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Carol's Column
The Heart in Action: Habitat for Humanity


March 2006                            Carol Adrienne, Ph.D.

On the invitations to my sixty-fifth birthday party in January, I asked my guests to please not bring gifts, but if they wanted to, to make a check out for Habitat for Humanity—the volunteer organization that builds affordable homes for the poor .  My generous friends donated over $400 dollars, which I sent to the organization.  


The Director of Development at Habitat, Sue Howell, happened to call me, wondering where all these checks came from, so I told her the story.  As it turns, out I could not help but want to hear Sue’s own story of how she has found her passion and purpose.  
This is a big year for Sue, who is turning sixty and celebrating forty years of marriage—as well as participating in the thirtieth anniversary of Habitat. Sue’s enthusiasm for life and her belief in synchronicity and following your heart is infectious.


Following an early career as a legal transcriber, a job she chose because it allowed her to work at home and still be a full-time mother to her two sons, Sue decided to pursue her love of travel.  Enrolling in travel school led to her working at American Express as a travel counselor--a decision that turned out to be another blessing.  “I felt so fortunate to be working for such a world-class organization, and with people who believed in me and helped me work my way up the ranks.  I worked there for sixteen years.  In 1999, I discovered Habitat for Humanity while I was still working for American Express.”


Sue had been searching for a way to give back to the community, but couldn’t find the right formula.  “One day at my church, we had a woman speaker who was on the Women’s Crew at Habitat. Immediately, I knew that was for me. From that day on I became very involved.”
The concept that grew into Habitat for Humanity International was born at Koinonia Farm, a small, interracial, Christian farming community founded in 1942 outside of Americus, Ga., by farmer and biblical scholar Clarence Jordan.  Taking the organization to the next level was the work of Millard Fuller and his wife Linda.  The couple first visited Koinonia in 1965, having recently left a successful business in Montgomery, Ala., and all the trappings of an affluent lifestyle to begin a new life of Christian service. At Koinonia, Jordan and Fuller developed the concept of "partnership housing" -- where those in need of adequate shelter would work side by side with volunteers to build simple, decent houses. Families who qualified and were selected for a new home would be required to put in 500 hours of sweat equity.

Read more...
 
Turning Dross into Gold: The Alchemical Path


February 2006                                                                                      Carol Adrienne, Ph.D.


Mary Jo Schneider, fifty-five, shows us that no matter what challenges we might have in life, we can almost certainly turn those experiences into a skill for helping others.  I met Mary Jo by e-mail when she wrote to ask me if she could use some of my exercises from The Purpose of Your Life with classes she teaches for dual-diagnosed adults and inmates in the county jail.  We found that we had a mutual friend, and that we had also both studied with Arnold Patent, a former attorney turned metaphysical teacher.  As we corresponded, I intuitively felt that Mary Jo must have a story to tell.


A part-time Program Director for a mentoring scholarship program for high school-aged teens called Invest in Kids; she is also a credentialed adult education teacher as well as a substitute teacher for inmates in a local county jail.  She is joyful about how life has given her many ways to serve.


Difficulties In the Beginning


‘My life truly seemed hopeless for the first thirty-three years,” says Mary Jo, “but I believe we can either stew in our problems or turn them into something delectable.”
Between 1970 and 1982 Mary Jo says her weight fluctuated from about 200 to 300 pounds (at her highest weight).  In 1969, at age nineteen, she got pregnant.  She married her daughter’s father, despite the fact that he was a heroin addict.  She recalls, “I became deeply codependent--trying to keep the peace and, if it became necessary, to go so far as to endanger myself by getting him drugs so he wouldn’t be sick and make life more difficult for me and my daughter.  I was trying desperately to control my environment.  I used to clean my house every single day.  It was the only control I had over my life.  You could say that I was living completely blind to my own purpose, utterly taken up with him and his disease.  I felt tied up in that and hopeless.”


