My Soul Happy

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To me, a soul is the me-iest, you-iest part of us. Like fingerprints and snowflakes, no two are exactly alike. Part of their magic is that they aren’t meant to be. I think a soul can be filled or emptied. I think a soul can spring vibrantly to life; I think it can also shrivel up and die, requiring resuscitation to come back to life.  I’ve seen both happen—I’ve experienced both happening in me. Parker Palmer says that the soul is “resilient” and “tough” but also “shy.” Yes. Following a long, soul-swallowing season, my soul is shyly, finally, reemerging. It is breathing, trusting, and hoping again.

I’m a person of faith. So, to me, the soul is God-given and God-connected. But you don’t have to believe in God to believe you have some kind of soul, some kind of essence of the truest you that you were meant to be, some kind of centered fullness, your kind of unique buoyancy and beauty.

Here, at Plenty, we have a whole lot of things that say “Do more of what makes your soul happy.” It’s not by accident. It’s also not by accident that they don’t say: “Do more of what makes you happy.” (Because, honestly, sometimes what makes me “happy,” in the moment, doesn’t make my soul happy at all. You know, things like eating crap food, worrying all night, or binge watching Breaking Bad.)

These days, I’m really trying to do so much more of what makes my soul happy. So, what makes my soul happy? Honest and deep conversations. Time with those I love. Belly laughs. Reading and writing. Talking and listening. Connecting, cultivating, and creating. Building—friendships, relationships, trust. Growing—in health and in hope. Learning. Traveling. Walking. Wondering. Wandering. Exploring. Discovering. Being surrounded by beauty. Words. Gratitude. Life. Possibilities.

If you haven’t read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic you probably should stop whatever you are doing and read it right now. It's kind of about creativity. It's more about life and souls and living your best least fear-filled life. I highlighted most of the book. The words that I return to, again and again, however, are these:

Your life is short and rare and amazing and miraculous, and you want to do really interesting things and make really interesting things while you’re still here. I know that’s what you want for yourself, because that’s what I want for myself, too.

It’s what we all want.

And you have treasures hidden within you—extraordinary treasures—and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.

Tomorrow, I leave for Mexico. I’ll be traveling with my husband and my “bonus dad.” This is our 5th January going. We go because it’s good for our souls. We go to celebrate my mom’s life—a life that ended too early and too tragically on January 30, 2013. As my “bonus dad” says: “We aren’t promised tomorrow.” We aren’t, and so we don’t have time to think so small. We don’t have time to ignore or abuse our souls. We, I think, have to choose the rare, the amazing, and the miraculous every chance we get. The world will keep spinning, with or without us. May we choose the whole ride.

This week, I choose to do so much more of what will make my soul happy.

What makes your soul happy? Get to it!

(See you on 2/1 when Plenty re-opens. That, too, will make my soul happy. 😊 )

Take Your Time

My mom was neither a spender nor a shopper. She loved simple (and inexpensive) things—like picnics, car trips, and being home. Her favorite gift was the gift of time. And when she bought something, for herself (rarely) or for others (more often), so much thought went into it and so much time.

One of her favorite things to do was to take day-or-two trips with her husband, my bonus dad. They’d drive to cute, not too far away towns—like Galena, Traverse City, Milwaukee—and they’d do things, mostly free things. They’d walk shores and streets. They’d go in shops.

I cannot emphasize this enough: there was nothing haphazard about my mom. She might visit a store 3 or 4 times before making an $11 purchase. Or, she might look at every item in the store before buying a $5 item. To be honest, it sometimes frustrated me. I’m sorry to say that sometimes I’d say: “It’s just $5!”

This notepad? It’s a $5 item—a $5 item that my mom gave me early in January of 2013. I don’t know the story behind its purchase, but I know it was purchased in Holland, Michigan. I’m quite certain a lot of thought went into it. She knew I would love and appreciate it. I did. She knew I loved adorably detailed paper products. She knew I took notes. She knew that sometimes it’s really, really hard for me to listen to my heart. (Isn’t it so much easier to listen to all of the loud and often critical voices that surround?)

I miss my mom. I miss the mom who knew me, who paid attention. I miss the time she took with everything.

This little notepad was the last gift my mom gave me before she died. It was in my purse when she died. It stayed in my purse, unused for 4 years; I couldn’t bear to open it, to see her carefully scripted handwriting in her note to me on the first page. Finally, I started using it just a few weeks ago. I read the words she wrote to me and then I take notes.

In her honor, I did the only thing that made sense to me. In my next Natural Life order, I ordered these exact, sweet little pads, and other varieties, for you. Why not help others take good notes?

Some customers move quickly, in a hurry or on a specific mission. That's how I shop. 

Sometimes, customers wander slowly, on a different kind of mission. They touch and open and look. They read every word. They turn items around and around in their hands. They hold things up to their faces and ears and the light. They lean things against walls. They look. I invite that. I love that. Sometimes, these customers will say: “I’m sorry. I’m so slow. I’ll come back; I have to think about it.” Or they’ll say: “I’m just not sure yet. I can’t decide.” I always say and I always mean: “Please. Take your time. All good things take time. You’ll know when you know. Meanwhile, you are welcome here, always." 

