Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself

by Patricia.
(New Haven, Connecticut USA)

abalone-beadsInstinctively, we want to find The One obstacle but reality is more complicated than that.

Take an extremely talented individual, add her lack of self-confidence, plus her lack of successful role models, throw in some devastating life experiences and already the recipe for success seems almost unattainable.

But what I do have going for me is my determination. And my talents.

On the other hand, I am also caring for an elderly parent whose health is declining and who needs me on hand.

Sometimes I wonder how the elderly who have no one to care for them manage to survive at all. It’s more than a full time job (just read the articles and discussions at and I am happy to be here to take care of my mother.

But it also means that I can’t devote the time I’d like to my arts and the accompanying business tasks.

Moreover, because I don’t have a consistent outside income, I am unable to meet some of my own needs and few of my business ones (and forget about savings).

Do I want the world to know my problems? No. (At least not until I write and publish my autobiography.)

I want the world to clamor for my art. And someday it will.

Right now I just do what I can and continue to experiment and perfect my art while helping my mother enjoy as much as she can her final years with us.



How Blessed Your Mom Is . . .
by: Rena

to have you, Patricia.

I was wondering if she is well enough to be involved, even in small ways, in your jewelry business? For example, with things like sorting jewelry components, packaging, attaching tags, mounting earrings on their cards, measuring & cutting, unstringing pieces you want to remake into something else, etc.

If so, her help could be a boon to both of you.

If not, can you set up your jewelry making station near her bedside where you can work on projects off and on while caring for her and sitting with her?

Just a couple of ideas.

And in the meantime, I think the time you’re spending on dreaming and planning the future of your jewelry business will really help your efforts blossom when the time comes.

That often happens to me.

When I have to postpone putting my creative ideas into action, the additional brainstorming and thinking things through nearly always makes for a much better result for my project!

Hugs to you and your mom, Patricia!

Please keep us posted.

you are not alone
by: nupur

The society that we live in believes in pampering prisoners who are a menace to society to thrive in well fed jail cafeterias but no value is attached to caring for the aged and our own babies.
it is indeed a shame, that the mothers who have catered to our every whim have no one to depend on in their oldage.
It takes a lot of courage and selfless love to step back from our buzzing life and care for our parents and our children. Even though it seems to be more undervalued as a job, it is more stressful and fulfilling than any corporate position in this world.
She is indeed lucky to have your loving care and attention when she needs it the most.
in the physical and emotional stress that you find yourself dealing with, it can be a real challenge to create and stay profitable enough through it all. but using your creativity as your click is probably the best thing you can do.

Maybe you can take your mom to the seior community center to socialize with other seniors, so youcan both feel refreshed! you never know you may find a ready market of necklaces with magnetic clasps and toggles in the senior community. You might want to raffle off some pieces and create an awareness for your new friends and get a tax deduction for those items. And remember, grandmothers and grandfathers are very happy to spend their money on birthday, graduation and christmas, channukah presents for their children and grandchildren.

I applaud your love and committment for your mom and hope that she also appreciates your efforts. This world really needs many more mothers and fathers with children like you!
pray for balance….
love to you and your mom!
what is ‘your’ mantra?

by: Patricia

Rena and Nupur, the comments you both made are so uplifting. Indeed there is a senior center in town and as of two weeks ago I have been taking my mom over three mornings a week (less days she has appointments). She has fun there and is making friends. I am able to get some work done without being anxious and without frustrating interruptions. The suggestions on how she can help are perfect because she does always ask what she can do to help and I never thought of any of those things. And there’s always sorting to be done!

This would be so fantastic because she would be able to be involved in my work and she would feel useful which is something most of us need.

It would be lovely if our society looked upon family caregiving as something worthwhile instead of as something to abhore or to be avoided.


Me too!
by: Julia Hutchins

I am in a similar situation. I moved back to my small home town in Western Kansas a few months ago, to care for my aging parents. I previously lived in Kansas City for 20 plus years, so it’s been an adjustment. I’m really enjoying spending time with my parents and other family, and I am now able to focus entirely on building my jewelry business, as I am not planning on going back to full time work in the near future.

