Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wisdom From Yoga Class

Sometimes I go to my yoga class and I think, "Why do I put myself through this torture?" Other times I go to my yoga class, and I'm in such a state of bliss, I hesitate to say the closing "namaste". 

My instructor walks around class, adjusting our poses slightly as he verbally guides us through different poses. He'll say things like, "pull your belly in" or "turn the bottom of your tailbone out". Sometimes his suggestions make sense. Other times I feel like he's speaking in alien tongues. 

During my class yesterday, in the middle of a particularly difficult pose, I spread my eagle arms even wider and strained to keep my legs straight as I watched my teacher approach. 

He walked right past me though, I suppose my tailbone must have been angled just right. Yeah! Go me! 

He leaned over and spoke to the guy next to me. Since I was facing the other way, I couldn't see the guy, but I was close enough to hear what sage advice my teacher had to offer.

"Make a nicer face." 

"What?!" I thought to myself. What kind of practical instruction is that? If the pose is challenging and painful, why does it matter what our faces look like? After all, we are still getting the physical benefits of suffering through the pose. I twisted my body around as much as possible to sneak a glance at the offending "face" of my fellow student. 

True, his features were pinched together like an over-ripe prune.  His eyes tucked so deep into his sockets they all but disappeared.

I watched the muscles in his face relax as he tried his best to "make a nicer face". He smiled a goofy grin. I watched the muscles in the rest of his body follow suit as he relaxed deeper into the pose. Watching the whole scene take place made my pose softer as well. The difficult pose changed into something bearable… almost enjoyable. 

Laughter. Humor. Smiles. 

There's hardly an obstacle that these things can't overcome in any part of our lives. 

I know, I know. There are parts of your journey that aren't going to be pleasant. For example, I've been playing the same 5 seconds of the Bohemian Rhapsody solo for the past week, 5% below the actual speed. It drives me crazy. Come on fingers, let's go! Let's go! I've been so ecstatic about jewelry designs ideas only to have them disappoint once I've made them. I'm sure there have been maybe one or two times (two at the most because I'm mostly a perfect human specimen.) where I've been kind of a jerk at a band meetings.

Difficult times in life.

Difficult yoga poses. 

It won't kill you to make a nicer face during them.

Honestly, Meg

Monday, July 14, 2014

What Is Your "Why"?

My guitar teacher gave me a blues lick that I have been practicing at half speed for two weeks. It is repetitive, difficult work, the opposite of a good time.

I seriously have to set my timer for 15 minute intervals and drive through the boredom. Finally, I got to the point where I just couldn't find the will power to pick my guitar back again and play that stupid lick. So, instead of gnashing my teeth through another 15 minute session, I took a drive to a taco joint in Echo Park and did some thinking while I sipped on an almond milk horchata in the sunshine. Mmmmm. Much better.

I thought to myself "I could simply stop playing. I don't have to keep going through the motions. Nobody is making me. (Well, I guess my guitar teacher is, but I can always quit.)" Then I thought a little deeper about it. "Why am I practicing this boring material? Why is it important for me to keep doing this?" And that thought made me cast my net even wider, and I asked "Why do I play music in general? Why is it so important?" 

Since I wasn't making any headway with these questions, I decided to think back on my life even further. Maybe that would help clear things up for me. Why did I start playing music? I started playing music because I wanted to be signed by a label. Any label. That was the holy grail of my music career as far as I was concerned. Then we were signed by a label, and then another label, and my reason for playing music quickly changed. 

I slurped up the last of my drink through melting ice cubes. While I concentrated on using my straw as a single chopstick to reach all those delicious, crunchy ice cubes, my why hit me on the top of the head just like that apple must have hit Newton.  

O.k. so the moment wasn't as important as discovering gravity, but it was still a huge deal to me. I remembered the reason why I practice every day, why I force my fingers against their will into such awkward positions, why I sit through scales and and exercises. I remembered the whole point of it all.

