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November 14, 2010

Silver Bella 2010 :: Closing Remarks

MOVING PARTS: Event planning, as Teresa knows so well by now, is something that has many, many moving parts that need to be managed with meticulous detail. And if planning this event were the only thing going on in Teresa's life, that would be one thing. But of course that is rarely ever the case when any of us tackle organizing an event, big or small. In the midst of planning this, the 5th Annual Silver Bella, Teresa has also continued keeping her home, being there for her husband, being there for her friends, and being there for her children.

Silver Bella

COMMON SCENES: And for all of us to get here, to Omaha, we all had to manage so much, right? We had to finish all of our work, send off those last few emails, instruct our beloveds about casseroles in the freezer, schedule future blog posts, remind our kids about their games, their practices, their homework, and remind them of where the spray bottle is, in case they need to use it for those unexpected accidents that our furry critters will undoubtedly continue to make during our absence. These are some of the life scenes that are common to so many of us.  Silver Bella

MORE THAN PARTS: But we did it. We managed to find a way to manage by proxy, all of the demands of everyday, at least for a few days, so that we can join Teresa here, at Silver Bella. And as lovely as all the moving parts have become executed by Teresa and her team, of course the reason we are here is about much mroe than those individual parts. We're not here just for the centerpieces or just for the workshops, or just for the goody bags, or just for the meals and treats. Because as important as those individual parts are in the scheme of events, they remain hollow if they cannot be experienced in a special and meaningful way.

Lisa Kaus

Over the past several days, I've observed and participated in the scenes that we've all been in ... scenes where instructors dispense patience and listening ears as students have needed extra help with a technique. Scenes of camaraderie and good will as students have loaned each other supplies and materials, and helped one another with the projects being taught. Scenes of "you go girl" as we've brought to show off our most prized creations at Bella Market. Scenes of hugs given as we reach out for support about some of the not-so-shiny happenings in our lives.

The individual scenes of Silver Bella become special because all of us together, as we bring our sincere hearts and good intentions to the table and to our roommates and to our classmates, we transcend being more than just individuals on islands. We become integrated, we become friends, we become a creative community.

Betz White and Charlotte Lyons

WE ARE NOT ALONE: It never ceases to amaze me that in this fast-paced world, there are many people who look forever puzzled when I emphasize the word "community." These individuals scratch their heads and ask me, "What's the big deal about community? What's so important about that?"

The answer of course is that when we are in a community, we know that ultimately, we are not alone. It's within a community that we learn that regardless of our shiny personas, regardless of our seemingly perfect lives and perfect blogs, and our mountain of Facebook friends and mountain of Twitter followers, that none of use are immune from some painful scenes that befall all of our lives ... sometimes when we least expect it. Some of us are living through those scenes at this very minute, wishing that there would somehow be a way to push a FAST FORWARD button so the scenes would finally end ... scenes that involve depression, unemployment, divorce, empty nests, accidents, illness ... I can't help but think of scenes that have recently been described by some of our Guest Curators on our CRESCENDOh site. Please allow me to share some excerpts with you now.

Sally Jean Alexander

First from Lisa Loria ... she says:

“At 28, I was lost, staring at the face of a woman in the mirror who I no longer knew. Who was I? I wasn’t ‘Lisa the woman’ or ‘Lisa the artist’ or ‘Lisa anything.’ My marriage was a wreck, my husband emotionally, verbally, and occasionally physically abused me … what had happened to me? Where was the girl who wanted to travel the world? She was beaten down, afraid, and felt as if she had no value. My counselor encouraged me to write and start creating again. So I carved a little niche for myself in the garage. Here I would sneak away in the evening after the children were asleep to just be alone with my music, my thoughts, and to create. Eventually, art gave me the freedom to leave an unhappy life. Art is not just how I make my living, it is how I have made my life.”

Next we hear from Pam Warden who explains that her husband is dying form chronic rejection of a transplanted lung. Their daughter and son have recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. And in spite of these painful scenes, Pam concludes her story by saying to us this:

“In spite of any challenges you may face, I’m here to tell you that you can do it. You can create. You can make art for a living or just for fun. You can join classes in your area or you can join them online. If you can’t afford classes, there are many wonderful free tutorials you can find by Googling what interests you most. You just have to take the first step, putting one foot in front of the other.”

When I learn of these types of tough life scenes, it always makes me well up with tears. And in many ways, all of us in this room, as we embrace creativity in our own lives, we are electing to find the light in spite of scenes that are difficult and unique to each of us … we are deciding that we are going to reach for the paint Reach for the soldering iron. Reach for the vintage wallpaper, and we’re going to make something lovely. We are going to know that even though there are some not-so-pleasant scenes, we are capable of creating beauty, we are capable of making something that makes our hearts sing.

