11 October 2014

Opportunities Knocking

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face...
You must do the thing you cannot do.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

It's all about saying yes to the thing you think you cannot do.

Jean Campbell, someone that I have followed and admired for many years, contacted me with a short and cryptic message about an opportunity. If you don't know who Miss Jean is, she is an artist and writer who has written numerous books, including Steampunk Style Jewelry, and is the originator of the magazines Beadwork and Stringing, as well as their founding editor. I recall that when Jean and I first spoke I was surprised that she knew who I was. Of course, I have been in the pages of Stringing and even in a few books here and there, so it shouldn't be a complete surprise that my name would be familiar. But Miss Jean told me that every time she has a staff meeting with her Interweave colleagues my name comes up. Now THAT was a surprise to me!

Jean Campbell is so very sweet - and she is sharing in the filming of the Flashes of Brilliance video.

We ended up talking on September 2nd. I don't normally take cell phone calls at work, but this one seemed like something I should break my ban on. Miss Jean wanted to discuss the website Craft Daily. This site from F+W Media is a subscription-based service delivering streaming video content from some of the top names in a variety of creative mediums, from beading and knitting to mixed media and weaving. I have to confess that I had never heard of it until she told me about it, but it makes perfect sense. As much as I love my magazines, the world today is filled with people who want it now, delivered to their laptops and iPads and even their smartphones. And while there is a glut of content out there, it isn't always worth a watch. I want to know that I am learning from established teachers in the medium. And I trust the content from F+W Media. What I liked about Craft Daily as I looked around is the way the content is delivered not to mention the amazing pool of talent that they have assembled.

The opportunity was this: fly out to Fort Collins, CO to the F+W Media offices to film four hour-long craft videos for distribution through their marketing channels. Would I be interested? If so, there happened to be an unexpected opening on September 25-26 in the production studio.

Now if you have followed me for any length of time, you know that making jewelry is what I call 'my 9-midnight foolishness.' Of course, it has taken over just about every room of the house, and likely more hours than that. And I do have a mostly full-time job and a very busy family. I had to consider this very quickly, but I didn't deliberate long.

Setting up the work space.
I thanked Miss Jean and told her that I believed that doors of opportunity are opening around us all the time. We need to have the vision to see what is on the other side, but more importantly, the courage to walk through to discover many more possibilities that lie ahead. She stopped me and said that the opportunity was all my own doing based on my reputation and integrity in the industry. When I got off the phone, I actually burst into tears.

You see, this year has been an especially difficult one for me with the acceleration of my mother's Alzheimer's and just trying to juggle it all. You know in this space I have barely had the strength to do anything more than the 30 Words project (so happy that I have that to keep me connected!). When I hit my 46th birthday in August, I really had this sinking feeling like I would never achieve the goals that I had set for myself back when I turned 40. Maybe, I thought, this is nothing more than a diversion and I was fooling myself. This phone call brought me right back to the reasons I do what I do and gave me a laser focus that I had been missing of late.

I will be honest with you, the idea of creating four hours of content that would be worthy of flying across the country and then filling that time with just me, myself and I was a bit terrifying. Those few hours I had a night to work on creating the projects were further complicated by our largest school 3-day fundraiser and our high school homecoming thrown in, things I wouldn't want to miss. I also had to make all the travel arrangements: flights, hotel, rental car. I know that I freaked out on Miss Jean at least twice wondering if I could actually pull this off, but she was so confident in my abilities that it gave me the courage I may have lacked. She gave me the strength to keep on pushing myself.

After wrapping up the Fabulous Facets video.
I think that typically people who are asked to do this have much more time to plan. I know that I told her that I was concerned mostly that I really didn't feel that I was a technique-based creator. I have a huge variety of tricks in my bag, but none of them are essentially mine, or something that I am known for, and then to fill an entire hour with that is a challenge. After all, if I am known for just stringing beads, it would be about as fun as watching paint dry to see me string bead after bead, right?

