I am sure that all of you are on the patio having a beverage on this beautiful day and you are trying hard to put the work week out of your mind. However, I want to plant a seed in your head for Monday morning.
I have spent the past month and a half dealing with other service businesses or trying to find a business to perform a service for me. My roof was in desperate need of replacement following some pretty big early spring storms. We interviewed a few companies that were quick to return our calls and give us estimates on the roof repair and from that selected a very reputable company. That was the end of the open communication. The company did not let us know the day the project would begin, the workers just showed up one day and began working. When the project was completed no company representative came to inspect the work and give us a final bill. When the roof failed inspection we had to contact them. When we were waiting for the repairs to be completed no one called to let us know of the time line or the fixes they proposed. We had to contact them and it took several phone calls to make a connection. They failed to communicate.
My sister in-law and I have been working to settle the estate of my in-laws. We have been taking all the heirloom items and distributing them and clearing out all the trash. We were left with a house FULL of stuff that we needed to sell, get the house empty and then sell the house. First we tried some of my auction house friends and they were at least professional enough to say that they were very busy and wouldn't be able to get to us for a couple of months. We decided to try Estate Sales companies and I began to research them. I made a couple of calls and finally got a company to return my call and meet with us. They promised to let us know if they would be able to schedule us in within one day. Three days and three unreturned phone calls later I moved on. The next company returned my call and has agreed to meet us...we will see where this goes.
All this to drive home a point. We may have our businesses on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google but we are forgetting to communicate with our clients. The basics of any business is building a clientele. We do that by providing a good or service that our client is willing to pay for and if they are satisfied with their purchase they will return again to our door. The only way to do this is to establish and maintain communication even after the sale is complete. There is never an acceptable reason for not returning a call in a timely manner. It takes longer to take a picture and upload it on Facebook than it does to call a client. When I worked in the corporate world I was successful because I was quick and efficient in providing information and services to my clients. Twenty-four hours, every call returned and every email answered within 24 hours.
When someone asks me about three of the estate sale companies I called and one that I met with, I can honestly say that I don't have a recommendation because they never returned my calls. That alone will not build business but ruin it. No matter how hard you work.
This is also true for our personal lives. We tweet, post, snap and google but when was the last time you called someone and talked to them...a real conversation? How many times do we say, "I have been meaning to call them but I just don't have time."? Those tweets, posts and pics do not tell you what is going on in their lives, it does not connect you, it does not replace the human need to share and connect. So pick up the phone, drive to their house, meet for coffee, but communicate.
I love color. Soft color, vibrant color, blended colors and colors with depth. I stated before that a white wall is a blank canvas to me, not an end choice but the beginning of a creative endeavor.
I love color and diversity. I don't use color in traditional combinations and most times I get stuck on a certain color palette for a season and then something will spark my interest and it will all change. I am influenced by culture, architecture, historical periods and everything in between.
Now imagine that all of that disappeared. Imagine traveling anywhere in the world and everything looked the same. Imagine a world with no diversity, no individual character, no surprises and everything the same color.
I love all colors whether red, yellow, brown, black, white or any other color. I love the vibrant large circle skirts of Mexico, the bold charismatic dancing and the loud celebrations. I love the hand printed fabrics of India, the soft wraps of the fabrics with long flowing skirts. I love the intricacy of the carvings, prints and design in Japanese wood, clothing and gifts and the absolutely simple lines of their homes. I love the intense design that goes into the architecture of Russia and the simple flow of Scandinavian design. All these designs, color pallets and means of expression are distinctive characteristics of the culture these artist come from. We can't lose that.
It seems to me that one of the reasons we are so depressed as a people, so angry, so frustrated and so anxious is that someone, somewhere has decided we should all be the same. "They" have decided how we should look, act, live and structure our lives and we don't like it. We have lost ourselves, our sense of culture and our sense of belonging.
I am Nordic and Scottish, we are a loud, pushy, clannish bunch but you will never find one more loyal or hard working. We are proud of who we are and where we come from and we don't want to loose our traditions, our culture or our heritage. I think everyone feels the same.
