Thursday, November 15, 2007


I'm in an anthroposophical study group in which we are looking at the relationship between art and spirituality. We are a diverse group that has met once a week for almost 3 years.
Color comes up often. We occasionally do experiential art exercises and a year ago last spring we discussed doing exercises based in the experience of color.
One color at a time.
It should be noted that in Waldorf Art in the lower grades the children begin painting not to create art but to have an experience with color. They get one color at time with only water to expand or contract the color. They just experience the one color. Next week another color. It is unsatisfying for some parents as their children bring home not a sweet house with chimney and a bit of smoke but a page of Blue. In our product over process culture this leaves a bit to be desired and sometimes confusion for parents.
But once you've painted just blue for 3o minutes you understand the Blueness of it and as you use color in the future your singular color experience will have deepened your connection to and your understanding of the interconnectedness of all colors.
Our group is comprised of artists. A potter, sculptor, painter, puppet maker, book arts guru, basket weaver, blacksmith and herbalist? Yes I am the one who is not quite like the others and yet it works. When we were talking about the color exercise we considered how to as adults have a singular color experience and I had a moment of inspiration in which I wanted to create a scent that evoked a color and as we worked our way through the colors one by one I would challenge myself to create a scent to match the color.
This stewed and brewed within me and I, in my overly busy life had to let this one "extra" thing go.
Then on a day last winter when the store was so busy and I was about to feel sorry for myself that no one was coming in AKA I'm a failure and no one loves me. (Pity is not pretty I know.) I adjusted my outlook to one of: I'm so lucky to have my own store and I will act is if I'm in a little girl's fairy tale dream of having a perfume store. (It's all true, I just needed to look again.) And with that I decided to "play". I spent the rest of the day playing around with essential oils, absolutes & waxes and made some little tins of perfumed balms.
I had a great afternoon and amazingly the scents were all wonderful.
I came back to them over time and had customers smell them and I thought about them occasionally.
One of my favorite customers loved a spicy-citrus one and asked me to make some for him so I did.
Time passes. Months.
I find some adorable little balm containers that I just have to have. I buy them and wonder what I can put in these little things. I begin experimenting to find a product to go in them. Just for fun because the containers are so darn cute.
During this time I am trying to create a line of teas under the io brand and even though I have been blending teas for more than a dozen years it was just too big of a project to succeed at as a store owner and manufacturer working mostly alone about 45 hours (minimum) a week.
Blah, blah blah.
More time passes.
Last week my friend Tom was over and I was showing him my new perfume. It's green, the container is green and the scent evokes green. Tom says "you did it, you made the smell of green."
Wow, I had forgotten about that so long ago inspiration from the art group and here we were more than a year later with a tiny green fruit of my labor and inspiration.

P.S. there is more exciting news coming soon about the scents (yes plural.)
I'm so excited!

Saturday, November 3, 2007


I dislike trade shows.
I wrote hate at first but it sounds so mean.
I like the people I meet in general, but the transitory nature of it is unsatisfying. Trade shows are the real reason I opened my store.
I want to connect with people, let them take their time to experience my products that I create as well as just get a sense of the products I carry. Let them go away and come back when they're ready.
Day long, or hours long events create such pressure. If you don't buy it now, there will not be another chance for who knows how long.
One of the things I was told again and again about doing shows was that people may not buy from you until they see you at 2-3 shows.
Are you kidding? Unbelievable. The time, effort and piles of money it takes to go to these shows is phenomenal. How can you continue to go if you're not making a bunch of sales?
After one particularly grueling 3 day, all day, show where on one side of me were light up what-nots and across from me someone was selling inspirational books and cards and they were both doing more sales than I was, I decided that it would be better to plunk my money down on rent.
I am so happy that I did.
I am creating relationships. I love my customers, I love the neighbors, I love the wanderers that walk by each day. I feel as though I know them even if they never come into the store. I am part of a community. I am in service to those in need of change for the meters, those needing directions or a restaurant recommendation and of course, to help folks choose just the right ring or potion for themselves or find the perfect gift for a loved one.
I still go to trade shows. Sometimes as a vendor and sometimes as a shopper.
Now when I go as a vendor, it's about making connections not sales. And I also am beginning to understand the nature of relationships being built between vendors and retailers. This last summer I went to a multi-day show in LA and met an amazing woman with whom I am growing a relationship. I bought several pieces of butterfly wing jewelry from her and when I sold out she sent me a big box to choose from letting me pay for what I chose and sending the rest back to her.
This week she was in Portland and I took the time to go to a show I would not normally go to just to see her (and her butterflies).

The butterflies have a protected life in a wildlife preserve and once their blissed out butterfly life is over they are collected like leaves and set into sterling silver.
They all come with 16 or 18 inch sterling (92.5) or Italian silver (98.5) chains.
After I obsess over which pendant gets which chain and which one I get to keep, I'll have a bunch of new ones in the store.
Stop by and see them for yourself, they look a lot more amazing in person and on your skin.
A wise woman suggested to me that whether or not you know where you're going with a story that if you just let it lead you that your subconcious will bring it to make sense and as I get to the end of a rant that was meant to show you the pictures of my new butterfly wing jewelry, I see the connection of transformation, the obvious connection to the symbolism of the butterfly.
To change so that you no longer recognize yourself.
And in this moment I am grateful for the connections that have been created at the very heart of my dissatisfaction. Where is the gift? I often ask this when I am in the depths of whatever discomfort (or more often frustration)I may be experiencing.
And I ask you to look at the thing in your life that makes you uncomfortable/frustrated/annoyed, that first thing that pops into your mind, the thing that you quickly discard as not the thing but is the real thing.
What is the discomfort and then:
What is the gift?
Let it change you.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

This time of year

This is the year that my oldest daughter deemed herself too old to trick-or-treat.
A bittersweet time. Being in between. Not one of the little kids but not on her own either.
We trick or treated with our dog, Jupiter, our younger daughter and a couple of her friends and a couple of ours.
Our dog's birthday is Halloween, he is now 8.
Almost every day I think of the inevitability that we will lose him.
Dogs don't live long. Having pets is an act of faith that most people don't go into with clear heads. I did. The ages of our children, the lifespan of a black lab, all planned out. But what you can't plan out is how much you can love your dog and how much you want to protect your kids (and yourself) from the loss, more loss, of losing your beloved. We've had frogs, fish, rabbits, birds and now chickens and a dog. We have buried so many beings in our sweet yard, so many crying processions in the rain, before school or whenever death occurred. The funerals always end with a planting. If only we had made markers. Which roses can we transplant? Or remove? Is this the tree with Sugar under it? It makes me feel like I have done a poor job in the burial department even though we buried our animals with precious baby blankets, silk scarves and all kinds of sweetness, I have no clear memory of who is where. Does it matter?
This time of year is about ancestors and where we come from and having the courage to make it through the winter. It's about death and decay and compost and rot and knowing that if we do indeed survive the winter we will be nourished by all the decay of the winter to enable us to thrive when the sap begins rising in the trees and the blood begins to rise within us in the glorious impossibly far away springtime.
But for now we take our dog trick or treating and know that he is part of our family and I yearn to have my older daughter with me. As we walk I make plans for next year so that we can all be together to celebrate the darkening of the year by lighting fires, drinking hot sweet cider, going out into the dark and begging for candy to say that we have courage in the darkness and we want sweetness and joy, but we also yearn for the scary and mysterious to be shown, because we all know it exists and for one night at least we are comforted by the belief that others can see the deep dark in themselves and others and it's alright.

(The picture is of me & my girls and Miss C. their preschool teacher 2005)