When your heart speaks, take good notes. :) 

What??!!!

Friends, I’ve lost more than a month here. TIME REALLY DOES FLY!

Before moving on to the next thing, I want to pause and celebrate last week’s Ladies’ Night, Huntley’s Spring Fling! Thank you to Huntley—especially to Barb Read, who, let’s face it, is just awesome. And, thank you to YOU. It was so, so, so very fun getting to meet and greet all of you. And it was so, so, so very fun to introduce you to Plenty.

Oh, how I hope you’ll come back when it’s a little less crowded and we have more time to get to know one another. I have re-stocked the shelves and have SO MANY new, adorable, delightful, encouraging, happy-making things on my shelves.

Sometimes, I wish we were open every single day. Maybe even every minute of every day. (I do so enjoy meeting you! I do so enjoy being near adorable, silly, sweet, sassy, encouraging, or thought-provoking things!) But, to quote my friend Meghan (who said she might have to put a Plenty line item in her budget), it’s probably a good thing we are only open here and there. Good People of Huntley, I am saving you money!

And I hope to see you soon!

Nourished

You may not guess it to look at me, but I often forget to eat. I get thinking, or I get busy, or I get to it—whatever it is—and I’m lost in that task or that talk or that time. I’m an early riser (hello, 4 a.m.), but it’s not uncommon for me to get to his time of day (3:30 p.m.) and realize: I’M HUNGRY.

Because PLENTY is in downtown Huntley, I can walk to all sorts of nourishing places. Today, I walk to The Village Inn. For breakfast. At 3:30 p.m.

FYI: One of the many careers I’ve wanted but haven’t had is as a breakfast waitress. What could be better than serving coffee, chatting with the regulars, serving perfectly poached eggs? Also, FYI: One of my goals for 2017 is to learn how to perfectly poach an egg. Anyway . . . 

I sit down to two simple, delicious, perfectly-poached eggs, some crispy hash browns, and some raisin toast. And I sit next to a table of what must be locals and regulars. They are talking about . . . wait for it . . . my signs! “What is this Plenty?” “What is happening?” Because I am an award-winning eavesdropper, I eavesdrop for just a little bit. And then I say, with some excitement and pride, “Plenty is mine!” To which the cutest senior citizen ever responds: “Well, young lady, those are some beautiful signs.” Thank you!

We talk for quite awhile. And then I leave, nourished. Good, simple food and good, simple conversation and connection—two necessities for life.

 

Finished & Unfinished

You know how this goes, right? You get something new. (It could be as simple and as small as an adorable dishtowel.) You put it out. Suddenly, everything nearby looks OLD and WRETCHED. What began with a $7 dishtowel ends as a fully-remodeled, $37,000 kitchen.

Our signs went up during the rainiest, most wretched week in history. And now I want the landscaping done. NOW. Please excuse our mess while we wait for the weather to cooperate. (And for my husband to catch a breath.)

Signs

Our first sign is UP! My husband gave me two or three heart attacks getting it up there; but there it is! It’s really happening. We’re getting ready to go. For the longest time, this has seemed really far away. Now, it’s (almost) here. (And I am a little bit scared.) I hope you come to PLENTY. You don’t have to buy a thing, but it will be so awfully lonely if you don’t come to look. Oh, I hope you come! (Please.)

So Glad

If you come back enough you’ll see: I love words and quotations. Hafiz said: “Stay close to anything that makes you glad you’re alive.” Well, Friends, that is what I’m doing today. In Chicagoland, it is “wint-ring.”  It’s no longer winter; it’s not yet spring—even if the calendar says it is. I’m staying close to warmth, to anticipation, to fun.

The ground is frozen; the lawn sign can’t go up. But boxes can be unpacked. Merchandise is coming EVERY DAY NOW. I’m having so much fun opening boxes, remembering what I ordered, exclaiming at how adorable everything is. I ordered everything; there are no surprises; still . . . I’m surprised, delighted! Colors. Textures. Fragrances. Possibilities.

I’m so glad to be having this particular fun, in this particular way, on this particular not yet spring day. I can’t wait to show you all of these glad-making things!

Discoveries

I believe in William Morris’ words: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” I am happiest when surrounded by beauty.

Right this minute, my brother is traveling the world, capturing photos of exotic creatures and glorious landscapes. Not I. Oh, I love to travel. And, sure, I love the outdoors—skies, sunshine, fields, flowers, mountains, oceans, and what not. Even more, though, I love people—and I love what their minds, hands, and passions can create. If I had more talent, I might be an artist. Instead, I’m a collector (and giver) of artist’s work. Useful? I love it. Beautiful? I love it. Useful AND beautiful? I love it most of all.

Lucky me, I’ve traveled—across America, across the tropics, across parts of Europe. From the time I was small until forever, one of my favorite traveling pastimes is visiting local shops. Not Target. Not Walmart. Never, ever a mall.* I love small, charming shops filled with beautiful things—especially beautiful things made by local artists and artisans. You know, the things you can’t get everywhere.  Things that tell a story, things that are special, things that reveal a gift, things that are new, things that are useful or beautiful or, preferably, both.