Deeply & With Care

My close friends can attest to the fact that I am often hired for positions in which I am spectacularly unqualified.  When I was just out of college, I went from a temporary assignment as a Kelly Girl, answering phones and typing memos for a Senior Vice President, to a Systems Analyst.  Of course, I was rewriting all of the memos and then writing reports and what not, but mostly I was networking, if you want to call sharing an addiction networking, while smoking on the 13th floor patio of Bank of America Corporate on Market Street in San Francisco. Because of this, I was able to find out anything I needed to know about banking, and what I could do to move my projects forward.

Because of my attachment to my Dunhill cigarettes which I acquired while traveling through Europe one summer, I was friends with people from the mail room on up.  I had access to everyone from legal council to forms management.  I didn’t have to schedule meetings to find out if engineering could fix the glitch in our secondary marketing amortized loan amount calculation.   So, I went from a temp to a Director of Marketing in under five years.   As I climbed the corporate ladder I would often tell myself that I needed to go into things deeply and with care.

And because of this silent motto I learned the finite details of my positions, I concentrated on my responsibilities both large and small, and I worked very hard to not disappoint the many people who believed in me and had given me a chance to succeed.

As I embark on building a clothing line, I am reminded of this simple motto as I set up bank accounts, the LLC, apply for brand trademarks, and handle what will be the financials.  I am learning as I go, of course, but I do so with great care.

Today, I am meeting with my new accountant.  Her name is Joy.  I think this is a wonderful omen.  As much as I don’t love this part of the process, I am excited to begin again, and to once more, go into things, deeply and with care.

 

 

 

Love & The Westsider Book Store NYC

On the trip home from New York, I read the novel, The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, cover to cover, with my fifteen year old daughter asleep in my lap.

It had the enticing themes of love that never ends, and death. Traveling east to west into the darkness, New York disappeared below, the sun set in a fiery spectacle, and I turned on the overhead light and read for six hours.  I bought the book at the suggestion of my Manhatten hostess Kerry, at Westsider Rare & Used  Books.  She was surprised I’d not read it, and as it is in the top 100 best novels ever written, I was too.  It’s odd I’d missed it, as an avid reader, I had thought I’d read most of the best literature of my time.  How had I missed such a spectacular love story?

The story is about love and hatred. And as the Buddhist monk at the Fire Lotus Temple spoke of; darkness and light, and how these two are to be held together, not separately, but accepted as a whole. Like day and night. Yin and Yang. Love is the same.

The novel notes the many synchronicities and coincidences inherent in love. Noting remarkably license plates. Love never truly ends, regardless of everything, even if you no longer see one another, people may die, but love, it continues forward.

After we had dated for a year, I left my husband for 18 months to care for my dying mother.  When I told him I was leaving, he asked if this was an ultimatum, and he said if it was that he would gladly marry me. Sadly, that was not the case, and I moved from San Francisco to Salem, Oregon.  Although, we dated other people, my husband called me every night before I went to sleep, for eighteen months.

Eventually, he wrote me the twelve page letter asking me to marry him in earnest, which included this beautiful poem.

The One Most heavily Weighed

by Tracy Alan Thomas

Looking back upon my life at the mistakes I’ve made,

It’s clear beyond a shadow of doubt the one most heavily weighed.

Once you gave your heart to me to cherish and to keep,

But somehow this treasure slipped away and now lies buried deep.

Soon I pray you’ll find the strength to show me you still care,

And save me from a life alone I know I could not bare.

If only I were a wiser man I’d find a way I know,

To cast a spell on our lost love and rekindle the ember’s glow.

In a life without your moonlit beauty I know I’ll never see,

But half the man I always dreamed that I might someday be.

 

Everything New York Was Not


I’ve not been to New York since 911, but after everything I’ve been through, I found it very soft, polite and tender, maybe it is because I expected harshness only to find tenderness, that I am surprised. New York has been everything I thought it would not be.

