earrings – a few of my favourite things


blue glass, painted enamel and silver earrings from Yokohama Chinatown, August 1994

I love earrings. I had my ears pierced at age 13, and since then there’s hardly a day when I don’t wear earrings. I take them off to sleep. Then when dressing each day, I choose the


no earrings, from sleep time until morning

day’s earrings to suit my mood, give me super powers, complement a look, or because they are what’s to hand.

I feel odd, I don’t know how to describe it, …, off-balance without earrings, rings too, but that’s another post. Another earring-loving friend once described earrings as her “medicine”, something that helped ground her. While I don’t know that I would use that exact word (medicine), the sentiment (grounding) resonants with me.

pairs and memories

I have a lot of earrings, and I’m pleased to report, almost all are in pairs, and although I am sad when I lose one, I eventually convert the remaining one into another piece of jewelry or use in an art project.

The other thing I love about my earrings is nearly every pair has a back story, or a memory attached to them, and that’s what this post is about.


These black onxy earrings have been with me since my first visit to Mexico in March 1995, to 5 years later moving there to do human rights and solidarity work, and years onward to London, here and there, and now Valencia.

For a long time after I first bought them in Cholulu, Puebla they were my favourites, in  fact, over the years they have come and gone as my favourite and even now I feel quite fond of them.


memories of adventures into the unknown and dealing with fears

These little black and silver sun figure earrings remind me of “the unknown”, that in 1995 I had no idea that 5 years later I’d be back to live in Mexico for the next 6 years. They remind me of overcoming fear(s). They remind me endings and beginnings, of short and long journeys. Lots of things, which is probably why I am fond of them.

the back story

I was in Cholula because my travellling companions (3 chums from university days) and I had diverted our plans to Puebla from our original plan to visit Chiapas since from the year before on 1 January 1994, there had been an uneasy armed conflict between the Zapatista Army of National Liberation and the Mexican government in that area. I remember part of that decision was fear and unwitting common sense.


So where should we go now?

Good or bad idea:  intentionally visit an area caught up in armed conflict?

No, not a good idea.

Nor, although I don’t think we assessed it then, did we have the skills to navigate tourism in a conflict zone. Collectively we talked it over, and agreed, let’s just go somewhere else, and that somewhere was Puebla, and one day we made a day trip to Cholula.

Five years later, I returned to Mexico to do human rights and solidarity work with a US-based NGO called Witness for Peace in Chiapas. Yes, in the conflict zone. I remember reading  an article in  the introduction-pack about two human rights observers sneaking through a military checkpoint to gain access to the community to do their work, and I thought, “¡madre mia! what have I done now?”

But that was OK, this time, I had  been properly trained and briefed, as well as having good on-going training and support. Plus it’s probably natural, and not to mention better to start off doing unarmed civilian accompaniment, human rights observation and people-to-people solidarity work cautiously, slowly and with a certain lack of confidence. That will come with time and experience, and it did.

… the passage of time, the wearing of earrings, and then ….

Since that very particular grassroots international solidarity work in Mexico, I spent 10 years in London, where I learned another angle on using nonviolence technology for building community and social movements, and had more opportunities for different types of international solidarity work.


energy follows attention, attention follows intention

And now Valencia. Where is this transition heading? I have a (long) list of projects I am currently doing and sometimes I don’t know where I’m going with them, or whether they are going anywhere. In their own way, these black sun earrings from that visit to Mexico remind, it’s OK not to know, just feel (even if it’s scary) my way forward.


spiraling around and forward some how

My current favourite earrings are these simple silver spirals. They were a gift from work when I left London, so fond memories there, but also, they are spirals! One of my favourite symbols of the moment.

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