When I was five, we lived in a modest, 1970’s neighborhood and our next door neighbor was a magician. I believed in magic at five, and when I saw him pull a bird out of hat, I was convinced he could turn me into a bird.
One afternoon, he promised the neighborhood kids a casual magic show, and I remember waiting for hours for him to emerge from his front door. There was a chain-link fence separating our yards, and like a prisoner hanging on to the bars that separates ‘us from them’, I patiently waited for my shot at flying freedom.
As I was sitting on the ground, I remember thinking about being able to fly, and what that would really mean. Once I was turned into a bird, I planned on taking flight around the neighborhood, and imagined what my little world looked like from that higher perspective.
Then the thoughts of flying further crept in…and the possibility of flying out of range of my neighborhood and leaving my family.
Perhaps for good.
I pondered on this…and remember deciding it would be worth leaving to see and experience the freedom of unfettered flight.
He finally emerged from his front door, and by this time, there was quite the crowd of kids milling about the yard.
I walked over, sat down on his lawn and waited for the right time to ask him to please turn me into a bird.
In about a minute, I felt my anticipation climb to the highest peak known to me at that time only to have it come crashing down to earth when he told me his brand of magic didn’t include turning cute five-year-old girls into birds.
I was crushed.
Looking back, I realize that this moment in my life was the beginning of my spiritual search for freedom.
I took the freedom of flight literally as all children do as they begin to accumulate their beliefs about our world.
But flight is available to all of us, in a very real way.
My work as a jewelry designer and Human Design Guide are intimately connected.
I am in the process of becoming a full-fledged human being.
That is the significance of the two birds I use in my branding of Soul to Substance and Stacie Florer Jewelry.
In what context does full-fledged mean to me?
It is about becoming a fully developed person by integrating your survival instincts, ability to reason and conceptualize and to feel what it means to live YOUR life.
Everyone’s path to flight is unique. As a Human Design Guide, I help you discover what it is that is weighing you down and not allowing for lift-off.
As a jewelry designer, I work with metal to embody the dance of light and dark through my use of patina, and to celebrate and explore the long process it takes to become full-fledged as an artist, and as a human being exploring the concept of creativity and self-expression.
Birds are incredible teachers. They have been my spiritual companions in so many ways over the course of my 51 years.
And that’s why I’ve included them in how I connect with others via my calling as an artist and guide.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving…
Dancing Buds, Sterling Silver Earrings by Stacie Florer 2017
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Elizabeth Appell
As I look out my window, I see OLD trees starting to form buds in anticipation of longer, sun-lit days and warmer weather.
It occurred to me that those trees, at least most of them, have been around longer than I have; yet, they still produce buds every year, with the promise of blossoming.
It isn’t about endurance. I believe its more about trust. Trusting in the wisdom of the seasons, and that just because one year passes, doesn’t mean that the season to blossom is permanently over.
Our culture perpetuates this myth that blossoming is only for the young. But nature insists that blossoming happens when the right environmental conditions are met, regardless of age.
Ahh…isn’t that wonderful to contemplate? Just a little turn of the mind…a bit of noticing about the reality that just IS when we slow down enough to really notice our lives and our place in the natural process of living.
I have a scraggly lavender plant that I have been trying to keep alive inside my home while winter gives way to spring. The environmental conditions are absolutely terrible for it…no sun as my house is rather dark; no wind to strengthen her so I lightly stroke her leaves whenever I pass by on my way out the door. I can give her warmth; I can pretend there is wind, but I can’t possibly replicate the natural environment she needs to thrive and grow.
I am just giving her enough to stay alive, but her potential is on hold. The way she looks reminds me of how I feel when my environment is not allowing me to thrive.
Do you know what your particular environment must be to bud, unfurl and lean towards the light?
Forming your root system
For this stage in my life, I knew a few years ago that I needed a stable, physical place to form my foundation. After living on the wind, a home was now necessary for me to put down a root system. I was ready to land.
For many, many years, I lived like the annual. I had a shallow root system, and most of my energy was being put into seeding those I came into contact with new ideas that were potentially mutative for them.
While I was ‘on the move’, I befriended so many that were in places of transition. Energetically, this pattern of acquiring experiences with people that were undergoing tremendous change kept repeating itself. I noticed it, and took note.
Our friendships bloomed so quickly…a great sudden burst of energy! I loved it! But either I would move or they would move..and the great thrust of pent up energy was gone again.