“I kept trying to just raise my daughter and keep going.  Every week, my husband would spend most of the money we had on drugs, and I’d be lucky to get three or four dollars every couple of days for food.  I wasn’t aware of it then, but not having enough money for food set up a whole depravation dynamic in me that set me to trying to get more and more food.  My hunger was insatiable, while I was completely tuned out to my body, its needs, and what I was feeling.  I think I’m fairly smart, but during those years, I did not think I had anything to offer.” 


Staying with the Familiar or Facing the Unknown


    Mary Jo lacked the courage to venture forth and leave the marriage.  As many of us do after years of being in the midst of incredible stress and lack of self-esteem, she was terrified of the unknown.  She had no confidence that she could raise her daughter alone, even though that’s exactly what she had been doing during her troubled marriage.  Finally, her husband left her after he’d had an affair with one of her best friends.

After their break up, she spent several years on welfare, hiding in her house and eating.  She reflects back over the misery of her life; “I didn’t even learn to drive until I was thirty-six because I didn’t want to draw any attention to my cumbersome body by putting myself behind a steering wheel.  After being on welfare for eight years, I eventually got a minimum wage job doing bookkeeping. Not only was it difficult to get hired as a welfare mom with no job history, but because of my size, I had no wardrobe nor did I have the financial ability to get one.  I sewed one large dress to go on a job interview, and I just remember being so uncomfortable trying to sit for over an hour trying to keep my legs together.  At my weight, it was nearly impossible to sit that way.  I was shocked that I actually got the job!”


It took another four years for her to finally hit bottom with her weight and joined Weight Watchers.  It took nearly three years and 170 lbs. to change how she thought about herself.  “When I lost my weight,’ she says, “my life began to change radically.  My appearance was so drastic, hardly anyone recognized me, and I became kind of like a sensation in my circle of friends.  It seemed natural to try becoming a Weight Watcher leader, which required a lot of public speaking—but what was I thinking?  I must say, if there were two words that were wholly emblematic of who I was at that time they would be, I can’t!  Every time I was asked to speak, I would cry all the way to the site; I was terrified and so convinced I couldn’t do it.  But oddly enough, once I started speaking in front of a group, it was so much fun.
Unfortunately, patterns don’t change overnight.  After Mary Jo lost her first seventy-five pounds, she met another man who was an alcoholic, and she was shocked to find he dabbled in substances like heroin; being with him was like going back ten years to life with her husband.  Still a codependent, she lived with him for five years until she finally found the courage to finally ask him to move out. 


    Despite her success as a leader and motivational speaker for Weight Watchers, Mary Jo began to gain the weight back.  “I recognize today that I’m powerless over food, and I also know I cannot keep my weight off by myself; I need the support of a program of recovery,” she says. “Can you imagine? I gained back 125 pounds after losing 175!  I would not have believed it could happen, but it did.  Around the same time I began gaining my weight back, I found a Unity church and began a metaphysical journey.  That’s when I studied with Arnold Patent, and it was then that I came to realize I was not a victim; I was in fact creating my life frame by frame.  I was choosing my way into all those situations!  In the beginning, hearing this language of Universal Principle was almost like having someone speak Japanese to me.  I could not understand what it meant.  I created my experience by my thoughts?  What a revelation!


    “It was then I also began to realize there was something under the weight.  I recognized how my body was a mirror of my consciousness and that the weight was there for a reason; it truly forced me to search deeper.  My weight has become a part of my spiritual path, and today I’m actually grateful for this part of my experience, and I no longer need to insulate myself against living.”


Stepping Up and On to the Path


    One of the first steps toward Mary Jo’s transformation was to go back to school. 
Applying to the University of California at Berkeley in the writing department, she was accepted but lacked the tuition to start the program.  A friend took up her cause and collected donations from her wide circle of friends, and Mary Jo was on her way. She says, “It was so touching and one of those examples of how the Universe supports you when you step onto your path.” She went on to get her Bachelor’s degree in English and later a Master’s in Liberal Arts with an emphasis on Sacred Cinema.  As an adult education teacher, she teaches workplace communication skills, drug and alcohol education, and writing.  She has her students write their own stories, and Mary Jo has seen the power of people’s own stories as a way to heal.


