Reflections in the Desert
So many important moments in life are marked with a token of affection forged from precious metals. From engagement rings to friendship rings, heirlooms passed down from generation to generation and little souvenirs from far off places, we like to wear reminders of the people and places we love, carrying them with us. They help us feel connected to those people, places, memories, and pieces of our own story.
In this current global crisis, the necessity to distance ourselves physically from each other is unfortunately essential. I have been thinking a lot about what connects us, how we find meaningful connection and how we show our love. These connections are what drew me towards this path of jewelry making in the first place. I find comfort and inspiration in seeing how people show up for each other during this challenging time in creative ways and watch in awe as our society turns back to nature as a grounding and restorative resource.
I want to hear more of your stories, and share the stories of other women, not from a place of external accomplishment but from a place of connection. How do we connect with each other, with ourselves and with our Mother Earth? What makes us feel connected? What are your early memories of little tokens of love and affection?
I begin this series with a woman who is aspirational in the way she shows up for her friends and loved ones. When she listens to you, there is no distraction, her conversations are deep and her questions insightful. She has genuine kindness radiating from her soul in a way that is almost visible, like an aura of light and compassion.
I spent a few days in the desert with Katie Chirgotis playing with jewelry and reflecting on the metaphysical universe for an upcoming collaboration. Later, I asked her a series of questions loosely based around connection. Here’s what she had to say:
Where do you feel the most "you"?
The minute I step into the ocean, which sometimes isn’t easy - considering how cold it the sea can be in Northern California! Any pretense or hold-ups over what I think I might be? Or may be presenting? Falls away. She is my Original Mother, ultimate healer and constant sanctuary.
Is there a place that resonates with you spiritually?
Nature has been my church for a long time, so it doesn’t take much for me to feel connected to something greater when I get out into it. There are definitely certain “vortexes” I’ve experienced on my travels - places that draw you in and change your perspective. Big Sur, California is one of them and the way I feel in that place is one of the primary reasons my husband and I decided to marry there a few years ago.
How do you most easily connect with the natural world?
It’s unglamorous, but - weeding. When I’m weeding my garden, it’s similar to the way I used to feel filing my grandmother’s nails, (she was paralyzed on one side, so needed help with that sort of thing). I feel like I’m care-taking, beautifying, showing that I love Them. I have a similar feeling when I’m picking up litter. As in any relationship, it’s in the small gestures that we really articulate our Love Language.
What makes you feel strong?
Digging a hole efficiently. Not even kidding.
How do you connect with your loved ones?
I’m constantly reevaluating how I can better do this, better show up for them in the way they need me to. My Family of Origin is an entire landmass away, and I’m not great on the phone - but I’m grateful that my brother and I can swap animal memes over text. Or that my parents finally got the internet at the house so we can video chat and see each other.
I also really enjoy writing and posting cards, so whenever I’m out in the world I’m always collecting cards that make me think of certain people in order to send them later.
I’m really lucky that my Chosen Family are, overall, voracious communicators and don’t let me stay quiet for long! I’m at my very best in smaller groups, so making dates for Deep Hangs - long stretches of time solidly connecting with just a few people - is my jam.
How do you connect with yourself?
Using my body for the dedicated purpose of movement is essential. My line of work is very physical, so I’m constantly in motion. But setting aside time to practice yoga, go for a run, take a dance class, is ESSENTIAL to get back to Me and my mental health.
Meditation - also so key, but always the first thing to go when I’m feeling like I have too much on my plate. I know many people struggle with this, but goddamn how our culture would shift if we all had a daily 10 minute sitting practice.
What makes you feel like your best self?
More water than I usually remember to drink. Eight hours of sleep a couple days in a row. Sex. An enormous amount of fresh, organic produce. Seawater in hair, sun on skin. Wearing silk. Whenever animals trust me to draw close. Catching synchronicities that prove to me that Spirit is talking to us, all the time.
What’s your first memory of jewelry?
Going through my grandmother’s jewelry box when I was little and piling on whatever I could. Some of it was glitzy, costume jewelry that I was obsessed with, but it’s the more subtle pieces of her’s that I’m lucky to have now that make me feel very connected to her. A carnelian set; wire hook earrings and a ring with a leaf motif on the band. My mother had the ring for many years after my grandmother’s passing, and I’d constantly beg for it when I’d be home to visit. She put it on my finger to wear when I married, and told me it was now mine to keep. There is so much memory and resin of those we love and have loved in jewelry.
Is there something in your closet or something you put on your body that makes you feel powerful?
My best friend gave me a necklace for my 35th birthday that I may have never picked out for myself, but it is a potent piece! It’s silver, (I wear gold), with a brilliant turquoise-tone opal and tiny aquamarine stones. God, it’s so beautiful. I don’t wear it all the time, but whenever I do - I feel magic AF.
What gift have you received that changed you?
I was in my late 20’s when I decided I wanted to quit my job, move to California, and start all over again. At the time I was in love with a man who, though we didn’t stay together, had an enormous impact on my life. In a way I love him still; but I couldn’t let him come with me on this journey, it was something I had to do by myself, and ultimately my choices are what ended the relationship.
I had some credit card debt, and I was about to be out of work for who knows how long. Despite everything we were going through, he paid it off for me, told me he believed in me, and that he wanted me to feel safe. I had never really wanted for anything growing up, but money also wasn’t something freely given in my home. Our relationship to money is almost always complicated, but at the end of the day - its energy. Something that comes and goes, to be given and received.
Many years later I had the opportunity to gift him back around the same sum when I found out he was quitting HIS stable job, and starting over. Felt very much like a gift to me, too.
What is your favorite gift you have given someone else?
That above - and I’ve also been lucky enough to have made many-a dear friend’s bridal bouquet. Few things give me greater joy than meditating on their love, happiness, and transition while threading the stems through my hands that they’ll soon carry in their own.
What makes you feel loved?
When my husband, Jacob, makes me an egg in the morning.
How do you show your love?
Holding people’s gaze when I speak with them. Small gifts, I love giving gifts! Hearing over listening.