Perfect Gratitude, In an Imperfect World

    When holidays are approaching, we often take the opportunity to reflect on the gratitude we feel for what we have. As I have had the privilege to work with the amazing Creators that make our lovely products at  Imperfect Naturally, I’ve come to know the magnitude of gratitude that they feel every single day.

    These families have suffered many hardships. Nothing is ever easy for them, and most have had many struggles in life. Despite all of this, they manage to maintain a happy countenance, and a love of their family.

    In my family,  and indeed in most, tension is common this time of year. People are stressed trying to make it home for the holidays, they worry over what presents to give to each other, and  in general there seems to be a huge lack of sleep. I was humbled looking at these women, though. They have far more stresses than sleep deprivation or traveling, yet they remain close to their loved ones, and are generally happy. True, this time of year inspires a happy feeling in all of us, but how happy would we be if we faced the same circumstances as they do?

    These women don’t have little, but they are grateful for what they do have. When was the last time I felt grateful for my shoes? Shouldn’t I be a little more grateful, everyday,  for the things I do have?

    Lani is grateful for her family, and the opportunities she has. She sent us a message telling us about it.

Sister Julie, we owe everything to you. Thank you for the sincere love you are giving us. We know you have your own problems and struggles in life but you still manage to have time and strength to help us here in the Philippines. We love you so much!”

    Nannette talked to us about gratitude as well.

“I am… very grateful to know all of you, and the work I receive.”

    And finally, Gina talked to us about gratitude amidst the daily challenges in life.

Our life is full of problems and hardships but it is happy. We just need to be firm and faithful in following the flow of life.”

    As this Thanksgiving day approaches, knowing what I now know, I already feel more grateful for the things I have. I hope you can too.  But I also hope for a world where we all show more gratitude, even outside of the holiday season. Lani, Nanette, and Gina, in all that they do not have, still  thanked us for what we do. And we certainly thank them as well. Their work is truly remarkable, and their lives are an inspiration to us. We are privileged to know them, and help them to share with you the wonderful things they create. How about we all spend some time not only this holiday season, but every day, thanking others, showing our family how much we appreciate them, and serving others. And above all, let us be grateful.

Mother’s Day Love

When I woke this morning I discovered a message on my phone. It was from my dear friend Lani, our Philippine Co-op owner. It was a declaration of love and honor for motherhood. I smiled while reading it and felt humbled by her love. I began to think of the significant mother’s in my life; my mother, my mother-in-law, Carolyn and Linda (who taught me how to mother in my early years) my wonderful sister and sisters-in-law, my daughters who are now mother’s. After thinking of all of these moms and more, I thought about all of you wonderful women, our Imperfect Naturally supporters. Many of you are mothers, or have loved like a mother, and are the driving force behind so much good in our world. Your goodness is blessing mothers and families around the world. If Lani had each of your cell numbers she would have sent you this message herself. But since she doesn’t, I will share her message with you here.

Thanks you for being the light of our home…for being the silent hero in our children’s lives. For showing unconditional love. You truly do deserve a day of honor. Happy Mother’s Day!

 Love, Lani Adalla

“Mother” by Ashanti

Pictured are Lani and her mother.

Loss

For 20 years Lani Adalla has been working to lift herself and her family out of poverty.  The tenacious leader of a jewelry co-op, Lani, along with husband Chris and their son Markenzie, have been able to carve out a comfortable life for themselves–even saving money to buy their own cinderblock home while putting away money for Markenzie to attend college.  Ambitions, plans and dreams for both the family and the women they employ came to a halt one week ago when their home and business was robbed.  Everything from possessions of little street value to jewelry supplies, and the family’s savings, was stolen.

Adalla Family

 

Grainy video surveillance shows three men on two motorcycles entering their neighborhood  and 17 minutes later departing with filled bags and larger items balanced between knees and handle bars.  Police believe the Adalla’s landlord, who volunteered to watch the home and knew valuables were kept there for the jewelry business, is involved.

