Love Is the Most Powerful Force

Love can move mountains. As a mother, I know that this is most certainly true, and that it is the most powerful force of all. It motivates my every motion from dawn until dusk.

I’ve been working an insane amount of hours. This morning I was up at 5 a.m. to meet my Ocean SF Business partner before I started my side hustle on Treasure Island at 8:30 a.m. I’m falling in love with my co-workers and the entire business of making some of the most beautiful liquor in the world. The environment is fun, lively, and completely inspires me as an entrepreneur.

I’ve met some amazingly beautiful people and have enjoyed every moment. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t be doing it, but at the same time it’s helping me so much in understanding how to manufacture high quality products. The process is so similar to the clothing industry where there are entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs (more on this complex ecosystem later).

In addition, I’m given a nice amount of product, which if whiskey is your thing is good, but for me I’ve given most of it away, as I am a wine drinker. I’ve been offered a bottle of the premium brand of rum that was just bottled, and all I can think to do with it is to pour it over ice cream served with whipped cream and caramels. The entire building smelled like vanilla, spices, and sugars when it was bottled the other day. I will eventually serve this dish with coffee and warm cognac at a future dinner party.

As I drive over the bridge every morning toward San Francisco I weigh my options. My mind is as unsettled as the water below me, but someday the water will be calm and the path will be obvious. From experience, I know that after the path is chosen, no matter how difficult the choice, it will bring positive changes and move my life in a forward trajectory.

You would not believe how long it took me to form that last sentence, though not easily conveyed, the sentiment behind it is true. Some decisions are more difficult than others as they come with twists and turns and must be taken at the onset purely on faith.

Everything I do now is for my children and it is because of this intention that I know everything will be fine.

I look forward to the day when my life is settled, happy and predictable, but until then I will enjoy maintaining a beautiful home for my children, spending time with the people I love, and driving to magical Treasure Island.

Love is a powerful force and it both guides and protects me on my journey.

Love and blessings to all.

Gifts & Love

When I was in second grade a little boy gave me his mother’s diamond necklace on Valentines Day. It had a 14k Gold flower shaped pendant with a diamond in the center. My mother made me return it, but this began many years of school Valentines Day boxes stuffed with loving endearments from not just boys, but everyone.

In fifth grade, a little boy gave me weekly presents; things like decorative glass dogs, 45 inch records, and freshly minted dollar bills. On school field trips at Pringle Elementary, there were awkward moments on the bus when I would be bestowed small gifts from the gift shop. At school carnivals, I would go home with more than my fair share of baked goods from the cake walk.

It was always this way.

There are other types of gifts as well. From my mother I was given my dark hair and green eyes, my poise and grace. From my father my sense of adventure, my dignity, and a love for animals and peaceful landscapes full of fruit trees and horses.

More recently, I’m thankful for the gift of my children and the pure love they have for me that continues to grow with each passing day.

As I travel along this path, I clearly see every day as a gift. I wake up and think this day is perfectly made and look forward to what it has to offer. I drive to the city now and love watching the light on the water as I drive over the bridge in the early morning. Today, the sun illuminated the city, but the water was still and shrouded in purple clouds.

My eventful days come with new friends and a variety of opportunities. It is only choosing the right path out of so many options that is now the most difficult.

It’s been a gift to work with other entrepreneurs as they travel their similar but unique paths. I’m enjoying my time with the Canadian Whiskey makers and helping them produce their beautiful product knowing how arduous their work is.

I am up early working on my own product and come back to it again each evening. I will never give up on Ocean SF and I am fielding emails and calls throughout the day as I can, but it is nice to take a break and give my support to something new.

I’ve even found a tiny sliver of time to see friends that I love this week, as I work so much I’ve had little time for drinks and dinner with them. I am grateful for their patience and the gift of these never ending friendships.

At night I write my gratitude list and then I close my eyes and fall asleep. In the morning, I read them again, and start my day. Never in a million years would I have dreamed that I would have this blessed and beautiful of a life, but I do.

Love and blessings.

