Holy and Unhabitual


I took the long way to work this morning, a total of 15 driving miles instead of 5.  It’s not the best use of fossil fuels but I find driving extremely freeing and sometimes I simply need to take the long road to get to where I am going.  I sip my coffee slowly in the truck, roll the windows down so the dogs can taste the wind with their long tongues, play my music loud and shake my hair as we swoop around the corners and cowboy wave and the neighbors.  It makes me feel limber and relaxed so when I get to work, I am ready to get to work. I find my holiest habits aren’t truly habitual.  Not really at all.

I am working my way through Trust The Process at the moment and one chapter addresses the idea of changing up daily rituals in order to keep work fresh and progressive, down to silly things like employing non-dominant hands in the middle of work to engage the opposite side of the brain!  Some folks thrive on a day to day regimen but I find I work best when I approach my days exploratively, when I let them, to a certain degree, carry me.  I like to be adrift.  I like to see where the path leads, I thrive on the looseness of intuitive wandering and the freedom therein.  I try to be gentle to my sense of time.

A wise friend once told me that it’s ungrateful to complain about time, its structure, the seeming lack of it on certain days.  It dishonors those who have lived short lives.  I thought, as I drove this morning, about one of the firefighters who died a few days ago on the Twisp River Fire here in the Methow — he was twenty years old.  Just a baby.  So far, I’ve been given thirteen more years of life than he was given.  I am spoiled with time.

Time is on my side.

Something else I am practicing in the studio these days is physically moving, as much as possible.  I am working past a layer of something that is like scar tissue or knots in my creative muscles — muscles that are crackling with seized up fascia; in need of stretching, movement, healing, loosening, a massive tearing down so they can be built back up into a place of flexibility and power once more.  Putting on a song that gets my body moving in between batches of tiny solders and hours of delicate piercing work feels fantastic.  Sometimes I stick a huge piece of paper up on the wall, grab a pencil or a handful of pastels, shut my eyes and simply usher the medium over the paper while I move to music.  I make motions.  I make marks.  I open my eyes when the song is finished and see what the music made my body do.

I don’t really care what folks think of these mad methods, all I know is somehow, they are doing something to me and I feel myself creatively re-opening right now, or at least loosening to the the point of being open to openness.

I’ve been hell bent on setting stones the past few days, re-connecting with work that is clean and made powerful by accuracy, simple mastery of the medium and speed.  There will be time when I settle down into working deeper than this but it seems like reattaching myself to the glorious mechanics and science of metal work and soldering is important right now.  So I am allowing myself time for very basic designs that feature beautiful stones in simple settings.

Clean, bright work.

Last week, after I expressed concern to a friend about the smoothness of my re-immersion into the studio and metalwork, she said, “I just looked through all your photos because I miss your damn face.  It’s been fun to see your growth in photography but don’t let it stifle your metalsmithing.  You are talented at both and it’s good to learn to feed both mediums.  I love you.”

And she’s right.  And it was what I needed to hear.  I am working hard and fostering both right now and am dismantling the feeling that I often have of neglecting one for the sake of the other.7I9A0958

 The promise of autumn is written in the stars and draped in swaths of cold dew on the lawns in the morning now.  Can you feel it where you are?  We’re making our winter plans, finding a place to live once the fire season is over, imagining how sweet it will be to feel the wind in our faces as we hunt birds behind the dogs and curl up with books by a warm fireplace.  The end of the fire season is near and I’ll miss it when it’s gone, like I have every time before this, like I will every time after this.

What we have here in the Methow has become family.  At the firefighter memorial on the weekend, I sat in a sea of broad shoulders and shaggy hair, I sat holding Rob’s hand, and I thought, “This is my immediate fire family and we really are just like a family.  Some of these people are like brothers to me, some are weird, some I plainly do not understand or particularly like, but we’re a family, I love them all and we will always have each other, come rain or sun, come hell or high water.”

And I thought that was a really beautiful thing.


  1. Beautiful indeed. <3 hugs.

  2. Lil Miss So-n-So says:

    A silent reader (no blog, no social media accounts) just checking in to say that of the many things I appreciate about you, chief among them is that you do many things so well. You are not someone who lives your life in a box. Maybe because we are social creatures, maybe because we live in complex societies where specialization is encouraged, we sometimes feel a need (ok, *I* sometimes have felt a need! 😉 to be SOMETHING, i.e., one thing that will help us fit in and make us understandable to other people. As I get older, I find this way of living increasingly objectionable – none of us are just one thing, and all of us have talents and abilities that we’ve neglected or failed to explore that would enrich our lives indefinitely if we only had the courage to try them. Though I am not able to do as much as you do due to health reasons, I am always inspired by your need to live life fully, on it’s own terms, and not be defined by others or by any one thing that you do. And doing all of those things allows you to do each individual one in a way you couldn’t if you had all of your eggs in one basket. We would all be happier and more fulfilled as people if we cared less about what others thought and just lived our lives as deeply and broadly as possible. Much love to you.

    • I find the societal need/norm of cramming people into boxes actually quite offensive and I notice that I rebel harder against it the older I get…and perhaps the better I know myself.

      I have been defining myself lately as being the anti_____________ (fill in the blank with whatever you want). Actually, I rarely fill in the blank anymore. I just refer to myself as the “anti” when it becomes apparent that I am shocking someone with a wildly independent thought or a crazy blend of thoughts and concepts.

