Inspired by a charm I made from a bead that I thought looked like a Chinese lantern, I decided to create an Asian Inspired Mystical Charm Bracelet. As I was creating it started to be based on a vacation our family took in the summer of 2008. No, we didn't go to an Asian country, but to Santa Clara, California if you can believe that. We went to Santa Clara with our son who was participating in a week-long Classical Guitar Certification course to become a Certified Suzuki Guitar Instructor. If you don't know anything about the Suzuki method of teaching young student music, check out the Longay Conservatory of Guitar in Santa Clara, California for more information.
The classical guitar is a beautiful instrument and I have participated in my son's guitar studies since he was 5 years old. I love the soothing sound of classical guitar. I was also my daughter's coach during her Suzuki violin lessons until she graduated from all the levels when she was 18.
So while my son attended training, my husband and I had too much time on our hands and had to figure out inexpensive activities to do in the area to keep us busy. The only problem was this was 2008 at the beginning of the recession, and gas prices had gone up to about $4.65 a gallon suddenly which we weren't expecting.
Also during the drive to Santa Clara, while driving through Yosemite National Forest in 2008, there had been a forest fire close to the road. The smoke was very thick and at times it was difficult to see the road. We hurried through the forest, not noticing that the bumpy road had jiggled the entire housing of our van's back tail-light completely off. When we arrived at our destination we realized our entire back headlight and cover was gone!?!
So even though we were strapped for cash and in need of a car repair, we were still optimistic as we had arrived safely at our destination, had checked into our inexpensive motel close to the "Our Lady of Peace" statue, and our son was busily attending his certification course at the Santa Clara Convention Center.
So back to the bracelet.
So each of the charms brings back various memories, which is why I enjoy creating charm bracelets.
The bracelet reminds me of the peace I feel now when listening to a classical guitar piece played well, or the peace I felt touring the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Jose. The lantern reminds me of someone wise holding up this lantern in front of a quote by Dr. Suzuki which has always reminded me that the end goal is not as important as the journey. It brings me peace and reminds me that during all the years of practice with my children, all the years of sitting in lessons after work, waiting in cars, back-stage duties, hauling equipment, noisy venues, eternal talent shows, endless junior high performances, it was the journey with my children that mattered most. Whether they could play beautiful music was just a side benefit, but the actual value came from the journey with them. Their journey in becoming beautiful people.
"The main concern for parents should be to bring up their children as noble human beings. That is sufficient. If this is not their greatest hope, in the end the child may take a road contrary to their expectations. Children can play very well. We must try to make them splendid in mind and heart also."
For those of you that have gone to music lessons with young children and helped them to practice at home the phrase "Enjoy the Journey" is easier said than done. While my children were young, I used to regularly curse Dr. Suzuki and his optimistic ways!
The latern reminds me to have more wisdom and to enjoy each moment of the journey, even the journey of the new tail-light.
So our first day we went in search of a local automotive parts store and they ordered the tail-light part for us that we were able to install a few days later with some tools borrowed from a local Sears.
Since we didn't have enough money to eat out every day, we went to a local fruit market / swap meet and purchased local fruit and veggies that we kept in a cooler in our room.
We scoped out some local parks and found the beautiful Japanese Friendship garden in San Jose that we went to several times. It was beautiful and peaceful, even though it was very hot outside, the water made it feel cooler. The fish charms remind me of the Koi fish in the pond, and many of the beads remind me of the park.
We went to all the local museums. I recommend the San Jose Museum of Art. They had some great exhibits. We also went to the crazy Winchester House. We contacted the San Jose Chamber of Commerce and got some local discount tickets. It was interesting. We laughed because we had recently finished some do-it-yourself house remodeling that felt a lot like the Winchester House remodel gone wild! We went to parks, stores, and kept entertained during the week. We got bored one day and got a kick out of looking at million dollar homes for sale in San Jose, that just looked like the regular 3 bedroom budget homes anywhere in the U.S., except in San Jose they were priced at $1 million dollars. These were not extra-nice neighborhoods, but just regular residential areas, next to a busy street with a 7-11 close by. Very strange.
Even though this wasn't a typical family vacation I would have planned, it turned out great because in the evenings each day when we picked up our son he would tell us about all the great people he worked with that day and was very enthusiastic about his training course in becoming a certified teacher.
In the evenings we attended several concerts associated with the training where young people played in classical guitar ensembles. The last day, we were able to attend a great concert by Bill Kanengiser who is a member of the LA Guitar Quartet (LAGQ). Check out their music, it's awesome!!! Scroll down in their player and check out the snippets below from their cd "LAGQ's - Guitar Heroes" if you are new to classical guitar, or listen to snippets from "LAGQ's - Latin" which is a very popular. My son has learned many of these songs over the years as he looks to them as the ultimate classical guitar ensemble!
So after this concert my son got to meet Bill Kanengiser and later learned one of the songs from this concert that he performed in his Junior Recital in college.
Here is a link to my son as he was learning to play the song, "Missing Her, by Fredrick Hand" right after we returned home.
After the training was finished, we all went to San Francisco a few times and walked around China Town, and ate some great Chinese food. We rode the "Cal Train", got lost a few times, and had a good time.
I love the "Happy Cat". The dragon fly reminds me of summer, and I hear it also symbolizes "Victory". There's another fish made of cinnabar that reminds me of the pier, and all the coins and symbols remind me of the many shops and things for sale.
We even drove clear down to Monterey and ate dinner one night for out last big splurge before going home. We enjoyed watching the sea otters swimming around outside the restaurant.
The cat charm reminds me of my neighbors cats that come and visit us at home and so I made a sushi charm for the cat which is on the left that you can't see very well in the photo. The dragon charm reminds me that in every situation there is a darker side of life, and to be mindful of that. In China-town we got slightly lost and I cut through a small park area and saw a guy on a bike at a drinking fountain shooting something into his arm. I hurried away but always felt bad for that young man, hoping it was insulin, but realizing it probably wasn't.
So I love the new charm bracelet that all started with the chinese larnern charm with the chain fringe I made.
There are several different kinds of lantern charms I made, along with lots of different red flowers. The chinese lanterns also remind me of my grandma who worked in a retail dress shop, and she liked to eat lunch in a chinese cafe with lots of laterns when I was young. Her favorite colors were red and black.
I make all the charms from beads and wire. I wrap the wire to form the loop at the top. There are a lot of tutorials online that can show you how to make charms. It's fun to collect little treasures that remind you events in life.
I will close this posting of my mystical Asian Themed charm bracelet with a recent video of my son performing all 8 parts of a "Mystical" metallica medley in front of stonehendge, which is not Asian Themed, but is still mystical, and ends with a small explosion!