We arrived to bitter cold and wind. My friends, due to happy circumstances, live in a gorgeous apartment in Manhatton on Riverside Drive and have a stunning view of the Hudson River. What a blessing to be welcomed to New York City by old friends, Lisa and I met at the University of Vienna as students when I was twenty years old. We ironically, toured the Belvedere Museum in Vienna together where “The Woman In Gold” by Gustave Klimt was then housed. Since then, it has been returned to its rightful owner, and is now in the Neue Gallery in New York, and we were blessed to go there together, with my daughter Siena no less, and see it again. If you have not done so, please see the movie of the same name. 

I’m here with Siena to promote Ocean SF for fashion week, and to celebrate her upcoming 16th birthday.  NYC was where she wished to go. Many friends remember me taking Paris to Paris for her 16th. Surprisingly, Siena opted to miss Italy, for New York.

We’ve had a blessed six days of sweetness here. We have moved easily around the city meeting people everywhere. We took a cab to the Empire State Building and found no lines. We stopped for dinner at Nicola’s off of Lexington and 5th and met a half dozen people who showered us with advise and help.  I have never met more friendly people. 

Then, the unthinkable happened, the temperature went from 32 degrees to 60. On Sunday, we got up early, 4 am on the West coast, and went to the Zen Center of New York. The service was stunning. I’m still contemplating how the darkness and lightness of the world are our own foot steps while walking, one step darkness then the next light. Darkness and light. Siena and I meditated together for 35 minutes in complete stillness, counting each breath.  After, we walked to DUMBO and had pizza beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. We took the ferry back to Manhatten, then a bus, then the subway, then a cab to our doorstep. City life. Life. 

My daughter Siena is that rare and beautiful traveler. She goes with the flow, and is a lovely guest, and companion. How she is just fifteen I do not know. She has an ageless and timeless spirit.  


Thank you to our dear friends Lisa and Kerry for such a magical week. 

Tenderness


I write often about fear, and with good reason.  By 29 I had lost both my parents, had grown up with no grandparents, and now my husband, who promised me the moon in a twelve page letter asking me to marry him, has left me with two teenagers to raise alone.  

When I was in college I wrote out a quote by Machiavelli that stated, “Do not allow your heart to be hardened by the harsh practices of men,” and I took this statement completely to heart.  And no matter what happened throughout my life, I would not let it change me. I didn’t want my innocence stolen. I didn’t want to lose my sweetness, and at times retaining my innocence was a very rebellious act.  

My mother would tell me to toughen up. I had no intention of toughening up, and now I quite consciously remove myself from the company of those where being tough or thick skinned is a requirement. 

It has been my personal defiance in this aspect of my life that has allowed me to remain patient and kind in the face of so much adversity.  Although, I can be fierce when necessary, I absolutely will not allow anything or anyone to take from me my hopeful view of the world.

Sitting in mass at Santa Maria on Sunday morning, the priest talked about the intentions of our heart, he said it’s not what we do, but the intention we hold in our heart that matters most. And he talked about swearing, and as my close friends know, I love to swear. 

So, I am giving that up now, because I wish to be tender. I would like for my words to reflect my intentions, and that is of tenderness.

Intuition, Fear & Following Your Heart

In August, I held two ideas closely in my mind. One, of pure fear and the other, of peace.  I was scared as hell, but had a complete sense of certainty that I would be fine, and so would my children. 

I have to admit this was a very difficult place to be.  Holding these two contradicting forces in my mind was extremely draining giving me many sleepless nights as I struggled to make the wisest and most practical decisions. 

My fear was pushing me in one direction and my heart in the other.   As each terrifying day brought more unforeseen problems, I began to feel that the safe path was not necessarily the safest route. 

And then there was the fact that if my husband could die without warning, at his desk on a random Monday, then truly anything could happen anytime, to anyone. 

I could finally understand why after my own father died, when I was nine years old, my mother sold everything and moved into a rented duplex in Salem, Oregon for four years.  I knew how that story ended, and that being safe isn’t the same thing as being secure. 

I came to a point where I had to trust my intuition or my fear. So, by the end of the summer, with the encouragement of some very smart people, I committed myself to building Ocean SF with Andrew, staying in my Moraga home, keeping my second home in Tahoe, and skiing with my daughters. 