For the time, it was correct for me to live like that.
But when it was time for me to change my environment, I felt it in a very deep way. I couldn’t seem to replenish myself for the energy needed to keep producing those seeds from shallow roots. Instinctively, I knew it was time to work on my own root system.
Over the last year or so, I have used my energy in a much different way. It is so much slower than before!
I met a few people my first year..mostly those in my neighborhood. Close to my rooting system…I didn’t venture out that far from where I was most needed energetically. Although many of my friends and family did visit us…and that was quite novel!
As those people in my life that have been so important to me while I was on the wind traveled through, I watched where they wanted to congregate for communion in my home.
In those areas, I have developed the environment to help support conversations and closeness. I am using gorgeous crystals from my home state of Arkansas to help amplify those areas energetically as well as choosing paint colors to promote warmth, security and safety.
Where they sleep while here, I have lovingly attended to developing a cozy place for them to rest and recover.
My jewelry studio environmentally needs some help..I have noticed that I haven’t quite tweaked it to where it will support my deep rooted desires creatively..but that will continue to develop slowly before it is ready to bloom.
And I’m ok with the longer timeframe. I am struggling with getting rid of the shallow rooted way of thinking about my work environment!
What does your physical environment reflect back to you regarding your own root system? Is it shallow like the annual, or deep like the perennial? Or somewhere in-between like the biannual?
All three of these root systems have a purpose…but what happens when your particular root system no longer works for you and you stop thriving?
Your nights probably become shorter (sleep issues anyone?) and the desire for a new environment starts to really take hold (daydreaming replaces night-dreaming).
As to the flip side of this notion, I have observed friends that have very deep root systems, but they are no longer able to form new buds and bloom. The old ideas of themselves are dying within; and its time for them to put their energy into forming new life seeds and reproducing their essence elsewhere.
Sometimes, a deeply rooted being provides much shade for those around them, and those people aren’t interested in stepping into their own light at the expense of losing the shade that you may provide. That can be a very difficult transition to make.
There is a time for many where it is now correct for them to take to the wind and see where they land to start anew. Shallow rooted plants often produce the most gorgeous, life-infused blooms!
I know what it is to ride the wind…to live with a heart-quickened existence. Possessions are light, keys are few on the keychain and total immersion in experiences is vital as great amounts of energy are collected to produce something new.
Shallow or deep, or somewhere in between, all of them are necessary to us as we continue to evolve and grow.
But blooming requires so many things…and none of them are dependent upon the age we are! Our roots just have to support our intentions, and our environment must nourish and support our ideals…and then the buds will set, and we will be in a place to unfurl.
Simple, but not easy!
“Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it.” rumi
I had to move and interact with garden to know it.
When we bought this house, I stood in the backyard and just breathed deep. I felt like I hadn’t had a proper deep breath in decades. I told Shayne that this house was ours…I could breathe here. And over the last year, I have been rediscovering what it feels like to be in sync with my environment — to breathe deep every day, and to notice all the beauty and life that surrounds us.
I’ve entered a new phase in my professional and private life. I’m all about integration these days. It’s about living slow and deliberative. It’s about noticing and responding to the vast changes that occur minute by minute in this life.
I’m into cycles…and embracing them in their time.
My jewelry is about capturing the feelings and impressions of my life now…I want more pretty. I want more softness. When its time for hard edges, I will embrace them too…this winter there will be more hard edges but for now, I am relishing the soft lines and fuzzy features of my home yard. Of my private park..my sanctuary.
I made my debut appearance in Roanoke last weekend where I showcased this new phase of noticing and translating into wearable art jewelry. I had a great time, meeting lots of new people and noticing all of the beauty around me in the form of faces and smiles and laughter.
I have a lunch date tomorrow with a new friend, with more promises of get togethers and social activities for the future.
I have neighbors that I adore…I now have teenager friends that I attend their school functions and am excited to watch them grow in their own creative endeavors. It’s a wonderful new phase of my life…community. Belonging. Growing while rooted. It was time.
And its time for me to show back up here, too. I took a year off. It was needed and I am so appreciative to have been able to do it. To just be for a while. Not having an agenda. I struggled with it until I felt like ‘doing’ again…I’ve been immersed in my Human Design work over the last year and am looking forward to becoming more involved with this system of self-awareness moving forward.
Life is good…and sweet.
