conserving my effs.

There’s deja vu and then there’s the unnamed phenomenon where encounters circle around later in life and surprise you a bit. I remember, for example, visiting Arizona when I was 14 and being struck by all of the signs for a town called Flagstaff. I don’t know why that name stood out to me, but it did. Four years later I found myself driving to Flagstaff, following my Smitty to begin college at Northern Arizona University. Weird.

Four years ago when I was the spa director at Natural Body, I was asked my opinion (by the corporate office) on the mix of products in the shop. In my search for new possibilities, I found a cute local art co-op called Blue Raddish. Creative handmade gifts. Warm colorful shop. Clearly having fun. Inspirational with a touch of sassy humor. Right up my alley (pun intended as the shop occupied a narrow converted alleyway in historic downtown Excelsior Springs). Nothing ever came of my find.

Fast forward to a few months ago here at Milagro: super fun gal walks in the shop, we chat a bit, she buys a few things, we say goodbye. She returns a few weeks later for her first spa service with us and enters her email address on her client form: blueraddishgirl. I ask about it and she (Stacy) says, “I have an art co-op in Excelsior Springs called Blue Raddish”.

We talked after her service about Blue Raddish, how it came to be, its current status. Stacy lives in OP and has busy school-aged kids. She’d been contemplating for a few months what the next steps are for Blue Raddish as she was having trouble finding time to drive back and forth to Excelsior. Funny, because I’ve been contemplating for a few months what the next steps are for Milagro’s shop.

If you’ve spent much time here on our blog, you know I’ve been battling the “supposed to” of spa – the topics that are supposed to be my concern since I own a spa: -“proper” brow shape -contouring with makeup (this is a thing?) -attempting to look 30 or younger until you die -your diet, your pantry, & your grocery cart -pursuing a “non-toxic” lifestyle (oh, the marketing, THE MARKETING!)

But I’m at the point in my 37-almost-38-year-old life where I have to conserve energy. And there are many, MANY things into which I want to pour my energy (spreading joy, loving people well, finding every dog a home, tasting ALL of the donuts). And there are many things (see list above) for which I’m all out of effs to give.

Does this mean I don’t care? The opposite, actually. If you are looking for people who would like to discuss the above topics, I doubt you’ll have trouble finding them (have you been on the interwebs lately?) I’m just excusing myself and Milagro from that conversation. So we can tackle other things. Things I find important. Things I think we’re missing.

Stacy uses her art co-op to enforce her belief that “designing a regret free life should be our #1 priority”. And my favorite thing she said to me during one of our first conversations was “I’m a creator but I’m not an artist”. And with those words, my vision for Milagro came more into focus.

I’ve always lamented how NOT creative I am. But I’ve determined the problem was my stupid narrow definition of creative. Everyone is creative and it has nothing to do with being an artist. I’ve begun to think of creativity as simply the combination of strengths and gifts I have that make me unique. The things that light me up. The traits I’ve been gifted to affect & contribute to the world.

And my success in living a regret free life hinges on the time I spend discovering, strengthening, and using my creativity, not for the purpose of feeding my ego but for the purpose of sharing with others.

We start out in life knowing this. We try everything, we play, we imagine. We proudly make our parents watch our craptastic performances and praise our artful attempts. But before long, there are 15 million voices telling us what we aren’t and how we’re inadequate and what we’re missing and how we can be fixed. So instead of spending life celebrating and practicing all the fantastic things we have to give, we chase the things we’re supposed to have and do to “fit in”. Depressing. And futile. And regretful.

I will not spend my limited allowance of effs on things I will later regret.

So the artists of Blue Raddish Co-op, formerly in Excelsior Springs, have taken over our spa shop here in downtown OP. You’ll find unique, handmade, often one-of-a-kind items to gift or to keep, as a reminder to reclaim your creativity. To design your own life. To appreciate and celebrate the things that make you different instead of obsessing and worrying about fitting some obscure and ridiculous cultural ideal.

I want Milagro to be this constant reminder for you. The place you go when you’re losing touch with YOU. When your voice has become unfamiliar and unrecognizable.

Come here. Tune out. Unplug. We’ll celebrate you. We’ll root for you. We’ll offer you every resource we can find to feed your creativity, whatever it looks like.

That way, we all win. I get to wake up and live my dream of owning a spa where I don’t have to discuss cellulite treaments and you get an excuse to be weird, wonderful you.

No regrets.

© 2019 by Ashley Smith & Milagro Midwestern Spa Collective