flame & stone

handmade to adorn. built to be worn.

more is just more

Hilary OQ NelsonComment

I had this idea that I could be a weekly or bi weekly blogger when I started this project.  Then as time moved forward I realized how difficult it is for me to do most things if they don't come organically from my heart. Looking back on the things I felt I failed at this past year, all of those things that didn't work out were creations of my 'more is better' driven mind. 

How was this year for you?  To me, I cannot justify complaints as I end the year with a happy and healthy family surrounded by love, and without having endured much trauma or loss. Through dedicating myself more fully to a yoga practice this year, I made it out of the clutching grip of a 4 year battle with depression; instilling a new sense of lightness and appreciation in me. Through this practice I have come to  recognize, and from there work on the release of, toxic resentment, chronic pessimism, and debilitating negativity.  Out of the many little things I felt at the time were failures, in hind sight they were all minute and passed without much stigma.  The two things I felt were big accomplishments (running 26.2, completion of 200Hr RYT) left me with lessons in patience, determination, perseverance, passion, that pain and trauma both physical and mental take time and dedicated work to heal,  if you are recovering from pain, take time to sit with the discomfort and listen to what your body is suggesting you need to do to heal, and the understanding that More is just More, it does not always mean better (thank you Christina for instilling these words during a lovely, sweaty, yoga practice you created).  The more miles I put on my body, the more damage I did.  The more I focused on quality over quantity of my actions, the more I began to enjoy things, and the more I began to heal. 

I will say, the one exception I have personally found to this concept, is that the more time I put into taking care of myself, the more I enjoy life. More love makes for better quality of life. 

 I'm heading into the new year with this mantra into my head.  

Move from a place of more quality, rather than more quantity.  But remembering that More is just more, it is not better.

Many blessings to you and those you hold most dear in this coming year.  

Be well. 



BlogHilary OQ Nelson3 Comments

Well.  It took me a while to decide on what I wanted to write about this week. Naturally I surpassed my self set deadline, and got a little down on myself.  Lots going on in the old brain, over stimulated and over pressured I suppose, aren't  we all? 

So, Home.   What I kept coming back to is the concept of Home.

That comfortable place in your life can help one heal so much.  

What constitutes a home?  What makes one feel at home? Is it a structure? A community?  Specific people? Comfort?  Regularity? Is it the place you grew up? Is it a place you came to find on your own?  Does it provide a  feeling of safety?  A feeling of love?  A feeling of something else?  Or is it really just something you can't really describe?  How did you find your home? Where is your home?  

Where is my home? 

In my instance, my home is not where I grew up, though I still call that place home.  I was raised in your standard American Midwest Suburbia, which has now blossomed into another analogous exit of the highway of corporate American towns.  My upbringing was fine.  I  feel lucky to have memories of that home before it was enveloped by concrete and stoplights and any store you could possibly ever need to go to. Sheltered, safe, privileged, white.  

The man I came to marry grew up passing between a similarly suburban utopia and this small town Northwoods community, surrounded by water.  

To make a long story short, our suburban upbringings united us in our youth, and over the years brought us back together.  But the first visit I took to his other home, at age 19, changed me.  Once my tires rolled onto the ferry boat on the chilly April day, I knew that this place was magic.  The magic enveloped me once on the island.  I remember having trouble sleeping that weekend out of this pure excitement, shivering in a tent as the waves crashed against the shore and the wind howled through the pines.  Every person I met welcomed me with a warmness you just really do not find growing up in a big city, everyone had a story to tell, some many.  The beauty of the place itself is breathtaking. The soul of the island is magical, still gives me goosebumps at times. 

Right away, I more or less knew I wanted to stay there. I knew I had to stay there.  

So, I did.  I moved there a month later, for the summer, which melted into fall, which turned to winter, spring summer again... I came and went over the years, moving here and there, going to college, but at any moment I could, I ran back there.  It was the place my heart longed to be whenever I was away. I actually remember a boss of mine in college telling me I "needed to get off the island,"  and my response was, WHY? And I still feel that way.  Part of me feels like he was jealous of my unending love for this place, perhaps so, perhaps not.  I do know, now since having came an gone from there for 15 years, that I am certainly not alone in this feeling I get when there and this longing I get when away.  