Beth Quinn

THE PROCESS: And when we reflect on the years that have passed, as we reflect on our art, our craft, we may not remember every single thing we ever made. But we will most likely remember the process and we will most likely still feel the sense of community. And when we look back on Silver Bella 2010, I know for sure that even if what we made was imperfect, we will remember and treasure the process involved … of how we laughed, how we hugged, how we cried, and how we cheered each other on.

Kaari Meng and Jenny Doh

HEAD SCRATCHERS: Those who scratch their heads about community also tend to scratch their heads about this whole process of creativity. And usually, these head-scratchers will say anything from slightly to moderately to excessively offensive things to us like:

  • Why do you bother making that when you can buy it for less?
  • Don’t you have better things to do?
  • How long did it take you to make that?
  • You have too much time on your hands.
  • Do you really need more paper?
  • What are you going to do with that?

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH: What these head-scratchers don’t realize is a truth that Lisa Loria, Pam Warden, you, and I know so well, which is that creativity helps us get through life. More and more, scientific researchers are realizing this truth time and time again.

Dr. Kelly Lambert, Chair of the Department of Psychology for Virginia’s Randolph Macon College has conducted research to conclude that when we engage in hands-on projects, our mental, emotional, and physical states improve. Lambert’s research involves the study of data from MRI scans and parts of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, the limbic system, the striatum, and the prefrontal cortex.

Long story short is that when we participate in hands-on work … say, like knitting a scarf, our brain’s executive-thinking centers get busy planning, and then our brain’s happy anticipation zones begin to bustle with activity … and they talk back to the executive top brain centers, which reach out to other parts that make us dive our hands into greater productivity. In short, Lambert says “It’s like taking mental-health vitamins, building up resilience … our ability to bounce back from hardship by reminding our brains that we can have some impact on this world around us.”

To me, it’s not about whether my knitted scarf belongs in a museum, or my stamped cards belong in a magazine or book. It’s the process of creating that helps me get through all of life’s scenes. It’s the process of pushing aside worry and putting ink on my rubber stamp and putting that stamp onto paper that makes me know that though the final product isn’t always perfect, the process makes me happy.

Amy Powers

CHILDREN: Those who know me know that I love hanging with my children who are now 15 and 12. The three of us were together a few months ago wearing our 3-D glasses to watch Toy Story 3. For most of the movie, we were laughing and chuckling at all the crazy scenes that Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Mr. Potatoehead, and all the other characters found themselves in.

Toward the end of the movie, I found myself holding back tears … wishing that rather than having Andy all grown up and headed for college, that he could remain a kid forever, and for all of his toys to enjoy their lives with Andy forever.

When I look at how quickly my own kids have grown, I find myself wishing that I could push a STOP button … so that this very scene of love and laughter is where we could remain forever. But of course that is not possible. Because really and truly, the only thing constant in life is change.

As we learn of stories like the ones by Lisa and Pam and countless others, we realize this truth about change. In one scene, we are young. In the next, we are all grown up. In one scene, we are at the pinnacle of health. In the next, we are fighting disease. The scenes we are in today won’t stay static. They will change.

BETTER EQUIPPED: But the good news about those of us who no longer scratch our heads about the power of creativity and the power of community is that we are equipped better than most, to weather all of it.

The fact that you are finding ways to prioritize handwork and creativity in your lives is important. It matters. And I applaud you for being able to do so. Because the head scratchers in our lives will constantly challenge our creative pursuits by saying slightly to moderately to highly offensive things like … “What exactly is a silver bellilla anyway?”

For me, I’ve come to the point in my life where rather than rebutting with a sly comeback or pulling out data about scientific research, I invite them to pick up a paintbrush with me, or to accompany me to the yarn shop, or to help me rubber stamp place cards for the table.

Silver Bella

And as soon as they do, and I see their faces light up, I know that maybe I’ve done more than just crafted with them. I’ve helped them realize a deep and significant truth … which is that: we all hurt. And if we are willing to open our hearts and hands, and say yes to the process, and say yes to the community, we will not need a fast forward button or a stop button … we will be able to live through each scene because no matter what scene we may be in we will always know that we are capable of creating beauty, and we are not alone.

Thank you very much.

{Per the invitation of Teresa McFayden, it was my honor and privilege to provide these closing remarks on November 13, 2010, for Silver Bella 2010.}


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hear, hear!
as always, so great to see you this weekend, Jenny! sorry I didn't get to say goodbye. with luck, we'll catch up again soon. xo

This is a wonderful speech. Very touching and inspirational. Thanks for sharing.

This was just beautiful to read Jenny and I can just hear you saying this in front of a group of women.
You are a wonderful lady who has taught that ART SAVES
Congrats to you, Dawn

amen to that! :) thank you, this is just what i needed to hear right now. sometimes i toss up my hands and think, "what am i doing all of this for?" and then i realize that i don't have to have a reason to make art other than it makes me happy. thank you!