Now, that I was armed with my "why" I was prepared to get back to that scale. I was even excited to get back to that scale. Heck, I'll practice it in 30 minute intervals! What now!

Do you want to know what my why is? I discovered I don't have just one why. I've got millions and millions of whys. I've circled 8 of them in the photo below for you to see. 

Remember you "why", because your path isn't always going to be easy, in fact, most of it will probably be a struggle if you are challenging yourself enough.

Honestly, Meg

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rise Again

I never spent very much time outside. I became a "city girl", preferring to wander through book stores or tuck myself away in coffee shops. Nick used to protest, dragging me outside every summer to camp. Yes, with the worms and no restrooms in sight. Ugh. 

My last camping experience in the summer heat of Austin was miserable. Let's just say it involved lots of giant bugs, persistent, hungry raccoons who weren't afraid of humans in the least, and punctured, blow-up air mattresses. (But that's a story for another blog post.)

Lately, I've had some personal struggles, some problems I couldn't seem to wrap my head around. I was feeling a bit blue as we humans tend to do every once in awhile. Vanilla cupcakes with rainbow sprinkles just weren't cutting it anymore. My mother suggested hiking. She says that "nature cures all".  I decided I would humor her and give it a try. 

The first time up the mountain was o.k. It was a bit toasty. I was out of shape, and I forgot to bring water, but aside from the dehydration and the beads of sweat dripping into my eyes every now and then, I actually didn't have a terrible time. 

Since that first day, I've hiked almost every morning. I even started meditating once I made it to my special spot at the top of the mountain. I settle my backpack on the ground and sit up with my hands pressed into my knees. I don't close my eyes like one is supposed to, because the trees, and the flowers, and the mountains, and the clouds are too pretty not to look at. I focus on my breathe. My mind wanders. I bring it back.

Meditation that got me out of my funk. My saving grace didn't have anything to do with the floating clouds or the pretty flowers or even the friendly hikers and their dogs who I've grown rather fond of.

My big epiphany came from an ant. 

A few days ago, I reached the top of the mountain and sat in my usual position. I began to focus on my breath, but before my battle with my thoughts, I happened to look down and see an army of ants busy building their home in the dirt by my feet.

I noticed one ant in particular carrying a single blade of dry grass across the dirt to the ant hill. This blade of grass must have been at least nine times the length of the ant. As I watched it struggle, I tried to imagine myself carrying an object nine times the height of my body. 

Tommy carried the blade of grass a good twelve inches or so before it encountered an obstacle, a low hanging stick in the ground. (Oh, right. I named the ant Tommy at this point of my observation, because that's what I do.)

 If I were a nicer person, I would have simply moved the stick for Tommy and made his life a whole lot easier, but out of curiosity, I didn't want to touch it. I watched Tommy hem and haw and struggle this way and that way. Tommy walked in one direction and the stick blocked it, so he walked another way, and again he just couldn't make any progress. He turned and sped up and slowed down. He wasn't getting even the slightest bit closer to that ant hill, but never once did he stop trying. 

I can't know for sure, but I'm quite certain the thoughts in Tommy's head weren't anything like:

  • " I'm just not any good."
  • " What if the other ants are noticing how stupid I look right now?"
  • " I'm going to be late! I'll never make it in time."
  • " This is impossible. Why even bother!"
  • " I should just quit. This will never work."

I'm pretty sure the only thought going through Tommy's head was: grass. ant hill. grass. ant hill. 

In that instant, I realized that my negative thoughts weren't productive. They weren't helping me in anyway, so I might as well just get on with it without all the fuss. And yes, I know that we all know this truth, but it took an ant at the top of a mountain to remind me and bring clarity back.

I made this "Rise Again" necklace to remind us to "try again", "rise again", to never stop trying, to stop worrying how close we are to our goal, because it really doesn't matter just as long as we don't stop.

