Five years

Today is the official 5 year anniversary of seek + be. I never could have imagined what this little dream would turn into!  


Some of you may know that I started seek + be at a time when I was trying to figure out a way to work from home. I was newly diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and a neuro-immune disorder. I was working at a job I loved, but I knew my days were numbered because I was missing more and more work. I had been making jewelry off and on for years and thought it would be a way for me to work from home while I tried to manage my symptoms.


I took a leap of faith and made seek + be a legit business. I created a small collection of jewelry - at that time I was making pieces with silver and semi-precious stones. We had a party to celebrate, where I officially launched my first website. I'll never forget how big and nerve-wracking that moment felt. I was so nervous to show my jewelry but I had a really incredible group of women that  supported and believed in me. They stood right beside me and celebrated the occasion. 


Unfortunately for me, my timing was terrible and just as I began getting this little dream of mine off the ground, I entered the most debilitating time of my illness and spent nearly 2 years unable to work on this little business I loved so much. I tried to do as much as I could in 20 or 30 minute spurts, as my body would allow. Or on the occasional "good" day, I would make as many pieces as I could, not knowing when the next good day would be. 


Thankfully, I eventually found a medical team that helped me significantly improve my symptoms and I got a new lease on life in 2015. After trying 8 or 9 different pain medications, we finally found a combination that worked and I slowly started getting my life back. I focused my attention once again on this little business and started building a following. 


About a year later is when my husband was diagnosed with cancer, and I immediately put my business on hold, not knowing what the future would be. We couldn't even fathom what the next days or weeks held, let alone months down the road. So, I held my breath and mentally and emotionally prepared myself to shut seek + be down while I began care taking and helping my husband through his treatment and surgeries. It was a heartbreaking time - not only was the man I love going through the most difficult time, a literal fight for his life, I was also coming to grips with the reality that my dream was coming to an end.


From beginning to end, his cancer journey was over 2 years, between diagnosis, chemo, radiation, multiple surgeries, and more chemo. It's been almost a year since his final surgery and although it took awhile, we've slowly started to get back to "real life". He was able to start back to work and I began working more on seek + be. I came back more focused than ever and started working on building the collection you see today.


Although seek + be is technically 5 years old, in some ways, it feels like it's only a few months old. It felt like getting the new studio space was a re-birth and a new chapter. These last 3 months have been the most concentrated time and effort I've been able to put towards building this dream and it has been nothing short of life-changing.


The journey to get here has not been straight forward and it hasn't been easy - it has been messy and complicated and beautiful and hard and amazing. It has been built not in the grand all-at-once while “having all my ducks in a row” way that I had always imagined it would be. It was built in moments - tiny increments of time, few and far between in my first few years as my body would allow. It was built in daydreams as I mentally escaped the hardest moments of care taking. 


So much blood, sweat and tears have gone into building this little business. I don't share the struggles for sympathy, only to share and celebrate the fact that building something you truly love is both beautiful and messy. It's the easiest AND the hardest thing you'll ever do. 


And if you have a dream, I want to encourage you to go for it. Because the mess, the tears, all the 16+ hour days, all the doubts, all the questioning, it's all worth it. The journey has been less than perfect but I've learned more about myself in the last 5 years than I ever have before. The story of seek + be is messy and it's still being written, but it is also incredibly beautiful.


I never could have imagined where I’d be 5 years later, but here I am…more in love, more myself and more passionate about sharing my art than ever before. I am SO grateful for this journey, for the women it has allowed me to serve, for the community that has continued to encourage and support me and for every day that I get to come into this little studio of mine where I get to create beautiful things.


Thank you for allowing me to share my passion with you and thank you for an incredible 5 years. Here are some of my favorite moments so far. Cheers to many more!





the beauty of inspiration

What inspires you? And I don't mean in the "what inspires your life" or in a philosophical way. I mean, gut reaction makes-your-heart-skip-a-beat kind of way. Maybe it's something you haven't given much thought to. But if you were to think about it, I'm sure you'd be surprised at all of the unexpected places you may find inspiration.

