Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering... and honoring....and living this one life full

Today I will remember how I felt on Sept TWELVE. I will remember how I looked at life. How I felt every inch of it. How I realized its shortness... its gravity. How I noticed every blessing. How I cried for the broken, and how I wanted to grasp the most joy out of this one life - as a way to honor those that weren't given more days to do so. I will remember how we felt as one people and the severe thankfulness we had for each other. It was a glimpse of our greatest moments in the depths of our biggest sorrow. And then I will strive to keep living in such a way.

"How do you ease the throb of a soul?
Growth has this way of hurting.
And bereavement has this way of birthing.
And what is becoming without a going?...

Is this what brokenness really is? A state of wonder? When we are broken, we take nothing for granted and we are astonished by breath and being and the most simple extraordinary grace. When we are broken, being at all is the wonder, everyday grace is the miracle, and we see that this is what is real: everything is a staggering gift."
-Ann Voskamp

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Casey will change my life. "it's just a hand"...

It doesn't happen often... but every now and then. These moments where you get instant chills, and your insides wrench. These God-moments I call them.... Where I feel that sudden pinching reminder that my life is not my own. That I am in need of a subtle reality check. A grace given bucket of thankfulness. These moments come when I am greatly inspired by someone. I have been inspired by many, but every now and then I know it is specifically placed.
I had my days of frustration where I'd rather not make this jewelry-creating a job. Where it is too much admin work and not enough joyful creating. But every now and then someone share's their story with me and I am reminded that to some people, it means a lot. Last year I shared Ashley's story. Ashley and her sister Mandy will forever imprint me, and I have tucked their story in to my life lessons and noted it as one of my careful truths to live by.
Recently, I was gifted with another amazing woman to "meet" via etsy. She only gave me a small bit of her reason for her order in her check out notes, but it was enough already to make me thankful for her.
She was purchasing a design that is special to me. It carries my life verse - "not by my strength but by my spirit".
And in her message, this:
"I'm laying in a hospital bed with a staph infection waiting to see if the infection has spread throughout my hand, and while shopping to distract myself, I found this. It feels supportive in a way. If the infection has spread too far, they're going to take my hand. I'm 31, I have three children. I sort of need this hand! But this necklace will help me remember that its just a hand, I can get through it with support and inner strength. So thank you, your creativity just gave me a life raft, and I didn't realize until now how badly I needed one." 

Instant tears! "its just a hand". That will be another one of those learning moments I will tuck in to my life lessons and pull it out when I need it. I just kept thinking - if that was me, I'd be a wreck on the floor, screaming and angry. And she was able to say "its just a hand". Amazing.
I wrote her back to thank for her sharing that with me, because I knew that come the day when I faced my battle, I would remember that Casey was able to remember that it was just a hand and that she still had her life, and her kids and her family. And that is enough.
I also asked her if she'd be interested in sharing her story on my blog because she had such an amazing attitude about it and I knew that if more people, like me, heard it - it would help them to realize how right she was, and that we can each find courage and bravery when we remember that there is so much more in life, and that how we handle suffering can influence others.

I had no idea that her hand was only a small part of the story, and this life lesson would be so much bigger than I thought.


My hand is doing well, They took a small chunk (ew, for lack of a better word!) and shaved some bone, but I am keeping my hand. But my hand is only part of the story, there's a reason I got the infection that had to be treated in hospital. 

On what made me sick? Ugh, where to begin. I have an immune deficiency, my body doesn't make T-Cells to fight germs like other people's bodies do. Sort of like HIV, only this condition is genetic and not transferable to others. My children do not have it, thankfully. I get injections of something called "Gamma Globulin" its something normal bodies make, it helps me make t-cells to fight every day infections. 

When I was pregnant with my daughter, Ainsley, early on It was discovered that I had cervical cancer, which would spread very quickly because of the increased hormones from the pregnancy, and the doctors told me to abort her. I refused. They were adamant even as the pregnancy progressed and even pushed me to have her dangerously early and I flatly refused. I had her via c-section at 38 weeks, when she was nice and healthy and at full gestation, During the c-section they removed most of my cervix and assured me that I was safe, I had clear margins and they saw no more signs of cancer. 

