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We've all heard the following statements over and over and over again. . .
That's nice and all, but what no one talks about or teaches you is HOW to love yourself. What does that mean?? I use to think it was spa days, pedicures, and saying "no" -- ya know, putting yourself first. It always sounded over indulgent and selfish. Over the last few years I have been trying (sometimes desperately) to define and then live from a space of loving myself. It has not been easy. There is a reason the word "practice" often follows the word spiritual.
What I think* I have learned:
1. Loving Yourself is more about what you feed your head than anything else. If you really listen to yourself talk is it kind? To you? To others?
*Truth is I am not 100% sure of anything. I tend to try things on and then test them. They either fit or they don't. If they don't I discard. If they ring true after testing I usually enlist a few friends to test them too and report back. Feel free to report back by commenting in this blog post.
My brother, Christian, and his wife Wendy, have two children - Emma and Matthew (affectionately called Mattman). My husband and I moved to our current location in Gualala, CA in 2001. Shortly thereafter, Emma and Mattman would come up for visits and spend weeks with us in the summer hiking, going to the beach, exploring and enjoying the remote, rugged beauty of northern California and also attending Summer Art Camp. I love them both SO very much. Some of you may have read about Christian's passing in my recent blog post. Losing my oldest brother has been difficult . . . to put it mildly. What must it be like to lose your dad when you are still a teenager?
I am doing my best to support them but I honestly don't really know how. They are both coping in their own way. Mattman is back in college in Illinois. Emma, well... let me let her tell you:
My name is Emma Herman. I’m currently a senior at Northgate high school in Walnut Creek, CA. I lost my dad about two months ago. I’m on my own road to recovery and I find that the best coping methods for me are talking to other teens that are in my same situation. I regularly attend a teen support group and I’ve recently become very passionate about adolescents getting the support and help they need. That’s when I found Comfort Zone Camp. It’s a non-profit organization that provides a free camp to children, ages 7-17, who have experienced the loss of a parent, sibling, or primary caregiver. The camp includes programs and support groups that help children cope with their grief and heal. They hold camps year-round across the US. They continue to provide free camps because of all the generous donations and support from donors.
I asked Emma when she was going to Comfort Zone Camp. She told me, "No I can't make it to the camp because it's in the LA area and not at a good time which is why I've chosen to do what I can to support them even though I can't participate."
WOW. She is that kind of kid. I am so proud and honored to be her aunt. She (and Mattman) have both taught me so much. . .
So needless to say, I am reaching out to some of my customers/friends and asking for contributions for this healing project. So far the following companies have not only stepped up and offered donations but have sent their kind wishes and comfort as well:
If you would like to donate, let me know and I can put you in touch with Emma. And yes, we will be selling raffle tickets at a later date. So, if you feel inspired to help this ambitious, thoughtful, caring, determined 17 year old that would be lovely and we'd really appreciate it! Stay tuned for more details and THANK YOU. You have once again proven to me that indeed I HAVE THE BEST CUSTOMERS IN THE WORLD!
Did you catch Emma is wearing a purple shirt and jeans in both pictures?!
Did you know that Redwood trees drop 1/3 of their foliage every year? At my home/studio it is raining redwood leaves. I love this time of year. What is no longer useful has been identified and now when the wind blows just strong enough the leaves will be released and fall to the ground.
I feel totally in sync with the rhythm of the trees this year. I recently moved my office and found myself letting go of many things. Shedding the need to hold on and instead rejoicing in the release. I feel lighter. Clearing the way for the winter and turning my focus inward, preparing for the next growth spurt I know will happen come springtime.
Is letting go easy for you? For me it depends on many things but at the moment I am taking a lesson from my wise friends (the Redwood trees) around me and celebrating the Autumn Equinox. What are you ready to let go of?
This month Harmony Art is celebrating it's 8th birthday! It's hard to believe it has been 8 years already. WOW! All I can say is THANK YOU to everyone - friends, family, customers, neighbors, retailers, sewers, lecture attendants, quilters, guilds, certifiers, warehouse staff, printers, colleagues, dyers, farmers, etc.! I couldn't have done it without each and every one of you. What a joy it is to be involved with something I believe in and care about.
I probably say it at least once a week but it's true, I HAVE THE BEST CUSTOMERS in the world! Thanks for your commitment, dedication, feedback and orders. YOU make Harmony Art what it is. Cheers to the year ahead!
Big LOVE and GRATITUDE - harmony
Tomorrow my husband leaves for Russia. He will be gone for 2 weeks. In the 20+ years we have been together this will be the longest and furthest we have been apart.
