Thursday, 20 March 2008

Photographs and displays

I have spent the last couple of days getting to grips with better photographs and I think I am finally getting there. There is of course still room for improvement as I am getting the light and other bits and pieces reflected in the stones. I have a lot more to replace but I can do them over the next week.
This is a photo of a piece I made today - a puffed heart of Amethyst strung with Aventurine, Rose Quartz and Opal. The amethyst is very dark and haha it all looks better than my photograph. I prefer it that way to some extent though as when people receive them they are extra pleased. I remember years ago buying some Amethyst earrings off Ebay and being so disappointed when they arrived as they were so tiny. To be fair to the seller they had added the dimensions to the description, but we are all swayed by the visual aren't we?
I also made this one which is Blue Jade with Quartz Crystal and faceted glass. Blue is one of my favourite colours to wear. Can you remember the old adage blue for boys, pink for girls? It seems to have gone by the way now and it seems anything goes. As I was growing up the division between the sexes was also much more marked than it is today and the expectation of us to be masculine or feminine was much greater too. My brother Mick washed his hair with soap because "shampoo was for sissies" and wearing anything pink would not even have been considered. In his 5os though pink became his favourite colour and he would laugh and say "Hey Chrissy don't ya just love me pink shirt?" I should add very few people would call me Chrissy - his full pet name for me was Sissy Chrissy - I wish we had smilies on here as I am smiling at the memory. Our shared sense of humour helped us through so many hard times and memories of the crazy things he did helps me to remember him with joy now.
I think because the later part of our childhood was so oppressed and suppressed we would revert back to childish things as adults. I remember when Mark was about 3 he came to visit and we invented a game with a gun which fired ping pong balls. We would aim it at a copper plaque we had on the wall and the aim was to knock it off . I know it sounds easy but because the ping pong balls were so light and the firing mechanism weak there was a definite art in hitting the plaque at the right angle right on the edge in order to make it fall. He would hide the gun behind a cushion and we would be watching a film or something on TV and he would whip out the gun and blast the plaque- we would set off laughing so hard. Mark's dad didn't always see the funny side of it haha.
Although life before dad remarried was hard it wasn't cruel. We would make a game of the jobs we had to do. We had to polish the floors so would tie dusters to our feet and pretend we were ice skaters. And lighting the fire was a big adventure. Now I know this will not be seen as politically correct now but we are talking early 196os and lads of his age were still influenced by the 2ndWorld War, probably because of all the films which came out post war. When he laid the fire he would first of all scrunch up newspaper and then carefully arrange sticks over them, followed by small pieces of coal. He would always build a bridge of sticks and then light the paper . As the flames caught hold he would give a running commentary and we would "watch" as the Japanese soldiers perished as the bridge collapsed in flames. Years later he would laugh about the hot water situation. As dad was a miner then we got a free supply of coal and often the water would boil and we would have to run it off . "How come " he asked me, "when we had such a plentiful supply of hot water, did you and Julie have to share a bath?" We never understood that but laughed heartily at the irony of it all.....

I thought I would show you a picture of this display stand I use. I bought a wine rack at a Charity Shop for 50p and it had 4 of these to slot bottles into. They easily twisted off the stand and just needed a little bit of filing where they had been attached. They are useful for smaller items like handbag charms, bracelets and key rings .