Even beyond that....we want to be individual, meaning that we want to choose our color pallet, we want to choose our work, our family, our community and how we live in those choices. We have so many restrictions and expectations placed on us but even more so on our children. We lay out an agenda and pathway that we expect everyone to follow because we have been told that is the only path to success, living well and being a "good" citizen. We tell everyone NOT to listen to the inner song, ignore the inner color and beauty and just follow the crowd.....and we slowly fade until there is nothing left of us.
There is a song, a creative expression, a love of color, a dance, a joyful existence in each of us but it has been whitewashed and silenced. Until we embrace color and diversity and choice and creativity and FUN, we will continue to be angry, anxious, frustrated and depressed.
I cannot imagine a world without tribal drums, Mariachi bands, bagpipes, big swirling skirts, vibrant color, huge headdresses, and diverse culture. Can you? We as individuals from diverse cultures make up this world. We cannot let globalization destroy our individual cultures, our heritage and our ancestral history....no matter what country or region we are from.
I check in everyday with Collective Evolution and they posted a thought provoking, award winning video that gives vision to this. Thank you for what you do CE and if you get a chance follow their site and support their work.
So you are sitting in your favorite spot scrolling through Pinterest, checking out what your friends are creating or what some mom just created out of toilet paper rolls and you think to yourself, "Why didn't I think of that?".
You look around your house and you have done a good job decorating and things look "nice". But something inside is stirring, rolling around.
Many people ask me how or why I started doing what I do. The answer is simple. I couldn't do what I WAS doing one more day.
I tried all kinds of things to provide an income other than punching a clock. Now by punching a clock I mean working for a paycheck. I made good money, don't get me wrong and the work wasn't bad but I had done it for a long time and it no longer fed my soul. So I went on a search and tried all kinds of things but deep inside of me I have always needed to create something, to balance colors and light, to work with textures and fabric. I like creating environments and finding beauty in natural materials. When I got there, when I got to the thing that brought joy to my soul? I wasn't working anymore. As a matter of fact I don't really focus on the "business" portion of what I do, meaning I don't get up in the morning wondering if I will sell something......
I wake up in the morning thinking about what I want to create.
Now that's a good day.
Last summer began an adventure that I had no idea was coming. It is always curious the timing of events in your life. I was getting into a good rhythm in the shop, had strong momentum going with sales and I was looking forward to a good strong year.
I spent 8 months caring for terminally ill and aging in-laws. A few critical events made it impossible for them to care for themselves any longer and they needed help, right away. In the process of finding care, nursing, doctors and getting through the Medicaid process I found a treasure. I was very fortunate to be able to spend the last months with an interesting character, although he would have told you that I was the interesting one! I heard stories, looked at photographs, learned about the treasures stored in the home and shared a glass of wine.
I also heard the pain and fear of someone who is dying and not quite ready to leave this world. I also learned what dementia looks like and how heartbreaking this disease is for the family and for the person who is slowly losing touch with reality. It is sad to watch a person lose their independence and their ability to care for themselves.
These events taught me a very important lesson. A lesson that we hear often but you will never pay attention to until you watch someone's breath leave them.
We may not have tomorrow and if we do, we may not be able to function in it.
Do not let this day pass without RUNNING headlong towards your dreams. Look fear right in the eyes and move anyway....go forward anyway. Don't waste precious time doing what you think others approve of, do exactly what you are meant to do. BELIEVE that you will not be successful, truly successful until you are doing what you love. LOVE and LOVE again. Reach out a hand to someone in need. DANCE and SING with everything you have in your soul. CREATE something lasting, something unique, something mind blowing....you have it in you!
You may not get another chance!
I purchased this original piece many years ago. It was one of those "buy it in a box" pieces that was actually wood. Over the years it got a little wobbly and the natural finish no longer suited my decor. Although it had a shelf it was so close to the top of the table that it had limited use. I decided it needed a makeover.
I took it all apart with a vision in mind. I rearranged the pieces and added a few embellishments including original art to the top. The finished product is beautiful.
Yesterday I received a treasure from a very good friend. It was a picture of all the letters I had written and this person had kept every one of them. My response was that I had kept all the letters I had received as well and the truth is I keep all letters. The reason? Because handwritten letters are a piece of the soul and they should never be discarded.
