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The Journey

The tale of My Toy Garden continues to weave…

It started off innocently enough….a postcard in a gift shop with a picture of an emerald green lake surrounded by a lush forest. Green…hmmmm… curious..interesting color for a lake. The picture invited me to step closer, bend and peer, intrigued. Where did that say this lake was? At the top of a dormant volcano? One that was accessible by foot? The entrance to the trail started behind the gift shop? It was more than my gypsy spirit could resist so hiking shoes donned; off we went in search of the elusive green lake.

The beginning of the journey filled our eyes with plants that must have come from Dr Seuss’s imagination….shapes and sizes not found in Indiana. Bark in camouflage stripes of light green, bright green and creamy almond. An giant army of leaf cutter ants steadfastly carrying their hard earned payloads over the riverbank to their home in an endless line we watched for several breathless minutes. With a start like that, my gypsy soul longed to see what lay ahead.

The terrain began to turn upward gently and the tree trunks grew a bit thicker. The thickening branches thinned the sunlight streaming down. Ferns covered the ground with their curling fingers beckoning us forward. The roots of the trees twisted and peeked through the soil in rivulets. 30 minutes later, the roots grew thicker and more challenging to step over. The canopy became a floating carpet of green allowing peeks of sunshine to filter through. Another 45 minutes later and the climb became quite steep with steps being methodically taken. Place one boot thigh high up on a root and….deep breath…uuuuuuuppppp. Whew. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I became a human fountain of sweat. Another 45 minutes of sheer upward focus refusing to quit now but determined to see the journey through. And there….there is was….the green lake!! Amazing!!!

As I’ve reflected on the past three years of the My Toy Garden journey, I’ve been reminded of this day in Costa Rica years ago. Creating and running My Toy Garden has been a ton of work. Many, many late nights. Many, many decisions to be made and parts to juggle. Days, weeks taken one slow but giant step at a time….uuuuuppppp! And along the way…wondrous things to behold making it totally worthwhile! So many special people I’ve met and had the pleasure to help on so many different levels. The busy swarms of children who have spent many a happy day coming to play and learn and enjoy. The meaningful conversations sparked by something found in a newsletter. It’s the journey I was meant to take. Now that I’m at the top of the mountain…looking at that miracle of a green lake.. having accomplished so much, it’s time to begin the journey down. The next few weeks will be challenging but a long rest is just ahead. I do hope that we meet on the pathways ahead for us both. It’s been an honor to serve you!

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I Have Something to Tell You

For those of you who have not followed me from my old blog, you might enjoy this one that explains a bit about how I got from owning my own toy store to beginning this new blogging adventure….

Dear My Toy Garden Friends,

      I have something to tell you.  Those words do have a way of knotting the stomaches of both the giver and the receiver, don’t they?  For the giver who is about to deliver the news, the days tick by so very slowly as they ponder what words to use that can lesson the impact of what they are about to say.  An invisible weight tethered to their heart wishing there was another way.

   For the receiver, a day that is zipping right along comes to a sudden stop as their mind races wondering what, oh what, can the news be?  Their imaginations run wild imagining all of the worst things.  The moment their ears first hear those words, their pulse quickens.  Their eyes search the face of the giver searching for clues.  They breath in but not out.

   Well, My Toy Garden friends, I have something to tell you and today is the day.  Um, well…hmm….for once my fingers are at a standstill at the keyboard.  How do I explain?   Perhaps like a bandaid to just rip off?  Perhaps to slowly reveal what is behind the creaking door?

      Imagining, designing, breathing life into My Toy Garden has been a great joy.  For the past 3 years, I’ve challenged myself in so many ways and learned a few lifetimes of lessons along the way.   I truly feel that God led me to open the store and those steps were part of the plan for my life.   That path is taking a new direction now and I believe that My Toy Garden is not part of that direction going forward.

     A little over a year ago, I stepped back a bit from the business to spend more time with my growing miracles, Lily and Nicholas.  They were 1 and 4 when I opened the store. This month they turn 4 and 7.  Wow.  While I love My Toy Garden dearly,  I love my children more.   Try though I have to balance the store and motherhood, it’s been very difficult.  When I look back at my life, I want to be more proud that I raised strong children rather than a strong toy store.

    So, what now?  Want to buy a toy store?!  I’ll make you a deal!  Really.   My Toy Garden has been privately listed for sale since last October.  If you or someone you know wants to take the reins from here, now is your chance.  My Toy Garden has become a beloved place in the community and I would love to find someone to take over.  I so appreciate the many very kind comments you make about how much you love the store.  I’m so thankful to have been part of special family events in your life and to have donated to local charities and programs.  I know it’s very sad news for many of you that My Toy Garden is likely to not be here much longer.   If taking over My Toy Garden is something you want to explore more, just let me know.  Soon though please.

      In order to enjoy the summer with Lily and Nicholas, my plans are to start clearing the shelves as of today.   (Most everything is officially 15% off now)  If a buyer comes forward great!  If not, then all will be okay too. Either way, I’m looking forward to more time with my children soon.  I am sorry to let any of you down in any way.  I do hope you know how much I have cherished your support and kind words.  I also hope you understand that I must put my children first.

