On Being Broke & Why I love Sea Glass...
Going back to school in your 30s is not easy. Least of which is the toll this kind of commitment takes on your pocket book! There have been many compromises and it's been tough at times. However, that being said, there are some finer points as well. Being broke can actually open new doors, make you see the world in a different light and improve your life over the long run.
Sound crazy? Perhaps... but then again, there are so many things in my life that would never have happened had I not been broke. People that I never would have met, acts of kindness that reaffirmed my faith in humanity never would have happened and experiences that would never have taken place and ideas that would have never occur let alone become realized.
There have been many great and wonderful times in my life that would have never happened if I was was in a stable, well paying job with a fat bank account. While I don't wish for anyone to struggle or feel the pinch of having less than a dollar in their bank account, at the same time I can't help but admit that there are moments in my life that - due to being broke - I wouldn't change for the world.
Being broke also makes a person - or at least me - resourceful. There are risks that I took because I had nothing to lose. Little things that I took pleasure in that might otherwise be overlooked. The beauty of a sun rise, growing your own food, the joys of gathering wild foods, making something out of nothing. Sleeping under the stars on a beautiful beach (until the manager finds you in the morning!) or being forced to sleep on a park bench because - little did you know - the hostel was closed and the hotels cost over 100 Euro a night! Then being adopted by a lovely Italian family after asking where to buy good (and cheap!) pizza in a little town called Alberobello (and yes, Antonella if you ever come across this blog I remember your family well and there will always be a special place in my heart for you!) There was hitch-hiking in Africa and the lovely Zambian man who picked me up at the border, drove me over 8 hours to Francistown all the while regailing me with his stories of being a minister in the United States, telling me about his family and being kind enough to stop the truck every time we saw an elephant by the side of the highway!
Although I often struggle and often get frustrated, stressed and depressed about being broke and the difficulty of pursuing a dream, these are experiences that - looking back - I wouldn't trade for the world.
Where is the link to my jewelry and Treasure Trunk Designs? Good question. Maybe you're interested... or maybe not (to the 550 post views, a dozen countries skimming past my blog and yet only 8 official 'followers' - one of which is me!) But a blog is a blog is a blog and in the end seems to be the type of ranting and babble that a private journal is made of so I will go ahead and admit a somewhat embarrassing story of being poor, alone and heart broken on an island that most people would consider a paradise.
Without money, hungry and in a very tenuous living condition I was too stubborn to give up on a volunteer project that I had put my heart, soul, time and every penny left in my student line-of-credit! That being said - when I wasn't working - I spent a lot of time wandering, thinking and trying to appreciate the little things in life. During this time, I discovered a piece of glass hidden in the sand, sea weed, stones and a plethora of broken shells and the occasional wayward flip flop that someone must have lost when the tides rolled in and out. Glimmering in the sun I couldn't resist picking it up, turning it about in my hands and admiring the effects of the sand, the sea and the tumbling motion of the waves on this chunk of glass. A broken vessel, plate, window pane or only God knows what, that has been tossed into the ocean. Once someone's garbage, this bit of forgotten glass had become my treasure.
I started to look out for these tiny treasures and would pick them up, take them home, wash them, sort them into different piles according to shape or colour. Each one would be analyzed and I would wonder where it had come from, how old was it and what did it used to be?
Soon I had filled shoe boxes with the stuff. But what to do with it? Yet another dust collector? My practical side told me that it's garbage and to throw it out! Nevertheless, I couldn't part with my tiny treasures.
One day the idea crossed my mind to make jewelry with the sea glass I had found. I had never made jewerly before and had no idea where to begin. Although there were two jewelry supply shops on the island, they were expensive and had very little stock to choose from. So my first pieces of jewelry were made with standard electrical wire. That's right. Electrical wire which I would wrap and twist by hand all the while tearing up my fingers! The addition of a tiny pair of pliars and wire cutters made a world of difference. But living alongside the ocean didn't flatter my jewelry much! Within a few months, this varnished copper wire - nicked, scratched and left exposed to the salty sea air became covered in a goopy and unattractive green! It seems the salty ocean air had sped up the oxidization process by a million percent. How frustrating... time to try again! And try, try again I did.
Since those initial days, my jewelry has evolved to include gemstones, sterling silver, fine silver clay, gold and a mish mash of equipment, tools, a facebook page, an online store and even a blog ;) But my favourite aspect of TTD will always be my beautiful sea glass.
Tossed to the sea as garbage, pushed and banged about, broken, scraped, rolled and buried in the sand. Sea glass is a forgotten treasure just waiting to be found, loved and appreciated for all of it's beauty.
Maybe sea glass is a little like me...