Passing On What We Know


    Teaching at the county jail brings rich rewards for her and the students in the classroom.  Mary Jo says, “Teaching at the jail is like being in a roomful of men like my ex-husband!  I talk straight with them, but they seem to accept it from me because I share honestly from my personal experience.  One of the inmates once told me that when I come it’s kind of like going to his grandma’s house to get a hug and a kiss.  It is so amazing to hear this, because I’m not necessarily telling them things they want to hear!  I do try to encourage them, but I’m still telling the truth.  Sometimes, when I’m sharing a story or a spiritual moment, the room is totally silent and they are leaning forward in their seats, hanging on the words—it’s like a sacred energy is in the room.  I can’t explain it, but I especially love working with the male inmates.  One of them once said, ‘You just like bad boys!’ I answered, ‘Maybe so, but at least I get to go home and leave you here!  I don’t live with you anymore!’  They liked that one.”


Mary Jo brings real life experience, wisdom and compassion to her work.  One day she brought in a friend’s Christmas letter he’d written to say goodbye to his daughter, Jenny, who had passed away right before Christmas and her thirty-fourth birthday.  “I asked how many of them were fathers, and almost everyone—even those as young as twenty-years old—raised their hands.  I gave the letter to one of the men, a father of two daughters, and asked him to read it aloud.  I told them this father no longer had a choice about spending time with his daughter, and that I thought some of them were taking their privileges for granted.  As he read, the room was still, and I could tell they were deeply moved by this father’s pain.  They all wanted to see Jenny’s picture and passed it around the room.  Amazingly, about two minutes after the inmate, Robert, finished reading the letter, a deputy came and told him he had to leave as he was being transferred out to San Quentin [a federal prison].  He turned to me and said, ‘I’ll never forget Jenny,’ and in that moment, I believe he was forever changed.”


 “I know I was called to teach,” Mary Jo says, “even though I still get nervous like I used to in those early Weight Watcher days, but when I begin to teach, I am so in the flow.  Things come that I don’t expect, and it’s clear I’m fulfilling my purpose.”

Mary Jo can be contacted at jo@investinkids.net.
Happy Valentine’s Day to You!
Carol Adrienne

 
AN ARTFUL LIFE

Barb Astler turned forty-four on November 1 - the day her business officially opened. Barb lives in Highland Beach, Florida a beachfront town near Boca Raton. Without realizing it, she has been in the business of an artful life since she was ten years old.

For the past fourteen years, Barb worked as vice president of human resources for a large corporation, and helped build that company to its present size. "What drew me to finally leave and start my own business was a change in leadership philosophy that no longer jibed with my own beliefs about what's important." Barb admits that she could have stayed there and reaped rich financial rewards, but speaking out for her beliefs was more important in the long run than the money.

Her resignation did not come easily as she struggled with the ties to security her job had given her. After leaving once and being asked back, she finally left for good in September of this year. She and her business partner, Bobbie Forrest are now stocking the newly installed shelves in Barb's spare bedroom with various specialty items for the gift baskets they have already started selling.

Find Your Passion by Looking at Lifelong Interests

Barb's first job at age thirteen was decorating windows for a small high-end clothing and accessory boutique. As long as she can remember, she always loved making things beautiful. About eighteen years ago, she happened to attend a baby shower and fell in love with a gift basket someone brought. "I was in awe! I started making baskets as gifts for all my friends, family, and even my staff. After they received one of my baskets, they would almost always ask me to make one as a gift for their own friends. In those days, I didn't charge anything for my time, but usually people would give me a little something extra." Barb started making gift baskets for all kinds of occasions-and the containers are not always baskets, but might be a hat box, a silver tray, a tower of boxes, or a miniature baby carriage.

Barb's other love is faux painting. At age ten she started painting little stage sets. After that it was painting her own bedroom, a room in her grandmother's house, or old furniture. "Anytime I saw an old piece of furniture, I wanted to do something to it to make it pretty. I'd buy a little table for four dollars and paint it, and it looked fabulous. I didn't know anything about faux painting then, or that it was an art. As I got older I would educate myself by reading books on furniture restoration.