Goddess of Fortune & The Next Chapter

Recently, I’ve been concerned with being very ethical in all that I do and allowing God to work through me. I pray every morning and ask God simply to help me become a more beautiful person. I remember doing this as a student in Corvallis when I was very young. God blessed me then with wonderful friends, amazing instructors, and guided me to study abroad in London which was a transformative experience. I feel that I am going through a similar chapter of my life. I’m working hard and trying to stay on the right path and have perfect faith that everything will work out as it should.

I’ve been working on a team that produces a product called Gold Bar. When I was hired they gave me a bottle and I’ve been fascinated by it. It sits on my desk and I study it. I wouldn’t dare open it as it is so beautiful. On the front is a bronze coin with the image of the Goddess of Fortune. It’s fitting for me that the label says “May her light reveal your fortunes path” as I’m always referring to my path.

Last week I drove the Canadian whiskey maker around. We sat in the sunshine and drank coffee. He’ very soft spoken. This is in direct contrast to the rest of the team who are amazingly fun, hardworking, and kind making the entire experience magical and unforgettable.

Gold Bar is an award winning luxury brand of small batch whiskey. They’ve won awards for not just their whiskey, but their stunning packaging that is done mostly by hand. By doing this job I’ve learned so much about producing something beautiful and what it takes to make that happen. Helping other entrepreneurs through the same process I just went through in Los Angeles has been eerily coincidental, but it has given me great insight into how to make my next production run for Ocean SF smoother and less stressful for all concerned.

It’s taken a while, but I feel like I’ve finally turned the page and I am wholeheartedly enjoying this new chapter of my life.

Love and blessings to all.

The Side Hustle

At a recent investor pitch meeting, the speaker mentioned her side hustle. I hadn’t heard this term before, but every entrepreneur from Henry Ford to Steve Jobs had a side hustle on their way to success. Later at the reception I found many entrepreneurs have side hustles. These are typically wildly different from the main hustle.

As the English say, “a change is as good as a rest.”

On my way home I thought about this a great deal as I’ve many expensive and frustrating experiences with my main hustle (Ocean SF). I felt intuitively that I needed to stop what I was doing and find a side hustle. I needed a change of scenery and I needed new people in my life. And I wanted that right away.

The next day, I started looking for a side gig. I spend a lot of time behind a computer, so I needed something where I could meet new people and not have to sit at a desk. I saw an advertisement for the family run Treasure Island Festival and applied. Later, I learned my boss picked only two names out of a list of hundreds. Four days later I was on Treasure Island with my new boss surrounded by amazing food, music and art.

I enjoy young people and am used to them from my ski instructor and sailing experiences, but nothing could have prepared me for what lay ahead. I met so many artist and entrepreneurs and was offered half a dozen other jobs. As it turns out I was good at directing traffic and telling people what to do. I even had a two way radio.

My Treasure Island job was the most fun I’ve had in a long time, and it helped me find my second side gig which has been amazingly enjoyable as well, and has given me great insight into some of my most pressing Ocean SF production issues.

I’ve already made new friends and have a steady stream of lucrative work when I need money or a distraction from my own often stressful main hustle.

It’s important to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. Meeting new people and sharing new experiences is good for the soul.

I also think there is a little luck involved and as everyone knows, I pray every morning, and am often blessed in unusual ways. In no way has this been more true than now.

Love and blessings to all.

Attitude of Gratitude

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I can see the future I would like to have, but I still have a ways to go. Someday, I will have a calm secure life that is predictable. For example, I will not be raising teenage girls forever. There will come a time when I have socks in my drawer and my jeans will all be neatly folded on my shelf and not at my daughters friend’s house. My boots will be in my closet not under the bed in the guest room. My cars will be clean, and full of gas without dents or torn off fenders. But, most importantly I will have a hairbrush as this is one necessity that continually disappears.

I’ve been told I will miss these things and more, so I am enjoying the company of my children now and am looking toward to a shared summer together. We truly never know what the future holds, so I will keep my daughters close and share my things, and my heart, and my time.

