Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sometimes things need to fall apart

When I found out the coffee house really was not happening, I went into a semi-shock, depression, breakdown mode. Basically worthless is what it comes down to. I cried those crocodile tears and felt the panic of change. Scoured immediately through Craigslist again and again. I do think Craigslist could be my addiction. For the past few years it seems I have always been looking for jobs, or real estate, and even when I have both of those I continue to look. It is kind of like reading the morning paper. It is just something I do on a daily basis.

Having to admit that the coffee house wasn't to be - felt of course like some kind of failure. I have had to fight with my ego. I have had to admit defeat. How to tell all of these people I am not leaving, I am not going to be at 54th and Burnside when you come to Portland, that my awesome "Artistry Cafe" banner will not be gently blowing on the corner of the building. I have to email my 200+ Feng Shui client mailing list and let them know that I will still be here, after I have informed all of them that I am moving on to pursue this dream of mine. And I heard back from so many people. They were so supportive, so happy for me and wishing me all the best. Now I have to tell them my dream is not happening, at least not at this moment in time, and here again my nasty ego makes me feel as if it is something I should be ashamed of.

I was supposed to be out of my apartment by tomorrow, but it is not happening. Luckily the landlord does not have it rented for March so I have asked for one more month. I know I need to move on but I can't quite get it together. There is too much to move, to where I'm not sure, and I don't have any energy left for this. I need this month, just one more month. I've cancelled all the utilities, I will reconnect them. I have hired the carpet cleaners, the movers, rented a post office box, I will delay them. I will live for the next month amidst my boxes, this endless river of boxes, packing tape, little odds and ends around that don't seem to belong in any "box" - items that you just can't quite put a label on.

I will take this month to try and settle my shot nervous system and my overworked emotions. I will try and do some soul searching, a little meditating; perhaps I will even eat a balanced diet. If the mood strikes I might even throw in a little yoga and pilates. This could be an extremely good month for me. And I will heed the advice of some very wise friends of mine who have given me the following advice;

"As perfect as it all seemed, I guess you have to accept that there is some reason why this did not materialize as you imagined! On to the next......."

"Sometimes things need to fall apart before you can see the path you need to be on -"

"Don't go running around trying to reinvent yourself" - (told to me after I was frantically trying to find a new job and place to live in a day)

"I'm sure you are doing the right thing as far as Portland is concerned"

I thank all of my friends who have offered their words of wisdom, their words of comfort and encouragement.

 I guess the theme all along has been the same, "BREATHE" -

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gone but not forgotten

Sadly, the coffee house (Artistry Café) in Portland is not happening. At least not at this time. Circumstances beyond our control are to blame, not for any lack of trying, believing or dreaming. I guess this wasn't in the plan. There is a plan isn't there?

Not all is lost. (Don't cry for me Argentina) I have gained experience and knowledge from months of working on this. Writing up my business plan, the press release, creating menus, talking with vendors, landlords, and most of all, I may have a clearer vision when I proceed the next time. Will it be a coffee house in Rutherford, a B&B in Brewster? I'm really not sure at this moment, I need to reevaluate. I need to move slowly and proceed with caution. But I do know that my dream is not dead, it just isn't ready to be a reality at this time.

So where to go from here? Remember my earlier blog, when I said that if this didn't happen I'd be writing a new blog "What to do with my life now that I quit my job, gave notice at my apartment, need to be out by the 28th of Feb and have no where to go" - well here it is. With no where to go my "stuff" is going in a storage unit, and I really can't believe how much "stuff" I have. I think I could go away for a few days, have someone else deal with all of it, give it all away and I probably wouldn't even notice. But when I am looking at my things, trying to decide which ones get packed, which ones go to Goodwill, it feels like I need them all. Yesterday I rented a storage unit, a 10" x 10" and I can't even image squeezing all of my belongings in there. But, they say it will fit. Yes, this will be interesting. Definitely some things need to go.