Visit my CTR SHOP to order.

So the moral to this is: if you you ever find yourself in doubt or in troubled waters, don't meditate, simply find yourself an ant hill to observe quietly for a few minutes.

Honestly, Meg

P.S. I made mountains instead of an aunt as a necklace, because it just seemed like a better idea, ya know?

P.P.S. This is a Limited Edition item. I'm not sure how long I'm going to keep it on my site, but not for long...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Thinking and Feeling

Now that the Curious Collection is available on my site, I just sit around and catch up on t.v. shows, eating Trader Joe's Cookie Butter on graham crackers all day. Not! (O.k., I do that sometimes.) 

The truth? I started designing my next collection the very next day I released the last one. Being a jewelry designer or a musician is not about having jewelry and music for sale, it's about always creating, always designing, always imagining a nothing into a something. 

Pip received the most love from you all, so I asked Vil to design some more jewelry like Pip for my next collection I plan to release in October. I'm thinking about calling my next collection "Never Grow Up", but it's still a working title. I loved J.M. Barrie's book, Peter Pan, as a child, so that name is sort of a tribute to Mr. Barrie. 

I love receiving emails from Vil. He always starts his emails out with "Ahoy Meg!" It makes me feel like we are both on an adventure, shouting to each other over dangerous waters from our ships, him peering through a telescope, and me waving my arms back and forth, a tiny, manic dot on the horizon. The ship sways violently. I stumble and try to steady myself on the damp wooden planks, "Hey Vil," I shout, "could you make sure that the new fox design comes in both copper and silver, and also the chain length needs to be at least 27 inches long. I don't want it to be too short." He orders some skallywags messing around with their rusty swords to shut up as he shouts back "What's that? The crock design?" I can barely hear him over the crashing waves. 

Yup, I think about this every time we exchange emails. Every. Time. 

The other day Nick and I drove to the farmer's market. I thought we were biking there so I wore a black baseball cap that has "Hawaii" embroidered in the center, globs sunscreen smeared on the freckles on cheeks, bright purple biking shorts, and some green nike sneakers with mis-matched socks. (Who has got the time these days?)

Needless to say, I was being a sullen baby in the car because I was stuck in a lifeless, soul-crushing box of metal instead flying through the streets with the sun on my skin and the breeze through my pony tail.

I looked like a frazzled, color-blind soccer mom for nothing.

To console the sour puss, Nick tried to engage me in a musical conversation. He played me a couple new bands he has been listening to back-to-back on the car stereo. 

"Which one do you like better?"

"Well, I don't really like either, but if I had to choose, I'd choose the second one." 

"Why? What are you basing your choice off of?"

I settled back into the cushiony chair, tapping my fingers on the side panel. We pulled into the Well's Fargo parking lot across the street from the market.

It wasn't the tempo of the songs, the singers' voices, the complexity of the music, or the skills of the musicians. It wasn't the choice of percussion or synths or strings, the flashy solos, or the tension in the bridge. 

"The feeling it gives me." 

"Hmm," he said, "I like that answer."

John Mayer said something along the lines of, "Don't write what you think, write what you feel. Those are two completely different things." 

When I'm busy designing a new necklace or writing a new song, I make sure not to choose a certain color of clay because I think it will look good or choose a melody because I think it will sound good, I make artistic decisions based on how I feel or how I hope you'll feel when you see, feel, or hear what I dreamed up. 

And I think this is a good way to make art. 

Honestly, Meg

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Happy Launch Party Day!

Happy Launch Party day!

Use coupon code "curious" in the CTR online shop to receive 20% off your entire order. Offer good for today only!

Since I started Chandler The Robot three years ago, I never had a plan for how I would release new jewelry. I would have a new idea, I'd create it, then I'd put it up on my website.

As a newbie musician, I would go through a similar process, creating single songs, performing them, and recording them as single tracks, releasing them willy nilly. (Yes, I just said "willy nilly".) 

