Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lynnie. Beautiful things. They just keep happening.

So this magical thing happened at the post office the other day.  But before that, a beautiful thing happened around Valentine's day.  This morning's "coincidence" compelled me to blog. (Okay, and how Lynn and I became friends is another beautiful story.)     I'll get to those stories, but you know me, in order to tell you those stories, I have to tell you the back story before I can tell you the post office story.

Lynnie gave me this sweet Santa last year.  He shared many Christmases with Lynn, Elise and Emily.  I finished decorating the tree yesterday and sat him next to it.

I went to sleep with Lynn on my mind.  Woke up at 4:00 this morning and was thinking last year at this time, we were planning her trunk show.  Curious, I went to Facebook to look up the actual event.   It took place a year ago today.

If you attended the show, you felt the magic.   For starters, it was less than two months before she died.  The cancer and treatments were now causing more bad days than good. I don't think it was a coincidence that she was feeling great on that particular day.

The show came about when I went to visit her and saw piles of beautiful jewelry she had been creating.  Making jewelry was her therapy--a way to express herself and live in the moment.   After the Hospice person left, we laid on her bed, stared out the window at the trees and talked about our girls--crying one minute and laughing hysterically the next.  (Another magical day.)

She  loved the idea of a holiday trunk show and Louie and Flo (her folks) went to work creating displays.  The night of the event she was feeling great and her loved ones (and their loved ones) came out in droves (there's another beautiful story involving Cheryl's mom and her connection to Lynn and her surprise visit at the show) to get some Lynn love and see her treasures.  Her inventory was quickly snatched up--women came to shop and left with wrists full of bracelets--deciding which to keep and which to give as presents.   Her treatments and the need to stay well, limited her contact with friends and extended family.  This was a night to reconnect. Flo was at the register, Louie was snapping pictures and Lynn and the girls were in the middle of it all.  It is such a sweet memory--I'll always remember it and am grateful for how the evening played  out.  After the show, she was giddy and off to the bead store with her profits.

She lived five years after getting a stage 4 cancer diagnosis.  My friends in the medical world, were always astonished to hear this fact.  She lived her final days surrounded by her loved ones and left this world on February 2nd.  (Her memorial was on the 16th...20 years to the day of my mom's passing.  See? It just keeps happening.)  This year I often see Lynn's jewelry on friends and think that not only do we carry her around in our hearts, we have something tangible to carry around to remind us that love is all that matters.  Truly.  (I'm getting closer to the post office story but you need to hear the Valentine story to get the full magic.)

On Valentine's day (two weeks after she passed) I received a package in the mail.  It was this beautiful heart necklace.  She made necklaces for her friends and had her folks mail them off to us after she passed.  Tears were streaming down my face.  It was so Lynn to think of others in the midst of her pain.  We all wore them to her memorial, connected now, forever by this amazing  friend.  I've been meaning to call the other gals to get us together, and the busyness of life has kept it on my to do list all year.

Which brings us to the post office story...

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the post office to mail something to Emy.  The holiday line extended to the door.  On my way out, Cathy (one of the other necklace recipients and organizer of the walk we did with Lynn and now continue to do to honor Lynn) was walking in.  Arms loaded with packages, we gave each other a kiss on the cheek and promised to get together with the girls.  All of a sudden, her bracelet broke and beads scattered about the post office.  Some even hit my feet. As I bent down to help her collect them, I said, "this is a Lynnie bracelet, huh?"  "Yep."  I make jewelry and was just given elastic bead string as a gift (also random, right?) I can fix this.  How about you come by the shop?" She came by with her daughter Claire a few nights later and we relived the story, now understanding that no matter how long that 'to do' list is, we will make a date to have coffee and restring her bracelet.  When we do we will talk about our friend who may not be "here" but is always here <3 
And we will laugh.  Because that and love is the legacy she left us.  Merry Christmas.

