Finally there is a little fall chill in the air here in Southern California. I’m going to get my first real taste of fall when I head up the coast this weekend to Remnants of the Past, October 10th in Nipomo. I remember when this event was just a dream Judy Watkins had. It has been wonderful to watch her bring it to life. Down a country road you enter the Dana Powers property and step into a delightful world far from the hustle and bustle of everyday. This one day event has hosted some amazing guests. This time around, my friend April Cornell is the featured VIP. She will have loads of her signature linens and a smattering of the soft romantic women’s and girl’s clothing she is known for. This is the first time April has done a show like this. It’s a lot of hard work getting there and getting set up. But I am confident that once she feels the energy and warmth of the people who are drawn to this delightful event, we’ll all feel it was worth it. So, being as the glamour never stops, I am off to Home Depot to pick up a few things we need to set up the booth. If you are in the area, I really hope you will stop by!
Like many people going through midlife changes and transitions, I find myself wondering more than I ever did before, “Who am I?” I have been working in the book business since 2003, and prior to that had a six year run in consumer magazines, preceded by years of B2B publishing and event management. (Bear with me, this is leading to the widget headline!) In college, I was what they then called a “print” journalism major. But with all the changes, including the fact that this “print” journalist reads the newspaper and books on a Kindle much more often than actually touching a paper page these days, what am I now? I’m a communicator, part storyteller, part reporter, and these days an interpreter too. I’m spending a great deal of time interpreting what social media means for my peers and colleagues, and how they need to be positioning themselves to use it right for their business. I have always been fascinated by new ways to reach audiences and communicate with them. To engage like-minded people and give them a message they need and want has always been a high for me. As the media is changing by leaps and bounds, I know that the past is behind us and the ways we reach each other and engage in common interests together will never be done how its been done in the past.
That brings me to the widget. This cool little application holds all the information a person would need to make a decision to attend the wonderful Remnants of the Past Show this coming weekend in Central California.It has photos to enjoy, maps, entrance information, and anything else you need to know about the event. I love it when we can use technology to connect with each other. I’m picking April Cornell and Pam Cowan from Cornell too up at the Long Beach airport and we are driving up the beautiful coastline to the show. April will be a special guest at the event. Hope to see you there!
Some things never go out of fashion. Plenty of people have tried to do their best to make sure manners do. But with the onset of social media as a leading form of communication, manners matter more than ever.
If I am going to create a presence through social media tools, I need to be myself – not hide behind a made-up name. I need to be polite and courteous. Be true to my word and honor the word of others. I need to be responsible for what I am putting out into the media-sphere. Is it honest? Is it the truth? Am I sure it will not harm others?
I also must commit to not wasting others time, or misleading them. Blanket emails aren’t nice. These are not just simple common courtesies any more. They are trust builders, and its trust that makes social media work. I have to be able to trust that the people who leave a comment on my blog are kindred creative spirits, not spammers from halfway around the globe trying to break into my site. Otherwise, why would be so open with my words? Likewise, I have to believe that the people who choose to follow me on Twitter are there to connect, not to broadcast porn to me. (Porn spam on Twitter is my current gripe.)
If Emily Post were still with us, she’s be busy polishing up her chapters on etiquette in social media. She’s not, so its up to us to be on our best behaviour. What are your etiquette gripes? What do you appreciate in the others you connect with online?
There is a saying that “Cancer Sucks.” It does. With the advancements in treating the disease, it seems I know more people who have prevailed and after treatment and have been able to resume their lives. But, lately that isn’t true. I have attended the funeral of two friends under the age of 50 in the past several months. Both women died of breast cancer. Both of them left daughters the same age as my own daughter, Sarah.
My mother died of ovarian cancer in 1996. She looked into the mirror of mortality everyday for seven years. I learned a great deal in those years. I saw how much it meant to her when others would visit, call, write or send a thoughtful gift. Rather than holding back from fear of what to say, it was the people who reached out that made a difference. It’s not easy to know what to do. What matters is that you do something.
Some people turn to the kitchen and cook to show they care. I tend to avert the kitchen and head to my craft studio.
My cousin was recently diagnosed with melanoma. I’ve been struggling with a way to reach out and show support. Yesterday, I pulled out the things that give me comfort: vintage trims and embellishments, handmade papers, button, paper dyes, and a book of favorite quotes that I keep in my office. Not quite sure where I was going to end up, I started on a minibook filled with quotes I thought would be of comfort during his treatment. Aromas flowed from the kitchen where my daughter was baking for friends who had been in a terrible car accident. Once the cupcakes were in the oven, she came to find me. “See Mom, this is what we do. You craft and I bake. It makes us feel better, and like we are doing something and to show we care.” She’s right, it does.