As so many things have changed and not necessarily for the better, it’s important to be grateful for what we do have. I have a two page list of the top 8 things I’m grateful for and I try to read it everyday and then keep a daily list of small things that I am thankful for like the lilacs and roses from my garden that sit on my desk, or the penny I found yesterday with the year of my husband’s death as this reminds me that he is no longer here, but I am.

In 2014 when I started to think about my life beyond being a full time wife and mother I bought a hard bound book and started pasting in pictures of what I wanted for my future. Looking back, much of it has come to fruition. Especially, the no more boring text (above). As my life has been anything but boring for some time now.

I also have a larger vision board. These are more temporary. In January I wanted to cook more and eat healthy so my vision board was full of recipes and farm fresh produce.

All of these tools have helped me to live in gratitude for what I do have and for what is working while also envisioning the happy future I know I will one day have.

In January 2016, I had no idea how out of my comfort zone I would be. I certainly had to reinvent myself. As they say, be careful what you wish for…

Love and blessings to all.

Expect Flying Monkeys and Bad Witches

I’m an optimist. It has served me well over the course of my life and for the most part I’ve watched even the most distressing situations happily resolve. I had a rocky childhood, so I expect flying monkeys and bad witches as they go with the territory of a life well lived.

Making something out of nothing is never easy. We just got delivery of our latest production of Ocean SF signature jackets. It was a difficult six weeks full of countless obstacles. My background is in banking and technology. The garment industry is not tech. Tech is full of engineers and people who do what they say they will do. Banking is full of accountants and MBA’s and they follow very specific guidelines and procedures. The fashion industry is full of creative people who do things in their own way and on their own schedule. This was a steep learning curve for me and not one that I enjoyed. Plus, it was also ridiculously costly. I’ll write more about this in my next book on the topic of building a brand.

Fortunately, my business partner is a man of equanimity. He’s a glass half full sort of person and he has taken all of this with his typical brand of unperturbed calmness and self-confident assurance. I am on the other hand a perfectionist and stress over every stray thread on each and every jacket. I guess this is what makes a good partnership. As the designer every thing matters to me, and I want the end product to look exactly like the vision that is in my mind, and I mean exactly.

In technology it is typical to expect every shipment to be exact. If there are flaws they are fixed and the software can be downloaded again or reshipped. Clothing is a different beast.  A sewn garment can’t be un-sewn. Additionally, this is my company, not a company I am working for. As an entrepreneur it’s best to expect flying monkeys and bad witches as nothing worth doing comes easy. Our next production run is moving to San Fransisco where I can stand over the seamsters while they sew. I can’t wait.

Love and blessings to all.

Sailing, Yacht Clubs, and Race Committee

Although, in relative terms I am new to sailing, I do have my Basic Keel Boat Certification which took 40+ hours of hands on training, and I studied for and passed the American Sailing Association test for certification.

I took the test four times as I am dyslexic and I have to turn all of the problems around in my mind to get the correct answers, otherwise they are reversed and since this is a multiple choice test, therefore, incorrect. Although, in practical training I was the only student to get the man overboard back on the boat on the first try, not once, but four times in a row. Please, don’t ask me to explain how I do this, but it is very difficult.

I joined the Berkeley Yacht Club and that first summer the Race Committee. Race Committee runs and officiates the yacht races for the club. There are many flags, and a complex system of whistles and gun shots to conduct the races.

There is a lot to do on the committee boat, but it is exhilarating to be so close to the start and watch the finish. The best part, however, is working with the most amazing women sailors, who have incredible histories in the sailing world.

My business partner and I own a sailboat, or more specifically our company owns the sailboat. Solana, was lovingly restored by mostly Andrew. I want to say I helped, but I did not. I saw the potential and encouraged him, but Andrew and his friends did all the work.

We recently started racing and our Santa Cruz 27 really is as fast as they are known to be. It’s true they move through the water with agility and grace.

