Fear Is The Killer of Love

Fear is the killer of love. I’ve known this for a long time, although staying open to love without fear feels like playing the goalie in a game of ice hockey without any protective gear.

The same is true in business. I’ve been working very hard to bring Ocean SF to fruition. I’ve invested my time, money and heart. Along the way, I’ve tapped some of the best players from my past and have put together a remarkable team.  

We are making some beautiful things, not just for our product line, but from an environmental and socially responsible standpoint, we truly are building something very unique, and creating value not simply in what we produce and sell, but in driving our vision for environmentally conscious businesses in general. 

Our sustainable mission and love for the ocean is part of  everything we do and represent. It is the reason why we do what we do. 

Now that we are long past the point of no return, I am aware of my fear of letting go and allowing the changes that are necessary for a business to thrive and grow. 

A direction must be chosen and committed to, and faith and trust in the unknown is no longer simply an ideal, but a necessity. 

Yesterday, I had back to back meetings, I am hiring people to lay the financial future of the company, as we get in position to take money from investors. Andrew and I can no longer alone, do all of the work required, in every aspect of the business. 

To grow the business we need help, and this means trusting other people, committing to a course and executing regardless of our reservations. We understand that we can endlessly weigh the consequences of each decision, but ultimately we must decide, and each decision at this point, has enormous potential to influence our success and future.

During my morning meeting, as I was listening to my financial adviser talk about venture capital, I was nervously tipping the legs of my chair. My mother always warned me that one day, I would break the chair, but it’s a bad habit of mine, that I’ve not been able to break. Predictably, the chair gave way, and I literally fell onto the floor.  This is not something I’ll soon forget. 

I was unharmed, but afterward, I spent time contemplating the significance of this event. 

In the end, I decided to be fearless. I’ll stay calm, make wise choices, trust myself, and other people. I will remain open to change and be willing to take the risks inherent in moving toward my goals and dreams. This is of course, an evolution of sorts, to find my courage and consistently and confidently act on it. 

Sometimes, our fear is what hurts us the most.  

Lesson learned. 

Love and blessings to all. 

Ojai & Lemon Groves

My Meyer Lemon Tree, Moraga, California
When I was younger, I spent a good deal of time in the Ojai Valley, just outside of Santa Barbara, California. My college boyfriend was from there, and I dreamed of living, one day among the lemon groves. 

My lemon grove dreams were shattered when my then boyfriend cheated on me while I was representing Switzerland at Model United Nations in Sacramento. It’s no accident that this was the country I would represent. I abhor conflict of any kind, I’m protective of myself, and I’ve been known to be unforgiving. So, after the cheating incident, the college boyfriend and I were done for good.

I spent a few vacations in Santa Barbara with my late husband and children when they were very small, and later we spent a week at the beautiful Ojai Valley Resort & Spa one Spring Break.

During these visits, the idea that I could someday retire to a place like this, where I would have a lemon grove, a white farm house, and a clothes line was born. 

As I go through the stresses of my daily life, I think about this farm house, and the simple life I will one day have. 

When I wake up in the middle of the night and the list of things that I have to do the next day to chase my current dreams, and secure venture capital for Ocean SF, consumes me with anxiety, I am comforted in knowing that whatever happens between now, and my days in the lemon grove, really don’t matter.  

Someday, I will be there, or somewhere like that, and all of this will feel like a dream.

Until then, I will never give up and I will never back down. I will continue to live in the present, outside my comfort zone, not knowing exactly what will happen next, but knowing it will all be good.

Love and blessings.

The Past, the Recent Past & the Future 

San Francisco Bay

I’ve spent a great deal of time mapping out the events of the past. For a long time, I wanted to find the exact point in time, even the exact moment, when things took a turn for the worst, as if I personally could go back in time, and reverse the damage to create a better outcome. 

Well, there is no exact moment to find, and if I could find it, I couldn’t do anything about it, as that is now the past, so I’ve reconciled myself to taking the gifts of those moments with me as I move into my future, and leaving the rest behind. 