Today there is another long to do list. Actually a lot of the same things that I would be doing if I were leaving for Portland on Sunday, but now I am doing it with a heavy heart and a feeling of loss. I shouldn’t look at it that way. I need to think about it as though the timing wasn't right. Wasn’t meant to happen. There was something all along the way that kept eating at me. It doesn't really matter at this point, things again have changed. And I just have to believe something better is right around the corner. Until I figure out what that is, I think I will take a month or two, decide where I really want to be, and if I can figure out where that is maybe then I can decide what I want to do there.

Stay tuned. . .

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Back on Track (except for the lighting)

Okay, things are back on track. We got ourselves a house to live in, movers are lined up, the cleaning lady is coming in to help with the big stuff on Saturday, sold the washer and dryer this morning., came up with a killer sandwich idea, pretty much finished my press release and made a massive to-do list for the upcoming week. With only 7 days left until the actual move it seems daunting.

Need to get all of the utility companies to disconnect things here, get the utility companies to turn things on up there, return the cable box, put in a change of address, call all of the creditors and take the cat to the vet, just to name a few of the items waiting to be crossed off my list . We need to get a sedative from the vet for the cat (and perhaps he can throw in an extra one for me). Driving for 10+ hours with Ellie the cat will only be possible if she is knocked out for the entire trip. This cat hates being in the car and if she only knew, I hate having her in my car. She does that continual meowing that never eases up. Hopefully drugs will do the trick!

And then of course, I have a few social obligations. Lunch tomorrow with Larry, coffee with Cynthia, a day trip to Tahoe to see my parents, an art opening on the 27th that I would like to attend. Have to keep this in balance. Try to make moving a bit enjoyable, not sure if those two words (moving/enjoyable) should even be in the same sentence but let's try it. Anyway, the real reason for tonight's blog is to get your opinion on the following:

What to you think of these light fixtures?

I love them! Keith hates them. I think they have just the right amount of urban grit that I am looking for. I wanted these three to hang over the pastry case. He doesn't think of the graffiti as artistic, he only sees it as if it is in its real state, dirty and destructive, and it bugs the hell out of him. So far, this is the first thing that we have strongly disagreed upon. We usually agree on most things, from the name of the cafe, the products we want to carry, the hours we should stay open, etc. But the design of the place should be left up to me. At least that's what I think. :)

I would appreciate any comments from my readers on these light fixtures, do you like them or not?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chicken Little

Things usually fall into place once you decide to make some changes.  They may take a little longer than you had hoped or possibly things fall into slightly different places from the ones you intended.  My things right now seem to just be falling down, and taking my moods with them. I'm feeling overwhelmed and confused.  Trying to figure out if this move is really the right thing, or is the cafe merely a means to get me to move on from here?  Knowing that I need to be making immediate decisions and yet finding it so impossibly hard to make them.  One moment I am sick to my stomach and I see this as my body trying to get me to pay attention, to feel and trust my intuition.  But just as quickly that sick feeling will be gone, overpowered by a wave of excitement that washes over me. I emailed my sister this morning with an "SOS" - Please call, I am having another minor (but could possibly turn into a major) meltdown. Bless her heart, she called me within minutes and just to hear her voice calmed me more than she could know. But it only lasted as long as our conversation. And then. . .