It is never too late to have a happy childhood

Tom Robbins

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Impulses and Visions

I have been to the warehouse today to buy more beads and findings and yes, I bought more on impulse than was good for my bank account. It's going to be a busy week getting some new designs made but I am looking forward to it. Sorry that I can't show you pictures but the batteries for the camera are dead.
Have you ever done anything on impulse, knowing that it was the right thing for you? I often have but I think the best and biggest example I can offer you is one impulse I acted on back in 1986.
One Wednesday in June we had gone to the local pub for the Quiz night. There was a group of us who met regularly and it was always a fun night. This particular night I got talking to someone called Pat who was a lecturer at the local college. She told me about a 2 year Diploma course offered at High Melton in Doncaster which, with an additional year at University, led to a degree. As soon as she told me about it I just knew I had to get onto this course. The following day I rang the college to ask about admissions for the September intake, to be told that the last interviews were being held on the Friday and that basically I was way too late in applying. Being the persuasive person I am I somehow managed to wangle an interview for the Friday. It took me all morning to get there as I was learning to drive at the time and the bus service to the campus was terrible. However, I wowed the interviewers and was offered a place.
My ex husband thought I was mad and placed before me all the obstacles which I would face, including the issue of transport but I would hear none of his objections. I was confident that there would be someone else from Barnsley attending who could offer me a lift and told him that within the 1st week I would have that solved. And I did!
Despite all the what ifs and maybes I just knew it would all work out and 3 years later, by then a single parent of 2, I gained my BA(Hons) with a healthy 2:1. At the time I was still in denial, trying to pretend I was part of a wider happy family so rang my Dad from a phone box over Woodhead Pass to give him my results.
"Oh I suppose that means you are cleverer than me" was his response. I bit my tongue, counted to ten and replied "I don't think that was ever in doubt"
Towards the end of last year I had another compelling vision which would involve quite radical changes for us. So far I have done little to make it a reality and for now continue to dream and wonder and plan in my mind how it can come about and what it will look like once it has happened. I hold onto the dream.

Vision - It reaches beyond the thing that is, into the conception of what can be. Imagination gives you the picture. Vision gives you the impulse to make the picture your own.
Robert Collier

Friday, 14 March 2008

More birthdays and a child is found

Today is Alfie's first birthday - he is Mark's youngest and my 5th grandchild. That's him with Reagan who will be 10 in November. Their brother Lewis is just out of the shot and he's 2. I will post a picture of him soon and I will come back to the story of grandchildren after I have shared some wonderful news with you.
Here in Yorkshire our local BBC news programme is called Look North and for almost a month the big story has been the disappearance of a 9 year old girl called Shannon Matthews. The Police have maintained a massive presence on the case and the local community in Dewsbury have really come together to ensure that she has remained in the forefront of every one's thoughts. Imagine the delight to hear today that she has been found alive. A man has been arrested for her abduction and goodness knows what this child has endured but thank God she is now in safe and loving hands and the family can start to put their lives back together again.
Our family has connections with Dewsbury which go way back to the 17th century. On the 40th anniversary of my mam's passing I felt I had to do something in her honour and so began tracing the family tree, with the focus on my mam's family name of Hutchinson. My grandad, Harry Hutchinson, had always maintained that we had Scottish roots and despite being a Yorkshire man through and through, when the First World War broke out he made his way to Perth to enlist in the Black Watch. He served until 1915 when he was shot in the leg and on recovery was sent home.
Me ,my brother Mick and my sister Julie always used to play what we call "Can you remember when?" and I recall talking to Mick once about Grandad's injury , as I only knew about it when I saw a copy of his discharge papers.
"But Chris, you must remember " he said, "He used to roll up his trousers leg and show us where the bullet went in and the bullet came out" . Now I have a truly amazing memory and I know for certain he never showed me his war wound so we concluded that Grandad must have felt such things were not for lasses to witness. How times have changed haha.
My Grandad was the kindest, sweetest soul and my greatest fear when I was "exiled" in Morecambe was that I would come to visit him and he would have been taken over by an imposter. I could never resist checking to see if he still had the mole on his neck - just in case . I don't remember many conversations with him. For me it was enough just to be in his presence. As a tot I would sit and watch him working in the outhouse, which was his workshop. He could turn his hand to anything and he always smelled of a mixture of sawdust and Coal Tar soap. When we went to the Post Office to collect his pension he would buy me Cherry Lips. I always felt my Mam was closer when I was around him. He lived to be 82 which for his generation was a good innings. His brother Arnold perished on the Somme and his name is on the Cenotaph in Dodworth.
As I stripped back the years unearthing our family history I became so acutely aware of how important that bullet had been - as it gave life to so many of us. But I digress and need to get back to the Dewsbury connection. My trail of the tree came to a halt in 1763 with the birth of George Hutchinson, allegedly the son of George and Mary. Despite every search there appears to be no such couple but there is Henry and Mary who went on to have numerous more children. I have to conclude that the record is wrong and that George's father was indeed Henry, who I can trace back to Dewsbury. And this leads us also to conclude how strong our oral history is, given that we still cannot find when or how we left Scotland. Interestingly, a distant cousin I met in Lancashire also adds evidence towards our Scottish roots. Her branch of the family left Yorkshire for Lancashire, when the Linen trade was overtaken by mining. Ruth was in her 80s when I met her and she had always been told we were driven out of Glencoe for sheep stealing.
So, time to get back to the subject of grandchildren. Olivia, my daughter's elder child is 13 in August. She was supposed to be my 40th birthday present but she was a little late arriving. The day I saw her in the hospital was an extremely spiritual experience for me. Now at the time I wouldn't have used that term as I only seriously began to take notice of my mediumship abilities several years after. In fact if anyone had said to me back then that I am a medium I would have laughed my proverbial socks off.
To explain my experience I do need to talk a little about mediumship too so that you can grasp what I am trying to say. Now, if you have ever seen a Medium working they say things like " I see your grandmother by your side" or "She is telling me that you need a holiday" and when I started to sit in Circle I would sit there expecting someone (ie spirit) to come up to me and say "Hi, I'm John and I am Sandra's dad" etc etc, so when this didn't happen I felt I was unable to communicate. What I began to realise though is that the language they use is not really the reality of how they feel spirit. Very few mediums see spirit like we see living people. The majority see in flashes within the mind. Ok that's enough of the technical stuff.
So this day in the hospital Laura stood there and handed me Olivia and I had an experience which was dream like. Have you ever looked at a painting and within the painting there is a mirror - so the scene is reflected in the mirror? This is the kind of thing I experienced but within the mirror in my mind I saw my Mam , my Gramma (pronounced like Grammar) her mam and a whole line of women stretching back through the years.
I have always written poetry and wanted to capture that feeling in verse and it took me 6 years to finally write down how it was for me that day. So today , rather than end on a quote I share with you my poem.
She stands before me in her tartan dressing gown
The image of me at 19
She hands me the tiny bundle
The image of her when newborn
I look in awe at her perfection
And see within the scene the mirror behind us
And there they line up looking beyond
To the scene of their own creations
To an outsider it would seem like something was amiss
A time anomaly between the image and the reflection
But the reflection is as it should be
And her reflection goes back to her mother
And her mother’s mother
And her grandmother’s mother
And on and on and back and forth
Separate and separated
but never apart
united by love

