Always My Baby

Paris called on Saturday morning and said she wanted to come home.  She boarded a SW flight a few hours later, and by 4 o’clock she was in my arms again. Even though, she’s eighteen now (it’s her half birthday today), she will always be my baby.  

When I pulled up she was standing curbside in a cream colored fur coat and a pair of clear orange sunglasses. Her body language and demeanor prove that she is a strong and powerful person in her own right now, and obviously no longer a baby in any sense of the word. 

I’ve watched her over the past year demonstrate tremendous strength and determination.  I wish I could say that I’ve seen major strides as she’s faced adversity, but honestly, she has always been this way.  A person of character; confident, smart and a very beautiful soul with a powerful intellect and sense of justice.

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

Hold fast to your dreams…

Love and blessings to all.

 

Teens & Drinking

My precious daughter, came home from college and she wanted a glass of wine. Then, her little sister wanted one too. As I didn’t have that much wine, I gave them each an inch.

I remember fondly my evenings in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada with my mother’s beautiful family. My uncles were much younger than my mother who was the eldest of twelve. So, at every family gathering there was always music, alcohol, friends and often a trip to the clubs downtown for more drinking.  I found myself in bars with my aunts and uncles when I was fourteen. My mother’s little brother was only ten years older than me, making him 24.

One of my favorite girlhood memories is of drinking champagne with my mother’s little sister, Ellen, when I was six. We sat on the sofa in her beautiful three story home in North Vancouver, and she gave me the tiniest aperitif glass full of pink champagne.

Refusing my eighteen year old daughter alcohol feels conservative in comparison, but there was also alcoholism in my family, and the consequences of those addictions were not as pretty as the people who had them.

I’ve never been someone who could drink very much. Days on houseboats where people drank all day were not for me. I’ve always abhorred bars, crowded places, and drunk people in general.

Now, that my daughter is in college and the holidays are coming up, I find myself in uncharted water.

Let me know your thoughts on this topic. I welcome any insight. Please comment below.

Love and blessings to all.

 

Yoga & Healing Trauma & Finding Balance. 

I went back to yoga after a several year hiatus. I started six years ago at a studio in Walnut Creek. At the time, I knew I needed more self care, and it was a start.

It was the first time in my adult life that I became aware of my body as an observer. I would watch my hands as I planked, or watch my knees and ankles to ensure my bones were perfectly aligned. I was instantly good at it. My first class was a level two and I went through the motions with ease. Those classes were an hour and a half long, and the entire process of finding parking in Walnut Creek and so on, took almost three hours, or the entire morning.

It was a commitment to myself that I quickly gave up as the demands of my family intervened that first summer, making doing anything for myself, an impossibility. People have the illusion stay-at-home-mothers have all the time in the world, but they do not. They are staffing hot lunch, or organizing the back to school cake walk, or driving carpool for the volleyball team, or having kids over after school.  Finding time for yoga was priority #25, or lower in those days. After that first winter of going regularly, I went only periodically, if at all.

Last summer, I broke my wrist, but I promised myself I would return to yogo when I had healed. This week I took my first class from Esther at Humble Yoga. With my business partner in Montreal, I had a little more time, and more flexibility.

It’s been a stressful time in my life. Some of that stress was negative, and I had to dig deep to with grace handle the demands on me, now however, those demands are mostly positive. Having to meet with large banks who are interested in my company, or going to events where I meet tech billionaires increased my blood pressure like you would not believe.

Staying up all night preparing decks was just part of it, even deciding what to wear tested my cortisol levels. As an environmentalist, I didn’t want to go buy anything new. It seemed an oxymoron to pitch a sustainable clothing company wearing a polyester dress made in China. So, I went to the consignment store and bought a vintage dress by American designer Nanette Lepore. It was not cheap either. It was black, sleeveless and beautifully tailored, perfect for the warm October day.

This particular meeting went well, but all of it landed me by the end of October deeply depleted. I did all of the things I usually do in times of stress. I carved out time to be alone, I stayed home instead of going out. I walked my dog in serene settings, I cleaned up my diet and lowered my caffeine intake, I went to church, and yet even sleeping was stressful. I would wake up and not be able to go back to sleep. Then, because I would be afraid I would wake up, and not be able to go back to sleep, I couldn’t fall asleep.

