Star Shining Sisters and the Countdown to Christmas

christmas, holidays, shopping, small business

My personal commitment this holiday and Christmas season is to purchase my gifts from small business owners and, better yet, from small business owners I personally know.  I invited my entrepreneurial friends to share with me their personal and professional goals so I could share them with you.

Each of these women featured brings a unique gift to the marketplace. As you consider your gift purchases this holiday season, I hope you will consider my friends and their services/products as a choice you could make to help support small business and hardworking people in our local communities.

Brilliance by Design

DSC02444For 37 years, my friend Donna Bauer has been helping people make their surroundings more beautiful. When I bought my first home nearly 25 years ago, I was inexperienced in decorating an older home. I was inexperienced in decorating. Period. Added to the challenge of a first-time decoration project was that my 1920s-era home had plaster walls and four layers of wallpaper. When I asked Donna if she could help me, in her characteristic way she said absolutely.

Donna scraped and prepped and painted and re-papered my two-bedroom bungalow and helped me turn it into a home I was proud to own. In a field that tends to draw more men than women because of the physical work involved, Donna is one of the hardest-working individuals I have met. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty and she sticks with a job until it’s done.

From her early days of working primarily as a house painter, Donna has expanded her business to refurbishing and up-cycling pieces of furniture that others have declared as useless. Donna has the heart for saving what others have given up on and the creativeness to draw out the beauty of a piece that has been covered by the wear and tear of life.

“In 2004, I learned the art of decorative and faux painting and in 2012 we expanded our painting abilities once again when we discovered the beauty and joy of refinishing antique trunks,” said Donna of how she learned the art and craft of upcycling furniture.

Donna currently sells her pieces in two stores in central Iowa; however, she is able to show you all of her work through her website and can make arrangements for delivery.

0_0_0_0_629_472_csupload_62256348She also produces her own artwork and for the holiday season she has hand painted winter scenes on vintage screens, hand painted wood signs and “a few other goodies”

“With our years of experience, we know how to work efficiently with as little inconvenience to you as possible while still delivering a final product that surpasses your expectations,” said Donna of her approach to customer service. “From the initial consultation to the last walk through, we keep you abreast of our progress, so you know exactly what we are doing and how much it costs.”

Donna gives back to her community by donating her furniture and other pieces to local charities and fundraisers. The philosophy which guides her the most and is evident in her kindness to others is a strong relationship with God. Through this relationship she has developed a personal philosophy to “never give up, to do my very best always.”

Heartlines by Sandi

IMG_4167It’s been said that “women hold up half the sky,” but in the case of my friend, Sandi Browne, she’s one of a special cadre of women who have walked on the sky.

I met Sandi when the universe asked me if I would extend my stay as a mental health therapist at the local hospital in the town in which I lived up until October. I’m glad I followed the universe’s bidding because otherwise I would have missed the delightful experience of Sandi Browne.

As is characteristic of mental health therapists, we got down to brass tacks in sharing about ourselves in our first day. When I mentioned that my first career was as a journalist, Sandi shared about the book she recently authored, “Touch the Sky.”

IMG_2638”I have had an unusual life as an Airshow pilot and wing rider during earlier days of aviation.  I wanted to share the adventure of flying and the choices of balancing career and family,” Sandi said of her motivation to write the book. “I am a creative person who enjoys challenges and learning new things.  Writing was a new area to explore.”

Now deceased, one of Sandi’s mentors was Tracy Pilurs, who “was an airshow pilot, built her own airplane and wrote a monthly column for a national aviation publication. I wrote about her in my book,” said Sandi. Sandi also took numerous classes and worked with a writing coach to ensure she offered a professionally prepared memoir.

Since Sandi is a mental health counselor, she contributes positively to her community nearly every day.  (That’s a whole other story!) She mentored me during the time we worked together as therapists. Sandi’s other ventures include jewelry making and spending time with her beloved family.

Whether or not you are an aviation aficionado, you will enjoy reading about the adventurous spirit of Sandi and the other air show performers in her book.

Younique with Tracy D. Haynes

10015116_823336371015034_229457299_oSomeone needed to take my place at my last position when I moved to Houston, and I am happy to say the universe sent Tracy D. Haynes. With her hearty laugh, Tracy has a centeredness about her that lets others know it’s going to be okay. As a social worker, Tracy has contributed to the world around her by working with kids in the foster care system and in her spare-time as a mentor for at-risk kids. But a woman has to eat and social workers aren’t counted among the overpaid in our commerce-based economy, so Tracy is earning extra income with Younique, a direct sales company for cosmetics. “I chose to start selling Younique makeup for the extra income as I am single parent,” said Tracy of what prompted her to begin this business in August of this year. “My goal is to use my earnings to help pay off my student loan debt as well as purchase a home.”

Tracy chose Younique’s products because they are “mineral based and last longer than the competitors. The makeup is made of natural ingredients and the best part is the money back guarantee,” she said.

10613021_976247989057204_4523186656862772128_nWith my eyes nearing 50 years, I decided to give Younique’s popular 3D Fiber Lash Mascara a try. And, wow, the promoters weren’t overselling it either when they said it boosts lashes by “300 times their natural length.” For the month of November, Younique is including a free lip stain for every $150 in purchase. I say stuff the stockings with Tracy’s products. Everyone will be happy with the quality of the product and the experience of Tracy.

Natural Nesters

katrina fullerKatrina Fuller and I met at a social gathering for which the purpose was to raise our experience of spirituality in our daily walk around in the lives we live. There, I first learned about the commitment Katrina has to Natural Nesters, her business that provides pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, and breastfeeding education and support, and integral therapy services to families. Since 2009, Katrina has worked diligently to spread her message that natural approaches to child rearing are the best and she has invested a large amount of time and resources to earn several certifications and credentials, including her Ed.D.