During the pregnancy the situation was made MORE difficult because my husband and I felt as though we had to keep it a secret as his Grandmother was dying of ovarian cancer and everyone was so emotionally devastated as she simply went downhill so quickly. She was hanging on for Ainsley. In the family there had been six great-grandchildren born, all boys. Everyone was done having children, I was having this last (I have two boys as well) child, and I and everyone else so desperately wanted a girl. Goodness, how Grandma wanted that girl. She was so happy when I told her it was to be a girl she said, "Well thank goodness. I think you've perfected the boy process, its time we started on girls." She wanted to wait for Ainsley to be born to find out what her name was, but when it became clear she wasn't going to make it, everyone flew to Pittsburgh, PA to be at her side. We couldn't fly, I had to stay home and it was so hard, but she still lingered. Our Aunt said she knew she'd been waiting to hear the baby's name, so they held the phone to her ear and I said "Her name is Ainsley Grandma, it means 'my own'. You can go now, shes waiting to meet you, and when you're done holding her, please send her back to me." She'd been unresponsive until that point for several days, but grunted and tried to nod. A few minutes later she died, one week before Ainsley was born. 
I tell my boys that "Grandma Ginny" held Ainsley for an entire week before she was born and then let us have her, thats why she came out so healthy even though I was so unwell. A few months ago I went in for my routine check, early actually, I wasn't due until Sept but something told me to go in, and my uterus and ovaries are riddled with aggressive and fast growing cancerous tumors. Its spreading faster than the treatment can contain. In a couple weeks I'm going to have to have the surgery because we can't wait any longer, its spreading too fast. The problem is that because of my immune issues, I simply don't heal and I might go in for the surgery and not come out. I wanted to wait for school to start so I could see my oldest son, Connor, start 3rd grade. Hes so smart and inquisitive and genuinely kind. I want to see Max go to Kindergarten, such a strong, happy loving boy. I want to see Ainsley turn 3. I feel such a greed with the time I have, I WANT more. There are so many silly little things I want, and not to settle for less. Both boys have summer birthdays, so I made them extra special this year; A superhero birthday for Max, each child got a cape and mask and all his friends went crazy on a giant inflatable waterslide in the back yard. Connor had Indiana Jones and all the boys got hats and had to use a treasure map and clues to lead them all over the house for their goodie bags and then to play Indiana Jones video games half the night glggling and telling inappropriate jokes like boys do. And then there is AInsley. I just can't let go yet without giving her this last memory. So I won't. I'm just going to fight with every breath, every fiber, every cell and push and pull and this stupid cancer with have to drag me every inch of the way if it wants me. And my body might be tired and weak but my spirit is burning and blazing fire against anything that would take me from my children. 

I recently bought a necklace that says "not by my strength, but by my spirit" which for me means when my physical strength gives out, which it does tend to do, my spirit carries me through difficulty. I grasp that necklace often, to remind me that my inner light is stronger than I know. And I find my way through.

Thank You, 

.....And I am a blubbering mess.
So much bigger - this story. Not just a hand. A life. A real, living, heart loving mama, bigger than words, sort of life.
I can't imagine thinking of all the things I want my kidlets to know just in case.
I do keep a gratitude journal that I daily write down our happy moments and tape photos of them into, so one day they can look back and see it all. But I just can't imagine not knowing if I'd be here for the next big memory. The Firsts of everything. The hoping I've told them enough. All of it.

This necklace design originally stemmed from my life verse. I have spent a life time feeling weak, but determined to conquer with my spirit. Casey, however, gives it a whole new meaning because she truly exemplifies it, and she has also given me the strength to know that if she can face her battles with such strength and grace... I can face mine. And I will forever think of her when I face the even bigger ones. I will try not to throw myself on the floor like I always imagined I would, because I will remember that SHE said - "it's just a hand".

Today, I am praying for Casey, as she has her first procedure today. And I will BELIEVE that she will come through healthy and strong and recover. Because what a woman this earth is blessed to have, and those kids are gifted to be raised by. And what a true blessing she has been in teaching me some heavy duty life lessons.
Like Ashley, I will never forget Casey either. Or my dear friend Rachel O. These mamas have taught me to be a better one, to be braver, to be stronger, to be more thankful and ever present.
The life lessons these warriors have given me -  I am planning to add to my own necklace, with their names - as my stones of reminders.