And in the midst of personal crisis 2.5 years ago we moved away, but not far away, certainly not far enough away.  At every opportunity, we make a dash to the ferry, seeking shelter on the shores encompassed by that clear, cold, powerful water. And here we are, realizing, yeah... this place we moved to, so close to our home, just isn't our home.  We love our house, our neighborhood, the school up the road, we have friends on this side of the pond; but it just isn't the same. It just isn't our home. So, yes, what does make that my home?

The beauty, the magic, the people, the community, the trees, the spirits, the stories, the feeling. All of it. 

I feel so lucky to know this feeling.  To have found a place that captured my heart while simultaneously welcoming me into its community with open arms.  I feel even more lucky that we are able to move back there, to make a life there, to raise our children there.  It certainly is not for everyone. It, perhaps, doesn't provide the most 'opportunity', but this is relative to what you strive to achieve I suppose.  The Northwoods island life is not necessarily a walk in the park, it takes planning, and the ability to live in an isolated place. It takes creativity to make a living, and community to support you when you struggle.  If you're all about your regular trips to the movie theaters, yoga classes and shopping malls; well... that isn't gonna happen here. It makes me enjoy the big city opportunities that much more when I have them, and I am always ready to retreat to the woods after a few days of relishing in the jungle of modern city civilization. For me, I enjoy the purity. The realness.  The randomness of the qualities of the people who call this small place home.  I cherish the silence.  The sounds of the Lake and the woods.  It is a life more in tuned to the natural world, and certainly with water and its forces.  It's a life you have to physically work for to make happen, at least we, not blessed with a large bank account, have to.  I love the connection to the past, the indigenous spirits that roam the land are undeniable.  At the heart of it, it is just a magical place.  If you get it, you get it, and you will never be the same. For this place, and the discovery of this place, the path that lead me to this place, I feel the depths of gratitude on a whole new plane.

I am not saying that home is perfect.  I can't deny that at times in the depths of harsh dark isolated winters, or even in the chaos of tourist filled summer days, that I don't feel the need to escape. That is a natural occurrence. But, after being just close enough to home, but not actually home for the last few years, it has made me realize what it is I truly value in a home, and where I do in fact feel just feel at home. 

So, for you I ask, Where is your home? What makes it home?  How did you come to know this home?  Do you live there? If not, why?  

I'd really like feedback on this one.  Even if it is just the seven of you I know for sure have read my previous posts, I am grateful for you 7 and your comments!  And if you don't care to respond, I hope this makes you think about the questions, and about what matters to you, and about where feels like home. 

Also, shout out to the podcast Dear Sugars, and the episode Location Location Location, for their inspiration to dive a little deeper into this concept that has been lingering in my brain.  It's a great podcast with a plethora of subjects, have a listen on your way up to visit me on the island :) . 

Happy Sunday.  Be well.


BlogHilary OQ Nelson5 Comments


(1) a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.

(2) the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.

(Definition from google.)  

The first mentions returning to a "normal" state of mind, and I think that definition is awkward.  Returning to 'normal' after a traumatic event, usually is not going to happen, but generally, we try.  We end up returning to a new level of comfort perhaps, a new normal maybe, but not a return to what was normal before.  We are all recovering on some level, from some sort of trauma.  With the chain of tragic events of the last month, it is clear so many of our fellow humans are recovering from unimaginable loss; loss of a loved one, loss of function, loss of independence, loss of financial stability, loss of pets, loss of home, loss of belongings and keepsakes, loss of hard earned achievements, loss of businesses, loss of livelihood, loss of dreams.  There are so many things to recover from:  diseases, addictions, broken hearts, tragedies.  I find myself, in the wake of these devastating losses, feeling egotistical or selfish even writing a blog about, essentially, the pursuits of happiness and humanity.  Even thinking about my own issues seems a little absurd as I currently have healthy kids, a loving husband, a warm home and some money in the bank to buy food. But we all have our own things we carry.  We all have had a traumatic event.  We have all recovered, or are and will be forever recovering.  All of these things negate who we are, how we act, react and interact with the world around us, and how we continue on trying to regain that possession or control of whatever it is that was stolen or lost.  And that is why I write,  to continue my recovery, in hopes of regaining pieces of the person I once knew, and in order to better serve and understand my fellow people and their efforts to recover. 

