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Daily Quote #1 – Strength and Courage

I’m going to try something new here. I intend to have several daily post series, but this one came to mind first.

Why a quote post? There’s so many smart people out there. I want to gather some of their wisdom and share it with you.

For this inaugural post, I’ve chosen the theme of strength and courage.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
— Mahatma Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth (source: Goodreads)

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” — Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President Of The United States (source: Inspiration Peak)

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” — Harriet Beecher Stowe (source: Beliefnet)

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” — Lao Tzu (source: Goodreads)

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” — Albert Camus (source: Goodreads)

“There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.’
No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.”
― Dalai Lama XIV (source: Goodreads)

“In the end, some of your greatest pains become your greatest strengths.”
― Drew Barrymore (source: Goodreads)

Both strength and courage give us so many opportunities to live a full, vibrant life. What have these qualities brought to you?

Green Rainbow

Green Rainbow (c) Windy Johansen.

Grief. The good and the bad.

(Disclaimer: I’m not a qualified therapist. I’m just talking on the internet. If any of this seems like it’d hurt you, don’t do it. I can’t take responsibility for what you do with my words. Don’t use me as a replacement for a real qualified therapist. There are good ones, they do exist. If you’re willing to talk with LDS therapists, LDS Family Services is a good resource.)

I’ve thought about a post like this for the last couple of days.

I was sitting in church, pondering the great losses I’ve had. I’ve derived a lot of strength from my faith.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t collapse in tears sometimes.

I read a blog post a few minutes ago. I won’t link it; it seems too private to be sharing randomly. (Not that I don’t love you, reader, but I can’t share secrets that aren’t mine.)

The story is one many share, though. In the midst of heartbreak, you want so badly to be “over it”. You still love that person, and you hate the thought that being “over it”, over the pain their death caused you, might mean you don’t love them anymore.

It’s already been six months, 1 year, 5 years, 2 decades, half a century. Why isn’t the pain gone?

Then, you wonder, all over again, if forgetting the pain means letting go of the person.

And then, you read something encouraging, like this quote:

“… And suddenly, at the very moment when, so far, I mourned H. least, I remembered her best. Indeed, it was something (almost) better than memory; an instantaneous, unanswerable impression. To say it was like a meeting would be going too far. Yet there was that in it which tempts one to use those words. It was as if the lifting of the sorrow removed a barrier.

Why has no one told me these things? How easily I might have misjudged another man in the same situation? I might have said, ‘He’s got over it. He’s forgotten his wife,’ when the truth was, ‘He remembers her better because he has partly got over it.’ ” — C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

You realize, if only for a moment, that healing, that letting go of the pain, will bring your loved one back. Bring them back in a way that screaming for them never could.

And then you claw for relief again, maybe screaming their name into the starry sky. (Grieving is grandly inconsistent, painfully so.)

But the relief doesn’t seem to come. Why can’t we just stop the pain and get to the healing?

Sometimes I think we don’t allow ourselves to really feel our losses. I think we tell ourselves that we’re grown up enough to handle it. We have to stay strong for the kids, the dog, our boss, our friends.

I can tell you that my mother’s honesty is something I needed. If she had pretended that my father’s death didn’t hurt, I would never know why everything hurt.

At least I know why. I want my dad back. I want my other loved ones back. That’s why everything hurts. And knowing that, I find the only way to healing.

That way winds through briar patches, rickety bridges, and up through the snowy mountaintops. Less metaphorically, it means all that stuff you’re itching to pass by. All those nights of falling up the stairs (done that), collapsing in tears, and the worst thing in our adult world, breaking down. It’s not that we’ll wait for a safe moment; we tell ourselves that there are no safe moments, and that we can’t ever break down. Ever.

You won’t be a crybaby for crying. It’s a real pain, it’s a real grief, and you will stagnate if you don’t admit it, at least to yourself.

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” — C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

It is scary, though. It’s terrifying how your very self seems to rip apart in a way that should leave you dead, and yet doesn’t.

But know that even though it’s terrifying, there is a peace that only comes after you go through the pain. If you cry enough, the tears aren’t scary anymore. They become the rain that sculpts you into a beautiful person.