As much as I wanted to separate myself from the past, for the last few months there has been an echo, and it made me feel like nothing I did could ever truly erase the memories, both good and bad of what went before.  Now, I can even feel that fading, as my new life takes shape and my hopes, dreams and plans begin to materialize. As I become much more interested and invested in the future, even the recent past becomes a series of events not worth holding onto, or paying attention to.

Recently, I’ve forced myself to slow down. I sleep more, and I’m genuinely conscious of my own well being, and need to rest. I know I will need my strength as our company Ocean SF takes off and the demands placed on my time and energy increase.

This is that quiet place between the future and the past, or the calm before the storm.

Love and blessings. 

Preparation & Determination

San Francisco Bay
Over the weekend, I was on the Race Committee for the Express 37 Nationals. 

I started doing Race Committee when my friend, Tom Nemeth volunteered me last summer for the Santa Cruz 27 Nationals, and it’s proven addictive. 

I’ve crewed a few races, but prefer the vantage point and perspective, of the Race Committee boat. I love to see firsthand the passion and dermination exhibited by each crew and boat as they compete. 

The Race Committee boat is typically comfortable and well stocked, and the company excellent. There is plenty of time to socialize, and I am typically surrounded by past Commadores and sailors with much experience and many crossings, and the stories to match.

My job is usually to check in the sailboats before each race, because of this I am able to learn their names and can identify each one at a distance by the color of the boat and sails.  

The sailboats come sometimes just feet from the Race Committee boat, and their skill in maneuvering such a large craft with so many variables and people elegantly balanced on deck is just short of miraculous. It’s evident that it’s taken years of training and experience on the water to be able to do this. The tacticians who compete at this level are highly skilled. Being comparatively new to sailing, it took some getting used to, but now I am relaxed and confident as the boats glide inches from our boat and each other as they check in, and get in the most advantageous position for the start of each race. 

We were on a Nordic Tug boat, which alone was a novelty, the races however, were exciting, and unpredictable with several false starts and a few postponements. There were several upsets, and everyone was surprised when our BYC home boat, Stewball failed to win race 6, however, the competition was fierce, and a wonderful time was had by all as the winds were perfect for a yacht race. 

Expeditious, and skipper Bartz Schneider, of San Francisco Yacht Club, won the regatta, but it was very close.

I was happy to see several more women sailors then usual, and I made a few new friends, and deepened ties with the people I already knew. 

As I sat on the upper deck in the sunshine watching the sailboats come in, I realized, I am living the future I had so desperately wished and planned for these many months with the same spirit of preparation and determination. 

Love and blessings to all. 

Purpose, Passion & The Express 37 Nationals

Race 5, Express 37 Nationals

Finding your purpose is no easy task. Often, people ask me how I found my passion for making Sailing Apparel, or even just sailing in general, and I have to say, it wasn’t easy. 

I always knew I was a writer, this was not something I needed to become, it’s what I’ve  always been. I was told throughout high school and college how gifted I was in this area, but I’m very outgoing, so I could never imagine myself sitting alone and just writing. And also, I loved fashion, and I absolutely love to paint. 

Once, when I was still raising my family, a close friend of mine asked, “What are you going to do next? you have such varied talents.” It was true, having many interests, and choosing one was a major challenge that held me back for a long time. 

When I was in high school, I painted a photograph from an ad in Vogue Magazine. At the time, I had many offers to model, and I did model often, but I wanted to prove my intellect instead, so this line of work didn’t interest me at all. But, I adored Vogue and had a magazine subscription. It influenced me so much, that I wore Joy perfume, and a Cartier watch for many years. 

Recently, I pulled out this painting to show my daughter, and I left it sitting on an easel in my dining room. During a strategy meeting at my home, for Ocean SF, I was sitting across from this painting, and thought – all of this makes perfect sense. My love of fashion, and the outdoors, combined with my marketing background, and my writing ability; all of these go together and have placed me here. 

I always wanted to sail. I started in Portland on the Willamette River in my very early 20’s, then I moved to SF, where I would drive across the Bridges and wish I could be on one of the beautiful sail boats below, but I fell in love with a golfer, and we did that instead. 