I suppose this concept has been on my mind in rather spotty fashion since June of this year. After talking with a good friend this weekend (you know who you are <3) I realized there were so many words that I have never let leave my body in the last 3 years (& 4 months).  Not onto paper. Not verbally. Just fermenting inside me, haunting my brain and tormenting my heart. In the grand scheme of things 3 years isn't that long, and in hind sight of course it seems to have flown by, but it is a long time to live feeling angry, resentful, confused, depressed, struggling; at times those dark moments seemed as though they would never end.  It is a long time to go on in a more or less constant state of oppressing true feelings, and scrambling desperately to control anything in my life I can possibly harness control over.  It is a long time to be bitter inside.  It is a long time to be told regularly that I am a negative human, and even worse, to start to feel that I genuinely am.  It is a long time to not feel like myself.

So, here I am, after almost 3.5 years of feeling all these chronically negative things, trying so hard to understand, to come to terms, to make amends.  Trying so hard to recover.  It took that long, but now the process has begun.

My personal struggle erupted in the late Spring of 2014.  My life was seemingly ideal.  Hard, with an almost 3 year old and an infant, but I had a good solid life as a young mother, with a young family, trying to do the best I could. I loved the home we had made on this little island in the Big Lake, and we were working hard trying to buy it, or trying to buy some home.  Between the long nights of broken sleep, nursing sessions, diaper changes, potty training sessions, the food making, the tantrum calming, the skill teaching, the book reading, the song singing... we made time for raising chickens, growing food, taking walks on the shore or in the woods, having friends over for dinner or brunch, making art. Life was good.  Until one day, I realized, it wasn't.  My life was fine I guess. My oblivion proved to be a protective seal around my heart.  But that seal shattered into billions of pieces, along with my heart, when I realized the darkness that my husband was living in.  When I realized a warm blanket of lies was all that had been keeping me comfortable, and that blanket was abruptly ripped off of me. Right in front of my sleep deprived eyes, this whole other dimension of abuse, depression and incomprehensible addiction was going on.  And in an instant, as it normally goes, your world is flipped upside down.  One clue after the next surfaced in rapid succession, leaving me dumbfounded as to how I simply did not notice ANY of this, how could I not know?  And more importantly, what do I do?  

In a nutshell, after alerting the few people I felt could help me and needed to know. I, not so gracefully, confronted my husband.  It was seeking help and keeping the kids and me, or the end of the relationship.  He chose help.  Off he went, 6 weeks away from family in a treatment facility.  And he has been sober since.   He made the best choice.  I am 100% proud of him, 100% grateful that he chose that path, and thus far has been stable in his own, often difficult, recovery.  

What did I do though?  I went on.  I had two babies to care for, so I worked hard at that with loving support from family and community.  I had bills that had to be paid, so I worked more. I had a bazillion emotions inside my heart which felt it had been run over by large pieces of machinery, set on fire, chopped up finely, and discarded; so I suppressed them.  

It has been a really hard 3 years.  I guess I don't know the depth of struggle my husband has had, living a clean life, but for me, now reflecting back, it has been brutal.  I never processed the anger. The rage. The hatred.  The bitterness. It manifested itself inside me as extreme resentment, the constant need to feel in control, the depression that would creep in and leave me with no energy or drive me into manic fits which then left me totally exhausted, toxic levels of pessimism coursed through my veins.  I guess if you look at the stages of grief, the last three years I have cycled in and out of anger, bargaining and depression.   A series of pretty big life decisions followed, mostly out of panic and inability to handle stress.  I quit the job I loved.  Our family moved away from our home; due in part to just being a young poor family starting out after a recession but a lot also because financial difficulties incurred as a result of said addiction. From there I threw myself erratically into my work.  I moved from one obsessive decision that I could control to the next.  This was my new normal.   And it has really, really sucked. 

