How I Followed My Curiosity

September, 1997. A moving truck carrying all my possessions had just arrived in sunny San Francisco. For the past seven years I had lived in Charlotte, North Carolina. My life there was good, but I had a deep need to stimulate my mind and connect to my passion again. So I landed a job in San Francisco at a budding start-up in the center of the dot-com boom. Passion here I come!

The minute I arrived at work, feeling confident in my red power suit, I dove head first into the job. Best way I thought to find my passion, dive in. Every day my mind was more and more stimulated, expanding in every direction to absorb things at rapid-fire pace. Some days my brain ached so badly I could barely remember my name. But I was around passionate people and thought I was living my passion too. 

Little did I know then I’d made a wrong turn. I was letting my job lead the way, not my natural curiosity. 

But the signs were there. Whenever I met friends out after work, all I could talk about was work. No other interests came to mind. When I came home to my apartment, all I did was pull out my laptop, connect to passionate colleagues and work projects. Since everyone around me was living this way – calling each other Rock Stars as we were changing the world – I didn’t realize I was travelling further away from my own interests and passions, not toward them.

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On especially tiring days, I would come home and flip through a stack of home and garden books. Doing so grounded me in a strange way. Looking at the pretty rooms in the books was somehow refreshing my mind, wondering how the rooms were created. But I didn’t act on this curiosity or give it carefree white space to breathe. The next day, I simply jumped head first back into work, along with everyone else.

Finally, two years later. I left that start-up. While my brain had been stimulated, my heart yearned to find my real passion. 

After a year searching, one Sunday evening a lightbulb moment came. My fiancé David came home from an event he had attended in the city where Christy Turlington (yes, that beautiful model although she is also an author, as you will see) had spoken. He was reading a new autographed copy of her book next to me on the couch while I was flipping through a home decorating magazine.

After commenting to him that the cover was inspiring, he began to say how interesting her story was. Her book, Living Yoga, was all about her new passion for yoga.  As David recited her story, tears rolled down my cheeks. I hoped he didn’t notice, but when I couldn’t control the loud sniffling, he looked over.

“What’s wrong?” he asked with surprise.  Just responding was difficult enough, but I mustered an emotional “I am so happy for her, don’t get me wrong. But she is so passionate about something and I can’t help wanting the same. I am 35 and have no clue what my “thing” is!”

David, surely questioning my sanity, gave his best gentleman response, offering up “Don’t worry, maybe you could take a yoga class.” Immediately I lost it.  Quickly reminding myself it was best not to scare away the fiancé, I tried my calmest version of, “No, it’s not YOGA that I need. I will burst if I don’t find MY special thing! The thing I am passionate about. My message to share with world.” 

Yes, more tears, more blubbering. Feeling the need to pull it together, I politely asked if he could continue reading her nice story and pass me the Kleenex. David, surely relieved I had returned to a semi normal state, kindly added, “Don’t worry, Yasmine, you will find your something.” Yes, at least I had done something right and picked a wise guy to marry.

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That week, while alone at home, I reread Christy’s story of her finding yoga. And do you know what it reminded me of? How alive I felt flipping through those home and garden books! That inspired me to act. I decided to do something I used to do back in Charlotte that I loved, getting up at the crack of dawn and roaming antique markets on my own.   

In a few months, my curiosity around home and garden was in full swing. I was meeting people at the markets and making connections that would soon come in handy. Soon after, I happened to walk by a store in town that caught my eye – it had a For Lease sign. I could stand it no more – I had to act! Before you knew it, I was filling trucks every week with vintage finds.

Within 6 months from that night blubbering next to David, I was opening the doors to my very own home and garden store, Maison Reve (it translates to Dream Home in French). It was the outlet for my new passion, the fruits of my curiosity, and the channel to share MY life message: to inspire people to believe anything in life is possible. I’d share my message with customers every day in little ways.  I had that store for 10 beautiful years until I recently moved it online.

So the point is this. Christy’s story was what it took for a light to go on for me. Perhaps my story can be what will do it for you – is there a yearning inside your heart that needs to be connected to your passions?

If it is speaking to you, trust it.  Then try this YMoment: Follow Your Curiosity.  I can say from personal experience, your curiosity has the power to navigate you right to your passion. 

Welcome to YStories + YMoments!

Bonjour!

It's Yasmine.  

You may remember me from our chats when you came by my French home and garden shop in downtown Mill Valley called Maison Reve.  You may also remember receiving my emails with creative ideas if you were on my Maison Reve customer list.  

But I haven't reached out to you in a while.  So you probably don't know that my business is changing, and so is our world. I still love collecting vintage treasures and have a great online shop for you, but I've also created something new to go with it.  It's something I am very passionate about...and hope you are too.

With all things new, I’m feeling those butterflies inside from both the hope and the fear – so please bear with me.  Since life is about leaping in, here goes!  