I hope you will always remember them too.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Long time no blog!

I know. It's tragic. This lack of blogging....please forgive me.
But I have something crafty to share! It's late. of course, and I do not claim to be a very crafty person, so I realize this may not be all that impressive, but it's one of my new favorite sentimental art pieces in the house. This piece I made for the hubs.

For Father's Day I was on the hunt for some old, weathered wood.
When the crazy guy on the side of the road with all the cool junk and fabulous wood was completely unhelpful with my desire to purchase said wood, I realized I was going to have to hunt for it.
Thankfully I have a dad that likes to hunt too! :) And he found this fabulous door left behind in a vacant lot.

Now on my own, this door would have been useless to me, but I also have the craftiest dad in the world.

So he turned this door, into this amazing wood plaque for me, and even roughed it up a bit more, and burned it a little. It's about 25"x18". It was better than I could have imagined.

So then I was on the hunt for some metal letters. This, I found, was not as easy as I thought! I thought good 'ol Home Depot would have them right next to the metal numbers you put on your house. nope!
15 stops later, I gave up. Hobby Lobby was out of "D" in nearly every metal object I could find. Figures, during daddy-week. So I got the wood ones and spray painted them.
I did find the "Love" in metal which I liked mixing up the materials, textures and colors.
I found this piece of metal mesh, and painted it also and then put some craft wood across it and then stick-on foam letters in aqua.
Then I glued all my black and white pictures and then added nails to all the edges because I liked the look.
In very small print I wrote on each of the photos a one word characteristic of him. 
I also had my daughter write him a note that I put on there, and she signed her (and her brother's name) at the bottom.
I thought I'd be able to carve into it some, but it didn't show up well, so I hand stamped a bronze metal rectangle and added it over the bottom left photo with "Happy Fathers Day 2012".

{It looks much better in person}  :)


what do you think?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

an *Update* and a big reveal of my new favorite thing!!!!

thankful #141: hope filled futures.readiness to fly.

{Lyrics: Priscilla Ahn, Dream}

I recently wrote this: http://myabrucedesigns.blogspot.com/2012/04/feeling-through-inner-walls-cracked.html

It briefly, and I do mean briefly - detailed some things I was struggling with.
I am happy to report a few updates.

The little man after week one of swim turned a major corner and it was such a RELIEF to watch him HAPPY in the water! Not only happy, but totally capable, and getting it, and swimming - - - at TWO! And able to save himself AT TWO! Such a proud, happy, more comforted mama I am for that! THANK YOU MISS COLLEEN!

Also, my happy little munchkins, and the bigger munchkin man made me this lovely art piece for Mothers Day. Which means someone is also paying attention :)
Painted by my awesome kidlets, and then I love how the hubs finished it by incorporating my sentiments from my last post, about "we keep climbing"
Awwww. so us.

Now for the big reveal! I've been hiding this little surprise for WEEKS! .... dun dun DUN!!!!!

So, here I am again very BRIEFLY just giving you some bullet points, but this has been a very hard school year for us. Hard because our daughter usually leaves school sad at the end of the day. Sad that anyone would want to be mean to her. Mean to her - every.day. {in FIRST GRADE!}
I almost think it's been more traumatizing on us than it has been on her. Nonetheless, at times it's been very very serious. We had a rough few weeks especially recently.

This is the kid that has always been one to stand out in a crowd. Always been smiling, laughing and just has this magnetic personality that attracts awesomeness. She has been like this since she was 6 months! I can honestly say I know it is unique because I was NEVER LIKE THIS! She loves EVERYONE, and loves them deeeeeeeply!!!!! When she was younger, it was always a horrific sad day to say goodbye to virtually anyone. She would miss the neighbor, she would miss the check out girl at the grocery store, she would miss the person at the post office. She just loved LOVED people. She wanted everyone to come home to play with her. She would hang out with the adults at the kids parties, she was just always the life of the party. I never imagined she would have a hard time socially. never.

{magnetic.even with a pine cone}
{love of all things crab}

{always smiling, this face. love love love this face}

So when I started to worry about her personality/confidence/spark taking a dip.... I was desperate to grab on to it and remind her it was there before she forgot it.

I wanted that BACK!!!

