I was born and raised in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. I loved it there and never wanted to leave....it was a great city with a huge variety of things to do and a great place for families… with the mountains, reservoirs, theaters, small town events to big city concerts, ma and pa shops, to the best shopping malls. It has it all…. (is this sounding like Steve Martin in “The Father of the Bride”)
....Haha little did I know what was in store for me.
My husband, Mike and I met up at Utah State University. We were married for 6 years before I gave in to the idea of him joining the AirForce. I mean he only brought it up 4 straight years in a row. But I finally succumbed to pressure but I thought I could outsmart the military and stay in Utah... I was sure we could be stationed at Hill Air Force Base for our first assignment... but alas.... Our assignment was in California.....we moved away from Utah. It has been....a shock, a blessing, a test, a rude awakening, a new appreciation of our country, great friends at each stop and a bumpy, windy road with many life lessons.
We have 5 children ranging from 22-8.
Our oldest was/is our guinea pig- we tried all the friend advice and book advice on her. And well..., she is.... doing pretty well. She has that 1st child syndrome of always working hard to please her parents.
I always wanted twins..... When I was a teenager.... Yep, you guessed, I had twins, a girl and a boy. During my pregnancy I was...... a big boat... NO, I was Noah's Ark.... I was huge.... At the birth our boy had complications and was in the ICU for 9 days. He recovered but I was very anxious about how to take care of him and resented not only the situation but also not having tools or confidence in dealing with him. Little did I realize that this relationship would be a very hard, heavy and complex relationship for me.... and complicate my marriage.
Our next child was another little boy. He was late by 2 weeks. I was so huge, I cried and cried... when he finally came he was so big 8 lbs. 10 oz. He actually surprised me because he slept better than any of my other children, he nursed better than any of my other children. He was calm and peaceful. He had my husband's mannerisms; he was quiet and easy going. He was a dream!!! I thought “Maybe this is what motherhood is really like” “Hummm... on my 4th I finally got a taste of the good stuff”!
7 years later we had a little caboose. She was just like our 4th. She was also overdue by 2 weeks. WHAT??? Yep, that’s right..... But this time I was in the best shape of my life, I had lost a lot of weight since our last. I worked hard and it showed. I lost almost 65 lbs and I was so dang proud. I was so excited... umm did I say I was SO DANG PROUD... So during my last prego - I swam 4 times a week and went to the gym 4 days a week as well. I was goin’ at this like never before.... Then I talked to my sister and she challenged me to have this one natural- without any drugs.... I thought “Are you crazy?” I love that God has given us this thing called an epidural... it’s medication.... It takes away the pain of labor.....a... duh.” But I told her I would look into it. So I registered for a natural birth class and I was a goner. I fell hook, line, and sinker. It was a new world; I had never known that they, you know, natural birth moms, have their own little world... it’s like sign language... they have their own language with their own code of connection.... They are among us but we don’t realize it...
To say it mildly it was engulfing and empowering I felt that if I went natural I would be worthy and connect with my ancestors. I felt like I would be worthy to be among my great great grandmothers who had it so, so, so hard. I also felt finally in charge of my own delivery and that my husband could actually be with me and be by my side. It was a novel idea, It was not like any of our previous experiences. I actually went even further than what I had originally committed to my sister. I decided to have an at home birth. I studied, educated myself, planned and prepared. I was so focused and zoned into this new world. And .....It was......incredible. It was...... The. Most. Amazing. experience I had ever had. I loved how hard it was, and how excruciating the pain was, and how powerful I felt. I loved that my body knew what to do. I knew inside that I was made for this. I knew that I was capable but I hid under the comfort of our society’s pressures, expectations, and systems.
>>>>Fast forward to now.... Wait!!! actually, <<<<Rewind to.... 2007.
2004-2007 we were stationed at Langley Air Force base in Southern Virginia. In 2007 a new neighbor moved in across the street. She wanted to get involved to get to know people so she asked me to take a glass fusing class with her held on base. I was flattered that she asked me but at the same time I was very overwhelmed/exhausted with motherhood and our finances were extremely tight. But my good husband encouraged me to go forward in faith and to have free time with an adult plus enjoy a creative outlet. With his “blessing” it turned into a pandora box for me. I was so surprised how I felt each time I created a new fused piece. It was exhilarating. It lit a fire of learning and growth of developing myself instead of always giving of myself.
