while i'm on a jewelry kick...

... I feel the need to go into another random detail about my life. Actually, more of a celebration of a random but very special person in my life. It really does have something to do with jewelry and crafting, I promise, but you'll have to bear with me for a minute. (Or, if you just want to skip my rambling and go straight to the eye candy, go to the bottom of this post and click on the "Chiyo Jewel" link. It is a link to a site that sells my old roommate's handmade jewelry -- seriously, you will love it SHE IS AMAZING!) Anyway, back to my nostalgia...

During my freshman year I lived in a private dorm due to full campus housing when I finally decided to enroll at Auburn instead of WCU. For the most part, it was great. The rooms were much more spacious than campus housing, an unlimited in-house meal plan was included and I was a 5-minute walk from most of my classes but even closer to frequent my favorite little coffee shop downtown. Oh, the convenience of dorm life! But the very best part was that the Japanese foreign exchange students roomed there during their 9-month stay in Auburn. And during my first month or two of living there (it was called The Commons at the time in case you were wondering), I was offered an opportunity that I could not refuse -- to share a room with one of the foreign exchange students! (I might note at this point that the students had already been in America for 6 months -- they arrived in March and stayed through December.) For my readers who do not know this about me, I am an only child. I had never shared a room, or even a house, with another person my age until college. And really, all I wanted in a roommate was someone who wanted to share things, even if those things weren't necessarily my interests. This didn't work out (not at all) with my first roommate so when this opportunity came up I pounced.

Enter Chiyo, my Japanese-foreign-exchange-student roommate and my best friend freshman year. Our friendship was so quick to grow. (I'll be first to admit, I am not one of the easiest people to get to know. I can talk to most people and I enjoy investing myself in friendships but most of the time it takes a lot of time and effort to really get to that point of trust and authenticity so vital to great friendships. But there are a few relationships in my life in which this happened really quickly. And my quick friendship with Chiyo was just that.) We shared everything and I loved it! I helped her with English (though her speaking skills were really incredible already) and she helped me learn some conversational Japanese. I would have to think long and hard to come up with even a single negative (or even neutral) thing about my experience living Chiyo -- by far the best roommate experience ever! I am even jealous of myself when I think about it haha.

Chiyo has a great faith story, too. I'm not sure that I remember all of the details exactly anymore but I think it all started (this was all before we met and became roommates) when she started attending an English bible study. Something was stirring and she became a Christian. And as if that wasn't already a life change for her, she met her still-boyfriend in campus ministry. Yes, they are still together and going strong! (They see each other only about once a year.) Is that love or what??

But mostly, Chiyo was just an all-around super fun, positive person to be around. Such a joyful person, you can't help but just be happy around her. :) And what all of this has to do with jewelry... Chiyo was also a very skilled jewelry artist. (I say artist because... well, just look at her website and you'll see.) I remember so many afternoons that Chiyo would sit on the floor with her beads and make amazing pieces of jewelry. She taught me to make a few things and I actually still have one of the rings she taught me to make with seed beads. But anyway... she is still making jewelry and doing a fine job of it. Her pieces are all gorgeous and unique. This is basically my totally shameless plug for Chiyo Jewel. Take a look and be amazed! Yesterday, she also posted that one of her clients is also selling her jewelry, which you can see here. (If you, like me, do not understand even a word of written Japanese, you'll like her site better because she also posts in English.)

Here are my favorites:

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