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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kindred Spirits

I love meeting kindred spirits.  Do you?  I didn't always enjoy meeting new people, in fact believe it or not, I was once a very, very shy girl...  Here's a little story about what Gretchen Johnson was like, and how she has grown to become, Gretchen Schaumann, a vintage redesign jewelry gal.

Meeting kindred spirits is something that always makes my soul grow and I love that.  Kind of strange how one comes full circle in life...  Quite often we become what we are taught and/or exposed to in our lives.  Fortunately for me, this particular attribute is a positive attribute in which I inherited and/or learned from my family.  These personality traits, tendencies and or experiences were a part of our daily lives, and show to me at a very young and tender age.  So here's a little information about my upbringing and how I've come to be who I am today, and how I feel I've come full circle.  

As the youngest of seven, yes seven, I remember that I was told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it by 9 other people in my life.  My siblings may disagree, but I believe this to be reality.  Not a bad thing mind you, just what I believe is often true when your numerical order is at the very bottom of a brood of others.  The seven of us were born in a twelve year time period, so life was a flurry of activity always in our household, with all of us working together as a team to make a large family unit work.

So in the big white farmhouse set on a hill, with its green shingled roof and green trimmed windows it housed my two parents, six siblings (three brothers and three sisters) as well as a fraternal Grandmother that lived with us most of the year during most of my early childhood, and myself.   These living arrangements made for eight elders to follow, to listen to, and to be told what to do.  

As a result, while a young child I was a wee bit shy.  I believe that my being used to everyone doing/saying/thinking for me, I didn't really need to make too many choices, say too much or figure too much out as it was already preconceived how the end results should be. 

So as this story goes, as a young child I remember my parents being extremely friendly people...  As a shy child, I could not stand my parents talking to everyone they met...   It would embarrass me, or so I thought.   They used to close our church down, literally...  On any given Sunday, as they walked out those big double church doors to head home for our usual large Sunday family dinner, if there were any out of town visitors to our small town of 356 people, they would invite them to our home for dinner (lunch to you city folks).  Argh!  Interestingly enough, this is how my oldest brother, Paul, and his wife, Nancy, ended up meeting.  She was the new teacher in town, and my parents invited her for dinner after church and the rest is history.

So as a young child, much to my chagrin and at the time shyness, this drove me nuts...  Ha Ha, so here I find myself much like my parents. 

I've noticed these things about myself:
~I am friendly.  Sometimes, the shyness still rears itself, but I push myself to be outgoing and thus it results in a reality of confidence and truly loving people.
~I love to meet new people. One of the favorite things of doing my jewelry design shows is interacting with my customers, new and old.  Some of my most cherished friendships started out initially as customers and than grew into deep friendships.
~I tend to be the last person to leave many places now.  Just LOVE to visit, and talk.
~I try to make others feel important, which they are, and express that through my conversations with others.
~I talk to strangers while I am standing in line waiting with them, whether they like it or not. :)
~And I so enjoy turning a crabby persons disposition into a brighter one by doing what I call "Pouring on a little Sugar and Cream".  

My theory of  "Sugar and Cream":
Sugar and Cream can come by way of a sincere compliment.
Allowing someone else to go first, when they've just about knocked me over to get there. :)
Holding the door for a crabby person.
Saying thoughtful things and being extra patient when customer service people have had a bad day.
Being thoughtful and asking about their day vs. my own... (I still have a long ways to go on this one)

It is really kind of fun to do some of these things, and take a mental note and watch and see how we can make a positive difference in peoples lives.   People in general are in such a hurried attitude these days, and I am constantly trying to fight that myself with attempting to remember to pour "Sugar and Cream" onto those God brings into my path each day.  I have seen some wonderful results from just attempting to do what I believe my parents were trying to teach us their children in their everyday lives.  I may not be inviting random strangers to my home for Sunday dinners, as hospitality and cooking is not my natural gifts, but doing for others things that I can and am able to do is my own version of what I believe my parents were instilling in us.

So all this is to say, is that I've become my parents in some ways, which is something I swore I'd never do.  ha ha  Eating my own words.  I find I just love to meet new people, and if I listen, take the time, we can both grow and become better people.  After all that's what our purpose here on Earth is about... to minister to others. 