Beautifully said Jenny! Can so relate to your inspiring words as I sit here in my pj's sipping morning coffee thinking about what I'm going to create today. Thank you!

Jenny - by coincidence you have addressed a couple of things that are bothering me today and I found your views to be very reassuring. Thank you.

Hey there doll,
i adored your lovely speech.
had to hold back a few tears here and there.
As always you were amazing. I'm so glad you got to come to Omaha. I loved having you in my little neck of the woods.
See you soon

This was beautiful; Thank you Jenny for creating a
community with Crescendoh, to allow others to share their light and reveal their spirit. We are all puzzle pieces;It is when we come together as one community, group,or function can we truly understand the magic of the process. Whether one crafts or not, a community builds a momentum of shared experiences,a bond of souls,and a sense of wholeness. Thank you~xXx

Thank you so much for posting this. Your message has been on my mind all day because I am dealing with circumstances with our son that did not allow me to enjoy some gradual "scene changes" as I traveled from the mountain-top of Silver Bella to the (sometimes) valley of Real Life. I was kind of pushed off the mountain-top for a free-fall to the valley. Being able to hold your thought that "we will be able to live through each scene because no matter what scene we may be in we will always know that we are capable of creating beauty, and we are not alone" has been extremely helpful to me today! Thanks SO much! (And it was great meeting you in person!)

I loved your speech! I'm glad to see that you have posted this for the Bellas who could not make do to other obligations!

Dearest Jenny,
I am so happy that you have posted your closing remarks here as I was going to ask you to send me a copy. Your words brought tears to my eyes Saturday night and truly reflect my thoughts and experience at this, my first Silver Bella retreat. It was wonderful to see you and to be able to spend some time with you in Omaha.
Love, Laura

Thanks so much for posting your heart-warming and inspirational speech from Silver Bella, Jenny. I know that I have been inspired in so many, many ways while there. It was truly wonderful to meet you there (and share the shuttle bus to the airport on the way home). Hope you made it back safely to your family.

lovely jenny!

Thank you for letting me see a few glimpses of Silver Bella, I dearly longed to be there, but as you know, my deeper longings were to be here with my John. Thank you for quoting me Jenny, what an honor... and if it helps one person...that's my prayer!
Much love friend,

You have such an eloquent way of expressing what so many feel, and that is a true gift. Silver Bella sounds like it was a wonderful event. To know you are part of a community is one thing, but to experience is quite another--glad you and so many others were able to be there.

Thank you so much for posting this. I read your blog, but this is my first time commenting. I read about Silver Bella and, frankly, get intimidated by all the talent out there. But I have a blog and have been so inspired by what I see being created by my fellow bloggers. And that sparks my desire to create. I have been rewarded beyond measure by this blogging community. And I have carved out my little studio at the top of our stairway.

I've always had a need to create. There is nothing better than that feeling of 'being in the zone.' Whether it is crocheting, knitting, sewing, quilting, making a chalkboard, or some other form of creating - I need it as surely as I need water.


Hi Dear Jenny!

I'm So glad that you posted your speech, as I mentioned the other evening, you spoke so eloquently!

I had fun creating with you and more importantly getting to know you a bit the other night. I look forward to following your blog.

And,,,don't forget the great words of the late Sidney Sheldon~ giggle~


These words mean more to me than you'll ever know. Thank you for helping me to see that making art may just save my life, along with my sanity.


Wow, you brought me to tears multiple times, what an amazing job you did with your closing remarks. Very touching. I feel a little silly, I met you at Silver Bella (I was the jewelry vendor with the crown's - I got to take your photo :-) so much fun!) We were only there at vendor night, but would have loved to hear your closing remarks in person. I am sure there was not a dry eye in the house. I have to confess, I did not recognize you that night... silly me. I love your blog and visit from time to time... (I AM SO EMBARASSED!)It was a joy to meet you.

I am so glad you posted your speech, Jenny. I was deeply touched by your words and was sorry that I had not taken notes! Thank you so much for what you have done for the art world. Yes, we all hurt but, indeed, Art Saves!

"Saved by Art"

Thank you for sharing your wonderful words of insight, inspiration, and encourage-ment for all of us who were not there at Silver Bella. Tricia

Jenny, you were wonderfully insightful at Silver Bella. Hope I get the pleasure of hearing you speak again.

Bravo! I would love to hear you deliver this speech. Such good words to read. the process is so important and so freeing. I sometimes have to remind myself of that to get me off the computer and standing in my art space.

Been a Bella the previous two years, didn't get to come this year. Thanks for posting your comments...I was wondering what I missed and I knew it would be uplifting. Now I know & I am proud to be a member of "the community". You inspire!

Came up this post just today. Exactly what I needed to read and take in. Thanks for your thoughtful words.

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