Why do I make jewelry? To align my desires and beliefs about living a meaningful life with my business goals of producing personal adornment infused with meaning and intention.
The vehicle that I have chosen to use to explore this amazing journey between an idea and a real, 3-D object is via my jewelry. I want all parts of the process, from thinking about it–to making it– to offering it for sale– to teaching it to be a singular experience for both myself and the future owner of my efforts and ideas in metal.
Soul to Substance was a name that was given to me during a contemplative and solo walk in the woods when Shayne and I were traveling around the United States a couple of years ago. We decided to spend a few months in Arkansas, where we both grew up, and we found a vacation house to rent in Hot Springs Village. It was in the summer, which is a beautiful time to be in Arkansas, although its really hot.
There was a trail nearby, called the Mourning Dove Trail, that I liked to walk with Sadie daily. It is a special, special place for me. I was out walking the trail by myself, stopped by a small creek and experienced one of those moments where you have such clear and sudden insight into a BIG idea that it throws you back for a moment in its stunning simplicity and meaning.
After Sadie and I left the creek, as I was walking, it occurred to me that the clothes I had on my body, the shoes and socks on my feet and the glasses on my face all began as an idea in someone else’s mind.
We are literally surrounded by ideas by way of anything and everything that has every been crafted, manufactured or built. I like to tell my nieces that if you want to be a mind reader, then read a book. That is nothing but ideas and thoughts from someone you might want to learn from and be inspired from…and the miracle of the printing press! To be able to spread ideas in word form with complete sentences for those lucky enough to be able to read changed our world!
But as I was wandering about on that trail, I realized that our world is based on this principle in that everything starts out as something that can’t be seen, touched, smelled or tasted. It begins in the soul.
That wispy barely there seed of something starts in our souls, turns into an idea and our purpose is to practice bringing our ideas and our ideals into the world, into the physical.
Or as my friend Cindy said to me so beautifully and astutely a few days ago regarding why we artists feel so compelled to make things, it’s about the “challenge of working through an idea and having it turn in to a real, dimensional object.”
But even if you are not an artist in the traditional sense of the word, you do create daily.
Your ideas about your life show up in your physical environment. What you choose to surround yourself with, what you choose to watch on television, listen to on your radio or iPod…you are constantly creating your reality based on other people’s ideas, as well as your own.
This was another big, fat Aha! moment for me. I have the power to choose the ideas that I want to live with…all the way down to something as simple as the type of toothpaste I decide to brush my teeth with each day.
This seemingly simple realization changed my outlook on just about everything in regard to how Shayne and I want to live the rest of our lives. Shayne has had a dream about building a small house whereby everything about it and in it has a specific purpose. He wants to build it with his own hands. He wants to infuse his ideas about simple living into a physical structure for us to live in when we are not traveling around so much.
(Update: We bought a house instead! But we are ‘re-working it’ with our own hands!)
We are both moving down the pathway of being mindful about what comes into our home in the way of products that we use, art that we purchase, furniture that we sit or sleep on…we want and are in the process of clearing out any ‘things’ that we feel were made or manufactured with the idea of subtracting from the quality of the moments we have left on earth.
I have two favorite pairs of pants that I wear all of the time. I bought them at the Saturday Market in Eugene, Oregon 10 years ago. They are handmade. I met the woman that makes them, and she was at the time a single woman, raising the sweetest, chubbiest child I have had the pleasure of meeting.
Her child was always with her, and as I talked to this maker of pants, she told me that she made her own clothes using hemp because it would last forever, getting softer with time and washings; it was very durable and easy to work with and she wanted some pants that had an elastic waistband to grow and shrink with time as our bodies naturally do. Every pair was infused with love for her child, as this was the means that she was able to house and feed them both.
When I wear them, I briefly think about her intentions for making them, and it makes me feel good knowing that I choose to clothe myself with the energy and essence of this amazingly earthy and industrious mother. And the pants have lasted through hiking and fishing trips, infused with memories of being with friends and family doing some of the things that I love spending my time doing. And she was right about the elastic waistband…I can continue to wear them whatever size my belly is at whatever time in life I happen to be in, as I happen to have a stomach that really does expand an inch when I eat ANYTHING.
That is what Soul to Substance is about for me.