Recently, Andrew told me he was surprised by how good of a sailor I was. We were having drinks with my sailing instructor Tom Dryja at the time. Tom and I were surprised that he was surprised. Andrew said that he expected me to be competent, but was surprised I could steer as well as I could and that he could trust me. He was after all putting the spinnaker up at the bow during a race in a good deal of wind.

When I did my man overboard training I thought of the person overboard as my child, and I had no problem turning the ship around and pulling my baby out of the water. I think that is essentially what makes me a good sailor.

Sailing is a very intimidating sport that has an emphasis on merit as evidenced by the skill witnessed during the recent race series.

Although, I have so much to learn to become a sailor like the legendary Bobbi Tosse and her friends, I am willing to try and hope to one day race in the PacCup. Maybe I won’t win it like she did, or do it a dozen times, but someday I hope to try.

It’s been an honor to be on the Yacht Club Race Committee for the past two years. I hope for many more memorable races and the amazing people and friendships that come with it.

Love and blessings to all.

Nevertheless Joy

On most days I walk my dog Polly to the park in the late afternoon. It’s been a refuge for me during this very stressful time and allows me to decompress from my busy days. Finding a work/life balance can be the most challenging part of being an entrepreneur.

I’ve been extremely focused and because I love what I do it’s possible for me to sit for 10 hours straight writing or managing my other companies. It’s not unusual for me to work from 8-6 without a break, and then sadly to work for another few hours after dinner. It won’t last forever, but that’s what it takes to start a company and get it off the ground.

This short walk gets me outside and I am able to witness the changing seasons. There is nothing better than fresh air and exercise no matter what you’re doing, however, this is especially true in my situation.

Over the past year, I’ve dedicated myself to my clothing apparel company, my nonprofit, and I’ve written two books. I’ve been blessed to be able to work at home on projects that are close to my heart, as well as having time to mother and guide my two daughters. I am also grateful for my beautiful home and the community that surrounds me. It’s been especially fun to write my column for News 24/680. I’ve enjoyed the comments and having people stop their cars in the street to tell me how much they enjoy my articles. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that would happen.

During my walks I always see a few friends along the way. I love socializing with my neighbors, they are from varied backgrounds and have so many interesting stories and insights. Everyone has an expertise and are always helpful in sharing their knowledge and wisdom. Because of them, I need never be lonely. On Saturday nights they BBQ and everyone brings food to share. If I’m home, and am able to attend, I make a point to drop by the park and say hello. I’ve been doing this for the past 10 years. It reminds me a little of Europe where there are always locals sitting in the park playing checkers.

The other day, I was sitting on a park bench and this adorable beagle came running toward me. I picked up my phone to take his picture and before I knew it he was licking my face. I have no idea why he targeted me. It was completely random. No matter what else happens there are always unexpected blessings, and nevertheless joy.

Beagle on his way to say hello…

Love and blessings to all.

Names, Politics & Playing House

Paris is finishing her first year of college next month. She was home over the weekend because she is at the Model UN conference in San Francisco.

Over the past year she has demonstrated tremendous strength and determination. She has gone far and beyond what I would have expected and has entered into college life in a very deep and active way. She has always been a person of fine character, confident, smart and beautiful with a powerful intellect and sense of justice, but the way she has chosen to use these skills and integrate them has been stunning. She is very clear on her path, and has an amazing sense of direction for one so young. It has been interesting, to say the least, to watch her make her way in the world.

She is a political science major, a model UN delegate and a member of the student government at her college. She is definitely on her way, and the hard work, sacrifice and commitment required of motherhood is definitely paying off.

My girls and I share city themed first names, thanks to my late husband. He chose the city names and was adamant about them. When I resisted, he would offer alternatives like: Brenda, Karen or his favorite Billee-Joan, the combination of both of our mother’s names, he even threw out the name Nellie-Pearl after our grandmothers. Eventually, I acquiescenced to the city names, but for the record it was not my idea. The nameology suits us now that we don’t go everywhere together as a walking geography lesson. However, we were Siena, Paris, Sydney and Austin (Pari’s boyfriend) over the weekend as we together attended the pre-party for pictures and a dinner with friends after for Siena’s Campolindo Junior Prom.