Recently, I read that yoga heals trauma. They are teaching it in prisons and it’s having an enormously positive impact. It teaches so many good things, to breath oxygen into every part of our being is not even the most beneficial aspect, it teaches awareness and the ability to control the mind body continuum. Trauma is trapped in the body and yoga, studies show, is the antidote to releasing it.

As a single mother trying to support my family, I still feel guilty taking this time out for myself. But, when Esther asked our class to think about why we were there, the dominant thought I had was to find balance. After three classes, I do feel more balanced. I also feel rested and relaxed. If I can heal the trauma of the last year or so, that would be an added bonus.

Namaste.

Love and blessings to all. 

Searching For Love

I’ve been on nine dates and all but one have asked for a second date.  It feels a little like Oregon State sorority rush, and trying to find the most compatible situation.  I remember wanting so badly to be a Kappa Kappa Gamma, but didn’t want to walk that far, plus they were next to the PIKE (Pie Kappa Alpha) house where all of the boys I went to high school pledged, so I might as well of stayed in high school.  Or, maybe it’s like job hunting, although, usually when I had a second interview, I took the job and didn’t have seven other options.

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been fund raising for Ocean SF.  And trying to raise 1M (one million dollars) in capital is no small thing, and I’ve rehearsed my pitch one thousand times, so much that in everything I do, and everywhere I go, I am in capital raising mode.

Recently, I had lunch with an investment banker, this was a romantic lunch, and he was very handsome and sweet, but I could not stop talking to him as the CEO of a company that could invest in my business.  When I say that Ocean SF is my passion, this is no understatement.

I’ve decided I need a few days to rethink all of this.

Love and blessings to all.

 

Addicted to Plastic 

Did you know that every time a polyester fleece jacket is machine washed up to 250,000 plastic microfibers are shed into our water system? These nano-particals can’t be filtered by municipal water utilities and they end up in the ocean, the fish we eat, and most importantly our drinking water. 

Our company, Ocean SF, based in Berkeley, California is putting a stop to this. As avid sailors and adventure seekers in general, we began as a performance sailing apparel company, that focused on using natural fibers, especially Merino wool, because they are warmer and more comfortable. 

As founders we can make our products out of whatever we want, but we were drawn to a new type of technical wool fabric, not because it preserved drinking water, but because it was gorgeous to look at and looked even better once we made a jacket out of it. Wool is self regulating and can be worn year round. It’s wonderful to have on when the temperatures drop and the winds picks up, which is mostly all the time on San Francisco Bay.

The first studies on water pollutants and the impact of polyester fleece came out around the same time we decided to mill our own Merino wool fabric using state of the art fabric milling technologies. We were aware that what we were doing could potentially provide a benefit to the environment. Now, with so many studies in the news, it’s apparent we are able to create sailing apparel with a much higher calling. 

Sailors have worn wool for thousands of years because of it’s unique properties that keep you warm even when the fabric gets wet. Wool, cashmere, and other natural blends, outperform synthetic materials, which dry fast, but fail to keep one warm if they get wet. 

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 body heat in, the outside is tightly woven to keep the wind out. This is not the short fiber, itchy and inexpensive wool sold in the 1970’s. 

It takes four months to create a single bolt of the fabric we use. We are one of very few companies dedicated to this, and we do it for our love of the ocean and our desire to keep our customers, ourselves, and our friends warm and comfortable while they are outside doing what they love most.  

OCEAN SF will convert the entire old world order of adventurewear polyester to our idea of the use of only natural fibers in the natural world.

The big players in the adventure apparel market now know the risks their garments pose to the natural worlds that they are supposed to help people enjoy, and to us these inconsistencies are completely disqualifying. They are addicted to plastic based fabrics because they are easy to manufacture, light weight to ship, and highly profitable to their shareholders. 

When you start wearing natural fibers in these beautiful natural places everything about the experience improves. The idea of wearing and obsorbing the chemicals used in production of a petroleum based polyester garment in contrast seems absolutely absurd. 

Wool, linen, silk and cotton feels more honest, and more pure. It’s more than obvious, they are a better choice for the outdoors. 

Shop our site for an alternative to the polyester fleece midlayer OCEANSF.CO.