As my family grew, I remembered this dream, and when I had more time, I fit a class into my busy schedule. I can’t say that I knew right away, the first days I was very sea sick, but I followed the bread crumbs of joy, and didn’t give up.

Today, I have a boat in slip 212 at Berkeley Marina, and the Berkeley Yacht Club is my second home. I’m on Race Committee, which means I hoist the flags, when the whistle blows, to start the Yacht races. 

Now, it all feels pretty obvious, I’ll design clothes, and write every morning, I’ll paint when I have the time, and I’ll sail and ski. It’s amazing it took so long to see this.

I can’t tell you how lucky I feel. 

Find the thing you love that makes your heart pound, and do that. 

Love and blessings to all. 

Masks & Unusual Friendships 

Berkeley Yacht Club, Berkeley, California
As a wife and mother living in an affluent community, I wore many masks. This isn’t something I realized, or thought about at the time. I sought only to be appropriate in each situation. PTA mask, play group mask, country club mask, and so on. 

There were places, naturally, where I was my true self, most notably while hiking or skiing in Tahoe, but often I was filling the expectations of my role as a wife and mother.

Two years ago, I started sailing.  This was an antidote to my addiction to the outdoors, and spending time in the mountains, or more importantly in nature after my children no longer wished to leave their friends for weekends or holidays in Truckee. I understood this, and sought other outdoor activities that were closer to home. For a while I thought it could be horses, and I took riding lessons, but this didn’t give me the same sense of freedom. Then I found sailing.

Sailing has given me everything I could have ever asked for. No mask required, sailing is simply a merit based sport. No one cares what you look like, where you live, how old you are, the most important thing is the common love of the sea. This passion unites the most unusual of  companions and creates unconventional friendships.

Last night, I was at  the Yacht Club, surrounded by friends looking out onto the Bay.  My friend, and I sat with a globe, and he explained to me how the winds move around the world.  And, I was enthralled. That’s all I can say. Enthralled.

Love and blessings to all. 

Happy All The Time 

Oakland Children’s Hospital

One day after I got home from taking my daughter to college, my younger daughter called me from soccer practice, and told me she had to go to the Emergency Room. She had collided with another player, heard her knee pop and snap, and asked that I come immediately to the Mustang field in Danville to get her. 

As I am calm in these situations, my friend and I packed up dinner for her, and five hours later we were relieved to find no broken bones. She has a high pain tolerance, and calmly sat in the ER waiting room, eating a plate of salmon, salad and couscous. Because of this, and other reasons, I honestly thought she would be fine. However, subsequent trips to the Pediatrician, the Orthopedist, and MRI facilities at Children’s Hospital proved otherwise. 

Torn miniscus, severed ACL, two surgeries, four months on crutches, nine month recovery. And just like that it was over. Twelve years of soccer practice, games, and tryouts. 

Will she ever play again? We don’t know. It’s hard to imagine her not playing, but it will, of course, be up to her. I will support any decision she makes.

It’s taken a little while to see the silver lining on this one. 

Yet, we’ve had a good bit of fun lying in bed watching movies, she plays all her favorite songs for me, and makes me watch funny videos on Instagram. 

Of course, I’m waiting on her, making her favorite food, and hovering over her like she’s two years old again. Just like grade school, I make her lunch and drive her to school and then, I pick her up again.  

We horse around in all the waiting rooms of the doctor visits. We laugh. We take funny videos of ourselves and send them to Paris in LA, she teaches me to use Snapchat, and I become an expert at this. 

Now, Siena’s friends are at my house because Siena can no longer walk. I’m home again, and have long stretches of time to work, or rest. The hectic pace of the last year has been replaced with a calm and tranquil slowness. She will eventually heal. She has an amazing surgeon, and all will be well.

Happiness is a choice. You have to choose it and you have to fight for it.

Love and blessings to all. 

The Evolution Is Now 


Dear Friends,

Please join me in launching our company OCEAN SF. Our signature jacket is not just a product, but an evolution. This jacket replaces your current mid layer polyester fleece with a warm, sustainable, all natural technical garment that will be the last mid layer jacket you will ever buy.  

