So, yesterday I told a story about how irrationally competitive I can be. Maybe you thought I was being self-effacing and honest, and maybe I was, but it's still embarrassingly true. When I've worked hard at something I want to be the best. It's something that's always with me in one way or another.
Julie Nordine of Credit River Art Glass is another Minnesota lampworker, a fellow member of The Star Of The North ISGB Chapter, who's been lampworking about as long as I have, and because of that I feel a little competitive about it. I know it's stupid, but I embrace my crazy. Julie makes great beads and I find myself with some envy that she gets to do it full time and does national bead shows and she's super nice and everybody knows her and she deserves every bit of attention she earns.
Now don't get we wrong. I don't think about it a lot, but I think that there are just people in the universe who are similar enough to us in one way or another that we can't help but compare ourselves to them just a little. And I think that it's important, because in my case it definitely pushes me to improve all the time.
About a month ago one of my all-time favorite wire artists, Nicole Hanna posted several amazing pendants she did with lampwork Julie sent her.
That, of course, caught my attention immediately. What an O.M.G. totally perfect idea! Why didn't I think of that? Dangit! So, of course, I immediately started thinking about who I should send MY lampwork beads to. Okay, so the idea's not original, but I was at least capable of thinking of a different artist, one who would make my focal beads look as lovely as Julie and Nicole's.
I didn't have to think long.
When I did the Bead Soup Blog Party this year there were a few artists that truly stood out as having magnificent talent (including my partner, Kristin!). Among them, Nancy Dale was my favorite. And, because she's such a great lady, when she did the hop she left amazing comments for everyone and started following everyone's blog. I mean, she's just such a class act!
As fortune would have it, she's also currently a part of the Art Charm Exchange that's being hosted by Jennifer Cameron right now. So, of course, I thought If I'm brave enough, I'm going to send her a Facebook message and ask if she'd be willing to make something with one of my beads and let me do some promotion with the pictures.
As I was working on building up my courage, I was drawn to the common struggle in the Art Charm Exchange over whether or not the charms people were working on were as amazing as possible, partly because the charm exchange is part of an auction to benefit Beads of Courage. November 15th at http://myworld.ebay.com/glassaddictions. Start saving! I was sort of blown away that Nancy was feeling some doubt, too.
I hadn't been nervous about what I sent until I saw that this was the stack of charms that Nancy abandoned in favor of another (to be revealed on the 15th) design.
Not that I don't get nerves. I've ripped apart my fair share of designs, like Stacey's necklace for the third time. But, I worked hard to develop the skills I used to make my charms, so I had been confident about that. Had. Thanks, Nancy ;) But I recognized that I felt inadequacy as an artist in other ways.
So, when people started inquiring about whether Jennifer had a chance to mail our charms, Nancy expressed that she hoped everyone liked her new design. My response?
How could they not? You're crazy talented!
Nancy liked the comment, said it was sweet, and then I got a friend request. Of course I accepted it, but I thought ... that's just Nancy being nice. So, when she said:
OHMYGOSH - I've been following your blog and drooling over everything you make for AGES and here we are just now getting to be friends and I never connected the name with the work! I am now even MORE honored by your lovely comment - thank you sooooo much!!!
Well, gosh nickels, that just made my month! And, needless to say, there is a beautiful bead on it's way to Nancy waiting to become something magnificent.
And, really, when I started writing this blog entry, I had intended just to write about how serendipitous that connection was yesterday. About how what started in my head as a result of my hot headed competitive spirit, made this connection so much more tremendously meaningful because it allowed me to be in the moment and cherish it.
Then, I started thinking about how precious those moments are because of the relative rarity with which they happen. Sometimes in the relative anonymity of the internet it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that we're all just people plugging away, people who want love and attention, people who have insecurities and protect ourselves with the ability to hide away anything we don't want others to know. Connecting with a kindred spirit - even on the internet - keeps me mindful about what it really means to put ourselves out here in cyberspace and share a little about what we do and who we are. Blemishes and all. And that, really, brings us full circle to those people in our lives that we compare ourselves to, who motivate us with their success and our envy. They are imperfect people, too. Plugging away, trying to stay focused.
That got me thinking about why I avoid interacting in this larger community. Because, while I blog and post my things, I don't really interact. A lot of that stems from a feeling of inadequacy, a feeling that people don't see and/or don't like my work, which is, of course, reinforced by not interacting. I think it's important for me - for us - to remember that we all want some recognition, to feel loved and important. Isn't that why we're all on the internet? I think it's more than just a medium for lurking. I know I always feel hesitant to comment on someone's work - someone who probably has no idea who I am, but then I get a comment from someone I don't know and it makes my day. And, of course, discovering that the person to whom you're commenting DOES know who you are, well, that's just priceless, and it doesn't happen unless you do something - something that might be scary.
So, I'm making a commitment to myself - and to this community. I'm going to start interacting more. I'm going to become part of this Lovefest out here, and I'm going to do my part to help enrich it. My competitiveness, and my befriending Nancy, and the circumstances of it all, have helped me to understand that little connections mean more than I allowed myself to imagine, and that I'm allowed to be loved, even with all of my imperfections! So are you!
Thanks for stopping by!