How the Ego Gets in the Way When Other People Give Us an Important Message

When people saw Barb's creative pieces, they'd want her to do one for them-and would offer to pay her. "Everyone told me, 'You should be doing this for a living!' Did I listen? No! I would always think to myself, I don't have the credentials. I don't have a degree in interior design. I didn't go to art school. I didn't feel qualified as a painter or an actual artist. But I was an artist from a young age, and neither myself nor my parents realized it. I never thought it could make me money."

Limitations May Point to a Better Way

Barb continued to paint at night and on weekends for friends who often had large, expensive homes. People continued to tell her she should do this for a living. Even though her side business kept blossoming, Barb was reluctant to see it as a viable livelihood. She needed to feel more confident, and she wanted credentials. Going to school for interior design seemed to be too expensive and too long a process. Besides, she says, a lot of that program didn't interest her. Another strike against choosing an interior design school was that no classes were offered on weekends. She wasn't yet ready to let go of her job.

By searching the Internet, Barb eventually found a good school in San Antonio, Texas. It is run by an Italian artist who began his own career as an apprentice restoring church art. Classes are offered on the weekend so Barb started taking four-day vacation trips to San Antonio. "I used my vacation time to get educated, and got four different certifications. All were in faux finishing-from comprehensive interior finishes to all the basic painting techniques. I learned how to replicate finishes and materials like leather, bricks, verdigris, and woodwork. I also got a certification in stenciling to create fabric looks, watercolors, Venetian plaster, and murals. Another class specialized in faux marbleing and precious stones. Because I had to make samples, I now have a full portfolio of all the designs, colors, glazes, and techniques I can do. The tuition was the most expensive investment, but it was worth it for the confidence and skills I learned."

Another program called The Creativity Workshop offered study abroad. Barb's first trip was to Italy for a workshop in Florence where she learned how to access creativity. "I loved exercises like the one where we had to take a rock or a leaf or a pencil from our purse-anything-and create a miniature world. We were given assignments such as going to a park or Palazzo in Florence, or looking into a shop window-something new that inspired us to write or draw about what we saw. Another one was to bring ten things which represented who you are as a person. You had to explain why these objects made you think of who you are.

"I came away realizing that I have to do something every day to rejuvenate myself and get into that place of receptivity and creativity. I realized I could find art and inspiration without spending any money, and that simple things could spur ideas that might evolve in very different directions.

"A major turning point happened when I discovered what I wanted to do with my life on a trip to visit a friend in Arkansas. She took me on a day trip to the wine country. While driving around, we saw one of the oldest churches in the state, which was being renovated. I was intrigued and wanted to go inside. All of a sudden I was having a very spiritual experience. I was in amazement. All around the church artists were working on restoring murals and frescoes and molding and altars. The first artist greeted us and invited us in to see what they were doing. Each artist looked at me and talked to me as if they knew me. The foreman overseeing the building of the altar took me on a tour. I told him, 'I want to do this one day,' and he said 'Have you ever thought of being an apprentice? We train apprentices. You don't get paid but you learn the art.' He talked with me for a long time. He told me that restoration is a dying art, but there is a famous restoration company that travels all over the world restoring old buildings. I suddenly had the feeling that everyone who worked in this church was really an angel unaware. I know they were angels, and they knew who I was and why I was there. It was the most unbelievable experience. From that day forward I was changed. That's when I started my exploration of how to make this happen.

About Money and Security

"Being a single woman, I haven't found a partner yet," says Barb. "I know I have to take care of myself. Working for the corporation afforded me money, but it was not my life. During the time I worked there, I had many illnesses. Three years ago, I had to have back surgery. Two years ago I had a pulmonary embolism and almost died. I realized how short life is. The week that I left my job, my back pain completely disappeared. Maybe it's because I'm not sitting at a desk, but maybe it's because I did the right thing.

"Every time I thought about leaving, I'd panic or my boss would appreciate me more. But the situation continued to deteriorate, and I didn't feel I could do the job I was supposed to do. That weekend I was reading the Bible, and I got the message I needed. I read a passage from the Book of Esther about standing up for the truth no matter what the stakes are.

