THIS BIG MAGICAL THING CALLED LIFE

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“Because everything that is supposed to happen will happen, is already happening, or has already happened.” — Maggie Nelson

 Chelsey Duckworth & Christina Justiz Roush 

Chelsey Duckworth & Christina Justiz Roush 

We have spent the better part of 2016 working behind the scenes to bring life to an idea that caught both of us by our hearts and wouldn’t let go: a communal workspace dedicated to supporting women. This shared space would offer Bellocq Tea, a childcare center, computers and chargers, a café, a backyard for hosting community events, and so much more. The design would be all pale woods and clean lines, velvet couches, and ceramic mugs. And, most importantly, it would be a dedicated space for women to work, connect, and inspire one and other.

We invested in market research (as many of you remember), wrote a business plan, designed a presentation deck, set up meetings with investors, and Chelsey began planning a move across the country to join Christina in LA. Then, something wonderful happened. Christina’s husband, Chris, got offered the job of a lifetime up in Silicon Valley. This was a truly awesome thing. But, it also meant that our female-focused coworking space in Los Angeles was indefinitely put on pause. This broke our hearts. Over the summer, while Christina looked at homes in Palo Alto and San Francisco, Chelsey began thriving at work in New York and larger opportunities started coming her way. Things got hard and wonderful all at the same time.

What we are about to share was not an easy decision to make. There was most certainly tears on both sides of the country.There were long emails, fits and starts, bandaids presented, obligations weighed, more tears, and ultimately the clink of champagne glasses as we bravely decided to heed our own advice and listen to what the universe was asking us to do.

For the time being and the foreseeable future, we will be stepping away from Girl Gift Gather.

What this means is not exactly clear. We haven’t ironed out all the details (despite our best efforts over the last few weeks).  There is still heartbreak and confusion here. The truth is, this isn’t just about Christina moving or Chelsey’s work becoming a priority. This is about creativity and joy. It’s about inspiration and dedication. It’s about turning something you love, love, love into work, work, work. We are so very sure that one day it will all make sense. That we will look back and laugh at our silly mistakes and wonder at our big ideas. But, all we know now is that we need to let go.

Some Saturdays, this beautiful little newsletter is an incredibly inspirational and forward-focused space, other days, it’s all about the mess that is the heart. Today, we offer you the latter. Today, we are present and honest, and still in that most uncomfortable of places – the truth. We can’t wrap this ending up in a beautiful bow for all of you.

It is a hard job to try and make something work when the universe has other plans in mind. We imagine that most of you know exactly what we’re talking about; that you too have toiled over whether to fight harder or to let go of a project or a job or a relationship. Some of you may be in that very situation right now. It is not an easy spot to be in. And yet, this paradox is at the crux of so many things in our lives. Maybe this email will scare you. Maybe it will inspire you. Maybe it’s just nice to know that you’re not in this alone. Letting go is not always the answer. But for us, in this moment, it is. All we can say is trust yourself, trust your instincts, trust this big, magical thing called life. That it is working for you, not against you. And that you are being led, even though it might feel like you are walking in the dark. 

The most important thing we can do today is thank you. We are so incredibly grateful to each and every one of you for reading this newsletter every Saturday morning, for visiting our blog, for watching our episodes, and most importantly for sharing your wisdom, experiences, and support with us every step of the way. Doing this with you has changed our lives.
  

Please keep in touch! We would love to hear from you. We will both be around, working on exciting projects and continuing this life of creativity and learning. We will definitely keep you posted!

Have yourselves an extra beautiful weekend!

Love always & forever,

C+C  

#LessonImAlwaysLearning | CASEY BENJAMIN

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To really live:

I have had cancer twice — cervical, then lung. I am 42 years old. I meditate, eat right, I don’t smoke, I do pilates, I walk everywhere, I smile a lot — cancer was not part of the equation. Each time I was diagnosed with cancer I thought I was going to die. 

When you go through chemo you’ve got toxic nerve gas running through your veins. I turned gray, lost every hair on my body and looked like a corpse.

When you become a survivor you either go back to where you came from or you choose to head in a new direction. Round one, went back. Round two, got out of Dodge. 

I quit my job, got a divorce, sold the house, fell in love, started Juju Supply Co., cut my hair, got a new tattoo and travelled a lot. Cancer gave me the courage to start over. 