So, now here I am.  With June came the realization of many things, namely that I had been living in this shit storm inside my head for 3 years and things were not getting any better.  And that, through the focus on my husband's recovery, I had neglected to recognize the trauma I had endured and had never began my own recovery.  I feel I began the healing process over the summer.  I realized I needed to take way better care of myself, and moderate basically all aspects of my life.  I need to work on breathing, calming myself, and thinking before I speak.  I need to release this 3 year old desire to always have the last word, always be in control, or always be right; this was a bad habit I developed out of bitterness.  I realized I miss our home and desperately want to move back.  I realized I need to focus on things I like to do, things that make me happy and bring joy; not just things I can feel in control of.  I realized I HAVE been really negative, really really resentful, really bitter.  I am NOT negative, I just react negatively, and need to make a conscious effort to change this pattern.  Maybe not so simple, but definitely manageable. 

So, this is part of my recovery.  This is part of my pursuit.  You are all part of my journey, and I appreciate you being on it with me. 

My husband gave me permission to share his story. I did not reveal too many details about his struggle with addiction, but he encouraged me to share his story in hopes it would help other people.  And I am doing the same.  I am thankful for his willingness to be a better person, and to try to help others be better versions of themselves.

This is a space for people to read, but also for people to share.  If you have a comment, a story, advice... please share it.  We can never fully recover things that were lost or stolen, we can never return to the 'normal' we once knew, but we can move forward in our recovery and grow into something new. We can only do this if we have the courage within us toadmit our faults truthfully, recognize them and navigate around them.  It is my experience that this is an extremely solo and subjective journey, but that if we are open about where we are at, collectively we will heal and grow much faster.  You cannot quantify someone's grief, you cannot put a time frame on healing, but you can recognize your own struggles, try to grow from your mistakes, and use your experiences to try to help others in their recovery. 

My take away from all of this, in the darkness of all these tragedies we are left to recover from, is that it is in this struggle we must take utmost care to notice our  personal condition and be truthful with ourselves about what we need, to take time to take care of ourselves. Without this we cannot take proper care of one another and help one another on this path of life. 


"If we're gonna heal, let it be glorious" - Beyonce


Hilary OQ NelsonComment

I started writing this a week ago.  Since then, the world is a different place.  The hearts of many were stopped at the hands of someone who we know little about, someone who knew little about the hundreds he  wounded, or killed.  The hearts of thousands more are now beating heavy with the grief off unnecessary and incomprehensible loss that will follow them in and out of consciousness until they take their last breath. And the world mourns, and shakes, and sobs. And so many remain silent. 

I am sick. I am devastated. I am confused.  I am heartbroken.  I am scared. I am ANGRY. I feel helpless.  I imagine most of you are right there with me. 

What I was writing about last week was trying to find my inner truth. And now, in the wake of mass destruction, it seems on the one hand so selfish and inappropriate to talk about, but on the other hand it seems like talking about this is also talking about where the core of many problems in the world lie. 

It is in times like this I retreat within.  Tapping into my consciousness and meditating, just being present in this moment Recognizing the deep burn of sorrow as an appropriate emotion to have, and letting my tears fall as needed. Trying to recognize my feelings and my state of being in each moment.  For that is all we are ever guaranteed.  I can't help but wonder if everyone tried tapping into their consciousness on a regular basis, and lived for the present moment, what type of world we would live in? 