"When I decided to write my resignation, I consulted with my family and friends. They were all supportive and encouraged me to do my painting and gift baskets. I needed that because I wasn't sure I could be a good entrepreneur. The final boost came from a co-worker who is a brilliant strategist and marketing genius. Someone had given him one of my baskets, but he didn't know I made it. When he found out, he told me I had to do this for a living. That made a huge impact because I respect his business acumen so much."

Barb says the minute after turning in her resignation, blessings began to arrive. First, she received an unexpectedly generous severance package. Secondly, her friend and now business partner, Bobbie, also retired from a career in the criminal justice system, and was eager and ready to start the gift basket business. Coincidentally, since retiring, Bobbie's health has improved and she is losing weight. Bobbie's husband, who suffers from a chronic illness, is also getting in on the fun of the new venture. As Barb says, "The positive energy we are generating being in our purpose is effecting everyone's spirit and enthusiasm in a transformational way."

Synchronicities have been happening every day now that Barb is on her path. She and Bobbie discovered—as luck would have it—that a gift trade show was being held in Chicago the weekend immediately following her resignation. When she tried to register online, however, the site wouldn't let her complete her payment of five hundred dollars for the entrance fee. When Barb and her mother arrived at the show, no one was at the front entrance, except for one woman behind the counter. Barb told the woman that she had been unable to pay online. Inexplicably, the woman told Barb and her mom, "That's fine. There's no charge," and ushered them into the convention hall. " I know she is one of those angels," says Barb. "We never saw her again at the reception desk."

Things Flow When You Are On The Right Track

For example, all the vendors she met in Chicago that she wanted to work with happen to live within a few blocks of her home in Florida. Friends helped put up shelves in her spare bedroom. Referrals for gift baskets started coming in. Bobbie's sister, a partner in a big law firm, ordered all her Christmas gifts from Barb and Bobbie. "Everywhere Bobbie goes," says Barb, "people want to buy baskets. The phone is ringing off the hook."

What has Barb learned since taking the leap (a long time coming) from leaving her job and secure paycheck? "It's taught me to look for the synchronicities and let the process work. If it's right, it'll come to you. I used to push those things away by saying it's just a coincidence. Now I want to let the right thing happen. I'm not pushing for anything to happen."

Barb Astler and Bobbie Forrest can be contacted at www.barbisbaskets.com or email Barb at astlerscastle@adelphia.com or calll on (561) 272-4943.

 
THERE IS A REASON

My column last month (September 2004) on how Cindy Harris is following her passion by developing her tea business stimulated many of you to write, so I am sharing the following conversation with all of you this month.

Jessica, writes "About two months ago, I made a decision to move back to my hometown of Rochester, New York, from New York City. I had been living in New York for the past ten years, trying to make it to Broadway as an actress. For a long time I was depressed and felt ready to give up on my career. Something in me kept nagging and telling me that there is something waiting for me at home. So, I moved back!

Getting Back into Flow

To make a long story short, ever since coming back I have been meeting and networking with the most helpful people. I just had lunch with a friend who knows about playwriting grants. It just so happens that now is the time to apply, so we are putting in an application. So many good things are starting to happen. For example, I got a great new job working at a community center. I am going out with friends more often. I am meeting actors and dance professionals and other people with my interests. I realize that I feel safer practicing my art here in a smaller city. New York seems like the logical place to be for any serious artist, but the truth is that I have never really been comfortable there. I am a small town girl at heart. I feel very optimistic about my career now, and I know that I need to trust my instincts and follow my intuition. I know there is a reason I moved here."

