Songbird’s Origin

The recent remodel and move have caused me to think about the many moves, remodels, and shifts that Songbird and Stones Throw have gone through over the last 9 years. During this time, Spirit has sent many signs to help me along the way. Over the next year I’m going to share some of these stories. This month I am going to share the story of Songbird’s origin.

Nine years ago, my then boyfriend was subleasing part of 8280 Old Redwood Highway for an art studio (across the street and next door to where Stones Throw was located for two years before moving in with Songbird this year). When the main tenant for 8280 was getting ready to move out, I started brainstorming ways to keep the art studio there. One of my ideas was to move forward on my back burner idea of opening up a healing center. I had been running my boyfriend’s art business and was gaining confidence that I could run my own business. However, I didn’t want to be in business on my own. That’s when Spirit started sending me signs.

One of them was an herbalist who wanted to start an herbal internship program. Songbird was originally going to be 1/2 herbal internship and 1/2 a smaller version of what it is now. The herbalist was going to direct Songbird and I was going to do the behind the scenes work. In addition, there was going to be steady income from the artist studio. With three sources of revenue, I wasn’t concerned about covering the rent. I also had access to non-profit grant money to help out, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to become an official non-profit.

Another sign was a woman who told me about non-profit fiscal sponsors who can receive grant money and sponsor projects. Then Spirit sent me Sharon Maser, who ran the Women’s School of Healing Arts & Sciences, to become our fiscal sponsor. Sharon was a huge support over the years, both as an advisor and fiscal sponsor, until she passed a few years ago. Without her, Songbird would have never gotten off the ground.

As our opening date of 1/1/2010 approached, I thought that we had worked out all of the details to succeed. However, the simple path was not to be. The day before Songbird was scheduled to open, my boyfriend and I broke up.

For the first half of the year, I had very little energy to devote to Songbird. I was emotionally drained from ending both my relationship and my role in my boyfriend’s business. I was also homeschooling my child during the last semester of 8th grade. I started seriously thinking about giving up on Songbird.

In April I was invited to visit the spiritual community of Damanhur, Italy. First it seemed impossible and then I thought I might be able to go for a couple weeks. However, the timing of my ex husband’s vacation with our child allowed me to spend six weeks in Damanhur over the summer on a much needed personal spiritual retreat.

I went to Damanhur thinking that I was going to close Songbird when I returned. Two of the income sources had not materialized. The internship program had never gotten off the ground and of course, the art studio didn’t exist. The third part was in its infancy, but not really taking off. Although I was going to have much more time to devote to Songbird when I returned, I wasn’t sure whether this was where I wanted to direct my energy. Even though I had been guided to open Songbird, perhaps it was only intended to be a stepping stone to something else.

While in Damanhur, I went to an ecovillage conference and attended a breakout session entitled “What’s Your Tree?” about a program by Julia Butterfly Hill to help people define their passion. I continued the program on my own and developed my personal passion statement, “To share information and support growth for everyone through community, connection, and creativity.” Once I was clear on my passion, I knew I wanted to keep Songbird going. My vision for Songbird was completely in line with my passion, but I had let Songbird get off course because I hadn’t had the energy to devote to it.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to share with the herbalist that I wanted to bring Songbird more in line with my vision, but I didn’t have to. While I was in Italy, she decided that she was ready to move on. I came back ready to take over directing Songbird and to remodel the building to make it feel more like a healing center. I had hoped to share the story of the first remodel this month as well, but this story is long enough that it will have to wait for another time.