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Birthdays and Old Friends

Today is my son Mark's birthday and he's 33 which is so hard to believe. Where have all those years gone I have to wonder. But then wondering, I realise how much I have packed into those 33 years and how I have changed and grown --- and of course hopes that I have years ahead of more growth and change. On balance I should have as I am only 52.
I married Mark's dad in 1973 at the grand age of 18 and Mark was born 19 months later and I have to say I was so very happy. I used to have to pinch myself as I couldn't believe I was part of a family. Every morning I would leap out of bed, full of the joys of what a new day would bring- and the delight of watching my son flourish. He was such a happy baby and a pram stopper. We lived a 5 minute walk from town so I would take him in his pram shopping and people would stop and comment on his beautiful smile and happy disposition.
At 16 I had been thrown out by my dad's second wife. We lived in Morecambe in Lancashire at this time as they had moved there to start a new life after their wedding in 1965. I left with 2 carrier bags - the sum total of all I possessed and walked to my friend's house about 2 miles away. Helen's mum was a great woman and made room for me in her home, where I stayed for a few months before returning to Barnsley where I had been born. My Aunty Sally wrote to Helen's mum to thank her . My Aunty Sally was an amazing woman - I will tell you more about her another time.
Helen eventually emigrated to Canada and we met up a few years ago when she flew home when her mum was dying. Sadly, by the time she arrived in the UK her mum had already gone so it was quite a reunion given the circumstances. However, real love and friendship knows no barriers and 30 years on our friendship was no different. On the Saturday night we went out for a slap up meal along with Roz. We had been like the 3 musketeers and picked up as if there had never been any gap in our friendships. Naturally we never shut up as we filled each other in on what we had been up to in the intervening years. That night Helen and I shared a room again and we talked long into the night. The next morning we awoke at the same time and I propped myself up in bed and looked across the room at her and we both just burst out laughing. I am smiling at the memories as I write this.
A few months ago Helen got in touch as she had found my Reiki website and asked how I got into it all. I never got back to her because I thought it was too big a story and didn't know where to begin. I think I finally know how to share that story so I must email her tonight and let her know.
So to today's quote...
A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Dandelions and Displays