 

 

Heartbreakingly, this is not the first time the Adalla’s have lost all material possessions.  In 2009 they lost everything in a typhoon, including the home they lived in.  Two devastating losses for one family trying to beat the odds in a developing country. Once again, rebuilding must begin.

 

Dragon’s Pearl and Good Fortune

In celebration of all things mystical and magical for Halloween, we share the Dragon’s Pearl, an Ancient Chinese legend with modern application.

       Legend of The Dragon’s Pearl
Long ago near the River Min lived a good but poor boy and his mother.  To make money the boy would gather grass to sell in the village.  A terrible drought came over the land and grass became harder to find.  One day, after walking far from home, the boy found a patch of lush, green grass.  He cut the grass and sold it in the village, making more money that day than he had ever made before.  He went back to the same spot the next day, and magically, the grass had grown back as green as ever.  After several days of walking far to the magical spot, the boy thought it would be easier to dig up the roots and plant them at his home.  As he dug in the soil he noticed a large, beautiful pearl.  He put the pearl in his pocket and brought the roots back to his home and planted them.  He showed his mother the pearl and she put it in the near-empty rice pot for safe keeping.  The next morning the boy was disappointed to find that his plan hadn’t worked, the fine green grass hadn’t grown from the roots.  He went to the rice pot to get the pearl so he could sell it for food.  To his surprise, the pot was now almost overflowing with rice.  Next he put it in the money box, and it overflowed with coins.  He had found a magical pearl!  The boy and his mother would never be poor again.  They shared their bounty with all their neighbors who celebrated their good fortune and kindness.  One day a jealous man came to their house and demanded the magic pearl.  To save it, the boy swallowed the pearl. Immediately he became thirsty, so thirsty that he went to the river and swallowed all the water.  Suddenly there was a large sound of thunder and the boy turned into a dragon.  The thunder brought rain and it rained until the river flowed again.  The boy had stopped the drought and as a dragon would be the river’s guardian.  

Like the pearl in the legend, the pearls at Imperfect Naturally bring good fortune.  This good fortune affects many people.  First our Creators who make fair, livable wages close to home.  Second, their families, the children who because of their parent’s work, have their needs met and the opportunity for an education.  Finally, the wearer of the jewelry, who has the good fortune to wear unique, handmade jewelry. (Well, fortunate as long as they don’t try and swallow it.)

Ways To Include Service Into Your Daily Routine

Here are 11 simple ways to be the person of your intentions.  

  1. Look for ways to encourage others on social media.

The average person spends around 2 hours on social media every day.   Think of social media platforms as a platform to spread joy.   Use your “like” buttons freely—people feel good when they get likes.  Consider posting uplifting or inspiring messages or something funny that might give another person a reason to smile.   Before you get on, remind yourself that you aren’t going on to compare or judge, but to add your vote to online communities becoming a more positive and safe place.

  1.  Give and accept sincere compliments with grace.  

Actively look for ways to give sincere compliments to friends and strangers.  Compliment the bank teller for her friendliness or quick service, and thank the salesperson for folding your clothes so nicely before he puts them in your bag.  You can appreciate someone’s efforts even if they are being paid.

Graciously accept compliments from others with gratitude.  Try not to shrug them off with a self-deprecating remark about yourself.  Don’t cheapen compliments by returning an insincere compliment when you receive one.  Simply say, “Thank you, that makes me feel good.”

 

  1.  Be present-give the gift of yourself.

Eye contact is not something to take for granted as many people go about their day multitasking with their personal electronic devices.  Disconnect from your device to connect with the people in front of you.   Initiate friendships with people, the person who always gets you your drink in the morning, your mail carrier.  Introduce yourself to someone while you both wait.

