That’s the response I got from Shea Smith, director of Nevada City’s apothecary and sustainable herbalism shoppe, HAALo.
Even before we moved to California, one of the things I was most excited about exploring was the apothecary in our neighboring town, which would only be a ten minute drive from our new house. Then once we got here, I couldn’t even unpack all of our boxes before I had to visit HAALo for myself, buying some essential oils and a salve. From the minute I stepped inside, I knew that this was a place I wanted to become more a part of, a place where I knew I could fit in and spend a large portion of my time. I’d gone a number of times for repeat purchases of some fantastic herbal remedies that helped me with high stress levels and chronic muscle pains, and I signed up on their email newsletter list.
A few days later, I received an email with a blog post in it about HAALo’s need for volunteers for the herb-gathering season. No, I have never gathered herbs before, let alone with a group of other people, but I had been hoping for a way to get more involved both in the community and in this newly discovered shoppe of healing, and I replied to the email address on the blog post. With the following email:
I was thrilled. And I almost posted about it here, but thought it best to wait until after the meeting, just in case it was not what I had expected. That meeting was last Thursday, and it was definitely not what I expected.
It was so much better.
Unfortunately, Kathy, the Marketing Director that I had been emailing, was called out of town. But I got an hour with Shea, and I am not exaggerating when I say that it was the best business meeting I’ve ever been to in my life. We sat down at a table in the cafe that she had chosen, and she began by explaining with a short story the relationship that she had with the place, a relationship that extended back five years to when she was just starting to build HAALo from the ground up.
She told me that she and a few other girls in the shoppe had taken to “secretly calling [me] Bat Girl”, a compliment I accepted with pride. Apparently, at the same time that the Universe extended an open hand to offer me an outlet for my interests in natural medicine and becoming a part of this beautiful community, it used the other hand to tap HAALo on the shoulder and point in my direction. They had been contacted, Shea explained, by four different magazines in the last month, requesting articles from HAALo to publish in their journals. The apothecary was just starting to get national recognition, in addition to already being a cornerstone of this Northern California community, and Kathy had just commented on her need for a writer, editor, or someone to help build their web content. And then I emailed them.
We had a good laugh over our shared serendipity, and then Shea’s story of HAALo’s beginnings morphed into a story of her own beginnings, the trials that she overcame to first create the woman she is now, and then to create the life-giving spirit that is HAALo. Nearly every other sentence struck me in a place that was blatantly familiar, and it took more willpower than I thought I had not to blurt out, “Me too!” But I didn’t. I listened to her beautiful, powerful story, finding a brand new appreciation for the wonders I had just stumbled upon, and thanked her for sharing the pieces.
I had a brief moment to reciprocate, offering slivers of my past and who I am that would have gotten me kicked out the door at any other “interview” or “business meeting”. But this wasn’t just that. This was two people meeting on a day that had brought them together to converge on one single point – this is who we are, and what we have been through to get here, so that we can help each other now. Incredibly simple, and just a little scary. Serendipity definitely has its dark side, and if you’re not ready for all the little surprises it holds up its gaping sleeves, those surprises can overwhelm you. Fortunately, I think both Shea and I had been searching for just this kind of surprise, and we were ready.
One hour was far too short, but we scheduled another meeting that would this time include Kathy, so I could meet her too. I have absolutely no idea where this will take me, but I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities to meet some phenomenal women, heroines in the realm of creating entire worlds from just what they had inside themselves. That’s what I’m trying to do. And helping to spread the word about the people and inspirations that make up HAALo, and what HAALo is trying to bring to the rest of the planet, is reward enough. I’m looking forward to the next tea date.
To learn more about the past that made HAALo what it is today, and the remarkable people and experiences that it’s brought into so many lives, go to HAALo.org and look around. You might just find something that you didn’t know was waiting for you.