Don't Give Up

Tina writes, "I am inspired by Cindy's story, Come For Tea, and it came just at the perfect time. Four months ago, as I stood once again in my kitchen making homemade baby food from fresh fruits and vegetables, my husband reached his arms around my waist and thanked me for spending so much time to ensure that our first and only child had the healthiest food available. Physically tired and mentally drained from a full day's work at my paying job and months of the same routine, I responded, 'I 'd do it for ten more babies if I had that many.' Immediately, even through my exhaustion, the thought popped into my mind, I CAN make it for other babies. They don't have to be my own! Babies deserve better and not all parents have the time to make their own organic food. I set out to educate myself about starting a food business, using every spare moment that I wasn't working on my paying job or spending quality time with my family to do research. My husband supported me but was skeptical regarding the FDA regulations, etc. and how difficult it would be to have a successful business with Gerber on grocer's shelves all around the country. I persisted for months, but got so tired and burned out, I was beginning to get discouraged.

"At lunch today, I decided to just read a good book instead of packing in more knowledge about the food industry. At the same time, I felt as if I were giving up on my idea, and almost put the book down. But I didn't. The book was The Celestine Prophecy which I had read years before. But several friends and acquaintances had mentioned it recently, and so I took those hints as what is meant to be. As I was reading, I had the urge to look at the back cover where I read about James Redfield and The Celestine Journal. I found the site on the Internet and read the inspiring story about Cindy Harris and her tea company. When I read the paragraph titled, Feed your Passion, which says, 'if you have a business idea rooted in something you care about--go for it.' I began to cry because I believe that it was once again synchronicity. It is giving me my second wind to continue and not give up. I can get back on track, and appreciate the obstacles. I can do it if I follow my heart."

Messages Abound

I thought you might also like this great license plate story from my good friend, Cori Kenicer, who recently moved to Arizona. She says, "I registered my car in 2002 as a new Arizona resident and was assigned a random license plate number. In January 2004 I started Kenicer Golf Marketing, LLC, which for short I refer to as KGM. Later, I had to write down the license plate number to register for a parking place and when I went to look at it, I realized the letters were KGM. Hmmm. Then in March 2004 I signed my first contract for the new business, actually on March 17 (3/17). I happened to look at the license plate again. The full license plate number is 317 KGM."

Happy October,
Carol Adrienne

 
COME FOR TEA

CINDY HARRIS, 44, lives in the tiny town of Hercules, California, thirty minutes drive from San Francisco. After hitting upon the germ of an idea two years ago, she has now found her passion, creating a home-based business with customers from all over the country. I met Cindy when she came for a coaching session, given to her as a birthday present from her husband, Kevin. The unfolding of her story is an inspirational example of how to listen to your heart, take one small step, and keep following the synchronicities.

The precipitating event for her new life began when her eight-year-old son, whom she was home schooling, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. Cindy says, "While I was home schooling him I was already restless to find something more I could do at home. After I started caring for him with his illness, I found that I was getting too caught up in monitoring every development of his medical condition. I knew I needed to channel my energy in a different way."

Look For What You Love To Do

Cindy and her artist husband sat down together and talked about what kind of venture she might do. Kevin reminded her that one of the things she loved to do most was have friends over for tea-something she had done for years.

They started playing with the idea of what she could do around tea. In trying to come up with a name, Kevin asked her what she usually said to people she had over for tea, and she answered, "I ask people if they would like to come for tea." They came up with the name Come For Tea. Sure that the name was already taken, the couple searched the fictitious business name file, but found no record for the name. Next they checked domain names. When they saw no one had claimed it, Cindy went ahead and bought the name-still having no idea what she would do as a business.

In the next couple of days, ideas began to flood in for what kind of teas she would sell, and what her labels would look like. Her next step was to take out a business license. That made her official! Cindy says, "From the beginning I decided to sell only things I loved. One of my favorite teas is called Parisian Pear Pomegranate, but after searching the Internet, I couldn't find who sold it. I called the cafe where I had tasted it, and the owner wasn't in. The girl who answered the phone said, 'Well, I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but here's how to reach them.' It was my first break. I never would have found them, because this blender only sells by word of mouth."

Synchronicity Paves the Way

Cindy credits the power of synchronicity in every step of the development of her business. "If I get an idea, sure enough, something will come across my path, and I'll get just what I need-a link, a contact, or a vendor. I know that synchronicity is helping me because I am on my path."

