Thursday, October 08, 2015


My new frames in 2010
Maybe it's been my eyes holding me back....

I've known I needed a stronger prescription in my lenses for over a year. Meant to do something about it last summer but found myself dealing with bigger issues and the thought that if I just waited a little bit longer, those would be resolved...but they wouldn't be until earlier this year. And then it was the bad memories from the previous time I'd gotten new glasses making me reticent. Two optometrists, 3 exams, 6 tries at setting up the lenses properly, months of eye pain, frustration and a lot of arguing later, I finally had a pair of glasses I could see out of. I'd had this happen once before, had even warned the second optometrist, but that office had a very "we know best" attitude, treating me as if I'd never worn glasses before. Finally, their frustration matched mine and they agreed to use the settings of the current lenses as provided by the office I'd got them from before moving half way across the country, even though they informed me they couldn't be correct for the type of lenses I had. And so they were quite embarrassed when I donned this last ditch effort and they were perfect - no adjustments necessary.

Beading done with blurry vision
So I've been dreading the day I'd have to get new lenses. And of course, you seldom can get just new lenses, but also have to pick out new frames. And I can't see how these various frames look without my glasses! But at least I could go get an exam to ease my mind about the general condition of my eyes and worry about getting the new prescription later. I'd had a whole year to scope out another optometrist (someone I'd met during last year's ArtWalk who liked my work - first plus! and who got rave reviews from one of my art group members - second plus!), tamp down my feelings of guilt about switching providers (the problematic office had, in the interim, treated me quickly and soothed my fears when I developed "flashing" in one eye), and budget for the always expensive kind of frames and lenses I prefer (would be making the final payment on a car loan in July).

The thing that made these hard to give up
Yeah - I can't just jump in to do anything. But by May my vision was decidedly worse, I was struggling to focus at every distance, and if I spent too long reading, sewing or at the computer in that shorter range, my eyes simply refused to refocus across the room. There were other things too, enough that I wondered if something other than needing a stronger prescription was going in. Well, I got on well with the new optometrist, was thoroughly impressed with his thorough exam and said I'd be back by the end of summer for those new glasses.

My current new frames
Yeah, right. Life continually intervenes, you know, and suddenly it was September. Time to bite the bullet and get on with it. Really tired of the constant straining and inability to focus in on really small type. The picking out of frames was the usual trying on of many, feeling indecisive, wishing I could see better, wishing this one came in a different color. Wait - that one DOES come in a different color that we can order for you to try! The gal I worked with was so good and accommodating, and I began to feel more confident. Of course, the real test was after the frames were decided upon and the marks made for the lab to use in setting up the prescription.

More blurry vision beading
While I waited for them to come back, I realized I'd gone from wishing I didn't have to give up my current frames that I liked so much (you know how I hate change) to getting really excited about the new look. Yeah, I said, I NEED a new look, need to shake things up a bit. Let's just hope I can see out of them. I got the call that they were in earlier this week, and I swear, the girl was holding her breath as much as I was. But hey, she did a perfect job and I could see at all distances, no adjustments necessary. Now why couldn't those other places do that?

Beading with clear vision
Of course, the proof would be once I got home and moved around in familiar settings. This is when it struck me just how much I'd been straining to see anything. Now everything was sharp and clear without trying. And suddenly, I wanted to get in the studio and continue with the beading. This is when I remembered how I struggled the week before as I added more beads to Masks - I simply could not bring the area I was working on into focus so it was a guessing game about where the needle was going. Could it be that subconsciously I knew how much more work anything in the studio was going to be because I couldn't see clearly and thus lost my enthusiasm for working in there? If how I felt with the new glasses on was any indication, I think perhaps it was indeed a factor.

I can see where to put the needle now
I believe it was Elly Sienkiewicz who, not so tongue in cheek, added getting your eyes checked and if necessary a new pair of glasses to the list of "other materials and supplies" for her projects. The undisputed master of Baltimore Album style applique knew the importance of being able to see easily and clearly when working on the fine detail of needleturn applique. As I sat down this week to test my new prescription with more bead additions on Masks, I was reminded of how very true this is. I am finding joy again in the doing, and many more beads got added on in a session I did not need carrots to prolong.

Wood beads banished for these
It may have helped that I resolved what to do in an area that has failed to feel right in spite of what I thought should go there. Unable to commit, I'd move the loose beads I'd auditioned off the quilt and go to a different section that seemed clearer. I so wanted to use some wood beads as fringe on one hat, but even though my better sense knew they weren't right, I kept auditioning them while trying other things around them that I thought would balance them out. If they stayed, my centerpiece button didn't look right. I couldn't commit to it either. I shoved them all to one side and "fringed" the other hat and was so pleased. Then finished adding beads around the button on that hat. This helped me see how wrong those wooden beads were, and what I should try with the limited amount of green beads left. Oh, I am so much happier now and the button on that hat now looks right. I had another one of those moments when I felt my whole body relax. I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, AND the way to get there.

Now this works - but which orientation?
I'll admit that over the last few weeks I've beaten myself up a bit at how much time I've spent pondering the rightness of the beading choices I lay before me and then try on this project. Goodness, why can't I just jump in? (See above story of glasses) Why do I keep trying the same things over and over, hoping the next time they'll say yes I work, rather than, ehhh I'm not so sure? Why can't I reach that body-relaxed-this-is-right moment sooner? And then as if in answer, this arrives in my mailbox:
Keats called it Negative Capability: the ability to sit with uncertainty and ambiguity without rushing after The Answer.
Need another row of beads down nose
Well well well. I guess I'm a master at negative capability! But let me tell you, it can get pretty uncomfortable sitting with those two.

We be comin' along!


Sherrie Spangler said...

I so glad you finally have glasses that work. I know only too well how frustrating it is to live with lenses that don't let you focus.

The Inside Stori said...

What a fun and all too familiar post to read!!!

Chris said...

Amazing to be able to see! Love the new glasses and I am glad that they worked out for you. I can not use that as an excuse for my lack of work lately....

Lucia Sasaki said...

Dear Sheila, i am glad that you got new glasses and could improve you already beautiful work. As a user of glasses since i was 10 years old i know how bad is when we need to exchange glasses.
And thanks for sharing your artwork with beads!