Sunday, April 22, 2012

Charms 101

On my birthday last year, I stopped in at a local shop called Brooklyn Charm and decided that I was going to make myself a necklace. Because it was my birthday, I decided that this necklace was going to have lots of MEANING and that it would be all about ME. My hopes and my dreams, represented via talismans, if you will. If you don't know me (or even if you do), you might be interested to know that I'm fairly superstitious. Not in a fear-the-black-cat kind of way, but more in a hold-your-breath-and-make-a-wish-while-driving-through-tunnels kind of way. I am a firm believer in luck, and an even firmer believer that things happen for a reason. I have a sneaking suspicion that there is a soul inside of my teddy bear, and one night, after having dinner with a dear friend last January, I tied the bakery string from the pie we ate around my wrist and decided I would wear it until it fell off. (Unfortunately, it has not yet fallen off and it is not looking so hot, but it always makes me think of my friend!) Similarly, I have a hunch that if you wear a necklace with meaningful charms, the charms are then infused with an intention, and by wearing the necklace, you will then activate that intention and carry it with you.

Of course, the charms that I picked out on that day were a feather (for flight!), a wishbone (for luck!), a heart (for love!), and a hummingbird (for...more flight! Speed? Maybe because it's so pretty? Yes, prettiness!). I was so excited about my birthday intention charm necklace that I didn't stop to realize that just about every other girl in Brooklyn has these very same charms, also wishing for flight! luck! love! prettiness! It was all very personal at the time, you just have to trust me. So I picked out my charms, and I found the corresponding jump-rings, and a nice girl helped me find the right chain, and then she strung them all on the necklace and I walked out the door a new woman. Until I got home and realized that they all just kinda grouped at the center and you couldn't see anything but the feather. But with the other junk behind it, it looked sort of like a feather laying atop a scrap pile. Which was exactly the look I was going for.
I set the necklace aside for months, and then last weekend I went back into Brooklyn Charm and asked what I could do to fix it. Yet another very nice girl in the shop suggested that they could just attach the charms to the chain so they wouldn't slide around, and I thought, well that's a great idea! But they were busy and I didn't feel like waiting, and Robb was coming to meet me for a smoothie (the Girlfriend Getaway smoothie, to be exact) and I thought, well I'll just go home and attach the charms to the chain myself. How hard can it be?

Friends, let me tell you something in no uncertain terms: Jewelry is a pain in the ass. And this coming from a person who has voluntarily made her own candy corn! They make it look so easy in the store, popping those jump-rings on and off the chain like they're just twisting the stem off an apple. And you know what? If I had the appropriate tools, it might have been easy, too, but all I had were a pair of extra large needle-nose pliers and some other type of wrench or something. (I'm bad at tools.)
The first step was to take the charms off of the chain. The heart, which had no jump-ring, slid right off and will be used another day on another necklace. The other charms, however, needed to be surgically removed with pliers. To do this, you first need to hold one side of the tiny jump-ring in one set of pliers, then grab the other side of the jump-ring with the other pliers. Once you've got a grip, you sort of twist them away from each other, creating an opening big enough to pop them off the chain. This part was not so bad. It was getting them back ON the chain--like, attaching the jump-rings to the tiny little chain links--that was a pain in the ass. Those little chain holes are so teeny tiny! And the charm kept sliding off of the ring while I tried to jam it through the tiny chain hole. But eventually (and I'm talking like an hour later, no joke), I finally managed to get them back on the chain.
So you may be wondering (or not, that's okay too) what I mean by love, luck, flight, and prettiness.

Love is maybe the easiest to explain. I could stand to love people more each day. And not just my man,  but also my friends and my family, and every creature I encounter. Even the jerks. Especially the jerks. Without love, I fear my edges will harden, and some days on the subway, they get pretty damn rigid.

Luck is what I like to call it when a thing works out my way. And sometimes, I would even venture to say that luck is a result of good choices. But occasionally I've noticed that luck can even happen when you've made a bad choice...and it's that kind of luck that makes me the most hopeful (it's never too late to make it better; no matter what, you are never beyond the blessings of occasional good fortune.)

Flight is not leaving, and it's not running away. For me, it is the moment when all of the practicing--the sharpening of the mind, the largeness of compassion, the daily practice of trying to become a fuller person--coalesces, becoming something that is more meaningful. It is the moment when the things you have wanted and worked for start to happen and life begins anew. To make a very literal metaphor, I imagine the Wright Brothers in their workshop, knowing that their physics is right, and that it's just a matter of time and patience before their experiments yield positive results. They had already seen the fits and starts, the glimmers of success. When the plane finally left the ground, I'm sure they were ecstatic, but not totally surprised.

The hummingbird, as I said before...well it's just pretty. And if you read this blog often enough, then you know that's fairly important to me, too.


  1. I agree. You really could love me more.

    I really like your thoughts on flight. I think that explains perfectly why birds and flying things appeal to me -- not because I want to escape, but because I want to take off and (OMG this sounds so lame) soar!

  2. Erin, I have to say that I totally share your "OMG this sounds so lame" lament. This blog post took me days to write because I kept thinking, now how do I explain "flight" in a non-cheesy way??? Basically, I listened to a lot of Air Supply and just let the feeling flow, you know?