He is going to Russia as part of the Fort Ross/Kashaya Expedition marking the 200th anniversary of the 1st Russian settlement in the continental USA - which just happens to be in our neck of the woods. Sus (hubby) will be traveling with 24 other people to St. Petersburg, Moscow and Tot'ma (the home town of the founder of Fort Ross). As the executive director of the Gualala Art Center, Sus is representing our local art community and traveling with some descents of the "first artists" of the area. Part of the reason for this trip is for the Kashaya (native American Pomo tribe) to see and identify artifacts and artwork that was taken back to Russia when the fort was disbanded - over 150 years ago. They will be touring museums, meeting with dignitaries, participating in a parade, and doing home stays while in Tot'ma.
He was trying to figure out what gifts he should bring with him. The idea of tote bags came up and immediate we thought of the Green Bag Lady. We called Teresa and she sent us some Silent Stumps Sateen bags as well as some other solid bags that we could screen print the Gualala Arts logo on. Teresa ROCKS! In less than a week we had the screen printed bags. Tomorrow they make they voyage overseas.
I can't tell you how happy these bags make me! The trilogy of Green Bag Lady + Gualala Arts + Harmony Art = BIG LOVE.
I hope the Russians like (and use) them and I hope Sus gets home safely with lots of good stories to share.
When I was a little girl I had a blue blankie. It went everywhere with me. Eventually it disintegrated and had to be thrown out. It was a sad day in my life.
A few months ago my dear friend Teresa (aka The Green Bag Lady) sent me a VERY special gift that she and her "Bagettes" made for me. When Teresa was visiting a while back we came across some dresses and skirts from my childhood that I still had! I gave them to Teresa for her youngest daughter to wear. When she out grew them Teresa couldn't bring herself to donate my 30+ year old clothes to Goodwill so she and the Bagettes transformed them into a quilt for me. I had NO idea they were doing this. Imagine my surprise and delight when I opened the package and found this thoughtful, one-of-a-kind, re-recycled gift! I was speechless, touched, thrilled! Teresa even incorporated a hood for me so I could wear it while I worked. When we renewed our vows on Bowling Ball Beach, I wore it. When we took a road trip to LA in June, I took it and wore it. I basically am 5 years old with a blankie again. . . and lovin' it! THANK YOU TERESA and THE BAGETTES! I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
A couple of months ago we did a printing experiment with a USA printer. We used existing screens (Sweet Jane & Let it Grow) and printed them in new colorways. We printed on organic white jersey, natural sateen, natural flannel and natural denim. I posted the colorways on our facebook page and got feedback from from our fans to determine which colors we printed. We offered special wholesale pricing to our existing customers if they pre-ordered a roll before production. By knowing the demand before printing we were able to do some exciting and custom production runs. (Example: One new company wanted denim so we put a special roll of denim in for them.)
So, was the experiment a success? Yes. There are still kinks to get worked out and we learned several things along the way (like don't trust the printers estimate of the pallet's weight - they under estimated it by half!) but all in all I think it was a positive experience.
HUGE thanks goes out to all the pre-orderers! YOU made it possible. I welcome any and all feedback you may have from your perspective. Would you pre-order again? Did you like the quality of the printing? I'd like to hear from YOU!
If we do another, I am leaning towards: Sweet Jane (original pink), Ohio (maybe in new colors) or Uncomplicated (maybe in new colors). Uncomplicated is a large scale floral.
To give you and idea of scale of Uncomplicated, you can see it in use as our studio curtain. It was originally printed on twill but I am thinking maybe sateen this time around.
NOTE: This USA printer is NOT GOTS certified. Which is not ideal but if we decide the relationship is working, and we bring them enough business, then we can then start putting some real pressure on them to make the GOTS commitment.
A couple of weeks ago, we were in southern California. We visited the City of Los Angeles Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant & Japanese Tea Gardens. I kid you not, you look one direction and see this:
You look the other direction and see this:
From their web site: "The Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant (DCTWRP), was designed to produce reclaimed water that will meet the requirements of the California Department of Health Services and the County Health Department for specific uses with the priority to protect public health. The main function of the plant, however, is to relieve the overburdened portions of the wastewater collection system between the San Fernando Valley and the City's main wastewater treatment facility, the Hyperion Treatment Plant, located in Playa Del Rey.
The balance of positive and negative forces, Yin & Yang, are ever present here. Obvious in the skillful blending of traditional Japanese landscaping with modern Occidental architecture, less so in the way the Japanese concept of "WA" or harmony is used to unite the desires of the human spirit with our more mundane requirements—the exquisite beauty of a Japanese garden with the need for an abundant supply of fresh water."
Pretty cool, don't you think?