As I sit here the wind is howling and hail is lashing the windows and I am thinking to myself do I really want to talk about my personal sign of Spring? However, as I have been musing since the sighting this morning I will carry on regardless.
I had to drive to town today as Blaize, our Border Lakeland terrier (sic) was booked in for a full grooming session. I say (sic) because she was the runt of the litter and is about a quarter of the size usual for the breed. She also has an undershot jaw so it was quite amusing when as a pup the vet asked would she be spayed or did we intend to breed from her. I have to say the vet was very professional, even when I burst out laughing and asked "Well would you ? "
As I was edging out of the village in the usual traffic jam to get onto the road into town I saw my first dandelion of the year. Now I know they are classed as weeds but if you ever stop to really look at one you will begin to see how beautiful they really are. First of all we have the vivid colour - you don't get much sassier than this vibrant yellow flower. Secondly we have the beautiful symmetry of the petals which form the head of the flower, and I guess thirdly we also have the fun of playing "What time is it?" once the petals fade to the seed head.
Dandelions are special to me for another reason too. They are part of the precious memories I have of my Mam. I say precious because she passed just before my 4th birthday. I used to pick her handfuls and she would always warn me that I may wet the bed. I suppose with the wisdom of my age I can see how that could be so as they are a natural diuretic. I also used to pick daisies and she showed me how to make daisy chains and we would sit in the park adorning each other with garlands. What is it with Mams and flowers? I can't look at bluebells without thinking of her too. Beautiful memories. There is another wildflower which I am unsure of the proper name- it was known colloquially as Mother Die. When I was about 9 I was obsessed that maybe I had picked some and that was why she had died.

After I dropped Blaize at the groomers I went and cruised the charity shops in town and found an interesting gizmo which I thought I may be able to use to display earrings on. I am always on the lookout for alternatives to professional displays which I can't afford - 20p was within my budget . I have no idea what its original purpose was, if it had one at all haha and I am sure it will look better filled with earrings but these are all I have here at the moment.
I just did a quick search and the Mother Die is called Queen Anne's Lace . I found this interesting website about wildflowers which I will explore later.

I also found the perfect quote for today too.

“This very moment is a seed from which the flowers of tomorrow's happiness grow.” Margaret Lindsey

Monday, 10 March 2008

Healing Story

When new students approach me to ask about Reiki training it often involves several phone calls to discuss things before they decide to go ahead and this was the case with a student I will call P, although each time we spoke I wanted to call her R. On her third call we made plans for her Level 2 she told me she knew the road I lived on as her parents lived on it. It was at this point I asked if she was R's daughter to which she said yes. It turned out that we kind of knew each other as I have known her parents since I was 17. I had to smile to myself as I thought "Well maybe I am psychic? "
I bumped into P today in Asda and we stopped for a quick chat and I asked after her parents. She told me about her dad and how seriously ill he had been. He was rushed into hospital in January and they had told the family to stay, as it appeared there was no hope for him. In the ambulance his blood pressure was 200 and something over 100 and something (Apologies for the lack of precision here but anyone who knows me knows I have this inability to retain numbers ) .
Throughout the journey to hospital and in there, P continued to give him Reiki healing and he survived 5 critical points and recovered sufficiently for them to operate on his heart and he is now home recovering slowly. His consultant claimed his survival was a miracle.
Driving home I was smiling to myself and so happy for P, for what greater confirmation can a Reiki student have than witnessing results like this? But I also realised how opportune the meeting was too, because I am planning a class for Thursday evening on Like Mindz, where we will be focusing on 2 key questions the students have raised , which are:
  1. What can happen through healing?
  2. Can anyone become a healer?
I had thought of using examples from the work of Harry Edwards and some from my own work. Harry Edwards is my hero - he is a pioneer in Spiritual Healing and set up a Healing Sanctuary which continues to thrive long after his passing.