However, I also know that I take for granted some of the things that I do that are internalized and inherent in my work, but that might be new to someone just starting out, or someone that wants to kick their designs up a notch. And teaching is in my blood (did you know I was a 7th grade English teacher in another lifetime?). I so love it when someone has that aha! moment, when they see how they would make their creative endeavor their own. So I focused on some of the different projects that I had that might make for interesting viewing and settled on these:

Make fashion forward flowers with wire and beads.
Shimmering Garden - Create a modern take on a vintage look. Make flowers using glass beads and a wire weaving technique for an ever-blooming corsage!
Making is messy!
Fabulous Facets - I give up my secrets to creating my polymer clay faceted beads that glow from within and are great foundations for all sorts of jewelry.

Flashes of Brilliance - A truly mixed media approach to making faux opal and stone inlays in bezels with resin, including a new resin that I have found that is changing the way I work with the material.

My view into the camera on the filming of Wire Doodles
Wire Doodles - Wrangle wire into beautiful curvaceous links and connectors. A comprehensive guide to using the innovative Now That's A Jig tool as well as just forming with your hands and tools will take your jewelry to the next level.

Shimmering Garden of blooms
When they saw what I was going to do they were excited, but also a bit concerned that the content could be stretched to the requisite minimum 45 minutes. I will admit that I was concerned about that as well. Miss Jean suggested that I do easy-hard-hard-easy for the order, as I would be much more tired the following day. (Great advice!) So I started with the Wire Doodles. Not necessarily the easiest, but something I knew pretty well. We started filming and I just chattered along.... and when they called, "Cut!" I wondered if maybe I missed something, or I went too fast... and Lauren told me that, no, I was doing great, better than most, but I had talked straight for 40 minutes and they needed a break to catch up! (Ha!) I only needed a minimum of 5 more minutes of content...yet I still had 3 more links to show! I remember that Jean was over there in the corner doing the Rocky impersonation with the fist pumps in the air. Needless to say, I had no trouble filling the time!

The rest of the filming went along just as well as the first. Of course, I didn't speak for 40 minutes straight on the rest, but they were just as great.

I got to meet all sorts of awesome people. [Note to self: take pictures with them next time!] I met Debbie Blair, editor of Stringing and Megan Lenhausen. I got to meet Sonya in contracts (who likes my signature!). Allison Korleski, editorial director of the books department, asked to have a meeting with me. You know how I have never let go of the desire to write a book, right? Still looking for the right opportunity to come along, and this was another step closer to that goal. There was the delightful Keegan who did my make-up each morning and made me camera-ready; Nick and Andrew the camera operators; Lauren who was ever so encouraging and extremely skilled at keeping me focused and moving in the right direction. I also met Lavon Peters, managing editor at F+W Media. These are names that I recognize from the publications, and it is so cool to put a name with a face! And, of course, I was thrilled to find out that Jean Campbell would also be there for her own meetings, so I got to spend a little time with her.

Michelle Mach, author of Unexpected Findings and me as we celebrate her success!
I even met with Michelle Mach, author of Unexpected Findings. I treated her to a celebration dinner for her new book as I am lucky enough to be one of the featured artists in there! We ate at a brand new restaurant called Blue Agave. Delicious!

The mountains in the distance... and no, I was not driving when I took this!
On Friday, after I wrapped up the shooting (early!), I took myself on a little jaunt. I drove toward the mountains in the distance. When I crested the first large hill what was on the other side took my breath away.... a huge reservoir glistening in the afternoon sun. There were boaters on the water and people hiking in the nearby hills. I would have liked to stay there until the sun set, or even go higher, but with very few guardrails and some sheer drops, I didn't think that was such a great idea.

I have to tell you about my flight there. When I got on the plane, I found that there was an older gentleman in my seat by the window. I decided to be nice and let him keep it, so that meant that I ended up sitting in between the two men. On my left was a very dapper man in a pinstripe suit with a pale pink shirt looking very much like he was someone special, or famous, like a record mogul or something, reading an autobiography of Ozzie Osborne (which was some of the most awful dribble I have ever read as I noticed here and there!). On my right was the man who stole my seat, promptly shutting the window (I love to take pictures out of plane windows), throwing his windbreaker on backward so that he buried his face in the hood. I couldn't stop giggling the entire time at the ridiculousness of these two men. Of course, he had to get up no less than three times the entire flight making it very inconvenient for the rest of us.