Monday, November 4, 2013


When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

I started following Brené Brown after I watched her TedX talk.    If you take a few minutes to listen to that talk, you'll understand why it has a few million hits on You Tube and why Oprah had her on her show and featured her in her magazine.
Brené  is a shame and vulnerability researcher.  

Apparently the less you want to talk about shame, the more you have it.  That was enough motivation for me.  I bought her books and began following her blog.  The Gifts of Imperfection is a quick read that had me wincing in recognition at every page.  With  humor and heart, she shares her story and in doing so encourages us to do the same. That fear we have of not belonging disappears once we share our authentic self with another human being.  I've read a lot of self-help books, but none resonated with me the way this did.  The toothpaste was out of the tube. I couldn't put it back if I tried.  I was already on a spiritual path open to looking at my shadows and willing to lay things down that were no longer serving me.  Fifty years of shame left me with a lot to process.  I appreciated the distinction she made between shame ("I am bad") and guilt ("I did something bad") In self-help speak, the shame I carried from my dysfunctional family made me a codependent people pleaser.    I was more willing to say yes and be angry than no and feel guilty.  (I wish I could remember where I heard that quote.)

To me, dysfunction is simply the pain that is carried forward in families.   We are a nation of immigrants-discontent pioneers filled with hope.    Were our grandparents looking for opportunity or a fresh start? When I see pictures of the old homestead in Norway, the dots don't connect.  Why would anyone leave utopia?  What caused my great grandmother's horrible bout of depression? How far back did it go? We are the first generation to talk  openly about such things. And the first to have tools to deal with the resulting fallout.  I'm hopeful that walking through the pain will  keep me from wallowing in it.

I love Maya Angelou's poem that reminds us that if we could have done better we would have.  Now that we know better, we can do better.  

I'm in.

Afraid, but in.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A year ago at this time I was in Paris.  It was my first trip to Europe and surpassed my wildest dreams.  I fell in love with the City of Light and can't wait to return.

So much has happened since then. I re-opened my store.  And a yogurt shop. 

I'm a third generation Tacoman and community-minded gal.  It has been suggested by a few friends that I start a blog that is all things Tacoma.  So here goes.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Welcome to my garden (or not).

I'm an early riser.  Sometimes too early so I lay in bed for an hour and think.

As many of you know, I am "moving" my store May 1st. I don't have a space to "move" to so I am going to focus on my facebook store and a service I call "My Store to Your Door." (Yes, just like it sounds AND I help you clean your closet--taking with me your donation and consignment piles.)  I have loads of merchandise coming in through September and I have to figure out how to make it available to my customers.  I am hoping for a space to open up in the Proctor district.  In the meantime, these two businesses will keep me busy.

The whole idea of having an on-line shop never really appealed to me.  I love being a shopkeeper.   Then a few months ago, something wonderful happened.  I started to post pictures of  merchandise on my Facebook page to let customers know what's new.  They responed by coming in and so did women from other parts of the country.  Enthusiastically. Orders came in and after brief chats to eliminate guesswork about sizing, I began shippping packages.  Big packages.  Fifteen and twenty items.  It was so exciting thinking about someone in Chicago being able to shop at my store!

It made me think of the following analogy.  Let's say my shop's a "garden".  I read several international fashion magazines for inspiration, much like a gardener would pour over a seed catalog.  When I have a clear vision of what I want in my "garden" six months out, I place a carefully chosen order of "seeds".  For weeks, I continue to prepare my "garden" for its seasonal debut.  I look for companions to those carefully chosen "flowers", adding some "ground cover" to fill in the gaps.  After carefully tending, I wait.  A few months later, the UPS guy brings the "flowers".  I place them in my "garden" and add "ground cover"  Then, my wonderful customers come in and "pick" from my garden.  They select things that are already in their "home garden" and this "flower" completes their "bouquet".

In a recession in the Northwest in a winter that has been particularly grey and rainy? It's not as fun being a shopkeeper.

