Once I heard someone say that dreams are like stars…you may never touch them, but if you follow them they will lead you to your destiny. I was awoken by a dream about my best friend’s rescued dog using his nose to see the world and I have followed that dream to a new business and in the process a whole new and more mindful way of living.
I often say that Mo leapt into my imagination in the middle of the night and it is true. In my dream I was immersed in an ink brush world following Mo, the dog, as he followed his nose organically exploring colors and their aromas. When I woke up and realized that it was the middle of the night and I had been dreaming, I jumped out of bed and wrote “Mo Smells Red” and the idea and concept for the Mo’s Nose children’s book series. I instantly knew that I wanted to create what I now call ‘scentsational journeys’ where the stories could be brought to life with the real aromas Mo was discovering. I had always loved scratch-n-sniff stickers as a child even though they never quite smelled like they were supposed to. In the Mo books I wanted the readers to be able to smell what Mo was smelling in a healthy, exciting way. With the help of scientist and engineers, I was able to develop and patent our Press-2- Smell technology that delivers the aroma essence of 100% aromatherapy oils when pushed. I also knew right away that the mom of the real Mo, Amanda, should be the one to illustrate the books in a Japanese ink brush style. That same morning I called Amanda and told her that I had written a story about her dog and I wanted her to illustrate it in Japanese ink brush paintings. She thought I was a little crazy, because she is an oil painter. She loved the story and gave the ink brush a try and was able to capture the loving, curious spirit of her dog.
For me this creative inspiration also needed to follow a mindful path and be consistent with the sustainable life that I am living. From the very beginning, I have made choices to make everything Mo’s Nose creates as sustainable as possible. We print all of our books in the US to keep a low carbon footprint. The books are printed on recycled paper with vegetable inks. Our books feature all natural 100% aromatherapy essential oil scents from Aura Cacia. In addition to these sustainable production choices, it is important to me that the brand, Mo’s Nose, gives back. Having been inspired by Mo, a puppy rescued off the streets, I wanted to make sure that we could help animals in need; therefore, from day one we have made a commitment to give 10% of our proceeds to animals in need by donating to Best Friends of Animals, a national humane organization as well as to a variety of children’s’ and green charities. Giving back is a key to creating a connected mindful business and professional life.
At the same time that I was letting Mo’s Nose lead me to my new professional destiny, another dream woke me—the urgent need and desire to live more sustainably and mindfully in my personal life. I realized that the way that I was living was not in line with my core beliefs and I was not modeling the kind of life for my children that I would want them to embrace. I decided to change everything instead of trying to fix it. I decided to change my home. I sold my large ‘American Dream’ home that consumed too much energy, time and money and looked for a way to create a sustainable lifestyle. With the intention of creating a “green” home, I bought a 1910 Craftsman home and decided to use the LEED/USGBC process in the remodel.
I had done a great deal of research on the topic of green living and wanted my home to be more than just a ‘green’ showpiece but a place that was sustainable for the next 100 years. When I started this process, there were no other homes in the country as old as mine that were in the LEED/USGBC program. I set out to try to create a sustainable, energy efficient home without compromising the charm and architecture of the home. My home is now one of the most sustainable or ‘greenest’ homes in America. It has so many sustainable elements so I will just name a few: gray water system, solar, geothermal heating/cooling, reclaimed and recycled wood and materials, low water use organic garden supported with our compost and rain water catchment and light colored roof. Living in a ‘green’ home, I must make choices everyday to be more aware of how and what I am choosing to consume. My children are very proud of our home and have embraced these changes. Many times they are my best teachers often giving me little reminders like “put those eggs in the compost bin.” Living in a more sustainable home keeps me on the path of a more mindful life.
It was important to me to have a sustainable green garden as well. With the help of my friend, Sagar Faucheaux who I lovingly refer to as the “Garden Whisperer,” I was able to create a beautiful and abundant organic vegetable garden while at the same time being mindful of my water consumption. This same garden in Southern California was inspired, designed, and built using completely sustainable principles/practices and in it are at least 2-3 simple, yet effective “green” principles used.
Here are some of Green Tips that have helped me truly be a “green thumb”:
1) Reduce Reuse Recycle: Look around your property and ask yourself what materials are lying around that I could use for beauty or function in the garden? For example, you probably have stone or concrete you could use as walk able paths out of the mud, or to create solid edges in the garden from rock, or to retain soil on a slope. In my case, I reused old copper solar panels as gates for my garden. They have a gorgeous patina add a beautiful touch to the entrance.
2) Conserve Water: Choose plants based on the amount of water they consume in relationship to the climate and rainfall of your area. For example, I live in drought prone Southern California; therefore I chose low water use plants and a lot of indigenous species.
3) Reuse Natures water – collect your rainwater and use it for your gardening by having your home’s downspout drain into a barrel with a spigot in the bottom. You can also build your own by rainwater collection system with simple directions found online. This helps to conserve water and make good use of a free and renewable resource.
4) Install a “Smart Garden” Irrigation Controller. This type of watering system is controlled by a computer that is connected to global satellite, which monitors daily moisture and evaporation levels of the local climate and soil. It self-adjusts to current weather conditions to the amount of water delivered on the real time needs of your garden.
5) Use an organic mulch layer composed of bark, wood chips or mixture of leaves and bark, to preserve moisture and keep roots cool. This lowers your water consumption and encourages tiny beneficial bugs that improve the health of the plants. Applying 3-4 layers of this mulch also suppresses weeds.
6) Compost I was completely freaked out by the idea of composting until I tried it and saw how well it worked. I use our food scraps: vegetables, coffee grounds and eggshells. I simply put them in a bin that contains worms and the worms do all the work. They actually make rich organic fertilizer for the plants.
7) Use Natural Pest Control I let some of the herbs in my garden like dill, cilantro, yarrow and basil flower act as a natural form of pest control by attracting beneficial insects such as ladybugs, bees and lacewings that in turn eat the harmful and destructive pests bugs like aphids.
8) Consider vertical gardening by using trellises and training your garden upwards it let’s you squeeze more vegetable into small spaces. Avoid plastic trellises and netting. Instead, use cotton or sisal twine, bamboo, and wood to build sturdy and natural supports for tomatoes, vines, and other climbers.
9) Use recycled tumbled glass for mulch and colorful garden accents. Gone are the days of bark mulch, stone groundcover, and earth tone colored rocks. The rainbow of colors available in glass is unprecedented in landscaping applications. Because it’s tumbled, the glass won’t cut. Because it’s 100% recycled, the glass is environmentally friendly. And because it’s colorful, the glass will allow your landscape project to take on a striking life of its own.
10) Make seedling pots from newspaper and eliminate plastic containers. Bonus: Seedlings grown in paper pots are easier to transplant.
Following my dreams professionally and personally and doing it in a mindful and sustainable way has not always easy or fun. It requires a lot of hard choices and hard work for my family and me. Professionally, I feel blessed to be able to keep creating new titles like Mo Smells Pink, the fourth Mo’s Nose colorful journey. In this journey, Mo plays hide-n-seek with Kiki, a pink-nosed rescued kitty. Mo hunts high and low, but his nose keeps discovering the enticing pink scents all around him instead of finding his feline friend. Mo’s nose discovers the bubbly delight of Pink Grapefruit Bubble bath, the delicious Pink Peppermint stick ice cream, and the blooming fresh Pink Jasmine and finally the essence of FUN. While creating this fun journey, I was blessed to be creating a new addition to my family, my new baby daughter. A growing family and business is a juggling act that I manage mindfully one choice at a time. I am very grateful that I have chosen this journey.