On the way back I was lucky to get home. That was when all the flights were cancelled because of that fire in Chicago. The plane had been booked solid. Unfortunately, the flight that came in was a smaller aircraft, which meant that they were asking for 30 people to give up their ticket! I had preselected my seat when I booked which was my saving grace in getting a seat!


I have been informed that the videos I shot will be ready to go live on the Craft Daily site within about three weeks. That means that they should be ready this month. And I know that at least two of them will be pushed to DVD! And yes, I do get a royalty when my videos are viewed or purchased, so there is a long-term growth potential. If you are at all intrigued by the content that I have created, I invite you to check them out, and I will let you know as soon as they are released.

This weekend is a special one on Craft Daily: they have surpassed the 500 video mark and are celebrating with a free weekend. I am pretty sure that my videos are not out there yet, but if you are interested in checking out what they have to offer, this is a prime time to do so!
This weekend we surpassed the 500 video mark on Craft Daily!

To Celebrate, we're giving you 4 full days of free access.
Explore CraftDaily.com risk free when you enter code CDFT500
after selecting the free trial for your cart at checkout!

Sign up any time Thursday, October 9 through Monday, October 13
and enjoy 4 full days of free access. 

Your credit card will not be charged until the end of your free trial period.
So, if you cancel during your free trial, you won't pay a thing.

Start Your FREE Trial Weekend Today!

This was an incredible opportunity that wouldn't have happened if all the other smaller opportunities I have accepted in my life had been ignored. Believe me when I say that I had moments of doubt where I didn't think that I could or even should do this. What if I completely bombed? Maybe I should wait until I lost 50 lbs? Perhaps no one will watch or be interested? But if I let that nagging doubt take over, then I wouldn't see where this door could lead, and I really like unlocking things. I just had to realize that I held the key. It really is true that one door of opportunity opens to others. There were times when I doubted myself, and wondered if I would be able to pull it off and rise above. But the fact that I was terrified of letting others down meant that I cared enough to do my very best. I feel much more confident about this direction, and hopeful of where this path will lead me.

It's all about saying yes to the thing you think you cannot do.



Shai Williams said...

Oh Erin I am so happy for you! You are a born teacher and I can't think of anyone better to sit down and learn from. I had been concerned because you had gotten so quiet but figured you were just busy with your family.

stregata said...

Congratulations, Erin! So deserved.

Divya N said...

Thats sounds like a terrific experience - I am so looking forward to seeing the finished videos

sasha + max studio said...

Well done, sounds like you nailed it! So well deserved, looking forward to the video too!

Lance said...

Very cool, Erin!!! You're a rockstar!!

Marcia DeCoster said...

what a great story, Jean is the best, so glad you said yes!

Lori P said...

Wow! Congrats Erin! You certainly deserve this.

Lesley said...

What a great opportunity - so glad you went through that door. Congratulations Erin and good luck for whatever's to come.

Kathleen Lange Klik said...

What an amazing adventure and opportu ity! Congratulations! I really enjoyed reading about your experience and what you were thinking throughout the process. So glad you were able to take some time for yourself to drive out to the mountains too.

a2susan said...

And just think, that door is still opening, you've simply taken the first step through it! You are awesome!

Jean A. Wells Handcrafted Jewelry said...

The line you ended this post with brought tears to my eyes. How many times during my lifetime has that been true. Congratulations to you. An opportunity well deserved and I can't wait to learn your "secrets".

lunedreams said...

Congratulations to you, it's been a long time coming! You have been poised to leap through an open door for a while now, and this sounds like the perfect launch! You have so much to offer, in skill, talent, vision and sheer personality, this is just the beginning! I look forward to seeing you soar ever higher! (And by the way, the camera LOVES you--you look gorgeous!!)

mairedodd said...

i agree with everything keirsten said. congratulations, erin. not just upon the opportunity, but for saying yes and doing it. i try to live by those words of eleanor's (today is her birthday) - and i don't always succeed. we are only courageous when we feel fear. and you, my dear, are courageous.

Unknown said...

Congratulations, Erin! You should be extremely proud of yourself----I know we all are! Your work is beautiful and the rest of the world knows it and wants to see more! SO proud of you.

