How Sweet It Is

What makes you happy? As I think about what makes me happy, I know that 100% of the time when I contribute to the happiness of someone else, I feel a deep sense of contentment. There are so many simple ways to infuse a dose of happiness into the lives of others – a hug, a smile, listening, a special note letting them know how much they mean.

Valentine’s Day is one holiday we are focused on love and how to best express our love to those most important to us. I have one very important piece of advice on the topic…

                         CHOCOLATE

And perhaps for something lasting much longer that is handcrafted, one of a kind and personal, consider a piece of jewelry. Whether she is a beach lover, a blingy woman, or a spiritual and soulful one, we have something that will speak to her heart.

We’ve made it easy to find the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day.  On the Home Page at Beachy Dancer Designs you will find a heading called “Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas”, and can see all the pieces here. There are many new pieces and I invite you to browse the Store.

“Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love.”
Rumi 

So What Exactly is Sea Glass/Beach Glass Anyway?

“There is great healing power found where water meets the shore. The rhythmic surf can soften our rough edges as well.”                                                                                                                                     – Richard LaMotte

A customer and friend said she was trying to explain what beach glass was to someone and had some trouble. She asked me to write about it and I am happy to do so!

The wonderful irony of beach/sea glass is that it was once merely sand itself.  For several thousand years, cultures have used the same natural ingredients – sand, soda and lime, to create glass.

Sea Glass and Beach Glass are the oceans, lakes and rivers way of recycling and keeping history alive.  Historically, glass containers were used to carry and transport our perishable items.  A large part of our trash was glass and ended up in the oceans, lakes and rivers.  Naturally produced sea and beach glass, usually known as “genuine sea/beach glass” originates as pieces of glass from broken bottles, broken tableware, or even shipwrecks, which are rolled and tumbled in the ocean or lakes for years until all of their edges are rounded off, and the smooth surface of the glass becomes a smooth frosted look.

Lake Michigan Beach Glass Finds

Lake Michigan Beach Glass

Glass is a substance that is never harmful to our water environments. Glass does not grow bacteria, or leach chemicals when it breaks down. The water simply breaks it into smaller and smaller pieces as it is tossed around by variable currents and contact with rocks. After many years the glass begins to transform into sea/beach glass. The smooth frosted sea/beach glass starts to emerge as the glass slowly oxidizes along the way back to its original form, sand.

Every piece of sea/beach glass tells a story depending on where it tumbled, how many rocks it hit, and how many smooth or rocky beaches it has passed in its long lifetime. Some pieces will be heavily frosted, others will seem to be less frosted but just as smooth.

High quality, “jewelry grade” sea glass takes a minimum of twenty years to oxidize, frost and break down leaving no harsh edges. The most beautiful and sought after pieces of sea glass are a hundred years old or even older. It is hard to place the age of a piece of sea glass once found, but typically the thicker the sea glass the older it is.

Aqua Blue Beach Glass and Freshwater Pearl Necklace

Aqua Blue Beach Glass and Freshwater Pearl Necklace

The value of beach glass is partially determined by its color. Colors range from common, uncommon, rare and extremely rare. Examples of common colors are white (clear), brown and kelly green. Some uncommon colors include amber, soft blue, soft green, sea foam, lime green. Examples of rare colors include pink, cornflower blue, aqua, citron, lavender and cobalt blue.  The extremely rare colors are orange, red and yellow.

Richard LaMotte says it best: “Leave it to Mother Nature to improve upon something manipulated by man and returned to her care after it has served our temporary needs. The forces of nature not only shape sea glass by abrasive physical conditioning, but contact with aquatic environments creates unique textures that are only poorly imitated by man.”

Perfectly Imperfect

Beach Glass Hunting

Beach Glass Hunting

As a recovering perfectionist, I find it interesting that the materials I am most drawn to for creating jewelry do not even come close to meeting my criteria for “perfection”.  The beach glass, sea shells, pearls and rocks all have flaws, nuances and no two pieces are identical.  And yet, I adore them!