Maybe you find inspiration in textures. Are you a “toucher” when you shop - you know, one of those people that just HAS to touch everything you walk by? No? Is that just me?! Or maybe you could spend hours looking at the buildings in your city, soaking up the amazing architecture around you. 

I find inspiration in some of the common things that most people do, like in nature, or music or fashion. But I also find inspiration in unexpected places, like the Netflix show Chef's Table, or on the side of the road. It's not uncommon for my husband to say "no, we can't stop the car so you can pick up that shiny thing on the side of the road!" as we're driving. I don't even have to say anything, he just knows that when I get quiet and look longingly out the window, I'm usually daydreaming about all the amazing potential bits that could be lying out there.

These days, I've found inspiration more in thoughts and ideas but also in new materials and techniques. I've been playing around with a gelli plate, which has led to a new found love of monoprinting. I recently tried pastels and fell in love with the chalky finish - the sound of the pastels across the paper is almost as lovely as the pastels themself! I've also discovered image transfer and have created several pieces adding photographs onto objects, like wood blocks and packing tape.

I also recently started a new art series that celebrates all things inspiration and have started taking the physical things that inspire me and incorporating them into collages. What an amazing time we live in that we can have literal digital libraries full of visual inspiration right at our fingertips (I’m lookin’ at you Pinterest!) One of my favorite parts of this series so far, is seeing how all these seemingly unrelated objects, textures and colors actually come together to make something really beautiful.

But the thing that's been inspiring me the most lately might surprise you - it's simply curiosity. I find myself curious about ideas and beliefs, curious about how one object can relate to another, and curious about what art even is...and where it can take us.

If you haven't given much thought to what's been inspiring you lately, I challenge you to start paying attention to those little (or big) things that make your heart flutter. Maybe it's an unusual color combination, or a reflection in a window, or piece of art. 

I wholeheartedly believe that when we take time to seek out the things that inspire us, it nourishes us in amazing ways. Life is busy for all of us and let's be honest, adulting is hard. Sometimes it can feel like we are living our own version of Groundhogs Day. When we add even a little bit of inspiration into our lives, it makes us happier people. We see beauty in things we didn't notice before, we feel a bit more centered and sometimes, it feeds our soul in a totally unique way.

 

So pause a little more often and stop to smell the roses. Seek out inspiration. Find and savor those little things that make your heart skip a beat... 

 

 

 

Within these walls

Today marks the start of a new chapter for seek + be. I'm writing this from my brand new little studio, surrounded by freshly painted walls and beautifully organized shelves filled to the brim with artwork and jewelry I've made over the years. I have supplies with me now that have been sitting in storage for the last 3 years. I have a place for everything and (at least for the moment!) everything is in its place.

I've always dreamed of having my own studio, and off and on over the years I've had spaces to call my own - spare bedrooms, a friends garage, and most recently, a table in our living room. But nothing like this. It may be small but I now have a beautiful space all my own, with bright white walls and a lovely accent wall in the perfect shade of peachy-pink.  The last 2 weeks I have physically worked harder than I have in years - patching countless holes in walls, painting every square inch (including the ceiling!), moving loads from home and our storage unit, setting up shelving and bookcases. It's been a labor of love but every second of it has been worth it.

I've dreamt of this space thousands of times. It's been my go-to daydream and the sliver of hope I needed on dark days. Over the past 2 years, during some of the darkest moments throughout my husbands cancer journey, this is where my mind, heart and soul came to recharge. I thought of a moment that would happen on the other side of the journey - a moment where I'd be sitting in a space all my own, able to focus on bringing this vision of mine to life. I didn't know that place would look like, where it would be or how it would even logistically happen, but I knew that there would be a moment so powerful and amazing that it would take my breath away...and now I'm here.