Every time a polyester fleece jacket is washed up to 250,000 plastic microfibers shed into our water system. Much of this does not get filtered by municipal water utilities and ends up in both the ocean and even our drinking water!  

OCEAN SF is a performance sailing apparel company, and is focused on using natural fibers, especially Merino Wool, and state of the art fabric milling technologies to create adventure gear with a higher calling. Their real aim is to stop the plastic pollution that comes from clothing, and they are holding no bars.

For centuries sailors have looked to wool to keep them warm even when they get wet. Now OCEAN SF has combined the material benefits of wool with state-of-the-art fabric milling technologies. Our textiles themselves are very sophisticated. We’ve been able to weave and knit multiple textures into a single piece of cloth. The interior side is meant to trap air between the garment and user’s skin to keep them warm, the outside is meant to be a bit more rugged and resilient.

We believe that our jackets couldn’t come at a better time because it has recently been determined that the standard “polyester fleece” jacket pollutes up to 250,000 plastic microfibers into our water system every time it is washed. Recent studies conclude that not only does the deep ocean contain a great deal of plastic microfiber pollution BUT ALSO that 94% of tested drinking water in the US contains plastic microfibers. We’re literally drinking our plastic clothes. We believe that natural fibers, especially our high-performance, highly technical merino wool garments can make a huge difference in the quest to shift this paradigm. We aim to prove the performance of merino wool, and in so doing we hope to catalyze a major shift away from polyester garments.

Join us in sharing our vision of wearing natural fabrics in a natural world. We currently have our cotton T-shirts and signature jackets for sale on our website at OCEAN SF.

Our signature jacket:

Custom Milled Luxurious Merino Wool

  • Made in California
  • Superior Design
  • Beautiful Fit

“My Ocean SF jacket is the only jacket I ever wear. It’s warm, comfortable and I love the long zippered sleeves!” – Tom Dryja, Sailing Instructor, OCSC, Berkeley, CA 

Our wool fabric is being milled now, and we will start sewing soon. Quantities are limited, so order now at OCEAN SF for delivery in late 2017.

Thank you to everyone for your love and support as we have built and launched this company. We look forward to bringing you beautiful, sustainable, and the most loved adventure clothing in the world.

Love and Blessings to all.

Sydney 

Sydney Ann Chaney-Thomas

Girls & Body Image

My daughter Paris has been wicked smart since birth, but her writing is where she really shines.

She has given me permission to share this draft of a paper she’s writing for a class called, Body Image and the Media.  Her writing on this topic is stunning, and she has some interesting insight into body image in the big state of Texas.  

Good Body

by Paris Thomas

PREFACE

Growing up in an affluent neighborhood of the Bay Area, standards about beauty, intelligence, and success were always suffocating. When I was six years old, my parents gave me a Stanford University sweatshirt and told me that this was the school they knew I would get into and end up at because I was always bright as a kid. This was the beginning of feeling pressure to fill shoes that maybe weren’t going to fit me.

I remember being in middle school and seeing all of the older girls wearing the Victoria’s Secret, teen brand, PINK, yoga pants tucked into their rolled down chestnut uggs. I remember thinking, I cannot wait to be in eighth grade and to look so grown up and cool in my rolled down uggs. This was the first time I ever thought about emulating someone and dressing in a way that was not really me.

When I was younger, I was always a lot more mature than the kids my age, and prefered to sit and talk with the adults at any given outing. As high school started, there was more pressure to fit in with the other kids and to be like them. So, I started to change my mindset about pretty much everything. I found that it was “important” to dumb yourself down, to be quiet, and to look a certain way. My freshman year I was playing volleyball and a big part of the sport was developing strong leg muscles and a solid core. I always had a smaller, tighter stomach, but my legs were always way too big in my opinion. I remember the 2014 December issue of the Victoria Secret catalogue arriving through the mail slot at my house. I remember flipping through the pages and seeing Candice Swanepoel appearing over and over again. She was incrediby fit, blonde, and had a radiant smile. I always thought, wow I want to look like this. That Christmas break I started trying to slim my legs down and would do intensive workouts, log my meals, and constantly look in the mirror for hopes of immediate results.

