Sunday, September 18, 2016

Small Magic - The Eyes Have It

My dear blog friend Andrea, at Falling Ladies, has begun a monthly collection of stories and experiences of what she has termed as "Small Magic". You can find this month's post by Andrea by clicking HERE:

And the original "Finding Small Magic" Post on her Falling Ladies blog is HERE:

I hope you will take a moment and check them out, add your own (even just a link to a picture or a sentence or two is PLENTY! It need not be as wordy as I tend to be. :)

I have so many ideas for my own contributing posts about "Small Magic" as I feel my life has been, and always will be, filled with it. But for today I am going to tell/retell an old story about one person's kindness and heartfelt advice that, looking back almost 30 years, changed my life in more ways than I can count or ever be thankful to him for.

I applied for my first "real" job when I was 17.  As a busboy at the Italian Restaurant that my mother worked at as hostess, manager, waitress etc. In fact, the restaurant was brand new having been built by the city for the two brother's who owned it because their old, tavern-like Italian restaurant had been torn down to make way for a new steel and glass tower in the heart of the city.  So part of the deal was that they got a 200 seat "supper club", with a parking garage, for nothing but agreeing to give up their corner lot which now is in the middle of the massive downtown office complex.

So, two brothers, Michael and John. Two completely different personalities. In fantasy terms, John would be the Ogre and Michael the High Elf. lol

My mother had gotten me an interview for the position and, even though I look back and know that it was a done deal and I'd get the job, at the time she impressed upon me the need to make a good impression and to do well in the interview. I was terrified the interview would be with John. but, it turned out it was with Michael.

I adored Michael. Whenever I would come into the old, tavern style restaurant he would always take time to say hello, tousle my hair and invite me back into the kitchen and give me a taste of something wonderful. A taste of meatball marinara, a dish of Spumoni Ice Cream, a piece of veal parmesan. . . heaven!

I had no doubt I could do the job. I had been "working" since I was 13. Cutting grass, raking leaves, cleaning gutters, painting and gardening, a newspaper route (remember those?), and even a few shifts working at my great Aunt's Arco service station. So I was confident I could be a busboy.

It was also just a part time "summer job" before my senior year of high school so I felt I couldn't really go wrong. If it was a terrible job, I only had to stick it out three months and then weekends thru the Christmas office party season.

I went to the interview and, to this day, recall none of it. I was nervous, of course, but I do remember feeling fine about the answers I gave and the great sense of relief when it was over. Michael was very professional and shook my hand when I sat down and again when I left.

When my mother got home that night she said she needed to talk to me. I thought I wasn't going to get the job. I was looking forward to the money and the experience so I felt a little disappointed that I might have lost the opportunity.

But I DID get the job. However what she wanted to tell me was that Michael had told her "He's such a good kid and of course he has the job, but you have to tell him he has to look people in the eye when he talks to them."

Apparently I did not look him in the eyes even once after sitting down for the interview. That's probably also why I do not remember a second of it.

Of course, now I look back and I see it all very clearly.

I was far from a shut-in or wall flower. All of my school report cards, grades 4 thru 10 had said some variation of "Great student -  talks too much!" But outside of school every possible moment was spent in my imaginary worlds. It's what got me thru the toughest times in school. Knowing at the end of the day I got to go home and disappear into that endless world of my creation.

But around adults, in the "real" world, yes, I was definitely not comfortable with that. I wanted little or no part of that world and I avoided it like the plague.

But Michael's words that day, spoken out of love and concern for the well being of someone he saw as a bright young man with potential, were something I definitely needed to hear. Something that only  a person looking in from the outside might see clearly. And something only someone with a heart of gold might take the time to mention to my mother for no reason other than he cared.

It shocked my mother as she never noticed that aspect of my personality but, that makes sense too as our family world was small as well. Familiar faces and relations all the time really. Very few strangers or outside influences. And those, so brief and unimportant, that my situational shyness ever attracted any attention.

I took the advice to heart and find that, in looking back, it was invaluable to my future self. Owning coffeehouses, friendship, relationships, managing and running restaurant kitchens. How would I have ever been able to do any of it without that ability to look people in the eye?

And I learned, as many people do, that there is a certain magic and power in that ability to look another human being, especially a stranger, directly in the eye.