I ran around like a chicken with its head cut off (and from what I hear, once a chicken's head is cut off, they continue to run around for quite some time) Upon hearing that, I never wanted to eat chicken again or use that stupid expression! It was like I was in a panic, like a mother bear that lost her cubs and goes mad crazy trying to find them, or I guess that could be a mother of any species whose children are missing.  So what did I do?  I drove. I drove to Sausalito. I have a million things to do here at home. But I drove. And I sat on the rock wall by the ocean in the foggy misty cool morning looking over at San Francisco and thought "how can I leave this place" - then I drove some more. I drove up through the hills in Sausalito and took in the views from every different direction I could find. I drove listening to Dave Matthews singing "Baby Blue" (song 12 on his latest CD) and I cried. Then I would play it again. And cry. It was said about my late boss Ira, that when he was blue, he was deep blue.  I too like to get deep blue now and again. I drove back up north on 101 to Mill Valley. Stopped in at the Depot for a cup of coffee. I drank it black with a little sugar. I never drink my coffee black. And this is when I knew for sure that my breakdown was really happening; it was not imaginary after all! I got back into my car, grateful to be back in my BMW instead of my KIA rental car (not that there's anything wrong with that) and remembered how my husband Larry would tell me that when I died he was going to bury me in my car. My car was my true home. It is where I go to think, to relax, to feel free. I should have been a long distance trucker. I think I could have pulled that off. But only if I had miles and miles of those long lonely stretches of highway ahead of me, through Nevada, Montana or North Dakota. I can't really see myself maneuvering around in a city. I mean, honestly, the one time I drove a small U-haul truck from Tahoe to Napa I ended up taking off the back end of a brand new Lexus when I took a right turn a little too close!  Okay, maybe that career wouldn't have been the best for me either. What to do, what to do. Got home and checked Craigslist - checked for housing. In Portland? No. I checked places like Sausalito, Santa Barbara, Santa Fe, Cape Cod and even Paris, France. Like the old Bob Dylan song, "How does it feel, to be on your own, with no direction home, like a rolling stone" -

I know the title of my blog is "The Coffee Shop Diary" and the coffee shop adventure was what I truly intended to blog about. I had no idea it would become some kind of crazy manifesto that could probably one day be used against me! Like if someone wanted to declare me incompetent, crazy or something along those lines surely they would have all the documentation they needed, right here.  And for any of you that are reading this that know me personally, please don't worry about me. I'll be fine, just as soon as I eat a little rice pudding and finish it off with some Baked Lays. :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Signs, Signs, Every Where Signs

Monday the 15th I went to the coffee house.  I was expected to sign the lease on that day.  Now, being a Feng Shui Practitioner, I faithfully go by my Chinese Almanac, and if you are at all familiar with it, you will know that there are a couple of days a month that are considered "PO" days.  These days are not suitable for any activities, especially ones of importance, such as a wedding, traveling, a grand opening, or SIGNING A  LEASE! 

So, as I looked around the shop I told the owner that I wouldn't be able to sign the lease, that it would have to wait until I returned home to Napa and I would fax it to him at that time.  He didn't even ask for an explanation and turned over the keys to me.  Wow. 

I went and looked at two more places today to rent.  I found one that I actually like (at least well enough) and the owner seemed like a great, easy going guy.  Originally from Cupertino, California, he had moved to Portland 9 years ago and loves it.  People seem to be having a hard time with the idea of renting to someone who is not gainfully employed!  I get that, but it doesn't seem to matter that I am opening a business, have money in the bank, etc.  We will see.  I can't stress over this stuff anymore.  Either it happens or it doesn't.  I now have two houses that are both okay in my book and it is up to the owners to get back to me on their decision.  I guess if I don't get either one I'll be writing a new blog titled "What to do with my life now that I quit my job, gave notice at my apartment, need to be out by the 28th of  Feb and have no where to go" - that might even prove to be a much more interesting read!!

Oh, yes about the signs.  A few weeks back I had a very powerful, real dream about Orcas.  I won't go into too much detail since dreams are so crazy and to try and relay them to others is just as crazy.  But this is important!  In my dream people were force feeding these Orcas alcohol, then putting them in these giant slingshots, where the whale would shoot forth at a great speed and regurgitate the liquid.  I know, I know, disgusting.  Anyway, people would be on the receiving end and swallow this liquid because it would get them really high.  (I said it would be crazy to try and tell you this, but hey) - I remember in my dream saying to someone who was observing this with me, "Isn't this animal cruelty? We need to do something".  And all of this was underwater of course.