  1. Donate your unused items.  

When you go to your closet and you notice the shirt you pass over every morning, start a pile and when it gets big–donate it. Do the same for books, duplicate kitchen utensils, everything you don’t need.   Not sure if you are still going to need something?  Try putting those questionable items in a box for a month.  If you don’t need to open the box in a month, donate all the contents.

  1. Let someone go ahead of you.

If you notice someone with just a few items or someone who is flustered juggling kids or someone who appears to be in a good old fashioned hurry, let them cut you in line.

  1. Purchase goods that give back.

Look for brands that donate proceeds to good causes or are ethically and fair-trade sourced.  Pearls with Purpose is one such brand.

  1.  Be a courteous driver.

that person doesn’t deserve to get in front of you but you are the kind of person who treats others like you want to be treated

  1. Take advantage of those short minutes of downtime.

When you have an extra minute send off a quick text or e-mail letting someone know you are thinking of them.  Even better, keep stationary in your car or bag and write a short while you wait.  

  1. Start a chain of kindness.  

So much of what we do and say is reactionary.  If your boss is cross and takes it out on you, it’s easy to take it out on someone else.  Instead of being a link in that chain, start a new chain- a kindness chain.  By being a positive force in your circle of influence you may start a ripple that moves beyond those you know.

  1. Pick up litter

Trash on the ground attracts more trash–it’s like a sign that says “Throw more trash, this place isn’t nice anyway.”  Keep a plastic glove handy with a trash bag and get to work.

  1. Use reminders to be more intentional.

A lot of us have good intentions to serve but get caught up in the daily grind.  Post quotes or reminders in high traffic places to remind yourself to think of others.  A note with  “Today isn’t a test of my intelligence, it’s a test of my compassion” by your refrigerator might do the trick. Maybe set an alert on your phone that says, “Have I served anyone yet?”

Wonderfully Better than Expected

Sometimes life stinks–it’s just the worst.  Murphy’s Law reigns and you’re thinking of changing the “Murphy” to your surname since you have such a personal experience with things going wrong.

But then there are those deliriously wonderful times when life is better than expected:

congratulations, you got the job
these flowers are just because
the dress fits perfectly
everyone laughed at my jokes
I didn’t trip off the ski lift
BINGO–I’ve got BINGO

To meet Cami Buckley is life wonderfully better than expected.  She loves you already, and you couldn’t have anticipated that.  To Cami, service is love and love is service.  She says, “My biggest wish is that everyone would know that they are loved.”  How does she spread that love?  As you’d expect–through service.

We met Cami when she volunteered with us her sophomore year of high school.  She had already started her campaign to spread love.  Her senior year she was elected Girl’s President, and among other things was in charge of the Sub for Santa program.  She set a lofty goal to raise $50,000.  She said, “I went around to many businesses asking for donations and put together projects for the students at the school to help as well. We hosted concerts, went caroling, and had class competitions to help raise money for families and individuals in the two local school districts.”

Then here comes the wonderfully better than unexpected part: people in the community opened their hearts and Cami raised over $63,000, enough to not only buy Christmas gifts, but to help pay electric bills and even housing for families in need.

Christmas passed, the families had been helped and there was still money left over from the fundraiser. Cami’s efforts had paid off and life got wonderfully better than expected for more people.  Cami donated the rest of the money to worthwhile organizations.  Including us!

For Cami, spreading love has led to her life being wonderfully better than expected.  She says, “One of the most rewarding moments came when I was speaking with a blind woman and she said that she admired how I spoke with a smile and how it had touched her. That meant the absolute world to me.  Being told that my smile brightened someone’s day was and is truly the greatest thing I could hear!”

Murphy’s Law is still a thing.  Loaves of bread with continue to not rise, fingernail polish will be used as paint by small children and occasionally traffic lights won’t oblige.  But you can counterbalance that by looking for ways to serve others and thereby making life for you and others a little more wonderfully better than expected.