Do you feel like our world is becoming more divisive and fearful, but know it can be different? Read on. Do you feel like your life is crazy busy, so you long for the feeling of being alive and carefree that you felt as a child? Then read on.  
 
I feel the same. So I'm on a mission to inspire us all to live more compassionately, moment by moment – in fact, I want to help create a world fueled by compassion.    

It all started when I noticed how the power of compassion made me instantly feel more alive, connected, joyful. I noticed that it had the power to actually shift the energy between me and the person I was talking to, leaving us both feeling more energized.   

I also learned -- often the hard way -- that feeling like this didn't mean I had to add a big project to my overloaded To Do list. It was more simple and fun. All I had to do is create little moments of compassion. They all add up!

That's why I've created YMoments. An email delivered to your inbox once a week with one inspiring way to create a moment of compassion. It takes a minute to read but can ignite a spark inside that changes how you enjoy your entire week.  

Once a month, I'll include a YStory, too - a quick, real life story that can help you slow the pace of life, so you can uncover your unique, creative passion and reconnect to your life's purpose.

So join me in creating a world fueled by compassion for us and our children. We CAN do it together.  

To receive your first YMoment next week, sign up now. Give it a try. Who knows what might happen....

Yasmine

Be the Change. Create a Life Space Circle.

Have you ever dared to dream of totally letting go and embracing the unknown?

Scary, huh?  I know, and I know mainly because five years ago I did more than just dream it.  

It was right after ten magical years of owning my French home and garden store - Maison Rêve.  I'd decided it was time to close its doors and move it online.  I wanted to be more present with my two young children both under the age of five.  It was a tough decision because I loved my customers and being creative ever day.  

But that little voice inside was speaking.  Telling me to make space for the next stage in my creative growth.  

Of course, that voice was swiftly followed by a flood of doubt:

What would my new creativity look like?  What if I leave something fulfilling for the unknown and it never comes?

I would never know if I didn't try, and I'd never let that stop me before, so I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and pushed through the doubt.  I also went straight to a firm favorite of mine, something that had helped me time and again when facing uncertainty - it was time to create a Vision Board.

Have you ever created a Vision Board?  It's really not that hard, and actually kind of fun (as well as therapeutic during times of change).  You just gather up a whole bunch of magazines and printed material, then cut and clip all the things that catch your eye and speak to your soul (kind of like that little voice).  Then you paste all your favorites on a white board - voila!  A collage of instant insights into what's important to you, plus instant inspiration on where you might want to head next.

So where was I going next?

Well, one image on the Vision Board was of books by a windowsill.  I fell in love with it immediately.  My mind was craving reading again, especially stories that expanded my soul and creativity.  Secretly, I hoped reading might also focus my circling mind.  Off to find me some good reading!

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First stop, a used book store (yes, they still exist, in fact, there's probably one right near you).

The first book to find me there - virtually leaping right off the shelf into my hands, was:  Healing the Soul of America by Marianne Williamson.  It spoke to a curiosity growing inside me, "Why had our American culture and political establishment gotten to where it is today and where is it heading?"  Being connected to a higher purpose than my own personal growth would also be critical to igniting my passion. 

Next, I made up a fun, new ritual.  When the kids were in school I'd treat myself each week to strolling a bookstore to see where my curiosity led.  No set purpose, just free time to explore.  

And boy was I rewarded - almost every book that caught my attention seemed a perfect match.  I'd read them like a girl thirsty for water, then talk endlessly about what I was learning to my sympathetic husband (who nodded every so often to show me he was still listening).  

I knew I was acting a tad obsessive, but what would you expect?  My life was evolving - real time.  I just had to let it out, to talk and talk about these ideas, these thoughts at a deeper and deeper level.  I needed to share the struggles I was having in applying the change to everyday life.  Bless him, he was helping, but I needed more - I needed female perspectives.

Where would it come from?

Fast forward to the very next Saturday.  I am at a child's birthday party,  and Rebecca, another mother, casually asked what I was up to now that I closed my store.

"Reading!" I almost screamed. 

Reading so much I'm fit to burst.  Barely taking a breath, stories started pouring out of me - what I'd learned, how inspired I was, how it was all affecting my life.  Rebecca listened but you could see she was fit to burst too, "Wow, me too, I'm feeling the same way." she finally blurted out. "Please, please, please email me the list of those books you're reading.  I wish more women were reading and talking about these kind of things like what we're doing right now."  

Light bulb!  We were on to something here - but why just wish it?  I knew from conversations with hundreds of women who frequented my store that so many of us were yearning for deeper joy and meaning, but were all on treadmills of our own making that didn't allow for time or space to discuss real challenges.  We were all getting stuck, numbing or closeting our feelings, and living each day yearning for the unknown.

Time to be brave!  Back at home, my fingers flew across the keyboard.  Within minutes an email was crafted.  I quoted Martin Luther King Jr. and higher callings.

The email went out to 8 women I know who would expand and grow and flourish with me - it was the first ever invitation to be part of a Life Space Circle.  