What do you do to show you care? We could all use some good ideas…
Circumstances we might not have chosen, led me and my family to Colorado several times this summer. The wonderful part about it is that we have all been able to spend time outdoors experiencing what a gift nature can be to deepening personal spirituality. I have chosen to look at it that way and accept that if weren’t for a little suffering we would not have had this glory. After a very mediocre hotel experience in Boulder the last time we visited, I was determined to find some charm. I found it at Chautauqua. I was intrigued by what I read online about it origins, so it was the lodging of choice.
Upon check-in, being my usual inquisitive self, I had to devour every piece of printed material in the cottage before I did anything else. My husband unpacks and hangs his clothes upon arrival, I read and get the lay of the land. It’s become a predictable pattern over the years.
I recalled a little bit about Chautauqua in New York State from my days working with Victorian Homes magazine. But I needed a refresher course which is what I got from reading a book of its history in the room. The founding Chautauqua gave birth to a national movement in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Basically they were seasonal resorts where families would vacation and attend concerts, speeches, recitals, and other programs to further their cultural knowledge. Kind of like camping or cottaging with a purpose. The Colorado Chautauqua is one of the few surviving resorts from the period. It is beautiful, set right up against the Flatiron Mountains with miles and miles of hiking trails. I am a softie for any place with history, and this place has it.
Saturday morning I set out with water bottle in hand determined to take a long walk to work the kinks and pains of too may hours on the computer out of my body. It was one of the most glorious outings of the summer. A warm breeze made it comfortable and the views were spectacular. I found a smooth flat rock outcrop and comfortably say and did some yoga in the warm sun.
It was one of those times you just wish you could freeze. I completely forgot why I was in town for the weekend. Even the camera on my phone was in the mood for soaking in the inspiration and appreciating the moment. When I downloaded the shots they looked as if the picture had been painted rather than shot with a Blackberry! It’s kind of like everyday life. Sometimes it just depends on the lens and how we look at things.
This week’s Blogging for Bliss blog tour has been delightful! Thank you to everyone who joined in the fun, and to Kari at Artsy Mama for being the host. I had two copies of the book to giveaway. I used Tara Frey’s Random Number Generator to choose the winners. It’s a great tool you can use for your blog too.
Thank you to everyone who stopped by during party week. Be sure to join the Blogging for Bliss fan page on Facebook for updates on the book and Tara’s journey.
On my father’s side of the family, my brother and I are the youngest grandchildren and cousins. When we were growing up, the Cannon cousins seemed so much older than we were. Time took care of what seemed to be a gap and we are reconnecting as adults. Thankfully, my father is the common thread that has kept us woven together over the years. This summer marked front number change birthdays for my father (80) and my brother (50). A birthday celebration led to being reunited with some of the cousins and planning follow-up visits.
Last week, my daughter and I dropped in on two of them. My cousin Tom is a retired English professor with a doctorate in Chaucer. There are no dummies in that branch o
f the family tree! Tom lives on a wonderful spread of farmland in Virginia that has been in his wife, Julie’s, family for many generations. The house is a Quaker balloon frame house built in the 1800’s, which is a far cry from our home in Southern California. It was a rare treat for us to climb the stairs and walk the halls.
At the time the house was built it was state-of-the-art efficiency. It still is. Carefully situated to make the best use of light and breeze, it is engineered to function with nature.
Miles away in the small hamlet of Sloatsburg, New York, my cousin Pat Cannon and her husband Dave Spielvogel aka “Dave Keyes” live in bucolic solitude in a home that has its footprint in the 1700’s. The photo is a little deceiving. This is a real true-to-life vintage farmhouse with a beautiful red barn and rolling fields.
We were blessed to spend two days there recharging our batteries. As we pulled out of the drive and made our way down the tree-shaded lane back into the busy world, I thought to myself, “I am so happy that rural runs in the family,” and that I had a chance to enjoy its calming and restful ways.”
Sometimes I stray away from what I do best. I have seen others do it too. We each have our gifts, the things that come naturally. Despite knowing what we do best, it’s easy to become bored or wonder “what if?” Sometimes I find myself far from what I do best, and usually not very happy.
I met Judy Watkins over ten years ago at The San Francisco Gift Show when I was the editor of Romantic Homes. Judy and her partner owned a tiny, sparkling gem of a shop in Pismo Beach named Well La De Da! It was filled with vintage treasures they had gathered and packed into the little one-room store about the size of a walk-in closet. The encounter at the gift show led to my visiting them, photographer in tow. Judy and I connected right away and an enduring friendship emerged.
Judy is best at hunting, gathering, arranging things with an artist’s eye, and at bringing people together to enjoy them. She is good at lots of other things too, but these are the things that make her heart sing.
She joined forces with another visionary retailer in a wonderful store that was named, “Old Edna Says Well La De Da,” just outside San Luis Obispo, CA. That launched her ownership of a magical store called CALA. Along the way, Judy’s mother became ill. The business grew, and with it came the headaches of success. Judy made the decision to care for her mother and savor their last time together, which meant parting with the CALA.
