The more I've been thinking about it, if I had my druthers I would not go back to work in an office. The office politics, the cubicle mentality, the bowing and scraping and saying "Yes, Massuh" and "No, Massuh." Who needs it?
If I HAD my druthers I would open a shop/gathering place/meditation and teaching center/mini retreat with the sole purpose of promoting the three things by which I strive to live my life: Serenity, Grace and Class (true class of course having nothing to do with money or social standing).
Of course, I have no capital, and having no business sense I would drive the place into the ground before the year was out, but I can dream, can't I?
There would be a meditation room with times for guided meditation and time set aside for private, personal meditation. I would offer classes and bring in speakers, but not the booming, hearty, "I can change your life in 8 short hours" motivational type speakers. Instead, we'd have seminars on subjects like bringing small grace notes into our lives every day (a la Alexandra Stoddard).
I would offer classes on growing herbs, on aromatherapy, on journaling and visual journaling. Maybe my friend Jude would come in and talk about Feng Shui. I tease Jude about her dedication to this art ("The Little Book of Wrong Shui", for example), but she has really simplified, soothed and calmed her life with this practice. I would have poetry, short story and essay readings.
I would bring in Lakota wise men and women to talk about Native American ways and spiritual beliefs. I would bring in traditional Native American dancers, drummers and flute players. I would have speakers on goddesses, Zen Buddhism, Rumi and the Sufi Mystics and pagan beliefs. Raised in a strictly conservative Lutheran church, I am now at a place in my life where I believe that my God is the same God as that of Abraham and Mohamed. In fact, I think any religion or belief involving practicing the Golden Rule and honoring Mother Earth is "good." However, there would be nothing in my shop or my programs involving the dark arts.
I would offer certain types of exercises and body healings, such as yoga classes and stone massage sessions, but my business would not be a spa. Instead of tanning beds, I would have individual aromatherapy chairs, in which patrons could dial up a scent formulated for their particular spiritual need that day. Because I can't abide the scent of incense, and because my daughter and others are the same way with potpourri, I would only offer these for sale in my shop, but each morning my assistants and I would burn cleansing sage that we had gathered ourselves from the prairie.
Maybe Kathleen Norris would come up from Lemmon, SD, and talk about her book, "Dakota, a Spiritual Geography". Perhaps Clay Jenkinson could expand on his Tribune column by lecturing on "The Spirituality of the Plains".
Roxanne Henke, a North Dakota author who writes Christian novels about fictional Brewster, ND, would be a top-of-the-list invitee for my visiting authors series, as would Debra Marquart, the Linton native who wrote "The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere." I would go to the Dakota Woman's Song retreat this September and scout out writers, performers, artists and artisans and invite them to Bismarck.
There would be classes ranging from building confidence in our teenage girls to the empowerment of women of a certain age. We would study matriarchal societies and the power of the goddess in us all.
Maybe my business would get so successful that I could attract famous authors like Oriah Mountain Dreamer, SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy) and Sara Ban Breathnach. Eventually we would grow so big we would have to move to a large space in the country where I could construct a labyrinth and create a series of herb gardens.
For my shop I would hire a buyer with the uncanny ability to find unique items that were surprisingly affordable. There would be some New Age items like healing crystals and chakras, but since we are SO NOT California here, I would advertise it as "Lite New Age for Middle Agers", because I would be targeting my business toward middle-age women, although all ages and both sexes would be welcome. I would sell my friend Lila Marquart's Jewelry With Meaning (see my earlier post), sculptures, candles, art work, water fountains and Zen gardens.
Although I am not keen on self-help books, I would offer up the best. My blogging friends would help me choose those, of course. I would for sure have Veronique Vienne's "The Art of . . . " books, Julia Cameron's artist series, as well as "Writing Down the Bones," "Writing To Save Your Life," and "Pencil Dancing."
I would sell yoga mats, meditation cushions and cashmere prayer shawls, journals and art supplies, serenity and mystical (but not weird) posters, CDs, easy-to-grow plants and fresh flowers that aren't often seen around here like ranunculus, calla lilies, and big spikes of delphiniums. I'd have a section for boho/gypsy/princess/airy-fairy/Stevie Nicks type clothes.
My serenity and grace place would not be just a venue to shop or attend class, however. I would have a large room filled with couches and overstuffed easy chairs and pillows where one could come and just be. It would be filled with green plants, the sound of cascading water and live bird song. It would be "green" even on the darkest, bleakest, North Dakota winter's day.
I would bring my books from home and scatter them on tables for people to pick up and read: my gardening and flower arranging books, my books about fairies, angels, history and travel, my Nick Bantock books, my simple abundance and follow your bliss books. "Lark Rise to Candleford", "Cider With Rosie" and other country life books. There would be lots of blank books for people to scribble their thoughts for others who came after. Knowing how hard it is to keep a gratitude journal, I would supply those so that people could add their gratitudes to others'. I would have a corner called "Bring a Book, Take a Book." There would be a couple of Zen gardens for people to rake.
There would be listening stations with headphones where one could choose from New Age, native and world music. I would offer free juices and coffees. And at the end of the month my accountant would tell me I had overspent my juice and coffee budget by $6,000.00 and that no one had bought those calla lilies. "No problem," I would blithely remark, "cut the budget somewhere else and give the lilies to the staff to take home."
SOUND OF A LOUD "POP"! (as in a bubble bursting)
"Oof, what time is it, morning? Ooh, that was a good dream, wasn't it? Let me see if I can turn over and go back to sleep. That's better. Okay now, where was I? Say, I was thinking we could organize a spiritual journey to Tibet. . . "