The Cara Wolff Story
Cara's evolution to being a full-time jewelry maker stemmed from an experience of incredible loss and tragedy. Her story is best expressed in her own words...
"Have you ever experienced a loss so great that the reality you thought you once knew was no longer recognizable? A loss that shredded the fabric of your life into a million tiny pieces and you found that when you went to try to put the pieces back together, the life you once knew was irrevocably changed?
This kind of loss happened to me about 7 years ago. And then again, 5 years ago. You see, if it weren’t for cancer, I never would have become a jewelry maker. Not my cancer, but my sister’s cancer. And my mom’s cancer.
I lost my beloved sister, who was my only sibling and best friend, to breast cancer in 2015. She was a bright, funny, and beautiful 43-year-old mother of two young children. The cancer came on like a freight train and she was gone only a year after her fight for her life began. If this devastating loss weren’t enough, my mother was diagnosed with the same horrific disease almost two years to the day after my sister died. Luckily, my mother responded favorably to treatment and is alive and well as I type these words.
As you can probably imagine, having the two most closely related women to me both suffer from the same terrible disease had a profound impact on my life. At the time of my mother’s diagnosis, I’d been working as a Wildlife Biologist for 20 years. It had been my dream since I was a young girl to study wild animals in an effort to help protect their habitat. I loved my job. And I also knew I had to leave it.
I wasn’t completely sure why, but I just knew something fundamental had shifted and I needed to step away and take much needed time to answer the question of what really made me happy. It felt as if my life depended on it. I gave myself permission to live in the unknown and let my next steps come from that spaciousness.
I’d been fascinated with jewelry and gemstones since I was a child and had always made jewelry as a hobby. But I had never given myself permission to BE an artist. However, the more I leaned into this possibility, the more it felt like the path to putting the pieces of my life back together in a way that would allow me to live inside of my joy and hope. Nothing could bring my sister back to me, but the act of using my hands to create beauty every day, beauty that could be shared and exchanged as a symbol of love, felt like the best way to keep my sister’s spirit alive in my life and in all those whose lives I touched with my jewelry.
So after a year-long break from work, I jumped in with both feet and signed a lease at a small storefront in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont. I set up my studio at the back of the store and I opened my doors with about 10 pieces of jewelry for sale in January, 2018. And I can report that since then, there isn’t a day that I walk into my jewelry studio and don’t feel excited and inspired, or that I don’t feel my sister there with me, cheering me on.
Maybe you have a similar story of loss that has fundamentally changed how you live your life. I hope that hearing about mine can serve as a reminder to appreciate every day and to make choices that help you to honor the joy and beauty within you.
On that note, I’ll leave you with this quote from one of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver:
'The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed. That’s about it. Right now I'm living in that hope, running down its hallway and touching the walls on both sides.'
With Love, Cara"