It’s Our 1-Year Anniversary

It’s been exactly one year since our post-heart transplant COVID Big Sur wedding at Nepenthe Inn. Happy Anniversary, Tom❤️

So many things came together to make that day happen in under 1 month.

We met (over the phone), an amazing manager at Nepenthe, Alisha, who not only allowed us to get married on the property, but also told us about an officiant in Big Sur, Soaring. Soaring told us about an amazing photographer, Brandon Scott, who ended up being our photographer and our witness; you have to get creative in a pandemic. I found our florist, who lives 5 minutes away, Dyana Zwang, at A Bit of Earth, who has a mind-blowing garden where she grows most of her flowers. She also knew Brandon Scott.

And the dress!!! Anthropologie has a wedding gown department where my daughter and I were able to go in and try on dresses, and scored my dream gown in a week.

Where there’s a will…Our journey was and is a process, woven into something beautiful by helpful people. 
There is a link there to Feng Shui-there always is. 

For the rest of the story, you’ll have to read Feng Shui Friday; Stay tuned! 

Floyd’s Door

Floyd Update: Everyone has a red door – Floyd is getting a green door! And look what Elmer and Ramon built to paint it with the sprayer. It looks like the beginning of a pergola!


Floyd Update

Here’s a Floyd update, and a tease of what’s to come. Floyd is getting a new butler’s pantry that was previously a room of unknown use. We think it used to be a patio 50 years ago that someone closed in. Check out the video of the old room before, and the photo of the room in its “during” state today. Keep watching for the finished butler’s pantry…

Butler’s pantries can be uber tricked out! Coffee stations, ice makers, and tons of storage! If you have a butler‘s pantry or ideas for how to trick a butler’s pantry out, please send us your ideas!

My Inspiration:

Image Credit: via Pinterest
Image Credit: via Pinterest
Image Credit: via Pinterest

How to succeed in business without even trying…

Most salespeople have not read even one book about sales…the quintessential intro to every pitch to purchase the newest latest greatest sales manual EVER. Times have changed, sales have changed, so much so that it’s arguably no longer sales. 2020 took that “sales” model and put it through a blender, along with many businesses who employ them. You can no longer succeed on charm and personality.

So rather than lament, I’m finally doing it, taking the dive into earning my small business consulting certification. I’ve been meaning to make this official for a long time, and I’ve found a great program with a stellar organization-AASBC. I’ve always been a champion of small businesses and buying local; it’s time to do something actionable to positively affect the future of small businesses. The backbone of our economy, it is more important than ever to ensures small businesses health going forward. After all, I myself am a micro business, as are many of my friends and colleagues in the lighting industry. 

Being directly invested in their success, I’m all in, but in this climate, it is crucial to be able to come to the table with the relevant tools for small business success. I’m excited to share what I learn with my customers and hope I can assist in their success in a meaningful and enduring way. This certification is pretty comprehensive- after earning certification and passing THE TEST, among the skills mastered, I’ll be consulting on the following: formulating business plans, methods of raising capital funds, inventory management methods, formulating profitable and timely open to buy, displays, store flow and aesthetics, social media and marketing plans, hiring and training staff, compiling analysis of current business health, accounting, budgeting and methodology for increasing profits. All of the skills I wish I’d had when I inherited this company, but life gets in the way. It’s practical and creative as each business has unique abilities and challenges. 

I love challenges, so stay tuned.

30 Years Together

I knew that it was coming, but opening it was something else. This year’s Hinkley Award Ceremony was a virtual event; so different than ever before. When they announced the milestone anniversaries, I honestly didn’t expect to hear our name. 2020 distorted my sense of time as the longest year ever! We’ve been working with Hinkley my entire career in lighting and beyond, which is itself exceptional, but 30 years was still a surprise.

My dad used to tell me, whenever Hinkley sends us a communication, they address us as “Hinkley Family,” and they really mean it! I have to say… truth, Dad. The Hinkley Family is a tight knit group; so unique. It’s difficult to convey in words, but easily observed when we are together. Though my father passed away in 2004, this Hinkley milestone anniversary year count included his tenure as the founder of our agency.