After some time, both as a musician and as a jewelry designer, I started to learn and feel the ebb and flow of creative waves. I realized that I wanted to release jewelry just like I used to release music: I'd take a few months off to write and record so I could make a full, cohesive album all at once.

From now on, I'll be putting out collections. I'll make about four new collections a year with special clay pieces offered in between, (like bonus tracks in the music world.)

It's much more fun to tell a story with several pieces that go together rather than single pieces one by one. Personally, I like listening to a whole album from beginning to end rather than a single song by itself. The artist created the entire album as a work of art to be enjoyed that way, so I'm going to honor their creation by listening to it that way.

Within my new Curious Collection, I've created a mix of my traditional robots as well as some new whimsical pieces. DianeHoney, and Bridebot are the new girls on the block. Honey is super sweet. I made her for the girly-girls out there. I've pretended to be a tomboy most of my adolescent life, (especially when I played in a band.) I've learned to embrace being a woman as I've gotten older. Hell, my pastel pink kitchenaid mixer is my most prized possession at the moment. (Well, aside from my guitar of course. But it's a close contest.)

My favorite necklace in this collection is Seneca The Wizard. If you're a Harry Potter fan and you dig wizards, that's cool, but I actually named the wizard, Seneca, after an author I admire. 

This past year has been a year of growth for me. During my quest for new direction, I came across a book called "Seneca: Letters From a Stoic" by Lucius Annaeus Seneca. It has been extremely helpful and enlightening. Seneca writes about stoicism which is a philosophy, a unique way of living life. Some of you are probably really familiar with Stoicism, but it's all new to me.

When I settle down to read this book, it's never a leisurely passing of time with a cup of tea. This author challenges me every time I open up his pages. I have to be in full concentration mode, but it's exactly what I need right now. (Maybe, I'll have to read Harry Potter afterwards for a light-hearted literary break. Haha.)

Well, everyone, these necklaces and rings are my new babies. I'm very proud of them and hope you don't mind me being prideful when it comes to my art. I hope that these pieces will bring you happiness or at least make you smile. Though, what I'm most excited for is to be able to connect with you through my art, like I have with music over the past decade. Thanks for letting me create and share:)


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Gift For A College Grad

(Full disclosure: I don't reveal much about the plot of The Giving Tree book, but I do say a few words about the story. Please be advised that you may want to read the book first before reading this post. Also, please be advised that you may want to read this post before reading the book. Just sayin'...)

My little sister is graduating from college this weekend. (I guess she's not little anymore, but she'll always be "little sister" to me.) Graduating from college is quite an achievement in and of itself, but in our family, her accomplishment is especially important because she's the first sibling to graduate!  
I started out on the right foot, attending my first year on a full-ride academic scholarship. Then I dropped out to tour in a rock band. (To this day, I still think I had my priorities straight. Ha.)

Dia, the sister below me in age, never went to college.  (She also had her priorities straight.) So, although Dia and I consider ourselves smarter than a cookie without a college degree, we are still super proud of our younger sister for finishing. 
I've been looking for the perfect graduation gift. I decided to give her a book, a book that isn't known for its difficult vocabulary, worthy of a college grad's intellectual stamina. It's just a simple book that made me feel very deeply when I first read it many years ago. 

I remember my band was on tour and we stopped in a Barnes & Noble. I picked up a book called "The Giving Tree", mainly because of the bright green cover and hand-drawn illustrations.

By the time I turned to the last page, my mascara had smeared halfway down my cheeks. I quietly put the book down, proceeded to run through the store like a loony, covering my runny nose, while trying to find the ladies' room.
What a beautiful story. Ugh, it chokes me up even thinking about it. Shel Silverstein is one of those wise authors who is skilled in hiding adult topics in children's books. He makes you accidentally learn important life lessons when all you thought you were in for was light entertainment.
Inspired by this purchase, I decided to design a new necklace. At first, I thought that I wanted to make a traditional looking tree, using tones of burnt sienna for the trunk and branches. Then I decided I wanted to make it look a bit more imaginative, closer to the tree in the book. So I made the trunk a deep, hunter-green.

