"I'm calling for a publisher," the voice on the message announces, and my heart skips a beat. Has someone finally discovered me? Is there a publisher who has read my work and is eager to find out if I have a book proposal? I'm well into my Happy Dance when I hear, "and we'd like to know how you source your books..." I don't hear the rest. Sigh. This is another of the periodic messages I receive from people who think that my little store, The Blissful Soul, is still open. It closed more than six years ago, and yet the calls still come. I'm wondering why people would still have in their contact list when I realize that the store listing is probably still out there, floating around cyberspace.
Out of curiosity, I do an internet search for "The Blissful Soul Eagle Rock." I'm surprised to find out just how many hits there are. There's a listing on Yelp, though some helpful user has marked it as CLOSED. There are some nice reviews on Experience LA, Judy's Book, City Search and YellowBot. Every event notice that I ever posted on the Northeast Los Angeles Yahoo group seems to have been preserved. Top of the list of these is "Fun and Frivolity at the Blissful Soul," which announces an evening with the "Number One Mime in America," whimsical art by Maestri, and gong music provided by my six-year-old son, Cameron. This reminds me of the day when the first order of gongs arrived in the store. He ran his fingers over the surface of the biggest one and whispered, "This is great. Now we can talk to God every day."
It means investing your entire heart and soul, as well as your time and dollars. It means never being "off work" because you carry it with you every waking (and dreaming) moment. It means taking the kids to "play store," instead of playing at the park. It means organizing book signings, concerts, art shows, psychic readings, aromatherapy workshops, Native American ceremonies, mimes, and yes, six-year-old gong players, employing absolutely every idea that you (and a business coach) can muster to get people to take notice of your shop which sits a little too far back from the street, has too little parking and is too easily overlooked. It means that you do most all of the accounting and ordering and marketing and the website and the graphic design and the reporting yourself because you aren't selling enough to pay for a lot of help. Being a mother of small children, it means doing most of those things in the wee hours, because the only "free" time you have is when the kids are sleeping.
Although the Blissful Soul was only open for 2.5 years, it lives on in my memory, too, in vivid detail. I had invested my severance from ChevronTexaco to fund the purchase of an existing candle store, then called Smellzgood. My husband, David, came up with the name The Blissful Soul. My children were just 4 and 6 years old when we opened the store, and I thought "having a little store" would give me more time with them than being a lawyer did. Little did I know that "having a little store" is so much more consuming than being a lawyer.
It also means meeting more people in the neighborhood, some of whom will love your store as much as you do. It means being eternally grateful for the help you DO have. It means creating lasting memories with your mother who will not outlive the store by more than a few months. It means collaborating with artists and authors and all sorts of gifted people who share of their gifts so generously. It means quickly learning to trust your intuition because it's the only "free" resource you have. It means having something to show for your work, whereas all those contracts you wrote as a lawyer just seemed like piles of paper at the end of the day. It means creating a community.
And, then, one day, it means making the Grown-Up Decision to pull the plug because, despite all your best intentions, your best efforts and your sleepless nights, the little store does not generate the revenue to pay even the most basic expenses.
Six months before closing The Blissful Soul, my husband begged me to consider it. "I know it's not making money," I protested, "and maybe it just needs more time! We are creating a community here..." He then said something that has shaped the course of my endeavors ever since. "Why do we have to pay rent for a store that's a few blocks from our house? We have a great house; why not invite people here?"
I wasn't ready to hear it then. After six more months of Trying, however, the handwriting was on the wall. I got it. I closed the little store, and it was best that I did. Another year later, the economy was taking a nose dive. I was relieved that I had put an end to the bleeding when I did.
Emotionally and nostalgically, however, I still miss having that little store. I didn't realize how much until the day when we were listing our dreams for a worksheet in the Ignite My Life meeting. I surprised myself by writing down that I still daydream about opening a new Blissful Soul someday, when I'm better funded, in a better place, where there's room for one-one-one sessions, as well as for bigger groups, and an outdoor garden.
I think it was Tanita who said, "well, haven't you already done that here?" We were meeting in my home at the time. I realized she was right. I invite people into our home for networking (Work@Homers), for personal growth workshops (Soul Cafe), for book clubs (Ignite my Life), for one-on-one shamanic breath sessions and for creativity with Earth playshops (My Earth Canvas). Our home is my new Blissful Soul.
I am grateful that for our home that has welcomed in so many. I am thankful for my husband's support that makes it all possible.
And I still hold a special place in my heart for the orginal, the first Blissful Soul baby. Today's web search has me realizing, however, that, on some level, The Blissful Soul store still exists. In cyberspace. In my heart. In my kids' memories. In my inspirations for creating community wherever I am. And those are very powerful places for it to live.