Today I walk my kids to school even though they can walk themselves. I hug my friends all the time and touch their arms and stroke their hair. I buy marigolds whenever I see them. I eat dark chocolate for breakfast when I feel like it. I lay on the couch reading the paper in the middle of the day. 

And, sometimes I cry at night for the fear of things coming in threes. 

But, no matter what, I will never, not ever, live an inauthentic life again. So, thank you cancer, you enabled me to really live.


Casey Benjamin is the co-founder of Juju Supply Co. Juju Supply Co. celebrates the true origin of jewelry, objects of adornment that carry meaning and significance. Like the wedding ring, there’s power in the jewelry you wear every day—power to remind you of who you are and who you want to be, of where you’re going and where you’ve been, of the people you love, and the protection, tranquility, and support they offer.

Rising-Of-The-Pheonix

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Today a beautiful post by Pamela Mahler

 Image via M ystic Mama

Image via M ystic Mama

I  have sat down to write this article many times already and have come up fruitless However, the New Moon always provides me with great inspiration and clarity, so I feel it will all come together in this moment. Christina, one of the creators of Girl Gift Gather, is the one who opened up my awareness to this power and for that I am forever grateful.  She and I have been in each other’s lives for many, many moons and from just outside the chaos she witnessed my descent into addiction and subsequently, my rising-of-the-Pheonix experience in recovery, which is what I will try to focus on here and now. I am very humbled to share a piece of my story with you & hope that through my honesty, someone’s heart will find an openness where before there was only a closed door.

So like I was saying, I’m an addict in recovery. I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge that addiction is more serious than ever. The number of drug-related deaths that take place each year has been steadily rising for over a decade. These numbers don’t even include the suicides that take place because addicts finds death more appealing than continued compulsiveness, or the “died suddenly” OD-omissions in eulogies written by families, too ashamed to bring light to their loved ones’ fatal habits. The truth is we need to wake up as a society and see that addicts are our friends; they are our neighbors, our cousins, our baristas, our teachers, lawyers, uber drivers, even our partners – addicts are everywhere. The problem lies in the fact that when people think of drug addicts they think of the ones trapped in active addiction; liars, thieves, drains on government programs, deadbeat dads, and so on. No one thinks of drug addicts as kind, introspective, altruistic, passionate individuals who seek to do good for the benefit of all, but I am here to tell you the latter is the absolute deepest truth I’ve come to know. 

I crawled into recovery on December 27, 2013; 15 years after my first drink.  I was 27 years old and my near-lifeless body had been carried out of a music venue the night before by a dear friend who I now consider a guardian angel.  I know the exact moment my partying went from recreational indulgence to gripping necessity, but I’d rather not dive into the specifics.  What I will say is that when I woke up that day I knew something had changed inside of me. I was given the gift of desperation and I was ready to face the truth. I knew I needed help, so I reached out to a family member who at the time was 25 years sober. He nudged me onto the path of life I still trudge today, one where I am surrounded by love and support, guided by soulful inspiration and honored to be of service to the world as best I can.

Early recovery meant turning my life upside down, shaking it until all my pockets (and closets) were empty of lies, secrets, and skeletons. I had to make peace with what lay before me during that process and own up to the kind of person I had been presenting to the world through my actions. It took a lot of work to forgive myself and mend the relationships with others that I’d frayed. I cannot tell you how many times I burst into tears on buses, subways, and long walks simply because I hadn’t felt an unfiltered feeling in a decade and a half. It meant getting back up in life, planting my feet firmly in the ground and being sturdy enough to stretch my hand out to pull up the next girl who had fallen.

My life today has little resemblance to the one I left behind. Before I found recovery I prided myself on being Queen Party Girl.  Getting backstage at a concert was my only aspiration in life; I had no goals or ambitions and certainly wasn’t looking for ways to improve my community or humanity as a whole. Floating through life aimlessly, I spiraled out until I was circling the drain. 

Through spiritual practice and a supportive community comprised of the firemost sober women,    I’ve learned how to make sense of my emotions and experiences which gives me the power to navigate life in a purposeful way.  My feelings were too intense for me to handle early in my youth which is how I ended up soothing myself with alcohol in the first place. “That which pulls us off the path is that which brings us back to it” – thus is my story with addiction.  What initially was an analgesic for my pain ended up digging a far greater wound than my initial emotional scrapes.  When I woke up that fateful morning & had the choice of continuing to numb myself or look my truth in the eye, I was finally able to choose the truth. I’m grateful for every minute of my journey, because it all brought me to here-and-now, a place where I feel a sense of precious belonging.