I believe that the universe and our own inner guidance knows what we need to heal all parts of ourselves (and has a sense of humor), so it is no surprise really that my creative path forces (allows?) me to grapple with my dislike of my own flaws, nuances and the fact that sometimes I am critical of myself for not being more like others who I perceive as closer to some ideal.  Of course, if every piece of beach glass, sea shell and pearl were identical (or people) – I would lose interest. It is the surprise, challenge, and fascination that comes with discovering the uniqueness of every piece and learning how to best work with each one that brings immense satisfaction.  The metaphor has not been lost on me… It is the uniqueness of each person connecting with the unique piece of jewelry that speaks to her, that I find exciting and has a quality of mystery that I crave.

Today I have been working with green beach glass.  There are numerous shades of green beach glass, from extremely pale to very dark. Here is a photo of the darker and brighter shades I have collected along the shores of Lake Michigan – lime, kelly, shades of olive, teal, forest and emerald green. Some shades are rare and difficult to find. I will talk about that in my next blog post.

Colors of Green Beach GlassI have chosen to work today with the lighter shades of green beach glass, pale green, light green, and sea foam.  Even the pale shades vary greatly. I am totally transfixed by the variety of color, shape, texture and thickness.  The thicker the piece, the older the beach glass (beach glass has been tumbling in the water from 10 to over 100 years).

The real challenge for me begins when I lay out 20 or 30 pieces of beach glass and am trying to “match” some into pairs to make earrings.  I spent hours today deciding who could become pairs (beach glass matchmaking!).  Some may look good together based on their size and shape, but their colors are not identical. Then I must consider whether the weight of the glass will be comfortable for earrings and how the shape will frame the face.

Shades of light green beach glass

Shades of light green beach glass

There seem to be endless combinations of imperfect pairs.  Ugh!  And yet, I enjoy the challenge and I feel that there is perfect imperfection that needs celebrating and eventually, new pairs of earrings emerge!

Shades of light green beach glass earrings

Shades of light green beach glass earrings

The last steps will be to write descriptions for them, photograph each pair individually and load them to my website where hopefully another match will be made between a perfectly imperfect wonderful customer and a perfectly imperfect pair of beach glass earrings!

Introducing The Sabbath Moment Jewelry Collection

portrait-of-Holly-SchakHello and Happy Spring!

After months of preparation, Beachy Dancer Designs and I are very excited to introduce my new collection called The Sabbath Moment Jewelry Collection. 

The collection was inspired by the wonderful work of Terry Hershey – – author, humorist, inspirational speaker, ordained minister, and designer of sanctuary gardens.  Each necklace and bracelet I have designed and made in the collection contains a charm with the word “Pause”, which is the core message.

There are many other word and image charms in the necklaces and bracelets, representing various ways that people choose to create spaces and moments for sanctuary and renewal. It is my hope that you find a piece of jewelry whose message resonates personally with you, or as a special gift for a loved one.

Below I have written about how this collection came about, more about Terry Hershey, and my desire to help people remember to “pause”, be present and be reminded that they are enough, and are loved. And what woman wouldn’t want a beautiful piece of jewelry to be the messenger of these reminders!

Please check out the collection and let me know what you think. I would love to hear about the ways you “Pause”.  Perhaps your ideas will be the next charms available in the collection! If you would like to receive updates, inspiration and exclusive offers, please subscribe to the Sabbath Moment Jewelry Collection News on the Sabbath Moment Collection page. (I never share your information and will be sending you updates no more than twice a month.) Once you subscribe, you will receive an email with a Coupon Code for Free Shipping on your first order. 

Inspiration and Origins of The Sabbath Moment Collection

Sabbath Moment 7 inch Gray, Black and Cream Pearl Stretch Charm Bracelet Set1Once upon a lifetime ago, I attended a seminar given by Terry Hershey.  Although the subject of the seminar was “academic”, he read us a “Frog and Toad” story.

Terry made me laugh, touched my heart and I knew I’d found a kindred spirit.  Fast forward a few decades and I feel that though we use different modes of expression, Terry and I are both, to put it in Terry’s words, sharing messages of “rest, renew and live”.

For me this takes the form of designing, making, and sharing jewelry with the strong and clear intention to bring joy and loving connection with self, others, the earth and the divine.

True connection can only happen when we are present, and both Terry and I desire to share “reminders” that help us all create those spaces to Be.