I wish you luck! It’s a special thing to be able to care for your mom – we will both have many wonderful memories from this time, I am sure!


Time for all things….
by: Anonymous

Grandma always said “A mother can take care of 8 children; but 8 children can’t take care of one mother.” It’s a sad time when this is true. We took care of my father-in-law for 9 years and while it was exhausting at times I wouldn’t have it any other way. The children still remember him fondly and it was a time worth sharing. Why do we take care of our pets better than our parents or children? While we all have to make ME time, we also have to make WE time. I am still busy with family, job and my jewelry part-time business. Somehow it all gets done.

Later, this time will be cherished. Use your craft!
by: Anonymous

I was so glad to see the insightful suggestions, and glad that you are taking your mom to the Senior Center. This will help her to lessen her own anxieties over her health, distract her from whatever aches and pains she has, and most importantly, keep her connected and interacting with more people – so very important for her now.

My own mom is now gone, and her final illness kept her at home (I moved her to my home)where she was not able to do a lot herself, but was always interested in what I was doing – she was vicariously active through whatever I was up to. The Senior Center likely has tables – perhaps you can occasionally take one of your projects there to work on, while connecting with Mom and her new friends. You’ll have time with your mom, she’ll be proud to brag on her baby girl’s wonderful talents, and there are surely other seniors there who would love to see what you are up to as well! (I have made jewelry for my own mother-in-law, now 90, and I think she’s yakked about it with everyone she ever knew! News is well-valued and travels far and wide in the senior community)

With age and infirmity, in our culture, we become increasingly invisible, too often unnoticed or rarely sought out for interaction. If you are at the senior center with your project, it will benefit your mom, but also the others! Use these occasional visits to sit with your mom, share lunch, whatever, while you hone your skills and “show and tell” as you go. Use your craft to draw others to your activity and to your Mom. They are hungry for interaction too!

The greatest part – in the midst of this phase of your mom’s life, when too much of it is about physical issues, doctor’s appts, finding balance in your own life, etc. – you will also build (for YOU) some memories of light, fun, social times shared – a few moments for both of you to forget your worries and be in the moment together. Oh, how precious these memories will be later. Your jewelry can be the catalyst, the tool, the vehicle.

No longer having my own mom (5 years now), I can say that some of the simplest times we shared during even her final weeks and months, are the sweetest ones of my lifetime with her. Eldercare is no easy thing – the waters are uncharted and there is never enough support – but I promise you will later treasure these simple times with your mom, when her world and days are so fundamentally basic. Your attention for each other is fully present. When she is no longer with you, you will forever feel her thankful embrace for helping her, being the “parent” now, when it is needed. Let your jewelry be part of this process, and it will one day hold meaning for you that far exceeds income it generates – though we hope your business soars!

Best wishes to you, your mom, and much success with your jewelry!

To Anonymous who gave such moving advice
by: Patricia

Thank you so much for writing. Your sugeestions and emotional support brought me to tears, not from sadness but from relief that my choice to post this story here was, in fact, the right choice. You have given me much to think about and made me feel proud that I am doing this even if it slows down my emergence in the Art Jewelry and Fine Art worlds.

Thank you.

PS to above
by: Pam Baker

Patricia, I did not mean to sign the above as “Anonymous”! Your craft will develop as will the special relationship with your mom. These times with her, so different from the other phases you’ve spent with her, will have special place and meaning for you, forever, and how wonderful that you can connect this to your love of your craft!

I have an idea for you.
by: Beth

I have been caring for my Mother in my home for 5 1/2 years. My Father lived here too for a 1 1/2 years. Mom has 10 diagnoses including Ahlzeimers and she is legally blind. She needs me to dress, bathe and toilet her. I do have someone now 3 nights a week(I needed sleep!) and one day a week. I have fought depression for the last few years for the first time in my life but the last year has been great. I decided I would not be the caregiver as my only role but i would be a wife, mother, grandmother and jewelry artist who also cares for her Mother. The job didn’t change, just my mindset. The biggest change is I now teach jewelry making classes in my home. It is working out quite well and I now have some cashflow and clearly a lot of other benefits from social interaction. My Mom now makes memory wire bracelets(I begin and end them) that we donate to nursing homes or give as gifts. Believe there is a way. blessings…

Thank you to Beth
by: Pam

I’m sorry to monopolize this comment section today – but Beth, you have just answered a prayer for me!