 In recovery I’ve found my calling; I’m a second semester student at the Swedish Institute of Health Sciences on my way to becoming a massage therapist.  This discovery was made slowly and gently through intimate meditation work with a mentor I cherish dearly. I’ve learned to express myself in ways I only dreamed of when I was still drinking and drugging, like the year I spent doing stand-up comedy in clubs & volunteer improv with special needs children.  Most recently, I connected with Miracle Messages, a non-profit that uses the power of social media to connect people experiencing homelessness with long lost loved ones. 40% of the connections made through this process result in those people moving from the streets into the homes of their families and friends, a statistic that brings me to tears every time I say it out loud. I’ll be volunteering my time helping them set up their chapter here in New York.  It’s a project that moves me deeply and it is an honor to be able to serve those who have lost their way and voice. Today I live a life I can be proud of with passion, a clean heart, and a still soul. 

The truth is, I am one of many. I have met thousands of people like me and know there are hundreds of thousands of us across the globe. I won’t ever deny that addicts will steal your wallet and lie to your face – but I want it to be known that addicts in recovery make the world a better place.  There’s a specific flavor of compassion, humility, and empathy that comes from living through the wringer that is addiction.  We’ve seen the ugliness of humanity within our own selves which makes it nearly impossible to judge others. When I see a person struggling today, my instinct is to find a way to help. We all are subject to the tale of the two wolves and being that I found a way to change my spiritual diet, I feel it my responsibility to help those who are still on their way.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pamela Mahler is a massage-therapist-in-training residing in Brooklyn, New York. She practices mindfulness meditation, aromatherapy and yoga regularly to remain a clear vessel for her clients. She is passionate about helping the homeless, people facing addiction,and their loved ones; if you feel moved to reach out to her regarding any of the above (or for any reason at all) please send an e-mail topamelamahler@theswede.me

A BEAUTIFUL WEEKEND

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 Image via  Cubicle Refugee

Image via Cubicle Refugee

Weekend are we glad ever glad to see you! Here’s to relaxing, enjoying, and finding the beauty in all of it. 

Pinksourcing!

Happily ever after? 

On our fall reading list: The Mothers

Adventures in India

This campaign is genius. 

Emma Watson takes a stand.

This is the best. 

Amy’s Faves. 

A beautiful blog.

A beautiful podcast.

A beautiful woman

Have a beautiful weekend! 

California Here We Come

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By the time this post goes live, I’ll be in California. I’ll be in LA for three sun-soaked days saying hello to some of my dearest friends (Christina, I’m looking at you). After LA, Mike and I will drive north to Ojai for a day strolling through the town and camping in a state park – I haven’t been to Ojai since in years but I have the fondest memories of visiting the town with my whole family when I was little. From Ojai, we head to wine country for a family wedding. This too promises to be full of sun and smiles. And then, the most exciting part of the whole trip — 3 days in Big Sur.

Despite taking many road trips (and even a dedicated west coast road trip), Mike and I have never been to Big Sur. We’re already planning breakfast at Big Sur Bakery, afternoons at Pfeiffer Beach, and sunsets at McWay Falls! The final leg of our trip will be two nights in the Bay Area. It’s going to be 10 magical days of Joni Mitchell, California produce, stunning views, walks along the beach, and long chats in our rental car. I can hardly wait….

Chelsey

A Beautiful Weekend

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 Image via  Honestly WTF

Image via Honestly WTF

A kingdom of girls

Making sure their voices are heard

Where’s my trophy at?

The Supers!

Can’t a girl get a sick day?

Solange Knowles on belonging

An open letter to managers of women.

Tea time (finally!). 

The bitch. (Reminds us of Tina Fey’s wise words…”bitches get stuff done.”)

A self-compassion how-to

Advice from a woman with 101 years of experience

New doesn’t have to be stormy

Also, how to make the super cool jeans up top. 

A beautiful brand.

A beautiful podcast.

A beautiful woman

Have a beautiful weekend!

Mood.

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Inspired by Phoebe at The WW Club, I started making a monthly mood board. It’s a bit ritualistic, a bit creative, and a bit goal oriented. You know, just enough of everything but not too much of anything so that it’s still a fun, easy, post-work activity.