So I had a momentary genius thought. I have a brilliant artist friend. In 8th grade we were "Leah1 and Leah2". She was already off the charts artistic at that age. And now here she is, creating comics, working for the NY Post, and other magazines and outside commissions. She is amazing. So I reached out to her and asked her if I could commission her to create a custom piece. A work of art of my girl. To remind her of who she is. To capture all her spunkiness, her laughter, her bright smile, her funky love of mismatched clothing, her bravery and confidence that she had when she was taking self defense classes, and then just put her somewhere beautiful, some place she loves, a happy place.
She has not been in a happy place since August.

Leah2 captured all of it. everything. I was beaming.

She got her gigormo turquoise bow headband, her classic-Addy red cowgirl boots, her ever-present funky leggings, the mismatched ruffle skirts, the boxing gloves she has from her classes, her love of the beach, (and crab!), and her victorious smile... on top of the world. This is how I see her.

This will forever be my favorite piece of art in the house. Like her own little comic book cover,
of Super-Addy, and everything beautiful that she represents.
I took the amazing image Leah made and had it printed on metal to make the colors pop. It looks AWESOME!

I could never thank Leah enough for this. It was the pick me up we all needed. It was a wonderful distraction to work with her on during some difficult weeks, and it is such a great reminder to us of our favorite little big girl. It's also a happy representation of what we have to look forward to. On to bigger and better things, and some happier places and some wonderful new memories to make. I'm so excited for her, and to see where she goes in this world, and to continue to watch her grow and blossom. The growing pains are indeed painful to watch her go through. She's figuring out that not everyone is kind, and she has a hard time standing up for herself because she doesn't want to be unkind back. But this girl is a rock inside. I know it. She is indeed strong, and she will overcome. And her kindness - - always prevails. We couldn't be more proud of who she is. I am especially proud that on her last day of school she received a character award - for "most friendly".
I cherish that quality in her. It was the best one I could have picked for her to receive! And so true!

You truly must go check Leah out. She is amazing and so fun to work with! http://leahtiscione.com/
I just love her. I could never thank her enough!!!!

And tonight we gave this sweet gift to our precious Addy.
She was ELATED!!!!

And Tonight her little bro kept calling her "Addy superhero". She loved it. I love seeing her spirit look refreshed and renewed and rejuvenated. That was exactly the purpose. 
She's truly excited for a positive, hope-filled future

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"feeling through inner walls cracked"...

thankful #134: *rain on windows, creeping*

I get in these pent up contemplative phases, where I don't realize I sort of shut down and get quiet, because I'm just listening to all my inner thoughts. I'm sorting them, trying to dig deeper to find what the emotion is. Trying to sense my way through a maze by feeling it. And then I remember, like today when I'm driving and I can feel the rain coming, and I can feel my outside crashing and I remember what it is that I'm not doing, that helps me find my way. I need to write. I am in a place of feeling overwhelmed in many areas, and I just need to take a minute to jot out some thoughts so I can move some of these bits over to the 'let it go' column.
I had a teacher in 5th grade, Mrs. Burke. She told me kind affirmations about my needing to write. I grasped on to that, and believed her. Not like most things which I didn't really believe. I wish I could track her down.
I can see her happy face in my mind. She reminds me to keep writing.

I think I've been struggling because I'm in a place where I'm simultaneously watching both of my kids do things they don't want to do. It makes my innards ache. It makes me fret and feel the anxiety that I know they're also feeling. It makes me wish i could just say "sure, Ok, today we take the easy way". But I can't. I must make them face things that are hard for them, that they dread. I count the days down as they do. I go from shuffling one off to her battle zone, to face kids that are mean to her, to know that her self esteem has dwindled a little this year, to wish I could walk her through her every day. Wishing I could stand next to her with my armor on, and fight her battles, or jump a brick wall and save her from them. They are merely words, but I can see her spirit is tired. Mama is tired too. We count the days down, for the last 3 weeks, which i wish I could take from her. Take the easy route. But which is worse? We will not be conquered, and we will not run from our fears. And we will not let them win. I try to guard her heart, and be her home base, and to hope that she is being made into a warrior, and not instead trampled into a fearful puddle.

