Thursday, June 28, 2007

love note

I came to work today to find a love note!
I always stop at the threshold of my store to gather myself to be ready for my day, to go in fresh each day.
Often I will glance at the pile of bills on the other side of the glass door and remember to be grateful not overwhelmed by them.

But today was not like other days, today I saw this through my door:

I was so excited I could hardly put my things down before I opened it.
The message is personal as are all love notes, but sweet for sure.

the coolest thing ever: pinkontour art to help spread love.
my love note was delivered by bicycle as part of a moving art installation.

from my dear friend Martie,who not only takes care of my girls whenever I need her to, but also brings me these amazing arrangements
Days like today it's easy to feel grateful and beloved.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Loss, moving on, catching up

A few months ago, my dad, who had been suffering from lung cancer that had moved to his brain began going downhill very fast.
He had been at death's door for the past 4 & 1/2 years while remaining hopeful, funny, charming and strong.
During this last bad patch I spent most of my energy trying to decide if I should be with him, driving to be with him, or just trying to cope with losing my dad, while still doing all of the things one must do as a mother and store owner, and the: what if it's like all the other times and he pulls through? and the: can I close my store that I just opened to go see him even though he may not even know I'm there?
It was a terrible and incredibly sad time. He did pass and the devastation, even though we were "prepared" for his death, it did not and does not make it any less devastating.
I have been trying to "catch up" which is what people do. What we are expected to do. But life is not linear, at least mine isn't and I've been working through the reality that I cannot just catch up on the weeks that I fell behind on, but that all the pieces of my life are new again and I need to re-frame and re-evaluate and not make things happen but to make assessments as needed without assumptions based on past experience.
How do we re-create ourselves in small indescribable ways while keeping on with the grocery shopping, bill paying, bed-time stories and walking the dog?
Just by staying open and not assuming anything and not taking on too many new things, or any new things.
For me it has been a time of relative seclusion. I say relative because I work retail and am out in the world every day, but the way in which I am in the world is more inward, a bit fragile, but in some ways very powerful because I am not diffusing my energy by chatting with everyone about this personal experience. It makes me wonder what I am doing right now, writing about it, but it's been over two months now and I am feeling at a transition.
The ways in which it has impacted my work as an herbalist and shop keeper is profound and subtle.
Just before my dad started going down hill I had taken on 5 new perfumery clients and had done the initial intake interview the week before.
This has been the most pressing thing for me to catch up on. All of those who are much delayed getting their first perfume samples are amazingly understanding.
It would have been a great disservice to them to make a quick perfume in my grief and in my responsibility to get a "product" out to them.
I am back in the swing of things in some ways/on some days and when I'm not, I make no products.
I just be.
I know this sounds incredibly "be here now" but really, it is profound and difficult. The older I get the more profound it is.
This is the point at which you are either thinking "yeah, me too, I so get that" or "what a freak, I'm never reading this blog again".
Either way, one day you will have the moment when just "being" seems profound.
Life is swirling around us at a frenetic pace and my work right now is to not rush in and try catch up, my work is to just be in the moment.

Botanical Perfumery

The process that I go through to create a natural perfume is one of mystery, even to me.
I may wake up with an idea or dream of a blend when I have been stuck in the light of day. I sometimes make amazing mistakes that are fabulous.
Some of the most well thought out processes make the most terrible scents.
I love to explore and experiment with the gads of essential oils, absolutes, concretes, resins, waxes and butters that I have on hand.
People who walk by my store often assume it is a spa. I understand, it's modern, beautiful and there is a curtain to who knows where. This is where it is assumed you can get a facial or a massage. Brilliant really. It was a hope I had while looking for a space, to have it big enough for both a store and a spa, but no. The back room is part office and part blending studio. I make a fair number of my products right here in the shop. Talk about local.
The only service I offer is custom perfumery. This is a before or after hours service that is one on one. I ask a lot of questions and you (we'll pretend I am making it for you) get to smell tons of scents. Some blends but mostly single notes.

It takes about 90 minutes, we drink tea and get into the scents and I take a lot of notes.
It used to be closer to 60 minutes, but I keep getting more oils and I want to have a chance to step outside and get fresh air every now and then. It has been overwhelming for a couple of folks.

After our initial meeting I will go over my pages of notes and create some ideas for recipes and work on them for a week or so. Letting them rest, tweaking, going back over my notes and so on.
When I feel I have captured the perfect essence of what you are looking for and what will match you, taking into consideration any things that need treating on an aromatherapeutic level. Anxiety, depression etc
This takes (for me) being in a particularly good and even space.
I am re-membering our time together, re-creating a feeling that is the intention of the scent and crafting out of botanical materials.
I generally can have 3 folks at a time that I am working on, but I had a very busy week a couple of months ago and I had 5 appointments in one week.
I had a pretty open following weeks so I thought it would all be fine.
Sadly there became a pressing family issue for me to attend to and I became very behind with my perfumery.
My perfumery clients have been incredibly patient & kind and I am finally in a space to begin this work again.
My assistant, julia the beautiful, keeps reminding me of the other products in the store that we are low on or out of. Yes, I know but this is where I'm at. I'm working on these scents and it's nice.
I have sets of initial scents for 2 of the 5 clients and a good direction with the 3rd, so I feel good about that.
I have one client who was worried that I couldn't make something for her because about 75% of what she smelled she didn't like. I think she was worried that she was being "difficult", I hope not, I found her charming and hilarious.
I had another client who liked the scents that I do not.
I can't say it isn't challenging, but I do enjoy the process.
We'll see how they like them.