Then, just recently I had a very disturbing dream about a dolphin.  She had been shot about 50 times and there were a group of 4 or 5 men (hunter/fisherman) standing around her admiring her will to live.  I was standing there horrified as the dolphin was struggling and thrashing around on the shore.  (No friggin wonder I wake up feeling so exhausted every morning!!!!)

Whales/Dolphins can represent your intuition, awareness and your sense of spirituality. Alternatively, dreams of whales can indicate a relationship or business project that is too enormous to handle. You may be feeling overwhelmed. The dream may also be a pun on "wailing" and a desire to cry out about something.  Also, I find it strange that ORCA is the combination of the abbreviation for Oregon/California.

As I was walking through the airport terminal yesterday to catch my flight back to Napa I stopped to sit on a bench to look through my purse.  As I stood up to leave, I noticed the "bench" I had sat on was actually in the shape of a whale.  Another sign.  (Insert the Twilight Zone theme song here). Do you think I think too much?

Cry Baby Cry

This apparently is about much more than a coffee shop, or a move to a new city.  This must be about leaving me behind, the me I know, the one who has hung on little by little to her old identity.  Things started to change when at first it was me without my husband, then me without my house, without my pets (my cherished little Westie, Sophie, who I still miss terribly each day), gone are old friends, gone is my old lifestyle.  The last part of my old life to go was my little 2002 BMW that my husband had bought for me on Valentine's Day.  I traded it in last September for a newer model, but it was hard to let it go. It was the last little piece of my old life, and oddly it felt like another piece of me died when I drove off in my new car and looked in my rearview mirror, only to see my old little car left sitting in the car lot.  It felt lonely and so did I.

And now I am leaving this place, Napa, where I moved in 1991.  Where all my memories will bring me when I'm thinking about raising my daughter, the biggest most important part of my life. her horses, her music, her friends, my Feng Shui studies,  I can't believe the powerful emotions that are coming up and all of the things that I am having to think about, to reflect upon, now that the time has come to make this change.  Who would've known I would have been such an emotional wreck because of something that I was viewing as a positive change?  Apparently PJ knew.  She told me that this would be something like giving birth.  At times painful, challenging, scary, and she said, at times I would question it, as in "What in the hell was I thinking" - but that the end product would be worth it..  Something to be proud of, a place to put my love and energy and how it all turned out would depend on how I decided to nourish it.  So far I am starving this poor baby to death!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Tomorrow morning I leave for Portland to find a place to live and finally sign the lease. Checking and double checking all of my paperwork, airline ticket, check, hotel room reservation, check, rent-a-car reservation, check, lease agreement, loan application, rental applications, several Craiglist printouts, check. Still feeling like I'm missing something. Oh yes, laptop, wine for my realtor, oranges and chen pei for my daughter (a Feng Shui rememdy I need to perform on her house), clothes for 5 days, raincoat, umbrella, two pairs of boots, and it goes on and on. And all that in one little carry on. Pretty amazing. My shoulder is aching just thinking about it.

I'm really looking forward to being able to check out the coffeehouse space again. I only saw it the one time, and now I need to check out the existing inventory, measure wall space, pick out paint colors and all of that fun stuff. I found some incredible light fixtures today on Etsy - if you are not familiar with Etsy, it is an awesome online store, and well worth visiting.  I'm designing the space around one piece of art that I bought - and I am going to call it "Urban Scruff" - sort of an industrial look but with a touch of Martha Stewart - hard to imagine???  Just wait for the pictures.  A little more yin with the yang.

Great news - I just got a call from one of the moving companies I had requested quotes from and I hired them!  The name of their company?  Two Hunks and a Truck - two pretty young and pretty strong guys that are going to rent the truck, pay the gas, load and unload, drive to Portland and purchase tickets back to the bay area - and for an amazing price.  I'll give you my review of the company once the move is over! 

