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In late May I received a call from my friend Cara. "We're calling your from REI. Wanna backpack the Appalachian Trail with me and Lorrie next month?" My response was silence. Not what Cara expected from her most-likely-to-be-hiking friend. I'd backpacked -- once. Up Half Dome in Yosemite. It was hard. very hard. I wouldn't call it fun. That was one night. They were proposing 4 nights and 5 days. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE hiking. It's where and when I feel the most sane but hauling everything you need to live changes the experience entirely. That much I did know. After unsuccessfully trying to convince the sisters to opt for camping + day hiking I relented, and against my better judgement and my husband's warning ("What are you nuts? You hated it. You swore you'd never backpack again.") I bought a plane ticket. It was arranged. They would drive from Texas and meet me at my aunt's house outside of Atlanta. We would hike the southern most part of the A.T.
Lorrie was the mastermind. She sent us itineraries, packing lists and links to various sites to purchase hiking poles and the like. I assumed she had done this before. It wasn't until we were on the trail that I learned this would be her first time backpacking and that I with my 1 night some almost 10 years ago was the most experienced. shudder.
In preparation I hiked our local trails slowing adding weight to my pack. 10lbs. -- no problem. I could even still keep up with my Saturday hiking group (they have a reputation for being ruthlessly fast). As the pack got heavier my fear grew stronger. I am not sure I can do this! When the pack fully loaded weigted close to 40lbs, I may have cried. I can't do this! I scaled everything down. Only the bare minimum. One long sleeve shirt, one short sleeve shirt, one pair of pants, etc. I was ruthless. Lorrie would bring the stove and water purifier, Cara the tent, and me the food. I purchased the 5-day meal combo. It weighted 10lbs! With water, food, sleeping bag, clothes, etc. I got my pack down to 35lbs and I boarded United flight 1446 SFO to ATL (via Chicago). It took 20 hours - but that's a whole other story.
Before departing I watched this video.
At minute 3:29: "In our avoidance of discomfort, we may become more uncomfortable." That struck a cord with me and echoed through my head. . .
"The more you need to be comfortable, the more likely you are to be uncomfortable." Nowhere is this more easily experienced than when you are backpacking. However, the more I have considered this more I have come to believe that this is not just trail wisdom. It's much, much bigger than that.
"The more you need to be happy. The more likely you are to be unhappy."
More what? Money, fame, friends, sales, likes on facebook, comments on your blog, shoes, fine wine, fancy cars, bigger house, new clothes, remolded kitchen, praise, vacation time -- the list is endless.
The trail strips everything away. You are down to basics: water, food, shelter. Your most important possessions are your feet and knees. Wants are simple. Basic. Then you return. Back to reality and hot showers, fresh vegetables, a bed. They take on a more sacred role. It's easy to fall into wants disguised as needs. Our culture and economy is based on this. . . but for now (and hopefully always) . . .
The trail lesson continues to ring in my head. Happy is here. NOW. :)
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.
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?
In late March I had the pleasure of speaking in Madison, Wisconsin. I had never been to Madison before and I was blown away by how lovely the city is. I thought I would share some of my favorite things about Madison:
The PEOPLE! Here are two of the three people responsible for bringing me to Madison. On the left is Misty Lohrentz, Community Events Coordinator, Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center and on the right is Carolyn Kallenborn, artist, filmmaker and professor at University of Madison, Wisconsin. (Not picture is the super talented and busy Jennifer Angus.)
Owners (and sisters) of my favorite store in Madison, Anthology (store front photo below). I am not a shopper at heart so the fact that I bought 2 things there is truly noteworthy. (An organic cotton t-shirt and a hair clip. My next post is going to be all about the hair clip!) I honestly liked just about everything in their store. They are super cute and thoughtful with what they select for their store.
Cool photo taken my husband in the Museum of Contemporary Art. The Museum is FREE. We checked out the Houdini exhibition while we were there and also had a snack at the roof top restaurant. Additionally, there was a FREE movie that night at the Museum in one of the downstairs rooms. The movie was:
If a Tree Falls. I highly recommend it. Warning: it is pretty heavy.
One of the highlights of the trip was seeing the home my mother grew up in. Here it is! Next time I get to Madison I am going to bring my mother with me! I definitely want to go back. We saw a lot but there are still plenty of things we didn't have time to experience.
Thanks Madison! We'll be back.
Last week I flew to the Carolinas to visit my warehouse and to be there for the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) inspection. As you may have read in this post, Harmony Art has applied for GOTS certification through OneCert.
Above is a picture of our fabric stored at our warehouse in Starr, South Carolina. We have been using the same warehouse for several years now and it has been wonderful. Peggy (who handles shipping my rolls) is a real gem! The shipments are tracked and shipped in a timely and thoughtful manner. I feel incredibly happy to have them on the Harmony Art team.
Karlin was the certifier from OneCert who met us at the warehouse. The inspection took 3.5 hours. I knew Peggy and Michael kept a clean and well organized system so I was not at all surprised when in the exit interview under the section: Inspection Observations and Issues of Concern Karlin wrote, "Facility found to be very clean and records were organized and easy to trace. No issues of concern."
What happens now? Well, it's a bit of a waiting game. Karlin will submit her report and someone else at OneCert will review it for approval. I am told this process will take 2-3 weeks. My fingers are crossed that we will be able to start the new year with Harmony Art being officially GOTS certified. Stay tuned. I promise to keep you posted.