In this spirit I have created the Sabbath Moment Jewelry Collection, named after Terry’s wonderful weekly blog, Sabbath Moment.  Find out more about Terry.

Meet Terry Hershey

Terry Hershey is an author, humorist, inspirational speaker, dad, ordained minister, golf addict, and smitten by French wine. He divides his time between designing sanctuary gardens and sharing his practice of “pausing” and “sanctuary,” to help us rest, renew and live.

Terry’s book, Sanctuary: Creating a Space for Grace in Your Life, offers the permission to slow down and to be gentle with ourselves, in a world that demands More-Bigger-Faster.

Most days, you can find Terry out in his garden–on Vashon Island in the Puget Sound—because he believes that there is something fundamentally spiritual about dirt under your fingernails.

There is seldom a day that I don’t feel hurried or distracted or too busy. And I know that I’m not unusual. We live in a world of bigger and faster. This takes a toll. No secret there. Stress. Anxiety. Disquiet. Depletion. And not just with my internal wellbeing-thermometer; but with my relationships too. I let myself feel guilty about my “inability” to keep up. Can you relate? Or, I add insult to injury by going faster, in order to “catch up.”

What would happen if I practiced the power of pause? In a word: renewal and replenishment. What’s the catch? Harnessing the power of pause is not a technique or program. Harnessing the power of pause is not for a select few.

Harnessing the power of pause is a simple invitation to set down the load we carry. To rest. To breathe. To see. To replenish. The permission to let our souls catch up with our bodies.

In this act—or rather non-act—we reconnect to ourselves, recover our centeredness and personal balance, and regain the power to say “yes” to the moment and “no” to dominance of hurry.

It’s time for a paradigm change. When we pause, we change. When we find sanctuary, we change. We can choose to be fully present for the mosaic of magical moments (that tonic of agitations and corrosive boredom that is daily life.

And sometimes, all it takes is a reminder… Pause…

Hunting for Treasure, Feeding My Soul

When I am hunting for beach glass and beach rocks on the shores of Lake Michigan, I am in my soul’s “happy place”.

I’d like to share a little of the joy I get from my treasure hunting adventures.

There are the usual reasons that many of us love, being at the beach, seeing the beautiful blues and greens of the water, listening to the waves, feeling the sand underfoot, the cries of the birds overhead, feeling the breeze in my hair, breathing in the spaciousness of the outdoors, open to its beauty.

But I am an anxious person – one who does not enjoy laying in the sun for more than 10 minutes, who does not like being hot, or cold–and finding “just right” is not easy.  I am afraid of bugs and lord knows I hate bathing suits.   I am not one who can let go, relax or “play” easily, though I have great longings to do so.

My mind is very busy, with a strong tendency to worry and be hyper critical of myself.  Meditation, exercise, singing and dancing, designing and creating jewelry and being of service to other people help me feel more present in body, mind and spirit.

But what really makes the little girl in me want to squeal with happiness and excitement (except for wearing lots of little ballet tulle skirts, which I have had to restrict for obvious reasons), is going to the beach, in almost any kind of weather, with a brightly colored plastic bucket and matching shovel in hand, ready to scour the shoreline for treasure – pieces of beach glass, shards of pottery, and THE most beautiful beach rocks.

Tutus

Here I feel completely present and fully absorbed in the task at hand, which is a wonderful dance between the natural elements, my eyes and my hands.  Here I find rest, excitement and happiness in the serendipitous interweaving of grace and beauty.

There is so much wonder and surprise involved, which my inner little girl adores, and there is always the possibility of the “treasure” moments, those magic and mysterious moments where grace whispers in profound ways.

I am a singer, and while I sing almost all the time, I have noticed that certain songs come out of my mouth when hunting for beach glass.  When I feel almost one with the beach, I sing “I Could Have Danced All Night”.  And yes, I do dance a little.  My soul, it seems, insists on a song AND dance. Dance was my first love, beginning at age three.  And so that one is me, on the beach, bucket in hand, song in my heart and dancing a little here and there (albeit mostly when no one is too close), on the hunt for simple treasures.

And I am absolutely amazed by the elation and excitement that arises when I catch sight of a light sea-foam green color behind a rock, or spotting that wonderful cobalt blue shimmering in the sand.