This step would not be possible without the blessings of Wildtree.  Many of you know that as passionate as I am about child development and play, I am also passionate about nutrition.  Direct sales has been part of my life for many years and I am loving being back and, this time, with a company committed to helping families learn how to put a healthy meal on the table fast and easy.  In just 8 months, I’ve double promoted to Senior Team Leader with Wildtree and earn enough to be able to meet the financial obligations of leaving the toy store. If you have a dream that you think is impossible, talk to me.  There might be ways you can’t or have not seen just yet. Anything truly is possible!  My Wildtree website to go explore more is www.mywildtree.com/janetp

Whew, I think that’s it….thank you so much for being part of this amazing journey!  I look forward to seeing you at least one more time and hopefully our paths will cross many more times in the months and years ahead.  It truly has been an honor to be part of your lives!

Tangled and Frozen

It happened again today. It happened a few months ago and a few months before that and countless times over the last several years. And yet it still surprises me. Shocks me. It makes me worry more and more for the future.
Everywhere I looked today I was surrounded by a Frozen frenzy. “Did you get your video?” “I’m staring out the window waiting for the mail truck! Where is it?! ” “I’ve called every store within a 3 hours drive and finally found her!” “I paid a fortune on Amazon for the dress but I got it!” “My daughter knows all the lyrics of all the songs…shoot, I do too!” “Want to watch my 500 Youtube videos of Frozen songs?”
This happened with the last “hot” thing and the one before that and the one before that. Why is it that people go crazy for something that will, in a few short months, end up in their garage sale bin for next to nothing? Why do they spend their hard earned dollars on something so fleeting? Disney is tickled and singing Frozen tunes all the way to the bank. Sales from the movie alone so far have exceeded $900 million. Wait, think about that…$900 million dollars. Oh the problems of this world we could solve with that kind of money funneled in other directions!! Hunger. Homelessness. Illiteracy. Crazy. Totally crazy. As I’ve pondered this today through yet another frenzy, here’s my two cents…

1) We must have the latest to show our child we love them. We want them to have what other children have so they know we love them. I invite you to ponder…Is this really how we want to show love to our children?

2) We must have the latest whatever so that we will fit in with what we perceive to be cool, to be like others, to not feel left out. We like to be part of something bigger. I invite you to ponder…Is that a group you really want to be part of and why or why not? Look deeper at the whys of our actions.

3) We must have the latest because we want to create special memories with our children that we hope will last a lifetime. I invite you to ponder….What memories are we really creating?
What will they really remember from the experience?

What are we really teaching out children when we place such a high value on material things and go to such extremes to own them? I invite you to ponder….what do our actions show is really most important in our lives? Trends like this explode because of the masterful marketing that pulls on our emotions and weaknesses. Many companies are much more concerned about how much money they can make and care little about at what cost to us, our families and our character. This is a very scary, very slippery slope of consumerism. I invite you to explore a website call [Commercial Free Childhood](http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/) to learn more about the research on marketing to children.

I believe with all my heart that it can be different and needs to be different. Your dollars decide that what companies thrive and survive. I invite you to ponder what values and companies you are feeding with your dollars. Are they companies that value relationship more than money? Are they companies that value character traits such as creativity, patience, determination in healthy ways? Spend with your mind as well as your heart and may the two be more and more in alignment with one another. This generation and the next and the next depends on it.

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My Nose Against the Glass

It was as if I were really there. I could see them. Hear them. Feel the breeze ruffle my hair. Feel the coolness of the glass against the tip of my nose and the tips of my fingers. The glass room was host to a lively party filled with dancing, laughing, dining on the feast laden tables. The party looked like such fun! And I was on the outside, left out.

The vision I had on that May morning almost two years ago was so clear in my mind that it tingled all of my senses. Have you ever had visions like that? Ones that are crystal clear in your memories? I have had a few and I’ve learned that they are always meant to get my attention. They are meant to make me focus on something that I have been too blind to see. They tell me it is time to ponder and to look a bit deeper at myself, my actions and my beliefs.

At that time at 44 years old, I had successfully avoided looking closely at what I truly believed and not believed about my spirituality. I had glanced over the subject a few times, attended various churches and admitted that I did believe in a higher power. But what was that higher power? I choose not to really ponder it and was satisfied with my glibness about the subject. The May morning came in the midst of some major challenges in my life. I was overwhelmed, not sure how to drag myself from bed many mornings and could not see a path for things to be better. Perhaps you’ve been there too at some point? Perhaps you are there now?

I had the clear feeling that morning from that vivid vision that it was time for me to take a long, hard look at what I truly believed about God. That launched me into a summer of research. I read many books, talked to many people, spent hours researching online. Truthfully, I was set on proving to myself that organized religion was a joke. To prove that the Bible was stories made up by men in power to try to turn people into puppets. I pulled out all the classic questions like…if Adam and Eve were the first two people, where did everyone else come from? How does the Bible explain dinosaurs that we know existed for sure?

By that fall, I believed that the Bible was a historic document. I believed that God was not only by my side but had always been there patiently waiting for me to take the time to look. That summer changed my life in immeasurable ways that I’m sure I could never fully put into words. Life still certainly has many challenges but I have a much greater sense of peace about them and a confidence that all will be okay.

The challenges of that May morning still exist but since then I’ve see stepping stones toward answers and I’ll be forever thankful that I took the time to look. To think. To research. To talk with others. Time is truly one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. Last weekend, I celebrated my baptism and am more and more excited to see where my next steps lead me! This week I invite to you stop for a bit and look around. What is right in front of you that you are not seeing because you are so busy? What pathways have vines draped across that you only need to lift to see a new way to travel? Stop my friends. Ponder. Dig a bit deeper into who you really are. Go explore my friends…go explore! Glass Wall