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Cheaper than therapy

It all started with guilt as many things do. A friend of mine tried to convince me to take an evening ceramics class at the school where we worked. The class was given by a mutual friend who was going through a messy divorce. "I'm not good at that stuff and I don't want an evening commitment that takes me back to school after being there all day!" My friend argued that our enrollment would be supporting someone through a tough time, but I remained unmoved until she promised that we would go out and have a beer after every class. That worked.

And so I started. I wasn't very good at making the clay conform to the vision in my head. I was surprised that I had a vision in my head. During one class, I made a small hand using a mold. I punched a hole in the top and thought 'hmmm maybe that hand could be a pendant.' The only problem was that I had no idea how I would make the rest of the necklace.

The same pushy, beer-offering friend knew a place where they sold beads along with a lot of other things. We stood in front of the overflowing cases and drawers and figured out that I would need wire, beads that matched the pendant and some other unknown things. Never heard of findings, crimp beads or spacers. But everyone has strung beads on a cord in kindergarten, right?

I wore my finished necklace proudly. Sure, I had to wrap a bandaid around the sharp end of a piece of wire that dug painfully into my neck. When others complimented my creation, I felt a surge of pride unlike anything I had experienced previously. I had a lot of pride in my work as a school administrator. I had a lot of pride in my children and my long-term marriage. But those were messy, human-filled endeavors requiring a huge investment of time and dependent on the relationships we forged together. The necklace was just me and the beads - no feelings, no talking back.

I learned that the technique to make the necklace was called stringing. I learned that there was another type of jewelry making called off-loom bead weaving. The tiny beads, the needle and the thread became my antidote to any stress built up during the day's work.

Beaders joke about the amount of money a small bag of beads and other doodads can represent. True, but it is cheaper than therapy.

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