NOTE: If you are in need of a good warehouse in the south, feel free to contact me. They still have room for a few more customers and as you can guess I would highly recommend them!
In Studio City there is a house - not just any ordinary house but one that has been remodeled to take advantage of existing green technology. Last year I had the pleasure of visiting the Zenergy house and meeting the inspiring owners.
Their mission: to help homeowners recognize what truly determines a green home and to provide a roadmap for creating thier own ZENERGY HOUSE. You can get a virtual tour by clicking this link. The web site is full of useful tools and tips.
We were thrilled when they asked to use our Evelyn organic sateen in their sitting room. What have you done to "green" your home?
Sus and I plan to attend the opening of Ann Savageau's project: Bags Across the Globe.
"Bags Across the Globe is an interactive project that has reached out to friends and strangers across the globe, in an effort to bring attention to the environmental damage caused by plastic shopping bags and textile waste, and to promote the use of reusable cloth bags."
The main event is Sunday, January 23rd at the University of California, Davis campus. The lecture by Design Professor Savageau is from 1:30 to 2:30 at Art Annex followed by the opening reception at the Design Museum to 3:30 PM.
Ann is a good friend and this is a project she has been working on since 2008. I am very excited to see the show and hear Ann speak about the project. If you are in the area, I highly recommend you come. Also in attendance will be Harmony Art's own former intern Carol Shu, another power-house to keep an eye on.
Looking forward to seeing some of you there!
PS HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARY SUE! Thanks for all the love and support.
I spent last weekend in Nashville with the Green Bag Lady (aka Teresa). Teresa knows I don't sew so instead of helping sew the Green Bag Lady bags, she put me to work matching handles with bags. It was SOOOO much fun! I loved it. Here's an action shot of me being the "handler".
While going through the bags I came across this bag (below) made out of Bagette Dad's old pants and fell in love with it! The pockets are still intact - perfect for cell phone, nano, etc. The loops allow me to accessorize my bag with a belt to match my outfit. After begging and pleading (not really) Teresa let me keep the "pants bag". Here's a picture of me with the original owner of the pants. Goofy? Yes! Fun? Absolutely!
On Saturday afternoon we had a Bagette brunch and I got to meet some of the women who bring the Green Bag Lady project to life. They are as lovely and kind and generous and talented as you would imagine. What a great weekend! Thank you Bagettes for making me feel so welcome. xoxo harmony
I will be speaking at Belmont University in Nashville on October 29th at 10am. All are welcome. The title of the talk is "The Journey is the Prize" and it will be about how Harmony Art organic design came to life - from seed to selvage.
While in Nashville, I will be connecting with my good friend The Green Bag Lady who has created a grass-roots movement to help rid the world of single-use plastic bags. I will FINALLY get to meet the wonderful Bagettes who help Teresa (aka The Green Bag Lady) bring this project to life. I can't wait!!!
I will also be meeting for the first time (in person) Rebecca, another woman whose selfless generosity inspires me and whose mission I am personally supportive of. Here's a bit about what Rebecca is involved with:
"TASSC's (Torture Abolition and Survivors Coalition) new Healing Threads Project strives to assist Survivors of torture as they begin or continue their new lives. Many of them have come from countries with corrupt governments that use the torture of ordinary citizens as a means of quieting an entire nation. Some Survivors speak little English when they arrive here. Others are fluent and held high ranking, well-respected positions, such as doctors, accountants, professors, human rights leaders, business leaders, in their home countries. Regardless of where they came from, they find themselves in uncharted territory, away from family and friends. Often times they have absolutely nothing, but they had no choice to leave. They had been captured and tortured and feared they would not survive if they stayed. Sometimes it was for simply having some information, other times it was due to peacefully marching against human rights violations, and then other times it was simply for the government to prove the point that they have the power. The organization of TASSC in Washington D.C. is able to offer them the support they need, whether it be legal, medical, shelter, clothing, support. Now, TASSC is pleased to be able to offer a special program, The Healing Threads Project. By teaching the Survivors to sew or giving them the tools and resources to continue their skills, Survivors are able to focus on the task of creation of art as an expression of their soul. It has been amazing to see the peace and joy these Survivors express when they are working with a crochet hook and yarn or a needle and thread.
If you would like to help the Healing Threads Project, please email Rebecca, a TASSC volunteer. Donations of fabric, yard, and notions are greatly appreciated."
If you know of any other "Nashville Women who Rock" please comment about them on this post. Hope to Meet you in Nashville!
A couple of weeks ago I attended a lecture at the Gualala Arts Center given by Karma Singye Dorji titled Bhutan: Kingdom on the Cusp of Change with images by photographer and artist, Jeanne Gadol. I loved finding out that in Bhutan the most common greeting (like our hello/goodbye) is So Kuzuzangpola which means may your body and spirit by in balance. Imagine having that reminder told to you several times a day. Bhutan also monitors GNH (not GNP) which is the Gross National Happiness. Obviously the Buddhist roots in this country are strong.
I just liked that and wanted to share it with you. While I am on the topic of things I like, here's a link to a recent article in my favorite business magazine, Fast Company, about Walmart and Swedish clothing giant H&M launching pilot sustainability efforts at major textile mills in China.
Founder of Harmony Art organic design.