Unknown said...

well I can't say I am surprised. I have always thought you as VERY talented. I love your sweet and humble personality too. God had a plan for you and now you are reaching your destiny. AND the best part? I have a subscription to Craft Daily! So I will see you over there.

XXOO and congrats again!

Shel said...

Oh how cool is this?! Congratulations! You're so open, honest and genuine in your posts here and it shows through brilliantly in your art, too. Kuddos to you and thanks for always being a wonderful source of inspiration - both personally and professionally. Way to go!!

Therese's Treasures said...

Congratulations Miss Erin, fear and doubt can block you from so many possibilities. I am so glad you over looked yours and went and had a wonderful fulfilling time. Who knows where this opportunity will take you in the future.

moushka26 said...

Congratulations! I'm also a long-time fan of Jean Campbell. She's at the top of my list of people in the bead biz I would like to meet. The whole experience sounds wonderful. Your opal resin beads sound very exciting; I'll be looking for your videos.

Coffeefreek53 said...

Oh Erin, I am so happy for you. Talented, brave and beautiful inside and out. I can't wait to see your videos. Hooray for facing down the fear and uncertainty and diving into the projects.

Coffeefreek53 said...

Oh Erin, I am so happy for you. Talented, brave and beautiful inside and out. I can't wait to see your videos. Hooray for facing down the fear and uncertainty and diving into the projects.

Cyndi J said...

I'm so happy for you! You are truly deserving of this recognition. Your designs are some of my favorites. Yes, it's good to step through the door when opportunity presents itself -- even if you don't feel quite ready -- because you never know if it will present itself again (although I do know that even if this one was passed up another one would come your way because you are that talented). I'm so sorry about your mom. Truly heartbreaking but she'd be so proud of you.

Wendy D. said...

Congratulations, Erin -- such wonderful news! I'm delighted to see you spread your wings and take this leap. Your photos from Colorado are wonderful -- thank you for sharing your experience with us!

Heather Powers said...

Loved reading about your journey! Congrats and wishing you many more unexpected and exciting opportunities my sweet friend.

Unknown said...

What a fabulous opportunity and certainly well-deserved! Congratulations!!

Anonymous said...

Erin! What a wonderful and exciting opportunity for you! This is huge! Thanks for sharing all the thrills and chills. I felt as though I were right there with you. And it certainly gave me incentive to try the website out. I am so happy for you, AND, I'm going to encourage some friends to try this site also, one of which is an incredible instructor and artist. Congratulations.

Sandra said...

Congratulations!!! Your story gave me goosebumps!!!

Roxanne Mendoza said...

Congrats! Thanks for sharing the journey...I'm so excited and happy for you! You are one of my favorite designers and have always been so helpful and kind. :)

Drtanglebones said...

Congrats! I love how much of yourself you put into your designs and your writing. You deserve as much recognition as you can get!

Unknown said...

Congratulations Miss Erin! What a great journey you have had. I wish you many more in the future.
'loved reading about your adventures. You are truly an inspiration.
'wishing you continued success.

Cynthia said...

How wonderful for you Miss Erin!! I'm so glad you were able to seize the day!! Your projects all look very interesting, and it sounds like you had fun too!
So happy for you!!

Unknown said...

Erin, I am so happy for you!! What an awesome opportunity...I can't wait to see your videos. I hope this leads to more exposure for you and your wonderful talent. I could see you with a book or three in the future :O) You are an inspiration, I love that you didn't let all the little negative thoughts and fears hold you back. I completely agree with the person who said the camera loves you, you are a beautiful girl!!

Becky Pancake said...

Hi Erin, Congratulations on your success. I enjoyed reading about your experience. I am always intrigued by your projects. The filming that you did sounds very interesting. I will have to check it out.

Melanie LeGrand said...

Erin, I am just learning about you and your jewelry. This is my first time reading your blog and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The theme really reasonated with me. Thank you for sharing!

Shirley said...

I lost many of my blogs I followed a couple of years ago, and it's taken forever to remember them all. I'm so glad I get to come back to you and read of your fabulous success! Your hard work is truly paying off, and you so totally deserve every bit of it!


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