As I sit here and contemplate what it must be like for the hundreds of families who, in a matter of hours, lost their homes and the vast majority, if not all, of their possessions in the Colorado fires in the final days of 2021, I cannot help but be nagged by a familiar feeling.  I own a college jewelry design business.  What am I doing?

Despite my interest in and passion for design, I have always chosen professions in which I was on the front lines of serving my community.  I was an EMT, a drug and alcohol addiction counselor and counselor in a juvenile detention facility, a police officer, and an emergency room nurse.  As a health care lobbyist, I continued to fight for the rights of Coloradans for access to affordable, quality medial services.  It just seemed like I was always entrenched in the “good fight”, and that part of those jobs was very fulfilling for me.

Now, designing jewelry for a living often, in my mind, seems a tad bit trivial in comparison and I honestly struggle with that at times.  The news seems to cover one tragedy after another, one conflict after another.  The natural disasters, the hate, the racial issues, the political strife seem overwhelming.  So, for me at this stage of my life I have chosen a different avenue.  Simply trying to put something good out into the world and not just a beautiful piece of jewelry but a kind word, a calming picture, a smile on the faces of those that receive their gifts, a respite from the negative.

The accomplishment of getting accepted into college is a big deal.  Graduating college is a big deal.  Going on to graduate school and getting an advanced degree is extraordinary.  These events in our lives are positive, remarkable, and worth celebrating and remembering.  Always owning that feat and the pride that accompanies it is something to behold.

What I do now with my business of designing college jewelry is done with these amazing accomplishments in mind. While I may not be on the front lines of saving lives on a daily basis, I do feel that I am allowing someone to own something that serves as a reminder of what their hard work and persistence did.  How amazing was not only their success, but their journey there.  A memento of the experiences, the friendships, the fun classes (a few I hope!), great professors (a few I hope!), the parties, the games—everything that college is.

When I look at it in this way, giving someone a nice piece of college jewelry to serve as a reminder of all these things instead of just a card, or a check, or a t-shirt, doesn’t make it sound nearly so trivial.  A moment to smile at a fond memory or a great accomplishment is one moment not spent worrying about everything else.  And that, today, is a very special gift.