I am not disregarding the seriousness, and complications, that come with having a mental illness, a chemical imbalance or any other disease or injury that effects the brain. I understand these are prevalent and very real and on many levels distort a persons concept of reality, ability to communicate properly (or at all), ability to process emotions and take a pause before reacting, they can cause deep states of depression, perhaps be treated with medications that cause other side effects, the list is long.  The reality is that there are so many people who live with these afflictions of the brain, and for them, their suffering may be their truth. They may not have the luxury of reading a book about how to calm the brain, or the ability to sit in meditation and mindfulness or perhaps even comprehend the meaning of those words and what they do if practiced.  

I dont have answers for why some people commit heinous  acts that shatter the hearts of loved ones and forever change lives of those left to go on living without their loves. 

I do believe, if all of us who are mentally capable, practice mindfulness, practice being present in this moment, practice taking a deep breath before we say or do something out of emotion, if we are able to separate the true energy of our being from our thoughts and emotions even for seconds throughout our day; if we do these things I believe we are all able to better help one another, to recognize the struggle, and to perhaps better help those who's brains do not allow for them the privileges our healthier minds offer us.

I believe that kindness and truth and pure love reside in mindfulness. And I do believe these things can greatly change our world.

I am currently reading the Yamas & Niyamas of Patanjali's Sutras, and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.  Both of these texts are brilliant, and have opened my heart and mind.  If you are on your own path  seeking your truth, I recommend both of these, and any work or video interview by Master Eckhart.  

My eyes burn and my heart slows to a deep dull thud when I think of the ripple of pain one person has caused to thousands of living souls, and the life he stole from 58 others.  I hope one day Love will truly find a way to break the evil that resides in some. 

I hope you enjoy your present moments, the only moments we truly have. Sending love. 

pursuit of happiness

Hilary OQ NelsonComment

Hi everyone. Here we go. Another day, another journey. 

On my run through the woods today, I realized a few things.

I realized that today I felt much happier than yesterday (day after election day was yesterday) which I am sure most all of us do; even if you voted for our newest President elect, there was at some point a little bit of stress on you during this whole election process.

I also realized that for a long time, like all of my life until today, I viewed happiness as something that came along with living, something that occurred. Today, somehow, I realized that yes, sometimes happiness does come to us organically, but more often than not it is something we have to make a pointed effort to find. For some people this is easy, a no brain-er. Me? I think of myself as a realist, but realistically I tend to err on the side of pessimism in most cases.  Not because I like to be negative, I actually really dislike it when I am negative, but that is just how my brain is wired. But today, as I jaunted through the woods on a trail I had never explored before, I realized it is all really about choice. And all of our choices basically come down to a simple choice of whether or not we choose to be happy, or a grump. I guess prior to this realization today, I was pretty grumpy most of my days. I took the world as coming at me, not coming from me. I had read uplifting things about changing my mood; I had gotten annoyed with the overly happy people in my life (seriously, HOW are you SO happy ALL THE TIME!?); I had told my children time and again to "change your attitude" when they were getting on my nerves, on and on, but somehow I let these things happen or come out of my mouth without really taking them seriously. My cathartic run turned this thought process around (running is the new black BTW).

The final thing I should mention I realized is that a lot of things that currently make me unhappy, or at the least do not give me happiness,  in my personal life are things and ideas that I have in my head that I store in a safe little corner. I think of many things throughout the day, and it's those recurring ideas, the 'I should do that' , or usually 'I should make that' or 'I should start that'  that I think about that make me feel excited, and then, because I don't do them, they weigh me down. I think I store things most often because I am scared to take new leaps, perhaps I don't feel like I have the time because life is busy, or I am scared because I don't think I know exactly how to do what I want to do, but mostly it comes down to am scared to do try things.  I have thought for months about how I should be writing down my ideas, my thoughts, my feelings, maybe even blogging about them. How it would probably help me sort things out, figure things out, get things going. But, I was too scared to just do it.  I was scared it would be awkward, or I would not do it "right" or whatever, I was just kind of scared of it. So, today, here I am. I am DOING IT.