What motivates Katrina to work as hard as she does is the knowledge that when best practice is used in pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, breastfeeding and parenting, she is influencing positive growth for families and their children and that it spreads exponentially. Katrina quotes Sheri Dew about her impetus to advocate for mothers and children: “Perhaps having influence is not about elevating self, but about lifting others.”

While most of Katrina’s in-person clientele is located in Lea County, New Mexico, she is available to consult through email and phone sessions. Except for professional trainings, Katrina is offering a 10 percent discount on her fees for the month of December.

small businessBut you don’t have to be a woman about to give birth to work with Katrina. Katrina offers a robust menu of services designed to provide more awareness of the mind-body connection. She offers the following slate of services:

Henna Designs

  • Silhouette Painting
  • Plaster Casting
  • Digital Photography
  • Birth Art & Stories

Yoga Instructor:

  • Prenatal
  • Postnatal
  • Mommy & Me
  • Guided Meditation
  • Infant Massage

Reiki Practitioner:

  • Individual
  • Couples
  • Children
  • Pets
  • Distant

Placenta Specialist:

  • Meal Preparation
  • Encapsulation
  • Tincture & Salve
  • Prints & Keepsakes
  • Burial Consultation

“I learned the most important life lesson not just from the families I serve, but from my own family as well,” said Katrina. “I have experienced the joys and challenges of pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, breastfeeding, and parenting and am able to utilize my own experiences and professional trainings to help other families be successful in their own efforts.”

Barefoot Books

sam, dan, meI am ending this with a shameless plug for myself. I am a founding member ambassador for Barefoot Books, an award-winning publisher of children’s books. I chose to do this because of the company’s core values of offering an “authentic alternative to the commercialization of childhood. Barefoot Books encourages parents to make time for make-believe, and to share stories from all over the world with their children, so that they can glimpse the simple truth that the human condition is universal.”

itookthemoonforawalk_pb_wMy goal is to earn enough money to pay for my younger son’s attendance at the Westview School, a school for children with special learning needs. I need to earn money in such a way that it gives me the flexibility I need to care for my family, including as a caretaker for my mother.

The most important lesson I’ve learned, so far, in this endeavor is that if I stand up and ask for what I need the Universe is grace-filled to deliver.

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) is an American Express sponsored day set aside to remind consumers that the lifeblood of our economy is a small business. None of us featured above have a personally owned shop on a Main Street, U.S.A. (yet). However, we all have a small business from a brick and mortar home and big dreams for our lives to provide economic security for our families. I invite you to explore my friends’ websites and I trust you will find many special Gifts of a Great Life among them.

small business

Once More


–Copyright © 2014 by Linda Grau Powell

September trill
October fest
November blessing
Shivering tree
Shaking off its bounty
Of beauty and burden
Winds of change
Stir up mystery
Rest expanding
As time telescopes
And Earth hushes
Crooning for us
To remember
Awakening, renewal
Follow nakedness
Fumbling for closure
Sun lights fuse
Consciousness explodes
Life’s rotation
Promising growth
Bringing us home
Again and again

It’s a big job but it can be done

creative non fiction, Iowa life, thoughts for living

Tucked away for the past 30 years is a letter my high school English teacher, Mrs. Esther Grosvenor, sent to me after I graduated. On a daily basis, I rarely remember of the letter’s existence. But the letter has usually resurrected itself whenever I’ve been about to embark on a life-altering change. This week was no different when I came across it, tucked in its small cedar box in the third decade from when it was originally written.

Mrs. Grosvenor taught the Colfax High School seniors their last English class before they graduated and embarked upon the world to conquer whatever it was they thought lay before them. While the 17 and 18 year old students in her class spent more time counting the days until graduation than they did counting their verbs and nouns, Mrs. G. (as we affectionately called her), nevertheless, persevered in her job in assigning the task of diagramming sentences and drilling the rows of pimple-faced boys and girls on the difference in meaning between affect and effect, lie and lay, and simile and metaphor.

If she was inpatient with the impertinence of us she didn’t show it. After 40 plus years in the classroom, Mrs. Grosvenor had developed enough equanimity about her job that not much fazed her in her interactions with children disguised as adults.

When I finished her class and Colfax High School in 1984, I also left the town for the bright city lights of Des Moines. Six weeks after I walked across the gymnasium stage, my parents had sold the-old-Miss-Byal house where we lived and packed up the green Chevy pick-up and moved us off to the town where both of them worked for the city government.

After I moved to Des Moines, I wrote to Mrs. Grosvenor. I don’t remember the details of my letter to her; likely, I thanked her for attending my graduation reception and made mention of my move. Based on her response to me, I must have had questions about the role of women in the work force.

It’s because of our move for my husband’s promotion for work, that I had the chance to reread the letter. In this move I am following my husband for his work and I am unclear as to what my professional place is. Mrs. Grosvenor’s words are more apropos now than when she originally wrote them. Her perspective on women in the workforce was formed from her own life experiences and long before feminism became a topic of conversation and debate in our popular culture.

As I settle into a new phase in my roles as wife, mother, daughter, and employee, her words provide a gentle reminder of the importance of finding the right balance. The past few years were rigorous in tending to all of my family members and embarking in a second career as a mental health counselor.

We are in the beginning stages of our family’s transition. Many details have yet to be decided upon. But just like they were 30 years ago, Mrs. G.’s words are encouraging to me. I’ll keep hanging in there and like Mrs. G. vowed for herself as she expressed her apprehension about the change she was about to seek for herself, “maybe I’ll finish that novel I started some years back.”

Mrs G page 1

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