And I notice these days that I still tend to drift to this habit. Especially when in the midst of, or just exiting, my creative paracosm and imaginary worlds. It takes me a bit of time to reconnect with the rest of the world and I find myself averting eyes and connections for a bit. Like a swimmer coming up from the depths of the underwater world and taking in all the sound and sight of the land-side world. It takes a moment. Or two. Or more.

Small magic. A big heart. I had the pleasure of working with Michael in that restaurant for two years before he sold his half of the business back to his brother and got out. His leaving opened up the space that I filled working part time in the kitchen and then, as fate would have it, I ended up running the kitchen of the restaurant within a year after that.

I never forgot Michael's words through it all or after all these years and I cannot explain the myriad of ways that advice helped me in life.

And because I think life is cyclical and not linear and that we will be given opportunity after opportunity in life to revisit all our old habits, shortfalls etc etc, I am gifted with that chance every so often. I catch myself looking away or down. I find myself as that 17 year old again disappearing from the "real" world. Then I remember his words. . . his concern. . . and I reconnect with the world around me all over again.

Small magic.

For the work of a lifetime.

And here is a little visual "Small Magic for you too! :
A new gargoyle friend. . . Zunge already found his place of service in a home that has an entire quarry of my gargoyles!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September 1st - New Work

So much going on this month. . . it was an exceptionally busy month. I received a LOT of practice in saying no to custom work I did not wish to take on and I laid the groundwork for several 2017 ideas.

I will get into those more as the new year draws closer but, at the top of the list, I have been toying with one idea in particular for a combination of a limited edition figurine, chapter based story and interactive experience. So a certain character set (say 100 total figurines made over time) that would come with several accessories (scrolls, old spell books, coins, map, staffs, glowing orbs etc etc) and also each would come with the first chapter of a story which revolves around the whole group of figurines, their reason for their journey to our world and their quest while here.  Then, perhaps every two months the next "chapter" of the story would be sent to anyone who purchased a figurine. Each might include a "mission" for the owners of the figurines to be a part of (photographing their figurine in a certain type of location or sending field reports back to the "base" here at Bewilder and Pine either of which may become included in future chapters!) The goal being writing the story in 12 chapters over 2 years and letting it evolve naturally over that time too.

 Each chapter would arrive via mail and include another little "something special" for the buyer/figurine. Anyway, more on that to come as it is just in the early stages of planning. . . so much to figure out such as pricing for mailing 11 successive chapters to people all over the world but I think the shop has the credibility and longevity now to pull it off.

Most of this comes from the reaction I get to the little stories, scrolls etc that I often include with almost everything that comes out of Bewilder and Pine. Customers write and say that on one hand I should "advertise" those little extras in the listings and photos but, on the other hand, they are so happy to open the box and receive little fairy messages, booklets/stories etc when they are unexpected "extras".  When all is said and done, the figurines might be all sold out at some point but I'd have another short, 12 chapter book to offer, hand-bound in it's complete form, as well.

They're small and just a little added touch but it got me to thinking that I could offer something so much larger and actually more immersive, for those who truly get into that experience.

For this month I have little actual new work to show but here are a few of the things I enjoyed/enjoy making most this past month!

An original design - Auset/Isis Altar Statue, I had not made on in a year or more and of course, when it is done, I ask myself "Why is that?"  lol

I've said it before but I NEVER tire of making this guy, Bes, a multifaceted protector deity. I am surprised how many different reasons people buy this form for. Everything from new house protection to baby/birth/pregnancy protection to a desire to ward off bad dreams.  

On the Fairy side of things, I never tire of making these Mossy Lane Fairy houses. It's interesting to look back and see how they change and evolve in little ways over the last 5 years.

And it's always the least expected things that I get repeat requests for. The fact that these little houses sit on their own little wooden platform, above the landscape and with the tiny stairs, seems to appeal to SO many people! I never could have guessed that.

Always a favorite too is Sekhmet. A fiercely protective, but loving, lioness companion deity. 

And lastly, I am trying to get these stocked for the holiday rush to come (and that's all too soon!)  they seem to find homes so quickly though. . . I'd love to be able to have them available in maybe eight pearl colors in the shop all at once. :) 

So that's the scoop for now. Hoping everyone is ready for the autumn season ahead (or spring if you are down under) It's my favorite season, always, and I could not be more ready for the autumn chill and the end of the tourist season around here. All the little woodland paths and hideaways as well as the beaches. . . will all be deserted again. : )

Thank you, as always, for dropping by!

Until the next. . .