Harry Edwards
However, this example given to me today can go some way to answering both of the questions I need to address and just makes me marvel at how the universe does provide for us. And talking of the universe leads me nicely to a quote of another of my heroes, Albert Einstein
A human being is a part of a whole, called by us
'universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his
thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical
delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us,
restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons
nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening
our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature
in its beauty.

Sunday, 9 March 2008


Well, I have had a very productive week all in all, which is great after weeks, months even of stagnation. I need to prepare for the South Yorkshire Open Arts Festival as my work is being exhibited as part of it. Officially it is 3rd to 5th of May but my work is already within the gallery at Swinton Lock and it's time to totally change the display there.
When I first started making jewellery I was a bit of a purist and only made items with one gemstone or crystal. Of course, this was because it was the healing properties of the stones which was my key interest. However, since then I have become more adventurous combining the stones in more creative ways. I particularly like this combination of small Amethyst nuggets teamed with tiny chips of Peridot - it reminds me of the crocus.

I stripped down the Black Banded Agate which I showed you here a few days ago and came up with this combination, teamed up with Mother of Pearl and some rounds of the Black Banded Agate

The next image shows some examples which are a total shift for me- talk about funky!
These are a range of dyed shell and jade. The 2 on the right look much nicer on as the shells fan out and strut their stuff more. The green stones on the 2 on the right remind me of Tutti Fruttis.

I think my favorite of this week's production is this next one which is Calcite, Peridot and Orange Moonstone. The Calcite had originally been teamed with Bali Silver spacers but I prefer it as it is now.

I thought I would close with another quote - I collect quotes..... and dust lol. I have a good dust story but will save that for another time

"Your only limitations are those you set up in your mind, or permit others to set up for you."

-- Og Mandino

Friday, 7 March 2008

The Last Rolo

I was reminded of one of my favourite quotes last night during an online teaching session which I do each week on a Thursday evening at 9.30 on my friend Jo's site Like Mindz.
I teach Reiki and this naturally leads to discussions of other forms of alternative or complimentary healing. A student asked me "Can anyone become a healer?" and I began by saying "Yes of course, they can I am nothing special" quickly followed by " Sorry I am special - - - we all are" which of course raised a laugh.
But reflecting today I realised how far I have come in recognising that I am special - I should add it was a long time coming haha. Over the last 5 years or so I have really focused on making me a happier, healthier person and this has included counselling, self healing through Reiki, talking to many like minded people and also a lot of study and extensive reading.
One of the most profoundly moving books I read was given to me as a gift by my friend Sue when we met at a seminar last September. When I Loved Myself Enough is a beautiful book and was initially a hand made and self-published book by Alison McMillen who wanted as many people as possible to read the wise words of her mother, Kim who had written the words as she was terminally ill.
Here are a few examples from it
  • When I loved myself enough, I could tell the truth about my gifts and limitations.
  • When I loved myself enough I quit having to be right, which makes being wrong meaningless.
  • When I loved myself enough, I came to know I am worthy of knowing God directly.
The evening after I had read the book several of us were in the hotel dining room and there was one chocolate left. I remember looking at it longingly but being the polite person I am I resisted taking it. Then some of the words of the book echoed within me and as I reached to take it I said proudly " I love myself enough to take this last chocolate". Everyone laughed of course but Sue cheered, knowing that her gift had had the impact she intended.

