Paying attention to how beads are strung together, I’ve learned a few things about life this last week, a week of feeling at loose ends. A week of not feeling motivated to do anything, but not wanting to do nothing. The loose ends of an inherited beading project were a wonderful solace; an opportunity to sort through the large assortment of beads my friend Jan in Ohio had sent for the ladies at the Lighthouse. And to look closely at the beaded necklace she’d begun.

To be honest, I’ve been reluctant to let the ladies loose with this recent wonderful gift of lampwork beads, assorted shapes of small and medium beads, and an abundant assortment of seed beads and findings. With a prior exceedingly generous donation of beads, they were inclined to scoop up their favorite large or mid size focal beads for exclusive use in a single project. The women have had a lot of pleasure making jewelry for themselves, family members and friends. They’ve even created some dazzling jewelry for the up-coming Rags to Riches fashion show fundraiser for the Lighthouse on September 29. But we’re going through beads like nobody’s business. And the last time I checked beads didn’t grow on trees. I’m feeling a wee bit protective and possessive.

That’s why paying attention to what Jan had begun was so important.  She’d spaced mid-size faceted and novelty beads with small metal balls, bugle and seed beads. Lots of little bits and pieces. When a fancy rondelle or faceted bead was strung on a loose end, it added pop to the growing composition of smaller beads. And it allowed me to spread out the limited number of mid range accent beads available. Seed beads and bugle beads aren’t all that interesting in themselves. but those little bits and pieces, the spacers, were telling me they’re just as important, perhaps more important than the big focal bead in the overall composition of a necklace. Sort of like life.

When I think about the “focal beads” of my life, I’m likely to think about major life events – births, weddings, deaths, graduations, moves, maybe adventures. But I’m also likely to think about what I call defining moments – crises or traumas that have an impact on how and what I do with my life. Those are the big beads. But when I finished my “loose ends” necklace, I was struck by how the small spacer and seed beads brought a random harmony to the wholeness of it all. And were necessary. Oh, so necessary.

Like a string of gratitudes that connect the loose ending of this day and the unstrung beginning of the next. Like the spontaneous road trip with a long time friend. Like the lively lunch with laughter of a blossoming friendship. Like the idle comment to the woman waiting in line that led to mutual recognition and appreciation. Like the “I remember you” blurted when again spotting the older woman know about town for wearing a crushed velour Madhatter’s hat. 

Previously, we’d met near a Starbucks when I asked her to tell me about her hat. Moving  frequently  over a lifetime, it was difficult to meet people until she’d donned her whimsical hat. Children would talk to her in wonder, regulars would greet her, complete strangers would stop and talk. We inquired of one another’s health, and when we parted she quietly said, “Thank you for remembering. That means a lot to me.” It was one of those exceedingly little beads that accented the space between us. For her feeling seen and remembered. For me no longer feeling at loose ends. Bead by bead. Every little bit helps.

If you were to string the small spacer and seed beads, the little bits of your life, between the bigger focal beads, the major events of your life, what would you include? What ordinary, routine, mundane bits would they represent? What emotions might the color of your beads express? In what ways do these little bits bring harmony into the wholeness of your life? What would you name your beaded creation?

Thank you for all the wonderful, thoughtful, moving comments from last week’s post. Looking forward to more.



5 comments to Bits

  • Jan

    When one has been married four times, as I have, with several significant long-term relationships thrown into the soup, it’s hard to look past all the hurts and hardships – the losses. Lately I’ve been trying to look back and find little pearls of goodness through the years.

    First marriage gave me my children. Second marriage took me to D.C., where I was able to complete my education. Third marriage gave me the opportunity to try many new ways of living (jobs, locale, the courage to say “I won’t be treated this way any more”). Fourth marriage gave me, finally, love and happiness and a sense of belonging, along with the incredible sense of accomplishment and a job-well-done in walking alongside my husband on his 21-month passage from prostate cancer diagnosis to death.

    Each relationship, each hardship, each moment of happiness–they all built upon each other, brick upon brick, to make me who I am today. Sometimes I don’t feel I have a sense of who that person is, but I’m still able to put one foot in front of another and be a help to those around me.

    To me, that’s what’s important. Helping.

  • Norrene

    My bead feels a cannonball. I just can’t find it.

  • Nicole

    What a wonderful analogy, Lynne! Those little beads are what keep us centered in life. A necklace, just like life, is more attractive and balanced when there are small and routine elements to separate the big events. Sometimes you need those boring, feel like doing nothing days to balance the busy ones.

  • Deanna Bowling

    I am currently on the hunt for some “bling” for a sewing project that I am working on. The problem is that, one, I can’t find what I think I want, and two, remembering that the finished product isn’t for me makes me stop again and again to remember the perspectives I need in finishing the project. I was talking to our latest room mate last evening about interruptions, and he reminded me that in the interruptions come opportunities. The big beads to me speak to the larger goals in my life, the little beads the interruptions. Sometimes I need the interruptions to guide my choice of my larger goals.

  • Jeannie Cavender

    This message was particularly poignant for me. I have had signficant focus in my life for a number years with continuing education programs and more recently the challenges and care of a wonderful elderly mother. She passed away in August and I am faced with alot of “spaces” – many of which I am not sure how to fill, even want to fill or am expected to fill. I am not sure what my string needs to look like but appreciate the metaphor of creating a new string but without discarding old beads.

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