We’d love to hear how life has been wonderfully better than expected for you! Tell us by leaving a comment below so we can celebrate with you.

Beautiful Pearls

When people first started wearing pearls centuries ago, they wore them as a statement of beauty, wealth, power and exclusiveness.  The beauty hasn’t changed, but now your pearls can be a statement of compassion, inclusiveness and global consciousness.


Our Triple Pearl Necklace is only $22.  Buy it here.

Pearls are the earliest known gem.  They appear in the ancient religious texts of Christianity, Hinduism and Judaism.  The oldest known pearl jewelry, a Persian Princess’ necklace from 500 BC, is displayed in the Louvre.  Legend has it that Cleopatra drank a pearl crushed to powder in h

er wine to show her great wealth.  The Roman general Vitellius is said to have financed his entire military campaign with the sale of a single natural pearl.

Buy this and other pearl bracelets here.

 

 

For centuries, only the royal and supremely wealthy could afford pearl jewelry. Rank also determined who could wear pearls, as many countries in Europe had laws designating who could and who could not wear them as accessories (royalty yes, teachers and lawyers no).

The history of faux pearls is almost just as ancient. Some of the first were made from a mixture of powdered glass, snail slime and egg white.   Eventually bead makers began incorporating the pearlescent luster of fish scales.

 

 

Our beautiful Barbara necklace with bracelet named after first lady Barbara Bush.  Buy it here.

 

Then in the early 20th century, three Japanese men began perfecting the process of implanting mollusks and by 1921 the first round cultured pearls appeared on the market.  Decades later Jackie O. and her triple-strand pearl necklace would become fashion icons, followed by Princess Diana and Barbara Bush.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since 2004, Pearls with Purpose has been offering beautiful genuine, fair trade pearl jewelry.   The history of pearls now includes humanitarian efforts in the Philippines, Cambodia and India.  We hope you will purchase pearls that serve a purpose–and know you will look beautiful, creating beautiful dignity.

 

Visit https://perfectlymperfect.com/ to learn more about Creating Beautiful Dignity.

Pearl Pledge Highlight: Sara

Sara pledger

 

As school begins again around the US, many campuses feature a new piece of equipment: a buddy bench.  These benches on elementary school playgrounds are a place a student can sit to indicate that he or she would like a friend to play with at recess.

Everyone at some point needs a buddy bench, but there isn’t always a tangible place where we can indicate we need a friend.  Wearing a sign around our neck with, “I need a friend” or taking out a wanted ad in the local paper don’t sound like promising ideas.

Maybe we can shift the responsibility from the people in need of a friend, to the people who have friendship to give (of course, I’m really talking about the same group of people here).  What if all of us were anxiously looking for people to include?  

One of my dearest and most rewarding friendships began when my friend Sara asked me to join her making baby food.  She was going to be pureeing the life out of some broccoli, and asked if I’d like get in on the action?   I brought over my gigantic sweet potato and the rest is friendship-bliss history.

Sara is the first person I’ve known who literally works service into her daily routine.  I remember not long after I met her she said, “I look for ways to invite people to do what I’m already doing.  I know I’m going to be eating lunch tomorrow, so why not invite someone to eat lunch with me?  If I’m headed to the park, I think, who might appreciate a play date?”

Simple service.  Are you going to the summer blockbuster movie? Invite someone, maybe they will share their popcorn.  Does Fido need a walk around the block?  Maybe your neighbor also needs a listening ear.  You can do both.

Be a buddy to someone sitting on their own version of a buddy bench.  Serve someone by inviting someone to play.

Sara pledger children

Be inspired to serve.  Take the Pearl Pledge today and become a part of a community of people like Sara.

(be)Cause Highlight: Lindsey

When I was in high school I was involved in everything.  If a fund was being raised, a ball was being tossed, if cookies needed to be baked, if banners were to be painted–I was your gal.  I was involved with everything without really doing anything.  I was serving widely, not deeply.