I added my own touches, curling the tips of the branches, dusting the whole piece lightly with a mossy-brass talcum powder.

I added the hanging apple, because the first thing the tree gave the boy was the apple. Then I finished the design with a black patina to give it that "rustic" and "antique" vibe I love so much.
My favorite part of the tree is the heart on the trunk. I carved it into the clay just like you would carve a heart into a real tree. 
This is the finished design. I'm very proud of The Giving Tree necklace:

You can order "The Giving Tree" necklace  HERE.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Wrong End Of The Telescope

A new girl friend complimented my denim shirt. I'm so used to being around guys, her comment on fashion caught me off guard. Thankfully, I didn't reply with my gut response, "Ugh, this thing is in need of some serious ironing! And look at all these loose threads just hanging everywhere like jungle branches."

I simply said, "Thank you," and smiled.

Why do I have such a difficult time accepting compliments? On a related note, why do we tend to focus on the negative events of our pasts instead of being appreciative of all of our successes, big and small?

In the comments for the previous post, Spider said:

"Do you guys from M&D actually know how great you were and are?! Maybe not in the moment, but retrospectively? From a musician's musician... I am still amazed every time I have a listen!"

Thanks Spider! 

That comment made me think. After my band broke up and we were dropped from our label, for awhile, it was too easy to focus on the negative aspects of those experiences, magnifying the bad parts and squeezing the good parts almost out of existence, kind of like looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

Dia told me to listen to one of our old records. I listened to "Here, Here, and Here" front to back. It's been almost 4 years since I've group texted my old band, but I texted them all after listening to our record:

"Good job".

I agree with Spider, stop to realize how GREAT you are. Do I sound corny yet? I don't care. We focus on all the teensy, tiny mistakes (o.k. we all probably have made mistakes that are a little larger than teensy, tiny.)

Negative truths: 
  • Our band broke up. 
  • We spend less time together. (Except, I still spend a lot of time with Nick because he's my boyfriend, and Dia because she's my sister. Duh!) 
  • We stopped touring. (Obviously. No more galavanting across the country without a care in the world.)
Positive Truths:
  • From my experiences with the band, I learned how to sleep comfortably in small spaces, function on less than 3 hours of sleep, and drink three shots of whiskey and sing perfectly on tune for an entire set. (All valuable life skills, the last one I can no longer manage in my old age.) 
  • I traveled all over the world with my best friends, while most teenagers stayed cooped up listening to lectures from their economics professors. (I actually enjoy doing this. Nerd alert!) 
  • I met new friends all over the country. (Even experienced a couple young loves along the way. Hey, it gets lonely on the road!)
  • I recorded albums I am proud of with incredible producers who taught me that even little old me has something to teach these seasoned pros. (I've been known to be a garage band wizard. So much for humbleness. Ha!)
  • We basically vacationed for months at a time in beautiful, remote locations along the Oregon coast and in the mountains of Park City, Utah, making music, drinking coffee, and appreciating nature.
  • I use my experiences to record new music in the comfort of my own home in our own studio. It's cheaper and there is a lot less pressure. 
  • I can be a homebody and focus on new loves like yoga and nutrition. 
  • I spend as much time as I want out in the sun with a nose in my book and an icy beverage in my hand.
  • I have grown some roots which means close friendships and familiar faces in all of my local haunts.

Bottom line: We did some cool ass shit, and life is only getting better!

Life is a continuum. The point is to learn from the past, don't dwell on it, appreciate it, and keep doing amazing things. 

I don't know all of you personsonally or all of your accomplishments, but I want to tell you right now.
"Good job".

Accept compliments, realize accomplishments often.