The "seed" that planted the garden analogy came from a visitor yesterday.  She came in looking for pajama pants that have been discontinued.  She wanted those and didn't care about looking at the rest of the "garden".  She only liked "peonies" and since I didn't plant any this year, she left.  And it hit me...

The internet  allows me to connect with people who like what I "plant".  Instead of hearing "I don't like blue.  Does it come in red?" I hear "LOVE this shade of blue! I'll take it!" "Can't wait to see more pictures!"

I've had more than a few people say "you have to have a store! I don't shop on the internet!"   I have to bite my tongue when it is asked by people who haven't stepped foot in my store or browsers who haven't purchased something in a few years.  As much as I love what I do, it's not a hobby.  It's how I pay my bills.  If you are a customer at my brick and mortar store, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your loyalty, suppport and friendship.  I'd add that your support and commitment to "go local" builds a stronger community for us all. I am so grateful for being able to have a brick & mortar store for 11 years. It really is a dream come true. 

The reality is that if I want to have a viable business, I must embrace technology and how consumers want to shop.   It's just a sign of the times. So, I am hoping you will pop in this month for a visit.  Also hoping you will join me on this journey and while I am "store-less" will follow me on facebook or book a "Store to Door" visit.  My goal is to have a little studio/storefront in a few months. 

We'll see.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Wing down

This morning, on facebook,  I posted a photo of a little ceramic angel I bought at Goodwill.  Had I kept last years New Years resolution #23, (learn  to import pictures) her sweet little face would accompany this entry.

Last December as I was shopping Goodwill for an ugly Christmas sweater for a party, I found this ceramic  angel in the holiday section.  It was hard to see her features, because she was covered in gold spray paint.  Something about her spoke to me.   I love a project, so at 99 cents, I placed her in my cart.  Once home, I got out nail polish remover and worked to remove the gold paint.  A few cotton balls later, the little angel was restored to her former glory.  The glaze had protected every one of her sweet features.  Pleased, I placed her near the kitchen sink to keep me company in December.

In November we moved to a new place.  The second story of a 100 year old house.  I love old.  I remember when I was doing one of the walk throughs, thinking about how great my vintage Christmas decorations would fit in this place.

On December 1st, I started unpacking decorations. The little angel was nestled in with stockings and aprons.  (When I packed her away last year, I remember thinking they'd keep her safe and warm--we had bonded in that kitchen over all those batches of cookies.)  It was hard to find the perfect place for her.  She didn't fit with the nutcrackers, or my collection of vintage snowmen.  I decided to put her  next to a pink poinsettia on a little white table.  That lasted a couple of days. I have a rearranging gene and moved her to another table where pink vintage glass ornaments could keep her company.  As I was fussing around getting the angel vignette all perfect, she slipped out of my hand and fell to the hard woods with a clunk.  I felt my heart sink. I looked down and one wing had broken off.  Only it wasn't a clean break.  Bits of ceramic pieces were strewn about.   Handy with a glue gun,  I decided I could use parts of her in a future craft project.   Then my other dominant gene (stubborn Norwegian) kicked in and I sought out the super glue.  After patiently piecing her wing together, I stood back and viola!  She was almost as good as new.  Back to the poinsettia table.

A few nights later, as Kitty was making noise for attention at 3 a.m., we heard a crash.  Kitty had knocked the table over.  Craig delivered the bad news....The angel's wing had broken again.  In the same place.
The next morning, I found the superglue and went to work.  This time I put the angel out of Kitty's path. 

Over the holiday break I spent time reading a book by Brene Brown titled The Gifts of Imperfection.  I finished the book last night.  At 3:00 a.m., Kitty did her usual bit (scratching on something to get our attention.) I couldn't get back to sleep and started thinking about the To Do list I had put off all week.  At the top of the list is putting away decorations.  For some reason, the angel came to mind and it dawned on me.