 

563 Miles Away

Austin and Paris, Los Angeles, California, Halloween 2017

I left my precious daughter in Los Angeles in September to start her first year of college. I’m relatively calm in these types of situations as I’ve endured a great deal of loss, so I walked away from her relatively dry eyed. The next day, my younger daughter injured her knee in a soccer practice. This incident resulted in my 16 year old daughter needing ten times the care of my two daughters combined the year before. 

I’ve been distracted by doctors visits, surgeries, and driving the little one around again. Because of this, it is only now, that I am beginning to feel the absence of my eldest. 

Paris has left a giant hole in my life. I miss her, I even miss her boyfriend, who is appropriately named, Austin. My girls and I share city themed first names, thanks to my late husband. When I resisted these names, he would offer alternatives like the name Brenda, or his favorite Billee-Joan, the combination of both of our mother’s names. He was a very funny guy. 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 acting as a walking geography lesson. 

This morning, I called and texted Paris without a response, but it was before noon on a Sunday, so I didn’t panic, however, I did locate her in her dorm room on Find My iPhone. While doing this I discovered she is exactly 563 miles away.  

Recently she sent me a photo of her Halloween costume. And, by the way, Austin is not in costume, he really is a basketball player. When I got it, I realized for the first time, in a real way, that she truly does now have a life that I am no longer a part of. I don’t get to weigh in on what she’ll wear or help her get ready, or anything else. None of it. Even as I trust her to make wise decisions and care for herself, I miss being there for her. I miss sitting on her bed watching her put her makeup on in front of her mirrored closet doors. I even miss how bossy and demanding she often was. All of it. 

Thank goodness for the little one. 

Love and blessings. 

Big Vision

OceanSF Spring 2017-7

I’ve been told many times that I am a visionary. And it’s true, I can see things in my mind before I create them.

When we were in the early stages of planning our launch of Ocean SF, I could see my daughter standing in the red jacket with the Golden Gate Bridge behind her.  I could see it in my mind; the ruby red, her dark hair, the fog and the bridge.  I knew exactly how it would look, and predicted the atmosphere of that cold January day.

On the day my friend Nick Firestone took the photos, everything magically fell into place.  Nick, being the kind soul that he is drove all the way from Half Moon Bay to meet us.  As we pulled in and parked, I could see Nick walking toward me.  We literally took 100 shots in an hour and they were all beautiful.

My daughter and Nick Firestone, Marin County, January 2017

After, we went to lunch in Sausalito at a resteraunt called, Napa Valley Burger Company. I’ve noticed in my life that the things that happen easily come with a certain blessing. Anything, I have tried to force or control has backfired. The things that I approach with diligent planning, but a hopeful calm come easily into fruition.

Siena and Nick, Napa Valley Burger Company

From the beginning I’ve held a big vision for Ocean SF, as has my co-founder Andrew LaCenere.  We have taken our time creating our brand.  It took us an entire year to research, evaluate and then custom mill our own fabric.  We did eight months of research and testing before deciding on the Merino wool fleece that we now use.  The weave is tight on the exterior to block the wind, and soft and fuzzy on the inside to trap warmth.  We tested the men’s jacket for six months offshore and inshore on three continents.  This is not so much a company as it is a calling.

I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been easy, there have been days when I wanted to turn back and do something easy and safe, but instead persisted in building our vision and our brand.  It has slowly taken shape with the help of our many friends, family and trusted advisors.

There is no way to play it safe in this life.  We may think we are safe, but we are not. Create your own vision, see it in your mind, and make it as big and beautiful as you can.

Love and blessings to all.

 

 

Interuption

My daughter Paris in Ocean SF

I was sitting on a sailboat, in the middle of the Bay, just off of Alcatraz, waiting for our race to start when my daughter text messaged me that the FedEx package containing our first prototype had arrived. It was June of 2016. At 11:11 a.m., at the exact moment the gun went off to start the race, she sent me back a photo of her wearing the jacket. 

June 2016, Alcatraz

In entrepreneurial circles there is much talk of interrupting certain industries, or changing the world. Andrew and I simply want to make technical adventure clothing that aligns with our sustainable point of view of beautifully designed clothing made of natural fibers like; Merino wool, linen, silk, cotton, and cashmere blends. 

I had arrived in LA with a bolt of orange Merino wool fabric and a poster sized drawing. Later, I created seams on my prototypes with dental floss and pins. I redesigned the jacket several times, and the sleeves alone several times, adding zippers and then a hidden waterproof pocket to the neckline. Nothing, had ever been more enjoyable and fun for me. 

