Last week was the celebration of the New Year in the Jewish Faith. I was at my best friend's house for dinner on Rosh Hashanah and the dinner discussion was centered around the meaning of the holiday. I was reminded of how insightful the traditions of this time of year are in the Jewish faith. It is an invitation to renew ourselves, purify our thoughts, and open ourselves up to the potential of new beginnings.
What we grow to understand is that with change and renewal comes something better. It is a powerful, cleansing process for the human spirit - to step back from all of life and evaluate. To find out what is great in our lives and do more of that. To be honest about those places within us that need work, and to commit to work on them. It is a process that is sometimes painful, but it is a beautiful thing to discover the power we have to create greatness that comes from this repeated, life-long process of refining ourselves.
One of the places in my life that continually challenges me and requires constant evaluation and adjustment is my relationship with my children. When they were babies I used to think I had the mothering thing totally under control. I used to wonder why so many women thought raising children was so difficult. What I am growing to understand is that it was easy when they were babies because I was in control. They were on a schedule. They ate and slept when I wanted them to. I disciplined them when they did something wrong. They paid attention. And more than that, we were the center of each other's lives. They are older now, and the hardest thing for me is to let them go and trust them to make good decisions without my interference. It is a painful process to allow them to make mistakes, fail and find their way into independence and adulthood. They are still the center of my life, but they would howl laughing at the thought of their mother being the center of theirs. School and friends are at the center of their universes now.
It's interesting that sometimes the design process is somewhat like raising children. With the Jordan Alexander designs, I often have to step back and let the designs almost take on a life of their own. I love that famous story about Michelangelo when he was asked how he would go about beginning a large sculpture. He answered that he could feel the angel within the block of marble and he simply chipped away the stone to allow her to be seen.
As a designer, I see the value in both refining and redefining every piece I create, much like the New Year reflections encourage us to do within ourselves. Case in point: right now I'm exploring using diamonds and pearls in ways I have never used them before. The process requires such detail that it can be as frustrating as it is rewarding. With every piece I create, I start by fashioning a design, either on paper or in my head, and work with that design until I have my first prototype. That piece must then be evaluated in a number of areas. Is it too heavy? Is it too expensive? Do the colors work? Does it story well with other pieces? All of this must be considered if the piece is to be successful.
Once I do that, I have to continue to do the same with the second prototype - the second round. That process happens multiple times until I feel that the prototype is finally the best I can make it. Revisions are often coupled with a disappointment that the piece is still not right, but with an equal amount of hope that I'm closer to where I want to be. Usually, with hard work, honesty and careful consideration, I get the piece that I'm looking for, and, eventually, the addition of each refined piece totals up to the collection I first fashioned in my mind.
I encourage you to take the messages and reflections from the New Year and try it on for your life - examine where you are, even if it means looking at places in your life that are not so comfortable for you. Something amazing and beautiful will be on the other side of that reflection.