Yesterday, I drove Paris back to the city for her conference. As she walked away, I realized she truly does have a life that I am no longer a part of. Even though, she is an adult, my love for her is never changing and she will forever be a little girl to me.

She has essentially not changed a whit since the first day of preschool when the other little girls wouldn’t let her play house with them. She told me at the time that she didn’t care because she wanted to be President of the United States instead.

She’s definitely heading in the right direction.

Love and blessings to all.

Rats, Cats & Love

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I adopted a black Burmese cat one summer when my home was over run with rats. During the drought the Norwegian Roof Rat ran rampant through my neighborhood and being on the creek our home was a major attraction. Soon a nest of them were living under our house and in the attic. Exterminators were called, measures were taken, and still they were running through the house eating out of the dog dish. I was not exactly hysterical, but as a responsible mother, I packed the kids up, and headed to our second home in Tahoe where I stayed for several weeks to avoid them.

My late husband called one day to say that they were running up and down the stairs and he couldn’t sleep. I agreed to come home and resolve the matter. I talked to the neighbors and read countless articles on rat removal. I bought giant traps and covered them with peanut butter. I caught one and I killed another with a mop one morning in my kitchen. But, there were so many more. Finally, I did what any other girl who grew up on a farm would do. I got a cat.

At the pound, we looked at 100 cats. My girls of course wanted a kitten. A kitten was no match for a 10 inch roof rat.  I noticed a black cat and he was looking right at me. The volunteer told me he was nine years old and wasn’t suitable for a family.  But, I kept coming back to him and he looked at me as if to say, “Where have you been? It’s about time.”

He was tall, thin and frail. My late husband was unimpressed. He methodically went from corner to corner in every room in the house and then hid upstairs. The cat and the rats were roughly the same size, so he had to gather his strength. However, he acted as a deterrent and rats running up and down the stairs at night became a thing of the past. The floors were scoured and I plugged all of the exits and entry points with steal wool and foam. I took the cat to the vet and put him on a nutricious diet. As time went on the cat grew stronger. One by one the rats appeared dead at the backdoor. As did bats, birds, lizards, and anything else he could get his paws on.

I’ve always been allergic to cats. I have a hypoallergenic dog that I special ordered from Roanoke, Virginia. My allergist even discouraged this as I’m also allergic to pollen, dust and any form of dander. I sneeze at the dog park when the Golden Retrievers run past me.

The cat began sleeping with me. Right next to my pillow. For whatever reason this was not a problem. Soon, all of the rats were gone without a trace. Since the black Burmese was by now eleven, I adopted a second cat as his apprentice. Dash handles the house and the small mice, or more appropriately Dash catches the mice and he and Polly our Goldendoole play with them. These are mice that look like the mice from Beatrix Potter stories. I rescue them and toss them out the front door. I often wonder if they don’t enjoy this game because they are often back the next day.

Polly and Dash

A friend of mine told me that cats just use us. We feed and pet them and they do nothing for us. What a dismal point of view. The other morning, I woke up with Paris to my right and Siena to my left, and the cat sitting squarely in the middle of my chest clutching me with both paws purring. It was a bit overwhelming to be so loved, but I took a moment to enjoy this endearing situation because I think it possibly will never happen again. I thought to myself how else can this little animal prove his love and appreciation for me? He leaves me countless rodents, purrs at my presence, and is never not happy to see me. He curls up next to me while I write like a hot water bottle. Once, I found a gorgeous finch in my handbag. Another time, I found a beautiful sparrow on the kitchen table in the space where I used to sit. This was when I did family meals in the kitchen, now we sit in the larger formal dining room where the light is beautiful, and the rose bushes are in view.

This cat is now 18 years old I think. He certainly doesn’t look it. He still looks like a kid. My vet told me Bermese live to be twenty five. I certainly hope so.

Love and Blessing to all.

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Jammy
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Jammy