My journey is one that has been long and winding. There have been many uphill struggles and a few free-falls along the way, but it is one that has made me who I am today and for that I am truly grateful.
Back in 2008, I was diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, an illness I had developed due to severe, life-threatening traumas I had experienced in my childhood and teenage years. Symptoms of this included panic attacks, insomnia, nightmares, depression, agoraphobia and suicidal tendencies. All of which combine to incapacitate you on a fundamental level. As a practising Buddhist, I turned to my teachings and learnt about the Mentor-Disciple Relationship – a Buddhist principle about turning the ‘impossible into the possible’. Taking courage to believe in the greatness of your life, and understanding that, no matter what, you can turn life’s sufferings into your own unique and beautiful mission.
It was a low time, I barely left the house. I struggled to take care of myself. At times, even washing was too hard. I realised that it was going to be a struggle to transform my life, as my trauma was deep and severe, but as the saying goes – a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step…
I started to chant and I started to heal. Here my story skips to 2014, and although I’d had some good periods of benefiting from my Buddhist practises, I was still dominated by my illness. At 34, I felt my life wasn’t amounting to anything other than to struggle and suffer. After 12 years of striving for change I still had no money, no partner, no career. I had had enough.
I had an open prayer – to become happy and healthy. To be able to do something I was naturally good at, something I loved, that enabled me to earn great money and allowed me to travel to India – where I was happiest – and enabled me to inspire others to become happy.
In May that year, a friend suggested I go on a jewellery making course in Hatton Garden. We had met in Goa four years before, where we both designed a ring for ourselves.
I had a natural love of gems and their healing properties, and each year I went to India, I would source them and have something made for myself while I was there. So although I had no experience, I went along. I took a ruby to my first class, which I had sourced from Goa the year before, and I made my first ring. I posted a photo online and immediately had my first commission – in Week Two of my course! Within four months I’d made my first two engagement rings and many other commissions, all working with gold and diamonds. And I loved every second of it.
Then out of nowhere, illness hit me like a train. Again, I couldn’t leave the house, couldn’t talk to my family, couldn’t make jewellery. Another promising career was slipping away from me. I sought guidance from a senior faith leader. What she said completely changed how I looked at my life experiences and my Buddhist practice.
She said “Rosie, you may be ill for another ten years. Who knows? Your karma is deep and you’re courageous in faith for taking it on. Just chant to feel the wonder of your life and to open the palace of your life.” I realised I’d been fighting my illness with an assumed ‘end result’ and with a naïve view of my life, my past experiences and the deep effects they’d had on me.
So I took a long look at my life and asked myself, what do I really need? Happiest in sunshine, regular company, fresh air, good food… I booked myself a four-month ticket to India. I took a single piece of jewellery that I was too ill to finish, with a small hope that maybe I could find a workshop and finish it there.
I found a workshop and finished my piece – the Greek Goddess Armband. I was so proud! I still had strong symptoms and felt frightened a lot of the time, but the workshop gave me a positive focus and I soon became good friends with the Bengalis in the workshop.
The boys in the workshop took me under their wing, teaching me their way of silver and goldsmithing and I soon realised this was the perfect opportunity for me to learn my trade and start my own collection.
I worked six days a week, and with the help of my Bengali friends, managed to complete my first ever collection, the Regal Collection.
A collection I created about summoning up your inner queen, healing and celebrating the greatness of your life, just as you are. Of course this collection was about me and where I found myself at that time, in a really challenging place trying to transform this deep and negative karma that was still plaguing my life.
I wanted to make myself rings that I could rock with meaning, rings that make a statement about who I really was and where I was heading.
As I have a natural love and interest in the historical use and healing healing properties of gemstones, (I always wanted to be a gem dealer and gemologist) I looked each one up that I was using and I learnt that I was being naturally drawn to the crystals I needed at that time.
Understanding this and loving the intent behind wearing stones with meaning, I created each design and ring based on where I was right at that moment, what I needed and where I wanted to go. The first ring I made I named The Ametrine Queen. Little did I know at the time that amethyst is a great gemstone clearing negative energy and that ametrine stones historically were first known to be worn by queens.
Tourists started to see the pieces I was making and started to commission me. Things were starting to change and I started to feel well and happy again. I extended my trip by five weeks with the extra money I had made from the commissions and I decided to go to Jaipur to source stones. I was terrified by the challenge, but I trusted myself and I went alone.
While there, I reconnected with a manufacturer I had met a few months earlier (he’d said if I was ever in Jaipur, I could sit and learn at his desk). He was surprised to see me when I turned up but welcomed me. Each day I sat at his desk, laughed, listened, drank street coffee, practised Hindi, and I started to learn. I worked around the clock, 14 hour days, churning out my new designs and sampling. After five weeks I had finally completed the Regal, Warrior and Opulence Collections.
Each collection I created symbolised and celebrated the inner beauty, power and treasure of one's life. Of course this was a reflection of my own spiritual journey of transforming painful karma from hard life experiences, into something beautiful that could hopefully one day, impart hope, joy and courage to another. For me, this is what making my jewellery has become about – mission.
I reflected back to when I got so severely ill again in 2014. Questioning and tormenting myself about why it happened? But I realised I had to go down that route, because if not, I would never have taken that leap of faith to break through. I would never have got on a flight to India, taking that piece of jewellery with me; which was the key to opening up this great life and business which takes me to my happy place on the other side of the world.
I started to understand the power of the human spirit and that if you just keep going, you really can make the impossible possible. I have now practised Buddhism for 18 years and other spiritual practices such as meditation, energy healing and holistic NLP.
I have been on a long journey of deep transformation, and what comes home to me each time I think of making a new ring or a new collection, is, "how can I inspire and move the heart of another? What can I create that will epitomise the preciousness, dignity and hope of each person's life?"
This year, in 2020, I have finally recovered my health and shed the traumas that held me back for the last three decades. I can clearly see that despite my mental health issues and the painful limitations that came with it, I’m finally starting to manifest a happy and incredible life for myself and beautiful business that I could never have imagined before.
When I think back to 2008, the start of this campaign to transform my life, I had nothing. I was told I would never work again, never come off medication again, never recover. I vowed to myself, that day, to become an unrecognisable version of myself and that one day, my life’s journey of overcoming difficult experiences, will light the way for another.
I have stumbled, and fallen down so many times I have lost count! But what I have learnt throughout this funny old experience that we call life, is that when I was told to give up, my mentor, and the teachings of Buddhism, told me something completely different. Never to give up. No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, never give up hope to build yourself a new life. The lotus blooms in the muddy swamp and the very ‘mud’ that we find ourselves in, holds the key ingredients for you to rebuild yourself a beautiful life.
Just like the Lotus, we all have limitless potential waiting to bloom in our life. My best advice to anyone is always the same. Own the mud of your life and turn it into something beautiful for yourself and for humanity. No matter how long it takes. Own that mud! And transform it. No mud, no Lotus.
Rosie Odette. X