This was the beginning of my body image dysphoria, and even today I think my legs are too big and that I could afford to eat better, look better, and work harder. Still to this day I think my mom is disappointed that I am not at Stanford University. But what has changed is that I really am incredibly happy with myself and the love and support that I have in my life. I am thrilled that I feel healthy and good about myself. And in all truthfulness, I really love the way that I look– well, most days at least.

When I got out there and started talking to some of my peers and my family members about the way they see themselves, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much my self love has grown as I reflected on myself through talking to them. As women, society and media has created a pressure for us females of all ages to pit themselves against each other. It has put a focus on always being better, always finding someone who is more attractive, or more thin, or more smart. It has created a false sense of perfection, when in fact, perfection simply does not exist. It is something we, in my opinion, as women have created to push ourselves to be “better.” What girls and women need to realize is that the only better we need to be, is better about our health– not just our bodies but our minds. It no longer should be about looking a certain way, but rather feeling a certain way.

JADE

18 YEAR OLD MODEL AND PHOTOGRAPHER

Ten years ago, my whole life was flipped upside down and changed drastically, so drastically that at the time I could not even comprehend the everlasting effects it would have on my life. I was born and raised in a small suburban town in the L.A. area. My family once consisted of a mom, a dad, and two children. We were happy for a long time, until suddenly we were not so happy anymore.

First my parents split up. Then my brother became very angry at the world. And finally,  I began to doubt myself as the walls around me began to crumble as my sense of love and security diminished. This was the beginning of never feeling good enough. It started with my older brother always making comments about what I was putting on my plate or in my bowl. He would say to me, “are you really going to eat that ice cream Jade. Are you really?” My eight year old self would stare at the ice cream, my eyes burning so hot with welling tears, until eventually it would melt. Shortly after the ice cream melted away, I melted away too. I became cautious about everything from then on, and when I was not conscious of a certain aspect of my appearance or what I was serving myself up with, my brother was sure to make a note of it.

I know today that he did not mean to hurt me or harm my image of myself, I know that he was just angry at our parents and at the world, but some scars never heal, like the one on my leg. From then on, as I got older I started to notice the other girls around me. Some of them were prettier than me, and even the ones who were not, I always saw in a better light than I did myself because of how lowly my self esteem had become. Hannah, one of my best friends, was tan, pretty, skinny, blue eyed. She was the ideal “American girl” and I always felt lesser than her because of my ivory complexion and my body image issues that had derived from the constant verbal attacks at home. Of course my mother always tried to counteract the attacks, but this did very little, for as they say, once the paper is crumpled, there is no uncrumpling it. The damage had been done.

One thing my brother never taunted me about was my stomach, and thank god for that because today that is my most favorite part of myself. I love my flat, toned tummy, and my tiny belly button. Though it is just one part of a whole, my confidence in my stomach has led to an overall confidence. A few years ago I got into modeling. You see, modeling is tricky because you feel self conscious, you feel your insecurities being zoomed in on by the camera. It is all consuming. My legs have always been an insecurity of mine, because as a model you are expected to be toned and fit in today’s day and age. Although I have long and thin legs, I always feel that they could be stronger and more defined. But as my modeling pursuit intensified, I decided to get behind the lense for once, and here is where I really fell in love.

I fell in love with taking pictures of beautiful young women and capturing the beauty in their “flaws.” The greatest thing about photography, should it be a picture taken of me or of another, are the raw moments. I think there is nothing more beautiful than a naked face and no compliment more appreciated than being told I look stunning without makeup on. In my industry, I have learned that it is so important to not just lead a healthy physical life style, but to create a healthy mentality. I have changed my mindset about the way I look to myself and about how others will perceive me. But most importantly, I have surrounded myself with people who help me to stay mentally healthy and encourage me to have good habits, and to view myself in the most beautiful and feminine way.