I also got to thinking about how so many people limit themselves and cannot see the beautiful, special person which they are . How we all can get hung up on old ways of thinking and feeling, often based on life's experiences which have in many cases been extreme challenges. So here I offer you the beautiful words of Marianne Williamson, in the hope that it resonates within you and allows you to glimpse how very special you are.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Marianne Williamson

Thursday, 6 March 2008

A First Attempt at Wire Work

About 2 years ago my friend Marca gave me a book on wirework and to date the only thing I ever used from it was how to make a perfect loop.
Today however I was determined to spend all my time working with wire, so this morning after 2 mugs of coffee I set about to make a necklace.
I used copper wire bought from Maplin's at just over £5 for 250g - it seems very reasonable to me.
It took me about 5 hours to make so if I plan to sell designs like this then I need to get up to speed. This is what I created. It is Black Banded Agate and each bead is absolutely awesome.
The clasp can't be seen easily on the picture but it is an S Hook with a round Black Banded Agate bead at its centre.
I am now wearing it to test out the integrity of the construction - well I am also wearing it as I absolutely love it and this one is for me. I feel that I need lots of practice before I use Sterling Silver wire but one thing I learned from today was that it would be better to wrap all the beads and then do all the connecting pieces.
I was making them alternatively and because this is all new to me I had to really think which way I was supposed to be wrapping my figures of 8.
In order to reduce waste I was working off the reel and this seemed to work well . I have a real thing about wastage, especially when we are working with the world's natural resources.
I really enjoyed making this and then remembered I had some stone donuts upstairs .
I have had them ages and to be honest was beginning to think I would sell them as I had not had the inspiration of what to do with them.
Here are the results of my little play about.

I think they are cool and funky.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Tripods and Tumblers

My tripod arrived today and I have had a play with it. A thank you to friends on the UK Beaders Forum for help and advice as to be honest I had no idea what techncial terms I needed to look for. I am quite impressed with the improvements in my pictures so far but I know I have a long way to go. I really need to order a Kodak battery for my camera as currently I am using other rechargeables and they only last for about 20 shots and then it's a long wait until they are recharged. I found the other 2 though so with 4 on the go I should get enough shots to play with before I get bored.
The picture with the seagrass background was taken with the tripod, the other without. I know the backgrounds can make a difference but I'm sure the tripod one is better in terms of depth and definition

I have also loaded the tumbler with more beads today. I bought it just before Christmas and initially I was disappointed with the results I was getting, but yesterday decided to try some of the duller tumbled stones alongside highly polished ones. Here are the results of that using Tree Agate.

Tomorrow I plan to tackle an idea I have had in my head for some time - I have a string of Black Banded Agate . ... whoppers they are, and I have just sat gloating over them for a few weeks now. They are absolutely beautiful and I just hope I do them justice.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008


Hi and welcome to my Blogg.
It is fair to say I have 2 key strings to my bow. First and foremost I am a Usui Reiki Master Teacher and practice in Barnsley South Yorkshire. Reiki is a form of healing based on the ancient Japanese form of healing called Teate. Literally, Reiki means Universal Life Force and its foundation is accredited to Mikao Usui (1865-1926), a Tendai Buddhist. It is a way of working with and channelling universal energy in order to bring about increased energy levels and healing. In other systems, this energy is also referred to as Chi or prana.
From an Eastern viewpoint energy does not just flow through us but is also all around us and is generated from all living forms. Interestingly traditional science is also arriving at this view through string theory which proposes that all matter is comprised of energy which vibrates at different frequencies.
A Reiki practitioner connects with and channels this universal energy and transfers it through their hands to the person, animal or object which they are working on. And the beauty of it all is that anyone can learn how to tap into this wonderful,loving and healing energy.

The picture is of my Healing Room which is always tidy (more on this later)Further details of Reiki can be found here on my website dedicated to Reiki.

Secondly I design and hand craft jewellery using natural gemstones, crystals and vintage beads. I got into the jewellery quite by accident and I am now hooked. It took me ages to think of a name for my designs, but with the help of some online friends I arrived at the name of Kiamyka. Kia is an ancient African word which means spirit within and myka is a play on the word mica which is stone. So there we have it, stones for your inner spirit.
My workspace for my jewellery is chaos! I have always been a messy worker and it appears I can't work unless I have a mess around me. I remember years ago I tidied my desk at work before I went on holiday and someone came into my office and asked if I were leaving. So if you are of a nervous disposition close your eyes now!

Well I did warn you !