My father-in-law is in an assisted living facility, has mild Alzheimers (I should say some form of dementia – the family is not quite owning this yet) – and he has been telling my hubby, (owns a const. co) that “It would be a blessing to me if I could go to work with you.”

He is a retired woodcarver, very talented, but it is not safe for him to have the sharp knives any more, and we’ve been trying to think of something SIMPLE that he could do, but that would have an actual purpose. Memory bracelets – what an awesome idea! I’m sharing this tonight with my hubby – there is a battered women’s shelter nearby, and he could easily assemble these when we visit – and like you, I could finish the ends!

I’m so glad that Patricia started this exchange – once again, jewelry can do more than decorate our bodies!


Oh, How I Can Relate!
by: Paula

Oh, Patricia! How much I can relate to what you’re saying. I have written a couple of articles about what you’re going through and relate my own story at

I kind of fell into designing jewelry. While I LOVE jewelry, it’s not something I ever thought I would be doing.

However, my mother has become my greatest fan — wanting just about every piece that I create – LOL. As I sit in my “studio” (well, actually my living room) designing a piece, it’s a great way to get her involved in my business so that she doesn’t feel shunted out. Like many, I realize that these years are precious. I have sacrificed a lot but I feel that God is at the throne and is working all of it out.

I wish you the very best in your business and with your mother!



I can understand…
by: Janine

My husband, 4 month old baby and I live with my parents and my 86 year old grandmother. Although I am the one in the household who is the jewelry maker I understand how taking care of someone can steal away a bit of your confidence. I can never commit to a jewelry show and haven’t done one in years. Now I’m afraid to. But will find the right starter show this fall hopefully. I work part-time and sometimes cannot commit to that because my mother takes care of my grandmother who had breast cancer/partially blind, dementia etc. and sometimes can’t watch the baby. Most of the time we work it out though. I bought Rena’s book and have some more work to do (acquiring a tent and table may take some time and research).
I always get excited when I see a project on my beading table waiting for me as I am rushing out the door for work or an appointment. It is truly therapy. I sometimes bring a travel kit of some beads in a secure container and some thread to work on in the doctor’s office. You might want to try that. Good luck and keep making stuff!

An Update
by: Patricia

Everyone has given wonderful encouragement and advice, so I decided to return with a short update. Over the Summer I started taking my mother to the local town senior center two to three times a week (except when she doesn’t want to or has other appointments. She seems to enjoy it – especially Wii bowling and conversation. Now that it is much cooler she is less enthusiastic.

In a lot of ways the emotional expenditure is the biggest energy depletion, but it all adds up. Nonetheless, I am planning an Open Studio art fair hybrid to be held on November 18 not at home, but at a local tea shop. I am hopeful that my sister-in-law will be able to give her some time while I’m over there.

It’s important to ask for help because I have to admit I can’t do it all.

Thank you all again.

Another way to get elder parents involved in your jewelry
by: Rena

I recently posted a tutorial on how to make hemp bracelets with a simple crochet stitch and beads – and it occurred to me that this might be a great project for an elder parent to work on.

You could set up all the supplies in a plastic jewelry tray, and your loved one could crochet bracelet after bracelet. These cost less than $1 each to make, and it’s a very addictive project!

This would would be a nice way for an elder parent to feel useful and be creative. Then he/she could give the bracelets as gifts, donations, or you could sell them through your jewelry business.

If necessary, you could easily adapt the project to use a larger crochet hook and bigger beads than my tutorial shows, to suit your loved one’s dexterity and eyesight.

Hugs to all of you caregivers and your parents!

by: Patricia

Great idea! My mother has Alzheimers but it is worth trying – maybe she’ll have unconscious memory of how to do it. She told me that she did know how to crochet at one time.

The tutorial looked to be very followable (new word?).

Thanks for sharing this.

You’re welcome!
by: Rena

My pleasure, Patricia! I’d be so thrilled if it turned out to be a project she could do.

Hugs to you and your Mom!

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