 

BRITANY

23 YEAR OLD TEXAS BEAUTY QUEEN

Let me tell y’all a little about our mighty fine, great state of Texas. Here in Texas, we go big or we go home. And when I say big, I mean BIG. Our crops are bigger, our meat is bigger, our muscles are bigger, and our breasts are damn bigger. If you don’t have big breasts, then honey I suggest you go find the finest plastic surgeon in your area and you get that shit taken care of. Because here in Texas, the only things we like small are our women’s waists, legs, noses, and feet. Now, when I was in high school, I was a real stick. I had great legs, a great ass, and the cutest damn face y’all ever saw. But my breasts, not so great. All the girls would snicker at me in the halls, and the boys sure made a point of calling me queen of the “itty bitty titty committee.” So for my sixteenth birthday, I had my mama call Dr. Sloan, the best plastic surgeon in all of Texas. He does wonders on breasts, especially young girls breasts.

In eighth grade, my friends and I would go to tanning booths for fun, because here in Texas you have got to be as orange as the logo for UT Austin. We would go to the mall on Sundays and stop by the teeth whitening booths, where they bleached our teeth until they were as shiny as the pearls we would wear to our formal dances– here in Texas we are still pretty traditional with our Southern Charm. After we whitened our teeth we would head over to Victoria’s Secret where we stole hundreds of dollars worth of bomb shells to make our unful breasts look plump. As y’all probably know, appearance is important, but it’s all about the real deal and what you can feel. That’s why after my appointment with Dr. Sloan, all the boys wanted to get a little grab in, and I sure as hell let them. My new, bigger and better, breasts were the greatest thing since the birth of Christ for me. And if you know anything about the South, and how we feel about our lord and savior ,Jesus Christ, then y’all must know how amazing my new boobs were for me– they truly were the second coming.

Shortly after my boob job, when the attention started to filter away from them, people began to notice my fingers, which I had always been insecure about because fat fingers run in my family, I started going to my mama’s nail salon where I would walk out feeling like a real beauty queen, but of course that feeling of acceptance filtered away as the polish started to chip days later. Like my busty new breasts, the feeling of confidence always left and then I was left still feeling bad about myself.

The next thing I got teased for were my hips. Even though I was always skinny, because I liked to run, which probably accounted for my lack of breasts, all the girls who were rail thin made fun of me for having busty hips. Today, everyone wants hips and the nice ass that’s supposed to come with them, but back then, it was a sin to have curves. To try and make myself appear smaller, I would skip lunch everyday to try to fit in with the anorexic skinny girls, and this made me feel better for a long time, because I loved the feeling of seeing the changes my body was making. I wasn’t patient and I didn’t want to wait for the long term results that came from getting older, or working out, or things like that. Like I said, in Texas, y’all go big or you go home. There is no waiting around, patience is nothing more than a social construct. In Texas, you make sure you get what you want, no matter how bad it may hurt.

TYRA

19 YEAR OLD DANCER

I began dancing when I was three years old, but it was not until I was thirteen that it became more than a hobby and I started to really take the art seriously. The thing about dance, is that it is an incredible amount of pressure on the body. Yes, physically it pushes and challenges your body, but it is more of a mental pressure. Have you ever looked up pictures of professional ballerinas on the internet? Well, if you have then you know that all of these woman are the most muscular stick figures you have ever seen in your life. To make it in ballet, you have to be powerful, but more importantly you have to be thin. Very thin. At eleven years old, my best friend and I began something of an anorexic tag team in which we pushed each other not to eat with hopes of becoming thin enough to be professional dancers. Like I said, in dance you have to be incredibly small and this does not create a healthy mind set, especially for young girls.

When I was going through this toxic phase of my career, I had a friend named Jaya. She too was a dancer, but the difference between the two of us was that she was much skinnier than I was. I thrived to look the way that she did, but I never seemed to be successful and this only deepened my anorexia and drive to be thin. My condition never got to the point of needing to be hospitalized but it did get to the stage where I was at the lowest mental point I have ever been.

My freshman year I become very depressed, as this was the peak of my disease. I found myself incredibly sad all of the time, and I had been so focused on being skinny for dance that I had isolated myself from my friends and felt entirely alone. They say there is a dark side to dance, like the Black Swan, but no one really knows how dark it can get until they experience it. Some days at ballet, when we would do bar work and I had to see myself in the mirror, I would have soft, silent tears rolling down my cheeks because of how upset I was about the way I appeared. It was not until my sophomore year of high school that I was finally able to get healthy again and learn how to be happy with what I had when I looked in the mirror.