The blessing in this ferocious, endless storm, for me, has been the closeness I gained with God. If my father didn’t die then, who would I be now? Would I be able to take the things that happened to me as well as I have? Would I be able to be alone like I can?

Would I be able to talk about grief like I can? Would I still be terrified of my own tears?

Would I write like I do now? Would I feel that need to create as many things as I do? I currently make jewelry, take nature photos, write poetry, write songs, play piano, dance….which one would be gone if my grief had never come to me? Would they all be gone?

Maybe I’ve just come to a whole new set of questions. But I feel a strength in me that I couldn’t have found any other way.

It is my belief that everyone who dies is resurrected. So my loved ones will return to me, if I can wait.

So, since death is inevitable, and they’ll all come back…I’ve learned so much from these terrible experiences. Would I trade these experiences in, knowing I’d be a different me? Would I even know myself?

What have the bad times given you that you would have gotten in no other way? Is there a kind of art you can now make, that you would have never been able to try without your pain? Is there a unique way that you see the world? Tell me in the comments.

<3 <3 <3 to you.

Low Clouds on the Move

Low Clouds on the Move (c) Windy Johansen.

Etsy closes down a legitimate shop for ‘protesting’.

Rose quartz teardrop in bronze colored wire.

Picture and jewelry design, (c) 15 March 2012 Windy Johansen

So, this post isn’t particularly inspiring. And inspiring was what I wanted this site to be about. I wanted this site to showcase the things that make my heart and your heart skip a beat because of their beauty or power.

Oh well. I can’t be the good guy who does nothing. And this did make my heart metaphorically skip a beat. And it is powerful.

Maybe the next few days will reveal an inspiring story in this. Divine providence has a way of doing that.

In the last couple of weeks, there’s been a huge scandal involving Etsy.

It started when Etsy featured Ecologica Malibu as their featured seller. Ecologica Malibu was represented originally as a single person making wood furnishings and decor from reclaimed boat wood.

Fascinating enough, even if I’m not into that sort of thing.

And then, I start to see reports that she isn’t everything she claims to be. Well, hm, that’s not good.

Right here, I’m going to offer some links, because I’m not good at technical explanations, and this is not a good time for word weaving.

This article from the Consumerist tells the story quite well, and links to other resources that tell the story much better than I can.

The story continues in this article, also from the Consumerist.

This is a short, yet informative article about this event on MetaFilter.

This link points specifically to a comment on that MetaFilter article from a woodworker. Very informative. It illustrates how this stuff isn’t well made, and seems to be made by a variety of people, with varying ideas of quality.

Then, on the Regretsy forums, someone links to this blog post. The artist, Hanna, tells the story of how Etsy shut her down for protesting. She posts the message that was supposedly a protest message, and that’s when the metaphorical beat-skipping occurred.

What was the message Nicole posted? What was this inflammatory statement? I’ll quote it here.

” ‘Shop contents are currently unavailable while I work on re-branding and movement of merchandise. I support artisan and hand-crafted goods and, as such, believe a show of solidarity, support and praise is necessary to encourage small business owners in the continuing herculean endeavor to survive in a world of commercial mass production. I urge consumers to support the artisan marketplace and creative community in general and appreciate your interest in my work. Thank you.’ “

Yeah, I can tell she’s unhappy. But to shut her down for protesting? Especially when she isn’t? That’s ridiculous.

Of course, given the inability of Etsy to take any kind of statement that isn’t sucking up…yeah.

I love her reaction to their message (bolding mine).

“Now, tell me if I’m wrong, but I’m fairly certain there was no mention of Etsy, disuptes or Etsy sellers anywhere in my shop vacation announcement. And, though I’ve read through it multiple times, apparently I lack the intelligence to comprehend Etsy’s very concise, comprehendible, and not at all vague terms of use, and in exactly what way my announcement broke with a policy conveniently brandished when protests run rampant in the forums. “

Etsy’s TOS are pretty vague. Vagueness gives wiggle room, and yet….they can’t even keep their own rules, if this whole scandal is any indication. With the closing of Nicole’s Etsy shop, they’ve illustrated just how thin-skinned they are about people discussing their inability. Nicole could have had other things in mind when she posted that message, but they chose to see it as an attack on them.