A few weeks after the class ended, I saw that someone further down my street had a kiln in her driveway. I was so excited. So I stalked her. I must’ve walked past her house like 4 times a day until she was outside.... so I just casually asked... is that a kiln? Do you fuse glass? She said yes, you want to come see? I said sure, I told her I just finished a class learning how but I want to learn more. She was so kind and generous she offered to teach me some techniques and let me use her kiln. WOW!!!! So excited. I was dying inside. I was exploding inside! Her name is Ann Snyder. She really helped me learn and grow. She taught me so much. I really didn’t know much and she offered her time, her kiln, her glass, her supplies and her time and teaching. I will forever be grateful to her!! Thank you Ann!
We moved to Maryland and I was able to buy my own small kiln and order start up tools and get my own workshop set up. I was so proud of myself and proud that I took the time and money to develop this talent. I made glass all the time and definitely improved the quality of my work. It was my “sneak-away from the kids” time, and let my mind be free and dream.
Glass fusing is different from other types of glass work. I don’t use a torch, although I want to learn. I don’t use a brick oven and mold or shape and I go - that seems like blacksmithing… I use a workbench. I use a grid tray to catch shards of glass that may fall. I use a “pen” tool with a miniature sharp pizza cutter at the end. I fill up the “pen” with oil and it drips on to the pizza cutter to lubricate it and I line it up next to a ruler as a guide and put pressure on it as I push across the glass. I use a breaker clamp to break it into two pieces.
I usually start with a 2 x 2 square piece but at times I create a large candy bar size. I start off with a solid layer, any color. Next layer is the dichroic glass. This is the magic, it has different bubbles, textures, coding reactions and temperaments to this glass. It’s what gives it shimmer, glitter, and especially depth. Next phase is fun and frilly, it can be rods of coordinating color or shards of jagged glass, this adds depth to each piece. It fills in the gaps and makes it whole.
Last layer is to top it off with clear glass. This helps it all turn out smooth, soft, rounded and touchable.
I carry each piece very carefully because one tilt one stub one jerk even wind blowing... and it’s all over with. I place each one carefully on fire kiln paper which is resting calmly on the circular stone shelf.
I close the lid and I turn the kiln on. I have to check and double check with the instructions that I make sure I put it on the right kiln program.
I push start.
Then I wait.
I don’t leave until I hear click…. clunk… click…
I now know it is on it’s way to making new precious creations. I go about cleaning up or creating more pieces for the next day.
The kiln takes 12-15 hours to run through the entire program of a “full run”.
The sun comes up the next morning, I have an anxious excitement in my heart. I can’t wait to see what the creations came out to be like.
I get ready, I want to take my time to look at each piece. So I wait and push it off until I know I have more time for myself. I get the kids ready for school and off they go.
I run down stairs and open the lid to see whoa! So many plans/creations/designs now turned into magical pendants. My visions came to fruition.
I think about how we are all like these pieces of glass. I feel that we each have different trials and we are all “broken” with these trials.
Sometimes we are broken by others.
Sometimes we break ourselves by our choices or our own mental illness or by our limiting beliefs.
We have failures, we blame ourselves because of our children’s failures.
We blame ourselves for their health or our own health
We blame ourselves for our homes NOT being perfect in looks perfect in feeling perfect in memories...
We blame ourselves for everything….
Sometimes we can’t get over our past, or we can't process it to make some type of resolution for us to move forward.
Sometimes we have had heartache because of a tragedy that broke us and jolted us to the core. We can't walk forward, We can’t move past today. We are stuck.
Sometimes we paralyze ourselves to the point we “break” our future. What I mean by that, for example, my anxiety held me bound, it imprisoned me to move forward sometimes with my dreams but other times most of the time - with my daily routine. I could not do simple daily routines to move forward or short term goals. I was haunted by my own anxiety.
As I place each broken piece of glass, each shard or sliver of glass into a new creation. I think that was some phase of my life that hurt. That one was a gouge in my path, this shard was the time I couldn’t tell anyone what was happening in my home. Or that piece represents the pain of abuse. Or this piece represents the unfulfillment of my dream. Or that shard symbolizes how I reacted to him. Or this symbolizes the emptiness I had.
Then I put it into the kiln.
This is like turning it over to God.
I have to physically let go and turn it over to God.
I have nothing to add to it. It is just all my mess ups and my mistakes.
Then the next day, I see what God has done. What God has made of my “mess”.
What did he do?
He made it beautiful.
He made it whole!
He made it stronger!
He made it sparkle!
He made it glitter from with-in!
He made those hard parts turn into something Magical and Magnificent!!
We are our best selves with God making our weaknesses into strengths.