      I’ll be the girl who recycles and has an organic garden of heirloom tomato plants who also prefers to shoot her own meat for dinner. Heck, I’ll be the snobby, organic gardener who eats meat! I’ll be the artist who doesn’t vote liberal (but doesn’t vote conservative, either). I’ll be the girl who loves the environment and nature but drives a diesel truck instead of a Prius. I’ll be the hunter who prays over her kills. I’ll be the redneck who practices gratitude and never takes more than she needs. I’ll be the girl who loves beautiful clothing and hates cities.

      It’s complex. I am complex. I am aware of it. I didn’t set out to be this way, but I am, and I am unwaveringly unapologetic about it. I simply like what I like and do what I like. If I don’t like it or don’t believe in it, I don’t make it a part of my life.

      Now I’m rambling.

      Love everything you said here. Spot on. We would all be happier. It’s true.

  3. Yevgeniya K says:

    There is always such a melancholy in your wrighting.

    • It’s the strangest thing, really, that my writing comes across like that. You can ask anyone who has met me in person, as well as my closest friends, I am a complete clown — downright outrageous most of the time, saying the thing that everyone is thinking but won’t say aloud (which is sometimes great and sometimes awful). I’ll say anything and everything in a very unfiltered manner.

      I am high energy, fizzing…I can change the energy of a room by simply walking into it. I didn’t know this about myself until someone (a long time ago) pointed it out to me. Now I am aware of it and try to be appropriately gentle when I present myself to others…oh, but it’s hard. Filtering myself is so hard.

      Folks never know what to make of me, which, in and of itself, is hilarious.

      Thanks for being here.

      • Jillian, I’ve been reading your words for eight (**EIGHT** holy cow) years now and I can say it’s not so much a melancholy so much as an introspective sincerity. Your range of topics conveys your wildly diverging (and at times converging) interest and is always fascinating to me. Thanks for sharing your eccentricities. I very much enjoy them.


  4. all of it :: so holy and heartfilling to read, to FEEL….

  5. I do so look forward to your posts. 🙂

  6. Beautiful soul, so honest and true.I will be jotting down what your friend said in regards to time in my journal. Brilliant. Puts it in perspective.

  7. jenny.aberle@gmail.com says:

    I adore this post, as ever and when I finished reading it I said aloud, “I love you plume.” My four year old son came running over and said “I want a plum!” So I went to the counter and grabbed him a little BC prune plum and we smiled. The accuracy in the things you say in relation to how I feel and am as a person brings me to tears. Thanks so much for all the sharing you do.

  8. Elizabeth Waggoner says:

    I think if everyone could manage to strip away the “shoulds” and “ought tos” and “I betters” and knock out the sides of those boxes and start trying to be as bottom line real (ok – “authentic” is starting to be a little overused lately, but that’s really the right word) as they can possibly be, we would find that we’re ALL both complex and simple at the same time. Oh, Gosh, wouldn’t that be a wondrous thing? Instead of wasting so much time pretending – let’s just TAKE the time we are so blessedly given and DO IT! Maybe then we could throw away all the label makers.

  9. i loved reading this, every word of it.

  10. Loved your thoughts and am just DYING to see the rest of that mug!


  11. Hi Jillian, I think you are perfect for you! I am glad you are such an individual, that you love to hunt, fish, garden and are so loving and creative. Your blog is you, we have the choice to participate in reading your blog, or not. I am so happy that you share who you are with us, open and honest, joyful and loving. I am glad you have no plans for changing for anybody!

  12. Thank you…for expressing your thoughts and moving me to realize that TIME is on our sides…those of us still alive…and it is time to live. I think all of us alive can find ourselves to be unsatisfied in some ways for various reasons but with your help of positivity I have been reminded that I/we must make a choice to exert ourselves to embrace life by appreciating TIME is on our side today. Now for a funny note about time… I don’t wear a watch, although I own one (a Goofy character one with the numbers in the wrong places), because I feel when I do I am too concerned of the time and I don’t enjoy the present. Living in these techie days we have many options to check the time to keep ourselves on track but I am usually with my husband who has worn a watch everyday I have known him…so I play a guessing game…I ask him the time, he asks me to guess and believe it or not I am usually only 5-15 minutes off. He really has claimed I have no concept of time and thinks I should wear but I do believe I have proved to him I don’t need one:)
    I love your positivity…keep it coming and I be reading it…yum!

  13. The seasons are changing my dear. The fire of summer is waning; the creativity that peaks mid-summer is doing the same. Be gentle to yourself. This rhythm is healthy even though we feel the societal (and financial/current day survival) push to do more, more, more! We are going into the season of the Lung (Chinese Med. wise), like a baby, it’s a time of taking that first life giving breath & discovering….take it in & let it be…snuggle into it:)The life you live with your “fire family” follows the seasonal shift so precisely, and it’s so beautiful to see! When it comes time to leave it’s the time of the Large Intestine (letting go), and then you go hunt during the Spleen/Stomach (nourishment) time of the year, etc., etc. Your rhythm is in tune and it’s a lovely thing that is so uncommon anymore….it’s so pure. Thank you for reminding us all of the natural swing of things. And I LOVE this idea of being spoiled with time…I’ll never complain about time again. Always good to see your posts! xoxoxo

  14. Kris in WA says:

    I love your words as usual. Coming here feeds my thirsty soul, more than I can express. Your a beautiful person, Jillian! I’m so glad I found you!! XX Kris in WA

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