Etsy, your morals are showing. Trying to hush people up only makes things worse for you. If you’d admitted your mistake, and honestly told us what went wrong, so many of us would be happier with you.

As it is, I’ve started this site to get away from you. I’m approximately $50 poorer for it, but my heart is light as a feather. I know I won’t have to apologize to my customers for your dishonesty.

Be sure to read the comments. So many voices. Does Etsy truly believe no one has any other platform to speak, besides their own?

My comment is as follows:

“My goodness, this is crazy! They really DO think that everyone will ignore their dishonesty if they cover enough mouths.

Luckily, they don’t own the whole internet. I may yet post a protest post on my blog. They cannot shut the world up.

I was gonna sell little things on there, but I honestly am reconsidering that. They can keep their ignorance of how the world works. I won’t help them succeed.

I found out I was driving traffic to their site with my links to my Etsy store. When I took down several links to my Etsy shop, the traffic went way down.

When my own online store is ready (I’ve only got a blog there now), I’ll be able to get my own traffic to my online store, the same as I was before. In fact, I’ll probably do better on my own than I ever could with them.

Nicole, as long as people know you’re here, you’ll rebuild your traffic. In fact, now that this thing with Etsy has happened, you’ll possibly get more.

Your work is beautiful, and I wish mine was as cool.

(Also I’m sorry for the novel I appear to have written.)”

Someone else posted this comment, as an anonymous user:

“I just found this through a friend who sent me a link to the handmade discussion. I have known about the reseller aspect, but really did not understand How Much of an issue it is. I have had my shop for two months and feel quite unhappy about all of this.

There actually was a huge negative response to an article last summer when I was still only a purchasing customer from shops, which made my stomach very upset. I got off Etsy for over 6 months trying to make up my mind what to do.

I am not very vocal about things and am unlikely to challenge Etsy in any way or make comments. I am just very sad right now. My dream of being a professional artist, where I can support myself seem to just be moving further away.

I wish you great success in your endeavors and will follow all that is going on to see how things transpire.

That made me sad for what this could really cause. It’s not only businesses that are being hurt, it’s artists. If someone is so disillusioned by this that they don’t make any more art, what does that mean for everyone? Art is how so many of us communicate. It’s how so many of us remind ourselves of the beauty of the world. It’s how we learn that the world is at once beautiful and ferocious.

Without art our world becomes cold. Math is something that can be appreciated as art, also, so what great minds can we lose as a result of this dishonest pursuit of money at the expense of the people that we are?

I know it’s overdramatic, but I’m saying it anyway. What are the human costs in this?

That scares me. Even if the world stays up to its eyeballs in art of all kinds, we stand to lose a lot if we alienate our artisans.

Once I post this post, the Etsy link will be gone from my first post in this blog. I believe it is the last link (controlled by me, anyway) to go down. I could have sold something, but I cannot support Etsy’s inability to admit when they’ve messed up. Not even in some tiny amount.

That’s my protest.

Have fun, even if things look bleak.

Adventures on Sunday morning.

I’ve been working to get this site going, and now I can’t see my blog’s homepage as the homepage.


Oh dear. I’m still working on this, so maybe it will sort itself out.

In other news, I’m writing lots of poetry. I want to make a book of my best poems and my best photography, but it’s so hard to get the courage to do that.

Back to playing with WordPress to get it to give me the right homepage. >_< Have fun! ETA: I actually got the homepage to display correctly by getting rid of the little homepage I wrote a couple of days ago. It looked like it walked right out of 2000 or something, but I wrote all the code for it! LOL Oh one of these days, I will have more of my site coded by me, myself, and I. but for right now, I'm letting more knowledge-filled people handle that.

A first, but at the end of the month.

So I’ve been working on this thing for most of the day. and it’s here now. I’m going to paste a few links in, because I won’t be digging into this until tomorrow, and I want you all to be able to talk to me, even if things aren’t what I need them to be yet. So.

I’m glad you’ve come by, even if everything’s still full of sawdust, so to speak.

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"Lightning Wheel" (c) 18 January 2010, Windy Johansen

“Lightning Wheel” (c) 18 January 2010, Windy Johansen

Again, thanks for stopping by! :D