|Synchronicity lead to two significant photos posted on social media on the same day recently. One was a 7 year old memory and the other taken now, both with lovely new clients and a lifetime lived in the years in between.
In 2015 my new venture was in its infancy, just a year old. I had just risked transferring my first 8 original textile designs from 100% silk kimono ensembles my client is wearing ( above) to the more practical rayon/lycra blend top you can see me wearing.
I'd just surfaced long enough from tragic personal loss and profound grief to be able look at my life anew. Joy was once again available to feel, I can see it shining in my face.
I'd posted this photo then because this lovely woman was my youngest client to date, never had I thought a student would seek out my Laila Goddess Feel Good Silks (as my venture was originally called). In these early first years she ended up collecting most of what I'd created in that motif and will enjoy her pieces for decades ahead.
I knew nothing of the challenges that lay ahead as a total beginner growing an original textile and clothing company. I certainly could not have imagined that a short 18 months later I'd have proof of concept of my venture and this crazy unexpected mid-life inspiration would be supporting me financially.
Initially women were shy about buying silk outfits, they didn't know good silk was machine washable, were hesitant to wear them casually, and I chose to follow that insight and shift focus to offer the now signature non-pilling super comfy rayon/lycra blend textile. Initially I didn't think I could compete in the stretch jersey arena so I chose silk, what did I know?! Leaping out of the silk focused original business model saved Laila Goddess, which became the new succinct name.
Midway through the 7 years, after proof of concept of my venture- it was more than a pipe dream and something I could build on- I realized my personal growth retreat company was no longer the best expression of my skills. I stopped offering programs. Eventually I ceased to advertise the individual and couples sessions that had replaced the retreats.
Juggling two careers was no longer feasible as LG took off. The writing was on the wall that this truly was the new incarnation of my calling to serve while being true to myself.
During 2020 and 2021 pandemic down time, I cleaned out the old marketing materials and files to make room for the commitment to LG.
It's a very strange thing to consciously end a career I've spent so much time training for and developing for something so utterly different. And yet they share the same intention because it's essentially meaningful work to see you happy as you look in the mirror wearing the solutions I've created.
It's' a different kind of service and yet to the same end: self-acceptance, self-compassion, and in time self-love. I've got a cheeky sign that reads Laila Goddess: Cheaper than Therapy. It's true. Women will more readily invest in a gorgeous ensemble than spend the equivalent in life altering personal growth sessions. Accepting that pragmatic given helped move forward in the shredding and shedding of my old career and identity during these last 7 years.
The exquisite image by Tom LaBaff (above) with my logo perfectly captures my intention. What a gift that day was when again social media brought something important across my path. I searched hard till I found who the artist was and Tom graciously permitted me to use this drawing in my branding. Visitors to my booth would take photos of my signage, moved by the message of this drawing, so I created a postcard to hand out and spread the word...
The humble original website populated with images of garments on hangers taken with my phone (which I always apologized for) was replaced with sprawling 250 plus pages of professional photography of all the collections on gorgeous client models and an intuitive navigation geared to my mature demographic. Oh the pride of such an ambitious feat achieved only with the help of a marvelous team and the space and time imposed/gifted in 2020.
In this current photo below, I'm with a lovely new client during a private Trunk show, another evolution from the original handful of Toronto events. It's the 17th of 24 event line up this year. For the last few years I've enjoyed the relief and freedom not colouring my salt and pepper hair- a nice surprise how it grew in. Highly recommend trying this. Although not totally seen in the photo, thirty-five of my current original textiles were available at this event.
Here I've emerged from a long difficult period of family health challenges and loss, and like many others- painful relationship adjustments made during the pandemic, surviving 2 years of show cancellations due to lock down and what sixty-something self-acceptance looks like.
I KNOW so much more in this photo, not all of it easy to know. Ignorance may be bliss but I'll take awareness any day. Now with better boundaries, deeper self-knowledge. Ease and flow. Trust. Life is really good here, despite the emotional challenges and fatigue I felt on this particular day which was balanced by the support of the marvelous host and women who came, like this beauty here!
The first photo is the tentative start with the first hesitant collections as a new textile and clothing designer fumbling through unimaginable learning curves. It captures the cross-my-fingers dive into the deep end approach to a totally new career idea with only my wits, intuition and precious client feedback to guide me. I remind myself of an enthusiastic puppy. The second image reflects a grounded sense of purpose, tempered confidence based on experience- in the ability to learn, adapt and stretch way past comfort zones as a way of life. It's the integration of a deep, hard won commitment.
I've met countless wonderful vibrant inspiring women who recognize the solutions I create as being appropriate and desirable, even beneficial for their lifestyle. I treasure the mutual relationship we have, with solid expectation to keep meeting more of your kindred kind, rather than only wish upon hopes and dreams.
You are part of my life now, my muses, and matter so much.
Expectation is a worthy muscle to exercise, it's much more than hope.
Hope to me feels like faith, belief, the misty unseen potential of manifesting into something wanted but still a bit unsure. I love being naturally hopeful as a default along with my optimism. AND what I value about living as long as I have, based on experience and consequent expectation, is that life works out no matter what, that anything is possible. This increasingly steadfast expectation is the ground under the mist of hope.
Try this: Find a younger photo of yourself, remember what was going on, then find a current photo or just look in the mirror, and consider what those between years of living and life, joy and sorrow, opportunity and loss, giving and receiving, disappointment and delight, fear, worry and relief, consider what you've grown into as all these have moved through your days and nights. Congratulate yourself!
Please PLEASE ponder your experiences rather than judge the physical changes to your looks and body shape.
It's valuable practice to reflect on what you've lived through and with, the choices made, the endings and beginnings, it helps raise your life into higher conscious living.
Being conscious makes all the difference to the quality of your life.
This first post-pandemic year has so much to show us all about what we've come through and continue to navigate.
My wish, hope and expectation is that we can all enjoy a meaningful conscious and beautiful life.