In essence, as you've probably guessed by now, Life Space Circles are about coming together, making time, and actively creating "white space" in your life - space to be inspired (and inspire), space to just be, and breath, and expand beyond any limits.

As a designer, I would always start decorating a client's home (or my store window) by stripping things back to their essence, therefore eliminating potentially unnecessary objects so a room, a home, that store window could breathe.  Finally I would have it:  the white space.  Only then could I call up my creativity.  Now I needed this white space in my life - this life space - to hear my voice again and ignite my creativity, so I could literally leap back into my life!

My vision was that these Life Space Circles would not only expand our individual consciousness but also the collective consciousness of women.  By doing this we would create powerful circles filled with compassionate energy necessary to solve many of our personal, community, and even national and global issues.  

"Think of a pebble dropped in a pond, think of the ever-expanding circles - that was the inspiration." 

It had to be about the individual soul but also a higher collective soul.  Together we would select books that enlightened our mind, bodies and spirits.  Then simply meet every two months to discuss.  It's not revolutionary (but it may lead to a revolution), it's just about committing to make it happen, and then seeking out this compassion on a regular basis.

Now, remember at this point I was out on a limb a little here.  The invitation had gone out, but would anyone respond, was it just me, or was I on to something?

Well, within hours I had my answer.  Emails pinged back and piled high...

"Oh, my goodness Yasmine.  This is exactly what I need right now!"  

"Are you inside my mind?  The words I am reading are the same as the ones in my head."  

"Your email woke something up in me.  I am ready to finally grow my creativity but need to talk to other women to get away away from the daily grind of emails, texts...the dishwasher...the freaking laundry...so I can see clearly what I want in life!"  

Four years later, our Life Space Circle is more powerful than ever.  We've expanded to 14 women, and read a new book every other month.  There is a special selection criteria.  It revolves around books that inspire us to live in the present moment and be more joyful, creative and compassionate.  It's important that we balance books about self growth with ones that inspire us to give back to the world.  We take turns hosting.  The Circle Hostess gathers book recommendations and gets to make the final selection.  

We keep it simple with tea and healthy treats, although we have been known to break out a nice wine!  It's become an intimate space to be REAL and focus on what matters.  

Laughter, tears, compassion live within each Circle.  There is always at least one (if not many) "belly-aching pee moments".  Where we are all laughing so loud our sides hurt and we're afraid we might actually pee!  Nothing shared leaves the space and if you can't attend, you never feel judged or excluded. 

We leave the night filled with inspiration, bold courage and practical ways to express our real selves.  The next day, emails flow sharing gratitude, inspiration and practical tips.

Now, there is a reason I am sharing this story with you today.  It's because that little voice inside is speaking again.

It's telling me that our country needs more Life Space Circles to help expand a larger soul, our American soul.  Our first Circle is ready to ripple out and empower more women.  I truly believe these circles can harness that fierce feminine energy within all women to enlighten us and collectively become a guiding light for our country to follow a more compassionate path forward to unite our nation. 

Is your little voice speaking too?  

Could you see yourself as a Life Space Circle leader?

Our country, our world, needs more of you.  It doesn't require much time.  Or cost anything.  All you need is a strong belief in the vision and a desire to manifest more compassion in our world.  The rewards are pretty potent.

Email me and I will get you started.  I'll provide you with the Life Space Circle Guide that includes more of the criteria I spoke of, and tips to getting a Circle started and keeping the momentum growing.  All our Circles will intersect by sharing book selections (often reading the same titles), the top "belling-aching pee moments", practical ways to evolve, and online discussions (maybe one day meeting in person at events!)  

Now if you want to be part of a Circle, just not the leader, email me too.  Every circle needs more ripples.

Below are a selection of the books we've read over the years just to get your thoughts started, followed by testimonials.  

Join me, join us.  This may be one of the most meaningful things you will ever be part of. 

Leap Into Your Life,

Yasmine

"Being in this circle has not only exposed me to so many mind opening books but has connected me to a group of women that are deep and authentic. I feel like the learnings that come from this circle have a positive impact on my work with clients as well as help to guide me with my friends and family. I am very grateful to have White Space in my life."

Johanna Beyer

"Our circle gives me something to look forward to, knowing that I'll be wrapped in a soothing blanket of mutual understanding.  Our books stretch my mind, our discussions stretch my heart, and our gatherings stretch my soul. I'm eternally grateful to be part of our circle."

Brianna Cutts

"To me, it is precious. It isn't a lightweight chitchat - and there is nothing wrong with those!  It is something I look forward to that I know will soothe my mind and spirit. It's not even as much about the books, as the time with close friends who I've grown to trust and love and am so grateful to grow old with together!  I can't imagine reading books like this now without having our circle to share our fears and wisdom and hopefulness and strategies.  In short - it's like discovering chocolate and knowing I can have t now for the rest of my life!"

Allie Behr