Sometimes God gives us a subtle nudge and sometimes he whacks us upside the head.  This was one of those whack upside the head moments.  The little angel was a metaphor for me. I started to think about her blonde pigtails tied with red ribbons and recalled a picture of me that was taken when I was 5.  In the portrait  I am wearing pigtails also tied with red ribbons.  Smiling sans my two front teeth, I  realize that was the age I began to fill a bag with heavy bricks that I would carry around with me until this year.  I call it the bricks of shame.  

Brene Brown defines shame as:

        Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love 
        and belonging.

From Dr. Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection, Page 6.

  Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.  Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy--the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.  Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Whirled peas

49 things I want to do before I turn 50 on November 7th, 2011

  1. Go to France.
  2. Learn to change a flat tire.
  3. Bake a pie from scratch.
  4. Design and produce a stylish raincoat.
  5. Memorize and master all the basic yoga poses.
  6. Visit each Tacoma shopgirl and write reviews on Yelp!
  7. Have dinner at The Herb Farm.
  8. Locate and plant a Sonja rose.
  9. Plan a trip to Norway with my girl cousins.
10. Write a screenplay.
11. Take a CPR refresher course.
12. Take a swing dancing class.
13. Create more jewelry with a goal of selling it at my store.
14. Start a fashion blog.
15. Buy and customize a tiny vintage trailer and go on a tiny trailer trip with other t.t.enthusiasts.
16. Go river rafting.
17. Paint and decoupage all the furniture that has been "waiting" in my garage.
18. Create an on-line version of sonja - clothes to live in.
19. Find a place and make it home sweet home.
20. Work with Mo at Mad Hat Tea to create a sonja or shopgirl blend of tea for the shop.
21. Start writing my book on ideas.
22. Create a signature fragrance based on my favorite scents.
23. Take a pastry class.
24. Repaint a wall at the shop my favorite shade of pink.
25. Set up a tea area at the shop.
26. Arrange a shopgirl train trip to portland.
27. Go bicycling around Vancouver, B.C. (again)
28. Write a letter to my future grandchild(ren).
29. Pitch a tent at a Washington State park with wike friends.
30. Read Life of Pi.
31. Go to a Canyon Ranch type of place.
32. Volunteer at the Humane Society.
33. Teach my old dogs some new tricks.
34. Set healthier boundaries.
35. Go fishing.
36. Learn more about Chinese herbs and tea.
37. Roadtrip down the Coast to Southern Oregon.
38. Sew an apron with fabric and trims collected over the years.
39. Host a slumber party with my favorite women for my 50th birthday.
40. Sit down with my uncles Lloyd and Gene and document our family stories for the next generation.
41. Start a tiara collection.
42. Embrace technology; video camera, ipod, and whatever else Melody tells me I should be up on.
43. Update my will and do some estate planning. 
44. Hire a personal trainer.
45. Start a creativity circle.
46. Learn how to knit.
47. Create an art studio at home.
48. Grow 5 vegetables.
49. Make peace with the past.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yoga. No-ga.

Maybe it's the Oprah factor.
That Live Your Best Life business.

Apparently that means I need to step away from the Ben & Jerry's and step up to...
Well, just step up.

So yesterday I took a step.  I joined
It's a healthy lifestyle "tool"  It's free! 
My goal?
Eat less.  Move more.

I know what I should be doing.
It's just that the new Vogue comes.  And then the New Lucky.
And the dogs want to cuddle. And there are Trader Joe's Nutty Bits in the cupboard. 
And facebook.

This has not been a good year on the "move more" front.
Oh, for a while I was on a roll (hold the snide remarks).
I was going for daily walks with Cheryl.  4+ miles at a good pace.
Sunday w/ikes with the gang...
And then.

So tonight I put my big toe back in the water and did some yoga in my living room.
And had quinoa for dinner.  And drank green tea today.
And wrote in my blog.  One day at a time...

Crap!  I missed Dancing with the Stars.

Damn Oprah.