She had long felt a calling in her heart to create a special event that would be a magical gathering place filled with antique dealers, collectors, artisans, and kindred creative spirits. It wouldn’t require day-to-day bricks and mortar, but would be something to be looked forward to twice a year. And that is how Remnants of the Past came to be. Judy found a home for the event on a farm with rural barn down a pastoral lane owned by Judy Powers. Texas has Round Top, Massachusetts has Brimfield, and Central California has Remnants of the Past every October and April.
And its all because Judy followed her heart and did what she does best! I was there when she started talking about making Remnants a reality. She had the courage to do it.
The next show is October 10. In addition to the regulars, there are going to be some amazing women there – including April Cornell. It’s well worth the trip.
One of the realities of life is that we never know what is around the bend. Sometimes it takes great courage to deal face what we are handed. Like many women, I bought into a lot of the myths of motherhood. If I did things the “right way”, I would be fine and my children would be healthy and happy. Twenty-one years ago today, I gave birth to my first child, a boy named Brendan Patrick. Fairytales seemed to lie ahead with this little angel baby in my arms.
The one gift I wanted him to receive from me was self-confidence and a love of himself. What I didn’t know was that just because I did all the things a “good mother” does, there were no guarantees. I won’t go into the details because my cross is no heavier that anyone else’s. It’s how I dealt with it that is the point of this post. But it had to do with family health battles, and a rotten disease – Crohns.
I let worry and angst take me over. Without realizing it, I stopped nurturing myself and my own soul. I depleted any emotional reserves I had in the bank and fell hard and fast into an emotional breakdown prefaced by a panic attack. I nearly took my family down with me when I went.
I have built a career on talking to other women about the importance of nurturing themselves, taking time to creatively express themselves and inspiring them with articles and books. But, I myself had lost the balance and instead focussed on many things I could not control. Because I didn’t honor the signs my heart, soul and body were trying to give me. Because I didn’t stop to listen to, the deciding was done for me. I was knocked flat out, physically and emotionally.
It was time to enter into a period of deep introspection, circle the family wagons, and make some changes. I developed a Wellness Plan. A component of it is to nurture my creative side, and get back to walking my talk. That has put me back in my craft studio. And back to writing. I was writing for everyone else, but not for me.
I think that is why I particularly enjoyed the Blogging for Bliss blog tour party that launched yesterday. I got to look into the creative souls of many wonderful women. Some of whom I am sure have had similar experiences to mine. (And then there are those better-balanced women who know that you don’t let up on the things that nurture you when the going gets rough.)
Happily, the Birthday Boy is doing very well after a wonderful wilderness therapy program. Our daughter is serving as a junior counselor at a camp for young people with Crohn’s Disease, where she is sharing her story that while you may walk in the valley at times, the illness is manageable and life moves on. And so do I. Wiser than before, back at the keyboard and putting in time with my jumbled array of ribbons, papers, buttons, baubles and other craft supplies.
Whatever you do, don’t stop creating!
Today is a long awaited day. It marks the full orchestra, get-dressed-up-in-your-ball-gown, debut of Blogging for Bliss by Tara Frey. The party hostess is Kari Ramston from Artsy Mama. Thanks for having us Kari.
The Red Lips 4 Courage team produced this book with Tara, and we have been waiting for months to see this unfold!
I blog for bliss because I love to share stories and connect creative women. I used to love sitting down to write the editor’s letter for each issue of Romantic Homes. Since starting my own little boutique book making venture, I have spent most of my time working on other people’s writing. I miss those days of personal connection, and the blog is giving me that chance once again. It feeds my soul.
Personally, I find myself getting drawn into intensive time-suck sessions because I become bound and determined to figure out much of the formatting and CSS I can do myself. What is it about that? I’m like a primal cave woman on the prowl for the thrill of the kill. I’ll troll the web for hours for tips and solutions, and will try tweaks over and over to try to get things just right. I have a long way to go to be in the leagues of the women who are included in the book. But there is a certain unexplainable pleasure that comes from learning something new everyday.
The business camp I live in tells me WordPress is the true blog religion. But I manage a beautiful blog for a friend in Blogger, and find it a joy to work on. I have another little startup blog in the works on TypePad, so soon, I’ll be confused by all three platforms! A true Unitarian of blogdom.
I Blog for Bliss because of the connections it brings to creative kindred spirits and amazing women I would not have otherwise met.. I am a DYI kind of gal, so I spend far more time than I care to admit on the prep and code. But in the end, just like a project from my craft room, I love sitting back and enjoying knowing I did it myself! And I like to think it takes courage to venture into new realms, so its about that too…
Tara cheers to you and to all women who accepted the invitation to be a part of Blogging for Bliss!
I have TWO copies of the book to giveaway. Just leave me a comment and I will use Tara’s random number generator to determine the winners. I’ll post the lucky ducks over the weekend. No need to write a long post, but I’d love anything you’d like to share.