I cried as I sat here in my studio this morning, overwhelmed with gratitude and the realization that this is a dream that has in fact come true. I realized that this moment feels heavy and monumental not only because I'm actually here - this crazy dream of mine is very much alive and happening right now - but also because in some ways, this is a moment that feels like the "other" side. While my husband is (thankfully!) done with treatment and surgeries,  our lives are still very much entwined with cancer. He's still recovering in many ways, we're still trying to recover financially and he won't technically be considered in remission for another 4+ years. But we're out of the thick of it. We're no longer in the eye of the storm and the fact that I can now focus on seek + be and growing it into the community I envision means that we are on the other side.

So maybe some of my tears are gratitude to be on the other side. And some of my tears may be gratitude to no longer be a care giver. Believe me, I love my husband and I would do it all again in a heartbeat if it was needed, but it is HARD.

I think mostly these tear are just pure gratitude and happiness to be experiencing this moment I have waited for and dreamt of for so long.

I can't wait to see what is created within these 4 walls...to see what dreams and ideas come to life here. And I can't wait to see how I grow as an artist. But mostly, I can't wait to share the journey with you!

seek and be studio shelves
seek and be studio bookcase
seek and be studio bookcase art

Hollie Chastain

I don't remember where I first saw the work of Hollie Chastain but I DO remember how magical it was! One of the joys (for me personally) of being a highly sensitive person, is that some moments feel like utter magic. The sights, smells, and feeling of a moment can be overwhelmingly emotional or inspiring - time stands still for just a moment while the magnitude of the experience settles into your bones. Discovering Hollie's work was one of those moments.

The first time I saw her collages, I gasped out loud and in such a weird way, it felt like coming home. Her work has continued to inspire me each and every time I see it. There is something so special about her work, I find it hard to put into words - it feels both fresh and modern and also like that treasured old letter you have from a loved one.

I couldn't help but be inspired by her work as I began the new collection. Just look how amazing it is:

Hollie Chastain artwork.jpg
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What I have hoped to capture within the Hollie color story, is that beautiful marriage her work has of being both beautifully antiqued and modern at the same time. And while I would need no excuse at all to combine pink and mustard (seriously my favorite color combo at the moment!) what I tried to create were shades of dusty pink and mustard that have a worn in feel to them - like that favorite pair of perfectly worn in jeans.

I also love the blues she uses in her work and tried to find shades that would compliment the pink and mustard. I love the final result and can't help but think of Hollie and her incredible work every time I see in piece in the color story she inspired!

 

hollie collage.jpg

When I began the new collection, I spent hours and hours choosing colors. I scoured the paint departments of Fred Meyers, Home Depot, Miller Paint and others, leaving with giant fistfuls of paint sample cards. I'd pour over different color combinations within those handfuls of swatches, swapping one shade out for another until I found something that felt [in my best Goldilocks voice]...just right. I also spent my fair share of time on Pinterest, studying colors and seeing what combinations caught my eye. Of course, all those hours on Pinterest had nothing to do with my Pinterest addiction, it was all in the name of research...very serious research I tell ya!

I'd mix paint and tinker until I got the colors I wanted. Then I'd paint a batch of beads only to realize that the wood beads made the color much darker than I anticipated, so I'd tinker some more and try again to get the shade just right. I've since learned to make my colors a bit lighter and brighter before painting them on the beads. It's saved me a lot of heartache because boy let me tell you, in those early days, I was sometimes repainting beads 4 or 5 times until the color was absolutely perfect.

During that same time, I was also thinking about how I wanted to incorporate some of the women that inspire me into the collection. I've often named pieces after women I admire and was thinking I may do the same for this collection. But as I studied color more and more and began thinking more about the women that inspire me, it seemed fitting to create color stories based on real women that have influenced me in some way.

In the coming weeks I'll be sharing about the women behind the color stories, but for now, I just wanted to share a few of the color combinations you can find in the new collection. I've made it so most necklaces can be made in each color story.

Which one is your favorite?