30 years; longer than many marriages and far longer than most personal and business relationships. My dad would’ve been so proud to receive this award, as are we. I can imagine how it would’ve been in person-we’d all be in tears. We are so honored to be a part of this company every day. To see it grow and evolve into a 4th generation family-owned company and one of the most sought-after lighting companies to represent has been an immense pleasure. We look forward to growing Hinkley and growing with Hinkley for years to come.

Thank you to our Hinkley Family for recognizing our 30 years together.

hinkley award

6 Feng Shui Tips For 2021

Seasons Greetings! As we enter into 2021, the year of the Metal Ox, there are some Feng Shui tips that we can all apply that will help make the year easier for us. 

In a perfect world, to optimize the best Feng Shui, we must take into consideration the occupants birth date and time to choose best directions to sleep, work, and prepare food, where to break ground and where not to, as well as a host of other activities. 

The tips below apply to everyone for this coming year… so here we go. 

1.You’ll need to get a compass or use your smartphone compass to orient yourself to your home’s directions if you don’t already know them.

2. It is best to not occupy the Southeast or East of your home longer than is necessary this year.

3. Seek out the West and North, Southwest and Northeast areas of your home.

4. In the Northeast and the West, if you can, leave lights on 24/7 or if you have natural light, let it in consistently. 

5. In the Northeast and in the Southwest, it is helpful to place 4 plants or 4 stalks of bamboo stems in water-these must be healthy and alive! Replace them with like item if they die. 

6. 2021 is supposed to be a year of recovery and restoration, with less volatility.  Let go of objects and clothing you no longer use or need. Be light with your belongings. Declutter and keep surfaces clean. Work on letting go of resentment and anger. This is a good year to reset your temper. 

Try some or all of these to set you up for a better balanced 2021! 

Masks and Selling – The Struggle is Real

I lived in Sendai, Japan from 1992-1994, working as a conversational English teacher. One of the first things I noticed is that many people wore blue surgical masks as they made their way around the city. Cars were a scarce commodity because of the density of the population, so people took trains, buses and rode their bikes, weather permitting. A respectable percentage of the people I saw in transit donned these masks. At the time, I thought they must be sick…

Fast forward 28 years, those same surgical looking blue masks are a regular sighting in California, as well as a plethora of designer, avant-garde masks in a variety of patterns, shapes and colors. I myself have a collection of masks, one might even call me a mask hoarder. I double mask, with the surgical mask under a colorful cotton mask, I have a visor too, and glasses because, why not?

denim mask
My denim mask

What I realize now, and remember from my time in Japan is that it’s very difficult to understand somebody when they are speaking with a mask on. It’s even more difficult when they are speaking a foreign language, but I digress.

Now, to have a “face to face” meeting with a customer, I almost have to yell to be heard with the mask, and the social distancing, so by the end of the work day, I have a sore throat, a headache, and I do feel a bit exhausted… wait-do I have COVID? 

I also realized, after many foiled attempts, that you cannot drink coffee, water or any other beverage with the mask on-believe me, I’ve tried. Nor can you eat with the mask on – tried that too. I do go out to my car for food, beverage and a “break” every so often, and my car has become a designated safe zone and restaurant.

Witnessing the great traits of human ingenuity and adaptivity, we now have clear masks, so people can read lips, masks with small safety seals for drinking using straws. I’ve seen so many cool masks, who ever thought we’d want to collect these as accessories; a mask for every occasion. I find myself shopping for masks now instead of shoes. 

Speaking of shoes, my ears and face, not unlike my feet with a new pair of shoes, are quite sore after a day with the mask. I can’t wait to get to my car and pull the masks off with the same gusto I have when removing heels after a long day at the Dallas Market. Then there’s Maskne, acne or breakouts from the mask. I haven’t experienced this, but my skin doesn’t love the masks-it’s better with the surgical mask underneath, but still. 

My Trying on Wedding Dresses Mask and my Evacuation Mask

Yes, they are inconvenient, they are indeed a pain. What I find so interesting, however, is that we’ve adapted so quickly, and to such an extent, that we’ve monetized the model and created a whole new cottage industry out of it. I find this to be such a powerful demonstration of hope, ingenuity and adaptivity, I can’t wait to see what we come up with next. 

Tom and I in our masks

A worrier’s guide to love in the time of COVID

I’ve always been a worrier. When I met Tom in 6th grade, I was already an experienced worrier. We went to middle and high school together, he, a year ahead of me. We had “intersecting friends,” so we knew each other, but not really. We crossed paths many times over the years, and finally found ourselves in the same place at the same time again after both of our marriages had ended.