I wish someone was going with me, Pam, Karen, Virginia, anybody???????????

Monday, February 8, 2010

Second Thoughts?

I knew it would happen - the sooner this dream was to become a reality the more I might resist the change. I am going up to Portland in 4 days - to house hunt. I am moving there in twenty days. Maybe this is where some of the fear is coming from. Not knowing where I will be living, will I have enough space, will I be able to fit all of my old life into the new life? I am already missing the bay area - the area that I love so much. Even Napa, though I have grown tired of the wine and tourist industry, I must say, it is still breathtaking when I drive up Silverado Trail and the vines, the hills, the clouds, the sun and the simple beauty of it all, makes me feel so utterly thrilled to be alive. I will miss San Franciso, Marin County, Bake Sale Bettys in Berkeley, the Golden Gate Bridge! Oh I must admit, I feel very scared. I keep reminding myself that this is an adventure, something I would never be able to pull off here in the bay area - I couldn't afford to even try it. And nothing, NOTHING, is forever. I can switch it up if need too. Isn't that what I'm doing right now?

So, this Saturday I will be signing the lease at the cafe. I must find a place to live. I have to find movers (this has got to be the hardest part), I need to pack (ugh) and I need to put this part of my life behind me. Keep focused. Keep optimistic. Don't spend too much time thinking. Spend more time doing.

Today I will pack a few boxes. That's it. Maybe get a few quotes from some moving companies. Keep checking Craigslist for rentals. Relax. Breathe. It is all going to be good. Remind myself, enjoy the process.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Babkas, banana bread and pound cake

The last couple of days I have spent going over my list of things to do but I can't seem to focus enough to do any of them. They are things like finish my business plan, work on a press release, start packing. All I have accomplished in the past two days is packing one small box of Feng Shui items that I have in the extra bedroom and cleaning out a couple of junk drawers. I did bake a few things too. A chocolate babka that I won't be making again, some pound cake cupcakes that were good, but not good enough, and some awesome banana bread from a recipe that I got from my sister. That one is a keeper.

I'm feeling overwhelmed with all there is to do - the move is the hard part. I hate packing, always have. But looking for a place to live online is difficult too - also trying to find an inexpensive place since we won't have an income for awhile, but still giving us enough space and an environment that we will enjoy coming home to - even if it is only to spend minimal time since we will be working everyday of the week. I'll feel better once I go up to Portland next week and find a place. Once I get back to Napa I will only have 10 days to pack it up, get the movers lined up and get to Portland. Wow. Am I crazy? Maybe so.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Signing the lease

Wednesday - February 3, 2010

I received the lease agreement today from the landlord, and it looks okay, good enough to sign. I'll be signing it and delivering it to him when I fly up to Portland next week. Good, that is done. I also received a quote for liability insurance and that looks pretty good too. All the boring, mundane things that have to be taken care of. There seem to be many. But, much more exciting to me, was I met today with a friend, a very established professional artist who is going to do my logo for me. He is an incredible painter, artist, and I feel so lucky and blessed to have him doing this for me. It is going to be very simple, very painterly, (since the name of the cafe is Artistry Cafe) and done in a sort of Thiebaud style. I can't wait to see it. I've been checking out outdoor signs and banners, trying to figure out what will work best there - I think this is something I will definitely have to wait until I recheck the building to see what will work and where it will have the most impact as far as positioning. Colors! Who knew that there would be so much thought put into color - being a Feng Shui practitioner, I know the importance of working with all the different elements and the symbolism of each. I need to have a fire color, to attract attention, provide a certain energy, feed appetites and conversations. I also want an earth color to make people feel comfortable, want to stay and relax, feel supported. As much as I love the red and yellows, I want to avoid being the McDonalds, In-N-Outs and Subways of coffee houses. I think I am leaning more to chocolate browns, vivid oranges and a splash of another complimentary color. Still debating. Being that this is Portland, I feel that there should be some yellow to simulate sunshine, but yellow is such a tricky color. Too bright and it can become irritating, making people feel restless. If it is a soft yellow it can promote health and happiness. If it has a green tint to it, the skin will look sickly. Oh so much to think about! I feel as if I've done as much as I can do today - part of this process is learning to pace oneself. Enjoy the process. I will keep reminding myself of that. My astrologer PJ (you are probably thinking, "oh she is so Californian")told me to remember also that if I am trying to create an environment where people feel happy, relaxed and content, then I need to have that same energy during all the steps of this process. She is so right.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Making our dreams a reality