Then back home to prepare the other one, to try to build up his courage, to make him feel braver because I know he needs it. He must know how to save himself in water. This I know is a must. I know because my daughter saved herself at three, right after she graduated these lessons. The difference is that she loved every moment of her learning. She loved the water, she loved all of it. My boy - he hates it. He becomes an unrecognizable banshee screaming creature each and every day. I watch as the dread & panic slowly sets in for him, and I want to hug him and to let him keep holding on, but I have to let go. I have to know that what he is learning is more important. I have to trust in what I know to be true and I have to stick to the plan. He is taught with patience and kindness, and in a very safe environment, but boy is he angry. He screams for me, and I have to stay still. He has to learn this. I have to learn this.
I struggle because I am entirely outside of my comfort, and I'm trusting others with my most precious things, when I know they are sad and scared and wanting me. That knocks on me all day, like a giant, bullying, pecking duck. After a while it begins to break me. Not so much the swim lessons, but the bigger picture parts.
I am reminded as we near mothers day... all these things that us mamas have to be. I am not sure what I thought it would be, but it is surely a mighty mountain - and we climb it. We climb when it rains, we climb when it's rough, we climb when it's slippery, we climb when it hurts and when we are tired. And when we fall we cannot stay down, we have to climb again. It is a relentlessly hard journey but that is only because it is vitally that important. This is the journey we are given where failing is not an option. These littles are on loan to me - for a time. You can fail at work, you can fail the PTA, or on the soccer field, and you can fail in other places, but not here. Yes, in smaller bits - i feel like I've failed on a daily basis. But in the biggest, grandest picture of life - we can never stop the climb, we can never hit that button that says "give up" because it's the "easy" button.
And so I must remember to also not let my kids use this charmingly easy button in life. We get through it.
The only way out is through.
In it to win in.
We won't be taken down,
and we will keep climbing.
Never give up.
I am thankful for new days. There is grace in that.

Happy Mothers Day 
to all you various sorts of mothering people

"We may sorrow but we still sow. 
And though we are broken, 
we still bend and begin; we do our work though we weep.

We tell our hurts we must still do the task at hand if we hope to harvest; 
though we may not feel like it, the fields need seeds.

So we hang out the clothes as we try to hang on, and we stir the pot as all the pain spills, 
and we still sow though in tears, and let go of every seed, 
burying hopes and hurts in faith, 
and out of loss, new life will unfurl, our tears watering rows"...

Recent adds and thoughts on mamas

I believe there will be lots of happy mamas on Mothers Day.
I hammer little bits on tiny pieces and try to remember that each one will speak to their lives or represent their story or someone in their story. I am privileged to honor each of their journeys, their strengths, their weakness, their courage, and their bravery. It takes all of that and more to be a mom. Some days we need to remember just how tough we are, as it requires MUCH.

Friday, April 20, 2012

New up-cycled design

WATCH OUT MOTHERS DAY! I up-cycled some earrings for this, so there will only be ONE! I am LOVING this one. Long 33" chain with dramatic mix of beads and crystals and a bronze flower drop. Antiqued copper colored circle says "this is the way...walk in it". Inspired from a quote by Ann Voskamp:

"And listening to happy memories reverberating off inner walls cracked, I realize I don’t need a voice, I don’t need to know what to say, what to do. Maybe that isn't the first step for any of us. Maybe something else comes first.

Maybe before doing, before speaking --- maybe we first need to listen -- fervently, faithfully listen.

Listen, so that “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

I've got a few more in the mix, I just need to find the time to photo and upload....

PS - one more week to get in your Mother's Day orders! :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New designs, new pre-made shop section and PLEASE get on the Mother's Day orders early :)

Hey folks! 2 important messages.
1. I've added a new shop section for pre-made & ready to go items.
That makes them discounted with reduced shipping. Almost all of these are upgraded in materials and chains. I've added 12 new items.
SECOND: this is the perfect opportunity to grab your mother's day gift because let me warn you that this holiday is my 2nd busiest one of the year.
I will be limiting custom requests during the next month, and I close off orders 2 weeks prior to M-day, so you have about a month left!
Here is the ready to go section: http://www.etsy.com/shop/MyaBruceDesigns?section_id=11304651

Here are samples of all the new designs I've made in the last few weeks. Most of these are in the shop

And here's a snapshot and follow up of my time at Whippy Cake's Fix Friday! It was great!  Thanks for all who came out!