When I was a girl, I had a friend Elizabeth who lived up the street. She was an only child to a single mom -- a young and gorgeous single mom who used to wear lingerie to mow the lawn, much to the delight of most of the neighborhood men.
Her mom wasn't super attentive or engaged, though I did get treated to dinner at the Ritz Carlton in Boston one unassuming night by Elizabeth's mom and her MUCH older gentleman caller.
Her mom also introduced me to the simple pleasure of a plate of sliced strawberries dipped in PURE SUGAR -- a luxury never offered at my own home.
One Valentine's eve, I slept over at Elizabeth's house. She had told me that her mom did something special on Valentine's Day and she was excited for it. She regaled me with the story of how each Valentine morning, she awoke to a string outside her bedroom door and she would pick up the string and follow it to her present -- usually chocolates and other pink and red treats.
Elizabeth was an only child and -- no offense to any only children out there -- was not always prone to sharing. So we went to bed with visions of the Valentine treat Elizabeth would get and I was hoping she would find a morsel of kindness inside herself and share some with me.
Imagine my surprise and delight when we opened the door in the morning and there were TWO strings. And at the end of those strings, TWO white sparkly bags filled with the most beautiful candy I had ever seen. One was just for me, from Elizabeth's mom.
As I got older and had kids of my own, I always remembered the consideration and generosity of Elizabeth's mom and how she made me feel included in a special ritual I'd assumed existed just between the two of them.
And I have never forgotten that moment for a single Valentine's Day since. That feeling of opening the door in the morning and being part of something really special and indescribably sweet.
So I spend a good deal of time thinking about "my ideal client," as this is helpful with marketing, but I struggle. I love the diversity of clientele I have at the studio and the various walks of life people are coming from.
Last week, I did identify a great example of a NON-ideal client and I would like to share this as both a cautionary tale and a rant.
This woman booked an appointment for herself, later letting me know it would be for her and her 15 year old daughter, and she showed up with 3 daughters. No problem, I got this.
One of the daughters was about 6 or 7 years old and while the mom was getting her henna, she was jumping from poof to poof (I have these cool leather ottoman-style poofs) like stones in a river.
The mom, out of nowhere, turned around and whacked the kid on the back so hard it knocked her over. When she began to cry (presumably out of shame and embarrassment more than anything), the mom yelled at her and mocked her for crying.
So here's what you need to know about me. I'm no saint, but I love children and I don't hit them. I have been an advocate of gentle discipline (not to be confused with permissiveness) for my entire life, first as a nanny, then as a preschool teacher, and as a mom.
I stopped the mom's henna, and took a couple minutes to go color with the child with a basket of art supplies I keep in the closet. Once she was back in a more zen space, I went back to the henna.
The woman had booked a 30-minute appointment, and usually I take extra time with people -- especially teens and kids -- when I can. And I had the time. But when that clock struck 30 minutes, I couldn't get them out of the room fast enough. My generosity has limits.
While I don't judge people for how they choose to raise their kids, I want to let you know that in my beautiful serene studio, I make the rules.
And in my space, we Don't. Hit. Kids.
I've been quiet these days, totally intentional and totally restorative. But I figured I would pop on and say hello.
As much as I love what I do in the busy times -- the bustle of appointments and parties, the mania of summer reading programs at libraries, the thrill of fall festivals and music festivals and the intensity of gingerbread season -- this is one of my favorite times of year.
January, February and March are my down months, the slower season. Still popping into libraries and the studio and occasional events and parties, the pace is more manageable and less chaotic.
If I have budgeted mindfully, which this year I have, I can set my speed to cruise control and do a little living.
My travels this winter will take me to Montreal, St. Lucia, Key West and Morocco. My work focus is on editing my spaces, refining my systems, improving my techniques and being present in my own life. The rest, I figure, will follow.
I can meet friends for coffee and I can spend 30 minutes cooking myself a nice lunch. I can sleep in and stay up late and chat with friends and go on dinner dates. I can, and do, watch lots of movies and I take care of my body -- catching up on appointments and rest and generally just returning to center.
Part of loving what I do is rolling with the seasons, going with the flow. Accepting what is. Enjoying the fruits of my labor.
Pretty soon, the earth will thaw and the thumping of the drums will start to pulsate across the spring and beckon all of us toward the dancing beats of summer, which means henna and people and festivals and parties.
And I will be rested and ready to open my arms to it all again.