With experience I’ve realized that quality beats quantity when it comes to service.  Instead of superficially helping many, I’d rather thoughtfully serve a few.

When we serve deeply, we are better tools for change.  We access situations more carefully and discover what the real needs are.  We nurture and support the relationship of those we serve.

Lindsey Orrock, a Pearl Pledge extraordinaire, is also a proponent of serving deeply.  She relates the following experience:
“When I was probably around 14, a group of girls from my church all went to an elderly woman’s house with the intention of helping her clean her house. We got our clean on: washing windows, cleaning floors, dusting, vacuuming. We quickly realized that, although she was very happy for our help at her house, what she really was needing was someone to listen to her. As we cleaned she would tell us all kinds of stories about her life and her family and we soon finished our jobs but stayed to chat with her for an additional hour.

“Although we came thinking we knew what this woman needed, what she really needed was something else entirely. I am just grateful that as we served we were able to discover that and meet her true needs. And it made an impact on me as well. We could have just gone to a woman’s house and cleaned, instead we were able to learn about an amazing woman.

“Service is about people, I think it’s important when we are serving to think about the real needs of those around us. It can be so easy to just come up with something we can do without asking ourselves if it is really needed. By discovering true needs we can make a bigger difference in the world around us and in our own lives as well.”

Lindsey just got her degree in teaching social studies and is off to new adventures in San Antonio, Texas.

As a teacher, Lindsey has a special opportunity to deeply serve her students everyday.

Give the service- minded friend in your life a (be)Cause necklace in appreciation for their goodness.  Buy it now.

Have you ever been the recipient of meaningful service?  We’d love to hear about it.  Leave a comment below!

Creating a Future

Creating a Future

Kea Botevy making jewelry
Kea Botevy making jewelry with young Pearlologist

Like most stories from modern Cambodia, our story begins in April 1975, when Khmer Rouge party leader Pol Pot marched his teenage troops into Phnom Penh and forced everyone to leave their homes to work in the countrysides.  Those too sick, too young, too old, anyone who resisted, were killed. After the mass killings, the relocations, the malnourishment, and the forced labor, 25% of the Cambodian population, an estimated 2 million people had died.[1]

A teenager at the time, Kea Botevy, one of the survivors, started looking to rebuild her life.  Instead of getting the opportunity to complete own schooling, she was told by the local authorities to use her 8th grade education to teach younger children.[2}

This assignment to teach led Kea to see the many needs of her country’s children and laid the foundation for what would eventually become Cambodian International Children and Friends Organization (CICFO), an orphanage that provides food, shelter, education and community.  Started in 2005 with six children, it has grown to over 30 children.

The children, well cared for by Kea and the people who support CICFO had a good present, but what about their futures?

In 2013, with many of her children nearing 17,18 and 19 years of age, Kea needed a plan, a way to help the children establish savings for vocational training or college, so that they wouldn’t end up on the streets.  Kea wanted to help them help themselves to a real future.

Wendy teaching jewelry making techniques
Wendy teaching future Pearlologists jewelry making techniques

That is where we comes in–literally. Lani (co-op director in the Philippines) went to Cambodia.  There they met, played with (that’s a future blog post) and provided the training and materials for the children ages 16 and up to learn the art of jewelry making.  The income they make from jewelry sales goes into a savings account for higher education.  Now when the children leave the orphanage as young adults, they have a future–a future they created by creating jewelry.

Lani modeling Infinity bracelet made in Cambodia
Philippines co-op director and Pearlologist Lani modeling the Infinity bracelet made exclusively by our Cambodian artisans

You can help create futures for our young Pearlologist in Cambodia by buying the jewelry they handcraft.  Your purchase will fund their future.  Buy it here.

Infinity rings

[1] http://worldwithoutgenocide.org/genocides-and-conflicts/cambodian-genocide

[2] http://cicfo-usa.org/the-cicfo-story/