52NEW ~ Week 6 ~ Shadow Boxing

52NEW ~ Week 6 ~ Shadow Boxing

No … not like beating someone up, but that is kind of what it looked like to start.

One of the great lessons I learned from my Mom was about framing! My Mom loves to frame memories. She loves the process: choosing what is to be framed, finding the perfect frame, getting creative with the mat and putting it all together!

In my childhood, posters put up with thumbtacks were frowned upon.

Of course like any teenager I had my share of those, but I was always aware of how fabulous the rest of the house looked. I was aware that the framing, along with the art, caused people to stop and appreciate whatever had been chosen to show off to the world.

Over the years I have developed the same desire. I like my art work properly framed, and I love the idea of taking the moments of our lives and freezing them to be appreciated – not only ourselves but also others.

Most of the pieces that hang on our walls at home have a story.  We try to buy one original piece of art a year. We make a point of framing it properly because it will play an important role in both our history and our future.

But what of this “shadow boxing”?

Art is not always a single painting, sculpture or other medium that hangs on your wall. Art can also be many elements coming together to create a piece original to you. A hockey puck, jersey or stick signed by a favourite player; a tea cup, or pendant that belonged to a great aunt; baby shoes of your first born; or in my case, a medal won celebrating that I had poured my heart and soul into the opening of a radio station.

At least that’s what I thought it was all about.

One of my favourite “tours of duty” in radio was at B107.3 in Victoria, a brand new station that I had been chosen to help launch! I held many different positions at “B” and jumped in head first to help this station become a success in any way I could.

It was also the first, and really the only time, I have ever been recognized publicly for “going above and beyond” in the work place.  At the annual Christmas party I was awarded a medal! That moment meant a lot to me. Without sending you to my therapist lets just say I have a slightly unhealthy need to be recognized for my need to over achieve. (It’s an unhealthy cycle but works very well for people who employ me.)

I was so happy that I wanted to show off the award.  To frame it like my mother might, but cash was very tight at this point in my life.  So, I riffled through the promo closet at work and found an old frame that had some depth to it and created my own shadow box! I used painters tape to secure two pictures and the medal, and it hung in my home proudly. The frame was dinged up and the pictures curled, but I was very proud of that medal that proclaimed “YES! Susan tried really really really hard to perform above what she thought she was capable of!” (Seriously, a therapist would have a blast with this.)

Any hoo… as time went on this shadow box traveled with me but was no longer displayed on the wall.  It just didn’t look right next to the other pictures and art in my home.

And I wasn’t really sure how to make it work…

I looked around our home and realized that very few of the pictures, those on the fridge door excepted, are of Steve and I. It’s not that I didn’t love pictures that have of us and our friends, but I have never managed to get them framed in a way that would compliment what our collection of art had grown into. Plus, somewhere along the line I had lost the need for a “Wall of Fame.”

I mean we do have creative pieces (an “Original Butt Sketch” from when Whistler and Blackcomb merged, and a drawing done of my sister and I that she gave me as a gift from her wedding), but other than that the pictures of myself with “celebrities” were stored in a file and on occasion brought out to impress my friends’ kids or for a giggle.

But this piece has always stayed with me. This was important. It always felt funny that I was so attached to this “medal” and a couple of pictures, but I was.

So off to “Picture Perfect and Perpetual Bloom” I went.

I am a big believer in finding people who are the “best” at something and asking for help. Let them know your parameters and boundaries, but seek the help.

I did visit some of the “big box” stores and got some good ideas, but the expertise wasn’t consistent and I wasn’t sure if they really understood what it was I was looking for. Truth be told it was probably because I needed this to be a “personal experience.” I needed someone to listen and guide me while I put these treasures into a “forever home”.

And Tracy did just that!  She recognized and validated my emotions, yet was removed from it, and so was able to guide me effectively through the process while keeping an eye on budget.

Which is especially good considering the choices are endless in the world of framing!

Types of wood, types of glass, types of mat. With a project like this you can truly make it your own and make it art. I enjoyed the process because it became a journey through who I was to who I am. We looked at some very funky choices that I would have chosen not that long ago and also looked at some choices that I might make 25 years from now, and after that we came up with the perfect middle ground. From placement to colour choices it truly felt like a piece of me was going into the framing – not just pictures and a medal being plunked into something that someone else created.

After all the choices had been made, I waited for the final product to be completed.

Tracy and I had done the design work, but it was handed over to Neil to finish up, to pull it all together.  Would he understand what we were going for?

Yes he did.

I cried.


Because when I saw the final product exactly as I had imagined it could be, I realized that I hadn’t carried these mementos in a beat up frame with me from house to house over all these years because I was proud of a medal.

These pictures and medal were a beginning.

I didn’t see it until, with the help of professional framers, these mementos were arranged and put together, and then they told a very special story.

The story read:

“Susan’s husband left her. She was devastated. She cried, but she kept going.  She worked hard, she started to smile again, and she persevered.  And she did it all in the public eye with the help of the wonderful people she worked with who helped her grow and stand and over-achieve again.  And never let her forget that she loved to love and that she would do that again.”

And love I did.

I thought this week I was learning about how important proper framing was and how to choose frames and mats to take you through your lifetime – how your special moments could be framed and hung as art, everything from a tea cup to a hockey stick.

But the true lesson lies in giving those memories the tender love and attention they deserve so you can understand what those memories really are.

Spend the money, look for the help and make sure a piece of your soul is framed and shown off to the world.

Tangible lessons

  • Take the time to talk with a professional (I heart Tracy) and LISTEN to that professional!
  • Consider more than one option – there are LOTS of choices!
  • A reputable place will also help you with smaller projects. Picture perfect will make sure your poster or picture is glued down properly even if you put it in a frame from a big box store.
  • DIY isn’t for everyone and that’s ok. 🙂