I want to live from my Soul and see what Substance comes from that. This is what my jewelry is about as well. I still don’t have words to try and explain why I am compelled to put so much texture on my work, or why I feel such a strong urge to make my jewelry the way I do. I am still figuring that out, working out what it all means for me. I have understood my jewelry on a soul level…but I am gradually getting to where I can talk about the feelings that emerge as I bring it out of my Soul into Substance.
It is ever evolving, but I do feel like I am getting closer. I dream of an art retreat someday called Soul to Substance where those of us that are interested in exploring this idea more can gather and see what ideas we can birth into this world. I see Soul to Substance as a big umbrella idea…many things can fit under it!
“When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings.” ― Dean Jackson
I planted a Butterfly bush last year and this year the yield of brightly colored winged-ones has been a true joy. I try and seed my environment with symbols of change, to continually reinforce my belief that metamorphous is always possible, and that transition is the nature of life itself.
My father moved in with us in late March, and he is moving into his new apartment in a couple of weeks. He is in the middle of great change, and this morning we had a conversation about trying to go back to the actual environments where we have experienced a sense of peace and tranquility. For me, it was in Cabot, Arkansas, where I lived as a kid.
Up until I was 15 years old, I thought that I would live in Cabot for the rest of my life, my parents would grow old there and that often wished for sense of safety (which is always accompanied with mundaneness) would be my future.
Life had different plans….
In one week, I learned that my parents were divorcing, my brother and I were moving to Little Rock and attending a private school, AND we found my dog dead near a creek that ran between us and our neighbor’s house. It was a pivotable time for me. Mundaneness went out the window, along with my belief in the possibility of life not changing.
I discovered that my suffering was tied to this idea that change was bad after a few months of shock. And I believe my body decided to take me on a ride where change would be front and center for the rest of my life.
What to do? Resist the lesson and continue to suffer? Or embrace the change and learn to navigate with wings instead?
I swear I think I grow a new set of wings every year…metamorphous isn’t a one time deal. Changes allow us to continue strengthening our wings, but eventually, your wings give out and it’s time to grow another pair.
Life has a way of handing out experiences where you can choose to fly or stay grounded.
A few years ago, Shayne and I moved back to Arkansas, thinking we could capture what we left behind us years ago…childhood friendships and that sense of safety and peace. I mean, we were of a certain age, right? No children…maybe it would be good to be around those that have known us for years and years, and we could settle in for this last half of our lives in a place where we had rooted before we learned how to fly.
Not surprisingly, we came back as Butterfly’s surrounded by lots and lots of caterpillars. We were seen as weird…we were not the same people dressed in older bodies. Drinking hot tea instead of Lipton’s sun tea in the middle of the afternoon was commented upon as…peculiar. Our tea moment around those that had never left, never leapt from their place of birth was a pivotable experience for us, and we started laying the groundwork to take flight again.
The previous longing I felt for rootedness where I had rooted before started to feel more like having my feet tied up with invisible fishing line…a tangled mess with no hope of untangling. I started to realize I was going to have to cut the line to be really free.
One thing that I observed during a weekend reunion of sorts was the part that alcohol seemed to play in the lives of those that never left. Have you ever seen a bucket filled with sea crustaceans? The ones that try and climb out of the bucket are always pulled back in by the others too afraid to make a break for it.
That image of crabs grabbing for the legs of those trying to rise up nagged at me while I was there.
I watched them as they greeted each other with, “You haven’t changed at all!” like that was a good thing. The stench of staleness was palpable in their words and actions. Many seemed to be in a rush to don beer goggles to soften and distort the reality that we were not in the bloom of our youth.
Do I believe it is possible to grow and change if rooted to the same spot year after year?
You bet…but you have to cut off of the dead wood to do it. I’m not advocating against staying rooted in the same spot…I’m advocating for growing where you happen to be regardless of how long you have been there.
Who are you right now? What if you couldn’t remember who you were or how you were perceived by others before you had your eyes opened to the gift of change and transition?
My Butterfly bush will be cut down to the ground this fall and next year will grow into an entirely new bush. I think we can do that too…drop what you were and learn how to experience yourself as all new growth instead of trying to bloom on dead wood year after year.
I’m constantly tending to my inner garden, trying to determine where the dead wood is and eliminating it. It’s very difficult to cut off a branch that I’ve become accustomed to having attached…but the new growth that is sure to arrive quickly erases my unease about cutting it off.
Our environment has the answers if we are willing to stop and listen to what it is trying to teach us.
Have a nice flight, butterfly!