And when I find a piece of beach glass or a beach rock in the shape of a heart, I feel like I have hit the jackpot.  Sometimes I even feel like God is saying “I love you”.

Heart Shaped Beach Treasures

When I have to scuffle in the sand or scramble with a breaking wave in motion to snare a piece of glass, and I get it, I feel like I have successfully battled nature.

I love the colors, textures and shapes of the glass – each one is unique.  And every piece has its mysteries — what was it, originally, who used it, and what was the path it traveled into my very hand.  All of this adds to the fullness of the experience for me.

Beach glass that is “cooked” has been in the water for 10 to over 100 years.  And beach rocks are millions of years old.  Holding them in my hand opens a doorway to that timeless reality.

Then there are the spiritual lessons that have been great gifts to me.

That my husband is willing to join me in these adventures, his own plastic bucket and shovel in hand, is a most precious gift.

I cannot “will” the beach glass to come to the shore or to make itself visible to me.  Some days it is lots of work, and we don’t find a whole lot. But we always find some.    We are always given treasures.

I “work” hard scouring the beach, no matter how much my knees and back ache, as I am a woman with a mission.  But one day while working very hard at this pursuit, knees aching, back aching, and with little to show for my efforts, I decided to stop digging and searching and just stand there for a bit.  To my surprise, I discovered that if I just stood there, watching in a place where there are waves, and waiting, eventually the shore would toss out the most beautiful pieces of beach glass.

And I realized, deeply, that these most wonderful pieces come as gifts – it is not my work that produces them, but my willingness to be there and available.

It is not all about my ceaseless efforts! What a relief!

I just have to be willing to watch, alert and present, and receive.  That is what creating the possibility for grace feels like to me.   And it is such a wonderful antidote for the way I live much of my life – that constant feeling that I have to work like a dog before anything good can happen.

On that day and on many subsequent days, the beach and my beach glass hunting remind me that being fully involved is not the same as being fully in control.

I am not in control of the outcome…and what a blessing it is to be shown the gifts that are given when I let go and allow myself to receive, and let it be enough.  It seems in fact, that this deep presence, this involvement without control, creates the space to appreciate the richness of simple experiences.

It is from this place of richness and gratitude that I design and make jewelry using these treasures.  That creative endeavor is rich with intention, intention that the love, joy and connection I experienced in collecting and creating jewelry with them will be infused in the pieces themselves, and received by the people who eventually buy them.

I truly believe that each piece has its intended home, and my task is to help them reach the people for whom they are intended.

I would love to hear about your soul’s happy places, and what you have experienced and learned.  You can share your own story at my Beachy Dancer Designs Facebook page or send me a message through my website or email me at holly@beachydancerdesigns.com.  Perhaps a special piece of jewelry is waiting for you now or for someone you love.  My pieces are always changing, and you are invited to do your own treasure hunting at my shop.

Charmed I’m Sure!

new charms

New Charms

Teapot Charms

New Teapot Charms

Sometimes I spend a seemingly ridiculous amount of time choosing charms to purchase for some of the jewelry I make. When I receive a shipment of new charms I am excited to see them and am relieved and elated when they meet or exceed my hopes for them. I can’t wait to create new designs using them along with other materials such as beads, pearls, crystals, beach glass and beach rocks. I am awaiting two more shipments of charms this week!

I wanted to share what today’s package included:

  •  “Best Friend” dog print charms
  •  Galloping horses charms
  •  Tiny puffy heart charms
  •  Tea pot charms (so adorable)
  • Charms with word sentiments – “You are Loved”; “Play”; “Enough” and “Dance”

Stay tuned for photos on the next shipments (spoiler alert: there will be cat bowl charms, tiny garden spade charms, music note charms, tree of life charms, charms that say “Pause”; “Laugh”; “Grace”; and “Serenity”.)

Using charms is a wonderful way to make a necklace or bracelet truly personal. Using materials and color palettes that represent an individual can create a meaningful one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry. When given as a gift, recipients feel “seen”, and know that you care about what is important to them.  If you would like a special piece created for you or for a loved one, please let me know. I would be honored to create something special for you!

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If you see something that has been sold, and want one like it, please let me know. I love to hear what you want and will work to make it so!
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