Sometime during the first week of the month, usually a Tuesday night or some such mundane day, I grab a nice glass of wine and some cheese (or just tea and cookies) and spend a few guilt-free hours perusing Pinterest. I wander down a creative rabbit hole (you know, the kind you usually only find yourself going down when there’s a pile of work in front of you that feels urgent and impossible) and let one image inform the next, eventually deciding on a few standout styles/colors/interiors/haircuts/shoes that I’d happily stare at for the next 30 days. I try not to take the project too seriously or get hung up on the details. It doesn’t have to be perfect. There will be a new mood for next month. It’s just a creative ritual, one that doesn’t feel overwhelming or weighed down by goals and ambition. It’s like a coloring book or knitting — the joy is in the doing, the product is just a perk. 

Up top is September’s mood board. Time and tea feel like a big part of this month: back to school, back to traditions, back to cooler temps. And with NYC painted in rakish, bare-faced models how could I not include a little fashion (fur-lined Gucci loafers anyone?). Mostly, seeing these images every time I open my computer reminds me just how many places I can find inspiration…and just how much cool stuff there is right at my fingertips. Yay for the internet and all that.

Chelsey

P.S. Get in a MOOD with me — I’m uploading my boards to Pinterest. Becuase, why the heck not?

The Table is for Talkin’

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 image via  Sarah

image via Sarah

Growing up, I ate dinner with my parents and at least one grandparent every single night until I got a part time job my senior year of high school. This was our time to share the day and tell stories of past lives. It’s how I learned to remember my parents first meeting, even though I wasn’t there to witness it. It’s where l learned of the adult world – of office etiquette and family strife, of money and how to save it or lose depending on your habits. The food we ate was simple, always something green and more often than not a variation on baked chicken. It was purely the reason we were able to sit down together and talk.

Weekend breakfast was a little different. Whoever woke the earliest made the coffee and read the paper quietly until the rest of the house came alive. My grandmother was usually up first, and her sound was that of the spoon scraping the bottom of a cup, gently stirring sugar into her coffee. That was the sound I heard before my eyes opened and I knew she was sitting in the morning kitchen light waiting for us, maybe thinking about the day, maybe thinking about the past. Of all the dinner table talkers in the family, she was the quietest. And I’m sure that we had many conversations on those mornings, conversations that I don’t remember, because what do we say to our grandparents when they’re present each and every day? When they’re just as much a parent as our own, witnessing the mundane details of a multi-generational home?

Before it was her alone in the kitchen, there was another, a grandma and grandpa silently stirring, silently reading. I never knew him before the stroke, so to me all grandpas had canes and wore matching Dickies shirts and pants in olive green, and watched televangelist on TBN. They all went to the VA and puffed out their cheeks when something was difficult, blowing a raspberry into the air. He was sick and I knew it. I also knew that I was special because I was able to see him every day while my cousins could not. He was my first death, my first funeral, my first wave of guilt. Not saying goodbye, even at a young age, is very specific and horrible feeling.

After the funeral, after everyone left except for family, we sat around the same table, speaking in normal, subdued tones, until gradually we laughed again. Each person had a story and each person waited their turn to share it. It was meant for the adults, a way for them to accept the loss and all the kids knew this. We happily listened to the same old stories, but were enthralled by the new ones, the kind of stories that are only told when that person is no longer part of the physical world. And they were sincere stories, the kind that carried the love of this man through the air. We were going to miss him.

The family table has changed both literally and figuratively. It went from seating six to four, and most nights there are only two diners. When I do eat with my parents, we resume our assigned seats and the conversation falls back in time. Back to when my parents met, back to the way we remember birthdays and funerals and old homes, back to business of living.

  • Andrea Martinez is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and currently lives in Dallas with her rescue dog Ulysses. She dabbles in a little of this and a little of that. 

A Beautiful Weekend

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 Image via  racked.com

Image via racked.com

Color in Crescent City. (This is seriously so beautiful – see pic above for examples of the magic!). 

For the back to school set. 

10 reasons you should never get a job

Cheers?

The most enlightened teen on TV. 

Women I could be.

Dear Bobbi Brown,

How to write yourself out of a funk. We wrote a little on this and you can read it right here

Beauty boss

A beautiful book.

A beautiful podcast.

A beautiful woman

Have a beautiful weekend!