For years I have wondered why is it that we require that infant and children sleepwear be treated with flame retardants. It has puzzled and perplexed me that to avoid a rare occasion of a burning house fire we would subject every child to the slow release of known toxic chemicals. Save a few by poisoning everyone? It made no sense.
Well, now I know. The Chicago Tribune Watchdog report recently came out with a 4 part series on Flame Retardants. FINALLY, my questions have been answered. Sadly the answers are pretty infuriating. I HIGHLY recommend taking the time to read this entire 4 part series. But in a nut shell, here's the rub:
PART 1: Dr. David Heimbach, a burn expert was paid for his testimony in front of the California state Senate on a bill that could have reduced the use of flame retardant chemicals in furniture. He testified about treating children with burns. Problem is the dramatic stories are lies. He made them up:
"Records show there was no dangerous pillow or candle fire. The baby he described didn't exist.
Neither did the 9-week-old patient who Heimbach told California legislators died in a candle fire in 2009. Nor did the 6-week-old patient who he told Alaska lawmakers was fatally burned in her crib in 2010.
Heimbach is not just a prominent burn doctor. He is a star witness for the manufacturers of flame retardants."
PART 2: How and why did we start adding fire retardants to furniture and other items? It can be traced back to cigarette companies. Yep. Cigarettes were starting fires and instead of addressing the problem at the cigarette level they decided to shift focus to furniture and blame it. Cigarette companies targeted fire departments around the country and began funneling money and influence to get the firefighter community to support their agenda.
"The fire marshals organization continued promoting flame retardant products even after it was clear that the chemicals inside were escaping, settling in dust and winding up in the bodies of babies and adults worldwide.
The marshals continued even after flame retardants were linked to cancer, neurological deficits, developmental problems and impaired fertility."
If that weren't infuriating enough . . .
"The marshals just last year helped defeat a crucial bill in California that would have reduced flame retardants in products nationwide. The association's president at the time wrote a letter opposing the legislation. A lobbyist for the Citizens for Fire Safety Institute, a front group for the largest makers of flame retardants, read excerpts of the letter at the hearing where the bill was voted down.
And who remains a financial sponsor of the fire marshals, with its logo on the group's home page?
Chemtura, one of the world's largest producers of flame retardants."
PART 3: The science is grossly flawed. The statistics use to promote chemicals being put in everything from couches, to electronics, to children's sleepwear is based on manipulated and distorted science. Science that claims it is safe and effective.
"The main basis for these broad claims? A report so obscure it is available only in Swedish.
When the Tribune obtained a copy and translated it, the report revealed that many of industry's wide-ranging claims can be traced to information regarding just eight TV fires in western Stockholm more than 15 years ago."
To add insult to injury, the author of the most often used report says this:
"Vytenis Babrauskas says chemical manufacturers have "grossly distorted" his research to promote their fire retardants. The amount of chemicals in household furniture is often enough to pose health threats but not enough to stem fires; "the worst of both possible worlds," he says. (Kevin P. Casey, For Chicago Tribune / April 6, 2012)"
PART 4: Toxic roulette. They keep coming out with better/safer fire retardant chemicals but are they really safe? The latest "safe" chemical is Firemaster 550. The chemical makers claim it is safe, but is it?
"Documents obtained by the Tribune show that scientists within the agency were deeply skeptical about the safety of Firemaster 550, predicting that its chemical ingredients would escape into the environment and break down into byproducts that would pose lasting health hazards.
The manufacturer's own health studies, obtained by the Tribune, add to that troubling picture. They found that exposing rats to high doses of Firemaster 550 can lower birth weight, alter female genitalia and cause skeletal malformations such as fused ribs and vertebrae."
Sigh. Double sigh. Greed is a strange thing. At least I no longer have to wonder why we have such nonsensical laws. Now I just wonder how the people who work and promote such known toxic chemicals sleep at night. I am extra grateful today that my life's work is something that helps rather than hurts people and planet.
I fell in love with these simple little button hair clips when I saw them at Anthology in Madison, WI. I purchased one at their store and then tracked down the maker, dainty daisies and contracted her to make me my own set of Harmony Art organic cotton button hair clips. I sent her swatches of the fabric to use and this is what came back!
Aren't they lovely! They came packed in this sweet little box.
Michelle normally uses scraps from the clothing she creates to make these button clips but she made an exception for me. (THANK YOU!) I'd call that upcycling - turning a scrap into a colorful hair clip.
Dainty daisies has a brick and mortar location of their own in Appleton, Wisconsin. They also have a blog you might like to check out.
I just love all the crafty, creative, beautiful women & mother entrepreneurs. Three cheers for small independent designers!
Founder of Harmony Art organic design.