So, on this enlightening run on this beautiful and unseasonably warm November day, I decided I would start to blog about my personal pursuit of happiness.  I am not a psychologist, or a master in meditation, or a behavioral specialist/therapist, I am not a life coach, or a counselor; I am a woman, a mother of two small children, who owns a small business, works miscellaneous other jobs to help pay bills, struggles with the reality of my life versus my dreams, and is not a naturally happy person. I don't expect to be happy all of the time. I am a very emotional person, so that would be impossible as I simply feel too many things.  However, it is an immediate goal to feel happy most of everyday, and to learn to laugh more, especially when I am being ridiculous, or when I am crying over something silly.  SO, if you care to follow along with me on my journey of what I do and think about seeking happiness, here we are. And thank you for being part of my journey.

What the F?

BlogHilary OQ Nelson6 Comments

Ah, the eternal question... what the F am I doing?  But really?  What am I doing?  Perhaps it is not an eternal question for you, but it is one that frequently preoccupies my mind.  It seems to come in really strong waves, and then goes out with the tide and for intervals I am extremely content and my mind takes on the "YEAH! This is the path I am supposed to be on" motto.  And then, for reasons I am exploring now, here, and in time to come; something changes, perhaps suddenly, perhaps gradually, and that question creeps back in... "Hilary, what the F are you doing? Are you happy?  Is this what you are supposed to be doing?".

I have journaled privately about it, cried about it, meditated on it, tried to ignore it, stressed about it, over stressed about it, ran from it (both physically and metaphorically), breathed deep through it,  screamed over it, moved to other countries because of it, contemplated, pined after it, complained about it, beat myself up over it, got depressed about it, pretended I didn't care about it, cared too much about it, and now here I am... simply trying to confront it and understand it.

My response to this question of what the f am I doing is currently a stream of questions... What the fuck am I doing?  Should I even be asking that question?  Why do I feel I am supposed to do anything? Why do I feel so discontent sometimes?  Am I too much of a dreamer?  Do other people feel this way?  Isn't what I am doing more than enough? Aren't I enough? How do other people feel content?  How did they get to where they're at?  And why?  And why do they stay there? Are they happy? Content?  If not why?  And if not, why do they stay?  What the fuck are we all doing?

For background info, In a extrmely small nutshell (like pistachio sized) Flame & Stone grew from my love of metalsmithing which I randomly but organically stumbled upon in 2005 during my second semester at UW Madison for which I had intended to go and study various religious beliefs and paths.  It then grew from my holistic beleif that the pursuit of happiness should overflow into all aspects of our being, from the internal joy & soul satisfying passion (my flame) I feel from working with my hands and creating beauty,  and from the need to supply my family with some supplemental income while allowing me to be available for my children/family (my base, my foundation, my stone) as much as possible, while recognizing jobs are limited where we live and creating my own income is a viable option.  Sounds dreamy doesn't it?  Seems like it should be.

But yet I struggle. 

So, here I am.  Awkwardly trying to stumble down a new path while this little spark in the back of my heart keeps flaring up, saying, 'turn back, this isn't the way'. 

But, what is the way?  

I am reaching out here, to you, in my first blog post ever, and I would really love honest, raw, open, feedback to be shared without fear of judgement.

I am seeking knowledge, and ideas through your answers. I am seeking personal and universal and communal understanding.  I am seeking camaraderie. Encouragement. Inspiration.  I am seeking your stories, to enrich my own perspectives and to bring me to new levels of appreciation for the human struggle and new connections to other humans.  I am hoping these stories help us all.  That you can share and read with an open heart and mind and perhaps an answer you have been seeking will present itself here. 

SO.... I ask of you...

What is your story?  

How/why did you end up doing what you do?

 End up where you are?  

Are you happy?


If not, why?  

If so, how?  

What would you change if anything? And why do you not pursue that change? 

Please!  Contemplate.  Think about it.  Write about it.  Share it.  I really, truly want to hear it.  Without judgement. Without analysis. I just want to hear what you have to say.  

Share this blog. I want to hear what your friends have to say, and their friends too.  

 If you do not feel comfortable or safe commenting here on this post, please email me @ hilary.metalsmith@gmail.com. 

We are all in this thing together.  

Be well.