Today, I am healthy. I am extremely confident in the way that I look. I have learned that my body is mine and I have to take care of it in order to be successful at the one thing I love the most in the world: dance. Although it has not been a smooth path getting to the place that I am in my career, dance is the one thing that makes me feel good and happy in my own skin. When I step into the studio now, there is no judgment towards myself or towards others. I have found a happy medium in which I have learned that eating right and dancing regularly makes me feel good inside and out. It makes me feel confident when I watch myself dance in the mirror. I love my body, from my eyebrows on my face to my ass on my backside. Today, I feel good. Today, I am the best I have ever been at dance. I have learned to love myself, to trust myself, and to embrace each new day. No longer do I worry about being the thinnest dancer in the room. Rarely do I look at my friends and feel envy. I do not look in the mirror and hate myself anymore. Of course there are days that I feel I may relapse, but then I look at myself and know that I am beautiful. I am strong. I am healthy. And most importantly, I am alive.

 

 

Aligning Passion With Vision

Me and sailing instructor Tom Dryja

Even though, I teach business marketing to graduate students, this is not that sort of post. After my husband died, I desperately searched for anything and everything that could bring me peace and happiness.

I’ve seen it before, family members who use alcohol to sooth painful feelings. I’m not going to lie. I drank a fair amount of gin, however, what I found to be the best antidote to pain, by far, is devotion to, and engagement in, meaningful work.

For example; I love writing this blog. It’s allowed me the use of talents I had developed over many years of writing as a business analyst, technical writer, marketing director, communications manager, and more.

Yes, writing is a passion. But, work must have a broader meaning and purpose to provide happiness.

Over 30,000 people read my blog now. I do no advertising or promotion. I have readers from all over the world, including places like Nigeria, Malta, New Caledonia, and so on, in a total of 64 countries.

This isn’t something I expected when I wrote my first post on grief in August of 2016. But, as I began, and discovered how much it helped me, while helping other people in such an unexpected myriad of ways, I continued.  Now, it is simply part of my life’s work, like making sailing clothes, or raising children.

When I was little, I always knew I would be a writer, I started writing in a journal daily at 12. It’s a passion, but how to align a passion with the vision we have for our life?

I could not write a novel like my late husband asked me to. I could tap out an interesting short story and that was all.

For work, I could write detailed memos, user guides, any type of collateral, training programs, press releases, systems manuals, marketing updates, business articles, and later website pages and electronic newsletters.

When I worked in the Financial District of San Francisco, in my twenties, that was my passion. I loved my expensive wool suits, silk blouses, and heels. I loved living in the city and kicking around all the interesting neighborhoods on the weekends.

Later, working South of Market Street, for several start ups was my passion. I wore black Mary Jane flats, and flared jeans, and smoked cigarettes in the ally with the French founders from Google.

I didn’t find this work particularly meaningful, but it paid well.

After years of consulting work, and raising children, I craved action. I no longer wished to sit behind a desk, no matter how lucrative. I like to ski, or hike winding trails, or more recently sail.

Two years ago, I was out sailing with my sailing instructor, Tom Dryja, and Andrew Lacenere. I had just met Andrew, so Tom mentioned that Andrew was a clothing designer.  I remember this moment, in the same way, we remember all important events, and after Andrew explained his vision to me, I told him I would help him.

Today, apart from writing this blog, there is nothing I enjoy more than making clothes with Andrew, and our pattern maker, Emma Garrison.

It’s been a slow process, but I’ve been able to align my passion for writing, with my passion for quality clothing, with my passion for the outdoors, and create my vision of a meaningful life.

It’s not something I could have planned, and I often wonder how it will all turn out, but, I do know, it will turn out well in the end, because I truly love what I’m doing. And, I wouldn’t have missed one single moment of any of it.

Love and blessings to all.

Andrew & Tom on the J105, San Francisco Bay
Lara, Tom & Andrew