Tuesday, February 2nd 2010 - Groundhog Day - My introduction

Everyone entertains the idea of owning a coffee shop at one time or another. Why? Because everyone loves going to a coffee house, whether it's the local Starbucks or a small quaint hole in the wall, with mismatched chairs, local art, heads hidden behind laptops and that feeling that you belong. I'm no different. I love the coffee house scene and even more than that, I have that entrepreneurial spirit - it runs in my family.

Now at this point in my life it is time to take the plunge, never mind the bad economy or all the doubts that keep entering my mind, the fear that pricks at my skin every chance it gets. Something about this feels right. Even the timing. Here we are in Napa, California. I've lived here for the past 20 years and I'm ready to move on. Moving to Portland Oregon, where in one breath someone will say, "Oh what a great city", and the next breath, "oh, but how are you going to stand all of that rain?" I was born in California but have had the opportunity to live in some other locales, even places without ideal weather. North Dakota for example. Denver, Colorado for another. And what I have found is that it is the people, the sense of community which draws me to an environment, over the weather. You can live in paradise, but if you don't have any friends, any real connections, even the sunny perfect days can get very depressing. So, with that said, I'm ready to try and endure the endless days of wet and gray.  But maybe you should check back with me in a year's time and see how I'm faring with my new Hunter rain boots, raincoats, and frequent visits to a spa where they have that special sunshine lighting, I might be singing a different tune.

I started searching Craigslist for businesses to buy mid year last year. I searched the entire Bay Area, too expensive, Napa, too expensive. I started to lose hope. It seemed like every place I would choose to live would either cost me as much or more than where I already lived. We thought about Portland and took a quick 3 day trip in December to check it out, look at a little real estate and get a feel for the place. I wasn't that impressed. I was happy to be home three days later. I put Portland out of my mind. For a short time. But it keep nagging at me, this obsession with a coffee house, and a city like Portland seemed the perfect place. They have hundreds of coffee houses already, this I know, but the people there really embrace their local shops, they all have their favorite, it is almost a form of ownership for them. They get involved. So, after my daughter left L.A. and moved to Portland we went up a few more times, still happy to return home after each visit.

I kept scouring the ads on Craigslist and responded to a few of them. Eventually finding the one that would become ours. It just looked like too good of an opportunity - we could afford to get into it. After checking out the space, the inventory, the neighborhood, doing some market research and just hoping for the best, we decided to throw caution to the wind and put our hearts and soul into opening this incredible little place that would be ours. Artistry Cafe. A real test as to what we were made of. The stamina, patience, fortitude and love that would be required would be a challenge, but we were ready. Notice was given at my job, to our apartment, and now the work begins looking for a new place to live, packing, finding movers, getting into our shop by March 1st, getting it in shape and ready to open by April 3rd. Exciting and overwhelming, this is going to be great. It is actually going to be all kinds of things, but I'm confident that the good will out weigh the bad, and we will be successful in bringing forth a space that not only serves great coffee, pastries, and other wonderful edibles, but nourishes so much more. The creative spirit that we all have. So, here we go, our adventure begins and I will document it all. The little boring details, like signing a lease to our opening day to a realistic account of what it will be like running a coffee house. Stay tuned.

No country for old men (or women)