I am so blessed and thankful that God has given me any and all jewelry design talents, as I give Him the credit and glory.  Without Him, my creativity would be void.  My purpose would be in vain.  I hope that through my jewelry design, I am able to minister to others in a non run of the mill way, when I take the time to show and share His love with those He chooses to put in my path.

I feel I have met so many "kindred spirits" through my jewelry design, my blog and my friends I've met on the junking trails.  Thank you for being in my path...  I truly do this for the love of creating and the joy of interacting with my customers most days of the years.  There are a few days each year where I get worn down and tired, overwhelmed or have to fight being frustrated, etc., but overall 97% of the time I'm loving what I do.   So all in all, I just want to thank you for being a part of my life, for reading my blog, for those of you that have supported my jewelry design business, and those of you that have been supportive in any way throughout my lifetime.

Do you find any of your family upbringings to enhance your life?  If so, please share and tell me how its affected who you are today.  Good or Bad, it's what makes us who we are, and we are each special in His sight.


  1. Beautiful post my friend...wow, I could relate to so much you wrote here :)
    I am loving all of the jewelry pieces you featured in the photos too! Hope to hang out again soon!!! Laurel

  2. This was beautiful! I can relate.I once had to take a personality test for a job and found I am only 1% of the population. An introverted extrovert. I am a loner most of the time, but can be as social as a butterfly when the rime arrives. The situation just presents itself, and there I am popping out of my shell, like a shy turtle. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Thank you Laurel for your visit and for your kind comment. It's interesting how much we can learn through our friendships and this wonderful world of blogging as well as how we continually grow and evolve as we become women of God.
    Hope to see you soon girlfriend...

  4. Thanks Rae for your visit, and for sharing your thoughts. It seems many of us can find kindred spirits through our blogging ventures and even if its that 1 connection that we wouldn't of found/known without taking the time to be part of the blogging community, well then I've decided it's worth it all. So glad I've gotten to know you, as well as Laurel through the act of blogging. Be blessed my dear friend...

  5. Gretchen!!

    I am so happy you stopped by my blog so I could visit your post today. First, thank you for so many lovely comments. They made my day. I just loved your post today. I read every word and I will be honest and say, I WISH so badly that I could relate to your childhood. I always wanted to grow up in a family like yours and there is still a part of me that gets jealous around big, loving families with open and friendly parents. Growing up the way I did was so different than your childhood. There were 5 kids but the oldest was 15 years older than I and out of the house when I was very young. Mom did not have the gift of hospitality at all and rarely, rarely socialized, if ever. I grew up without any grandparents, aunts or relatives. And we weren't raised to go out and make friends or invite them over...in fact, we were discouraged from bringing any friends over - too noisy! :-)

    So, I am not sure how that affected my growing up, because I was always a happy child and my dad always told me how much he loved me, but I always had this strong desire to travel (now that I think about it...maybe it was more "leaving" than "traveling" hahaha). I lived in the same house, same room until I married. But once married, I moved and left the country and kept traveling ever since. But maybe I sensed there was "more" and because of the way I grew up, it helped me to seek out risks (my mother was a huge worrier and saw the glass half empty). And my risk-taking is what got me where I am today.

    Thanks for asking and I so love your blog! Looks like you made some changes - and DARN IT...had no idea we were so close when I was in St. Paul. But no, I had no time to go to Junk Bonanza and drove me crazy because I really wanted to. Next year...yes, I will seek you out :-)

    Big hug to you and thanks for the story - LOVE reading about people's childhoods for some reason and you are a good story teller!


  6. Love your blog and this post was wonderful. The most interesting people are those that sit back and absorb and come out to share with their heart. Your jewelry is amazing.

  7. I have benefitted
    from your sugar and
    cream philosophy and
    SO happy that we have
    connected via this crazy
    new world of blogging.
    I am looking to more
    adventures, lovely chats
    and time together in 2012!

    xx Suzanne


I am so thankful you took the time to let me know what you think about what I write and for taking the time to share your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog. :)

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