dreams, our children…and we get out of it. Some never do.

In the course of this whole process you find yourself saying and doing things you never would have dreamed of before. Fighting, physically and verbally, going to a women’s shelter and returning to the home that drove you there, submitting to just about anything that will keep the house peaceful even at the expense of yourself and your children, working two jobs because the fight to make him/her work isn’t worth it, giving every little ounce of energy, physically and mentally, to keep everyone else happy…

Making the decision to leave, in my case, meant that I had to admit that I fell for his lies and also that I had failed, again. He did everything right at the beginning. I now sincerely believe that he meant none of it. Actions speak louder than words. I left the marriage broke. When I first met him, I owned a house. I now live in a rented apartment and he lives with our son in a basement apartment. He was abusive and critical of his stepson. He was critical of my family without regard to how his opinions made me feel. His father was abusive toward everyone in the family, yet, he was allowed to stay in our world. My mother participated in and funded vacations for the kids, rent, food…, cars, car repairs…throughout the marriage but she was considered to be evil.

All of this obviously has nothing to do with anything anyone of us has done to him/her, Behavior like this is just sick. It seems to be a desperate attempt to have control of something. If these people took this talent and put it into something positive, they would be stars. That they are able to justify the insanity of taking people who have given themselves fully to you, heart and soul, and beating them into submission, is something that I will never be able to explain or understand.

There is that continuing yearning to have someone with you. To have someone in your life that you CAN trust. That loves you no matter what. That isn’t critical of everything you say or do. It’s a natural process in life but for we who have dealt with the type of life described above, it’s hard to imagine that it is something that is attainable.

We now have to deal with every negative signal that we have been trained to flee from. Anger was always amplified and mostly unreasonable. Sadness was a tool. Happiness meant that the abuser got what he wanted. The triggers are set and the only way to break them is to be in a relationship. There is no way to therapy or train them away.

Maybe now we can see the connection between Domestic Abuse and Parental Alienation…how do I heal and how do I stop being abused when the abuser has effectively taken my boy away from me? Seems to me that this would be a continuation of the Domestic Abuse. He has brainwashed my son against me…he has taken the love, trust and security of his own child and knocked it down piece by piece to get me back for ending the marriage. There is no other explanation for this behavior.

I now have to find a way to break the cycle…

This is my personal experience along with my feelings about how I got in MY situation.  I have overcome most of this but it never leaves and as far as the Parental Alienation…still working through that damage with my son.

Everyone has a different experience before and during their abusive relationship but the one common denominator seems to be that the abusive partner has a need to control and have the other all to themselves.  They seem to be expert at convincing people of anything.  Even outside of the relationship, they can manipulate people to do whatever they want.  Anyone can be fooled.  I’ve seen it happen with my own 2 eyes…not just to me.  They get what they want.  They seem to gain confidence and power from being able to manipulate other people.  They have incredible control themselves.  They can turn themselves off and on at will.  That’s why you never see it.  The minute the front door closes, it starts.

And the reason, no one tells and no one leaves…the manipulation.  They don’t get really violent until they have control.  And, when they do start getting violent, the charm that you once fell in love with, comes back in droves.

Then when you are ready to throw in the towel and start reacting with threats of divorce, etc…their threats come.  I’ll take the kids away from you!  I’ll tell them you’re crazy!  I was told that the only way he would divorce me was if I let him have full custody of our son!  So, I kept trying…

I left each marriage at least 4 times.  I went to shelters, hotels, friends and relatives houses but the mega charm and promises kept bringing me back.  Plus, I blamed myself and I didn’t want to give up.

This is the gist of what is or may be happening in a victims head.

Now, advice for the CONFIDANTE…relative, friend, workmate, acquaintance, whoever.

DO NOT tell them to just leave.  –  If we don’t, we feel too stupid to confide in you again.  If we have tried and failed, we probably won’t talk to you about it again because we feel like failures.

DO NOT comment on how you would NEVER allow someone to treat me that way!  –  It makes us feel ultimately stupid because intellectually it makes sense but we blame ourselves and even though we know that it’s wrong, we are holding on to hope that the abuser is right and we can solve our “problem” and have a great relationship.  We were hooked long before they started being abusive!

DO listen!  –  Just listen.  Tell them that if they need to talk or need help, to call you.  Keep yourself open without judgement.

DO suggest help.  –  If you know of a DV shelter or counseling service, tell them that you may know someone that can help them focus on what they need to do.

DO say something if you see signs of a change in habits or personality that seem extreme.  Things like, not going out with friends as much, not talking about the relationship as much or overdoing the romantic side of the relationship in a way you wouldn’t expect them too, losing touch with them for long periods of time, being told that the partner doesn’t like you…

DO protect the children!  If you see something happening and feel that the children are in danger, do something.  I would recommend talking to family first.  Calling Child Protective Services puts the children into a broken government system filled with red tape – avoid this at all costs!

This idea that the victims in abusive relationships are just stupid subtracts a lot of people from the total population.  We are not stupid.  Maybe we’re just idealists, romantics.  We want it to work.  So desperately that we keep believing.  It’s hard for people to give themselves over to someone.  And then, when that someone betrays your heart and soul, it can sap your will to try for anything better.

So, think about it.  It happens far too much.  We need to be more tolerant and stop being so self righteous because we avoided getting ourselves into something like this.  No abused partner dreamed of getting into this type of relationship while growing up.

Holiday Color

ALL of the colors of the Holiday Season!  Just a small sample.  Blue, gold and silver…red and green…red, green and black…