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If you are not where you want to be, do not quit

Since the beginning of the Alberta recession in 2014, I’ve found myself repeatedly reinventing myself. I’ve tried a few different retail concepts and my original dreams continue to evolve. Not only are our social circumstances changing rapidly, so are our preferences for fashion and style. And, I’ve learned to adapt and reinvent to keep up with this.

In the early days, I used to reinvent myself without doing a deep dive. And, it was only when I reached into the core of who I am that I discovered the passion I have for creativity. Since I was young, I’ve been in the jewerly business but I’ve never considered designing my own jewelry.

"If you are not where you want to be, do not quit, instead reinvent yourself and change your habits." -- Eric Thomas

It’s the revelation of this desire for creativity that put me on the path to explore the mandala concept.

A mandala has, throughout history, been an important symbol in many traditional cultures. It signifies a spiritual journey within an individual but also transforms and enlightens the mind. Representing a never-ending connection to life and the earth, a mandala has served to transform me.

And not just through its symbolism but literally through the process required to create it.

The process to make one takes about three days. I begin with a block of white polymer clay and push it through a pasta machine about 30 times. I need multiple chunks so I repeat this step several times. Then, I spend some time building layers of clay, shaping it, putting texture on it, and carefully tweaking the final shape details.

The next step is to paint it. Polymer clay needs a lot of layers of paint to cover it. Then, more layers to create depth, shading, and gradients. The paint, in some cases, needs to cure overnight. After several days of painting, I put the clay in the oven and bake it.

When the mandala comes out of the oven, it's time to trim and sand it. Put the final coats of paint on the sides and back.

Then, I add the fittings and string the gorgeous semi-precious beads. I carefully select those to match the colors of the mandala. I also add gemstones that have their own meanings and connections with the earth.

During the time to produce these, I find that I meditate, relax and connect with my inner spirit. I find tranquility, peace, purpose, and satisfaction. And when I put the final coat of protectant on the mandala, I feel a strong sense of connection and gratification for life itself.

Not only have I reinvented myself. I’ve followed Eric Thomas’ advice, I’ve changed my habits! The mandala has literally helped me to connect, meditate and -- ultimately -- given me the time to have gratitude for life. This is especially meaningful to me in these peculiar and life-altering times. And, I hope that these mandalas will bring a similar meaning to others.

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