One of the lost arts of this age is letter writing. The ability to tell a story, to describe events so that the reader is pulled into the story is the beauty of a letter. My grandmother and I used to write letters to each other and I looked forward to receiving them. She was a wonderful storyteller both in writing and in conversation but in her generation that was an important and well developed skill. They didn't always have telephones and family may be spread over a few states. They wrote letters full of the stories of the day and the events that impacted their lives. I have spent many hours going through old letters and finding bits of history, events and a story of life.
Today we have tweets, texts and emoticons. None of these things convey a story or tell of history, they only give a "sound bite" of the current moment.
There is something very inspiring about picking up a pen and paper and writing. It causes the creative side of the brain to activate and color and imagination to thrive. Sadly it is a lost art which is going the way of cursive writing. I wonder if this is not the reason we are so depressed, lonely and lost. We have lost the art of communication, of connecting and of creating a timeless legacy for others to read.
If we are to continue to partner with the universe in creating, in beauty, in communication and in human connection perhaps we should return to pen and paper and share a piece of ourselves with someone else.
Thank You, Chilli, for treasuring my soul.
One of the things that I take pride in is making sure that my family and my home are well cared for. Now that doesn't mean spending lots of money or having all the trinkets and gadgets, it means making sure they are healthy and well able to function in this world. Our mission statement states that we use natural, organic recycled and repurposed products to create things for you, our client. In fact we use them in our home too. If you walk into our home you will find all kinds of creative things that have been repurposed into functional art. In our cabinets you will find natural, organic products and lots of healthy food.
There are many things that I think this industrial and technology age has taken from us. The ability and even the knowledge about growing healthy food and herbs. The ability to cook, from scratch, good healthy meals. The ability to keep your house clean, your kids clean and everything healthy without a cabinet full of chemicals. A simple, healthy life.
You may think that you just don't have time for all that. It is a matter of knowledge and priority. My morning coffee time is spent wandering through the sunroom caring for my herbs, seedlings and orchids. My monthly shopping day is also the day I prepare the washing powder, dish soap, dishwasher soap and household cleaning mixtures. It fills the house with the scent of peppermint, lemon oil and lavender. I buy my supplies for soap making once a quarter and make soaps for 2 or three days so that I always have a supply on hand for sale and for use. I make extracts when I harvest herbs and I dry the rest for cooking. I putter all the time (as my husband puts it) with my hands in oils and smells and earth. I never need therapy and my time out for myself is out in nature.
All of these things give me the energy to work and work hard. My time in the workshop is focused and productive and I bring the creativity of nature with me into my work. Start small, one step at a time. Get a few patio plants that yield vegetables. Start eliminating chemicals from your house and your diet. Start spending more time outside or reading or dreaming. Your body and your family will thank you. And by the way? So will the earth.
You can find out how simple home cleaning products are by following this link.
DIY Naturally is a great resource.
I have always admired antique phonograph cabinets but I never had the courage to separate the cabinet from the workings inside, fortunately this one was empty. The veneer on top was splintered, peeling and missing in spots. The back was missing, the bottom shelf inside was covered in oil and the whole piece had been neglected.
I removed the veneer from the top and found beautiful poplar wood underneath. I began restoring the rest of the wood and reviving the stain. I put a birdseye maple veneer on the bottom shelf, made a new back piece, put a new finish making sure to cover the top (only) in urethane for protection. I have always wanted to repurpose one of these pieces into a wine cabinet so here we are! I love the rich golden brown color of the wood.
My favorite stone is Travertine. I love the color, I love the lack of uniformity, I love the porous look of the natural stone. However, travertine in its natural state, does not make a good table or countertop so the manufacturers have learned to cut and polish it to make it useful. It is a beautiful, natural stone.
The original designer of this piece selected really nice wood with strong grain patterns and then the wood was covered in a stain and finish popular in the 1970's that actually hid the wood.
I pulled the old finish off, exposed the wood and finished it. Now the table has a very rustic, natural look. Perfect!
This little table was just needing a home. I am a huge fan of wood and iron so this piece HAD to come home. Cleaned up the tin top, added some color and gave the sides a face lift. All beautiful and so functional!