 HOLLIE

HOLLIE

 NIKISHA

NIKISHA

 HEATHER

HEATHER

 TIDE POOL

TIDE POOL

I'll also be offering a mix + match option - an "artists choice" if you will, where I'll create the style necklace you choose but in an assortment of colors that I pick. It's perfect for the lady that can't decide on a color or for those that are a bit adventurous and love a little surprise!

Pouring my heart out...

The past few days, I have been so inspired by Eryn Eddy and her recent blog post where she spilled open her heart and shared parts of her journey over the last year. Her post has both haunted and encouraged me. I saw parts of myself reflected in her words and I related to so many of her thoughts on processing grief.

These past 18 months have held so much grief, in many different layers, yet it has also held so much beauty for me. To be reminded that processing grief, being vulnerable and truly showing up in life looks different for every single person, was such an encouragement.

Her post inspired me to share more of my own heart, and I'll be honest, preparing for this show has been an exhilarating, exhausting, amazing, and nerve-wracking whirlwind.

I haven’t shared myself like this before, and there is a huge part of me that wants to run the other direction. Sharing this collection and this art feels vulnerable in an entirely new way. And as I finished setting up the space yesterday, I couldn’t help but feel a bit emotional. I may have spent the day straightening out jewelry on displays and hanging art on the walls, but it truly felt more like I was putting a piece of myself up on the wall for all to see.

I felt overwhelmed with excitement as I got to see these artworks up on a wall for the first time ever. I was a bit shocked by how it poured over me, a sense of wonder…a sense of pride. I made these things, I put my heart and soul (and literal blood, sweat and tears) into these things.

These simple objects are a complex and outward show of what’s in my heart, what’s in my soul. It’s a concentrated version of who I am at my very core.

To say that I feel vulnerable sharing these things is an understatement. To say I’m nervous is an understatement too. But mostly, I feel proud and I feel excited. Although it is quite scary, being able to show the truest parts of myself is exhilarating in a way I just can’t seem to articulate.

So here we are, hours away from my biggest show yet and I couldn’t be more proud or excited to bring these pieces into the world for everyone to see. Sure, I’ll probably have a vulnerability hangover tomorrow. I'll enjoy a nice big coconut milk Chai to ease the pain a bit - it helps make everything better. And I'm sure I’ll wrestle with how to determine if this show was “successful” or not, but more importantly I’ll be in a whole new place. A place where people will have seen me like never before.

And just like Eryns’ post has inspired me so much the last few days, maybe someone will see a part of themselves in my work and be inspired to share parts of themselves a little more honestly and a little more bravely.

And I can’t think of anything that could be more beautiful than that, can you? So, maybe the vulnerability hangover won't be so bad (fingers crossed).

But I'll get that Chai ready just in case...

 

Rebirth

Welcome to the brand new seek + be site, I'm so glad you are here! 

Maybe you've followed me for a while, or maybe this is your first introduction to seek + be. Either way, I couldn't think of a better place to start than right here. Because here is a moment of rebirth.

This is a new chapter in the life of seek + be. In fact, this is a new chapter in my very own life. The last 18 months, while some of the hardest, were also filled with the most personal growth I've ever experienced. I can't wait to share more about that on this shiny new blog! 

When I put seek + be on hold about a year ago, I didn't know what the future held for it. At the time, my husband was newly diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. To be honest, I didn't even know what the next day held, let alone days, weeks or months into the future. 

I just knew that my one and only priority was caring for and walking through that journey with my husband.

As is the case with so many life changing events, suddenly life becomes so much clearer. You see everything with a new perspective. 

And while it took some time, one thing that I knew for certain with that new clarity was that seek + be did in fact have a future. 

With that clarity, also came a vision of what seek + be was truly created for. More than ever before, it is clear to me that the purpose of seek + be is to serve women; to create and connect in meaningful ways and to inspire women to live bigger, bolder and more creative lives.

With that purpose as my guide, I am creating with more clarity and passion than ever before.  From this new blog, to the website, to packaging and sourcing materials, everything is being thoughtfully curated to bring that vision to life.

seek + be has been reborn from the inside out and I am so excited to share this next chapter with you!