Earlier that spring, Andrew and I met at our club in Berkeley with a roll of butcher paper and a package of pens. We outlined our products, he drew them, and together we gave them names. 

In one corner, we listed all of the possible names for our company. I remember we liked the name Hook, but passed on it, and thank goodness. We brainstormed dozens of idiotic names until Ocean SF arrived from the ether. As soon as we added it to the list, we knew it held a certain je ne sais quoi that the others did not. 

From the very beginning the brand had its own personality, and everyone we talked to loved it immediately. Ocean SF had a magic since inception that made it easy to get people to join us and contribute their unique talents to our efforts. 

Often, I tell people to find the thing they love the most in life and do that. If you do this, and you surround yourself with people who share your vision, you can achieve almost anything.

Water your seeds with hard work and determination and they will eventually bloom. And, you might just interrupt an industry, or save the world.

Love and blessings to all. 

How Ocean SF Built the Brand 

My daughter Siena in Ocean SF – Merino wool fleece jacket, cotton shirt and silk scarf
I’ve had an interest in design, and the environment since day one. Growing up with horses as a kid on a farm in the Willamette Valley, then later as an avid skier, and now as a sailor, I’ve always been drawn to the outdoors. 

And, at Ocean SF we truly seek to protect and enjoy the beautiful environment we have inherited.  Recent studies have shown that microfibers from polyester clothing is a pollutant that cannot be filtered from drinking water. Not only that, these particles, are also found in the delicate flesh of oysters and other fish on the California coast, this is not a problem for just the United States, it is worldwide. 

We also wish to work toward the reinvention of the bespoke clothing industry of the past. Where garments were made with care and were not disposable.  

We now live in a culture that is no longer enamored by the previous mindset that adored the ease of care and low cost of plastic based fabrics.  

Ocean SF is a brand for sailors first and foremost, because we seek to prove our technologically advanced fabrics in the most challenging environment possible, off shore, but our clothes are for everyone. 

Please join us in preserving our oceans and buying only what we need. 

Love and blessings to all. 

Three Small Things

Stress is a constant theme that surrounds me now, with a daughter in high school and another in college and a business to run, my days are a whirlwind of activities, demands and deadlines. 

I’m often called on to council my children and friends on this topic, so I wanted to share my own wisdom on how to breakdown tasks into reasonable pieces and remain calm as the bombs explode and the bullets fly during times of stress and challenge. 

After my late husband died, my life was blown into a million pieces, not just for myself, but for my children, our extended family, and my husband’s close friends, employees and colleagues. My husband’s offices were permanently closed after his death as he was the dominant force and impossible to replace, so I was not alone in having my world fall apart that one morning in mid-July. 

The pain in the eyes, faces, and voices of the tribe that my husband had developed over the last thirty years was astounding. I’ve never seen so many grown men cry, and hope to never again. 

During this time, I began a practice that I continue to this day. Each morning, before I start my day, I pray for guidance and ask for the top three things I need to do that day.  

This helps me to breakdown the thousands of tasks into bite size pieces. The morning I got the call my husband had died, I had three things to do that day:

  1. Get dressed.
  2. Take the garbage out. 
  3. Tell my daughters their father was dead.

After I did these three things everything else was less difficult; call my in-laws, the coroner, the funeral home, and so on.

The second day, the list was less insurmountable. Go to Santa Maria Church to plan the funeral, comfort my children, call my sorority sisters.

Life is a series of challenges. It is not what happens to us, but how we face the inevitable obstacles inherent in living a rich full life, that will define our future. 

Today, my days are full of activities that move me closer to my goals. They are mostly positive, proactive, and enjoyable. This morning, my list looked like this:

  1. Get the Ocean SF deck and business plan to the people we met with yesterday. 
  2. Meet my friend Denise for lunch.
  3. Buy my injured daughter nail polish and Kit Kat bars as promised.

Of course, I did a million other things as well,  and most of them before noon, but that was the top three that were the priority. 

Choosing how and where we spend our time and energy in life is of the upmost importance. Our lives are truly valuable and where we put our focus is precious because our attention is the sunshine that makes the seeds we plant grow. 

The three small things I tasked myself with each day, over the last fourteen months, helped me to get through a harrowing year, while simultaneously building an amazing company and brand.

Love and blessings to all.