One day in 2002, while working in a potato chip factory, my supervisor grabbed me and took me on a deluxe tour of the whole facility. I knew I wasn’t doing too well at work and figured this was her way to help me improve. Throughout the tour I was resolving to do my best and improve somehow. Then, my supervisor said something that will probably stick with me for as long as I live. She said that in order to be successful I had to have passion.
At the time, I nearly broke into tears. ‘Passion!’ I thought, ‘I don’t have any passion, let alone passion for quality control!’ The idea of having a passion, was overwhelming to me. I was in the process of recovering from a series of psychotic episodes and hospitalizations in 2000-2001 and was suffering from post-psychosis depression. Mentally, I was very far from having passion.
With time, the depression abated and I started feeling better. I was living with my mother in New Jersey when she found a job in Anniston, Alabama. I moved with her to Alabama. In 2003, I took a series of courses at the local university with the idea of earning an MBA, but decided not to pursue it further. Instead, I got a job as a front desk clerk at a local motel.
Near the end of 2004, I started thinking more and more about lampworking. I had taken a course in glass bead making in the beginning of 2000 from Mary Weiss, but never got the equipment to do lampworking at home. I was itching to melt glass again. My mother was surprisingly supportive of the idea (sorry Mom), and suggested I use my 2004 tax refund to get set up. Thanks to the earned income credit (which I still don’t understand), I was able to purchase enough supplies and equipment to start making glass beads.
I played with my glass in a purely recreational way throughout the first half of 2005. I made a few pairs of earrings, including one for my mother on Mother’s Day, but without a kiln I couldn’t sell my beads. When I did get a kiln, the thought of selling beads/finished jewelry became a possibility, but I didn’t pursue it. I was back in school in fall of 2005 with the goal of becoming a teacher.
January of 2006 found me sick again and I was hospitalized again. It was a rough year and I didn’t make many beads. I moved out of my mother’s house into an apartment nearby, and applied for disability. My new neighbors thought my glass bead making hobby was very cool and pestered me to make beads. That was pretty much the only time I made beads in 2006 and 2007.
2008 found me living with my mother again and all my bead making equipment in boxes. I was also sick with ulcerative colitis. Mentally I was doing well, but physically I wasn’t up to doing much of anything. Then, about three weeks ago, I started feeling better and began making beads again.
Now, I think I may have found my passion. I love making glass beads and working with glass. I have a long way to go to develop my skills, but it’s so much fun that I don’t mind practicing. My mother has me documenting all the beads I make in an Excel spreadsheet for reference, and when I look at the pictures I can see the progress I am making.
Looking to the future there is a faint glimmer of a possibility that I will be able to go off disability and support myself by working with glass. It is a long range goal of mine. Right now I am focusing on developing my technique. In some ways I’m still a beginner even though I made my first bead eight years ago. I have a lot to learn about glass, and I am looking forward to learning as much as I can.
February 23, 2008