Intention Creates Flow

The business has taken on a life of its own. For example, a year ago Cindy had been thinking that it would be great if she could reach people across the United States. "One day out of the blue," she says, "I got a call from the publisher of a magazine called Tea Time. He said he had heard about me, and that they would like for me to advertise in their magazine. But he said he knew that we are a small company so he offered me a drastically reduced price. From that moment on, Come For Tea became national, even though I never went looking for how to do that."

Follow Positive Energy One Step at a Time

Next, Cindy decided to write a small book on how to do teas, called Afternoon Teas with Ease. She printed it herself and sold it on her web site. Soon after, she received a phone call from a woman who had purchased a copy of the book, inviting her to speak at a conference for 120 women. "I was surprised because I had never done any public speaking, but I just said, 'Okay.' Every time something comes my way, I just say, okay. From that time on, people have been contacting me to speak. That's the way I've run my whole business-just going with the flow. I've never had a business plan, nor do I focus on things like how much money I will make in a year. All I've done is to be open and look for signs as I go. It just keeps unfolding.

See the Gift in Obstacles

We sense in Cindy's story the power of what Zen teachers call beginner's mind. The virtue of inexperience is that it so often allows for a fresh approach unhampered by past disappointments or future dire predictions. Cindy's business, based on a truly motivating natural passion, is inherently meaningful to her and worth doing. She invites people to come for tea whether or not she gets paid for it-a true sign of an authentic talent or passion. If one door does not open she finds another. For example, she says, "I only work with small, family-owned companies. That's because, in the beginning, the big companies wouldn't talk to me. That turned out to be a blessing because I've discovered really great people making unique quality products, like my biscuits and scones. Interestingly, it turns out that a lot of the companies I work with are starting to expand, too. One, for example, is now being sold at Barnes & Noble and the Dean and DeLuca stores."

Spirituality in a Cuppa

Recently, Cindy has been able to see a deeper purpose to her business, which has spurred her creativity. She says, " I wanted to add a new element to the idea of drinking tea. I wanted to use the tea experience to encourage other people to follow their path like I've followed mine. I've had so much creativity in the past few weeks! For example, I started printing sets of tea-related 'insight cards' and packaging them in a pretty bag. I've also designed and printed a tea journal to help people be more observant and capture insights while drinking tea. I believe that drinking tea together with family and friends helps us connect at a real level. Drinking tea on your own can also be a ritual that helps you connect with your inner self. Tea is almost like a portal, a pathway that helps you get to a different place."

Feed Your Passion

The message in Cindy's story is--if you have a business idea rooted in something you care about--go for it. Cindy advises, " If you are drawn to something and you enjoy it, there is probably an opportunity there. Don't go into a business if you are thinking only about how much money you are going to make. You have to do it because you love it."

Pay Attention

Support comes when you need it. If you are looking to make a change in your life, start a business, or expand the one you have, stay alert and be observant. "You never know when something may spark an idea for you," says Cindy. "For example, when my husband, Kevin and I went to New Orleans, I had been getting strong intuitions that I needed to go there. As it turns out, that's where I found a whole new aspect of my business by going into a little lace shop. I picked up this little antique metal cone thing and asked the shop keeper what it was. He told me it was called a tussie-mussie. It holds a little bit of water, and women used to put fresh nosegays in them and hold them in their hands at social events. That started my interest in fresh flowers, and I started learning the meaning behind different flowers. I didn't know what I was going to do with flowers. But at my next tea, I took rose vials and wrapped them in lace and made up little bouquets for each woman, expressing something about their personalities. Each thing leads to the next. It's so much fun!"

Cindy's interest in tea is her vehicle to touch and inspire people. "People tell me when they come for tea-- whether it's a workshop or just to have a cup of tea--that the tea experience is healing for their soul. It refreshes and relaxes them. It helps them get in touch with that part of themselves they tend to be unconscious of. For myself, life is so much more fun and interesting since I've started my business. Things that used to bother me, just don't bother me anymore. I am so creative right now I truly feel that I am living an inspired life."

Happy September,
Carol Adrienne

 
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