We were opposites in almost every way, yet we had a lot in common and a shared history. We had different strengths and interests, but together, we laughed a lot, which is a good sign for a worrier like me. When my mom was in hospice and at the end of her life, it was Tom who brought  me food, made sure I ate, and held my mom while the staff changed her bedding. He really saved me.

We bought a house, and finally moved in at the end of 2019, the toughest year of my life…or so I thought. 2020, I assured myself, was going to be great! January looked so promising. Then, news of a novel virus, COVID, was spreading, along with a deep-seeded fear of the unknown.

One morning, I noticed, looking out the window, a dead bird outside our kitchen. This must be a bad omen, I remember thinking, then immediately forcing the thought from my mind. It isn’t; it’s nothing, I reasoned, like one does when they don’t like the answer the Magic 8 Ball gives them. Even as I reconciled the absurdity of ascribing one unfortunate event as a harbinger for another, I felt a great sense of unease, that worry, rising in my throat. 

Not a week later, I was taking Tom to Stanford for what we feared was COVID. After 8 hours in the ER room together, I had to say goodbye to him. As they wheeled him off to the ICU, I knew that there was a chance I’d never see him again. I don’t wish that feeling upon anyone, ever. 

I went home that morning to an empty house, and worried. I worried endlessly, I sat alone with my fear, I cried, a lot. I talked to my family and friends, a lot. They were my lifeline and kept my sanity intact. Licorice, my cat, was my steadfast companion. Sensing my despair, he sat on my lap all day, and slept next to my head on Tom’s side of the bed each night. He was my life saver. 

Things declined rapidly as Stanford raced to determine why a healthy 54-year-old was suddenly in massive heart failure. Giant Cell Myocarditis, and autoimmune disease so rare, Stanford hadn’t seen a case in 2 years. It attacks and kills the heart, quickly. They told me they usually only diagnose GCM in an autopsy, and if I hadn’t brought Tom in the night I did, he would’ve died by morning. 

I believe that COVID saved Tom. I’m a worrier, so I took him to what I thought was the best hospital, which it was, because worriers do a lot of research. The heart transplant that he needed was a specialty at Stanford. Many hospitals were not doing heart transplants because of COVID, but Stanford was, and there were many more organs available relative to those who were in a position to transplant them, as well as those who were able to receive them. Tom got what the doctors deemed “a perfect heart” in one day.

Tom’s recovery was nothing short of amazing. From the moment they put the new heart in, even the doctors were amazed at how quickly he bounced back, right onto his mountain bike. We did a ride together, on my mom’s birthday in June, and I made it across a very sketchy, very high bridge, which, for a worrier like me, is a huge accomplishment. We decided that day to get married, quietly, the way Tom wanted, and at Nepenthe in Big Sur, the place I wanted. 

That foggy morning, I looked over the cliffs of Big Sur from Nepenthe, one of my favorite places on the planet, and really took in that moment. Here we were, Tom and I, exchanging vows with a masked officiant, Soaring Starkey, and a masked photographer, Brandon Scott. Never how I’d imagined, but always as it should have been.

So, what’s the takeaway here, besides a great story?

I’d like to say that Tom and I cherish each and every moment, and live in the moment all the time, living our best lives all the time, because it sounds so Zen… I don’t, we don’t, because, I’m sorry, that’s not life. Don’t buy that myth. Life is messy, and unfair and, at times, too much to bear. I learned that.

-Science is nothing short of brilliant, and Stanford is indeed a world class institution. 

-People can endure a lot of pain and heartache. We are much stronger than we know.

-If life gives you a second chance, take it and run with it

-Have a plan in case you get sick and write down your wishes and those of your loved ones-it’s a good insurance policy at the very least, as my mom would say.

-Love hard and without hesitation-it’s the best part of us. Don’t be afraid of it-it will save you.

-It’s ok to be a worrier -it probably saved Tom’s life. 

Brick and Click

Go for a Brick and Click model. Check out my newest vlog post full of tips for your business. Watch:

Showroom Spruce

It’s time for a Showroom Spruce! Check out my 2nd vlog post full of tips for you. Watch: