In my own words - the story behind UMANO beads
image of Barbara Bacigalupi
by Barbara Bacigalupi author of Truly Human, an invitation to think in new and powerful ways
The idea for TRULYHUMANmedallions came to me as a leap of thought between two very different personal experiences. On the one hand I had just completed the final draft of my personal growth book Truly Human – An invitation to think about yourself in new and powerful ways – and went to Hawaii for some wind-down time and relaxation. But being the good shopper that I am, my eye caught an advertisement in the local newspaper for a gemstone and pearl exhibition. Off I went, and in a matter of a few hours I had filled a suitcase full of natural mineral carvings and beads. When I returned home, I was so delighted by their beauty, that I could not bear to put them away, yet had no real idea for their ultimate use.

Now, the second and most influential personal experience: Several years before this indulgence, I had lost my home and all its possessions in a massive firestorm that had devastated over 3,000 dwellings in Oakland, California – all within a matter of hours on a hot and windy Sunday afternoon.

In the process of putting a new home in place, one personal reaction became very evident – I didn’t want to buy things just to fill the void. The vision I had for my new home emphasized objects of personal meaning, symbolism, and hope for a bright future. No frivolous stuff, period.

Image of Truly Human book However, there was one exception. My Mom, who was my greatest supporter through this project of putting my life back together again, had a different idea. According to her, a house becomes a home when furnishings are “finished” with, of all things, TASSELS. Soon tassels sprouted everywhere – on tansus, armoires, keys - on almost anything that didn’t move.

So several years later, still surrounded by those tassels, and my new substantive treasures from nature, they somehow merged into totally new designs that were soon to be called TRULYHUMANmedallions. I strongly believe that creativity occurs most frequently at interfaces between two or more seemingly unrelated objects. It does take time to make the necessary association in order to come up with a unique perspective and a new idea. A part of the creative process for me is making time to “live” with the creative components. I purposefully kept the carved medallions and beads in view, so that I could pick them up, think about their meanings and begin to make associations with other objects in my surroundings. This association eventually centered on those very tassels which I found so irritating and meaningless. Somehow tassels would “finish” the medallion and the medallion would confer usefulness on a meaningless ball of fluff. Next came a loop of beads to make the product more functional.

My intended use for TRULYHUMANmedallions was to slip them over door handles. After all, considering how much attention to detail that we now give to our homes in order to unify the overall design, why have door handles been left so naked? Soon the applications for this new product multiplied, as did the styles, colors, and symbols.

I always saw stories as an integral part of the product. Perhaps this is because, as a consultant I was used to incorporating educational messages into the teaching process. And it has always been my personal belief that these same techniques I used with business leaders could be adapted for use by those individuals who want to pursue quality human values and grow themselves toward their personal best self. To this end, I adapted the techniques I used in guided visioning into a self-directed visioning exercise for use with all TRULYHUMANmedallions. I encourage you to use TRULYHUMANmedallions to their full potential by tapping into the stories and exercises. You can enjoy the ultimate benefit of bringing greater vision and peace into your life.

A few of you may have seen these designs marketed under the name "UMANObeads" the term I first used to echo the name of my company. With time I came to realize how vital these tools for relaxation and visioning were to my teaching efforts through the Truly Human Way of Life and how important it is to tie the two together. Further, it's all about the medallion, for the beads are of secondary importance. Unlike other prayer and meditation beads, everything in TRULYHUMANmedallions is centered on the medallion, its time-honored symbolism, and the positive human value it can represent to us.
Visit to learn more about the public speaking, executive retreat leadership and consulting services she provides to businesses and organizations.
At you can practice the visioning exercise that accompanies TRULYHUMANmedallions, using sea shells as sources of inspiration.
Truly Human available in both book, musical cd Purchase the truly human book Purchase the Truly Human musical CD