Last week, my business partner and I had several important meetings for Ocean SF. We are fortunate to have experienced advisors, Craig Nomura, who took Gap into Asia, Seth Freeman of EM Capital, and Mike Hession, a senior level operations executive with a string of success stories. We are nearing launch for Ocean SF and it is going better than I could have dreamed possible. 

As the days progress,  I realize life is like a moving train that doesn’t stop at the station and give you time to collect your belongings.  You have to jump on board with your screaming baby or be left behind. 

The Rain & First Time Last Time

We hit the 6th month mark on January 25th. Sadly, it fell in the middle of a cold and stormy winter.  

Northern California has had many years of drought, so our winters are typically sunny and warm. This one, however, has been heavy with clouds giving it a Gotham City like feel.  The rain and wind at night invade my dreams and in the grey morning my girls beg me to let them miss school, and stay in their warm beds.  Normally, I find the rain beautiful and nourishing, but this year it has only added to the underlying gloom. 

When I came home this afternoon my daughter Paris ran out of the house to my car, she asked, if we could get coffee. Even though, I had a million things to do, I said yes, because I won’t have this luxury next year. This could be the last time our days align enough for us to have these few unexpected moments. 

What a luxury to have her sitting across from me in Pete’s. She’s at the age where she glows with health and vitality. She is quite literally a ray of sunshine.

She’s making decisions about college and this brings with it many firsts for her as she does the research this effort requires, sorts through acceptance letters, and scholarship offers, and weighs the merits of each campus. But, this period is also marked by the last home soccer game of Siena’s, her last NCL meeting, her last Spring break, and so on…

As we hit the 6th month mark, I noticed that it’s harder now than in the beginning, the reality has set in, and every mile stone puts us further along our path, but further away from the life we had when my children had a father.

I was at the Moraga Country Club this week with my Ocean SF advisers, I remember joining this club 15 years ago, and how excited we were, and all the fun we had, and the many life long friends we made there.  It feels like a dream now. To be so carefree, sitting under an umbrella, with my girlfriends watching the kids swim all summer long, summer after summer. What a luxury.

But that is the past, and I feel like a seed planted in the darkness, and in someways I am enjoying this time because I know that we are all germinating and the sun will come out again, and everything will look completely different 6 months from now.  

This rainy sad winter will someday too be a memory. And I will remember the nourishing rain that came down as we slept. 

Success, Discouragement & Incubating a Business 

Photos for Ocean SF have finally come out to rave reviews, now we are racing to get our web store up, raise money and go into full production mode. 

However, I would like to address how we unwittingly discourage others dreams. 

Having started other businesses, and written books, I knew that it was a good idea to keep this idea to myself as much as possible.

Not that friends and family aren’t helpful, they try to be, but unwittingly say things that are harmful, and to employ an over used sailing metaphor, they can take the wind out of ones sails. 

Only other entrepreneurs know the grit and determination it takes to keep going when your dream is deemed whimsical and unrealistic. The same mindset believes taking a train into the city and working 12 hours a day for an unpredictable and tyrannical manager is somehow more sane.

Having won five prestigious awards for my work in marketing and consistently performing over plan and in one case 600% over plan, I thought maybe I should use my skills, knowledge and talent and build the company and corporate community that I want to be a part of. Environmentally concerned, sustainable and invested in the community it serves. 

I’m also craving a supportive culture where the talents, contributions and dedication of the collective are honored and supported, where people are not thoughtlessly used and disguarded.  

My business partner Andrew is young and hopeful still. It’s inspiring to spend time with someone who is open minded and brilliant. He has already taught me so much about sailing, the ocean and sustainability. He spends most of his spare time reading, he lives on a boat after all, so his knowledge is extensive and varied. Spending time with him is always enlightening and honestly bloody refreshing. 

And so we really begin, and as a  creative person, this type of work is thrilling, and I look forward to the long days and nights ahead.  Using Coco Channel’s atelier as a model, I can’t wait to have a place to work where I’m able to watch as my garments are sewn. 

If a dream is not whimsical and unrealistic it wouldn’t be worth dreaming.  I am also inspired by the quote below and have it taped to my white board in my office.

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough”

                                          -Muhammad Ali