Friday, November 16, 2012

How It All Started...

I've been asked on quite a few occasions about how The Refurbished Ruby was started and so I thought it would be appropriate for my first post to share with you the story of how my little jewellery business came to be.

Most of my friends were surprised to hear that I started making jewellery because to them, I'm a science nerd that gets the geeky jokes in The Big Bang Theory, has a chemistry degree, and married an awesome guy who happens to have a PhD in Chemistry.  Contrary to what people may see on the surface, there is a creative part of me but I had forgotten about it for quite some time.  

Growing up, I used to love to walk through the craft fairs in small towns outside of my city and admire the handmade goods vendors had meticulously displayed with pride.  Some of my most cherished childhood memories involved making jewellery from kits and learning from books how to weave bracelets and bead necklaces.  Music also became an essential part of my life as I started singing solos at my Church when I was about 7 years old.  My Mom and I would sing duets together and I was involved in choirs and bands for many years.  Stemming from my love for music was a desire to dance and I was in multiple dance groups in junior high and high school and taught choreography on a number of occasions.  I also had a passion for creative writing, and I can recall the surprise on my high school English teacher’s face when I told him I was going to pursue a Science degree in University, not an English major as he had hoped.  

As I entered University life, it was as if the creativity I had nurtured in my school years was slowly being removed from me to make room for chemical equations, laboratory data, and integrals.  But hints of my artistic spark still popped up once in awhile.  I was given an invitation to join the English department from my University and I excelled at my Sign Language and Spanish classes.  But I continued to push these talents aside to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor.  I replaced whimsy with logic, passion with deductive reasoning, and creative writing with rote memorization.

Fast forward 7 years and I had achieved my goal of getting into medical school and I was entering my third year of the program.  It was then I began the most gruelling part of my education called clerkship…the unpaid, sleep deprived medical internship that required me to be up for 28 hours or more at a time, do physical exams on hallucinating patients, and stand in an operating theatre for 6 hours straight just to name a few.  Through this exhausting time, I experienced some of the darkest hours of my life, but from it came the rebirth of my creative spirit and the beginning of The Refurbished Ruby.   

With having completed almost half of the third year of my medical training (and the hardest rotations to boot), I made one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made in my life...I decided I needed to take time off from my training.  I was feeling completely miserable and knew that there was something going on with my health that I needed to address before I myself would wind up as a patient in the hospital.  I did not want to be hypocritical and tell my patients to take care of themselves while I myself was delaying in dealing with my own ailments.

So, while my personal treatment team was trying to sort through my symptoms to come up with a diagnosis, I was sitting at home feeling an overwhelming urge to do something with my time.  I was used to working at the hospital for about 12 hours/day and I wanted to do something to fight back the terrifying feeling of going crazy with nothing to do at home.  That's when I came up with the idea to take my Mom's abandoned jewellery collection and modernize it.  With her permission, I started searching for pieces I felt had the potential to be remade into something more updated and beautiful but would still hold its character.  With some tools I purchased from a local craft store, I started dismantling pieces and recreating them into ‘modern artifacts’ as Michael Margolis so eloquently puts it.

The love I had for making jewellery from my childhood was rekindled along with my creativity and within a few days I had created about 20 pieces of jewellery.  I started showing only my closest friends and family my jewellery and shared with them my new secret love affair with jewellery design.  I decided that I would like to make a little business for myself and start selling my wares on Etsy.  I came up with the name of The Refurbished Ruby which I thought was quite fitting for the type of jewellery I was making and the rest is history.    

Through collecting pieces of old and vintage jewelry that have been tossed aside and upcycling them, I find that I am rediscovering who I am.  I have great joy in pouring meaning back into unloved pieces by reviving them into new, inspired, ‘Refurbished Rubies’ if you will and feel the process I go through in creating jewellery is a metaphor for how my life is becoming renewed daily.

Upcycling is also a way to be good to this beautiful earth that God gave us.  I’m not a tree hugger but I have learned through my studies that our environment is delicate and we should be good stewards of it by making little changes where we can.  This is why I try to do my part to use recyclable packaging and 100% recycled paper for my business cards.

My life has changed considerably from almost a year ago when I decided to take time off from medical school and although it was the hardest decision I have ever had to make in my life, it was also the best gift I have given myself.  Although my doctors have come up with a diagnosis, they are still trying to tailor my treatment so that I can live a healthier life and start a career.  But more important than school or a job, I am learning through this experience to be good to myself.  I've beaten myself up for too much of my life thinking I wasn't smart enough, tough enough, or good enough for x, y, and z.  It is refreshing to gain a new perspective on life and to treat myself with the kindness I deserve...that we all deserve.

So if there's one thing that you've gained from reading my blog today I hope it's this: to learn to love yourself enough that if you know you need to make some changes in your life to take better care of yourself, even if those changes may be difficult to implement, I encourage you to take the chance.  In doing so, you will be giving yourself an invaluable gift and the opportunity to become the best version of yourself instead of drifting through life.  You may find that you gain much more than you ever expected.  

Happy Friday and I hope you have a beautiful weekend!


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